Review: THX 1138 The George Lucas Director's Cut

Directed by: George Lucas
Category: Sci-fi, Cult Classics

Believe it or not, George Lucas actually made a few films before the behemoth that was Star Wars took over the world, this being one of them back in 1971. I know, I know. It's crazy to comprehend, but it's true. THX 1138 is based off a student film he did in college titled Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB winning numerous awards and to much critical appraise . When Francis Ford Coppola started his production company American Zoetrope, he chose his good friend George Lucas's first feature film as his  first project to produce under this new banner. When released, the film bombed and almost bankrupt Coppola's production company.

I had only seen this film one other time before. When Lucas released his Director's Cut Special Edition complete with updated effects I jumped on the chance to pick it up on DVD back in 2004. Only problem was that when I watched it, whether it was the DVD itself or my crappy player, it kept skipping over huge chunks and freezing all over the place leaving it an incredibly frustrating experience for me. Since then it's been buried way back in my massive DVD collection basically forgotten until now. So how does it look with fresh eyes 7 years later?

I must say, this is probably one of the most visually rich science fiction films I've ever seen. The George Lucas who gave us Star Wars and the Star Wars universe remarkably is not the same George Lucas who wrote and directed this saga of a dystopian society where everything is controlled, including emotions, food intake, relationship partners as well as work and sleep habits. Of all his films, this is his most visually impressive. The imagery Lucas displays here is simply stunning, pushing the limits of the Widescreen aspect ratio to brilliant effect. The minimalist setting and design play such a pivotal role in the story itself that even with little to no dialogue, you are immersed in this reto futuristic tale of society under constant rule. THX 1138, an "experimental" film more than anything, won't win over any new fans if you're looking for something on par with his other more famous science fiction film, but for somebody who enjoys something inventive told mainly through visuals and imagery, THX 1138 is certainly a feast for the eyes.

The world of THX 1138 takes place in a self contained environment where sex is outlawed and everything is controlled by drugs. One day THX 1138 (Robert Duvall) stops taking the drugs and starts experiencing normal feelings again, mainly a sexual attraction to his mate LUH (Maggie McComie). He get's her pregnant and they are both arrested as sex is one of the biggest laws that can be broken. Meanwhile THX 1138 has met SEN (Donald Pleasence), a strange member of this society who seems to hold a fascination with THX 1138 and through certain procedures, has done what he can to get rid of LUH so that he and THX 1138 can co-habitate together as he feels THX 1138 would make a perfect roommate. While incarcerated for his sex crime, he starts planning his escape from this morbid society. He soon learns that not everything he has learned and lived is what it seems and knows he's left with no other choice but to try and free himself from this world at any cost.  

What makes this film so unique is that almost nothing is ever explained. You don't know how far into the future or the past they might be. If they are even on Earth or maybe some distant planet. The history of any of these characters like who they are or how long have they been here? You don't know who, if anybody, actually rules this place. How big this world of there's is? These are all things that are left to imagination of the viewer to make up for themselves. It's an odd way of telling a story and can easily aggravate someone who's looking for answers. And that's one of the biggest obstacles this film has against it. Half the time you just don't know what the hell is going on. Things are happening and you just don't know how or why. To top it off, everything, and I mean everything, is categorized by coded numbers. People, situations, events, procedures, you name it. It's all spoken and categorized by numbers which only add to the frustration of now knowing what the hell is going on. I can see why this was such a huge failure for both Lucas and Coppola's Zoetrope pictures. For at least the first hour, nothing really happens. We're treated to many, many scenes of these branded individuals going through there mundane and ordinary daily procedures over and over again with only Lucas's inventive and brilliant camera work to break up the monotony.

Right from the opening frame it's immediately apparent that every single shot has been painstakingly planned, designed and executed to full effect. And despite all of it's flaws, that's probably the best thing this film has going for it, that whether you think it's great or sucks, it looks beautiful. For me, to be quite honest, the first 75% of the film is a complete bore. If it didn't looks so incredible, I would have given up on it after 20 minutes. But I've always been a visual kinda guy, both in my tastes and in my art. I love style, any kind of style, and if I'm drawn to a film purely for the visual aspect of it, I'll more often than not stick through it till the end, which is the case with this film. But I think for most people it's the first three quarters of nothing happening that can drive you nuts. It's not until THX 1138 finally devises a plan to escape when the film "finally" starts to take shape and offer a little more excitement than the usual "nothing". And it's in these last 30 minutes that I really wish represented the whole of the film. If Lucas had done the entire film like this it would have been remarkably better and more than likely much more profitable. These last 30 minutes kick some serious ass. THX 1138 is on the run with the help of another lost citizen he's met along the way, and we're treated to a pretty badass car chase as well as being relentlessly being hunted down by the chrome robots on there motorbikes. This last section is what ultimately saves the film and when it's over, you sort of feel a little sore at Lucas for making us sit through an hour of beautifully shot "nothing" to finally get to the good stuff where he could easily have completely gotten rid of sequences that offered nothing to the stories progress and replaced it with a much needed bit of action. I know he was't going for that type of film, but had he gone that route it woulda been a helluva film.

As far as the cast goes, they do really fine work with very limited dialogue. A very young and fit Robert Duvall proves why he's so good at what he does. Donald Pleasence as the calculating and possibly dangerous  SEN also turns in a fine performance, and quite possibly the most normal performance I've seen from him in any of the films I've seen him in. It should also be noted that sound designer Walter Murch (Apocalypse Now) who also co-wrote the screenplay with Lucas also did a lot of the experimental sound effects and sound elements found throughout the film. Most of the time you think it's just part of the score by Lalo Schifrin (Enter the Dragon), but it's actually experimental noise done by Murch. Some of it works really well, and some of it just seems designed to distract you from the fact that nothing is going on.
As with Star Wars, Lucas went in and enhanced all of the effects and added some digital effects sequences to expand this world and enhance some scenes by expanding some background imagery and creating new scenes altogether. 99% of it works, while one sequence in particular is just downright cringe inducing to the highest extent. I'm talking about the shell dweller's sequence when THX runs into a pack of them while on his escape towards the end of the film. Oh man that was a really lousy sequence with horribly rendered CGI animals. While you can clearly tell when and where these newly added scenes and CGI sequences are, with the exception of the "shell dwellers" sequence, it works really well and doesn't take away from the film at all. With how impressive George Lucas has made the imagery here, the effects only add to it in a good way.

Make no mistake, THX 1138 is not for everybody and I'm sure I'll get some flack from some of you for liking it as much as I do. For me, it's the visual experience that kept me hooked along with the final act that had me wanting more of this world that looked and worked much better than the rest of the film did. Whether you love it, hate it or just find it passable, one things for sure, THX 1138 had a profound impact on a lot of science fiction films that followed with it's visionary and experimental take on the science fiction genre.

Review: Intruder

Directed by: Scott Spiegel
Category: Horror

My good man Ingo over at Hellford 667 Movie Reviews recommended this one to me recently. I've also been reading a lot about it lately since Synapse Films is doing a Director's Cut of this gore classic on Blu-ray, due to be released on Dec. 13th.

First thing I feel I need to mention is that I was unaware there were two versions of this film out. An 83 minute butchered cut as well as an 88 and 90 minute unrated Directors Cut. Had I known about this beforehand, I surely would have sought out the unedited version. But it was streaming on Netflix (the 83 minuted edited cut of course) so I thought I'd give it a go anyway.

 There's been a lot of talk about this low-budget gore classic and with Synapse Films calling it "The Holy Grail of extreme gore cinema", well that is quite a statement indeed. I can't help but feel short changed now that I know what I was watching was severely and horribly edited, but it just gives me incentive to go out and actually get my hands on the Director's Cut, which is not very pricey at all.

Jennifer (Elizabeth Cox) is your average girl working the night shift at a local mom and pop grocery store. One day her ex-boyfriend Craig (David Byrnes) shows up as they are closing down for the night demanding that she get back together with him and stating he will do whatever it takes to win her back. Only thing is, she's moved on as he's a physically abusive boyfriend and to top it off, he just got out of prison for killing a guy who intervened when the two of them were having a fight. He immediately starts man-handling her when the rest of her co-workers intervene and after a few fights, are able to throw him out and lock the door as they continue there nightly duties of cleaning and stocking up the shelves for the next day. Mysteriously though, they start dying off one by one in extremely gruesome fashion and it's up to Jennifer to put a stop to the killings once and for all.

Wizards 2005 90 min. Director's Cut
I must say, this was a really fun low-budget little horror film. It's not as well known as say The Evil Dead, but I dare say it's just as inventive and entertaining. Maybe not on par, but on a film with an obvious minuscule budget filmed entirely on one location (the grocery store), it possesses a fun vibe and playful and upbeat pace. One thing is certainly evident right from the opening shots, writer/director Scott Spiegel crammed as much visual ingenuity into "almost" every single shot that, whether you ultimately think it's a good or a bad film, you still have a pretty fun time with it because it's just so damn creative with the camera work. It doesn't always work though as there are a few scenes and sequences that were crinch inducing (mainly any kind of fight), but remarkably most of them do work and work wonderfully. I mean, some of the shots are so damn quirky that you almost laugh when you see them. Like when Linda is talking on a phone, the camera angle is situated inside the actual rotary phone and you are seeing the image of Linda on the phone through the little holes where the numbers would normally be. Huh?? That's just the topper though, as there are many inventive camera shots like that found throughout, no doubt taking inspiration from Intruder co-star and friend Sam Raimi. Yes, "that" Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead, Spider-man, Darkman) is an actor in this film as a grocery store employee, as well as his brother Ted.

I must say, this is not the kind of film I thought I was going into. In this case, that's definitely a good thing. The cover image at the top is all I had to go on, so immediately I think it's some kind of monster after a chick. I actually thought the chick was Kristy Swanson based on that cover shot too. Nope! What it is is a film about an angry abusive ex-boyfriend who terrorizes a group of grocery store employees during one long night. The entire film takes place in this one location and to great effect. We're treated to inventive and bloody kills and a decent cast, some of them better than others. I don't really want to get too into the story as they do throw in some plot twists that you see a mile away, but that ultimately give the film some fun ideas to play with where you end up second guessing yourself.

Synapse Films 2011 88 min. Director's Cut

I almost didn't want to do a review on this one so soon because the more I think about it, the more I want to see the Director's Cut to get a full appreciation for what Spiegel and company were going for. Because in this edited version, you just get pissed off because every time a kill comes, either the camera pans away and it's all done off screen or it's horribly edited in half and cuts to the next scene. You immediately know that's the case most of the time because right in the middle of a death sequence, everything is cut (the music, the sound effects, the editing, the shot) and it looks and sounds fucking ridiculous. Not the way it was done or executed, but the way it was haphazardly cut by someone who didn't know what the hell hey were doing. It honestly is really hard to watch these butchered sequences. So you can expect another "mini" review of the Director's Cut in the near future when I get a chance to catch it.

All in all though, it was a fun watch. Bottom line is, DO NOT watch the 83 minute edited cut. It'll only piss you off. Either check out Wizard Entertainment's 2005 90 minute Director's Cut (which hilariously glorifies Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi's names in huge letters at the top even though Campbell has a 2 minute cameo at the very end and Raimi is only a minor supporting character) or you can pre-order Synapse Films 88 minute Uncut Intruder Blu-ray/DVD Combo that's set to be released on Dec. 13.


VHS Cover Of The Day - Tron

Tron original U.K. PAL VHS clamshell release

Slow weekend so I thought I'd post a a few covers. 
Tron is one of my absolute favorite films of all time. I remember it vaguely as a kid, but it wasn't until the 2002 20th Anniversary Edition came out on DVD that I became fully obsessed with this wonderful film. 
It's not perfect and it has a lot of problems, some I have major issues with, but I enjoy it immensely nonetheless and still pop it in every so often. Because despite it's massive flaws, it still has a lot going for it. Writer/director Steven Lisberger came up with something totally unique and an undoubted "game-changer" in modern cinema. Because let's be honest, without Tron, then we wouldn't have films like Toy Story or The Incredibles. Yea, the sequel that we all waited decades to materialize left most of us a little disappointed and confused. And let's be honest, it looked cool, but it's not the Tron film I waited so long for and I'm not going to even get into why the hell the actual character of Tron was hardly in it and how a movie titled Tron had almost nothing to do with the character of Tron. But whatever........

Tron original Disney U.S. VHS clamshell release


Batman: Year One

Directed by:
Sam Liu, Lauren Montgomery
Category: Animation

I almost always check out anything Marvel and DC has to offer in there animated Direct-to-DVD department. I've always been a Marvel guy my whole life and have pretty much been collecting comics on and off ever since I could read. But as far as the Direct-to-DVD stuff, I think DC has the upper hand. To this day I haven't seen a DC animated film I didn't like. Hell, even Wonder Woman kicked ass. But the Batman films are what really draw you in, depending on what story line or what part of the DC universe you follow. But this, this is something else entirely different. Deciding to base an animated film off of Frank Miller's dark and brilliant Year One storyline, the filmmakers have created probably the best DC animated flick to date.

What makes this film work more than the others is that more than anything, it's a dark detective noir with some action thrown in for good measure. This is adult stuff here, complete with graphic violence and language. What I think will surprise most people is that the story mainly revolves around a young Jim Gordon before his Commissioner days, excellently voiced by Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad). Here he plays him tough, weary and even a little violent. Making mistakes like everybody else and learning to live with them. I think the most fascinating for me was to learn that Austin, TX native Ben McKenzie (Southland, The O.C.) did the voice of Bruce Wayne/Batman in this one. I really dug the sound of Batman's voice and how unique it was this time out, but couldn't figure out who the hell it was until the credits. Even then I still can't believe it. I've seen McKenzie in a few things and would never have guessed that was him supplying the voice. Really great job from the entire cast including Alex Rocco as Falcone, Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse) as Catwoman and Kalee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica) as Det. Esssen, the new girl on the beat.

If you usually don't make it a habit of checking these DC animated flicks out, I strongly recommend you do so with this one. It's completely different from any of the others they've offered up until now. For starters, there are no superheros here. Everybody has flaws, even Batman and more importantly Lieutenant Gordon. With a baby on the way, the guy makes some truly horrible and questionable decisions that come back to bite him in the ass. Batman/Bruce Wayne ain't no hero either. He's just starting out as a crime fighter and makes a multitude of mistakes along the way. He also can't seem to get anybody to think what he's doing is a good thing. Yea he's cleaning up the streets of Gotham, but he does it by breaking the law and the cops won't sit back and watch this vigilante do there job and break the law doing it.
Another plus is just how dark, bleak, violent and gritty this thing is. Using Frank Miller's (300, Sin City, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns) storyline was a brilliant idea and clocking in at a mere 64 minutes, it's as long and as short as it needs to be. There's no fluff to be found anywhere, just the essentials to keep the story moving along and some of the best animation to be found in any Direct-to-DVD flick to date.


Review: Waxwork

Directed by: Anthony Hickox
Category: Horror

1988 was such a great year for a filmgeek. I mean, just check out the lineup of films that hit both the theaters and the home video market. Along with Waxwork we also had films like Above the Law, They LiveHellbound: Hellraiser 2, Bloodsport, Action Jackson, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, Prison, Red Scorpion, Fright Night Part 2, Dead Heat, Friday the 13th Part 7, Red Heat, The Blob, Die Hard, Pumpkinhead, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Maniac Cop and to just randomly throw in a truly horrible piece of crap into the mix, R.O.T.O.R.
Is that not a truly great year of badass cinema?

I remember watching this one often, along with it's sequel and it's probably been a good 20 years since I've revisited this, so what the hell. Let's give it a go.

One night a group of friends are walking through a neighborhood when they notice a waxwork museum which seemed to appear out of nowhere right smack in the middle of a quiet suburban street. They are invited to attend a special midnight viewing by the mysterious waxwork man who insists that no more than 6 arrive for the special secret viewing. Once the friends arrive at midnight they soon discover that if you cross the barrier rope, they are sucked into the world of the exhibit themselves and ultimately become a permanent wax figure forever. 

This one was just OK. I see the genuine talent writer/director Anthony Hickox possesses in some scenes and certain sequences, but maybe because of budget restraints or inexperience, it's never fully realized properly. All the actors are fine, and some of the sequences hinge on "badass", but there's some really bad and sloppy editing work that almost destroy a decent sequence. And in the end, that's really what this film is ultimately going to be about and what you will end up talking about, certain sequences. You see, once these individuals get sucked into a time portal and are transported into the world on display in the individual exhibits, then we're treated to 10 to 15 minute long sequences in these worlds. Some of them work, and some of them don't. The standout ones for me would be the werewolf sequence, the zombie sequence and the vampire sequence. The werewolf sequence probably stands out the most simply because the design of the werewolf itself was so freaking badass. The thing is huge, and the fact that it's played by none other than John Rhys-Davies only makes it cooler. The animatronics on the head don't work as smoothly as you would hope, but it still looks cool. He also splits a victim in two right down the middle pulling him apart with his bear hands. Awesome. The zombie sequence works because it's in black and white and does a great job at playing homage to George Romero's Night of the Living Dead, except it was way too brief running at a total of 3-5 minutes.

There are some familiar faces like David Warner (Tron), Zach Galligan (Gremlins), John Rhys-Davies (Indiana Jones, Lord of the Rings) and Miles O'Keefe that lend the film some much needed cred, and Hickox's inventive camera work works surprisingly well most of the time, but you can't help but feel that it's missing something. I think a decent amount of gore would have been nice, especially in the vampire sequence. You always feel like there should have been "more" when a bloody scene comes up, or maybe there was and it was severely edited. Who knows. The end though is where the film kind of falls apart. There's a huge mob scene and it just doesn't look very good. The editing's all off and only makes it look cheap. The effects work also doesn't help. The scene when the museum is on fire as the two heroin's of the story watch from outside is pretty laughable.

Probably one of the best things Waxwork has going for it is "when" it was made. 1988 is a pretty specific year during this era and the film looks and feels totally 80's, right down to the music, clothes and even there slang. I mean, I'm talking more so than "any" of the other films I mentioned earlier that came out this same year. You could swear this thing was made in 1984 or something. That's how completely dated it looks and feels, but for this film it's a plus. It adds a nostalgic factor to it and makes it much easier to watch.

 I now it sounds like I'm bitching a lot, but the films not a complete failure. It's got a fun and slightly hip vibe, and some of the ideas, camerawork and the way it was pulled off works effectively well. But it also feels completely amateurish at times and that it could have been better. But hey, you gotta start somewhere right? Hickox eventually made a name for himself with films like Warlock II, Hellraiser III, Blast and Full Eclipse and the sequel to this film to name a few. And he has improved over the years, but not always. There are still a few I'd like to forget from his filmography.


Review: Warrior of the Lost World

Directed by: David Worth
Category: Cult Classics

80% of Warrior of the Lost World works surprisingly well. I think I was expecting an exploitation flick, directed by an Italian with an American pseudonym like most of them did during this time, but what I got was a low budget DTV science fiction flick that looks and feels like an exploitation, but is something else altogether. Something with a more serious tone that feels like it's trying to say something about society in general, but doesn't quite make that point very clear. It's not great, or even badass in a "so bad it's good" kinda way, but if you can look past the weak parts, it's quite effective.

I think the most surprising thing about this slightly entertaining piece of sci-fi trash is that it's written and directed by a guy named David Worth (no it's not an pseudonym of a well known Italian director), a notable and frequent director of photography and cinematographer of a pretty diverse group of films like Clint Eastwood's Bronco Billy and Any Which Way You Can to the low-budget martial arts Cynthia Rothrock films Lady Dragon 1 & 2 as well as Bloodsport. Yes, "that" Bloodsport. Oh, and most importantly, the D.o.P. of one of my favorite pieces of low-budget 80's trash,  Never Too Young To Die. Have I ever mentioned how much I love that film? Just in case you don't already know, I do. It's one of my favorite "WTF?" films ever. But besides writing and directing credits on a number of films in different genre's including the Lady Dragon films, he also wrote and directed one of Jean Claude Van Damme's earliest hits, Kickboxer. I'm telling you, this guy is strangely all over the place and he's still making movies to this day.

A lone warrior on a state of the art supersonic motorcycle simply known as The Rider (Robert Ginty) is roaming the post apocalyptic land when he's chosen by a resistance group known as The Elders to free there captured leader McWayne who is being held prisoner by the evil tyrant Prossor (Donald Pleasance). Along with the professor's daughter Nastasia (Persis Khambatta) they sneak into the heavily guarded city seeking to bring the professor home and take down the tyrannical Prossor. 

Warrior of the Lost World starts with a bang as our hero of the film, The Rider (Ginty) is being pursued by the Omega Militia in what is a pretty badass and extended chase sequence. The way it was shot and edited really impressed the hell out of me and worried me a bit as I feared the rest of the film just couldn't live up to that great opening. It doesn't, but that's not to say the film doesn't have anything to offer. Warrior of the Lost World reminded me a lot of Demolition Man, and I wouldn't be a bit surprised to find out that the screenwriters got a lot of there inspiration from this film. When this film isn't being silly or giving us a half hearted sequence that offers nothing to the story, the remainder of the film works surprisingly well as  a cautionary tale of totalarian rule. When it's dealing with these sequences and this topic in general, the film looks and feels great. It's in these sequences that writer/director David Worth gives the film a more professional edge and gives us less cheesy hand-held camera work. But ultimately, the totalarian theme and the above average camera work doesn't and can't save this film. While there are many things to admire about it, there are just as many aspects that make you shake your head in total confusion or disbelief.

Warrior of the Lost World original HBO/Thorn EMI VHS cover
Robert Ginty (The Exterminator) does a decent enough job as the lone warrior. His delivery, for lack of a better word, is very subdued. Almost like he's there, but he doesn't know why. Most of the time he looks lost or confused, but delivers the lines anyway even if they don't make any sense. The film is also heavily dubbed by the actors themselves, and it's really distracting sometimes because it just doesn't sound natural. Like The Rider whispers "a lot", yet it's louder than anything else going on in the scene. And I swear, if you didn't know it was Ginty up on the screen, if you closed your eyes you could swear it was Tom Skerrit. They sound exactly alike. Donald Pleasance as the evil ruler Prossor is an odd choice, especially for such a low budget film. He's not in it often, but when he is on screen he does the most with what he's given, which isn't much really. But probably the strangest addition to the cast for me would be Fred Williamson. I don't know what the hell he was doing in this. He seems so out of place and even more so since his role is so small that his total screen time probably only runs maybe 10 minutes. And then to find out later than he had more to do with what's going on with the so called "story" doesn't really help matters at all. Instead you just left scratching your head. Director David Worth has stated in a past interview that he was hired to write and direct a film that would match the poster art that was already made. The film had been given the greenlight before he even had a script. Unless you decided to go the "trashy" route, I don't see how you can expect an entertaining film to come out of a process like that. While we're on the subject, I should also mention that The Rider and his state of the art motorcycle look nothing like the poster art. Another deceiving piece of low budget marketing.

Bottom line, it's better than I was expecting it to be, but since it took itself too seriously and never really went the "exploitation" or "trash" route, it ended up being more dull than anything. I get the theme, but it just wasn't able to fully realize it on such a small budget and an apparently rushed script. It's definitely worth a viewing because there are a few cool sequences, some cool visual propaganda themes, even a cool and weird fist fight out in the middle of the desert, but ultimately falls flat when compared to other post apocalyptic films of this time, ones who chose to instead go over the top and ultimately felt more satisfying.


The Punisher: Workprint Edition

Directed by:
Mark Goldblatt
Category: Badass Cinema

I just wanted to give some quick thoughts on the workprint edition of this awesome piece of badass cinema from the best era in Dolph Lundgren's career, the late 80's to early 90's.

I was only recently made aware that there was even a workprint edition of this film in existence, and it was completely by accident. Only thing is, apparently it's really only readily available in Germany, unless you feel confident enough to try and download it somewhere on the internet without getting a nasty virus. In my case, I need to thank my good buddy and fellow filmgeek Ingo (who lives in Germany) over at Hellford 667 Movie Reviews for hooking me up with a copy. You're the best!

You know, I was always suspicious of there being an alternate cut, or in the least, some deleted scenes floating around somewhere. They were never presented on the standard and "only" U.S. DVD release, but even as far back as the VHS release, there's an image of Dolph as Frank Castle in his street clothes standing on a dark street holding a gun with his partner Jake standing next to him and Sam (who would show up in the film as a detective who teams up with Jake because she also believes Frank Castle is in fact The Punisher), dressed as an undercover prostitute on the back cover. However that scene is not in the final cut of the film, even though it's specifically mentioned when Sam introduces herself to Jake in the beginning of the film as he is investigating the house that The Punisher just blew up.

So anyway, the workprint edition. It's pretty damn great if you ask me. Right in the beginning, before we're shown any familiar footage from the regular U.S. edition, we're given a complete 16 minute prologue of Frank Castle before he became The Punisher. Right of the bat we're shown Frank and his partner Jake during a stakeout waiting for a deal to go down in a warehouse with Sam undercover as a prostitute inside. We see them talk, joke and banter back and forth giving us a much clearer definition of there relationship before Frank went AWOL. And you see they were in fact best friends, one would say even more like brothers. You even see Frank show concern and sympathy for his recovering alcoholic friend. Then the deal goes down and Frank and Jake, along with Sam bust the deal in a pretty big shootout followed by Frank swinging into a ring (a la Showdown in Little Tokyo) and kicks some ass.
Afterwards we see Frank go home to his waiting wife and family as it moves onto the next morning where Frank is at home getting ready for work when Jake shows up to pick up his partner and they head off to the airport to put the heat on Franco. Franco, incensed that Castle is trying to shake him orders a hit. As Frank and Jake are heading back to Frank's house, we see his family getting into the family car where they are supposed to meet up with Frank later at a party where it ultimately blows up just as Frank and Jake are pulling up. Frank runs to the car and bangs on the window (this scene is actually shown in a flashback sequence in the U.S. release) where it explodes in a huge ball of fire with Jake standing nearby helpless.
Cut to the scene where Moretti (One of Franco's men) is leaving the courthouse after being released as he's interviewed by a female reporter before getting into a waiting limousine with The Punisher watching from his motorcycle nearby. And that's where the film resumes to the regular U.S. edition we've seen since it's initial 1999 DVD release.

I loved seeing this new footage. For me, it shows The Punisher was actually a human being capable of "feeling" actual emotions. Without sounding too cliche, it makes him look more human. Whether or not that's something you want to actually see is a different story. I myself enjoyed it quite a bit. I mean, we kinda knew he had "some" kind of soul since the only reason he even got involved in the whole mess to begin with was because he was going to rescue the children of the all the mob bosses who had been kidnapped by the Yakuza. So right there you know he's got feelings, otherwise why would he risk his life for a bunch of kids?
And it shows that he indeed had a pretty strong relationship with his partner Jake. More than anything though, it was cool and kinda strange seeing Frank wearing a bright blue suit as he goes to work as a detective. He's shaven, clean cut and more than anything, just plain clean and healthy looking. Although it's in these deleted  sequences that we see how strangely thin Dolph Lundgren was when he made this. I don't think I've ever seen him looking so lanky before, especially considering how huge he got for Showdown in Little Tokyo just 2 years later.

I will say this though, this entire 16 minute intro into The Punisher's life as Frank Castle does shift the pace of the film. Whereas we're used to a balls to the wall action film right from the get-go in the original version, this workprint edition slows down the pace significantly and in hindsight, I can understand why they cut the scenes. They just didn't really offer anything to the story that couldn't be told through flashbacks or through conversation. It was just cool getting to see some never before seen footage to one of Dolph Lundgren's greatest films and shows what kind of film The Punisher could have been, whether for the better is completely up for debate.

Review: Giorgio Moroder presents Metropolis

Directed by: Fritz Lang
Category: Cult Classics

Quick history lesson:
Metropolis was made in 1926 by German director Fritz Lang. At the time this science fiction epic was  the most expensive and biggest film ever made. Originally, Metropolis was intended to be epic, clocking in at 210 minutes (almost 4 hours long) upon it's first release. However after it's disastrous initial premiere in Berlin in 1927, it was systematically and severely cut down to 93 minutes for it's re-release in Germany and 114 minutes for the American release. Since 1927, Metropolis has been released dozens and dozens of times on VHS and DVD, most of them really bad quality VHS, but the best being Kino's 2010 restored release titled The Complete Metropolis.

Because of these severe and drastic cuts, Metropolis was left almost incomprehensible with many scenes and title cards having been lost, some of them forever. But throughout the years, beginning with Academy Award winning music producer Giorgio Moroder (Scarface) in 1984, missing scenes and title cards have been discovered all over the world having been found forgotten in museums, archives and most notably, in private collections. In 2010 Kino released the most complete and exhaustively restored version to date called The Complete Metropolis, bringing the total running time up to 145 minutes. It's still not the complete version as originally released in Germany in 1927, not by a long shot, but to date it's the most complete we're likely to get unless the additional 65 minutes of missing footage ever gets found.

In 1984, Giorgio Moroder had found some key missing scenes and title cards that had been thought lost forever. Using the original script and novel, he inserted the missing footage back into the film and created new title cards along with stills to fill in some gaps putting together, up until that point, the most complete version seen in the last 50 years. But that was 27 years ago and more footage has been found since then resulting in Kino's release of  The Complete Metropolis in 2010. Additionally, Giorgio Moroder wrote and produced new 1984 rock era music which was performed by the likes of Queen, Pat Benetar, Billy Squire, Bonnie Tyler and Freddie Mercury (to name a few) and inserted into the film as well as color tinting the black and white film to great effect. Ultimately this gives the film a more retro look and feel and has since become known as Giorgio Moroder presents Metropolis.
End history lesson.

Metropolis is essentially a pretty simple story. There are two cities in Metropolis, the city above and the city below ground. Below is filled with "the workers" who man and operate the monstrous machines that run the city above in a dark, dirty and claustrophobic environment. They serve no other purpose other than to work the machines that make Metropolis. The city above ground is a beautiful and lustrous haven for the rich and elite run by the master of Metropolis, Joh Frederson. When Joh Frederson's son discovers this secret underground world of workers, his whole world is shaken because he feels it's wrong. Meanwhile, a mad scientist who's obsessed with the loss of his lost love Maria has created a robot designed to take her place, only he needs a soul  to complete the robot, and that's where a new woman (also named Maria) enters the picture. He steals her soul, implants it into the robot and Robot Maria is born to wreck havoc and ultimately destroy the city. 

This is a purely visual film, and that's what makes it so unique, especially considering it was made in 1926. The special effects, the sets and futuristic design are just simply breath taking and amazing. When you consider this was  made before talking pictures, color and even sound, that's a pretty impressive feat. Sure the story is pretty juvenile when you actually try to analyze it, but the simplicity of it all works because of the visual aspect.
I remember the first time I ever saw this film. I had a get together with a bunch of friends and my friend Lisa brought a bootleg VHS over and I was immediately mesmerized. The images completely blew my mind and I've been pretty much obsessed with it ever since. How obsessed? I currently have this poster framed and mounted on my living room wall and I have the soundtrack on vinyl, which I then transferred to CD and my iPod to listen to in my car. After my first viewing of this on that bootleg VHS a lifetime ago, I immediately sought it out on eBay and paid an absolutely ridiculous sum for it, especially for a used VHS. I wasn't going to let the prick who I was bidding against win this one, not by a long shot. I "had" to have this movie and I won't embarrass myself by telling you what I ultimately paid for it, its ridiculous. I don't know if it would have had the same effect had I seen the original unaltered black and white version first, because it was this version that I saw first, with the rad 80's rock music and color tints. And let me tell you, those changes make a world of difference. I love the restored version Kino put out last year just as much, but in a more artistic way. Giorgio Moroder's version is a more retro and hip version.

This version just doesn't compare to The Complete Metropolis, even on Blu-ray. With this version, all they did was just make it "finally" available on DVD and Blu-ray, which it hadn't been since it's release in 1984, so just that alone was pretty huge news for filmgeeks like myself. But no work was done to restore the footage or clean it up like they did in The Complete Metropolis, so it's still jumpy, scratched and pretty grainy in some scenes. But if you've watched this countless times like I have, you've just grown accustomed to watching it this way anyway. The work done on Kino's The Complete Metropolis is still the absolute best version you will find anywhere and is most definitely worth seeking out, but for a more retro feel with some pretty badass 80's rock songs, this is a must.

Check out the two trailers I've included for both Kino's restored Complete Metropolis and for Giorgio Moroder presents Metropolis so you can get a sense of how different this one film can be interpreted by making some changes to the music and color tints. It's pretty amazing. I love the look, sound and feel of the original black and white version, but the geek in my still loves what Moroder has done to his 1984 release.

Metropolis is one of the most influential science fiction films ever made and begs to be seen.  


This weekends Cult Cinema view list: Giorgio Moroder's Metropolis & More Brains!: A Return to the Living Dead

Giorgio Moroder presents 
Fritz Lang's Metropolis:
Music producer Giorgio Moroder's re-edited, re-colorized and re-scored with 80's rock music version of Fritz Lang's sci-fi masterpiece finally came out on DVD and Blu-ray this past Tuesday and I cannot wait to watch it this weekend. Unbeknownst to me Target and Walmart decided not to carry this in there retail stores so I had no choice but to get it online, which is fine but I was just really excited to get my hands on it Tuesday and the impatient part of me did not want to wait 2-3 days for it to arrive in the mail.
I can only imagine what this thing looks like on Blu and to top it off, it comes with a rarely seen documentary from the early 80's on Moroder's meticulous restoration process on this wonderful film.
Be sure to expect a review on one of my favorite films of all time in the near future.

More Brains!: A Return to the Living Dead Documentary
Picked this up off the official website at
Get More Brains this past week also. I've been waiting a long time for this too ever since word first came out that they were doing it. I love a good documentary, and if it's related to movies, even better.
The Return of the Living Dead is one of my favorite zombie films and flat out horror films ever. Dan O'Bannon really did a number on the zombie genre with this injecting the film with so much over the top tongue-in-cheek humor, wit, violence, gore and genuine scares that it easily ranks as one of the best horror films to come out of the mid 1980's. Cost: $20 w/FREE shipping.

Heres the word via the official website:
An original 2-hour documentary with never-before-seen material, incredible untold stories and more. Over 30 brand-new interviews with cast and crew from the first three "Return of the Living Dead" films. Never-before-seen deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes, bloopers and special effects test footage that brought the "Dead" to life.


Expendables 2 Poster hits the net!

Hell yea. I do like it more than the poster for the first film, but I hope this isn't the final poster art because EX2 just doesn't work. Seriously? You're going to abbreviate a badass and killer name like The Expendables?
But it does look more 80's than the first one did, so that's something. 
In any case, the geek in me is just excited to see this awesome cast in one movie. I just hope it lives up to my expectations. Can't wait to check it out in August. Simon West don't screw it up!

Review: Above the Law

Above the Law U.S. poster

Directed by: Andrew Davis
Category: Badass Cinema

Surprisingly, I remember very little about this early Seagal effort. I don't know why, but whenever I think of Seagal's first films I automatically go to Hard to Kill. I think it's because that was the film where he really made a name for himself. I still remember vividly seeing the ad for Hard to Kill in my local newspaper in the entertainment section with the caption
"# 1 Film in America!". I tell you, I can remember shit like that yet I can't remember what the hell I did two days ago.

 Seagal plays Nicolo "Nico" Toscani, a tough detective for the Chicago police force with a bad attitude who, after busting up a drug ring with his partner Det. Delores "Jacks" Jackson (everyone has a nickname here), uncovers a plot involving the FBI, CIA, the state senator and Nico's former days as a CIA operative back in Vietnam in 1973 coming back to haunt him, all wrapped up in a convoluted plot involving corruption, drugs and torture.

In all honesty, the plot is way more complicated than it needs to be. I gave you a severely edited and shortened summary because I could spend the entire post writing about the plot and all the supblots and characters involved and it really wouldn't make a difference. There's just way too much going on with the story and an insane amount of characters to even try.

Above the Law AKA Nico Japanese poster
With that being said, I really enjoyed the hell out of this movie. I didn't remember anything about it to begin with, so technically it was like watching it for the first time and damnit, I had a blast with it. This is such a great example of the late 80's boom of action/martial arts films starring newcomers like Seagal and his arch nemesis Van Damme when there films were actually hitting the theaters. Remember those days? This same year Van Damme also came out with his breakout role in Bloodsport, so they were and have been literally going head to head at the beginning of both of there careers, which just so happened to start about the same time. Van Damme already had No Retreat, No Surrender under his belt, but Bloodsport was his first starring role.

I gotta give Seagal credit here, he carries the film pretty well and though he's a completely unlikable character, the bad guys are so much worse and when he's brave and tough enough to stand up against them, well you pretty much root for him in the end because when it gets down to business, Nico kicks some serious ass, even at the expense of his family and his partner's safety. He's a stubborn and rough around the edges kinda guy and when you tell him no, then it just means he'll do it anyway and he'll make sure of it since he's not supposed to. That's just the kind of guy he is, even though he's a cop, he's more likely to say "Fuck the law and your rules".
The fight scenes are aplenty in here, though you're not gonna see him doing flips or jump kicks or anything like that. Yea, Akido is not as exciting to watch as Kickboxing or pretty much anything Jackie Chan did in his career during this time, but holy shit is Steven Seagal one strong son of a bitch. The way he throws these guys around with such ease or can drop a dude twice his size with 2 hits is really fun to watch. Still weird to see him looking so thin though.

I'm really surprised that this was his first film because he's so confident in this. Some might say arrogant and cocky, which is definitely true and you can totally read that off of him, but he's always been a one-note actor without really being able to emit any kind of emotion other than pissed off, mad, angry or asshole. But that's been his method his entire career and it works alright for certain kinds of films, namely these.

Above the Law AKA Nico German Poster
Director Andrew Davis, who also gave us Code of Silence, Under Seige and The Fugitive, keeps the visuals to a minimum, often going for a more gritty than flashy look, but keeps the pace fast and the action (most importantly) plenty, injecting the screen with lots of fist fights, shootouts, chase sequences and car chases. To be quite honest, I was actually surprised at how fast the movie moved along and how much action there was. I really wasn't expecting a lot and thanfully, it was never dull.
Also of note is how Seagal seems to do most of his own stunts here. I mean you can actually see the guy holding onto the roof of a car as it's barreling down the street trying to shake him off or running on top of a moving train as he's trying to outrun a bunch of bad guys. Commendable to say the least. I know this was his first film and he was hungry, as they say, for the experience but I like to see when an actor isn't afraid to get there hands dirty, especially in a film like this.

Above the Law AKA Nico also sports a pretty badass and respectable supporting cast. For starters you have none other than Pam Grier (Foxy Brown, Jackie Brown) as Nico's soon-to-be-retired partner, Henry Silva as a high ranking CIA operative from Nico's past who resurfaces back into his life on the other side of the law and Sharon Stone as Nico's long suffering wife who offers a lot for such a small role. Say what you want about her choice in roles or the decision to go naked on screen at almost 50 for Basic Instinct 2, but when given the right material the girl can act and in the few scenes she's given here, she proves it.

Above the Law was much better than I expected it to be. The plot is unnecessarily complicated but there's so much action and violence in here that it doesn't take away from your experience. If anything, you just have a hard time trying to remember all these names they throw at you. Marked for Death is still my favorite Seagal flick, but surprisingly this one easily ranks better than Hard to Kill for me. Hard to Kill, though enjoyable, had too much suspense and the long drawn out sequences of him in the hospital and recovering afterwards really slowed the film down. Above the Law throws so many fights, chases and action at you at a feverish pace that when the final showdown goes down, it almost feels too brief.


Cannon Films Documentary Coming Soon!

So this is probably the coolest news I've heard all week. Well, next to Giorgio Moroder's Metropolis hitting DVD and Blu-ray this past Tuesday anyway, which by the way neither Walmart nor Target are carrying in there stores which doesn't make any sense to me whatsoever! But anway.........

Mark Hartley, the guy who gave us the awesome documentaries Not Quite Hollywood and Machete Maiden's Unleashed is now working on a new documentary centering around the films of the producing cousins of Golan and Globus who formed Cannon Films. That is really exciting news because they put out a really wide range of films in all genre's back in the 80's like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Masters of the UniverseInvasion U.S.A. and of course the Electric Boogaloo films just to name a few. It's fair to say they were a big part of my 80's viewing experience as a teenager. Thanks to my buddy Ingo over at Hellford 667 Movie Reviews for the heads up. 

Here's the word via BadassDigest.com:

Mark Hartley, the man behind Not Quite Hollywood and Machete Maidens Unleashed, has another movie doc lined up, and this is the one that he's been waiting to do for years. It's called Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films. Yes, it's about the film company that Golan and Globus made famous with films like Missing In Action, Delta Force, American Ninja, Lifeforce as well as surprisingly serious fare likeTough Guys Don't DanceRunaway Train and Zeffirelli's Otello.
Hartley has been trying to get this going for some time, so it's exciting to see him finally announcing it. I'm not sure when this is happening - he also has a remake of the Aussie horror film Patrick brewing - but I for one can't wait to see it. The image above is the announcement/promo poster.


VHS Cover Of The Day - Dark Angel Japanese VHS Cover

Yes, yes, yes.........I know. I have an unhealthy obsession with collecting every single form of this awesome Dolph Lundgren fim I can find, be it VHS from every country, Laserdisc and now DVD. I don't know why and I can't explain it. So here's a Japanese VHS cover of this brilliant low-budget sci-fi/action film from Action Jackson director himself, Craig R. Baxley that I recently picked up. 


Review: Robowar

Robowar Greek VHS cover courtesy of  Uzitread.blogspot.com

Directed by:
Bruno Mattei
Category: Cult Classic

I mean just.......wow.
This is a film I've only recently become aware of and apparently am one of the last few filmgeeks who know of it's existence or one of the last few who hasn't seen it until now. The first time I actually came upon it was by accident. I was casually browsing eBay a few months back when I stumbled upon an original Japanese VHS and more than anything, the title caught my eye. I mean, Robowar just sounds awesome, no matter how good or bad the movie might be. The listing stated that it was extremely rare and at that particular time, had no bids. I did a quick IMDB search and found that it had a disastrous 3.1 rating. None of the reviews were very kind either. So I thought, what the hell? Make a bid and maybe I'll get lucky. Well, after 2 days the bids started rolling in like crazy and when the auction ended it sold for a monstrous $91 U.S. dollars. I couldn't believe it. Did I miss something? How can a film that has such a low rating and horrible reviews go from a starting bid of $5 and jump to $100!? You know why? Because it's awesome, that's why. Also because someone can pay $100 for the Japanese VHS and just burn it to a DVD and sell it online and make a shitload of money because people will pay since there is really no other option. On the plus side, the Japanese VHS is in true Widescreen, which is just awesome, but with non-removable subtitles.
On a side note, I should mention that someone went into the IMDB page and removed the Japanese VHS cover image and switched it with some old movie called "Roboman" starring Elliot Gould. And the rating also jumped up to 4.0 since the last time I checked, so maybe the words getting out and more people are discovering this Italian-low-budget-shot in the Philippines-part Predator-part Robocop-jungle war film.

Before I go any further I need to thank my good buddy Ingo in Germany over at Hellford667 Movie Reviews for hooking me up with a copy of this. This thing is practically impossible to get "authentically" and it's a real shame because like Phantom Soldiers, more people need to be aware of this film and it should be more readily available.

Robowar Japanese VHS cover courtesy of VHSWasteland.com
A secret group of  mercenaries is hired by the U.S. government to head into the jungle and infiltrate a group of guerrillas, or so it seems. Along for the ride is an Army scientist who knows more than what he's letting on and who doesn't mix well with this hardened group of soldiers of fortune. 
What they soon discover is that what they think is a group of guerillas is actually a rogue robotic killing machine designed and created by the U.S. government on the fritz and running amok in the jungle systematically killing everything in it's path. Now it's up to Maj. Murphy Black (Reb Brown) and his group of mercenaries to stop this unstoppable killing machine before it kills them off one by one. 

My man Matt over at Direct to Video Connoiseur said it perfectly in his review when he stated that Robowar is 85% Predator, 12% Robocop and 3% jungle war film. I mean, it honestly is. I couldn't believe how much of a blatant Predator ripoff this thing was. Let me put it this way, if John McTiernan and the Davis brothers and company had never made Predator in 1987, then this movie would not exist because it's pretty much a carbon copy of that film. I'm talking about sequences, characters, scenes and even lines of fucking dialogue for Christs sake! It was hilarious! I even considered taking notes on all the similarities but didn't want to distract myself from the awesome time I was having with this, because it really was a lot of fun to watch. If you're a dude and you grew up in the 80's, then you pretty much know Predator by heart and spotting these copied scenes, lines of dialogue, characterizations and full on sequences will be no problem for you and you just can't help but laugh out loud at the audacity of it all.

Robowar is an Italian production, shot in the Philippines, and starring a pretty diverse group of International actors, most notably the laughably over the top Reb Brown, who also worked with director Bruno Mattei back in '87 in Strike Commando. Here he plays the groups leader, Major Murphy Black. And the name of this secret unit that he leads is called B.A.M., brilliantly short for (Bad Ass Motherfuckers). I shit you not! How awesome is that? !
Reb Brown is really something else in this. The guy screams..............a lot.
He screams and screams and screams for basically no reason at all other than to just be able to scream. He screams when he's giving orders. He screams when he's running. He screams when he's shooting his gun. He screams when he's looking for somebody. He screams when he's talking. It's hilarious. It's almost like he's playing a characiture (did I spell that right?) of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Dutch from Predator and pretty much any macho leader of a group of soldiers for hire from any jungle or war film. But at the same time he plays it so straight and so serious, so I'm inclined to think that's not the case here. Either way he is perfect in this and I can definitely see how he's made a name for himself in the low-budget exploitation genre.

Robowar works great if you lower your expectations. I wouldn't say it's as awesome as Phantom Soldiers, but it's pretty close. It has a few issues like lots and lots of boring scenes of the men just walking. They try to make it more interesting by throwing in a bad 80's rock song to liven things up, but it doesn't work and more than anything just seems oddly out of place in this type of film. But director Bruno Mattei handles the action pretty well and besides the endless scenes of men walking through the jungle, keeps the pace moving nicely with lots of explosions, shootouts, Predator play by play re-enactments and Reb Brown screaming. I'm slightly ashamed to admit that I've never seen any other of Mattei's films from his vast and peculiar filmography, but I hope to change that very soon starting with Strike Commando. There's a scene in here that I just can't shake out of my head. B.A.M. has just descended into the jungle when they hear a woman's screams. They make there way to the road and see that her, along with two men, are being chased by some locals in a jeep. B.A.M. decides to intervene and slowly makes there way to the side of the road. The locals kill the two men but not the woman. So there's somewhere like 7 or 8 guys on the side of the road taunting and man handling this woman when the camera pans to the right and shows B.A.M. literally just standing right there like a few feet away out in the open with there guns drawn and none of these bad guys notices them?! I was like WTF?! And B.A.M. blows them away in glorious fashion of course. That shows you what kind of movie you're in for.

I've always been a filmgeek. But it wasn't until I started this review site and met some pretty awesome people along the way over at review sites like Hellford 667 Movie ReviewsComeuppance ReviewsDirect to Video Connoisseur, A Hero Never Dies, and The Video Vacuum to name a few that I've become aware of some pretty badass films I might not have otherwise come across in my lifetime. Because let's face it, unless your a hardcore fan of a specific genre, you just can't see "everything". There's just too many films and not enough time, especially with a job, family and a life. So thank you to my new friends who have opened my eyes to these rad films. I just wish I had the time to watch them all.


Review: Death Proof

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Category: Badass Cinema

1st impression: I didn't particularly like this film. I felt it had way too much talking that had nothing to do with anything the film was about. I hated Jungle Julia with a passion. I felt it had a strong opening visually, but within 15 minutes it didn't look anything like the "grindhouse" type of film that was promised and implied with the opening credits sequence.

2nd impression: I love this film. Upon multiple viewings I've really grown a great appreciation for this film and for what Tarantino was trying to do. It's still got problems though. I still hate Jungle Julia with a passion. There's still way too much talking about "nothing". And it still doesn't look like a grindhouse flick, not like how the opening sequence promises. But overall, I enjoy the hell out of this thing.

White-Hot Terror at 200 MPH!!

The story? Eh, something about a bunch of chicks getting in a car to take another one of them somewhere where they are zeroed in on and mercilessly taunted by the crazy and maniacal Stunt Man Mike in his "Death Proof" stunt car out in the back country. Little does he know that these are no damsel's in distress and might have actually found a challenge after years of effortlessly terrorizing and killing women. In all honesty, who cares. It's Quentin Tarantino's homage to late 70's filmmaking starring the awesome Kurt Russell as a complete badass with lots of car chases and brilliant effects and stunt work.

I think it's biggest fault is the talky dialogue. Yes, I know it's a Tarantino film and it's what's become expected of his films, no matter what genre he's tackling. But oh my lord does it drive me nuts here. I think mainly because in my mind I feel like he's trying to tell us how chicks really think and talk when we're not around and I just don't buy it. And there's just so many loooooong conversations about "nothing". Whether it's in a bar or in the car, they talk and talk and talk about people and situations that are never introduced, never shown and never explained. So we really couldnt' give a shit about who they talk on and on about because we have no fucking idea who they are. And it was also the verbage and the attitude and i'm sorry, but I did not want to see a movie about how Quentin Tarantino thinks women talk and act in there clicks when they're hanging out. And while we're on this subject, let me take a moment to bitch and moan about my intense hatred for the character of Jungle Julia. For me, above all of my other issues with this movie, Jungle Julia would probably be the sole reason I would choose to never watch this film ever again..........if I chose to do so.
I hated that cocky bitch with a passion and every time she appeared in a scene, I wanted to turn the damn thing off. If that was the kind of reaction Tarantino was trying to elicit from the performance of Sydney Poitier, then he succeeded ten fold because I absolutely hated her. I've never seen anything that Poitier has ever done besides this, but I sure as hell hope she's not really the arrogant bitch she portrays in this film. I have to say, the most exciting part of this film for me would have been when she gets it at the hands of Stunt Man Mike. I actually cheered when she "finally" met her doom and could not have been happier.

Another gripe would be, as in Planet Terror and Machete, we're given a really solid opening that realistically looks like something out of the late 1970's, complete with dust grains, scratches, opening credits and all that. I mean, it looks badass! But as with the other films, after 15 minutes the style's converted to modern filmmaking and there are no more edit jumps, or scratches on the screen or graininess of the picture. They do it so gradually though that you really don't notice at all until the movies almost over. I just wish they had stuck to that look and feel for the entirety of the film. For me, it would have made a world of difference in terms of the experience.

So yea, that's enough griping from me. Because ultimately, besides these little flaws and the very major flaw of Jungle Julia, the movie succeeds on every other level and I freakin' love this film with a passion. Kurt Russell as Stunt Man Mike was nothing short of brilliant. I don't know, I think next to Snake Plissken, he might have found his second most iconic role in his career. The ability to play both charming and pure fucking evil is not easy, but the guy pulls it off victoriously and it was pretty much any time he was on screen that the film really came alive.  I had always thought he would have made an awesome older and wiser Batman had they ever decided to make Frank Miller's brilliant The Dark Knight Returns.

I loved the effects work in here. That sequence where Jungle Julia and the other girls in the car get nailed by Stunt Man Mike on a dark and lonely road is pure evil genius. I couldn't tell you how many times I've watched that sequence in slow-motion frame by frame (yea, I'm sick that way) and still can't believe how amazing it looks. Brilliant. Just bloody brilliant. The stunt work is pretty damn spectacular as well. When there's not a long dialogue scene happening, then there's a pretty long and badass car chase, which is why we're really along for the ride. Casting professional stunt woman Zoe Bell as an actual character in the film was another brilliant casting choice and you know, it just wouldn't have worked if it was really anybody else hanging off the hood of that car. That chick is fearless!

Funny how much my opinion has changed after that first initial viewing. I never made it to the theater to see this double bill when originally released with Planet Terror. I can imagine that I probably would not have enjoyed it as much as I was hoping for. For one, they would have had to cut at least 30 to 45 minutes of inane dialogue (which, by the way, would not have hurt the film in the least) as well as cut Planet Terror to make it like no more than 2 total hours. These days, you just don't want to sit in the theater for longer than 2 hours if it's not something like Lord of the Rings. I think a 1 hour Death Proof and a 1 hour Planet Terror with the badass trailers cut between the two would have been a much more successful venture. I think the idea and concept was brilliant and solid, but asking two of the United States most inventive and game changing filmmakers of there day to "limit" themselves by essentially making short films for an idea this awesome was just too difficult.