Wednesday, July 29, 2009


(Now THIS is what we call a misleading poster!)

Original Title: The Warrior and the Sorceress
Year: 1984
Director: John C. Broderick
Writer: John C. Broderick, William Stout
Genre: Fantasy Adventure

imdb synopsis: The mighty warrior, Kain, crosses the barren wastelands of the planet Ura, where two arch enemies, Zeg and the evil degenerate Balcaz, fight incessantly for control of the village's only well. Kain sees his opportunity and announces that his sword is for hire...but his eyes stay clearly on the beautiful captive sorceress Naja, and his newly awakened purpose.

Ah, David Carradine. Here we have what I would say is a pretty forgettable fantasy tale starring our favorite kung fu superstar. Well, American kung fu star. Well, American television kung fu star. Eh, close enough.

I had to go and say I wanted to see some fantasy films. I couldn't leave well enough alone and stick with Conan and Lord of the Rings. I just had to push and push. Well, I made my bed and now I have to lie in it.

If Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo was somehow knocked up by A Fistful of Dollars and Return of the Jedi at the same time, the resulting panicked abortion a couple weeks later would be this film.

Not to say it is all bad. Well, it is, but some of it is so bad it is good......I guess?

The film opens with Carradine's character Kain wandering through the desert. Once he arrives at a city where two gangsters are at constant war over an evidently rare well, and meets an old prelate who lives there, we come to learn that he is a holy warrior that has lost his way.

After assessing the situation, Kain sets out to pit the two warring gangsters against one another, while making money for himself along the way. We have a pretty cool fight sequence as he dispatches Zeg the Tyrant's guards around the well while Bal Caz looks on.

It really gave me some hopes for the film - Carradine looked OK wielding his sword. We even get a severed arm!

Hahahahaha OWNED!

But alas, the brakes are pressed now as the "psyhological" portion of the film begins. Kain figures out ways to work for both gangsters at the same time while making money money money. Keep an eye out for his asking for a specific amount of cash, and Zeg always happening to have a tied-up bag nearby with that exact amount in it.

It just feels really slow and poorly written here. I understand that Kain wants to make money off the two men, but his way of doing so just seems very roundabout. If he is so incredible, it seems like he could just off the men and take what he wanted. But that would make this one hour seventeen minute film even shorter. We are "treated" to some terrible acting all around through this part as well as little to no actual fighting and swordplay.

See Zeg and Bal Caz just stand there waving swords and doing nothing at all!


Finally we get to the beef of the story when Kain discovers the Sorceress Naja in Zeg's dungeon. She is being held captive so that she may finally create a holy sword for Zeg to defeat Bal Caz once and for all. She keeps giving him duds, however, but now promises to make the holy sword for Kain.

And while we are on the subject of Naja, we can move to the nudity in the film! Inexplicable there is quite a bit. Naja herself is topless for pretty much the entire film. Not a bad figure at all on our heroine. With that frizzy hair and look like something smells all the time, perhaps she thought she could raise her stock by showing off some bouncy boobage AT ALL TIMES. Shit, even when Kain gives her his cloak during an escape, she somehow gets rid of it and he is wearing it again. Guess she just likes being nekkid.

Perhaps it helps with the spell casting? Sparkly boobs!

Oh, she even runs naked. Nice.

We have the woman that Zeg watches drown for entertainment. Don't people need to drink that water? She takes the 70s/80s lack of grooming to an extreme as it appears she is hiding a furry cantaloupe in her crotch.

And how could I not mention the peculiar character that appears on the oh so lovely poster for the film? I'm not sure what her name was, but the scene was pretty much lifted straight from the musical number in Jabba's palace in Return of the Jedi. (Minus the good music and all that.)

Yes, I'm talking about the lovely quad-mammaried lady.

She starts out dancing for our hero.

OK... not too bad!

Ohhh wait you naughty girl... what are you up to?

There goes the dress!




Um... hmmm.

I get it I guess. Since a pair of boobs are fun and sexy and all, TWO pairs of boobs, well that's just double the fun! Welllll, they really come across as udder-like here in my opinion. Kinda weird I guess, but looked more like a deformation than extra super fun sexy time.

It's pretty sad when some of your best special effects in the film are an extra set of tits on a dancer in the film for all of 30 seconds. Must have been a labor of love.

If it weren't for all the nudity, this film is almost kid-safe. The fights after the arm severing are not overly gory, and there is no sex to speak of.

As I said earlier, the acting is pretty atrocious overall. Carradine is his normal self I suppose. Thankfully he didn't attempt any weird medieval style accent or it could have been tragic.

The tyrants are laughable. Bal Caz is creepy and has a shitty looking lizard/midget hybrid that hangs out with him, and Zeg's dramatic pensive moments are at best awkward.

Zeg's first in charge Captain Keif, is hammy and over the top, although he is oily and shirtless every time you see him for those who find that entertaining. He sported an impressive six-pack, but he will never look as cool oiled up in a loincloth as Marc Singer in The Beastmaster!

Oh, and Naja's contribution essentially ends with her bare chest.

Carradine didn't seem to be 100% into this one. His delivery and fighting especially seemed lazy and disinterested. The kicks and punches in the fight scenes lacked any OOMPH whatsoever. It really felt like to me he was there for his paycheck and thought his name was enough for this production. Granted, I have not seen a ton of stuff, but I think Carradine wanted to be elsewhere.

Look at this kick to a foe's back. Come on Mr. Kung Fu, that is just half assed!

The sets also left much to be desired. It looked as though it was old 1960s Star Trek leftovers. I doubt much was filmed outdoors besides the intro to the film, as everything is surrounded by the styrofoam rocks and filled in with what appears to be sandbox sand. The monster(s) and makeup were kinda crappy too, but there is one that was pretty funny looking. I'll let you discover where he is on your own, but you may laugh when his tentacles rise up initially.

This film had its moments. Some fighting was OK, although there was not enough of it for what I want in a film of this genre. There's nudity which can be fun I suppose, but you can get that in better quanity and quality elsewhere. No cool magic to speak of.

I cannot recommend this unless you are a Carradine completist.

4 out of 10

Monday, July 27, 2009


I saw this on skullbrain and think it is absolutely awesome! Mishka x Lamour Supreme x Mondo released this this past weekend at the San Diego Comic Con


I assume most people that would be reading a blog like mine remember My Pet Monster from the 80s. I'm not sure if I ever had the full sized Monster, but my brother and I had mini ones that still had the awesome break apart handcuffs.

I couldn't see myself sporting jewelry like this personally (it took me forever just to get used to wearing a wedding ring!), but for people like me, the packaging can help with this problem.


Read about the ring and stuff here!

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Well, lately I have had a craving for some fantasy films. My wife wanted to see the new Harry Potter (which was OK I guess... not really a huge Potter fan myself), which at times had me wanting to see the Lord of the Rings trilogy again.

But what fun is that for blog writing, eh? Surely those have been talked about to death.

So let's look into a few more "classic" films in the genre. We'll start with one we all probably know fairly well...

(I know this isn't the poster most of us know with Arnold raising his sword above his head, but this Frank Frazetta piece was just too awesome not to show)

Original Title: Conan the Barbarian
Year: 1982
Director: John Milius
Writer: John Milius, Oliver Stone (screenplay), Edward Summer (story) (uncredited), based on original stories by Robert E. Howard
Genre: Fantasy Adventure

imdb synopsis: The epic tale of child sold into slavery who grows into a man who seeks revenge against the warlord who massacred his tribe.

Conan the Barbarian is a character created by Robert Howard in the 1930s for a pulp science fiction magazine called Weird Tales. Since that time, Conan stories have been written by many others and have appeared in not only the magazines, but comics and eventually novelization.

This first Conan film came in 1982, and it came with a bloody fury I must say. I had not seen this film since I was younger Some things I remembered well (giant snake and James Earl Jones) and some I completely had forgotten it seems... namely the blood and boobs! Perhaps this is due to only seeing it on television as a kid so most if not all of the gore and nudity would have been edited out. It takes awhile for the gore to show up, but if you stick around you'll get tastes of it, then the blood starts to flow a little more than halfway through. For a major release, I was pretty impressed by this.

The story follows Conan from childhood, to his release, briefly with his life as a thief, until we get to the main chunk of it with his quest to find King Osric's daughter and ultimately the man who killed his parents and enslaved him 20 years prior, the megamullet-sporting Thulsa Doom.

I've not read Robert Howard's stories, but I have read some recent Dark Horse comic adaptations of the stories which are pretty entertaining and from what I understand true to the original. I'd definitely recommend checking those out if you are into the genre and into comics.

There is also the Conan the Barbarian comics by Marvel in the 1970s (illustrated by one of my favorites Barry Widsor Smith), but I've not read those so I cannot comment on how faithful to the original they are.

OK, now I am getting completely sidetracked!

Where I was going with this whole thing is that the story in the film was changed from the original, and Conan purists may have issue with some of it. Conan was not actually a slave in the original stories, but was born on a battlefield and trained to be a warrior until he was 15 when he decided to wander the land. Also in the film, his training by fighting in gladiator-style battles (initially against his will) and is taught to read/write and eventually fight by his owners. While I do not really have issue with this, it is a change of character for Conan as he is presented as much less vicious and self-reliant than he is in the original stories. Another difference I believe is the intelligence of the Conan character, but perhaps this can be attributed more to the actor than the writer.

This was Arnold Schwarzenegger's real opportunity at being a leading man, having really only played bit parts in films from the 70s. (I guess Hercules in New York in 1970 counts as a leading role, but he was hilariously dubbed over in that one.)

He did an admirable job, and it must have worked because he absolutely blew up after this, with Conan the Destroyer, Red Sonja, and the fantastic Terminator to follow soon after. But what he does here mainly is look good as the beefy barbarian. He really does not speak all that much even though it is pointed out in the film that he was taught to read and write, and that in the original stories Conan relied on his intelligence as well as his brawn to get through life. At times in the film, Arnold just doesn't even sound all that bright when speaking. The lines he does deliver can sometimes feel very flat and out of character.

I am not going to say though that he was a bad choice for the role. There may have been others at the time who could have acted a more well-rounded Conan, but Arnold IS Conan now (and the Terminator), and I wouldn'd want that to change.

Most of the other characters with Conan here are pretty forgettable I thought. Subotai, a thief played by Gerry Lopez (who has acted in about 5 movies total), and Valeria, the love interest and also a thief, played by the agile Sandahl Bergman.

Subotai was throw-away I thought; nothing really memorable from him overall. His mustache/goatee combination was quite impressive, but it was probably just glued on. Here's a photo of him smelling something stinky... maybe his acting?

Valeria was a bit more interesting, but the romantic scenes with her were pretty corny. At least she looked quite impressive weilding a sword. There is one cool move where she runs a bit up a wall to dispose of two guards. At times she was okay-looking I thought, but sometimes she could look really hot as well. Here is Sandahl looking windblown and forlorn.

James Earl Jones turns in a strong performance I thought, but he really seemed like an odd casting choice. Sure he brought the cool voice and can look and sound intimidating, but he was kinda fat at this point and looked kind of strange with his very long, flowing near-mullet. I just had a hard time buying him 100% as a roving warlord turned snake-cult-wizardy guy. His cool special move with a snake and a bow was pretty awesome. "Sssseeek...."

I don't want to come across here as being all negative on this film. I'm far from it honestly. It definitely has a nostalgia factor for me, but I thought it was an interesting (if a big long) story, the music was outstanding, and the costumes and sets were really, really great.

John Milius is better known for his writing than his directing definitely (he did the screenplay for Apocalypse Now, one of my favorites!), but I thought the film was handled well. The fight coreography was brutal and fun, there were loads of extras, and overall it just looked very nice. There wasn't anything super outstanding and artistic in the direction choices, but his style worked for what this was I think. Like I said, the story did seem to go on a bit. The film clocks in at a little over two hours, and I did find myself looking at the clock a couple times to see what was left. I'm not sure though what could be trimmed to make it tighter.

I was surprised to see that Oliver Stone worked on the screenplay as well (it was just something I never noticed in the credits), so perhaps that has something to do with it being long-winded!

I would have like to have seen more sweeping shots of the environment as we move from snowy mountains to windy, barren plains, but often we are kept only seeing a little at a time. But the towers and torches and loads of extras make up for this and then some.

The costumes were really nice as well. The Doom culters sported some fantastic helmets and armor for instance. Some of the armor looked barbarian like with fur and studs and such, and there was even some Mongol-era looking armor pieces in there when Conan and company were preparing to defend themselves at the wizard's hideout.

There was a nice variety of weaponry, one ally of Doom sporting a giant maul even. The detailing on some of the swords shown, including the one neing carved and forged in the film's opening (some sweet skull carving on the hilt) and the sword Conan finds in a tomb after being set free and chased by dogs. I would have liked this sword to be much, much larger however as that is how I have seen Conan portrayed.

There were some great almost S&M style masks on guards at Doom's palace, light brown and crudely stitched.

At one point Arnold sports some body paint that is probably pointless to the story (contrasty black camoflage in a well-lit orgy room?) but makes him look really damn cool!

The Dungeons & Dragons nerd in me loves all this sort of thing!

My memories of this film were better than my opinion of it after watching it today. I think it is plagued by some odd choices (the casting primarily) and just feels a little long for what story is actually there, but it still remains fun for me and I enjoyed it quite a bit.

I'd recommend anyone interested in the genre.
Or anyone wanting to see Arnold punch a camel.

7 out of 10

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

While we're on the subject...

In my search for Hudsucker Proxy images (I watched it via Netflix online, so I couldn't take screenshots), I came across this designer who redesigned some DVD cases for some of the best Coen films.

Holy shitballs are these awesome! And what really stings is that these were a student project! Gah makes my work look even worse!

You can check out Andrew O. Ellis' work on his site at


Original Title: The Hudsucker Proxy
Year: 1994
Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen (uncredited)
Writer: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Sam Raimi
Genre: Comedy

imdb synopsis: A naive business graduate is installed as president of a manufacturing company as part of a stock scam.

Well wasn't that succinct?

I have to admit, before viewing this today, I had never seen this Coen brothers film. I'm a big fan of their work; some of my favorite films of all time come from them, but for some reason this one always eluded me.

Perhaps it is the poster. I was never a fan of the poster. I'm not sure why, exactly, but it always gave me a negative impression of the film. I know that is a shallow reason to avoid something... the whole judging a book by its cover thing... but what can I say?

I will say, however, that I am so very glad I finally sat down and watched this quirky near-spoof of Capra and the American Dream in general.

Also, before I go further, a little disclaimer. This is not the type of film I would typically review here. I want to mainly target genre/cult specific pieces. I mean, what can I really say about something like this that has not been said by those with far more talent than I already in the past 15 years?

(Granted, what can I say about genre films that hasn't been said in the past 35 years? But I digress...)

Since this film was just really great to me... and that I had just not bothered to ever see it for so long... I'll just consider this review my reward/penance for my lapse in judgement. I hope you see it as a reward to read rather than punishment, however.

Basically in this film, we have the Jimmy Stewart-style, midwestern naive character who is coming to New York in the late 1950s to find fortune in the business world. Tim Robbins plays this wide-eyed Norville Barnes very, very well. The film and Norville character himself are probably closer in theme to a Gary Cooper Mr. Deeds Goes to Town or a Jimmy Stewart Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, it made me think of a different Cooper role in Sergeant York where a simple man from Kentucky finds himself a World War I hero by relying on his simple skills learned from just growing up, trying his best to end his fighting and killing as quickly as possible.

Now, I realize that is not exactly what is going on in Hudsucker Proxy, but I just haven't seen Mr. Deeds or Mr. Smith!

There, I said it. Now, can we continue? (Add two more to the mountain of "shoulda watched em by now" films for me.)

The theme that was very prevalent in 1930s/1940s cinema of a simple man using his simple ways to make it one way or another in the big city is repeated here, but turned on its ear. Where the characters in the classics relied on their wits and determination to make a difference, Norville just luckily makes his way up despite himself and the suits running Hudsucker. I think this is a fun comment on capitalism by the Coens and Raimi saying that ultimately it really isn't skill that gets you anywhere in our market... that any dumbass can make it if they are in the right place at the right time.

Norville came to New York to make it with a plan he had been working on quite awhile... a circle. He hilariously shows it off as his concept... a pencil drawn circle on a wrinkled piece of paper he stores in his shoe. Mr. Hudsucker himself has committed suicide (a great scene by the way), leaving the board members scrambling to figure out what to do with his stock to prevent them from being sold to the public. They have an idea to hire an idiot as president of Hudsucker, making the value of the stock plummet as investors panic, then buying it all up on the cheap themselves before working to build the price back up.

Paul Newman, playing a marvelous role as the gruff Sydney Mussberger, is the originator of this plan, and acts a hilarious scene with Tim Robbins involving water spilling, fire, and hanging by his pants, which leads to his decision to hire Norville as the president. Newman chews on cigars and wears his straight lined suits well, his gravely voice really adding to the evil characature he is playing. Good stuff.

Jennifer Jason Leigh plays another fantastic role in this film as reporter Amy Archer. Amy infiltrates Hudsucker to get close to the new president to figure out/report on exactly what is going on. I really liked her delivery in the film... over the top 40s style acting, with an accent and all. It was fun seeing her slap the piss out of Bruce Campbell a few times as well.

The Coens fire on all cylinders here with the imagery and style of the film. The exaggerated lines of the "evil" corporate world (as seen on the boardroom table and even Newman's brown suit itself), the ridiculously high skyscrapers, and characters themselves really fit with the feel of the story. They have taken the universe created by similar films of the 30s and 40s and filtered it through their own quirky interpretation.

The set design (mainly inside the giant Hudsucker skyscraper) is phenomenal. The exaggerated feel carries over here as many things we see are just larger than life. There is a factory with giant machines where the hoops are made (only missing the Looney Tunes industrial score).

The mailroom is overcrowded, bustling, and chaotic with men yelling and letters constantly flying. The working man is crammed in here and forced to perform his menial tasks with little reward (for instance being docked 30 seconds of pay for taking a moment of silence to observe the death of Mr. Hudsucker)

Then there are the corporate areas that are exaggerated in their size and order; like the "launching ramp" of a boardroom table complete with stylized runway and oversized windows, or Mussberger's cavernous office that seems more like the lair of a villain than a high-ranking businessman.

I love the design and look of the film overall at times it even feels like an illustration of the time. Very effective.

Some little things in there with scene transitions and funny images really add to the overall enjoyment as well. I really laughed at the initial name for the hula-hoop prototype (The Extruded Plastic Dingus), and the scene with a young boy discovering the hoop for the first time was just fantastic.

The story here is not overly complex, and this is a good thing. It is a performance and "feeling" driven film, and keeping it free of major plot twists and turns helps to keep it focused despite the near 2-hour runtime. It sets an almost cartoonish mood immediately and sticks to it very well through the entire duration.

This film is a must-see for Coen fans, and I would think film fans as well. It seems a bit experimental for them, but that is not a bad thing by any stretch. (Now, Ladykillers on the otherhand..... ugh........)

High, high recommendation!

8.5 out of 10

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Well, you asked for it (not really) and here it is... AN ASSORTED LOAF ORIGINAL FILM REVIEW! (and you'll get it whether you want it or not)

Well, I'm sort of embarrassed to say that before I watched this film recently, I had not seen it before. I think I started it some years back, but as I am prone to do with many things, I did not finish it or go back to it for whatever reason. I guess some shiny something else caught my eye. Boy was I missing out...

(Not a big fan of this poster... anyone know where to find an image of the Japanese one??)

Original Title: Gekitotsu! Satsujin ken
Year: 1974
Director: Shigehiro Ozawa
Writer: Kôji Takada, Motohiro Torii
Genre: Crime Action

imdb synopsis: Terry is a tough, mercenary, master of martial arts. When an important business magnate dies, leaving billions to his daughter, the Mafia and Yakuza try to hire Terry to kidnap the daughter. When they refuse to meet his exorbitant price, then try to kill him to conceal their secret plans, he promptly offers his services to protect her. Much ultra-violent martial-arts fighting action, as expected, ensues.

Let's not call him Terry... let's call him Tsurugi since I watched this in the original Japanese with English subtitles where his name is Takuma Tsurugi, played by the great Sonny Chiba.


Ahhh, that's better

Tsurugi is an interesting character. I'm sure much to the chagrin of his martial arts instructors from the past, he uses his martial arts to make a buck by helping people escape from prison and blackmailing martial arts teachers. He is pretty nasty and cocky for a "hero" (I'll use the term loosely for him).

Don't put it past this guy to do whatever he needs to do to get by or make a buck... even beat up women and sell them into sexual slavery.

He does have his limits, however, as we see him refuse a kidnapping job when he discovers that it is the Yakuza that wants the job done. Come to think of it, maybe he just doesn't want to get involved with the organized crime as a means of self-preservation. He asks for ten times what they offer because he does not trust them.

Chiba plays the part pretty sinister and nasty at times. His facial expressions and sounds while fighting I'm sure are now legendary, and they would often make me smile or even chuckle to myself while watching. If you don't want to make your own karate noises after seeing him in action, then you may not have a soul. So awesome! He is super charismatic and carries this film on his back with his performance.

Unlike a martial arts actor like a Bruce Lee, Chiba here is not about the flash and high flying. What we get instead is a fighter that is direct, brutal, and not afraid to take a bump or two or three. One thing I really enjoyed about this one is the style of fighting I am speaking of here. In kung-fu films, we are often treated to almost a dance between the actors, with parries, blocks, and leaps. Tsurugi on the other hand uses very blunt karate, pummeling his opponents with vicious effect. As opposed to super-duper spinning roundhouse, not only will Tsurugi kick the shit out of you, he will grab your hair and make sure that boot is really planted in there!


And I have to mention this one move that opened the fight scene pictured above. For those that know me, it is no secret that I am a big fan of professional wrestling. There is this one particular move that Keiji Mutoh does (the wrestler formerly known as the Great Muta here in the United States) called the Shining Wizard. The attacker rushes toward a usually stunned opponent that is crouched onto one knee, jumping off this opponent's knee and smashing his knee into the opponent's temple area.

Well, Tsurugi rocks the Shining Wizard on one of his would-be attackers! I was more than happy to see this... and thought it had to have been the first appearance of this put to film.

Here's Mutoh doing one:


I have read that this is the first film that was given an X-rating due to the violence alone. Make sure if and when you track this film down that you can find an uncut version (my version clocks in at 87:18) to be privy to teeth getting knocked out, skulls crushed, and even a man getting his dick torn off.

Oh yeah, that's what I said.

The story in the film is so-so I think. It got a little difficult for me to follow, but not due to complexity. The motives behind some characters (in particular the actions were just a touch confusing upon my first viewing. It makes sense after reading up after the fact, so perhaps I just missed something the first time through.

It feels overall like a standard style martial arts story even though it is set in modern day. The "hero" here going through a big trial to ultimately confront the most powerful leader of the opposition, and Tsurugi having a troubled, haunted past which leads him to strive to be the best and honorable (even though he is cutting corners and making a buck however he can).

All this said, though, it is a much more interesting story than a lot of martial arts films out there.

Despite my issues with the story, there is the fighting and Chiba as I mentioned, but I feel there are some elements in the direction that really help this be a successful and classic film. The little flourishes I will mention from time to time that add a nice sense of style to films.

Shigehiro Ozawa had a relatively short directorial career, and the Street Fighter series films were amongst his last. I've never seen any of his other work, so unfortunately I have nothing to compare technique to.

The film opens with a moody, well shot sequence where Takuma is helping a man sentenced to death to escape from prison. Right off the bat with the lighting and interesting angles, and throughout the entire film I was impressed and excited about it.

There was one scene in particular that made me think of fighting video games I have seen. Tsurugi punches a man in the head, crushing his skull. Instead of showing a normal shot of fist striking head, we are treated to a blue-tinted x-ray shot of the man's skull itself. It was really cool and I wish the technique was used a little more as it felt a little stuck in there as is.

I really feel like it was shot like a film with a budget much higher than most martial arts films of the time. Maybe it did? I am very inexperienced with Japanese martial arts films compared to those of Hong Kong for example.

Overall, see this film for Chiba and his badass character. And see it for some nice filming, lighting etc. Most of all, see it for the history! The storytelling probably isn't going to blow you away, but this is a classic that I imagine has been very influential for action films to follow.

Highest recommedation from me. I enjoyed it quite a bit and would see it again.

9 out of 10

Monday, July 20, 2009

my latest obsession/time sink


It constantly throws 2 movies at you (with occasional awesome foreign posters), and you choose which you like better for whatever reason with a simple click. Over time, it builds your top movies list piece by piece. You can look at and/or rank your top films by year, genre, decade.

It has already made my eyes burn and wrist ache more times than I care to mention... and I've only been at it a few days.

Keep your mind out of the gutter!

Sunday, July 19, 2009


I'm not sure what this film is... I found the poster in a folder of random movie poster I downloaded awhile back.

Once I figure out what it is exactly, I may have to track it down and see it.

The Yokai fit in nicely with all the vinyl toys I have discussed here.


Original Title: Milano Calibro 9
Year: 1972
Director: Fernando Di Leo
Writer: Fernando Di Leo (story), Giorgio Scerbanenco (book)
Genre: Eurocrime

imdb synopsis: Just out of prison, ex-con Ugo Piazza meets his former employer, a psychopathic gangster Rocco who enjoys sick violence and torture. Both the gangsters and the police believe Ugo has hidden $300,000 that should have gone to an American drug syndicate boss.

I will start right off and say I thought this movie was fantastic. Moody, gritty, thought-provoking. It had strong performances from essentially all the major characters, the story was interesting, it was tight, had a good soundtrack… I could go on. This is a great crime movie with a message.

Ugo is a pretty stoic character… rarely does he show any emotion outside of the occasional punch thrown. This is important in keeping us guessing about his actions throughout the film. Gastone Moschin plays Ugo very nicely I felt.

His antithesis in the film, played by Mario Adorf, is the brash, loud, violent Rocco. He plays underdog Luca Canali in Manhunt, and again he is quite impressive here. Both of these were standout performances for me.

Oh, and Barbara Bouchet dancing 3/4 naked is always stand out (or stand up? zzzing!) for me also!

The story is mainly The Americano and his gang trying to figure out what role Ugo played, if any, in the disappearance of $300,000 before Ugo was captured and imprisoned 3 years prior. We’re kept guessing the entire film as to who knows what and who is going to double cross whom.

There is an interesting subplot as well with two police officers dealing with the Ugo/Americano case in a constant debate over the cause/effect of crime in the country, rich vs. poor, and how to best deal with the crime. It was an interesting look into Di Leo’s politics I though, and it had me searching for more on Di Leo’s themes. Apparently these themes of rich and poor are touched upon often in his films.

We saw a similar theme in Manhunt as well with the rich, powerful, sometimes flashy men all trying to find the unsuccessful Luca Canali to punish him for no reason other than he is an easy target.

Di Leo was definitely on here in story as well as style. I’m nowhere near an expert on film technique, lighting, etc., but I just really enjoyed watching AND seeing this one. It just had the little flourishes that I always refer to that add a lot to the character of the story itself… the little things that make it more than just a story you can look at.

There are some great shots of Milan itself, as well as some nice sets that show a side probably not seen as often; seedy hotels, night clubs, Bouchet’s super-mod apartment that she blends into almost seamlessly (nice touch there!)

As the film opens, Di Leo has some very slick scenes of packages being passed around in public areas that are very nice. There is no dialogue, only the sweet funky 70’s italian crime music we all know and love. It was quite a cool way to begin.

As far as action goes, this one doesn’t have a ton… not in comparison to many films in the genre. I would say this film is primarily one that has you thinking as opposed to on the edge of your seat. It is very performance-driven with some interesting messages.

There are some great scenes, don’t get me wrong. Rocco’s violence is a thing in itself to behold. For example, you can see with the photo here the classic “gangster shaving someone with a straight razor” action! (The first two minutes of this film will definitely have you wanting more.)
This film is smart, well shot, nicely edited, and a joy to watch.

Definitely one of my favorites in the genre that I have seen thus far.

High recommendation!

9 out of 10