Saturday, October 31, 2009
Original Title: Santa Claus
Director: René Cardona
Writer: Adolfo Torres Portillo, René Cardona
With the aid of Merlin, Santa Claus must defeat the evil machinations of the devil Pitch to ruin Xmas.
But now, onto the dirty work. I've covered a lot of trash and a few treasures this month, but I have to say Santa Claus, while very weird and entertaining for the wrong reasons, just sucks a fat one as a film.
I was so bored watching this most of the time.
Let's cover the good stuff though for the sake of the holiday. Santa is a fucking weirdo creep! José Elías Moreno plays the jolly one in Cardona's vision of the Christmas legend, and isn't bad I suppose. I mean, Santa is supposed to be a fat fucker that laughs a lot and sneaks into children's homes, and he had that down. This Santa chose to do things a big differently.
Keep an eye out for the children from Africa, as they are presented as dancing, painted savages instead of just some normal clothing like the others had.
I mean, the poor kid has a fucking BONE taped to his head!
With the help of his kidnapped child labor, Santa spies on children of the world, looking in on what they are doing with a long eyeball stalk, what they are saying with a satellite dish with a giant ear, and he even has a crystal ball type machine that allows him to watch their dreams!
Who knows what the hell this machine is for.
(But I kinda want one!)
You know, we grow up with the Santa story, just accepting the fact that he knows if you are naughty or nice. But when a physical process is given to his deducing the information, it just makes it seem like an invasion of privacy instead. I wonder what Santa does when he sees a child discover masturbation for the first time.
What, too much?
Santa likes to play in piles of mail and hang out with Merlin the Wizard as his slaves make thousands of toys for all the children of Earth. Yep, Merlin the Wizard lives with Santa. He makes Santa magic powder to put kids to sleep (yikes) and gives him a flower that makes him invisible (yikes.) Santa conveniently forgets how to use EVERYTHING so Merlin has to explain to Santa (i.e. the audience) how it all works.
Merlin, played by Armando Arriola is so fucking annoying how he trots around and has a chemistry set and fake butterflies. Fuck him in his sparkly dumper. It was pretty funny how he was dubbed however, as it seemed like the writer was making fun of his movements and actions.
Pitch, or El Diablo, is played by José Luis Aguirre 'Trotsky' who seems to be a pretty good slapstick comedy actor. It's hard to tell anyone's actual ability in the film due to my watching a hilarious English dub, but his movements and facial expressions were made for a role like this.
They could have at least found a costume for him that had the zipper on the BACK.
And blowing on people as they sleep makes them have nightmares, including a particularly creepy one that he gives a little girl Lupita who is so poor she can't even afford a doll.
Santa... child slave owner and classcist fuck.
The movie overall had some really messed up imagery and ideas. I must have enjoyed it on some level because tonight at a party I had a lot of fun describing this oddball image of Santa to several guests. Santa having wind up mechanical deer that turn to dust in the sunlight of Christmas morning, leaving Santa stranded on Earth to starve to death without his ice cream and candy made from clouds was a popular point and one of the odder elements of this version of the Jolly one.
The film was a mess - and I'm not exactly sure how children would even enjoy it. The songs were not catchy at all, and it seemed like the English dub was almost tongue in cheek. Besides the strange ideas portrayed that I loved relaying to others, the structure itself had me wanting to hold that fast forward button. Cardona somehow turned an hour and a half into fucking Lawrence of Arabia or something. Pretty miserable.
This film is worth a watch definitely for the ideas and images. It's probably much better in a group, and I kind of regret not taking the time to show it to my guests this evening. The English dub seems very sarcastic and is a fine way to view the film, because I'm afraid a straight presentation of it would just be too boring.
High recommendation for all the wrong reasons.
Score: 2.25 / 10
And with this, I bring Mexploitation Month to a close. How fitting that the last film is the worst!
Friday, October 30, 2009
Original Title: El Violador Infernal (The Hellish Rapist)
Director: Damián Acosta Esparza
A criminal is executed in the electric chair, but some a dark queen brings him back to life, naming him her favorite son. The criminal is now indebted to the demoness and must murder and rape and mark the bodies with a 666 as an offering in order to bring himself power and pleasure and to provide the demoness the same pleasure.
This is one of the first films I chose to watch and review for my theme month, but I have been saving it this long because it just seemed so ridiculous. The film is sparse in many areas, but it is a fucking mean spirited story that really doesn't leave you with a pleasant taste in your mouth. Well, not exactly...
Carlos "El Gato" (Noé Murayama) is being executed as the film opens. As the room empties and we see him sitting there all sleepy faced in his cozy chair, in pops a Vegas inspired Charo look alike with wind blowing through her feathery headdress, using her lazer eye beams of doom to bring Carlos back to life. She makes him promise to pretty much rape and murder and fuck everything up he can find, and to do a lot of drugs, and she will get pleasure out of it as well.
OK, now we're cookin!
Wow those special effects are "special"
Hey, at least the presence of a homosexual character let's us get even trashier when the police inspecting this scene later on get pissed at the "faggots." This movie is something else.
Yes, you read that correctly.
This character has no qualms about continuing his rapey ways after his victim is dead.
Oh, let's not forget that he carves a crooked little 666 on lover's ass when he is done and leaves him broken and bloody with his shorts around his ankles over the arm of a chair. Classy!
Vegas Charo shows up occasionally as well to remind Carlos of what he is doing, but it's really just an excuse to show off her wardrobe methinks.
Rinse and repeat.
Esparza essentially brings nothing to the table in his direction and shooting of the film. Lines are delivered awkwardly which I am sure is just as much the fault of the writing and direction as the shit actors, and again the thread connecting everything is about as thin as you can get. The final "twist" at the end is very transparent and cheap, but after sitting through some brutal storytelling, I guess it needed to have some sort of different ending regardless of how novice it may be.
There was a first for me when Carlos threw Princesa down a flight of stairs... until today I can say that I have never seen a TOPLESS FEMALE STUNT DOUBLE. I'm sure I have seen body doubles, but never a topless woman with tits far less perky (fake) than our actress crashing through a glass door then tumbling roughly down a flight of stairs.
Mexploitation Month is a month of firsts for everyone!
The look and feel of the film is verrrry cheap. While fake blood seems to be obtained quite easily, there are other effects in there that would have felt dated in the 1950s. We already covered the eyebeams, but Carlos actually adopts this ability also. He can make people and things fly through the air (they swing around obviously on a wire), shit explodes in a shower of sparks, and even fires start. They do the classic "stab off to the side" move when stabbing people except for a few closeups of a knife entering an unidentified mass.
the film is pretty much a complete mess, but I suppose that is a good thing because with any amount of realism, this film could very well have been completely over the top poor taste.
As it is now, it's just the diarrhea at the very top of the clogged toilet bowl threatening to run over the sides.
I can't say I disliked the film, but at the same time I think I have desensitized myself even more this month, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. It's poorly written, directed, acted, and features shit effects and just excuse after excuse to show big breasted women be brutalized.
But if that's what you want to see, this will be right up your alley.
Not recommended except for those who know what they are getting into.
Score: 4.5 / 10
I feel like this review was kind of a mess/poorly written. While that may be the case with much of what I write, I just don't feel great about this entry. Maybe it's a reflection of the subject matter, but anyway I just wanted to put that out there. Hope it's at least somewhat coherent!
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Original Title: Ladrones de tumbas (Grave Robbers)
Director: Rubén Galindo Jr.
Writer: Rubén Galindo Jr., Carlos Valdemar
A group of grave robbers stumble into a crypt which houses the corpse of a vile Satanist killed during the Inquisition long ago. Upon removing an axe from the corpses chest, they inadvertently revive the Satanist who goes on the hunt once again for a virgin suitable to give birth to the Antichrist.
Galindo is back! He brought the slasher and well, not so much the zombies with him!
I kinda had it in my brain, especially with the ending of Cemetery of Terror, that Grave Robbers was going to be a sequel in some way. I didn't read it or anything, but they just seem to No such luck, but it was still a decent little flick that stood fine on its own.
No true kids in this one, only very young adults who rob graves for profit. None of them particularly stood out, but if it weren't for them, then our demonic friend, El Verdugo (Agustín Bernal), would never had had his time in the spotlight. The actors' jobs in this one are really to set the story in motion, then run away screaming or dying. Bernal didn't have much of a speaking part, but his hulking form and sick makeup were quite a sight. In theory I suppose he was a zombie, although he was definitely not mindless as they are so often portrayed. Nice costume on his throughout the film... particularly his face makeup which I thought was pretty cool.
The other role of note was that of the police Captain Lopez (Fernando Almada). Almada did a fine job as the Captain, although nothing to write home about. He played the prototypical horror-hero despite the interesting twist thrown in there early that he wasn't used to firing a gun because nothing really happens in their little town. So you may find it odd that he is getting a local gunsmith to make him a goddamn MACHINE GUN just for fun? Good thing he had it though because El Verduga really needed some useless holes in his chest.
The Captain also stores dynamite in his closet at home.
Militia man in the making.
The frizzy hair and 80s holdover clothing definitely wasn't new.
While there are some neat little flourishes here and there, Galindo is satisfied just telling the story as is and giving the gore fans what they want. Unlike the other Mexi-horror flicks I have watched recently, this one actually had a few loud music, jump out gotcha scares. This one relied less on the tension build up. Can be cheap, yes, but it's all in good fun.
And speaking of cheap, gore effects do not come so, and the lack of budget shows here. Some people may be frustrated by fake looking effects, but then some of us appreciate them for what they are. You'll get a wide array of fakies here from the extra big torso to the rubber face to the severed hand. The right audience will be smiling the whole way through. The effects lacking gore were not that great either outside the makeup and costumes, but the heart was there so it counts for something.
Ladrones de Tumbas was fun, but I just didn't get into it as much as it's older sister Cemetery. While it is good I was not sharing my afternoon with Stiglitz again, for as much talking as there is in this film, no characters are all that compelling, and it did feel like more of the same especially after watching a similar storyline with borrowed horror elements within the same 24-hour period.
I know this comes on a two-fer set with Cemetery, so I may recommend it then. It's worth a watch.
Score: 5.75 / 10
Original Title: Cementerio del Terror
Director: Rubén Galindo Jr.
Writer: Rubén Galindo Jr.
A professor suspects that a vicious killer may have discovered a way to return from the grave and continue his violent spree. His fears are proved true when a group of teenagers decide to pull a Halloween prank by stealing the killer's body from the morgue. When the teens recite an incantation from an old magic book over the corpse, it begins to come back to life, along with all of the bodies from the nearby cemetery.
I read almost nothing about this film before I watched it and thought it was going to be a straight-up zombie flick from the name. What it ended up being was a the start of a Friday the 13th slasher morphing into a zombie film with a little hint of an Evil Dead, all of which was surprisingly entertaining.
Ugh, the poor guy can't even pretend to sleep! It was almost convincing when the shot started behind his chair, but as soon as you see his face, it looks more like he's pretending to enjoy a toothy BJ than in a deep sleep.
Driving around with a concerned look on his face isn't his strong suit either. And you'll see a lot of that fucking driving. I felt like I was watching the hovering helicopter creeper from Night of 1000 Cats again! If they cut out Stiglitz silently looking back and forth while being awkwardly lit by a hand held camera in the passenger seat, this film would probably be 10 minutes shorter.
His suit is pretty atrocious/awesome though. He needs some Ray Bans with that shit!
José Gómez Parcero). Devlon has to be the worst killer name EVER in a horror film. Wow. I must have looked away when they explained why Devlon was now dead and just sitting in a morgue. Honestly, the first half of the film was kind of like that for me. Through the first 40 minutes, I really thought it was going to lose me. They do a lot of setting up with getting the young kids in one place, getting the old kids in another, getting Stiglitz driving around while mouth breathing.
When things get rolling, however, I was a kid with the lights off again. This film may not be the most unique horror flick in the bunch, but it has the gore and the stupid victim syndrome thing in full effect, and it gave me quite a nostalgic feeling as a result.
Devlon's kill music is kind of a combination of Halloween and Friday the 13th with strings and piano AND heavy breathing, but I guess this is probably due to the fact that he is a mash-up of all these American super-slashers... with a little bit of Satan sprinkled on top for good measure.
He don't need no stinkin' mask!
Was that racist?
Another group of younger kids out trick-or-treating and daring each other to walk to the middle of the creepy cemetery get tied up in the whole sordid Devlon affair also when Devlon bores of the fornicators and heads back to fuck with the kids. Luckily, one kid is wearing his lucky Michael Jackson jacket, so they fare a bit better against our killer.
Again, as with so many of the films I have covered lately, the direction and camerawork is nothing overly impressive, although there are a few nice high and low angle shots in the abandoned house with kills and with revealing Devlon that add a nice dramatic effect.
A difference I have noticed in these Mexican horror films from the American ones I am more familiar with is a lack of the jump out at you, gotcha scares. I am a base level moron when it comes to horror films, so gore and gotchas appeal to me. But these films I have watched, and maybe many more Mexican horror films(?), Cemetery of Terror included, rely much more on old school type scares... mood and slow tension as opposed to something jumping out at you. While this can work for more refined horror tastes I would imagine, it rarely lends any scares for my jaded eyes.
If anyone better versed in Mexican horror films has any input on this, I'd love to hear it!
Just when I had settled in with a supernatural slasher, Devlon throws me a curveball and starts summoning zombies! Now they are really trying to win me over! The zombies have rubber masks obviously, but they look fine, and any zombie appearance helps in my enjoyment. Another thing that adds to enjoyment is watching the director use the same 4 zombies to seem like 40! I swear I saw the same bald, hump-shouldered zombie emerge from a crypt at least 5 times!
This film was a real nostalgic trip for me. I think that people who are bigger horror fans than me may scoff at Cemetery of Terror, but watching it tonight I saw elements of slasher/horror films that I used to love as a kid, and it left a smile on my face. Again, it isn't well acted (lookin at you Stiglitz!) and nothing all that spectacular, but all the little parts were just fun.
Recommended for the old school rip off vibe! And for Hugo Stiglitz' exploding cross of doom!
Score: 5.75 / 10