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November 21, 2014

Movie Review: Companeros (1970)

Movie Review: Forever's End (2013)

Directed by JC Schroeder

Movie Review by Greg Goodsell

Sarah White (Charity Farrel) lives on a bucolic farm in the middle of nowhere where it is eternally springtime six years after an unspecified apocalypse has left her the last person on Earth. She whiles away her days doing housework and harvesting organic vegetables, occasionally drifting into reveries about a terrible tragedy involving herself and her father in an urban alleyway. One day her sister Lily (Lili Reinhart) shows up on her doorstep during a rainstorm. She refuses to tell Sarah where's she's been but drops ominous hints … “You really don't remember what happened, do you?” A male figure comes snooping around the farmhouse late one night and Sarah shoots him dead, stashing the body in the barn.  A tall, dark stranger named Ryan then appears, who assures Sarah that the world didn't end, and that they're people and cities a few days walking distance away. Lily isn't keen on Ryan; like her, he's playing mind games with our heroine: “You don't remember who I am, do you?” Tensions arise among the various personalities involved, and the aforementioned traumatic past event comes colliding into the dream-like present. Sarah learns the real reason behind her isolation – for better or worse. 

Any audience member will be savvy enough to discern that Sarah isn't living in a post-apocalyptic world; not a single cannibalistic zombie dots the horizon and the skies are free of any radioactive clouds. Viewers will quickly deduct that her life on the farm is an idealized way of dealing with a past, terrible tragedy hinted at in the flashbacks. The story has been done before, with bigger budgets, but Forever's End makes for highly compelling viewing that rivets attention. Forever's End fits snugly in with the “millennial unreality” films that came in the wake of The Matrix back in 1999. Details about the character's past are deliberately kept out of reach of the audience, forcing them to reach subjective conclusions by the clues left strewn throughout the narrative.

Forever's End shares a lot with the recent indie hit I am a Ghost (2013); a single setting, details that only make sense once we retrace our steps through the film and a heroine deep in denial. Forever's End casts a spell using uniformly meager resources, but maintains viewer interest throughout. Forever's End does have its flaws, with some unpolished performances and a slow midsection, but you'll be glued to the screen until the very end.

Those entering Forever's End's hermetic, sealed universe should know beforehand that the film's conclusion leaves many threads untied, and will have them contemplating the film's “meaning.” Sold as a simple romantic coming-of-age story, Forever's End reminds us that things are rarely ever that simple.

Forever's End is available as both a DVD and as VOD. The film's official Web site is here.

Movie Review: In the House of the Flies (2013)

Directed by Gabriel Carrer

Movie Review by Greg Goodsell

Steve (Ryan Kotack) and Heather (Lindsay Smith) are a young couple out for a night of fun when they return to their car. Their booby-trapped vehicle is permeated with knockout gas, and the two lovebirds pass out unconscious to awake into a nightmare scenario: A filthy cellar made of gray cinder blocks without a means of escape. Left with a wastebasket to hold their bodily wastes, Steve and Heather are then subjected to a series of tests by an unseen madman (Ryan Barrett) who communicates with them through an old dial telephone sans its dial. Starved and denied water, Steve and Heather are commanded into a series of degrading tests in order to live another day. Things get worse and worse and worse until Heather drops a bomb on Steve: She's carrying his child. What do you suppose happens next? It does …

In the House of the Flies is an especially grueling horror film, devoid of any aesthetic beauty and a story that can only go from bad to worse to even worse. The film is an endurance test for the viewer, which, as these types of projects usually are, dares the audience to see what happens next. Grisly and relentless, it must be noted, however that since the couple's ordeal goes into weeks, that Heather's hair remains fluffy clean and Steve's beard barely goes past the two-day stubble phase. A story with a starkly simple premise makes these little inconsistencies stand out.

Made with only the barest essentials, the In the House of the Flies DVD comes packed with extras. There is a 48-minute behind the scenes documentary, which shows Barrett recording his morbid dialogue in an ultra-modern recording studio. There is also Spain premiere archival footage, deleted scenes, trailers and director and writer commentary.

A harrowing, claustrophobic endurance test, In the House of the Flies should only be viewed by those who know what they're getting into. It's the only recent horror film that this reviewer can cite off the top of his head that pushed as many buttons with only the barest minimum of blood and gore. One looks forward to – or dreads what director Gabriel Carrer comes up with next ….

Available on both DVD and VOD, the film’s official Web site can be found here.

November 19, 2014

Cinema Head Cheese: The Podcast! #141 - Dudley Has To Take His Shirt Off

Inebriated duo Kevin and Jeff get together to talk about their favorite sitcoms of the 1980s.

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November 15, 2014

Movie Review: The Buddy Holly Story (1978)

Directed by Steve Rash

Movie Review by Greg Goodsell

It’s a good thing that Buddy Holly (Gary Busey) – real name, Charles Hardin Holley was one of the first rock and rollers as he went directly against everything we presume about rock and rollers. Long and gangly, sporting nerd spex and white socks, Holly loved his parents, was a hard worker, went to church, loved his wife, didn’t do drugs and most importantly – wasn’t afraid to use his fists to defend his artistic integrity. All of the above flies in the face of most rock musicians, in particular those who under the advice of impresarios are told to stop doing the type of music they want to play in order to court the recent, popular trends in popular music. Holly wrote the book on what today passes for rock music, and he was persecuted and misunderstood for doing so in his hometown of Lubbock, Texas. 

Holly truly broke down borders – both musical and racial with his rock and roll. A Nashville recording session where Holly’s hits are given a country-swing arrangement, the record producer telling Holly “We don’t do nigra music here” ending in fisticuffs. Buddy Holly and the Crickets were the first white band to play Harlem’s Apollo Theatre, where an initially dismayed audience quickly learned his brand of boogie. Marrying a Puerto Rican woman, Maria Elena (Maria Richwine) Holly would have the wind knocked out of him when his bandmates Ray Bob (Charles Martin Smith) and  Jesse (Don Stroud) head back to Texas, leaving him without backup in New York City. Encouraged to tour, Buddy has a fateful plane flight, ending his life and career at the impossibly young age of 22.

As the

November 11, 2014

Cinema Head Cheese: Podshort! - 30 for 30: Elway to Marino

Kevin Moyers is in a football mood, and he reviews a documentary about the famous 1983 NFL draft.

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Movie Review: Raw Force (1982)

Directed by Edward D. Murphy

Movie Review by Greg Goodsell

A cruise ship full of swinging singles and martial artists piloted by Captain Harry Dodds (Cameron Mitchell) and managed by loudmouthed harridan Hazel Buck (Hope Holiday) run afoul of jade smuggler Thomas Speer (Ralph Lombardi) who resembles Hitler in an ice cream suit. Speer sends his goons to sink the boat, and the survivors land their life raft on an island inhabited by cannibal monks (one of whom is played by perpetual Filipino trash film star Vic Diaz) who have the power to raise disgraced kung-fu killers from the grave …

In short, listing the exploitive elements that this Filipino feature DOESN'T have would make for a much shorter and more manageable list.

It’s not possible to dislike a film featuring cannibalistic monks and hordes of reanimated zombie martial artists. Such is the case with Raw Force. Add tons of tits and ass, gore that wouldn’t convince a pre-schooler and lots of slapstick and you simply can’t miss! This is exploitation cinema as it will never be again: no irony, no cross-referencing other films, a nonsense logic that only applies to the particular universe in which it is set … and the result is Movie Magic. Quentin Tarantino could bang on a typewriter for an eternity and never reach the joyous energy found on display here.

Movie Review: Beneath the Harvest Sky (2013)

Directed by Aron Gaudet and Kavita Pullapilly

Movie Review by Greg Goodsell

Casper (Emory Cohen) and Dominic (Callan McAuliffe) are best buds since forever. Counting the days they graduate or drop out of high school, the two burnouts do the best that they can in their rural Maine town across from the Canadian border: Make out with girls, chug beer, chase moose and deal a little drugs on the side. They dream of saving up enough money to move to Boston in order to see the Red Sox play. Dominic’s dad Clayton, (Aidan Gillen from “Game of Thrones”) has a somewhat lucrative illegal prescription drug business on the side, and he’s intent on schooling his son on the ways of this world, or in his words, being “spokes in a fucked-up wheel.” In the meantime, Dominic’s creepy uncle “Badger” (Timm Sharp) is working with law enforcement authorities to send Clayton up the river. Casper and Dominic have their hopes and dreams, but good things never come out of these types of scenarios. It all comes crashing down violently – who will live to see another day?

Movie Review: Locked In (2010)

Directed by Suri Krishnamma

Movie Review by Greg Goodsell

“The story moves through the lives of two fragile yet determined people and maps a private geography of love, loss and ultimate redemption. Josh leaves his advertising career at its peak, everyone wants either to be him or to have him. Then he walks away from it all, the money, recognition and the life. A car accident will leave his daughter in a strange coma and when everyone has given up she starts communicating with him, or is he going mad?”

Pfffffft. Not even close!

In a recent pile of goodness sent to this reviewer by the fine folks at Cinema Head Cheese, the DVD for Locked In stood out. Artless, banal cover graphic. Lead actor Ben Barnes staring into space without emotion. A movie from 2010 now just getting a release in the final months of 2014. Could this be … something remarkably horrible? One that would stop the viewer in its tracks with its ineptitude in the manner of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room (2003)?

Seventy-nine minutes later, the answer was yup, yup, yup, yup, but this doesn’t make it a good thing.

Movie Review: Dead Within (2014)

“You do what you gotta do for your family.”

That line, right there, tells me that this is going to get ugly. Predictable, but ugly.

Dead Within is about Kim and Mike. They are the only two people, that they know of, who have survived some kind of viral outbreak. After boarding themselves up in a remote cabin for six months, they are running low on food. Every day Mike goes out into the infected world, leaving Kim behind, and comes back with fewer supplies than the day before.

As their situation becomes desperate, Kim still hangs on to some shred of hope that there are others out there, survivors like them. She continually tries a walkie talkie, calling out each day, but without success. And each day, Kim seems to become more and more disconnected with reality. Is it the stress? The lack of food? Survivor’s guilt?

November 1, 2014

Interracial Sex Havoc #7: 1979



The Interracial Sex Havoc project is trying to catalog as many films as possible that contain at least one interracial sex scene. Not all films included here are pornographic, but they had to have at least one interracial sex scene in order to qualify. This chapter is about movies released in 1979 and I wrote about a Donald Pleasence film, and a Russ Meyer flick. So, enjoy!

Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff (1979)

This story takes place in Kansas, 1954, and it is about the title’s young white woman [Anne Heywood from The Nun of Monza (1969)] who is a teacher; a great one at that. She is also very supportive of the rights of the black community. But one day, a young black man [John Lafayette from Jackie Brown (1997)] rapes her. She is shocked of course, but the next time she sees him, she starts wanting him and they have passionate sex. Then another time he is forcing her to kneel down and beg him for his services. Soon the couple will get caught by two white students and the affair will become public. The next day the young teacher finds a piece of paper glued on the classroom’s door, saying Miss Wyckoff Fucks N...

This is a social drama directed by Marvin Chomsky, and if it wasn’t for the generous amounts of nudity it offers, it would seem more like a TV movie rather than the art-house film it wants to be.  There are many interesting comments about race prejudice to be found here, but the whole thing is utterly boring as most of it takes place in interiors where actors talk. But I had to buy it because both Robert Vaughn and Donald Pleasence play doctors; the later simply sitting on a chair talking.

Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens (1979)

The second movie in this chapter is the more entertaining of the pair and it was made by true auteur Russ Meyer (who produced, shot, cut, and directed it, and he even co-wrote it with Roger Ebert). It is a collage of sketches as usual, mainly involving Kitten Natividad (such an angelic face).

A piano player [Henry Rowland from Supervixens (1975)] is listening to a song from Germany’s Nazi era, then wears a Ku-Klux-Klan like uniform, and has sex in a coffin; another man is taking a crap, but his friend is collecting the shit with a shovel and throws it away without being seen, and then the first man says “no shit”; and even the narrator is seeing his son fucking his wife. What is of interest to ISH readers is the plenty of interracial sex scenes involving a fat black woman and several white men.
There are so many shots here, excellently photographed, and cut to the tempo of a machine gun at war, but you are here for the big tits, right? Plenty you’ll get...

October 31, 2014

Cinema Head Cheese: Podshort! - Halloween Fare

Jeff Dolniak shares some Halloween recommendations for the holiday weekend.

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October 29, 2014

Cinema Head Cheese: Podshort! - Boardwalk Empire Finale

Kevin Moyers shares his thoughts on the ending of one of his favorite series.

This episode is loaded with spoilers, so don't listen if you don't want to hear it. Also, apologies for the hollow sounding audio.

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October 28, 2014

Movie Review: Neighbors (2014)

Directed by Nicholas Stoller

Movie Review by Greg Goodsell

Aside from horror movies, a Hollywood “crass comedy” is always a sure hit with this reviewer. People are amazed to discover that I adore and re-watch such disposable features such as Dodgeball and Won Ton Ton: The Dog Who saved Hollywood. At their best, go-for-broke comedies tear down the restrictions placed upon most cinema: everything goes in the Dumpster in the search for a quick, easy laugh.

Neighbors somehow slipped under this reviewer’s radar. Mac and Kelly Radner (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) are a hip, young married couple who have sex and smoke dope. When their quiet suburban existence in a nice house is threatened by the college fraternity taking up residency next door, the Radners introduce themselves to the rowdy students that they, too have sex and smoke dope. The fraternity’s de facto leader Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron) isn’t that impressed with them, and the nightly parties there quickly get out of control. The Radners are frustrated at every turn. The police won’t help them, the college turns a blind eye to their off-campus activities and the normally upright Radners must resort to questionable activities in order to dislodge the rowdy collegians.

Neighbors for this viewer was notoriously light on laughs. We have the likeable bad guys in the form of the college students going up against the virtuous Radners, but things fail to take off. Neighbors has a most unrealistic view of fraternity life, as the parties thrown in this film would break the bank of a Las Vegas casino. The fraternity parties this writer attended in his college days were lucky to have a keg of flat beer and some ragweed passed around. College students, even the ones from wealthy families, are notoriously broke. The wild wing-dings with mountains of drugs and booze and wild lighting effects as shown in this film are the ones thrown by drug gangs, not humble collegians eking out their existence with dwindling scholarship money and onerous student loans.

Movie Review: Mai Linn vs. Serena and Oriental Hawaii (both 1982)

Directed by Carlos Tobalina (under the name of Troy Benny)

Movie review by Greg Goodsell

Vinegar Syndrome strikes yet again with a double-shot of early 1980s hardcore porn. The very prolific Carlos Tobalina, here working under the pseudonym of Troy Benny ground these two out in 1982, the year when the skin trade left 35mm film altogether for the far less expensive shot-on-video route. Never fear: Carlos treats these celluloid epics as indifferently as anything shot on a family camcorder. Out-of-focus shots, improvised dialogue, ragged pans and zooms that would make Jesus Franco envious – ol’ Carlos just knew instinctively that the lonely guys at the grindhouse would settle for anything ol’ thing with pussies and dicks.

Mai Linn vs. Serena is simplicity in itself. The suave and more than slightly creepy Tobalina stars as himself to offer favorite nudie cuties Mai Linn and Serena with a most unusual wager. He will award either one of the girls the lead role in his next skin epic on the provision they perform the most unusual sex act they can imagine. Offering the winner $25,000 – probably the entire budget for this film, Mai Linn and Serena get busy. Tobalina isn’t around to witness the gals getting down and dirty, so we assume he’ll just have to go on their hearsay.

BEFORE THE WOLF OF WALL STREET, THERE WAS WANDA!!!


 
This brand new version is now available for pre-order on www.distribpix.com and will begin to ship on or before Monday Oct. 17, 2014.

October 20, 2014

Movie Review: I'll Follow You Down (2013)

I admit it. I loved The Sixth Sense. I loved that adorable little scamp, Haley Joel, as he muddled through his little life scared shitless of all the ghosts he could see. And though HJ has a TON of work on his resume, I’ve only seen him in 2 movies. Maybe my subconscious could see that he was basically a one-trick pony. 

I’ll Follow You Down is about Gabe, a scientist, with a loving wife, Marika, and an adoring son, Erol. Gabe heads out to Princeton for a conference but doesn’t return after the planned three days. Marika enlists the help of her father, Sal (another scientist), to find Gabe. Sal hacks into Gabe’s computer, investigates a secret research room filled with crates labeled “A. Einstein”, and discovers Gabe’s wallet and phone tucked away in a desk.

Not a good sign.

12 years later, Gabe is still gone. Erol is a young man studying theoretical physics in college and Marika is a fucking wreck. She’s never been able to ‘get over’ Gabe’s disappearance and barely makes it through each day. Sal, in all this time, has been studying Gabe’s notes and discovers something shocking: Gabe was working on time travel and may have actually succeeded in traveling back to 1946.

But what happened to him? Why didn’t he make it back home? After joining his grandfather in cracking the time travel code, Erol realizes he must follow his father back to 1946 and set the time line right. You see, since his father’s disappearance, everyone affected by it has been living in an altered time line. And it’s not all candy canes and Skittles-shitting unicorns.

October 18, 2014

Clive Barker's Lord of Illusions Collector Blu-Ray 12/16

SCREAM FACTORY PRESENTS CLIVE BARKER’S 
LORD OF ILLUSIONS COLLECTOR’S EDITION
Starring Scott Bakula, Kevin J. O’Connor, Famke Janssen and Daniel Von Bargen

2-DISC BLU-RAY SET FEATURES CLIVE BARKER’S DIRECTOR’S CUT
 AND THEATRICAL VERSION OF THE MOVIE, PLUS ALL NEW EXTRAS!

ARRIVING ON HOME ENTERTAINMENT SHELVES EVERYWHERE
ON DECEMBER 16, 2014 FROM SCREAM FACTORY

“It’s creepy to the extreme! No other filmmaker gets under the skin the way Clive Barker does”
– Quentin Tarantino

In the world where magic is real, death is the ultimate illusion.  From best-selling author and celebrated director Clive Barker comes a supernatural thriller that rips apart the boundaries between sanity and madness, and between the art of illusion and the terrifying forces of magic. Written and directed by Clive Barker (Nightbreed) and based on his popular short story, The Last Illusion (from Books of Blood Vol. 6), the 1995 cult film classic LORD OF ILLUSIONS stars Scott Bakula (Quantum Leap), Kevin J. O’Connor (The Mummy), Famke Janssen (X-Men, Taken, Hemlock Grove) and Daniel Von Bargen (Crimson Tide, The Faculty).

October 14, 2014

Movie Review: Tropic of Desire (1979) and Fantasy World (1979)

Directed by Bob Chinn

Movie Review by Greg Goodsell

Vinegar Syndrome cleans up and presents a pair of vintage pornographic features by the legendary director Bob Chinn. Both Tropic of Desire and Fantasy World look especially great: bright and eye-poppingly colorful. But are the films really any good? We shall see …

Tropic of Desire is set in a Hawaiian brothel in the final days of World War II. Porno veteran Georgina Spelvin, who looks great – she usually played matronly figures beginning with The Devil in Miss Jones (1974), plays Frances the Madame. As expected, there's little to no plot. The brothel's favorite girl, Rita (Kitty Shayne) has lost her fiancĂ© to battle, and she tearfully heads off to San Francisco to start life anew. Various serviceman stop by and are very disappointed that Rita has hit the road – but that doesn't stop them giving the other girls the ol' heave-ho. The high point of the film is a silent black-and-white stag film screened at an orgy where a guy loses his wristwatch in a most interesting way along with a girl indulges in some quick nicotine in an even MORE interesting way …

Movie Review: Swelter (2013)

Directed by Keith Parmer

Movie Review by Greg Goodsell

Smeary, shot-on-video photography. Internationally acclaimed martial artist Jean-Claude Van Damme not lifting a finger. Situations that call for action being talked away. Yes, we're in the world of straight-to-disc low-budget action adventure films where, true to form, there's actually very little action. Those things cost money!

To whit: Bishop (Lennie James) is just a guy making an honest living as a sheriff in a Nevada small town hell hole called Baker. His memory is wiped clean due to a gunshot injury to the head. The town's boozy sawbones (Alfred Molina) warns Bishop that he may not have long to live, as one of the fragments could move inside his brain and render him a vegetable. What Bishop has forgotten, on account of his brain injury, was he was part of a hotshot group of professional criminals who raided a nearby Las Vegas casino 10 years prior to the tune of $10 million (the DVD sleeve SAYS $100 million, but this reviewer digresses). The big news is that said group, led by Van Damme has been sprung from prison and are on the way to reclaim the missing millions.

As the title suggests, Swelter tries to cash in on its modern-day western setting by conjuring up a sweaty, claustrophobic atmosphere. It just doesn't get there. All of the bad guys insist on wearing heavy, black suits in the manner of Reservoir Dogs and kvetching about the heat. (Those familiar with Southern California landscapes will see signs in the background that the film was shot in the winter time.) Characters roam from one shabby interior setting to the next, the extensive dialogue not furthering the plot …