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November 26, 2014

Movie Review: Carnal Haven (1976) and Her Last Fling (1977)

Directed by Carlos Tobalina (as Troy Benny and Bruce Van Buren, respectively)

Movie Review by Greg Goodsell

It's the Seventies – in San Francisco – and porno workhorse Carlos Tobalina has gathered the usual gang of idiots in order to make skin flicks! Tobalina is so proud in his part of this sexual revolution for profit that he hid behind not one, but two pseudonyms to rush these features to the Adults Only movie houses. Suddenly, the prospect of an evening of washing dishes and dusting bookshelves seems more enticing …

Under his nom de porn Troy Benny, Tobalina gives us Carnal Haven. In a lengthy introduction told in title cards, Benny/Tobalina says his negligible flesh feature will change our lives for the better! How, we don't know. We are introduced to some married couples in the Baghdad by the Bay, doing what married couples do best, i.e. kvetching about money. “Blacks tend to have larger families. Does this mean they are happier?” asks the voice-over narration. We are then introduced to sex therapists who tend to the couples' mounting sexual frustration with group orgies. “Shell,” the actress playing the female therapist does a fairly good job laying down a good pseudo-scientific line of patter on sexual positions, in spite of her filthy, disheveled hair. Ken Scudder, who played the lovable doofus hitchhiker in Curt McDowell's Thundercrack! (1975) doesn't quite cut it as the male half of the therapeutic duo. The film's raison d'arte is indifferently filmed orgy scenes, which gobble up (pun intended) the majority of the film's running time.

November 25, 2014

Cinema Head Cheese: Podshort! - Brooks and The Boz

Kevin Moyers does a documentary double feature of Mel Brooks: Make a Noise and the 30 for 30 profile of Brian Bosworth, Brian and the Boz.

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November 23, 2014

Movie Review: Rage (2014)

Directed by Paco Cabezas

Movie Review by Greg Goodsell

“This whole mess stinks,” weary Irish Mafia hit man Danny (Michael McGrady) sighs at one point. You're telling me. It was with deep dread that this DVD was submitted to ye humble reviewer, Nicolas Cage's distorted mug prominently featured on the cover. Sure, Cage previously turned in some good performances in halfway decent movies before such as Raising Arizona and Vampire's Kiss, but those days are long past. Cage last starred in the Christian rapture film Left Behind (2014), itself a remake of a 14-year-old film in the role Kirk Cameron played in! Let that sink in for a moment.

Yes, Cage's acting career has long gone down the porcelain convenience by this point, but just before he signed on to Left Behind he found time to star in the violent actioner Rage, released sans rating by the MPAA. Cage stars as Paul Maguire, a successful businessman with a highly shady past in the Irish mob. Fixing to host his lovely daughter Caitlin's Sweet Sixteen party at his former colleagues' dive bar (Max Ryan and McGrady), these plans are put on ice when after she's abducted in a break-in burglary and kidnapping at home with two male friends. After she turns up dead with a gunshot wound to the head, Cage vows vengeance on those responsible. Rallying his buddies, Cage begins the methodical thinning out of the local Russian Mafia. His friend the police commissioner (Danny Glover from the Lethal Weapon series – not looking so good these days) advises him to let justice take its course. There are some good car chase scenes and a shock, surprise ending – due to some shoddy detective work on the part of the police in this film! If anything, Cage's character was justified in taking the law into his own hands.

November 21, 2014

Movie Review: Companeros (1970)

Directed by Sergio Corbucci

Movie Review by Greg Goodsell

Franco Nero is a most unlikely Swedish arms dealer named Yodlaf Peterson out to make easy money in revolutionary 19th Century Mexico. Franco's English track voice has a defiantly Italian accent – of no consequence, it just adds to the fun). Eurotrash favorite Tomas Milian plays a Mexican bandito out to have good time, and give Yodladf a hard time along the way. Both are recruited by the local warlord to retrieve a pacifist college Professor Xantos(Fernando Rey) who holds the combination to a safe that holds gold bullion to fund the ongoing revolution. Nero and Milian trek great distances to Texas in order to spring the professor, playing a series of practical jokes on each other along the way. Jack Palance, as a one-armed villain with faithful pet falcon – he could have walked off the set of the “Batman” TV series – is out to get both of them.

Many have cited Companeros as their favorite “spaghetti western.” It's an easy film to like: very light on plot, powered by the charisma of its two male leads. Both Nero and Milian thwart disaster at the last minute at every turn, but make no mistake: director Sergio Corbucci was the mastermind behind the brutally nihilistic The Great Silence (1968). Companeros has a moral that many would disagree with, that violence is frequently necessary to protect the good and innocent. But fear not, as the film is not intended as a sermon, but as an undemanding popcorn muncher.

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. 

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.

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.

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: 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?

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.

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...