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July 26, 2016

Movie Review: Inserts (1975)

Directed by John Byrum

Movie Review by Greg Goodsell

In a crumbling Hollywood mansion at the height of the Depression, “Boy Wonder” (Richard Dreyfuss, fresh from Jaws that same year) a faded silent movie director who fell by the wayside with the advent of sound is grinding out porno loops to make ends meet. Alcoholic, slovenly and impotent, Boy Wonder's social circle includes former silent movie star Harlene (Veronica Cartwright, Invasion of the Body Snatchers) with a taste for smack; Rex, the Wonder Dog (Stephen Davies) his stud-for-hire not above paying lip service to those who promise him a part in pictures; Big Mac (a very young and slender Bob Hoskins), his tyrannical producer, and Miss Cake (Jessica Harper, Suspiria) a fresh-faced college girl who knows far more than she lets on.

It's a disastrous morning. Harlene dies abruptly of a heroin overdose before Dreyfus can administer the hardcore footage needed for his opus (the “inserts” of the title). While Big Mac and Rex dispose of Harlene's body, Miss Cake entices Boy Wonder to “put her in the movies.” The second hour of this two-hour film is devoted exclusively to Dreyfus and Harper's bantering, with Harper breaking a world record for continuous nudity by a mainstream actress. Everything ends horribly, with Boy Wonder literally failing to answer the knock upon the door to revamp his career.

As this wholesome synopsis suggests, Inserts was never really intended to be a barn burner with the popular movie-going public. As Julie Kirgo points out in her liner notes for this Twilight Time Blu-Ray release, limited to 3,000 copies, Inserts belongs to the sub-genre of self-loathing Hollywood epics that include such titles as Sunset Boulevard, The Day of the Locust and The Last Tycoon. The motion picture industry, these films proclaim, take the stuff of dreams and turn them into nightmares that prey upon the naïve and innocent.

The motion picture itself – Inserts, suffered a fate that  only Hollywood could dish out. Completed in 1975, after Dreyfuss completed Jaws – he said that he did the film to distance himself from such a crowd-pleasing blockbuster, go figure – Inserts sat on the shelf for two years and was given a limited release, slapped with an “X” rating. The film retains an NC-17 rating today. Rest assured, there's nothing the slightest bit erotic about Inserts. The porno film within the film lies uncomfortably close to a “Snuff film,” with Harlene being manhandled and nearly strangled by Rex. The malaise is thick and palpable throughout. The stuff that fuels this film's narrative has very little to do with sex and erotic fulfillment, boiling down to a war between the sexes. Audiences who lined up to see a hopefully snarky bit of naughtiness set in the 1930's were soundly turned off.  Inserts' thin plot does pay off with a cathartic ending, but it's not possible to leave this film's cramped universe – a mammoth set constructed on British sound stages that plays out in real time, with a slap and the tickle.

Very few extras this time around, this Twilight Time release has English subtitles for the hard of hearing and the film's original theatrical trailer. Inserts remains an interesting curiosity, a grimly uncompromising project on the fragility of dreams and the high cost involved in recording them for the whir of the motion picture camera. 

Cinema Head Cheese: Podshort! - California by blink-182 (2016)

Kevin reviews the latest album from a pop/punk trio with a long history.

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July 24, 2016

Music Review: Did You Mrs. Me? by Driving Mrs. Satan (2016)

I am a huge fan of cover songs. I don't know what it is, but hearing an interpretation of a classic song is an exciting thing for me. I don't care if it's Limp Bizkit covering The Who or My Chemical Romance covering Queen. Sometimes a band or singer can surprise you. There are bands that striclty do covers, like Me First and the Gimme Gimmes or Richard Cheese, and I love them both. In this case, I'm looking at a band I found randomly called Driving Mrs. Satan. On their album Popscotch, they covered Anthrax, Metallica and Faith No More in spectacular ways, and I was hooked.

July 23, 2016

Cinema Head Cheese Greatest Hits: The Podcast! #35 - Blue Valentines

Jeff, Dave and Kevin welcome Abnormal Entertainment alum Camm Harston to this week's special Valentine's Day edition.

In honor of their new sponsor, Adam and Eve, the quirky quartet shares some of their favorite adult titles in an all Blue Cheese edition of the show.

Dave talks about Grub Girl, Jeff brings up Naked Came the Stranger, Camm reminisces about Taboo and Kevin looks back at The Dinner Party and the documentary Inside Deep Throat.

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Click on any of the links above to purchase at Amazon.com and support Cinema Head Cheese and Abnormal Entertainment!

July 20, 2016

Book Review: My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf (2012)

Growing up in Chicago in the 1980s and 1990s, I heard a lot about serial killers and mass murderers. John Wayne Gacy and Richard Speck were from Chicago, and they were both executed for their horrendous crimes. We were also affected by another bizarre killer at that time. He wasn't from Chicago, but he often traveled there, and some of his victims were part of the Chicago gay scene. I am speaking of Milwaukee's cannibal killer, Jeffrey Dahmer.

Dahmer was a strange case. When an intended victim escaped and led police to his apartment, what was discovered was a nightmare that Wes Craven couldn't imagine. A refrigerator full of human remains was only the tip of the iceberg. Dahmer had a long and unnerving history. My Friend Dahmer dips into the early part, up until his first killing. How do we know it's accurate? It's written by one of his high school friends.

Cinema Head Cheese: Podshort! - Kindergarten Cop 2 (2016)

Kevin, Jeremy, Jeff and Mandy discuss a disastrous sequel to a childhood classic.

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July 10, 2016

The Laughing Mask (2014) Movie Review

While I’m waiting on my next package of goodies, I was lucky enough to be sent the link to an on-line screener (and unlucky to receive another one but that’ll have to be someone else’s problem because SOOOO BAAAADDD). In the long standing tradition of masked serial killers, Michael Aguiar gives us The Laughing Mask.

Jake Johnson’s wife is murdered and daughter kidnapped by the crazed serial killer, The Laughing Mask. Despite all his efforts to find the mad man, Jake comes up with a deadly plan: he’ll write a book about the killer and call him out on national television for being a pussy coward. THAT’LL bring the Mask to Jake for sure and then he can get his revenge.

Or then again, maybe it’ll just unleash The Laughing Mask’s wrath onto everyone else that Jake cares about. Like the plucky hard ass cop, Kate O’Malley. Or perhaps his agent, Mark. You know, in-between dishing out vigilante justice, too.

Umm….I’m confused.

Let’s deal with some of the bad first.

The acting, needless to say, is pretty rough. I’ve definitely seen worse but not by much. Most everyone seems rather stiff and unsure of themselves. Or they’re trying to hard to emote and it throws off the flow. The characters they play are pretty cliche so that doesn’t help matters. And the director used his twin daughters to play two different characters in the movie. Made for some very confusing double takes throughout the film.

July 6, 2016

Cinema Head Cheese: Podshort! - Turbo Kid (2015)

Kevin, Dalyn, Sam and Mandy discuss the Canada/New Zealand joint throwback to 1980s cult cinema.

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July 3, 2016

Movie Review: The Great Beauty (aka La Grande Bellezza) (2013)

The Great Beauty(La Grande Bellazza) is an Italian film centered around the character Jep Gambardella(Toni Servillo), a journalist who is among Rome's social elite class.  Jep has turned 65 years old and the movie shows his interactions and his view of life after his birthday.

Toni Servillo as Jep is brilliant in this film.  He needs to be as this is all about hi as Jep and the way he navigates his life in Rome.  The film starts at Jep's 65th birthday and it's quite the party.  The beautiful people of Rome's social elite are there and it's a wild time filled with music and dancing.  This is where we start to see Jep pondering life.  Jep is in the social elite, not because he is a journalist, but because of a novel he wrote.  As the movie progresses, we see Jep's character progress and his sharp wit is on display when he grows tired of the elitism displayed by some of his counterparts.  I also really enjoyed when Jep decided to bring an unlikely someone into his inner circle.  The choice had some ramifications on his own psyche.  Again, Toni Servillo is brilliant.

The Great Beauty is directed by Paolo Sorrentino and you can see this is his homage to Federico Fellini.  The way Sorrentino was able to navigate through all of these lives but keeping Jep the central focus was wonderful.  I took notice in the focus on faces.  There were scenes of people at parties and we were treated with the focus on their faces which visually told you what was going on.  The film takes place in Rome so the backdrop to every shot had exquisite beauty.  Thhe Great Beauty was truly a pleasure to view.

I received this film in the Boxwalla Movie Subscription Box.  You can read my box review at HelloSubscription.com.