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March 27, 2016

Movie Review: Black Widow (1987, Blu-ray)

“Mr. Shin, I'll tell you two things about me: I'm very rich. And I'm very wealthy.”

It has been years since I’ve watched this movie. And, if memory serves, it’s a fantastic thriller filled with tons of acting talent. Let’s see if it still holds true nearly 30 years later.

Released in October, 2015 by Twilight Time, Black Widow stars Catherine (Theresa Russell), a gorgeous sociopath who marries rich men then murders them for the inheritance. As she flits from man to man across the country, changing her name, appearance, accent, and general demeanor to fit each new conquest, Alexandra (Debra Winger), a federal investigator, has been studying the ‘natural’ deaths of all these different men and has discovered a connection - they married the same woman.

But how can Alex stop her when the local police don’t believe her theory, her own boss thinks she needs to go on more dates instead of working so hard, and the relatives of the dead men don’t want to pursue it because they think it’s all poppycock?

She tracks down Catherine herself, insinuates herself into Catherine’s life to get close, and hopefully can end the murderess’ life of crime before another innocent man ends up dead. The only problem - Catherine is highly intelligent and organized so Alex has to stay on her toes to not end up on the wrong end of Catherine’s rage.

I invented Resting Bitch Face. Don't waste my time.

Yes, this movie is just as awesome as it was back in the 80s. Don’t pay attention to the shitty fashion or the old fashioned misogyny from which most of the male characters suffer (a WOMAN can’t be a serial killer - that’s unheard of!). The base story, the actual tale of murder, cat and mouse, good vs. evil, could take place anytime or anywhere. 

Theresa Russell is so good in this role. She plays the loving wife beautifully all while she’s injecting poison into a bottle of champagne or mixing drugs into toothpaste. I love the character of Catherine for her smarts. When she finds a target, she researches the SHIT out of everything that can give her a connection in real life. She becomes each man’s idea of the perfect woman. She’s like a sociopathic chameleon. It’s brilliant. And when you see Alex is catching up to her or Catherine feels cornered in any way, the anger and hatred boiling just below the skin erupts for a moment and we see her for who she truly is.

Debra Winger….what can I say? I LOVE HER. I’ve loved her in everything I’ve ever seen (from Urban Cowboy to Terms of Endearment to Leap of Faith). Her character is strong and smart, two abilities that piss off the male-centric world of the FBI, and the police, and basically all other aspects of life. But her willingness to put herself in danger to stop a killer speaks volumes of her capabilities as a government agent and a human being.

You mad, bro?

Did I say I just love her? Because I do.

And let’s not forget to mention all the other acting talent in this flick: Terry O’Quinn, Dennis Hopper, Diane Ladd, Nicol Williamson, James Hong…just to name a few. Go to IMDB to look up the rest of the cast. Really, it’s amazing!

I think every character is believable, even if a few are convenient. But everyone fits in the entire puzzle of the story. You remove one and the cohesion crumbles.

The direction, editing, sound, and music flowed perfectly well. The writing is great - the story is an awesome thrill ride. The fact that the two main characters are women and the men around them are at their mercy (either in smarts or, literally, their lives) spoke volumes at a time when women were just beginning to be seen as capable of living well without the aid of a husband or father. I don’t want to get all soap boxy here but you can see my point, yes?

Great story, great acting and characters, great film. Stands the test of time and I imagine I’ll still enjoy it in another 30 years.

4 hatchets (out of 5)

March 26, 2016

Movie Review: Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice - Warner Brothers - (2016)

Zach Snyder directs his second film for the DC movie universe, bringing his particular style of directing with him.  Whether you like that type of thing is entirely up to you.

Batman V Superman gave us the fight we were anticipating and also introduced the audience to some new characters.  The pacing of this movie was pretty slow going early on with an artsy dream sequence explaining Batman's(Ben Affleck) origin.  Much of Batman's view of the world and Superman(Henry Cavill) being in it is fueled heavily on his delusional dreams(of which he has plenty).  I had a hard time figuring out if Bruce's butler/assistant in the Bat-Cave, Alfred(Jeremy Irons) is the voice of reason or someone feeding into Bruce Wayne's fears.  Bruce Wayne is Batman for you non-superhero loving folks.

The world is starting to fear Superman and he's being framed for violence across the world.  The framing of the Man of Steel seemed a bit of a stretch but you got to do something to get this movie going.  With all this fear, Lex Luthor(Jesse Eisenberg) is on the hunt for Kryptonite after discovering how it affects the other Krytponian, the now deceased Zod.

Silent Screams: Wolf Blood (1925)

Over here at the Cinema Head Cheese offices we are concerned with the decay of the horror film industry. Every day in this country, a child is born that will never know the true terror of Nosferatu or feel the creepy crawlies from Dr. Caligari... the very beginnings of our industry. The farther we get away from our roots, our history, the better off the world will be (at least our world). So, as a public service, our resident horror film historian and researcher, David C. Hayes, will be posting the films that influenced the men and women that influenced the men and women that influenced us as culled from across the internet. These films can be obscure but they are important for, without them, there would be no now... no us... no horror industry.

Let us begin with what many people believe is the first werewolf film (or, more appropriately, lycanthrope film). 1925's Wolf Blood tells the morbid tale of a logging camp foreman that, after an 'injury' is transfused with the blood of a wolf. This, of course, makes him believe that he is turning into a wolf. The film is directed by and starring George Chesboro (who went on to co-star in the 1950s Lone Ranger series as Doc). The script was written based off of a story by Bennett Cohen (who began his screenwriting career in 1915 and finished in 1953) and Cliff Hill.

March 24, 2016

Movie Review: Tenderness of the Wolves (1973)

Based on the true story…ugh, I hate that phrase. HOWEVER, after doing a little research on Fritz Haarmann, I have to say this movie depicts many truths of his life. Though he originally committed his crimes before and after WWI, this flick moved the timeline up to just after WWII because of Nazis or something. 

I don’t know.

Tenderness of the Wolves is a German film from 1973, written by and starring Kurt Raab in the title role. Fritz Haarmann is a well known criminal in the police community. Things like sex offenses, theft, fraud, assault, seduction of minors, homosexuality (which was a crime in Germany until 1994) all kept him on der kommisar’s radar for years. But since the country was in such a rough state after the war, the polizei need all the help they can get and hire Fritz to be a narc.

This actually works out for Fritz very well because by informing on OTHER people, he keeps the police attentions off his own crimes of theft, fraud, and murder. Fritz likes to lure young boys and men back to his apartment, ply them with food and drink, then BITE OUT THEIR FUCKING THROATS IN THE THROES OF PASSION AND ECSTASY. Afterward he chopped them up and either tossed their remains in a local river or sold the flesh as pork or horse meat to his friends.


March 13, 2016

Movie Review: Werewolves in Heat (2015)

Okay. I promised David Hayes that I would be brutally honest in my review of this movie and I intend to keep it. (please don’t be mad please don’t be mad please don’t be mad)

Werewolves in Heat is about three young men about town looking to party and get laid. Renting a house out in the desert they plan a big shin dig but if they don't want it to end up a sausage fest, they need to find some ladies. ASAP. They journey to a local bar where they hire some hookers for the evening. How convenient…except, unbeknownst to our gentlemen callers, these ladies are also werewolves and our intrepid heroes are on their dinner menu.

That's really all you need to know about the film. There is nothing deep, or even all that interesting, about the story. The characters are tissue paper, the acting is terrible, and the whole thing felt like a group of people made a movie just because they could. Basically the entire film is jerk-off fodder for 13 year old boys - which is maybe why I didn't like it.

There were just a couple of bits that made the 70 minute watch time worth it. The man-servant that comes with the rental house, Captain Bill, was amusing. He had little zingers here and there, he kept himself in the front closet until needed, and he wore a captain's hat the whole time. He made me laugh once or twice.

March 9, 2016

Movie Review: Marquis de Sade's Justine (1969, Blu-ray)

I actually have this book somewhere but I haven’t read it yet. I’m well aware of who the Marquis was but not sure how the subject matter will be treated as a film. Strictly exploitation? Titillation? Porn? Only one way to find out… Though from what I understand, Justine is one of the MdS’s early works and isn’t as graphic and sexual as what comes later (see what I did there?). 

The Marquis de Sade’s Justine is a 1969 film (SIXTY NINE, DUDE!) directed by Jess Franco (writer and director of everything from B horror to porn) and starring Klaus Kinski as de Sade and Romina Power as Justine. We begin our tale with the Marquis being hauled off to prison. As he spends his days in the Bastille, two weeks before the French Revolution, he is tormented by imagery of two young women and their plights in life. 

And by tormented I mean as someone who needs to create literature that speaks to humankind or makes a statement on the world around him. In this case, de Sade want to tell us how virtue always seems to be punished while evil is constantly rewarded. He by no means committed the atrocities against Justine - he just created them. As he scribbles furiously in a blank book, the movie develops, showing us the story of Justine as the Marquis writes it. 

Justine and her sister, Juliet, are two beautiful young women being raised in a nunnery - for their education, of course. Lord knows Juliet is a whore and Justine is pure innocence. When their father is forced to flee the country, the girls are kicked out of the convent and forced to find their own way in the world. While Juliet is totally cool with moving to a brothel and earning her keep, Justine is just too morally innocent to stay and must leave.

And it is from this moment on that Justine suffers every cruel trick, scheme, and lascivious attention people can throw her way. She’s basically sold into slavery, framed for theft, tricked into a gang of criminals, framed for murder, tricked (again) by a group of hedonists, escapes, finds love, loses it, finds it again, kidnapped by the leader of that gang of criminals from before, whisked away by an angry mob, then finally saved by her sister - who’s lived a life of thievery and murder to become the mistress of one of the King’s advisers and now lives very comfortably with money, jewels, and everything she could ever want.

What do you mean...I don't get to have sex with ANYBODY in this film??
But don’t you dare change, Justine. Juliet’s life has been completely empty and meaningless. And though you’ve lived through Hell because she wouldn’t stick by you, at least your everlasting soul will go to Heaven. You know, when you’re dead.


This was probably the most depressing and silly movie I’ve watched in a long time. With the name de Sade attached, I was expecting AT LEAST some sexy kinky shit that I could possibly rub one out to, even if it was more Skinamax bull shit. But son of a bitch if this wasn't just a lot of almosts and nearly happens and close calls and absolutely no sex. We don’t even really get to see the WHORES having sex. I mean, COME ON!

Oh sure, sure. There was a little titillation with some bare breasts and a flash or two of naked bush and some girl on girl kissing and wrestling. But hardly enough to even be called interesting. It’s not like I watch these kinds of films on a regular basis and have become jaded. This whole movie just felt very shallow and meaningless. And did I mention no sex? IN A MARQUIS DE SADE MOVIE.

Ooooh! Right in the eye. So sorry, my dear.
The style was a lot of artsy shots and filters, dramatic music and heavy sections of no dialogue, crappy acting, terrible voice overs. Every character was predictable and Justine was so frustratingly innocent - you’d think by the third time she got screwed over she’d pick up on some clues of the evil surrounding her. Or perhaps innocence = low bell curve?

Klaus Kinski was probably the best asset but all he did was furrow his brow and scribble in a book for the whole 10 minutes he was even in the damn film. Even Jack Palance felt like she should have been in a silent feature with all the scene chewing he did.

For those aficionados out there that enjoy Jess Franco’s work, and perhaps because this can be seen as an exploitation film of sorts (more like Exploit-lite), this movie might be worth a watch. Even those who are fans of the Marquis might be interested in this adaptation. But two hours of trite crap just puts me to sleep. Dear gods don’t let the book be this boring.

.5 Hatchet (out of 5)

March 6, 2016

Movie Review: Blue Mountain State - The Rise of Thadland (2016)

The movie based on the television show, Blue Mountain State, finds the Goat House in trouble as the Dean of BMS threatens to shut it down.  Quarterback Alex Moran (Darin Brooks) does not want his party frat house to go away so he turns to a source he doesn't want to; former team captain and number one draft pick Thad Castle(Alan Ritchson).

Thad was the linebacker for BMS and not always the easiest to get along with.  He does, however, have a big signing bonus and Alex knows that Thad can buy the Goat House and he can continue to party.  Thad's one demand is to throw a party.  A part of which nobody has ever seen and to call it Thadland.  The amount of drugs at this party could have paid for the house multiple times over, but then where would the story of this movie go?

I was a fan of the Blue Mountain State television program as it was nothing to take seriously and each episode made me laugh out loud at least once(except for the final episode, that was awful).  This movie was better than the final episode of the TV show but pales in comparison to the series.  There's a bit more swearing and definitely more nudity.  For those of you that have been wanting to see Sammy's(Chris Romano) penis, you're wish is granted.  Plenty of times.

The rest of the cast is there as well.  It is pretty cool that they came back to do the film.  James Cade as Harmon, Rob Ramsay as Donnie, Frankie Shaw as Mary Jo, Ed Marinaro as Coach Daniels and a couple more surprises.

Overall the movie is a silly comedy and my expectations were low.  With that said, I enjoyed it enough to sit through it and chuckle at much of the absurdity.  For those of you who miss the show, check it out.  If you are not familiar with the television show, there may be some jokes that you may not get but I still feel like you can watch and get the premise.

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