Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Giallo, Oh Dario Where Art Thou?

Adrien Brody in Giallo
Well that’s the question fans have been asking for years about Dario Argento, where is the director who gave us Suspiria, Bird with the Crystal Plumage, and Deep Red?  Maybe that’s a bit unfair but it seems for every semi decent project, there are a couple stinkers.  His Masters of Horror efforts were decent, some of the better of the series, but far from his heyday. When word got out he was working on a project called Giallo, fans got excited.  Dario was returning to the genre where he excelled, the Giallo.  Unfortunately Argento has pretty much disowned the film, unhappy with the cut forced upon him.  Not only that, but star Adrien Brody, successfully blocked it’s release due to issues with the producers.

Now however Giallo has finally been released. And the wait, well was kind of worth it.  It isn’t a horrible film, and Argento has done worse (Mother of Tears), but it is far from his best work. It also thematically falls far from his previous work.  Gone is any suspense about who the killer is, well almost all the suspense.  Going into the film I had no idea Adrien Brody was playing a double role, and within minutes I recognized the killer was Brody.  Until the killer is finally full on display I assumed Brody’s detective was moonlighting as the villainous “Giallo”.  I can only guess that was the Argento’s attempt at suspense.
Even the name of the film seems a misdirection of sorts.  Giallo, which means yellow in Italian, typically refers to a genre of films popular in Italy in which Argento was a master.  The term typically was reserved for horror/mystery films that were bloody and erotic.  The term giallo came as many of these were based on pulp novels with their yellow background and covers.  However the name of the movie Giallo, just as much refers to the killer, who is named “Giallo” due to his yellow tinted skin.  Jaundice just doesn’t have the same ring after all.
Unlike in his better films, there is little suspense, once you realize Brody isn’t the killer.  There also isn’t that much violence or sex.  Also none of the bright trippy colors and innovative camera work from his prime.  The story is maybe a bit clearer than in his classics, I have always found Dario’s narrative a bit confusing, but watching classic Argento is like riding a Space Mountain.  You’re there for the thrill of the ride, not the backstory.  I could actually keep up with this story and that made up for the lack of style.  Well just a little.  Dario Argento has himself disavowed the movie.  Normally I would think his cut would be better, but having seen the trailer for his Dracula, I’m afraid his cut would have been worse.  In all honesty I, like a lot of his fans, have lost faith in Argento.  At least lost faith in his ability to do what he has done best.

His best work lately, Jennifer and Pelts are far from his traditional fare.  Giallo, a return to his roots, is just kind of there.  It’s not unwatchable, and Adrien Brody plays a great detective.  However his villain, Giallo is nothing special.  The bad makeup can’t hide Brody’s features, and his mumbling is more annoying than chilling.  While it’s better than 90% of the crap released, it’s not the Master of Italian Giallo.   It’s better than Mother of Tears and appears to be light years better than Dracula, but it’s not quite as good as his Master of Horror episodes.

The film also stars Emanuelle Seigner, wife of accused pedophile Roman Polanski, and Elsa Pataky. Neither one is particulary interesting. Pataky spends most of the film screaming in the finest Giallo tradition.  Seigner just seems a bit lost, there's little to no chemistry between her and Brody and her character is very thinly written.  She like Pataky is more a plot device to move the film along, than an actual character.

Final verdict, it’s an ok watch.  Adrien Brody is fun to watch, at least in one of his roles.  It’s light on sex and nudity, and light on violence.  There are a couple of intense scenes but they are few and far between.  The ending was meant to be chilling, but just comes off as unfinished.  Don’t rush to buy unless you are a hardcore fan worshiping at Dario’s feet.  Everyone else should catch it on Netflix or cable.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Zombie Girl Diary teaser trailer

Here is the new teaser trailer fo the independent horror film Zombie Girl Diary, directed by Mike Pine.  The film stars Vanessa Rae Bent, Jim Krut, Jimmyo Burrill and Eliza Jayne.  It's set to start filming soon, look for it zombie fans

You also might be interested in my interview with Mike Pine the director of Zombie Girl Diary

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Horror of Porn

Sasha Grey has my heart in her hands in Smash Cut

So I recently wrote two reviews of horror films starring porn actresses, Smash Cut with Sasha Grey and Bloodlust Zombies with Alexis Texas.  Porn stars seem to gravitate to horror movies when they move into the mainstream, and it seems to be happening more and more frequently.  However it’s not a exclusively new situation, as adult actresses have been venturing into horror since the 70s at least.  Still it seems to be happening with more frequency so I thought a list of those porn actresses (and actors) who have made a leap, although sometimes temporary leap, into horror was in order.
Marilyn Chambers

The late adult actress Marilyn Chambers was one of the first porn stars to appear in a horror film in 1977’s Rabid.  Rabid was directed by the master of body horror Davis Cronenberg.  Chambers plays a woman who is seriously injured in a motorcycle accident and undergoes a radical new treatment to save her life.  After the treatment she grows an orifice under her armpit that hides a bloodsucking stinger.  Those she bites become rabid zombies that further spread the infection.

Cannibal Holocaust
Robert Kerman
The next porn star foray into horror was in 1980 in Cannibal Holocaust.  Cannibal Holocaust is one of the most notorious and controversial films of all time. Most horror fans know the story, the torture and killing of animals onscreen and the face that Italian director Ruggero Deodato was arrested for allegedly murdering his actors on film.  What not a lot of fans know is that Robert Kerman, one of the film’s stars had also appeared in over 100 adult films, including Debbie Does Dallas.  Cannibal Holocaust has become a cult classic, and one of the few horror films to feature a known male porn star.

The most successful porn actor to make the jump is easily Traci Lords.  While more a sci fi than horror film her role in 1988’s remake of Not of This World launched her mainstream career, which included several horror and sci fi appearances.  These included TV appearances in Tales from the Crypt and Stephen King’s The Tommyknockers.  While Traci has found success in mainstream film, she will be always be remembered for the fact that she was underage during most of her porn career, and only one of her adult films is legal to own in the United States.
Traci Lords in a bikini

Jeff Stryker
In 1989 Italian horror is again the vehicle for an American porn star, and once again it is a male actor.  Porn star Jeff Stryker starred in the Italian zombie film After Death, alternatively titled Zombie 4, or Zombie Flesh eaters.  Whatever it’s called, it’s pretty much a stinker, but it did well financially, perhaps much of that due to Stryker’s casting.

Also in 1989 was the release of Things with a small role for porn star Amber Lynn.  Honestly I haven’t seen things, but it’s on my list.  It’s regarded as a “so bad it’s good movie” and supposedly revolves around a woman given birth to a brood of ant like creatures.
Things the movie

Veronica Hart in Bloodsucking Pharohs in Pittsburg
In 1991 porn star Veronica Hart starred in Bloodsucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh, which has to be one of the greatest movie titles in horror history.  It’s another I haven’t personally seen yet, but it has to be a “so bad it’s good” film, after all a credited director is the great Alan Smithee, nom de plume of every director too embarrassed to out his name on his work.  With that title you really don’t need too much of a synopsis, it’s pretty self-explanatory and, the title alone, and possibly Veronica Hart should convince you whether you want to see the film or not.

Evil Breed poster with Jenna Jameson

Chasey Lain from Evil Breed
Now we fast forward just over ten years to 2003 and Evil Breed: The Legend of Samhain.   The cover art and top billing for this gory horror film features Jenna Jameson, one of the hottest porn stars in recent years.  Unfortunately that doesn’t mean she has much onscreen time.  She does get naked, very naked in the unrated version, and her death scene does have one of the funnier moments of the film.  Still I had hopes that Jenna would be a major player in the film and bring her sizzle into horror films full force.  For the porn fan this film probably has the greatest collection of porn starlets outside of the AVNs.  In the movie alongside Jenna Jameson are Ginger Lynn Allen, Chasey Lain, and Taylor Hayes.  Evil Breed also stars Richard Greico, whose acting would make a porn star groan (and not in a good way.)  There’s little good about this film beyond the boobs, and you can see those on the internet for free, even the film’s director has denounced it.  It’s worse crime is promising much more of Jenna than it delivers.

Ginger Lynn Allen

2005 was a good year, especially if you like the porn horror combo, and aren’t horribly concerned about the quality of the film, or looks of the porn stars. Not only did Ginger Lynn return for a small part in The Devil’s Rejects, looking beautiful I might add, but another male porn star debuted in horror.  This time it is none other than the Hedgehog himself, Ron Jeremy playing the title character in Andre the Butcher. Ron plays an insane killer back from the dead to recruit nubile over sexed teens into Satan’s army by killing them.  It’s actually a fairly fun movie, played mostly straight but with a bit if silliness and jokes at Ron’s expense.  Andre the Butcher was the first American horror film to feature a male adult film actor.  Ron Jeremy would return to horror in 2008 with the film One Eyed Monster, in which is penis is possessed by an evil alien force.  Seriously

Jenna Jameson and Robert Englund in Zombie Strippers
In 2008 we get what we were promised in 2003 with Evil Breed, a horror movie featuring Jenna Jameson as a major character in Zombie Strippers.  Jenna stars alongside horror icon Robert Englund as the most popular dancer at a strip club infested with the living dead.  It’s more comedy than horror, but the zombie element does qualify it for this category.  Zombie Strippers pretty much delivers on all of it’s promises, nudity, gore and more nudity.  There isn’t a lot of acting but really a movie like this doesn’t require acting, just a willingness to get naked and covered in gore. Englund hams it up because he knows he has it good.  Hey who wouldn’t want to be in this movie other than the nut jobs at the Westboro “church?”
Glamorous Sasha Grey

The next year director Lee Demarble brought us Smash Cut with porn phenom Sasha Grey and cult icon David Hess.  The movie is bad, in a gloriously good way, although a lot of people won’t get that it’s bad on purpose.  The film is homage to cult films especially those of H.G. Lewis.  Sadly it was Davis Hess’s last finished project and the horror community will miss him dearly, a lot of critics have hammered Sasha’s acting, but horrible acting is what was called for.  If you don’t believe me check out some of those wonderful HGL movies like Blood Feast, or the film this closely resembles Gore, Gore, Girls.  If you don’t think she can act better than she did in Smash Cut, just check out one of her pornos, or Entourage. Pervs be warned Sasha doesn’t get naked in Smash Cut.

Piranha 3-D poster

In 2010 Alexander Aja remade the cult classic Piranha, with Piranha 3-D.  The movie was a big budget summer fun fest and full of naked and semi naked women.  While the major roles didn’t feature any porn stars, the movie would not have been the same without one.  Adult actress Riley Steele had a small, but very memorable role as one of the spring break “Girls Gone Wild” knock offs.  Her underwater naked make out with British actress Kelly Brook got the audience just as wet as the Piranha.
Sexy Riley Steele of Piranha

Alexis Texas from Bloodlust Zombies

The latest, at least at the time of my writing, is 2011’s Bloodlust Zombies with Alexis Texas. The biggest problem I had with Bloodlust Zombies was it couldn’t make up its mind whether it was going to be a serious film or a comedy.  My favorite part was Alexis Texas’s tits. We do get to see them a couple times.  There were some truly funny moments in Bloodlust Zombies and the film would have been better to play to these.  The serious moments, even when well-acted just didn’t work

So that’s it, probably not a wholly compete list but I think we covered most of the horror films with major contributions from adult entertainers.  There are many more I am sure with bit pieces, and porn stars used as dancers, extras etc, but all of the above at least had credited speaking roles.  Until next time, spank you very much for reading.
One Eyed Monster with Ron Jeremy

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bloodlust Zombies-Alexis Texas gives head(shots)

Alexis Texas in Bloodlust Zombies

Bloodlust Zombies is another of those horror films that feature a porn star in the vein of Smash Cut and Evil Breed.  Bloodlust Zombies features porn star Alexis Texas as the zombie killing personal assistant Andrea.  Unlike Sasha Grey in Smash Cut and to some degree Jenna Jameson in Evil Breed, Alexis has not retired from porn.  Bloodlust Zombies thus seems to be more of a side project than a launching pad to a new career.

The story basically revolves around an outbreak at a biological weapons lab. An escaped cat that has been infected with a “rage” type virus infects the workers and the building goes on lockdown.  The trapped employees including porn star Alexis Texas must fight the zombies, and each other to survive and escape

Bloodlust Zombies has the lowest budget of the three, or at least that’s the way it looks.  However for a movie it is a very clean film.  No graininess, blur, shoddy sound or obvious fake props.  The people in charge of making this film look good did a good job.  Special effects are mostly of the practical variety.  CGI, if used was few and far between, so much that a day after watching it, I can’t recall any obvious computer effects.  The practical effects aren’t that awesome, but the effects crew seems to realize their limitations and we don’t have any attempts at those spectacular effects that either look good or like shit.  No rotting corpses, decapitations, but mostly just small wounds and blood covered victims and “zombies.”

There aren’t any Oscar worthy acting performances but most of the cast do a decent enough job  Of the cast of course Alexis Texas will receive the most attention.  She’s mostly in the film for eye candy, which she is effective as.  Her acting is kind of scatter shot.  At times she seems to really have some acting potential beyond the adult world, at others you really hope someone is directing her to overact.
Bare bottom Alexis Texas

Alexis Texas adds her assets to Bloodlust Zombies

That’s probably the biggest problem with Bloodlust Zombies, inconsistency.  It doesn’t seem to know if it wants to make fun of itself or be a serious film.  There are some great funny scenes, and then there are some absolutely horrible preachy scenes.  For the most part it seems to be not taking it self seriously, to know it’s just a cheap vehicle for Alexis Texas, a dollar rental if you will.  That’s usually a good thing, but honestly it’s getting a bit overplayed, especially when so many low budget film makers are managing to pull off a serious film of decent quality.
Sexy Alexis Texas of Bloodlust Zombies

 Fans are beginning to expect more, regardless of the budget.  Even tongue in cheek, we are expecting quality.  Compare this to Smash Cut, which purposely made a bad film as homage to H.G. Lewis.  There’s no homage here, just a cheap film with a few laughs and some nudity.
Alexis Texas Busts out in Bloodlust Zombies

So Bloodlust Zombies isn’t a movie to avoid, but it’s not a movie to rush out and grab either.  Zombie completest and fans of Alexis Texas might  find it a must have, but these are closer to the Resident Evil infected than Romero and you can see much more of Alexis on a Google search than in the film.  Still she has a couple of very nice topless scenes, and if you want to check her out without going to the bad side of the internet this is a good chance.  Everyone else put it in your Netflix queue for a slow night.
Sexy Santa Alexis Texas rewards those who read to the end

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Small Taste of Vinegar

A Small Taste of Vinegar

It’s better to spit it out

So I have a blog.  Did you know that? If you are reading this you probably do.  That beats most of my friends.  OK maybe that’s not fair, they know, but caring that’s another matter.  I have over 500 Facebook friends.  That’s probably about average now.  I actually know a lot of them, but not all.  Several people I know have deleted me for various reasons.  I’m sure a lot don’t like my politics, my religious beliefs, the fact I curse occasionally or maybe because I don’t accept their game invites.  It’s cool, if the best thing you can do with a powerful medium like Facebook is play Mafia Wars or post bible quotes we have little in common.

The thing is I do try and support my friends.  I oooohhh and ahhhh over their baby pictures, I used to accept their gamer invites till I got overwhelmed and realized how annoying those invites can be, but most of all I share their projects.  I’ll be honest, I don’t watch every video, read every online article, but I do try and share at least a couple of things from all my friends unless I am opposed to what they are sharing.

 Now if I actually like the article, I may share it often, read it and comment.  However even if I don’t I try and share it.  The closer the friend, the more I share.  More and more I have noticed that is a one way street though.  I share other people’s projects probably at a ratio of 50:1 or worse.  Contests, film projects, photos, blogs, articles, whatever I try to share because I have always thought you support your friends.   Even if they are a shitty writer you support them. Shocking then that out of 500 friends, probably 5 have ever shared my blog, or my photography page, and honestly one or two have ever shared a standalone article I have written.  I know hitting that share button takes a lot of fucking time.

Now while the most part, I write for my own enjoyment, it’s always nice when what you write is read.  The written word was meant to be read after all.  My most popular blog post has been read by over 30000 people and has not been shared once by any of my friends.  Not once.  Kind of makes me feel all warm inside.  At least I know I’m not being vain when I said I accomplished that without help.

So sit back and mutter about how ungrateful I am, about how much you love and support me.  Sit back while I share your page day, after day.  While I send traffic to your pages, like your contest pics, give you back links, and fetch your slippers.  Tell me why I shouldn’t be bitter? Tell me why I should ever click on one of your links or share anything of yours?  Maybe I just don’t spam enough, or I’m not good enough to warrant your attention.  Forgive me, but it’s just a little taste of vinegar

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Smash Cut: Farewell to David Hess, Hello Sasha Grey

Sasha Grey in Smash Cut
Sasha Grey in Smash Cut

Smash Cut

Smash Cut is former porn star Sasha Grey’s first venture into the world of horror film.  In fact that’s one of the reasons I avoided it when it first came out.  Other than Traci Lord few porn stars have really made the leap from adult to mainstream entertainment.  Ginger Lynn Allen has had some success but mostly in small roles, but Jenna Jameson’s jump into horror in the horrible Evil Breed (which also featured Ginger Lynn) was what stuck in my mind whenever I saw Smash Cut on the video shelves.

However I kept hearing good things about Smash Cut.  Sasha’s other endeavors, such as her role on entourage, and her volunteering to read to school children, and resulting controversy, made me see her in a better light as well.  Thus I went in search of Smash Cut.  Unfortunately it was gone from the video shelves.  I finally knuckled under and order a copy on Blue Ray.  It was definitely not what I was expecting.
Sasha Grey in lingerie
Sexy Sasha Grey

Smash Cut also stars the late David Hess, which any cult horror fan worth his salt will immediately recognize as the evil Krug from Last House on the Left.  I am really sad I never got to meet David before he passed. Smash Cut was the perfect film for him, because he harkened back to a style of filmmaking that’s no longer around.  In fact it’s nothing less than homage to the glory days of Hershel Gordon Lewis.  While there is a huge stylistic difference between Craven who directed Hess in Last House and Lewis, both films were grindhouse splatter favorites.  A lot of the criticism of Smash Cut comes from those who have no clue about HG Lewis, and have never seen one of his films.

The acting in Smash Cut is almost universally bad, so bad in fact that it has to be bad on purpose.  The characters are almost carbon copy of Lewis and the dialogue made me think I was watching “Gore Gore Girls again.”  The same with the effects, they are totally unbelievable, and have been shocked to see people attacking the special effects and then bringing up Lewis as an example of better filmmaking. Drop your nostalgia and watch one of HG Lewis films again and tell me how great the effects and acting are.  Not to say that Lee Demarbre is as good (or as bad) as Lewis but he effectively channels and pays respect to him.

Jesse Buck could be a dead ringer in attitude and personality from the intrepid investigator Abraham () from Gore Gore Girls.  He gives off that same vibe, and you are never really sure whose side he is on.  His acting is probably closer to good acting than anyone else in the film, but it’s still bad as it should be.
Sexy nurse Sasha Grey

Sasha Grey’s acting was laughably horrible.  So horrible that her acting was wonderful, the blank stares, the painful pauses, the ridiculous lines she delivers so flat and deadpan.  Ever her slightly off cue screams were all marvelous.  Now I have seen Sasha act, both in Entourage, and in porn and I know she can act better than in Smash Cut.  It was either a brave move or a brilliant move making this near spoof her first mainstream film.  Brave in that many will assume this was her doing her best, or brilliant in that she can deflect any criticism to “acting bad on purpose.”  Personally I think it takes talent to act that bad and Sasha has talent.

Despite all the attention to Sasha Grey, you can’t talk about Smash Cut without mentioning David Hess.  Real horror fans were dealt a harsh blow when David passed, all too soon last year.  He began, and made his career with a cult film, so it’s fitting that one of his last films is homage to cult films.  Like the rest of the cast David’s performance will be criticized by those who don’t “get” Smash Cut and that’s very sad.  David delivered the performance the film needed.  Watching him in Smash Cut is pure joy, only tempered by the fact that he is now gone.  He will be missed by those who knew him and respected his work.
Cult legend David Hess

Visually Smash Cut is a 70s film but with better technical quality.  The colors are all intense and garish , with no muted tones.  Everything is out there, watching Smash Cut is like walking into a strip joint on retro night. Either that or imagine a bomb going off in a day glow paints factory.

I read an online review where someone decried the music of Smash Cut as 70s porno music.  The reviewer is right, but really what other music would fit. Watching and listening to this film was like being back in my giddy high school years and sneaking a forbidden VHS into the recorder while my parents were asleep.

The only thing missing was nudity, but I’m not going to tweak it for that.  The film is actually better without nudity (bet you NEVER thought you’d see me type that didya?) Anyone who has never saw Sasha Grey naked probably doesn’t want to, and if they do all it takes is a Google of her name with “safe search” off. 

Keeping her clothes on was probably a calculated, wise move to distance her a bit more from her porn past.  It also harkens to those older films where there was more tease than tit.  Sure HGL loved to show some nudity, but for the most parts those films promised way more than they actually show.  C’mon who didn’t expect to see Sasha at least topless?  I did till I was roughly half way through.  What got me was that seeing the lovely Ms. Grey in a white sweater, sans bra, was so titillating despite all of her I have seen in the past.  And yes, I have seen all of her.

The effects while gory are so unbelievable that only the faintest of heart will be disturbed.  More than likely you will find yourself laughing at the death scenes unless you really do some suspension of disbelief.  Like the rest of the movie you will either get it and enjoy it or hate it, and probably turn it off.

So final verdict? If you are a fan of Sasha Grey, and I mean real fan not just a fan of her sex games, you should enjoy it.  If you are a real fan just get past the bad acting and lack of nudity and support Sasha.  Fans of David Hess should likewise enjoy Smash Cut. His fans will also be more likely to “get” the film.  Fans of HG Lewis and the gory cult days should also enjoy.  Some may balk at the shoddy effects and weak plot, but most will get that it’s part of the charm of this film. All this and you get Michael Berryman in a jewfro wig to boot!

People looking for a film that makes sense and has great acting should avoid it.  Most of them simply won’t get the charm of Smash Cut.  Sasha Grey’s fans from her porn days will probably be disappointed, some even angry.  Tough shit, get over it, people move on in their careers and lives, let’s give Sasha a chance to shine in real films.  So if you can deal with a film that has bad acting, horrible plot, bad effects and 70s porn music then pop in Smash Cut.  If you are looking for the next Silence of the Lambs, keep looking, nothing to see here.  All this and you get Michael Berryman in a Jewfro wig to boot!

PS I loved it and for those who read to the end

Sexy hot Sasha Grey