Saturday, January 17, 2009

Capsule Reviews, Including Salo!

Salo: The 120 Days of Sodom


Being an adventurous filmgoer interested in extremely controversial films, I was eager to see Salo. I had seen most of the “big names” on the “most disturbing movies of all time” lists, except for this one. Unfortunately, this movie is garbage. It’s poorly written and a complete waste of time. It has zero character development, despite there being about a million characters. It’s way, way, way, way too long and has virtually no story. It’s exhaustingly repetitive. It’s mind-numbingly boring and totally fails to engage the audience. It’s not entertaining in the slightest. It’s a chore to sit through. In fact, I fast-forwarded through much of the second half of the movie, just because so very little was happening.

The film is indeed extremely disgusting and unnecessarily gross: the entire thing is little else than scene after scene of gratuitous rape, child abuse, and people eating copious amounts of shit and urine. Does it deserve the title of “most notorious film of all time?” In my opinion, no. In The Realm of the Senses is far more disturbing (especially in the sexual sense), far more explicit, and also a far superior film. Salo is laughably pretentious (supposedly a “critique of fascism”—gimme a break! How many turds did Mussolini eat?!) and should be avoided at all costs. It’s exactly the kind of steaming pile of shit that the film’s characters are so obsessed with eating.

Note: many of the users on IMDB aren’t impressed with this movie either.

Trip With The Teacher (1975)


A bunch of biker dudes harass a school bus full of hot chicks out in the middle of nowhere. Rape and killing ensues. It is what it is: a low-budget exploitation flick. It’s not as good as Malibu High, but may please some fans of the genre.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

More Capsule Reviews

I coughed these ones up rather quickly..

Blade Trinity
A mostly unremarkable rehash of the first two Blade films, both of which were superior. Ryan Reynolds has some funny one-liners, and there’s plenty of vampire slaying, but hardly any new stuff here. Stick with the first two and don’t bother with this one.

The Serpent and the Rainbow
Bill Pullman (or whatever character he’s playing…hell if I know!) finds himself searching after some magic powder that brings people back from the dead. There are some really effective, chilling scenes here, especially the one where he’s buried alive. Unfortunately, it’s pretty anti-climactic and underwhelming. Horror fans desiring something to buy should look elsewhere.

Death Race
Jason Stathum (or his character…whatever) is framed for his wife’s murders and thrown in a prison run by an evil biznatch who promises to let him out if he races other cars in a death-battle, street-match, pay-per-view kind of thing. He accepts, and so we watch cars race and shoot at each other and blow each other up and smash each other. If you like loud noises, street racing and destruction, this one is definitely for you. It’s watchable and may help kill a few hours. Am I going to give it a staunch recommendation? Nah.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Capsule Reviews For The Week!

The People Under The Stairs (1991)

This early-90's Wes Craven film tells the story of a botched robbery, and a 12-year old boy who discovers the terrible secrets contained behind the walls of the house. The parents are guilty of child abuse--the most crazy, outrageous forms of child abuse known to man. They keep cannibals in the basement, for cryin' out loud! While the movie is a decent time-killer loaded with plenty of weirdness, I didn't think the attempts to blend it with comedy worked very well. I can partly see why the "comedic" side was thrown in, as the movie was pretty campy and over-the-top, but...I don't know. The humor also seemed to wreck the movie a little bit.

Cube 2: Hypercube

This movie has a bunch of panicky people are stuck in a giant white cube, with no idea what's going on. I haven't seen the first Cube (yet), but got enough of a cheesy kick out of its sequel to recommend it to sci-fi fans who don't have through-the-roof expectations. There were some pretty effective, creepy scenes (including the alternate universes, the Cube sex, etc) in this bugger. Just ignore the lousy ending.

Cube Zero

Despite being more gruesome than Cube 2, Cube Zero lacks its level of atmosphere and creepiness. I did like the new angle put on the whole thing, where we get to actually see what's going on "behind the scenes" of the monstrous Cube horror show. Watchable, but not as engaging as Hypercube.


When a dad's only son is accidentally killed by a bunch of careless morons on dirt bikes, he goes to some creepy old lady (in a scene that reminded me of Sleepy Hollow) and has her conjure up some pissed-off demon thing to waste the pricks. This movie has great build-up, but very little pay-off. The killings are average, and the special effects not especially breath taking. Still, I can see how it's "camp value" might appeal to some viewers.


A pregnant woman is terrorized by a deranged lunatic in her house on Christmas eve. Consider yourself warned: the killings in this movie are extremely vicious and nasty, and it's one of the most violent and gruesome horror movies to come out in years (the Saw and Hostel movies are kid's stuff compared to this thing). I don't think I've seen a movie this intense since Irreversible. On the other hand, this is undoubtedly the best horror movie to be released since 2003's High Tension, which just goes to show that foreign countries are way better at making horror movies than the US. Inside scared the living hell out of me, and gave me a feeling of dread I haven't felt in a very long time. The ending and final image are as haunting as it gets. This is horror at its very best.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Malibu High (1975)

Rating: ***

IMDB Entry

A high school gal named Kim is down on her luck. She’s flunking her classes, frustrated over breaking up with her boyfriend, and not getting along well with her mother. After turning to prostitution as a short-term fix, her life gets dragged further and further into the most ugly and criminal elements of society.

Wow! They just don’t make ‘em like this anymore. When the film started, I thought it would be some kind of teeny-bopper movie, perhaps with some raunchy moments. But I was wrong. The longer the movie goes on, the more it turns into a dark, twisted, and flat-out nasty black comedy. Kim goes from a misguided young girl into a soulless killer and prostitute, and doesn’t seem the least bit phased by any of it. She enjoys it.

Many viewers will be uncomfortable with the themes in the film, and rightfully so. Kim is only 18 years old, yet she sleeps with a ridiculous number of dirty old men, takes drugs like there’s no tomorrow, and lets people treat her like filth for money. She is downright vicious, and will do anything to get her way. It’s almost like a more depraved and cheesy version of Thirteen. Hell, the scene where she offs her principal was mean-spirited even for me!

The film has its problems: Kim’s changes in character often come too quickly to be believable, and it’s hard to believe there wouldn’t be more people suspicious of her behavior. Still, Malibu High is better than half the crap out there today. If you like your sexploitation extra sexploitative, then Malibu High just might be for you.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Pick-up (1975)

Rating: ***1/2

IMDB Entry

Two girls, one of whom is involved in all kinds of wacky occult stuff, hitch a ride with a young man out on the road in his RV. Before they know it, they’re stuck in a swamp after taking a bad detour. What follows is the most enjoyable movie I’ve seen in a long time.

Can you say “cult film?” I can! I love, love, LOVED this movie. It is a classic, plain and simple. The entire thing is just a series of totally oddball and creepy events, one after another.

And is it ever bizarre! The clown/balloon sequence is extremely creepy—the kind of stuff that would have given me nightmares when I was little. The rape stuff and Christ images are totally weird and uncomfortable. The comic relief (a wannabe politician) is baffling, utterly strange, and yes, funny in a very odd way. The love-triangle that develops is inexplicable. The occult stuff is genuinely creepy and, again, like something out of a crazy dream. The flashbacks thrown in will have you shaking your head: they don’t seem relevant, but for some reason you can’t take your eyes off of them.

I don’t want to make this review that much longer, because I don’t want to give too much away. But I’ll say this: the film is just one giant “trip,” and it doesn’t pretend to be anything else. I was very pleasantly surprised, and am now glad that I own this on DVD.

Add one dash of David Lynch and one dash of Russ Meyer (for whatever reason, some scenes reminded me of Up!), and you have Pick-up.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Teacher (1974)

Rating: ***

IMDB entry

An extremely lucky young man (Sean) falls in love with his gorgeous teacher (Diane), and before he knows it, she’s inviting him over, giving him alcoholic beverages, and taking him to bed like crazy! Shabam! He’s got it made, right? Wrong. It turns out that some psychopathic creepazoid named Ralph has also got his eye on the lucky lady. He’s stalking this couple like it’s nobody’s business, and also making a lot of false accusations about an accidental death. And he’s one creepy-ass dude!

Despite the occasional stale dialogue and acting by a few of the characters, I found this cheesy film surprisingly entertaining. It runs at a perfect pace with an engaging story, and kept me involved throughout. In fact, I don’t recall being bored or glancing at my watch even a single time!

The story is basically every young man’s daydream fantasy (minus the killings and the psycho guy). It’s sexy at all the right times—which is most of the time. Diane is certainly horny, but she’s also a basically good person, which is what keeps the whole thing from feeling too perverse. Sean is really shy and awkward with her at first, to the point where it’s damn near embarrassing to watch. But as he gets further into the relationship, he stops acting so damn annoying. It’s especially fun to watch this thing in this day and age, where hot female teachers are getting in trouble for fucking their students all over the country. When you watch how things actually unfold on screen, the teacher-student relationship doesn’t feel so “wrong” at all. When the couple notices some old prudes gossiping about them as they try to enjoy a romantic dinner at a restaurant, they simply laugh and toast to them. Why not? They should mind their own damn business anyway!

One thing I found interesting was the decision to add the subplot about Diane’s collapsing relationship with her husband. At the end of the film, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. What’s the point? Why add the scene where he awkwardly calls to say he loves her, causing her to admit she wants a divorce? My guess is that it gave a little more life to her character, and showed how her relationship with Sean is partly a way of escaping from the grim realities of a failed marriage.

Unfortunately, the movie has some bad acting, especially by Sean’s parents. Geez louise! Take some acting lessons! I also didn’t buy the naivete of Sean’s mom (who doesn’t see anything at all suspicious about him going out with a woman so much older than him), or Sean’s borderline apathy toward the death of his best friend. Come on man, shed a tear or something! Your best friend just died, for cryin’ out loud!

In the end though, this was a fun flick with a great story. I wouldn’t advise going out of your way to hunt it down, but if it’s on TV some night when you’re bored, you could do far worse.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Welcome to UnMainstream Cinema!

Do you like horror films? Exploitation films? Controversial films? B-movies? Cheesy movies? Sleazy movies? Disgusting movies? Morally bankrupt movies? Just-plain-friggin' bizarre movies?

Then you've come to the right place!

Do you like family movies? Romantic comedies? Feel-good movies? Richard Gere movies?

Then get the hell out of here, you emotional pansy. This blog ain't for you. ;)

Seriously though, this has been a hobby of mine for quite some time. Whenever someone looks through my DVD collection, I get the "WTF is wrong with you?" glance. Every time I watch a movie suited for this blog (whether rented or from my personal stash), I'll put up a review.

The rating scale I'll be using to grade movies is as follows:
**** Superb Schlock
*** Decent Cheese
** Proceed With Caution
* Bad Even For Its Kind

Obviously, most of the movies I'll be reviewing aren't exactly in Citizen Kane territory. So a four-star rating from this blog isn't necessarily equal to a four-star rating from Roger Ebert (I've met Ebert in real life and shook his hand BTW, but I digress). Also, one star is the lowest rating I'll give. I think half-star and zero-stars ratings are pointless. If it's one star, then it sucks, OK?

If you are an adventurous moviegoer with atypical tastes, I hope you'll find something of value, here. Time to load up the reel (OK, it's a DVD player, but I can pretend, dammit!), order some overpriced Friday-night pizza, and have a blast!