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!