Thursday, 29 August 2019

Breeders (1997)

The Isle of Man masquerades as Boston, and the likes of Oliver Tobias and Samantha Womack (then Janus) masquerade as Americans in this ‘sort of’ remake of the Tim Kincaid smut n’ slime fest of the same name from 1986. Squarely aimed at the US direct to video market, I remember British Breeders' attempts to pass itself off as an American production were immediately undercut by the opening titles’ acknowledgement of ‘the Isle of Man film commission’….and that is even before we get to the put-on American accents. As per the Kincaid movie, the film centers around an alien abducting and brainwashing women for breeding purposes, only this time all the action is played out at a girl’s school in …ahem… ‘Boston’.

If I’m recalling this correctly (keeping in mind its been nearly twenty years since I’ve seen it) the film does in part at least recreate the ‘sperm bath’ sequence that everyone remembers from the 1986 film, and adds a couple of original touches of its own. There is a leather clad ‘Space Girl’ (Kadamba Simmons) running about the place, who appears to have a psychic connection to the creature, a subplot that isn’t lifted from the Kincaid film. British Breeders is also distinguished by its fixation on women’s bottoms, with derrière not only emphasized in the obligatory shower scene, but also in more humdrum moments. A trait that I recall becoming a source of unintentional hilarity after a while. I guess someone behind the camera was bringing a fetish of theirs to work with them.

On a sadder note, the film is also tragically notable for the fact that one of its stars Kadamba Simmons, was murdered by an ex-boyfriend shortly after the film was made. A turn of events that renders scenes of ‘Space Girl’ cowering in the shadows and being terrorized by a fictional monster, uncomfortable viewing at times.

Director Paul Matthews made an earlier British monster movie ‘Grim’ (1995) which bypassed British distribution during the video era, and was belatedly released here on DVD in 2004. His Breeders did however make it onto the VHS shelves of Blockbuster in the UK, and presumably on the basis of Janus’ name, and the fact that it had a cool looking monster on the cover, persuaded a few of us to rent it out back then. Even if we were kicking ourselves for doing so by the time it came to post Breeders back through Blockbuster’s ‘hole in the wall’ returns slot the next day. Actually, I may well have talked myself into wanting to watch this one again, and since the film frequently shows up in the 50p section of CEX, I guess it wouldn’t be too costly a re-visit.

BTW: searching for films called ‘Breeders’ on can bring you into contact with such  strange looking adult titles as ‘Ass Breeder 3’ (wonder if you have to watch parts 1 and 2 in order to understand the plot of that one) and ‘Puppy Breeder’ (who knew gay dwarfs dressed as dogs was a ‘thing’). Compared to those, the idea of an alien impregnating women and making them bathe in its sperm suddenly seems quite vanilla.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

The Second Coming of Suzanne (1974)

“Hey Gene, Gene Barry, I’ve got this great idea. Why don’t you sink some of the money you made from starring in that British TV series ‘The Adventurer’ into a movie called The Second Coming of Suzanne. The title might sound like one of those porno chic movies, but don’t worry its all above board, its actually gonna be a visualization of a song by that great misery of our times Leonard Cohen. Its all about a far out filmmaker who is hung up on the idea that Christ is going to return to earth as a woman. This idea blows everyone’s minds, except the man’s. The idea scares the establishment, who won’t finance a movie version of this idea because the filmmaker wants to cast a chick, played by Sondra Locke, as Jesus. Man, this film will reflect what the youth of today are really thinking, because we’ll randomly cut in vox-pops interviews with the youth of today telling us what they’re really thinking….and there is gonna be these secondary characters who for no apparent reason are wearing clown face make-up, you know like in all those Fellini movies…and in one scene the clowns are chasing after the female messiah in a dinghy…but get this…the dinghy is actually on dry land, but the clowns are still trying to row it anyway, because well…clowns are like that, aren’t they? 

Of course they’ll be a role for you in this movie too, you’ll play a character who symbolizes the capitalist system, but you become disillusioned after your chauffeur quits his job and drops out, then a black guy knocks you down on the street and asks if he can pick you back up again…man, that is a really heavy bit, then you become obsessed with Sondra Locke’s character because she’s like…Lady Jesus. Of course the only people who’ll ever understand what this film is about are those who have smoked a ton of grass beforehand- man, those people will get it- everyone else will think we've lost our minds and need carting off to a padded cell…but if all else fails we can always falsely market it as a horror film. Oh, and did I mention that you have to wear a ridiculous fat suit for the duration of this movie? So Gene, what do you think to that idea?” 

“this kid, Sondra Locke, is she taller than me?”

“No Gene, don’t worry, Sondra’s only 5 foot something” 

“GREAT, where do I sign”

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Sinner’s Blood (1969)

One of several movies from the late 1960s and early 70s that combined the biker genre with sexploitation (Wrong Way, The Takers, Bad Bad Gang!) and whose makers were probably kicking themselves for not calling their film ‘Sleazy Rider’. Although if you’ve ever seen the film that laid claim to that title, you have to admit it earned the honour… and then some.

Sinner’s Blood really is a skinflick in biker movie clothing, and while…yes…there are technically bikers in this film, they are mostly kept to the periphery, playing second fiddle to the exploits of two sisters, Penelope and Patricia. The real focus of Sinner’s Blood, Penelope and Patricia have recently lost their mother and have been forced to relocate to a small town and live with their Uncle Clarence. Sexual freakery appears to run in this family, Uncle Clarence is a creepy, unshaven loser kept under the thumb of his yelling, buck toothed wife (Drucilla Hoy). Their offspring consists of Edwina, a lesbian with a penchant for baby doll nighties who doesn’t appear to be playing with a full deck, and Aubrey, a big lug who reads porno magazines and peeks in on Penelope and Patricia undressing through a hole in the bathroom wall.

Penelope, the ‘bad girl’ of the two sisters, soon earns herself a reputation when she drags her uncle into the shower, after dirty ol’ Clarence had been pathetically loitering about the bathroom. Naturally, he jumps at the chance to help out when she ‘accidently’ drops a bar of soap. Penelope also begins hanging around with Gentry, a newbie member of the biker gang, which is how the biker angle gets worked into the main plot. Not even being a ‘good girl’ gets you very far in the sordid little world of Sinner’s Blood, as Patricia finds out when she is seduced by her cousin Edwina. All of which is watched by Aubrey through his beloved peephole, the sight of which causes Aubrey to go off the rails and attempt to rape Patricia.

The most recognizable member of Sinner’s Blood’s cast is Drucilla Hoy, who plays the domineering mother, and is familiar as Tessie, the one legged mute in Ted V. Mikels’ The Corpse Grinders. Almost everyone in this oddball cast though would be right at home in a Ted V. Mikels movie, spectacular in this respect is John Talt as Aubrey, a 6ft slack jawed giant who resembles a junior version of Ted ‘Lurch’ Cassidy. Aubrey’s height, fondness for porn mags and voyeurism earns him the memorable nickname ‘the big peek freak’, which Gentry hollers after him as Aubrey tearfully runs away. Of course Gentry isn’t without a few sexual secrets of his own, namely that he is a closeted gay and has been fooling around with another of the bikers. Despite his relationship with Penelope, Gentry can’t hide from his true nature for long, and at a biker orgy Penelope discovers him in a comprising position with a fellow biker. While outwardly accepting of his sexuality, secretly Penelope vows vengeance, and at the first opportunity slips him some LSD. All of which has tragic consequences for both him and Penelope herself, especially when Chip, Gentry’s murderous ex-boyfriend comes after her.

Sinner’s Blood might best be described as the most Andy Milligan-esque film that Andy Milligan never directed. While it is a little more professional than the Milligan stuff (though is still rough and ugly looking by conventional filmmaking standards), Sinner’s Blood uncannily taps into so much of what was within Milligan’s twisted wheelhouse. Hatred of the church, bullying characters, incest, rape, anti-female ranting (“women are dirty…filthy bitches” hisses Chip) and homosexual elements that were probably the last thing the film’s target audience expected to see at the drive-in. It all eerily follows Milligan’s M.O. The scene where a priest is violently beaten about the face with chains by the biker gang also feels very much ripped from the gospel according to Andy Milligan.

As with Milligan’s films, Sinner’s Blood has all the hallmarks of someone using exploitation cinema as a punch-bag to work out all their personal demons and sexual hang-ups. What with his T.V. Mikels worthy cast of uglies, and Milligan-esque mental baggage, director Neil Douglas could have become quite the exploitation film powerhouse, but chose to blow his entire load on this, his one and only film. Douglas pulls out all the stops here, but incredibly someone obviously thought Sinner’s Blood just wasn’t quite sleazy enough, and in the mid-1970s the film was re-released as ‘Hard Riders’ complete with hardcore footage culled from a Rene Bond movie.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Bluebeard (1972)

From Richard Burton’s period of taking paycheck roles in films that, in truth were probably beneath him, but still make for tremendously entertaining viewing. See also: The Klansman, Villain, The Wild Geese and The Medusa Touch. Here Burton plays Baron Kurt Von Sepper, a fascistic Austrian aristocrat who has suffered a serious injury in WW1. One that has left him with a permanently blue beard ….as well as a case of blue balls. Concealing his impotence has led Von Sepper into doing away with a succession of wives, played by the glamorous all-star line-up of Raquel Welch, Karin Schubert, Sybil Danning, Nathalie Delon et al.

Bluebeard has the feel of a grandiose, big budget Hollywood production that has relocated to Europe and absorbed much from Euro-Sleaze film genres in the process. Bluebeard contains elements of Italian gothic horror, Nunsploitation, Nazisploitation, as well as the mondo genre’s attitude towards onscreen animal cruelty, the for-real shooting of a boar being particularly unpleasant. After a relatively stone cold sober opening half, mostly concerned with Von Sepper buddying up to the third reich and his new wife (Joey Heatherton) uncovering her hubby’s murderous past, Bluebeard becomes an unexpected black comedy when Von Sepper is forced to confess all to Heatherton.

In a run of bad luck to rival Udo Kier’s Dracula, Von Sepper had courted a series of seemingly respectable and conservative women- in the hope of enjoying asexual marriages to them- only for them to turn into divas, feminists, nymphomaniacs or lesbians, whose ways drive Von Sepper into murderous rages. Especially hilarious in this respect is Von Sepper’s romance with a Nun, played by Raquel Welch, who insists on torturing him with details of her extensive sex life prior to taking up the habit.

It is rather difficult to post anything relating to this film, be it trailers, stills or posters, without getting into spoiler territory. Since the female guest star list and the ways they are snuffed out formed the basis of the film’s publicity drive “Raquel Welch, beautiful body…suffocated, Karin Schubert, beautiful body…shot, Sybil Danning & Nathalie Delon, beautiful bodies…chandeliered, Agostina Belli, beautiful body…falconated”. Bluebeard’s publicity dept having possibly invented two new descriptions for murder with ‘chandeliered’ and ‘falconated’. Bluebeard’s publicity also seemed hell-bent on referring to the film as ‘Burton is Bluebeard’, much in the same way that ads, posters and VHS releases of 1986’s Cobra would have you believe that film is actually called ‘Stallone Cobra’. Burton’s character would fit right in with the fascist men of Pasolini’s Salò, but with his ridiculous blue beard, pet falcon and colourful wardrobe Von Sepper wouldn’t also be out of place as a special guest villain in an episode of the 1960s Batman TV show as well.

At over two hours in length Bluebeard is a leisurely paced film that takes about an hour to fully get going, but does come back strong in its second half, thanks to its elaborate kills, female nudity and shameless humour at the expense of Von Sepper’s inability to get it up. Its as if the film became entranced by the beauty of its own sets, surroundings and costumes, with the first hour spent mostly wandering around its gothic castle setting and the high society balls that Von Sepper keeps holding. Even in its dull stretches though, Bluebeard is a visual banquet for the eyes, and one where you continuously have to remind yourself that you’re not watching a Mario Bava film here….its that drop dead gorgeous.

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

The Captured Flesh (197?)

Think that Britain never made any Nazisploitation films? Well, then think again and meet ‘The Captured Flesh’ part of a series of softcore shorts made for the 8mm film market and sold and advertised through the top-shelf magazines of David Sullivan. Sullivan’s involvement with films like these is an abnormality in itself, his magazines having a policy of eschewing BDSM material, as a result of the man himself receiving an insider tip that that type of material was especially targeted during police raids on sex shops. Nevertheless the Nazi films were the recipient of unforgettably lurid full page ads in his magazines, with well known Sullivan company addresses listed in the ads.

Known collectively as ‘The Violators’ series, these films aren’t as you might imagine WW2 period pieces, rather they are set in an ‘alternative’ 1970s London had the Nazis won the second world war. Which I suppose qualifies The Violators series as a porno version of 1965’s ‘It Happened Here’. In this version of the 1970s, the British resistance hide out in a swanky London hotel, broadcasting anti-Nazi messages and planning air attacks on Nazi strongholds. Unfortunately, the resistance are also a rather horny bunch as well, and when one of the male freedom fighters takes his mind off the job in order to get one of the women into bed, the Nazis catch them in the act and lock everyone up in a prison camp.

The Captured Flesh is chiefly memorable for scenes of actors in full Nazi regalia driving around London in an open top car à la Keith Moon and Viv Stanshall, the filming of which must have turned a few heads. Unlike Derek Ford’s Diversions (1975) which never fully commits to its characters being Nazis, authentic SS paraphernalia is draped everywhere here. As to whether The Violators series gets as nasty as its Italian Nazisploitation counterparts, it is a little difficult to say on the basis of this, the series’ opening installment, which is more about setting up the premise. Things do turn tellingly sadistic towards the end of The Captured Flesh though, the male prisoner is kicked about by the Nazis, the women are stripped and raped, there is also a surprising amount of full frontal nudity from the actors playing Nazis. All hinting at further unpleasantness in future, thrilling installments in the series, which have grim sounding titles like ‘Dungeon Love’ and ‘No Mercy for Gina’.

As you might expect, little is known about the makers of these films ‘Casanova Film Productions’ although as if to prove they weren’t all about Nazis, Casanova also did their bit for 1970s race relations by making a series of inter-racial loops too (Black Magic, Brown Sugar, White Takes Black). Unusually for an 8mm production, The Captured Flesh sports elaborate opening titles more befitting a feature film. Naturally all of the names are phony pseudonyms seemingly designed to heap blame for the film onto Italians (‘director of photography: Antonio Nudo’) but don’t believe a word of it, we Brits were doing that Nazisploitation thing on the sly back then as well. It really did happen here.

Casanova Film’s contribution to race relations 

Friday, 16 August 2019

Instant Death (2017) & Skin Traffik (2015)

Earlier this week I decided to double-dip into the film world of Ara Paiaya. A martial artist turned filmmaking multi-tasker (producer, director, actor, stuntman, editor, cinematographer etc etc) who has gone from making what were apparently glorified home movies starring himself, friends and family, to directing B-Level name stars. Paiaya has also been accused by some of leaving glowing, 5 star reviews of his own movies on (“Ara Paiaya goes down the classic Death Wish route and does so with the intension of unleashing the former Incredible Hulk himself”, “independent martial arts action comedy classic”, “the director pioneered the British martial arts film”)

Instant Death (2017) aspires to be a Poundland version of Death Wish and First Blood, but frequently has to settle for being a mean-spirited, post watershed episode of Eastenders. Lou Ferrigno stars as John, a troubled war veteran who travels to London to visit his estranged daughter and granddaughter. The moment the film pulls at the heartstrings when the granddaughter tells John “I didn’t think god was real, but now that I’ve seen you, I do”, you know we’re going down the Death Wish route. Sure enough, a bunch of cockney geezers soon show up, murder the granddaughter and rape the daughter, who also has to forfeit her eyeballs as well. Knowing what a loose cannon John is, the British military decide to place him in custody, but its not long before John is on the run and waging a vigilante war on the London underworld, who quickly discover that they wouldn’t like him when he’s angry (sorry, couldn’t resist working that in).

Instant Death boasts the Under the Skin-esque surreal sight of seeing a Hollywood star being parachuted into the most unglamorous British locations possible. See Lou Ferrigno loiter outside a Job Centre Plus, wander past a branch of Boots and travel on First Day buses. Considering that he is now old enough to travel on those First Day buses for free, Ferrigno is in tremendous physical shape here. While never likely to be accused of being an acting heavyweight, he does also give a heroically dedicated performance, you can really tell Ferrigno is taking the bull by the horns and giving the best acting turn he is capable of here. Making you wish other aspects of the film had shared that level of commitment, rather than letting Ferrigno do all the heavy lifting. As you might expect from a film directed by a martial arts expert Instant Death only really comes alive when it is in action movie mode, and is less impressive when it steps away from action strasse. If you can turn a blind eye to the cheapness of everything else though, Instant Death does deliver on that level as Big Lou breaks bones, stabs people through the head and shoots them in the balls.

Laughability of the unintentional variety is also on hand, mainly due to some peculiar casting decisions. A council estate hoodie is played by one of the most well educated sounding young thespians imaginable, rendering his only line of dialogue “that’s that blonde bitch Jane Bradley” hilarious. The elderly actor cast as John’s military mentor would also seem to be more suited to a touring production of Dad’s Army than playing Colonel Trautman to Ferrigno’s Rambo here. For better or ill, humour can also be found in the film’s grimmest moments too. As a friend of mine observed, when the daughter’s rape is taking place offscreen the sound effects used to suggest it actually makes it sound like the bad guys are engaged in an intense skipping rope competition rather than a sexual assault. An observation that unfortunately caused me to laugh like a drain during the entire scene, and then feel like a complete sicko afterwards, since when the rape is onscreen we are talking a graphic, Michael Winner level sexual assault scene here.

I’m not sure I could have it on my conscience to leave Instant Death a five star review on Amazon uk, but at the same time its hard to really hate on a sincere, micro-budgeted hero worshipping of the 1980s action genre. Especially one that leaves you spinning with the revelation that one of the most mocked stars of that era actually has acting chops after all.

Skin Traffik (2015) aka A Hitman in London, has enough Hollywood burnouts in its cast to panic you into thinking it is a Richard Driscoll movie. The plot errmm… has something to do with a hitman trying to find redemption by rescuing the sister of a slain galpal from human traffickers….but I was constantly distracted from it by how much star Gary Daniels resembles Don Henderson these days (its fucking uncanny) and how much Mickey Rourke now resembles a Spitting Image puppet of Rod Stewart that has been allowed to deteriorate in someone’s garage for the past thirty years. If you can tear yourself away from those two, we also get a sweary Alan Ford, an incomprehensible Dominique Swain, a ramblingly Michael Madsen, a bored looking Daryl Hannah and Eric Roberts talking on a mobile phone a lot. Paiaya himself shows up in this one as Roberts’ right hand man and gives himself the 2nd most spectacular death scene in the film…(spoiler)…first place going to Eric Roberts who checks out à la the little girl in Fulci’s The Beyond.

As with Instant Death, Skin Traffik is a case of Paiaya coming into his own when staging fight scenes, car chases and shootouts, and politely asking you to ignore the deflating nature of everything else. Skin Traffik isn’t quite as entertaining as Instant Death though, due mainly to its muddled storyline, a bloated near 100 minute running time and a rather dull excursion to Amsterdam that the film could have done without. Still on the basis of these two films alone, I have no reservations in proclaiming Ara Paiaya, Britain’s answer to Amir ‘Samurai Cop’ Shervan. Feel free to interpret that comparison as either an enticement or a warning.

Both Instant Death and Skin Traffik are currently up on youtube (seemingly legally) -channel name ‘Hollywood Flix’ - along with their trailers, should you want an idea of what you’re getting into here before following me down this rabbit-hole.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Snow White and the Seven Perverts (1973)

Happy and dopey and dirty in places* this X-rated ‘Sextoon’ caused a considerable rumpus during its original release, somehow surviving both a ban from the British censor and a destruction order from the police. Its not hard to see why. The brainchild of notorious pornographer David Hamilton Grant, a man whose war on decency and good taste would result in him being imprisoned in the 1980s for distributing a Video Nasty and faking his own death in early 1990s. Grant and his crew hid out here under comedy pseudonyms that perfectly encapsulates the level of humour in Snow White and the Seven Perverts ‘written by Rinkus O’Penis’, ‘Edited by Jack Von Ripper’.

Updated to the permissive 1970s, Grant’s take on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs sees the big boobed Snow White escape the clutches of her wicked stepmother, throw some sex in the direction of the Huntsman and get urinated on by a rabbit. All before finding true happiness at the cottage of the seven perverts, who masturbate to blue movies and hang around soho stripclubs. That is, when they’re not taking glamour photographs of, and participating in gang bangs with the fairest of them all.

Merrily lewd, and a short that truly speaks the language of the dirty mackintosh brigade, Snow White and the Seven Perverts was one of a number of animated projects that Grant found himself involved in. His other animated adventures including this film’s equally controversial and banned companion piece ‘Sinderella’ (1972) and several collaborations with legendary animator Bob Godfrey. However, more ambitious plans for a blasphemous feature length animated film called ‘Big ‘G’’ failed to come to fruition. Big ‘G’ was to have depicted God as a David Grant type figure who ‘takes on a deal to build ‘Planet Earth’ in 7 days, but runs into a lot of problems’, and Jesus as a lovable hippie ‘Jessie smokes pot and does some incredible party tricks’. Meant to have been directed by Ron Inkpen of ‘Never Too Young To Rock’ fame, Inkpen’s premature death in 1977 appears to have been a factor in the Big ‘G’’s demise.

Snow White and the Seven Perverts has lost little of its ability to shock, what with its real and animated nudity, unconsensual sex and gang rape jokes. There is much here to cause the ‘It Was Alright in the 1970s’ mob to reach for their disapproving heads, but its also worth pointing out that this is one of the few adaptations of Snow White to not depict her housemates as dwarfs, and decades before Disney are to give the world a black Little Mermaid, Grant was here serving up a mixed-race Snow White. David Hamilton Grant- socially progressive? now theres something he hasn’t been accused of before.

*joke stolen from a Godley & Creme song