Archive for Cult Classic

Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) Review

Posted in Plan 9 from Outer Space with tags , , , , , on August 23, 2013 by Last Road Reviews


*** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- Unspeakable Horrors from Outer Space Paralyze the Living and Resurrect the Dead

Release Date- July 22nd, 1959

Running Time- 78-Minutes

Rating- NR

Writer/Director- Edward D. Wood Jr.

Starring- Gregory Walcott, Mona McKinnon, Duke Moore, Tom Keene, Vampira, Paul Marco with Tor Johnson and Bela Lugosi

Plan 9 from Outer Space and the director of the film Ed Wood are both kind of legendary, but not for the reasons most films and filmmakers are legendary for. Many consider Plan 9 one of the worst films ever made and Ed Wood often cited as the worst director of all time. Wood’s hack status is so legendary that people who’ve never seen his films will often compare other bad filmmakers to him. I guess if you can’t be the best might as well be the worst since to be truly remembered decades and decades later is you either gotta be great or you gotta be horrible. Say what you want on Ed Wood’s talents or lack of, but the guy did something right to remembered all these years later even if not remembered for the right reasons. Plan 9 from Outer Space for better or worse is Ed Wood’s legacy and this film can be labeled a disasterpiece and quite honestly I really love Plan 9. Sure it’s hack filmmaking 101, but when I think of films I would label worst film the one thing they all have in common is they are boring and that’s one thing Plan 9 isn’t. From the opening to closing, Ed Wood makes one hell of a fun film and its easily one of my favorite cult films.

More often than not fans of cult cinema label this the worst film, but I disagree. From a filmmaking side of things no Plan 9 isn’t well made by any stretch of the imagination, but can anybody really say such films as Zombie Lake and the Last Slumber Party are better made? I greatly enjoy both of those films and in the case of Zombie Lake director Jean Rollin actually made some very good films. But regardless as much as I enjoy Zombie Lake and Last Slumber Party there is no way anyone can with a straight face say they’re better made than Plan 9 from Outer Space. However with that said there is a good reason why Plan 9 is sometimes dubbed the worst film. The film is a collection of some truly bizarre scenes and dialogue and all this mixed together makes for one of the ultimate so bad it’s good movies and actually this film would inspire the Fred Dekker cult classic Night of the Creeps. I often wonder though if Ed Wood set out to make the film exactly as it turned out. While we’re all laughing at how bad of a filmmaker he was perhaps the joke was all on us? Odds are that isn’t the case, but I can’t help but wonder if the joke was all on us. But I suppose I might be giving Ed Wood a little too much credit.

Aliens are invading earth and raising the dead to stop Earth from developing a powerful bomb called the Solobonite that could threaten the entire universe.

The screenplay by Ed Wood is so entertainingly horrible; from a plot standpoint Plan 9 from Outer Space is all over the place. Ed Wood just takes a bunch of ideas and packages them together. Besides the plot being all over the place, things are made even funnier by the attempts at social commentary in the final act. I simply love the screenplay even if not for the right reasons. If you wanna write an off the wall cult film this is the script to draw influence from. I don’t think somebody could write a film like this on purpose; from time to time it does work, but more often than not it feels forced and that’s what makes Ed Wood’s script so great is this wasn’t intentional, he wasn’t trying to write an awesomely bad screenplay. The characters are complete idiots who always say the dumbest things as the dialogue can at times be hysterical and is comedic gold. Here’s a sample;

Lieutenant John Harper: But one thing’s sure. Inspector Clay is dead, murdered, and somebody’s responsible.

Paula Trent: I’ve never seen you in this mood before.

Jeff Trent: I guess that’s because I’ve never been in this mood before.

Paula Trent: …A flying saucer? You mean the kind from up there?

Jeff Trent: Yeah, either that or its counterpart.

Air Force Captain: Visits? That would indicate visitors.

Gravedigger: You hear anything?

Gravedigger: Thought I did.

Gravedigger: Don’t like hearing noises, especially when there ain’t supposed to be any.

Lieutenant John Harper: Kelton, Get down there and check it out?

Patrolman Kelton: Well, how do I do that sir?

Lieutenant John Harper: By going down there and checking it out!

As director Ed Wood crafts a bad film for the ages. Say what you want about the man as a director, but his films weren’t boring. They were hack jobs for sure, but they were more often than not a blast to watch. The pacing of the film is great as there is never a slow moment to be found. From the opening to closing there’s something always really funny from bad dialogue, idiotic choices made by the characters, goofs, stock shots, random shots of Bela Lugosi that add nothing to the plot, Tom Mason standing in for Lugosi than next shot using Bela Lugosi. It really isn’t difficult to see why the film and Ed Wood are labeled the worst and while perhaps this wasn’t Ed Wood’s intentions, but Plan 9 is comedic gold. This easily rates as one of the funniest and most fun films I ever had the pleasure of watching. Wood actually does attempt to create suspense and an eerie tone and obviously he’s never very successful at that, but he does create a really fun tone. Like I said before say what you want about Ed Wood, but his films are often fun with none more fun than Plan 9 from Outer Space and I can name many films that are equally as poorly made with some being complete bores something this film never was. You have to take into account also the guy had zero money to make his films and that isn’t an excuse since there have been many filmmakers working with very little money that delivered truly brilliant films, but I guess my point is I’ve seen films produced on a far larger budget than Plan 9 with filmmaking just as bad and they lacked the fun factor Plan 9 and other Ed Wood movies had.

As for Bela Lugosi, apparently Ed Wood with no script in mind got some shots of Lugosi and after his death, Ed Wood wrote Plan 9 around the footage he shot with Lugosi and inserted it into the film despite the fact it really has nothing to really do with the plot. Tom Mason was Ed Wood’s wife’s chiropractor and played the scenes of Lugosi’s character with the cape draped over his face. It’s painfully obvious that it isn’t Lugosi even with Mason covering his face and he’s also taller than Lugosi. Sometimes we see Mason with the cape over his face than a cut to something else and than a shot of Lugosi edited in. Besides being hysterical due to the fact we can tell the difference between Tom Mason and Bela Lugosi, but also because the footage of Lugosi doesn’t really fit and its quite clear these scenes were for another project. Sadly Plan 9 from Outer Space was the very last film with Bela Lugosi and Bride of the Monster also by Ed Wood was actually his last speaking role in a film. Some felt Ed Wood took advantage of an old drug addicted Bela Lugosi whereas others say Ed Wood genuinely cared for Lugosi and was just trying to help him and while I really don’t know a whole lot about their relationship I’d say it was perhaps a little bit of both. As much as I enjoy the films of Ed Wood I do feel sorry for Bela Lugosi who was such a terrific actor and Plan 9 as fun as it turned out was a far cry from Dracula.

Overall Plan 9 from Outer Space is such a fun film; from the silly dialogue, incoherent plot, stock shots and the poor acting help make this one of the best so bad it’s good films and make it one of the ultimate cult classics. Ed Wood may be labeled the worst, but I am a fan of his work and Plan 9 from Outer Space is for better or worse his best film.

Plan 9 from Outer Space was released by Legend Films on blu-ray in 2012, which was 53-years after its original theatrical release. Legend Films are known for colorizing black & white movies, while also including the original B/W version. The video is strong and the best the film has looked on home video. Print damage is visible and while the video is quite strong considering the age and low budget origins I think you could get the same results on a strong DVD transfer, which isn’t a knock since Legend Films can only put in so much money. They put a lot of care into the film and again while it looked good I still think a strong DVD transfer could bring about the same results. Surprisingly the audio is actually pretty good and while not great it was far better than expected. As for the color version while I guess it looks good for the most part, but at times does in my opinion had an unnatural look. Of all the colorized versions by Legend Films I never watched any from beginning to end, but Ed Wood’s Bride of the Monster and Last Man on Earth looked fairly good (though much better in the natural B/W), but in my opinion the colorized version of Plan 9 is the weakest of the three, but does have its moments, but you’re better off with the original B/W version.















Burial Ground (1981) Review

Posted in Burial Ground with tags , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2013 by Last Road Reviews



*** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- When the Moon Turns Red the Dead Shall Rise

Release Date- July 9th, 1981

Running Time- 85-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Piero Regnoli

Director- Andrea Bianchi

Starring- Karin Well, Gian Luigi Chirizzi, Peter Bark, Maria Angela Giordan

There are bad movies and than there are movies on a whole other playing ground such as films like Last Slumber Party and films like this from 1981 Burial Ground, which is one of the ultimate so bad it’s good movies. The film was made by Andrea Bianchi and besides this film the only other film I have seen by him is the ultra sleazy Strip Nude for Your Killer; besides those two movies I also saw Lucio Fulci’s Cat in the Brain, which features gore footage from some of his later films as well as other films he was involved with and one of them being from a film called Nightmare directed by Andrea Bianchi. Strip Nude for Your Killer was a fairly well made movie that put more energy into sleaze rather than suspense, but it did have some decent tension and in terms of style it’s hard to believe the same person made this film and the only thing they have in common is at times sleaze. Burial Ground is such a hack job it’s impossible not to love this movie.

The plot has something to do with some professor and some discovery he made and he invites a few people over to tell them about it. Unless I missed it I’m not sure anything is made clear in regards to the discovery or the connection between the professor and his guests, but who really cares honestly? I don’t think any of us go into Burial Ground for its plot. I often wonder when it comes to a movie like Burial Ground what the writer thought after the script was completed? Did the writer think he wrote a really good film or was the hack writing intentional? When watching Burial Ground one would have to assume everything was intentional but you’d be surprised. The script is absolutely hysterical with some of the worst best writing ever.

Writer Piero Regnoli delivers one of the most awesomely bad screenplays in all of cult cinema. Obviously there is no character development at all nor do the characters have any depth, but who really cares? All the characters are entertaining because they either do or say the dumbest things. Here’s a sample of some of the awesome dialogue;

‘You look just like a little whore, but I like that in a girl’ (someday I’ll have to use that as a pickup line and see if it works). We also have the amazing ‘You’re getting a raise out of me alright, but it has nothing to do with money’. Now tell me is that not brilliant writing?

What Burial Ground might be most famous for is Peter Bark as Michael; Peter looks like a mini-Dario Argento and he’s playing a child, but its clear he was at least in his late 20s. Peter Bark has built up quite the following from this film and nobody seems to have any clue where he is now or if he’s even still alive. Michael also really loves his mother, but not in a normal way. Michael is jealous seeing his mother with another man and one scene has Michael kissing his mother only not in a way you kiss your mom than he begins to slide his hand up her dress! And when his mother wants no part of it, Michael responds with ‘What’s wrong? I’m your son’. The screenplay is again hysterical and I have to assume much of what we have was intentional. Piero Regnoli according to the IMDb has 111 writing credits and looking through them the only ones I seem to know are Nightmare City and Lucio Fulci’s Demonia and neither of those come anywhere near the brilliance of Burial Ground.

Director Andrea Bianchi delivers a film that is so bad its damn brilliant! The pace though can be a bit sluggish as its basically the same scene over and over again, but the film is actually action packed as the zombie action starts quickly. Bianchi crafts such a hack job the film is just way too much fun. Much like Strip Nude for Your Killer, Burial Ground can be quite sleazy at times and the scene most talked about is the nipple ripping scene, which has to be seen to be believed! Like I said in the opening my review besides this film the only other film I know by Bianchi is Strip Nude for Your Killer ad of course that’s not counting the gore scenes from Nightmare used in Fulci’s Cat in the Brain, but based of the 2 films I’ve seen by Bianchi I am a fan. While Strip Nude for Your Killer actually had some nice moments of suspense mixed with the sleaze, the suspense and tension in Burial Ground are so silly and campy and rather than feeling the suspense you’ll be laughing at how absurd it is. The zombies also stray from the norm as we see them using teamwork at times and even using battering rams, which Nightmare City also featured scenes like that, which I assume has more to do with Piero Regnoli since he wrote both films.

The zombies look quite silly and really aren’t very menacing in the least, but even with the silly makeup F/X they still look kinda cool and there is a nice amount of gore scenes as well. Burial Ground pretty much has it all; gore, zombies, hysterical dialogue, nudity and Peter Bark! If you love silly and campy horror movies Burial Ground is a must! This rates as one of my all time favorite cult movies!





















Monster Dog (1984) Review

Posted in Monster Dog with tags , , , , , on November 29, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

Review by Dave



** Out of 5

Tagline- The Fear, the Terror, the Nightmare, They Will Never Forget It!

Release Date- December, 1984

Running Time- 84-Minutes

Rating- NR

Writer/Director- Clyde Anderson (Claudio Fragasso)

Starring- Alice Cooper, Victoria Vera, Carlos Santurio, Pepa Sarsa, Pepita James

Released in 1984 starring rock legend Alice Cooper, Monster Dog was written and directed by Clyde Anderson also known as Claudio Fragasso and while it may be a different name, but its the same result. This was yet another turkey made by Fragasso and while I fully get his appeal on the so bad its good level I just find his films so bad they’re bad. Monster Dog does nothing to change my mind in his work, but from a production side of things this might be his best film as the production values are better than the bulk of his work. But while production values might be better the quality of the film is no better than his other movies.

Vincent Raven (Cooper) is a rock star returning to his childhood home to shoot a music video; the place Vincent is returning to is the site of a bunch of murders by dogs led by a monster dog, which is a werewolf. Secrets from the past come to surface as the dogs begin to maul people.

The script by Fragasso is the typical script by him; its idiotic with poor characters no sense of plot and idiotic dialogue. Fragasso in all his years never seemed to figure anything out as a writer or director for that matter and while this isn’t his worst script and if anything its one of his stronger ones, which isn’t saying much since the script is a complete mess with some decent ideas, but with a hack writer you get what you pay for.

As poor as the script was the direction by Fragasso is even worse. With Monster Dog, Fragasso attempts at creating an eerie tone with a film based on suspense and not much of a shocker, but its a complete failure every step of the way as the film is poorly paced and despite running at only 84-minutes it feels like 500-minutes. Even in some of Fragasso’s past work as poor as the films were at least they weren’t boring, well for the most part. They were bad films and while some found them so bad their good I just found them bad, but again at least in general they weren’t boring, but with Monster Dog, Fragasso delivers a boring sloppy paced movie. The gore is light and the action scenes are forgettable in general.

I actually liked what Claudio Fragasso was attempting with Monster Dog and with a director with a clue this could have turned out decent, but Fragasso isn’t a good filmmaker and all he creates is a boring film with action scenes few and far between and even when there is action it’s so poorly staged.

As most fans of Italian cinema know more often than not these films are dubbed even if the cast is English speaking since these films are normally shot with no sound and its all added in later and Alice Cooper didn’t do his own dubbing, which is kind of annoying since we see his mouth moving, but not his voice. Cooper also lends his music talents to the soundtrack and no question Alice Cooper is one of the rock greats, but the songs used come across as B-side singles, but they were still decent tracks.

Overall Monster Dog is in typical Fragasso fashion a mess of a film; I was quite bored through most of the film and the F/X are quite poor and the Monster Dog is hysterical. If you’re one of those that can find the fun in Fragasso’s work you might dig this, but for those like me that dislike him this turkey is a skipper.

Antropophagus: The Grim Reaper (1980) Review

Posted in Antropophagus: The Grim Reaper with tags , , , , , , , on October 24, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

Review by Dave


Antropophagus: The Grim Reaper

** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- It’s Not Fear That Tears You Apart. It’s Him!

Release Date- August 9th, 1980

Running Time- 91-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Joe D’Amato & George Eastman

Director- Joe D’Amato

Starring- Tisa Farrow, Saverio Vallone, Serena Grandi, Zora Kerova and George Eastman

Released in 1980 The Geim Reaper was heavily censored and was part of the video nasties for its graphic acts of violence. Over the years the movie has built up a large cult following and many cite this as one of Joe D’Amato’s best movies and in general outside of Beyond the Darkness I was never really fond of his work and the Grim Reaper might be one of his better movies in terms of filmmaking, but at the end of the day the film is quite boring and made more frustrating is it had all the elements to really be a true classic of the genre, but instead it ends being a movie that fails in general and the shocking scenes are surprisingly not as shocking as one might have heard.

Joe D’Amato was best know for his gore flicks such as Beyond the Darkness or his sleazy XXX flicks such as the Emmanuelle series and Erotic Nights of the Living Dead, but with the Grim Reaper while there is plenty of gore on display, D’Amato opts to go for more atmosphere and it was an interesting idea, but as I stated it doesn’t really work as much as I had hoped. As I mentioned this film is sometimes noted for its extreme gore, but anyone that has seen enough of these films what you see here isn’t as shocking as many reviews state. If anything this flick does show D’Amato had a little more talent than might realize, but again the film at least for me doesn’t fully work.

The screenplay by Joe D’Amato & George Eastman has a group of tourists stranded on a deserted island where all the people have been murdered by a crazed cannibal killer (played by Eastman). And that is basically the plot in a nutshell. There is a backstory on the killer, but the plot is light, which is typical at times with the horror genre, but that’s not where the movie fails. The problem is the script by D’Amato & Eastman is rather dull with poor characters. I highly doubt anyone will remember the names of any of the characters. Nothing the characters say or do is very interesting and sure slasher movies aren’t exactly founded on great characters, but these are some of the weaker ones and none really have their own identities either basically all the characters are interchangeable.

As director Joe D’Amato actually crafts a fairly well-made movie; rather than focus on sleaze and gore, which was D’Amato’s trademark, he attempts at creating an eerie atmosphere with a film built on suspense. The problem though is the characters are so weak it’s impossible for them to carry the movie and therefore what D’Amato attempts fails and instead of atmosphere and suspense, Grim Reaper is just kind of slow and boring. With that said there are some nice touches and there are moments when what D’Amato was doing works well, but in general the pacing is just too sluggish. I can’t speak for everyone, but for me the films I find the most suspenseful are the ones I can get some kind of attachment to the characters, but the fact they are so faceless it hinders suspense and tension.

The film has often been cited for its gore F/X and while to the more casual viewer the film would be quite graphic, but for anyone that knows these films it’s actually not as gory as many have made it out to be, but with that said the Grim Reaper does have some nice gore scenes. But just don’t expect as much as you may have heard.

The casting for the movie is excellent with a number of actors that appeared in countless Italian horror flicks in the 70s and 80s. We have Tisa Farrow, Serena Grandi (under the name Vanessa Steiger), Zora Kerova and of course as mentioned earlier George Eastman. Despite the solid cast they’re pretty much wasted here since the film is quite slow.

Overall Antropophagus: The Grim Reaper has slightly grown on me and while I like what D’Amato was attempting to do with the movie, but it is a little too sluggish in pacing and the poor script hurts the movie. While I never hated the movie I do enjoy it a little more now, but its still mostly sub-par. This was followed by a sequel of sorts the following year again directed by D’Amato and George Eastman returns as well playing the villain, but he isn’t the same person and I’m not quite sure why its billed as sequel since it really doesn’t have anything to do with the Grim Reaper outside of a semi-similar plot.










Stepfather (1987) Review By Dave Kaye

Posted in Stepfather (1987) with tags , , , , , , , on October 22, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

Review by Dave Kaye


*** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- Who Am I Here?

Release Date- January 23rd, 1987

Running Time- 89-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Donald E. Westlake

Director- Joseph Ruben

Starring- Terry O’Quinn, Jill Schoelen, Shelley Hack, Stephen Shellen

Released in 1987 The Stepfather has become a cult favorite among horror fans and most of that cult following stems from the performance by Terry O’Quinn. For years the movie was out of print and in many ways I think it helped the cult status, but that isn’t to say the movie isn’t good, but I do think it gets a little over-praised. The Stepfather takes the basic premise of a slasher flick, but is mostly able to avoid the pitfalls those movies often have and stays more within the thriller genre with touches of horror. Director Joseph Ruben isn’t a fan of slasher flicks and wanted to avoid turning this into one, which was probably the better move; had he go down the splatter route the movie might have been more entertaining, but not as good. That isn’t to say this movie isn’t entertaining because it is, but it’s possible for one movie to be more entertaining, but not as good.

I remember seeing this movie as a kid and really liking it and all these years later, while the movie hasn’t held up as well for me, I still think it’s an excellent thriller that has more depth than most horror flicks of the era. The one thing I always found disappointing, but now appreciate more is we follow Jim Ogilvie (Shellen) as he searches for Jerry Blake (O’Quinn) who murdered his sister and her children and when he finds him it’s quite anti-climactic and a bit of a letdown, but now I think it actually plays out better due to it not being clichéd, which is what it seemed like it was gonna be.

The Stepfather is loosely based on John List, who back in the 70s was laid off from his job, but every day would leave the house at the same time and come home at the same time like he did when he was working and then one day he murdered his family and went on the run for 18-years before finally getting caught due to the help from America’s Most Wanted. The Stepfather takes elements from the story, but is different enough that it isn’t a Bio pic.

The screenplay was written by Donald E. Westlake, based off a story from him as well as Carolyn Lefcourt & Brian Garfield. Brian Garfield wrote the novel for the classic Charles Bronson flick Death Wish. The script by Westlake takes the basic slasher movie premise and mixes it with the suspense/thriller and these elements mostly work well; for the most part of the script focuses on the characters rather than the violence and it worked well, but the script can also be a little dialogue heavy and if not for the actors it could have been a bit too slow paced for its own good. The characters are well written for and have plenty of depth and by no means does The Stepfather feature faceless victims; while the screenplay isn’t perfect, but Westlake creates excellent characters that are strong enough to carry the movie when there isn’t any action.

Originally the screenplay featured flashbacks that would show Jerry Blake’s childhood and show how he became such a psychopath, but these scenes ended up being removed from the script and while it would be interesting I do think that was the right idea cutting it. The lack of backstory does add to the mystery and more importantly I think it’s fairly obvious he probably had a rough childhood and therefore it really wasn’t needed, but it would have been interesting, but in the end I think it was the right move that it wasn’t in the movie.

Director Joseph Ruben crafts a well-made thriller that while in some areas can be a bit slow, but he’s able to keep things from getting too slow and a lot of that also has to do with the actors more than the direction. From the opening scene Joseph Ruben sets up an eerie and sinister tone, which he is able to keep going through the duration of the movie and even in the lighter scenes there is always a presence of looming danger ahead.

The middle sections the pace can slightly lag as the movie does sort of repeat itself in many spots, but Ruben is able to still keep the movie interesting and again the cast does an excellent job and in my opinion that’s what really keeps things from slowing down too much. Joseph Ruben is able to deliver some decent suspense and tension and overall delivers a solid movie; the final act however plays more up to the slasher movie conventions, but it worked well due to the buildup. Essentially, The Stepfather for most of its running time is a build up to the final act and the wait does pay off. Despite the somewhat sluggish pacing at times the direction is good enough to keep the film interesting.

When all is said and done with The Stepfather again it truly is the cast that makes the movie what it was. Terry O’Quinn as Jerry Blake delivers one of the most chilling performances ever in a horror or thriller flick. While Terry O’Quinn would after this find success it’s a shame he isn’t a mega-star since he clearly has the acting talents. As solid as the cast was without O’Quinn no way this movie worked as well. The final act when the action kicks in, Jerry Blake has quite a few one liners, which can be a bit silly and sort of stray from what came before, but what makes these lines work so well are the way they are delivered by Terry O’Quinn. Most reviews you read they’ll always praise Terry O’Quinn’s performance and there is very good reason for that.

Jill Schoelen as Stephanie is also a standout; I’ve seen quite a few movies she’s been in and good movie or bad movie she always manages to shine and here she might be in the shadow of O’Quinn, but she does provide and equally good performance. Shelly Hack and Stephen Shellen also provide excellent performances.

Overall The Stepfather is a solid flick with an ok screenplay and above average directing, but the cast elevates the movie to a much higher level. Terry O’Quinn delivers a downright chilling performance and if for no other reason The Stepfather is worth checking out simply for O’Quinn & Jill Schoelen.













The Inglorious Bastards (1978) Review

Posted in Inglorious Bastards, The (1978) with tags , , , , on August 8, 2012 by Last Road Reviews


**** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- Whatever the Dirty Dozen Did They Do It Dirtier!

Release Date- February 8th, 1978

Running Time- 99-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay-Sandro Continenza, Sergio Grieco, Romano Migliorini, Laura Toscano, Franco Marotta

Director-Enzo G. Castellari

Starring- Bo Svenson, Fred Williamson, Peter Hooten, Michael Pergolani, Jackie Basehart, Debra Berger, Raimund Harmstorf and Ian Bannen as Col. Buckner

Released in 1978 this cult classic has gotten a new lease on life with the release of Quentin Tarantino’s movie under the same name just Bastards is spelled Basterds. Outside of the WWII setting the movies are quite different and Tarantino’s movie really isn’t a remake, but more inspired by if anything. I’ve only seen a couple of films by Enzo G. Castellari those being 1990 Bronx Warriors and The New Barbarians and while I didn’t hate either I wasn’t a huge fan, but one day I’ll revist them and see if I can get more into them, but due to that I wasn’t really sure what to expect out of The Inglorious Bastards, but in the end I have to say this was a great film that truly deserves a wider audience.

The plot focuses on a group of US soldiers being transported to military prison for various reasons and on their way the convoy is attacked by Nazis, which leads to the soldiers escaping and the plan it to head to Switzerland, which is neutral so therefore they can avoid going to prison. As they try and make their way the Bastards end up signing up for a suicide mission.

The screenplay by Sandro Continenza, Sergio Grieco, Romano Migliorini, Laura Toscano, and Franco Marotta is light on plot and for the most part it’s never really made clear why some of the Bastards are being taken into custody and I’m kinda surprised it took so many writers since there again really wasn’t much in the way of plot. However with that said while the characters lack depth they are all entertaining and really fun and the script also features some really funny moments as well. I can forgive the light plot since I really liked all the main characters; as I stated before sure they might lack depth, but they do have their own identities and I really got attached to them and it kinda sucks when any of them get killed. Despite the flaws of the script it still works well with great characters, which is at times rare for Italian cinema and again the script is also really funny at times.

As director Enzo G. Castellari crafts a great and action packed movie that is well-paced and the movie is always fun and never once does anything lag. Inglorious Bastards has constant action throughout and any lulls in the action don’t last long. Unlike most Italian flicks of this nature it’s actually not very graphic. It’s violent, but not very gory; Castellari does a great job with the action sequences as they are fun and exciting and while they’re over the top at times, but yet it feels like it could all really happen. When there isn’t any action, Castellari handles the characters well and always keeps the movie running at a really great and exciting pace. Like I said I really didn’t know what to expect since I can’t say I loved the other 2 movie I have seen by Castellari, but Inglorious Bastards is truly a great movie and reminds me again why I love 70s cinema and personally see it as the best era.

The casting of the movie is excellent, which helps elevate the movie and sure the characters might lack depth, but the actors make far more out of them and that’s why I stated before you begin to get attached to them even if you don’t know a lot about them. Bo Svenson as Lt. Robert Yeager is great in the role of the leader of the group and like always Fred “the Hammer” Williamson as Canfield is a standout. Even though I singled out Svenson and Williamson all the actors were great and really make you root for the characters.

Overall The Inglorious Bastards is a truly great film with amazing action scenes and some really great comedic moments and my only regret is it took me so long to finally see this film. Like I said it’s quite different than the Tarantino movie, but it’s just as good and dare I say even better. The Inglorious Bastards comes highly recommended and if you haven’t seen it what are you waiting for go now and pick it up if you love 70s cult cinema you won’t be disappointed.
















Red Scorpion (1989) Review

Posted in Red Scorpion with tags , , , on August 5, 2012 by Last Road Reviews


*** Out of 5

Tagline- They Think They Can Control Him, Think Again

Release Date- April 21st, 1989

Running Time- 106-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Arne Olsen

Director- Joseph Zito

Starring- Dolph Lundgren, M. Emmet Walsh, Al White, T.P. McKenna, Carmen Argenziano and Brion James

Released in 1989 Red Scorpion was directed by Joseph Zito probably best known for his slasher flicks The Prowler and Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter with many people hailing The Final Chapter the best of the Friday the 13th movies. Joseph Zito also has worked on such action films as Invasion U.S.A and Missing in Action both starring Chuck Norris and while Zito may not go down as one of the great filmmakers he is though a director that clearly knows what his audience wants and pretty much delivers that in his films. The Prowler in my opinion is an underrated movie that only really gets noticed for Savini’s gore F/X and for good reason, but I think the movie has much more than just that going for it and Invasion U.S.A after a slow start is an excellent action flick.

Red Scorpion is a movie that has potential to be a lot more than it ended up, but as a whole the movie is about average, but still entertaining; Nikolai Rachenko (Lundgren) a KGB agent is sent on a mission to kill the leader of the rebel army, but when the mission fails, Nikolai is than left for dead by his own people, but after an escape he meets back up with the rebel army looking to take down his own people. The screenplay by Arne Olsen is rather subpar at times filled with weak characters that only work due to the casting; the story takes too long to really get going and the first half of the movie has Nikolai on his undercover mission along side the rebels and this eats up a good chunk of the movie and I can’t help, but feel there was too much put on this, which than causes the 2nd half to feel a bit rushed. The change in Nikolai also is underwhelming as since by this time in the movie things need to move forward and instead it just slows things down too much. Overall Olsen writes the standard action flick and while the script has its moments it just to me seems to be filled with too much filler.

Director Joseph Zito does a fairly good job, but the direction is kind of by the books; Red Scorpion is the standard action flick of the 80s, but because its clichéd doesn’t make it bad; the pacing can be a little sluggish at times, but in fairness to Zito he was limited by the script at times, but the action scenes even if standard are fun and exciting. That’s why in the opening of the review I mentioned how Zito is a filmmaker that knows that his audience wants and while with Red Scorpion he may not deliver as much like his past movies, but he still gets the job done. The final 10-minutes with the big battle are really excellent and sort of makes up for the sluggish at times pacing.

The casting for Red Scorpion is what helps elevate the movie and Dolph Lundgren makes for an awesome action here and while he had a lot of success in the 80s and early part of the 90s he never really got the big time success as other action stars and never seemed to get enough respect. Lundgren is very good here and is the ideal action star. M. Emmet Walsh is a riot and his type of character can be very annoying, but rather than be annoying, Walsh makes the character a lot of fun.

Tom Savini who has worked with Zito on the Prowler, The Final Chapter and Invasion U.S.A also does make up F/X for Red Scorpion and while the movie has plenty of action don’t expect the typical Savini gore F/X also the DP on the movie was Joao Fernandez who has worked with Zito several times on his more notable flicks and lastly the score by Jay Chattaway (Maniac, Vigilante) is very well-done and in my opinion Chattaway is a great composer that doesn’t seem to get his credit.

Overall Red Scorpion had the potential to be a lot more than it turned out, but with that said it’s still a fun mindless movie and while some might see this as a propaganda film with the big bad Russians, it was during the height of the cold war the film went into production, but regardless despite the shortcomings, Red Scorpion does make for a fun if not lackluster film.




















Absurd (1981) Review

Posted in Absurd with tags , , , , , on April 16, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

Review by Dave Kaye


** ½ Out of 5

Release Date- October, 1981

Running Time- 96-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- John Cart (George Eastman)

Director- Peter Newton (Joe D’Amato)

Starring- George Eastman, Annie Bell, Charles Borromel, Katya Berger, Kasimir Berger and Edmund Purdom

Released in 1981 Absurd is a sequel of sorts to Anthropophagus released the previous year; Absurd isn’t very well known, but has built up a cult following and the plot for the movie is clearly inspired by John Carpenter’s Halloween as it takes several plot points from that film and there are even many similarities to Halloween 2, but I’d say it’s just a coincidence since both movies were released the same year and the same month. Absurd was directed by Joe D’Amato under the name Peter Newton and I like some of D’Amato’s work, but in general I find most of his flicks to be sub-par with the exception of Beyond the Darkness, which I felt was an excellent flick.

Absurd also goes under the title of Horrible, which just might be a better fitting name for the movie; ok so maybe Absurd wasn’t horrible, but quite honestly I didn’t think it was very good. The movie has its moments, but more often than not I found myself a bit bored throughout most of the running time. We have a killer (Eastman) escaping from a hospital and roams around killing a couple of people before setting his sights on Emily (Bell) who is baby-sitting, meanwhile a Priest (Purdom) is on search for the unstoppable killer. So as you can see the movie takes its basic premise from Carpenter’s film and several times the little kid in the movie refers to the killer as the boogeyman.

The screenplay by George Eastman under the name John Cart is the standard slasher flick of its era; I’m a big fan of Italian horror flicks, but I often find the screenplays very lacking and true you can also say this about many of horror flicks of the 80s in particular slasher flicks, but for the most part I often find the Italian horror flicks to be some of the more weaker ones in terms of writing. The characters are rather one-dimensional and also kind of boring at times. I love Italian horror and many films out of Italy easily would rate as some of my all time favorites, but these movies at least in the 80s sure weren’t known for their writing.

The Priest is sort of the Dr. Loomis character, but the character is rather boring and goes MIA during the 2nd half of the movie, which isn’t much of a loss. The only real likeable character here was Emily who is pretty much a clone of Laurie Strode. As the writer Eastman doesn’t really add much to this flick to really separate it from Halloween and while there were other 80s slasher flicks that totally copied Halloween more so than this, but at the end of the day it’s one of the weaker Halloween clones.

Director Joe D’Amato delivers an uneven movie that has some decent atmosphere, but it can also be quite boring during most of the running time. Absurd lacks any real direction and both D’Amato & Eastman are quite content with taking elements from Halloween. Joe D’Amato is a cult favorite, but as I stated earlier I find most of his work to be sub-par and Absurd is no different. There really isn’t much happening here and the pacing is quite sluggish. But when there is some action D’Amato delivers the goods; Absurd isn’t the goriest flick I’ve seen, but most of the death scenes are brutal enough to satisfy.

Overall Absurd was a nice attempt, but the movie is lackluster that’s poorly paced with boring characters. Absurd has built up a nice cult following and while I understand why so many enjoyed it I just found it rather dull, but it does have some decent moments and George Eastman is fairly creepy as the villain, but the movie is brought down by the sub-par production.

Vigilante (1983) Review by Dave Kaye

Posted in Vigilante with tags , , , , , , on March 31, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

Review by Dave Kaye


**** Out of 5

Tagline- You’re Not Safe Anymore

Release Date- September 16th, 1983

Running Time- 89-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Richard Vetere

Director- William Lustig

Starring- Robert Forster, Rutanya Alda, Willie Colon, Woody Strode, Joe Spinell and Fred Williamson as Nick

After his stunning and highly controversial debut film Maniac, William Lustig returned with Vigilante released in 1983 and like Maniac, Vigilante is an exploitation flick at a time when the tide had mostly turned on these movies. Like his debut, Vigilante isn’t a perfect movie; it’s a little rough around the edges in some spots, but from that comes a raw and gritty feel much like Craven’s Last House on the Left and Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The fact that those films weren’t perfectly made adds something to them and had they been more polished they wouldn’t have come out nearly as well. In my opinion William Lustig is a highly underrated filmmaker and granted he may not be on the same level as someone like John Carpenter, Lustig, however in his own right is an excellent filmmaker and while I have enjoyed many of his films none were able to match the brilliance of his first two, which as I stated had this raw gritty edge to them.

Most people cite Vigilante as a knockoff of Death Wish and I’m quite sure William Lustig drew some inspiration from Death Wish, but with that said Vigilante also has a style all of its own. Let’s get one thing straight; Death Wish is the holy grail of the vigilante movie. Since its release in 1974 almost every vigilante movie since has been inspired by it even if the film is based on a comic or novel before Death Wish came out. To this day Death Wish in my opinion remains the best vigilante movie ever made and I don’t see anything topping it, but Lustig’s Vigilante in many areas can hold its own against Death Wish.

Factory worker Eddie Marino (Forster) has his life turned upside down by the brutal attack on his wife Vickie (Alda) that leaves his child killed in the process (more on that later), but when a corrupt judge (Beck) sets the leader of the gang free and then holds Eddie in contempt of court, Eddie breaks down and seeks vengeance on the ruthless gang of thugs that murdered his young son.

The marketing for the movie and even the poster art does sort of hint at an all-out action movie and while Vigilante does feature a lot of graphic violence the movie is much more driven by the characters and the moral dilemma of vigilance justice and writer, Richard Vetere does a good job at creating some interesting characters as well as creating a good moral dilemma on when vigilante justice goes too far and are the people doing this any better than the criminals? I’d say the answer is yes, since if the law doesn’t do anything about it somebody has to, but it does raise a good question on when things would go from doing the right thing to killing someone over a silly dispute. The characters may not be the best developed with the exception of Eddie, but all the characters however do add to the movie. Vetere writes a smart screenplay that sure obviously inspired by Death Wish, but it also has a lot more going for it than being a take on the classic Bronson movie.

Director William Lustig delivers a fun and exciting movie that also works on the dramatic level as well; while Vigilante isn’t a horror movie it does feature some highly suspenseful scenes such as the attack on Vickie, which has an eerie and unsettling feeling that is more on tune with a horror flick. New York in the 1970s and 1980s is quite different than today. Any big city will be plagued by crime, but NYC back in the 70s and 80s could be a very dangerous place that was very sleazy and Lustig manages to capture that feeling to perfection with both Maniac and Vigilante and I’d go as far to say Lustig captures that seedy feel NY once had better than most filmmakers and I’m sure being a New Yorker also helped that. While NY might be a big city with a lot of people, Lustig makes you feel the isolation of an ugly place and no matter where you are you aren’t safe and Lustig again really captures the ugliness of a big city ridden with crime. I’d go as far to say the only filmmaker to capture that era of NY better was Martin Scorsese.

While the pacing is very solid there are however a few scenes that tend to drag. When Eddie goes to prison its meant to show how screwed up the justice system is, which makes his decision to seek revenge make much more sense however I don’t think the scenes with Eddie in prison were needed as the point is already made clear and while it’s only a couple of scenes with Eddie in prison as during this time focus is put on the other characters this would really be my only real flaw with the movie.

William Lustig really delivers a very entertaining movie that works on both an action level, dramatic and deeper level. So many people get the wrong idea on exploitation flicks. Since the release of the Tarantino/Rodriguez movie Grindhouse everyone seems to think these films are only so good they’re bad and the real shame is people are missing out on some really great and deep movies and while Vigilante may not be the deepest and most powerful exploitation film to ever come around it does however deliver some good social commentary on vigilante justice and when it goes too far and this to me is prime example of exploitation flicks as movies like Last House on the Left and even Cannibal Holocaust work on a much deeper level than just the graphic violence and if anything I’d go as far to say movies like that are a far better example of exploitation filmmaking than movies like Pieces or Burial Ground. As I stated before Vigilante isn’t a non-stop action movie so those who are only used to a certain type of exploitation movie might be a little letdown, but when there is violence its quite graphic and brutal and fits the ugly tone set by Lustig from the very beginning of the movie,

Part of what also makes Vigilante so powerful is it features a young child brutally gunned down with a shotgun and while the death is off camera, we do however see the death from the outside yard, the shot is fired we see blood and the window being shattered this in part makes the scene so much more powerful since in general, filmmakers tend to shy away from killing children in movies and for the most part we know no harm will come to kids, but when it does happen like in Vigilante all bets are off and now you know anything is possible and nothing is off limits.

The fact a young child is brutally gun down with a shotgun blast is very unsettling and while again we don’t actually see the child get shot this scene really makes the movie all the more powerful and has really stuck with me years later and like I said by killing a young child we now know really anything can happen and Lustig keeps you guessing just how far the film will go. As popular as Maniac and Vigilante are it seems most people know William Lustig more from the Maniac Cop trilogy and while these are enjoyable films in my opinion they come nowhere near the level of Maniac and Vigilante and these two movies alone make William Lustig one of my favorite filmmakers. William Lustig has now gone onto be the CEO and founder of Blue-Underground and it’s great that Lustig is keeping the memory of cult cinema alive and this guy really deserves a lot more respect than he gets.

The performances in Vigilante are also very strong with Robert Forster putting in an excellent performance and since this movie has become a semi-regular for Lustig appearing in such movies as Maniac Cop III and Uncle Sam. Obviously people will compare Forster with Charles Bronson and Bronson is one of my favorite actors and one of the ultimate tough guys of film and as great as he was in Death Wish, Forster is much stronger in Vigilante. Again I love Bronson and he’s one of my all-time favorite actors, but he didn’t really have a lot of depth and really didn’t seem to show any emotion despite the horrible tragedies that happened to him whereas Forster shows more emotion and you can feel his pain, but he doesn’t overdo it. Cult actor Fred Williamson is excellent as Nick one of the vigilante’s trying to clean up the streets his own way and Joe Spinell the Maniac himself also appears in a brief role as a corrupt attorney.

Some people have complained over some of the loose ends the movie has and while I do understand complaints I feel as if everything was wrapped up. There does seem to be maybe a little unresolved issue between Eddie and his wife Vickie, but also its made clear as well and I suppose not much more was really needed, but I did feel there was a little more potential for that story and people complain about the ending and yeah it does sort of just end, but it’s pretty explosive (pun intended). Overall Vigilante is an excellent movie from a type of film no longer around; if you like gritty and rough exploitation flicks, Vigilante should be to your liking as Lustig delivers an excellent movie that raises some great social comments on society and as I stated it works as both an action movie, drama and a powerful piece of moral dilemma.

As I write this review and the more I think about the film it just might be better than Death Wish as a whole. Death Wish might be more pleasing, but Vigilante is raw and gritty and Lustig captures an ugliness NYC had at the time the film was made.