HEAVY TRIP (2018)

HEAVY TRIP (aka Hevi Reissu) (2018)

Directors: Juuso LaatioJukka Vidgren

Starring: Johannes Holopainen, Samuli Jaskio, Antti Heikkinen. Max Ovaska, Minka Kuustonen

heavytrip

This is a silly comedy that my friend Bill Florio was raving to me about a few months back. It finally came up on Prime so I ditched trying to make it through Adios Texas to watch Heavy Trip.  Its sort of trying to be a modern (This is) Spinal Tap that is set in Finland.  The story is that of a Heavy metal vocalist who lives in a quiet little town in Finland.  He works as an orderly or something at a mental hospital… but when he’s not cleaning up shit he is rocking out in the barn with his fellow dorky band mates in a group called Impaled Rektum.  The dudes have been practicing for twelve years, but have never played a live gig or written an original song.  After they mistakenly write an original, they some how end up getting a invitation to play Norway’s largest Metal festival.  Lots of bad slap stick comedy occurs throughout the flick.  Most the time it can be painful to endure, but the brutal music and story keep me watching.  Also love spotting obscure metal t shirts, patches etc.  I wouldn’t watch this again, but It was okay.  (NW)

NW: Nate Wilson    DC: Devon Cahill   MA: Matt Average

AND GOD SAID TO CAIN… (1970)

And God Said to Cain…
1970 Italian E Dio disse a Caino…
Starring: Klaus Kinski (Gary Hamilton), Peter Carsten (Acobar), Marcella Michelangeli (Maria),
Antonio Cantafora (Dick Acobar) 
Director: Anthony Dawson (aka Antonio Margheriti)
Music: ​ Carlo Savina 
Theme Song Performed by Don Powell
Viewed: Streaming Amazon Prime
Transfer Quality: Good
A ghost returning
And he’ll have only one desire in his heart
Only one thirst. Revenge. –Maria

dioscain

The quality of the anachronistic theme song in an Italian Western is always a good indicator of the caliber of the film to follow (i.e. Django, Keoma, any Morricone related Western, etc.), and this one is right up there. I would put this on any must see Italian Western list.

Gary Hamilton (Kinski) gets a pardon from the chain gang 10 years after being framed by power hungry Acobar (Carsten) who has stolen Hamilton’s house, mining operation, and woman, Maria. Naturally, vengeance must be administered. After Hamilton gains his freedom, an impending tornado serves as an apt means of foreboding his bloody return. It also creates a signature setting for the film where most of the action takes place at night in the midst of the ever threatening and violent windstorm. Every aspect of the tornado intensifies the anxiety surrounding Hamilton’s return; every utterance of his name evokes fear among his enemies.

The tornado also gives Hamilton’s vengeance an air of divine retribution. This is compounded by the Bava-esque eeriness of the night scenes and disorienting winds that add an other-worldliness to his nighttime attack. Using the cover of the storm and his familiarity with his old homestead, Hamilton is like a ninja, evading capture and keeping adversaries off guard while accumulating an insane number of kills single-handedly. Various trapdoors and hidden entrances allow him to move like a ghost through the mining tunnels under the town, constantly outmaneuvering Acobar’s small army. His name is repeatedly invoked in vain as he moves in the shadows, a seemingly supernatural force. The haunting effect is intensified by the tolling church bell and organ music that signal each wave of vengeful slaughter.  Some other reviewers have derided the film’s mirror room shoot-out scene climax a la Orson Welles’ Lady of Shanghai (1949) as too predictable, but I think it’s great as it adds even more nuance to Hamilton’s ghostlike elusiveness. Even in the light he isn’t really there…until you’re dead! Plus, Bruce Lee’s mirror room climax in Enter the Dragon won’t come for another three years, and no one ever complains about that scene.

Beyond the excellent visual composition and well-paced action, it’s the complexity of the characters and their relationships that ensures repeated viewings. Above all, Kinski’s performance rules in this film. Unlike his askew characters in Westerns like The Beast and The Great Silence, Gary Hamilton is cool, collected, focused, and human. Also, beneath the narrative of revenge is a complex tale of family and loyalty. While Acobar’s son, Dick, sympathizes with Hamilton throughout the film, when he learns of his father’s treachery he ultimately chooses family over what he knows in his heart to be right. Ironically, after this turn, it’s Acobar who takes his own son’s life when he mistakes him for Hamilton.

Getting old, so having to watch midnight movies in two or three installments sometimes. Anyway, during my first watch, I must have slept through the exposition that explains why Gary Hamilton is seeking vengeance against Acobar. So, I had initially credited this with a meta-vengeance film genius it didn’t quite deserve. Still, this is a real standout in the genre with a great balance of genre predictability and innovation.

I’d be curious if someone has counted the number of times “Gary Hamilton!!” is uttered throughout the film…one of my favorite details in the film. I’m also wondering about the total number of kills he tallies.  

Anyway, I’ll keep track next time and get back to you with some figures.

P.S. Apparently this is a remake of A Stranger in Paso Bravo (1968), the only film Salvatore Rosso ever directed. I’ll have to track that down for a comparison.  (DC)

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NW: Nate Wilson   DC: Devon Cahill   MA: Matt Average

 

SICARO (2018)

SICARO: Day of the Soldado (2018)

Director: Stefano Sollima

Starring: Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro

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As I’ve stated in a previous review I’m mostly on a 70’s kick lately…but I had to watch this follow up to Sicario from a few years back.  I saw the Original in the theatre and then again at home.   If you haven’t seen that film do yourself a favor and get to it, its a top film from 2015.  

This film I’m reviewing really has nothing to do with the first one other than a couple of the same characters.  Both Josh Brolin (of RKL fame) and Benicio Del Toro mark their return in this one.  I love the bruteness of both their characters.  Throw in any plot with terrorism and I’m fucking sold.  This time around the cartels are smuggling terrorist across the border into the United States.  It goes beyond that with the US government intentionally kidnapping a cartel leaders daughter, to trick them into starting a war with another cartel.  I cherish the violence, and the acting.  Additionally the music is dreary & fucking heavy in a very none rock n roll sorta way.  It can make you feel uncomfortable and on edge.  It works well. 

There are some weak links in the film for sure… for one,  by the end of the flick you sort of have forgotten that this fantastic story all occurred because of terrorism.  More than that the main character is an FBI agent,  when he’s actually acting more on the lines of a CIA spook (International shit).  Still this is a very solid flick that I’d watch again.   (NW)

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NW: Nate Wilson    DC: Devon Cahill   MA: Matt Average

MACABRE (1980)

macabre

MACABRE  (aka MACABRO) (1980)

Director: Lamberto Bava

Starring some people I’ve never heard of: Bernice Stegers & Robert Molnar

This Movie is a true cult classic.  Its been recommended to me forever by my buddy Mark Mccoy who loves the director.  At any rate I finally got back to watching some older films this week, and this one was at the top of my list.  The director is the son of famed director Mario Bava who apparently died just two months after seeing this his sons first ever film.  

Don’t be mistaken, this is not a gore film, but more a slow moving psychological thriller that at any moment you the viewer feel as though things are going to get really nasty really quickly.   

So much occurs in the story that its hard to fathom how it all gets sorted out in an hour and a half.  Somehow it does.  

The main character goes through two horrific deaths in one day (her lover, and her son).  After being away for sometime she returns to the boarding house where her lover lived upstairs.  Downstairs lives the landlord who is a blind man that creepily fixes musical instruments.  He basically falls in love with her, but upstairs she just makes love to herself (or her dead lover), while the blind man listens on. The woman also has a daughter who is a sick little turd.  

Its a great “true” story that supposedly Bava found in a New Orleans newspaper, and then decided to make a movie about.  Everything about this film is great.  The setting in New Orleans… the boarding house where much of everything takes place… everything looks splendid.  Music is super tense. The acting is top notch.  The smile and eyes of the main character make everything so believable.  The blind man truly comes off as blind.  The story is just wickedly odd and unique.  

Don’t sleep on this, its streaming on Amazon Prime right now.  Its a really decent transfer as well (unlike the shit Devon will sit through).  (NW)

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NW: Nate Wilson    DC: Devon Cahill   MA: Matt Average

LONGSHOT (1981)

LONGSHOT (aka Long Shot Kids)

1981, USA

Director: E.W. Swackhamer

Starring: Leif Garret as Paul Rogers, Linda Manz as Maxine Gripp, Ralph Seymour as Leroy Curtis, Zoé Chauveau as Marie-Christine, etc.

Viewed: Streaming

Transfer Quality: Not so great

longshot

College Rep: I will make sure you get a full scholarship and everything will be paid for!

Rogers: Um, I’ve decided to go to Europe and become a pro.

Dad: Europe?! Just how in the hell do you to intend to finance this little venture?!?

Rogers: By winning the Foosball Spectacular in Lake Tahoe.

College Rep: (incredulously) Foosball?!?

I’d started watching Bronson in Love & Bullets for review but was totally distracted by the confusing description of a film I’d never heard of called Longshot with Leif Garret, “a young foosball player who wants to earn the big dollars that will be used to play soccer in Europe by winning the foosball world championships.” Of course, my first thought was how have I never heard of this movie? and my second thought was MUST watch this movie immediately! On top of that, the promo art masterpiece consists of roughly cropped images of two of the stars (images not from this movie, I might add) and an oddly angled foosball table, all of which looks like it was laid out in MS Word. At this point my hopes were up that this would be like the movies I would stay up until 5am to watch for 5 weekends in a row on USA network when I was 13…maybe a foosball version of Equals Against Devils, or at least something as sublimely absurd as The Van. In other words, so jammed with ridiculousness that it would be mercilessly re-watchable.

The title sequence and first few scenes didn’t disappoint, but it quickly devolved (or evolved, depending on your tastes) into a pretty run of the mill Cinderella story tournament movie filled with teen love drama, destiny, and redemption. In other words: Big, gaping yawn. Not bad enough to be good, not good enough to think about ever watching again. Not to mention, foosball?!? You can probably imagine the amount of tension and depth of metaphor present, as Leif and company enter the arena of the foosball kumite: Not much.

Soundtrack wasn’t horrible and the title track actually has a pretty good hook. However, the transfer on this was almost as bad as it gets. Aside from the night scenes where the screen was just black, there was also a two-minute section in the middle where the screen went red. My guess is it was to patch over a rough spot on the VHS when it was transferred?

Trivia tidbit: I’m not an Oingo Boingo fan, but for whatever it’s worth, they perform at the Foosball Spectacular.  (DC)

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NW: Nate Wilson    DC: Devon Cahill   MA: Matt Average

YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE (2017)

YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE (2017)

Director: Lynn Ramsay

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix

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This movie truly surprised me in the best of ways.  I’ve been on a year long kick of only really just watching 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s film.  So this is one of the few modern films I’ve watched lately.  This one stars Joaquin Phoenix, and is straight up gut wrenching and brutal. Punishing really.   Its done in an almost severely demented Charles Bronson revenge film sort of way.  The story is that of a whacked out vet who is now a “gun for hire”  He deals in rescuing trafficked underage girls.  Joe’s weapon of choice is a ball peen hammer.  Joe is as a anti hero…he really is demented and sick, but this film had me supportive of him and his methods all the way through it.  As a father this film really had a deep impact on me all the way through it.  The score is pretty insane, it really never stops, and just gets in your head to further the sickness of whats happening in the movie.  I loved this one. (NW)

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NW: Nate Wilson    DC: Devon Cahill   MA: Matt Average

 

CHINO (1973)

CHINO(1973)

Director: John Sturges, Duilio Coletti

Starring: Charles Bronson and Jill Ireland

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I was super excited to watch this Charles Bronson Flick on Amazon Prime pretty recently.  Bronson is a favorite of mine and I’ve never really seen anything he’s starred in that I didn’t like.  This film in my opinion was pretty damn unwatchable… Who knows, I might really enjoy watching a decent transfer of it, but this version was fucking awful.  I’m a child of the 70’s and grew up watching static B&W VHF/UHF TV, so I’m not completely spoiled rotten…but this for some reason felt even worse to watch then those days in the 70’s.  Amazon can’t clean this shit up?  It was literally transferred by having a camera placed in front of an old TV and cut off an old fuzzed out VHS tape version of the film (every once in a while someone seems to be bumping into the camera stand).  The opening credits/scene have a terrible folk song that goes on for like 3 mins.  People seem to love it.   The story is that of a “halfbreed” horse trainer played by Bronson.  He somehow has a young runaway boy show up at his doorstep (sounds gay I know…).   He teaches the boy the ropes and shows him how to break a horse.  Bronson later falls in love with a woman (played by his actual real life wife), and like all Bronson films trouble ensues.  This might not be considered by many elitists to be a true Spaghetti Western but it is… Its just missing most of the tasty sauce.  To much romance and emotional crap, and not enough gun play.  The bar scene fight is pretty awesome though.  This was filmed in Spain.  Don’t waste your time on this version, sometimes Amazon Prime just truly disappoints.  (NW)

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NW: Nate Wilson    DC: Devon Cahill    MA: Matt Average