JACKAL self-titled 7″ EP

JACKAL – self-titled 7” EP

Pain Killer Records

Jackal cover

Jackal (current hardcore band from Florida, not to be confused with the chainsaw wielding rock from the 1990s) don’t mess around! They come out with both barrels blazing and do not let up until the very end. Their sound is heavily influenced by the early 1980s USHC bands like White Cross as well as some of the East Coast bands of that era for extra punch. It helps to have a breakdown thrown in to alleviate the sonic pummeling they deal out. The guitar has a thick sound, while the drums have a rumbling style that gives everything a solid base, and hints at the chaos roiling underneath. Lyrically, they vent their frustrations with life, and fighting, and fighting. There’s no pretense here. My one and only complaint with this record is it’s only four songs and I want to hear more. First world problems (currently)….  (MA)

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Justin Dratson: JD   Nate Wilson: NW   Matt Average: MA

BLOOD AND LACE (1971)

BLOOD AND LACE (1971)

Director: Philip S. Gilbert

Starring: Gloria Grahame, Melody Patterson, Len Lesser, Milton Selzer, Vic Tayback

Shout! Factory DVD/Blu-Ray

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Do not confuse this movie with the stylish slasher Blood and Black Lace from Mario Bava (reviewed elsewhere by Nate Wilson). There is nothing stylish about Blood and Lace at all. It’s very straight forward in being a movie that’s not afraid of getting down and wallowing in the muck with child abuse, lecherous men, and murder. Broken adults lording power over damaged young people, and reveling in destroying any potential of a future all for a paycheck.

The movie begins with a POV shot of the killer holding a claw hammer walking through a suburban home at night. Upon entering the bedroom of a sleeping middle aged couple the claw end of that hammer is put to use bashing their heads in before setting fire to the place. We then hear a scream, and we’re now in the hospital with Ellie Masters (Melody Patterson, F Troop, The Cycle Savages) waking from a nightmare. The murdered woman was her mother with a lover. She tells Harold Mullins (Milton Selzer), the social worker who’s getting her ready for placement in the Deere Home that she’s wanting to find her real father. In the course of the conversation it’s revealed that her mother was the town floozie, before turing professional, and “every drifter, traveling salesman and school boy over 16 knew my mother.” An interesting note about this scene is that Ellie is voiced by June Foray, the voice of Rocky from the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon series which adds another somewhat creepy level to this movie. She feels she has no need to go to the Deere Home, but Harold points out that whoever murdered her mother is still free and may be coming after her.

In the heat of the moment, and against court orders, Ellie leaves the hospital with suit case in hand and heads out, walking along the train tracks in hopes of finding her father. Not even a mile into the journey she meets Calvin Caruthers (Vic Tayback – Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, and Mel Sharples of Alice fame), former employee of the Bijou Theater, and now a detective for the county sheriff. His deep interest in Ellie is a bit strange and borders on creepy. It’s during a conversation with Harold Mullins in a bar, he’s asked why he has such an intense interest in Ellie, he says when men get to be his age “you start sniffing around for some good breeding stock.”

Harold delivers Ellie to the Deere Youth Home where it’s obvious it’s not a place safe for anyone, no matter their age. Our first introduction to the home is when a teen attempts escape and is chased by the alcoholic handyman Tom Kredge (Len Lesser, Shack Out on 101, Truck Stop Women, and best known as Uncle Leo from Seinfeld). The frightened teen foolishly attempts to hide behind a tree when one of his hands is chopped off by the meat cleaver thrown by Tom. This is also the most graphic scene in the film, and sets us up for the insanity that lays in store.

The Deere Youth Home is run by Mrs. Deere (Gloria Grahame, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Todd Killings, Mama’s Dirty Girls), who is cold hearted and manipulative to the core. She runs the home like a prison camp, reminding the kids that if they don’t work they won’t be around much longer, and she’s always ready to slap any of them for the slightest of what she sees as transgressions towards her authoritarian rule. She’s someone you want to see get her comeuppannce. With the help of Tom she keeps the corpses of all the dead children in a meat locker in the basement to later be placed in the infirmary when county officials drop in for headcount. Harold, the world’s sleaziest social worker, is well aware that Mrs. Deere runs a crooked operation, but looks the other way with the promise of sex as part of the unspoken agreement.

There’s some great dialog throughout the movie, such as when Ellie is looking to escape, and lecherous Tom says he will show her how only if she does something for him. He pulls a bottle out of his back pocket, leans into her face and growls, “The way to escape? Whisky!” and begins groping her. There’s also the the conversation between Ellie and Walter (Ron Taft) the orphanage heart throb (read that back, yes, such a thing exists in a movie like this), when he tells her to give up on trying to find her real father, “The only thing she ever said was the first man that ever made love to her got her pregnant and ruined her figure. The only feelings she ever had for me was blame!”. You have to love the exchange between her and Bunch (Terri Messina) as they fight on the bed:

Bunch: Tell us about your mother!

Ellie: We don’t know anything about yours, except that she has four legs and barks!

A disfigured man with a claw hammer finally shows up at the orphanage for the final act and brings this to a close with some light violence. But none of that is as good as what happens at the very end. While not tilting into full on sleaze due to the lack of nudity, sex and excessive graphic violence, Blood and Lace does deliver on the shocks promised in the poster art. This is worth repeated viewing, especially the second or third time where the movie becomes even more interesting and slimy when you know how this all ends up. (MA)

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Nate Wilson: NW  Devon Cahill: DC  Heath Row: HR  Matt Average: MA

SEVEN SAMURAI (1954) / THE WILD BUNCH (1969)

 

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Double feature of Seven Samurai, and The Wild Bunch at the Aero, April 27, 2019. Photo: Matt Average

 

SEVEN SAMURAI (1954) 

Director: Akira Akurosawa

Starring: Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Keiko Tsushima, 

THE WILD BUNCH (1969)

Director: Sam Peckinpah

Starring: William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan

Played at the Aero on April 27, 2019 as part of their Cowboys and Samurai series that ends this Sunday.

THE SEARCHERS (1956) / THE HIDDEN FORTRESS (1958)

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The Searchers, and Hidden Fortress, double feature at the Aero. Photo: Matt Average

THE SEARCHERS (1956) 

Director: John Ford

Starring: John Wayne, Natalie Wood, Ward Bond, Vera Miles

THE HIDDEN FORTRESS

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Starring Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Minoru Chiaki, Kamatari Fujiwara

Played at the Aero on April 26, 2019 as part of their Cowboys and Samurai series that ends this Sunday.

UNDER ATTACK

UNDER ATTACK –  Demo

Tape (and Bandcamp)

Available through Vinyl Conflict and Autoreverse (see Bandcamp site for e-mail address)

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Under Attack. Photo by Mike Thorn

As much as I love to hear new bands who sound like old bands, I find I prefer to hear a band that isn’t looking backward and chooses to be firmly grounded in the present. That said, there is something about Under Attack that reminds me of the very few straight up no frills hardcore punk bands from the 1990s. Maybe it’s their heaviness, relentless riffs, and dirty sound. No real clue, and I’m not terribly interested in getting bogged down in figuring it out. Too busy living in the moment.

Under Attack is an all-star band with a pedigree that will make the most jaded sit up and take notice: Hail Mary, Limp Wrist (the first album and EP – the good records), Discordance Axis, Human Remains, Suppression, Eucharist, and some other bands I’m momentarily forgetting.

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Under Attack demo is known to send apes on a violent rampage. Photo by Nate Wilson

Five songs that clock in just a little over 6 minutes total, Under Attack crank out a heavy and semi dark sound that goes all out from the opening of “Drained” to “The Comforting End” (the longest of all five, at 1:35). Alex Copeland has a strangled vocal sound that works in tandem with Mark Telfian’s guitar mercilessly raking across your ears, while Witte bashes the hell out of his drums, and through it all, as much as these songs are nasty sounding, they are also catchy (don’t come in to this expecting a grindcore Discordance Axis 2.0).

“Through the Blade” is my favorite cut here, with a opening riff that brings to mind the Battalion of Saints, and then Jason Hodges and Witte come in the with low end to give it any more punch. The vocals also sound stronger here as well, bellowing out “I just want a reasonnnnn!!” and then going into the rest with urgency.

A new band to be excited about, and particularly if you’re part of the burgeoning AARPcore scene. Very much looking forward to hearing what they have next (and hoping they find themselves out west in the not too distant future). (MA)

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Nate Wilson: NW   Matt Average: MA

 

SEIZURE (1974)

SEIZURE! (1974)

Director: Oliver Stone

Starring: Jonathan Frid, Martine Beswick, Mary Woronov, Hervé Villechaize, Joseph Sirola, Christina Pickles, Troy Donahue, Richard Cox, Henry Baker, Anne Meacham

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“Don’t ask us who we are, or where we come from. We are without beginning or end, and our purpose, our only purpose, is death.” – The Queen

The poster for this was so promising: a hooded man with an axe, a scantily dressed woman, and a bearded dwarf with a dagger, along with the tag line, “You cannot run from them… You cannot hide from them… Their only purpose is the breath-stopping panic of Seizure!” I was expecting something violent and possibly strange, but then I discovered this is a PG rate film, but had to keep hope alive, as this was made in 1974, and standards were a bit different back then: tougher, less concerned about who was offended. But nope, this is a definite PG movie, almost safe for prime time movie of the week.

Jonathan Frid (Barnabas Collins, Dark Shadows) is Edmund Blackstone, horror writer who has reoccurring nightmares that are weighing heavy on him, and effecting his family life, compounded by the difficulty of finding an ending to the novel he’s working on. He and his wife, Nicole (Christina Pickles) are also having a few absolutely unlikable friends over for the weekend.

As the night comes on three uninvited guests begin making their presence known, The Spider (Herve Villechaize), The Queen (Martine Beswick), and Jackal (Henry Baker). These three (as seen on the ever so promising poster) start picking off the friends, and bringing (much deserved) hell into their lives. Villechaize steals the movie as The Spider. When he’s on screen everyone else tends to disappear, or get in the way. The Spider is cold and remorseless, carrying out orders from The Queen without hesitation,and almost with glee. It’s as though his whole reason of existence is to cause suffering for others. When he leaps through the window into the Blackstone home he is clearly in charge of the moment.  Even The Queen, who is running the show is nowhere near as interesting as The Spider, and Jackal is nothing more than a strong man who lumbers through the scenes killing and crushing when told to.

The guests are forced to participate in various contests (foot race, knife fight, etc) with each other, loser getting killed, and this is where the PG rating really hurts the movie. All kills are off camera, and quickly cut to another scene. Even if they just showed it going down in shadows, or had the sounds of struggle it would have ratcheted things up with a needed intensity to make the viewer uncomfortable. You sometimes see the aftermath, but baby, I wanted to see more. Even the knife fight between Jonathan Frid and Mary Woronov could have been golden, but alas, it was not meant to be. The best is when one guest has their head crushed. Though you don’t see it happening, you do see the gruel in the aftermath. But again, it could have been so much better.

Seizure is not a terrible movie, but the poster is far more interesting than the actual film, and had this been decidedly aimed at an exploitation audience it could have been pretty damn awesome. There’s some good ideas that could have been expanded on, such as Eunice (Anne Meacham) communicating with her dead husband through The Spider, and willing the three killers to the house, and maybe have gone down that storyline instead of the one Stone ultimately chose, as it was more sinister and creepier seeming.  But as it is, it’s nothing that I would say you must see, and no wonder that Oliver Stone reportedly wants to pretend like it was never made. (MA)

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NW: Nate Wilson    DC: Devon Cahill   HR: Heath Row   MA: Matt Average

ANIMAL HOUSE (1978)

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Tribute to Verna Bloom: Animal House at the Aero April 4, 2019. Photo: Matt Average

ANIMAL HOUSE (1978)

Director: John Landis

Starring: John Belushi, John Vernon, Tom Hulce, Verna Bloom, Martha Smith, Kevin Bacon, Mark Metcalf, Tim Matheson, Karen Allen, Stephen Furst, Mary Louise Weller, Donald Sutherland, James Daughton

Still one of the absolute best comedies ever. Even better when seen with an audience. Even better when director John Landis and Martha Smith (Babs Jansen) are there to talk about the movie. 

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Martha Smith, and John Landis at the Aero, April 4, 2019. Photograph: Matt Average

POINT BLANK (1967) / THE OUTFIT (1973)

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Point Blank, and The Outfit at the New Beverly, March, 28, 2019. Photo: Matt Average

 

POINT BLANK (1967)

Director: John Boorman

Cinematography: Philip H. Lathrop

Starring: Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, John Vernon, Keenan Wynn, Carol O’Connor, Lloyd Bochner

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THE OUTFIT (1973)

Director: John Flynn

Starring: Robert Duvall, Karen Black, Joe Don Baker, Robert Ryan

Excellent double bill last night at the New Beverly. I’ve seen both films before, but never on the big screen, which is obviously how these two films are best seen, especially the excellent cinematography of Philip H. Lathrop in Point Blank. I’m also a Richard Stark (Donald Westlake) fan, and these are two of the best, if not the best, adaptations of his Parker series. 

Point Blank is based off the novel The Hunter, and if you haven’t read it yet, I strongly urge you to get a copy of both the novel, and the graphic novel from Darwyn Cooke. In the movie Parker is called Walker, and he’s out to get his money back from Mal, who double crossed him during a robbery that takes place on Alcatraz, shooting Walker and leaving him for dead, running of with his share of the take, as well as his wife. Hellbent on revenge he swims from Alcatraz back to San Francisco, a feat that is considered impossible, but this is Parker, er uh, I mean Walker.

Walker (Lee Marvin) is the epitome of cool in this movie. There’s an undeniable confidence in his mission, how he carries it out, and he always looks great in every scene. It makes me want to start wearing suits. When men get in his way to stop him he remains undeterred, usually answering it’s all about getting his money, no matter what. As he tells Brewster (Carol O’Connor), “Somebody has to pay.”

The Outfit is based off of Stark’s novel of the same name, and Parker is now Earl Macklin (Robert Duvall). Upon being released from prison Macklin finds out his brother was murdered by two mob hit men for robbing a bank that was mob owned. He sets out for revenge, along with his girlfriend Bett Harrow (Karen Black, who is great in this) and  Jack Cody (Joe Don Baker), along the way stopping off to deal with the names that pop up in their search for who is at the top. 

Macklin is a straight forward get the job done type. Though you can see he does care about his friends. Bett is the most human of all in this movie, especially when she reaches her breaking point. When she says she’s going home to her daddy, she says it in such a heartfelt way that it makes her real, something more than just a background piece or a prop on a man’s arm as these type of movies tend to portray women.  (MA)

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

 

 

 

MISS LESLIE’S DOLLS (1973)

MISS LESLIE’S DOLLS (1973)

Director: Joseph G. Prieto

Starring: Charles Pitts (Roy), Kitty Lewis (Martha), Marcelle Bichette (Lily), Terry Juston (Alma Frost), and Salvado Ugarte (Miss Leslie)

Blue-ray (Network) also try Diabolik DVD

Transfer quality: Excellent

Miss Leslie's Dolls

I’m always on the hunt for fucked up and strange movies. So, when I discovered this obscure gem a few months back, one that is touted as “the lost deranged grindhouse classic!” and seeing the photos of a cross dressing Salvador Ugarte with an axe on the back of the case I knew I had to see this.

Miss Leslie’s Dolls is not a great film by any stretch, but it is entertaining. There’s so much about it that would not fly with today’s audience, such as the cross dressing, using transgender as a shock ploy, and a teacher seducing a reluctant student. But this is not a movie with any message. It’s sleaze, shock, and exploitation from 1973.

It starts off with Miss Leslie performing a ritual in her house, “I too, shall attain this metamorphisis. Tonight, perhaps.” She is a variation on Norman Bates, but with occult leanings, and overwrought dialog. We then see Miss Leslie robbing a grave in a rainstorm and absconding with the body of a freshly buried young woman. Scenes which set up what is to come. Seconds later a car with three students and a teacher returning from a football game in Boston driving through a graveyard, wending their way among the tomsbstones. Why they chose to drive through the cemetery instead of around it is never revealed.  They soon have the inevitable car trouble, ditch the car in the graveyard and run over to a seemingly abandoned house, which turns out to be the home of thee Miss Leslie.

Introductions are made, and wooden acting is revealed. Especially the monotone delivery of Terry Juston as the teacher, Alma Frost. Devoid of any emotion. When Miss Leslie is introduced to Martha, she is taken aback, and from here things grow increasingly strange.

“You are Martha! My Martha!” She thinks Martha is a reincarnation of her long dead best friend of the same name. We learn that the deceased Martha was her “dearest friend. A lovely little creature employed by my mother in our little toy factory. She was the only one who knew and understand the painful sorrow of my innermost secrets.” More clues of what is in store. Miss Leslie’s mother owned a toy factory in Boston where they manufactured all types of dolls until a mysterious fire broke out killing her mother and dearest Martha, and institutionalizing Miss Leslie for some time. She now spends her days in solitude, alone with her thoughts, books on the occult, and the “dolls” that Roy finds when he goes off to find any hidden booze in the house while Miss Leslie sets up places for them to sleep for the night.

When Roy shows the “dolls” to his friends, he remarks that they must be the “goddesses of some weird love cult.” Unbeknownst to them, those “dolls” are the bodies of women that Miss Leslie has tried to transfer her spirit contained within her male body into theirs, but failed. Everyone else thinks they are well made wax figures. But Miss Leslie informs them, “My dolls are not made of wax.” What they are made of is is a “well guarded secret.”

From here the movie picks up the pace and begins delivering in the tasteless sleaze, shock, and violence (though nothing brutal or gory) it promises. Some scenes at the end are a little too low lit, but it works out. Despite the obvious low budget they make the best with that they have, and even the bad acting does not get in the way of the overall enjoyment . Nothing exactly original, but worthy of a late night viewing. (MA)

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