Saturday, 29 October 2011

The Taint (2010) - hold on to your wangs!

Imagine Bad Taste, Street Trash and all the Troma films you can think of being put in a cinematic blender with a parody porn movie... and you still wouldn't get anything as "out there" as The Taint.

An experimental fluid, meant to have the same effect as viagra, only stronger has gotten into the water supply causing all the males (and their members) to become very angry and very violent. Can our hero, Paddy O' Ginny (co director Drew Bolduc), himself a misogynistic wimp and the lovely Misandra (Colleen Walsh) save the day from the marauding,  head smashing, jizz spurting morons who have become tainted?

While most low (no) budget films rely on their gross out effects and eagerness of their female cast members to disrobe to entertain, The Taint spends large chunks of its brief 70min running time on back story and plot. But don't worry, the gore is back sooner than you think! The effects here are nothing short of superb, regardless of the budget - although the constant fake penises are a little too, well, fake (the adult shop must have sold out of dildos while these guys were making this, that many get destroyed!)

The thing with this film is, it's actually very well made. The guys have managed to make a no budget film that uses it's lack of budget to it's advantage. The characters have that throw back to the 80s look with the wigs, etc.. (remember the Beastie Boys' Sabotage promo shot by Spike Jonze?) and the dialogue is suitably over the top, but the winner here, as I say is the effects. It's the sort of film Bill Zebub wishes he could make, but keeps missing out on. 

What's even better is the price of the film. You can get it from the guys themselves for less than £10 UK delivered. ($12 in the US). They are also selling it on good old retro VHS and with other packages that are worth looking at. This is a cult classic just waiting to be discovered, and devoured, the perfect film to watch with a few mates and a few beers . Go and discover people...
8 out of 10

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Festival of Fantastic Films, Manchester 2011

Rather than doing a long write up (see my November Starburst column for that) here's a selection of photos from the Saturday at the Manchester Festival of Fantastic Films. One of my all time favourite stars, Robin Askwith was there, and in good spirits. It was the second time I've met him, and he we had a quick chat about the play Dead Funny, which he was in when I met him last. Lovely bloke.

Robin himself thinks this looks a little effeminate!

Also there was Bobby Rhodes, star of Demons 1 & 2, and the Antonio Margheritti  classic The Last Hunter who was entertaining.

Rockabilly/wrestling/horror guru Johnny Legend was also in attendance, and was fun and very interesting with stories of Ed Wood, Tor Johnson and Andy Kaufman.
Roll on next year........

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Retro review: Offspring (2009) -Jack Ketchum feral cannibal film

jack ketchum offspring poster

The film opens with a series of newspaper headlines over the credits chronicling the disappearance of a lighthouse keeper's family and the subsequent murders and child abductions taking place in the Maine area for the past 100 years.We then meet David and Amy Halbard a pair of computer game programmers (never really gone into, but they have a big PC set up) who, with their baby are living a nice, peaceful life in the countryside. One night, David (Andrew Elvis Miller) sees a naked girl at the bottom of his garden. Surprised, but not overly concerned, he tells his wife (Amy Hargreaves). Their friend, Claire (Ahna Tessler) and her son, Luke (Tommy Nelson) have come to stay, as she is in the middle of messy divorce from Luke's abusive father.
jack ketchum cameo offspring
the author Jack Ketchum's time to shine
While they are there, her husband Steven (Erik Kastel) phones to say he is on his way to see them, obviously going to break all restraining orders and out to cause trouble. David gets on the phone to the police, and is told that they have no one to help them at the moment, as everyone is out looking for a murder. He should also arm himself and not let anyone in his home. Amused more than alarmed they carry on their business.
Meanwhile, the sheriff's department (who all look too young to be cops in these kind of out of the way places) have called on a former cop, George Chandler (Art Hindle - genre veteran from films such as The Brood) to help with their investigations of a brutal slaying at a nearby house, where all the occupants were gutted. George has had a case like this before, and it is what caused him to leave the service. He is certain they are dealing with a bunch of cave dwelling feral cannibals. How very perceptive.
This pack have been living wild for the past hundred years, though quite why they take babies to raise as their own is not gone into. The leader of the flesh eaters is 'The Woman' (Pollyanna McIntosh) along side your typical wild man of the woods (Stephen Gray). This group look like the Hills Have Eyes mob if they hadn't had a wash for ten years. In their cave, is a cow (Ed Nelson) - that's how he's billed. Basically, a retarded adult who is their I assume as a pet when he's not been used for sex by the naked girl David saw in our introduction (Leigh Shannon). When she's not casing out houses in the buff, or flagellating herself, she's being whipped by the pack leaders.

So, to Claire's husband, Steven. He's on the road, and picks up a hitch hiker, who is just there really to show us what a sleazy nasty piece of work he is. Vodka bottle in one hand, breast in the other.
The idyllic peace of the family get together is shattered however, when the pack pay them a visit, taking the two women to their cave, and leaving young Luke to try and take the baby to safety. Steven's car is ambushed by them when he turns up, and he foolishly flees the police when they find out about the restraining order. I think he had bigger things to worry about!
 pollyanna mcintosh offspring woman
The whole gang end up in the cave, and the brutality really begins, with Steven relishing his soon to be ex wife's suffering and humiliation at the hands (and mouths) of the clan.
Offspring is based on Jack Kelchum's novel, (itself a sequel to his book "Off Season"). Considering his involvement in the film (he wrote the screenplay as well as having a bit part), you'd think he'd have fleshed the characters out a bit more. The film is just under 80mins, and while it's full of gore (and is brutal in parts) we just don't care enough about the people in peril. Pollyanna McIntosh is incredibly believable as 'the woman', but was much better in the 'sequel' - more on that in a moment. I did think the inclusion of a scene of 'dialogue' between the two main cannibals was a little long considering we couldn't understand what they were saying.
The young actor playing Luke, is brilliant, which is good seeing as a big part of the climax depends on him.
The direction (by Andrew van den Houten who was only 30 when he made it) is a little all over the place, there seems to be no thought put into camera angles in some scenes, and in some the focus is a little off. At times, especially during the interaction between the police, I thought I was watching a 1970s grindhouse film. I'm guessing a big chunk of the already low budget went on the gore make up, which is very icky and well done. Watchable, but disappointing. 
4 out of 10

 pollyanna mcintosh offspring woman
Now, what's puzzling me is why, since Lucky McKee's The Woman is doing big things at he moment, this film seems to have been buried. I can only assume they know it isn't as good as it should be and want to distance themselves. My first thought was it was a rights issue, different distributors, that sort of thing. Strange then that both films are made by the studio Modernciné. Andrew van den Houten is listed as a producer on The Woman. Almost NO reviews (except mine), or publicity for the film mentioned Offspring, other than it also being a Ketchum novel/film. There's no mention in the publicity of Pollyanna McIntosh coming back playing the same character. I'm just wondering why. I am more surprised that Offspring hasn't made a re-appearance on DVD (you can pick the UK one up quite cheap, the US one - put out under the "Ghost House Underground label has a ton of extras), you know how they usually cash in. Both films have a misogynist in the centre of it all, is that a recurring theme in Ketchum's work? I must admit I don't read as much as I should, so maybe I should check his books out. Oh, and in the opening of The Woman, she is bathing a stomach wound. At the end of Offspring, the wound is inflicted on the other side of her stomach. Sorry, being Mr Pedantic.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Retro review: This - That and The Other! (1969) Stanley Long (aka A Promise Of Bed)

british sex comedy derek ford

A typical sex comedy from the early 70s? Not really, this is an trio of tales, directed by Derek Ford (co writer of the classic Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper film A Study In Terror, and director of Groupie Girl and What's Up Nurse/Superdoc) and produced and photographed by the legendary Stanley Long (think of almost any 70s sex romp). As was usual, the meddling distributors at the time changed the name to "A Promise Of Bed" to emphasise the bed = sex angle. From a purely British sense of humour point of view, I think the original This - That and The Other adds much more of a double entendre to the thing. Anyway, the DVD in Odeon's "Best of British" collection is now fully restored with the correct intended title.

dennis waterman sex comedyvanda hudson circus horrors
In the first part, "This", if you will, Vanda Hudson (Circus of Horrors) plays an over the hill actress desperate to get a role in the new film by a producer (Gordon Sterne - who would later turn up as David Kessler's dad in the dream sequence in An American Werewolf In London fact fans). So desperate in fact, that she seizes on the fact that the producer's son is a keen photographer.

vanda hudson circus horrors
When Dennis Waterman turns up to pick up the photography gear, she offers herself as a model, and much more. A fun little romp, this episode, with glimpses into what the Confessions.. films might have been if Waterman had accepted the role, before the legend that is Robin Askwith was approached. I think we had the right Timmy Lea in the end. Hudson is a wonderful MILF character and shows the most flesh of all the actress' in the film. (quite a game bird). The twist at the end of the tale is wonderful. 
vanda hudson circus horrorsdennis waterman sex comedy
In "That", Victor Spinetti is a depressed loner - who uses the speaking clock as company -who is just about to gas himself when his apartment is suddenly mistaken for a pad that is housing a 'happening' party. 

victor spinetti sex comedyvictor spinetti sex comedy
The first unexpected guest is Vanessa Howard (Blood Beast Terror and Girly in Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny & Girly), a quirky and likeable young thing. Seeing the way the flat is set up for his imminent suicide, she jumps to the conclusion that he has a 'suicide theme' for the party. So she insists every one who comes (and there are a lot of weirdo 60s types descending on his abode) dresses "as a suicide"
 alexandra bastedo sex comedy 
Amongst the rabble, are Alexandra Bastedo (fresh from The Champions) and the ever lovely Valerie Leon, who promptly jumps in the bath (for a drowning) and comes closer than ever to breaking her "everything but the nipple" rule with a nice see-through top. (see the following screen grabs for the dirty mac evidence)
 victor spinetti valerie leonvalerie leon in bathvalerie leon sex comedy
 "The Other" sees taxi driver John Bird (the famous satirist) sloping off to watch seedy films (not unlike this) in the cinema when he should be working. He then goes to pick up a fare, played by Swede Yutte Stensgaard (Lust For A Vampire). He begins to imagine her stroking his face, when in reality she's dropping off in the back. He promptly crashes the car, and she leaves, and he follows "'ere! Me fare! That's 25 bob!"

When he follows her, he arrives at a strange subterranean  house will a woman swimming in a pool visible through one window, and semi naked women appearing and disappearing at random. A suave hip looking guy smokes and looks on as a woman Cleo Goldstein (her only screen role) performs a sulty strip with hand print stickers on her body..
 nude dancerjohn bird sex comedy

A bizarre, surreal little episode this but entertaining never the less. You could almost imagine it being one of those Benny Hill interludes if he'd taken a ton of acid. 

While not one of the best or famous memorable of the 70s British sex films, it certainly is unique, and doesn't skimp on the flesh like some do. The common (tenuous) linking thread of the stories is how lives are changed sometimes by mistaken identity (although the final one is debatable as it's mostly fantasy). It's nice to see it presented on DVD in all it's luridly coloured glory.
7 out of 10

While on the subject of this type of film (a favourite genre of mine after horror) I can't recommend the books by Simon Sheridan highly enough. There's X-Rated: Adventures of an Exploitation Filmmaker, co-written with the legendary Stanley Long, and his own over view of the complete genre (and the final word on the subject, in my opinion) Keeping The British End Up. Both bloody good reads.