Rock's Cheapo Theatre of the Damned

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That's it, this thread is getting an emergency wholesome gif injection.

Trying to course correct with good vibes and catchy tunes after Crumbsroom's horrifying gif at the top of the page.

Pink Flamingos, you will come at the end and you get fair warning it's about to happen.

If nothing else, it's a good lesson as to why the whole, cover an eye with one hand, and then do the whole finger split open over the other (squinted) eye, which you're using to watch the movie actually works and isn't just a bad trope in horror movie audience reaction shots.

That's it, this thread is getting an emergency wholesome gif injection.

Good vibes until the bear thinks the hand is an extension of the ice cream.
/Just listened to a review of Jurassic Park: Dominion yesterday

Hey Rock,

Have you seen any of these?

Madhouse (1991)
Bonehill Road (2017)
Brothers from Hell (1988)
Bimbos in Time (1993)
Sorority Babes in Dance-a-Thon of Death (1991)
Prehistoric Bimbos in Armageddon City (1991)
Biker Babes Beyond the Grave (1999)
Fear of the Dark (2005)
Dreaming Purple Neon (2016)
Clownado (2019)

I know that shit head of a director personally. He gives me shit over Salo and A Serbian Film and I give him shit over his films.

I have not. The titles make them sound like intentional camp, which I don't always do well with unless actors I like are involved. I.e. I was pretty lukewarm on some of Troma's "classics" like Toxic Avenger and Class of Nuke 'Em High.

I have not. The titles make them sound like intentional camp, which I don't always do well with unless actors I like are involved. I.e. I was pretty lukewarm on some of Troma's "classics" like Toxic Avenger and Class of Nuke 'Em High.
I bought Bonehill Road. . Campy Werewolf movie..

A close friend of mine worked with him on Dreaming Purple Neon and his daughter played a part in it.

Bruce Lee in New Guinea (Yang, 1978)

One of the great things about having to go back to the office when your province has removed all mask mandates is that, after not having gotten sick for two and a half years, I managed to catch two colds within the same month. Now, I won't grouse too much about my condition, but I will note that over the last two nights, when zonked out on cold medication, I turned to that age-old non-pharmaceutical panacea of Bruceploitation, the genre that works better the less you can pay attention to the plot. That certainly holds true for Bruce Lee in New Guinea, which feels like a free-associative series of fight scenes with the flimsiest narrative threads holding it together. What I'm saying is, it was a great movie to watch under these circumstances. If I misrepresent the particulars of the story in any way, blame the cold.

Bruce Li stars as an anthropologist who flies to Snake Worship Island in Papua New Guinea to study the snake tribe. There's a brief attempt to liken him to the real Bruce Lee with a fight scene where he sports a tracksuit, but otherwise I appreciated that he gets to be his own character and not too much in the shadow of the real deal. Complications arise as the snake tribe is under the influence of the evil Devil Sect, with the snake princess (who is noted to be very nice) having to obey the evil Great Wizard Guru. At one point, he tells her to take off her crown for breaking the tribe's rules. I would have thought as princess, she could have changed the rules, but I guess not. Do the snake people have a constitution? The movie does not provide an answer. Also, the palace has a pit of poisonous snakes right in the middle, which multiple characters fall into, so if she really wanted to take back power, there were options at her disposal. But she is good-hearted, and I suppose good-hearted people don't push others into piles of deadly snakes.

The Great Wizard Guru is a supposedly fearsome fighter with three tricks at his disposal: Snake in the Road (a fighting move), Snake in Tree (another fighting move) and a poison ring (what it sounds like). (A character tells us this breathlessly and then announces: "I'm dying!") That the Great Wizard Guru immediately goes to the poison ring in the next scene casts great doubt on his martial arts prowess. There's also intrigue involving the Snake Pearl (the movie cleverly builds its mythology through the age-old trick of adding "snake" before regular words), a baby, and some other schlubs awkwardly inserted into the plot. Li and the Snake Princess fall in love, but I guess I missed the scenes of courtship. Blame the cold medication.

The high point of the movie comes at the halfway mark. A pair of creepy guys spy a bunch of the female snake people frolicking on the beach (set to cheesy music), start harassing them, and are stopped when the Snake Princess arrives, tells her subjects to "Go get the ape!", and a gorilla shows up, does a few flips, and beats up the creepy guys. The ape is a force for good, so alas it never fights Li. Other animal-related intrigue largely involves snakes, and while PETA would likely not approve, I didn't notice any snakes being harmed onscreen. There's also a notable scene where Li's cousin mistakes his arm for a snake through the magic of editing.

I think this stumbles as an action movie by giving its main villain too many fight scenes with Li too early, so that their final showdown doesn't make as much of an impact. That last fight does have one pretty bloody moment, all the more startling because the movie is otherwise pretty PG-rated in terms of content, and the copy I watched (on the great Wu Tang Collection YouTube channel) had the swears bleeped out. (I noticed when a character said something really mean about a literal baby, which is a great way to signal to the audience that he's a bad dude.) The fights however come with great frequency, and are shot and choreographed with a reasonable level of craft, so combined with some of the kooky stuff here, I had a good enough time. However, I must note that the background of the fight scenes didn't look all that different in terms of wildlife than every other cheapo martial arts movie I've seen. What I'm saying is, contrary to the movie's title and that one insert of the plane taking off, the movie was not actually shot in Papua New Guinea and was instead filmed wherever they normally shot these things. If you can get over that crippling betrayal and don't mind not paying attention to the plot, you might have a good time.

A Cry in the Dark (Schepisi, 1988)

The Important Cinema Club podcast recently did an episode on Meryl Streep and one of the more intriguing insights they offered was that Streep's portrayal of the kind of characters she chose to play brought with it a certain tension. Namely, if I can paraphrase, there was a certain dissonance between these dressed down, unglamorous characters and the fact that they were being played by the First Lady of Acting, bringing the full force of her formidable, carefully calibrated talents. They didn't seem entirely convinced that this dynamic was a positive one and worked in the movies' favour, but it is something that weighed on my mind as I watched A Cry in the Dark, the 1988 film about the Azaria Chamberlain case for which Streep received one of her many Oscar nominations. I couldn't find anything wrong about Streep's portrayal, but the fact that it was Streep playing this mostly ordinary Australian woman was itself a bit distracting. I kept looking for the seams in her performance, or the little dials she was twiddling with for emotive effect, and despite the fact I didn't find all that much, I couldn't help but be taken out of the proceedings a little. In contrast, I found Sam Neill as her husband much more convincing, perhaps because he was using his real accent and his demeanour didn't seem too far removed from his other well known roles.

After I watched the movie, I decided to dig up Roger Ebert's review as I often do, and found a competing argument in favour of her performance. Ebert suggests that the character is deliberately off-putting. She doesn't grieve as expressively as one would expect. She keeps putting her face out there for media appearances, to the point that people grow tired of her. She allows herself to come across as cold and snarky. Streep's performance seems intended to hide her interiority, offering us a peek inside only at a handful of key moments, like when she begins to crack under questioning during the climactic trial scene. The direction of much of the movie is not especially showy, but this sequence, with its aggressive cross-cutting and use of flashbacks, proves isolating in a way that the rest of the movie doesn't always manage. But the idea floated by Ebert is that the movie allows you to develop a certain resentment for this character and understand why the public turned against her, and I'm not sure that would have worked without the specific notes Streep seems to play here.

As for the movie, I found it pretty involving, if a tad inelegant in structure. This portrayal of a wrongfully accused character persecuted by a venal media environment and unscrupulous law enforcement invites similarities with Richard Jewell. I think that movie handles this dynamic more elegantly by filtering the antagonism more directly through its hero's experience, in contrast to the awkward docudrama cutaways that are heavily employed here. (That being said, Richard Jewell unfortunately achieves some of that elegance by slandering a real-life character to concentrate its venom, so perhaps it isn't the best model to take on the whole.) And I do think Paul Walter Hauser's performance has a greater authenticity about it than Streep's here, but that also makes him harder to resent, which would not work in this movie's favour. Also, I should note that having watched Seinfeld religiously in my high school years, I was perhaps less moved by a certain line of dialogue in the big early dramatic scene, but otherwise found that sequence quite gripping.

New Jack City (Van Peebles, 1991)

Probably the most intriguing element of New Jack City is the way it consciously invites comparisons to other movies. Blaxploitation is referenced repeatedly, with characters watching Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song on TV, and one character calling another "Superfly" while monitoring an undercover operation. And in a key scene, the villain watches the ending of Scarface in his home, perhaps unaware of the irony presented by his enjoyment of the movie. But I think that last point of comparison is key to what Mario Van Peebles is trying to do with this movie. It's a fact that Scarface, despite having a "crime doesn't pay" message obvious to anyone who really paid attention, has also become iconic in certain circles and has been misread both by defenders and detractors as aspirational. This is a "mistake" that Van Peebles doesn't want to repeat.

Scarface starts off in the grim realities of the streets, and as the protagonist climbs the criminal ladder, the movie gets more and more insular, with the climax taking place in his mansion as the manufactured reality of his empire collapses around him. The movie is about cocaine, the use of which brings about the protagonist's downward spiral, but we never see its effects on ordinary users. New Jack City presents us with scene after scene of characters and communities ravaged by the crack epidemic, and situates much of its action in the projects and in the streets to make sure we know the true consequences of the villain's actions. And I use "villain", instead of "protagonist", because the movie avoids making him our point of identification, placing us instead with a small team of unconventional cops determined to take him down. And despite Wesley Snipes' immense charisma, we're never meant to find him appealing, as the closest we get to him are when he admits to gunning down an innocent woman, and later uses a child for a human shield during an attempt on his life. Van Peebles wants us to know this is a bad guy who does bad things. (Van Peebles also stacks the deck against him by associating him with New Jack Swing, a genre nobody has listened to since the early '90s, and giving him a ridiculous shark fun hairdo. If he'd just had a regular flattop, he would have looked great. The cops instead get "New Jack Hustler" by Ice-T, easily the best song on the soundtrack. I also found Snipes' red suit, turtleneck and gold chain combo a bit gaudy, but I supposed that was considered cool at the time.)

I used "mistake" in quotes above because I don't actually think those things are flaws with the movies Van Peebles compares his to. The caution he uses in presenting this material makes his message clearer, but not necessarily more potent, as we're never able to be seduced by the villain's lifestyles. This was released the year after King of New York, another movie that captures the tension between a villain who vows to help his community and the evil he really does, but that movie dared to have us identify with, and at times even root for its villain. (And it's more pointed about its racial commentary to boot.) Snipes' character offers some justification for his actions, mentioning that "You gotta rob to get rich in the Reagan era" and offering a systemic condemnation during his trial:

I'm not guilty. You're the one that's guilty. The lawmakers, the politicians, the Columbian drug lords, all you who lobby against making drugs legal. Just like you did with alcohol during the prohibition. You're the one who's guilty. I mean, c'mon, let's kick the ballistics here: Ain't no Uzi's made in Harlem. Not one of us in here owns a poppy field. This thing is bigger than Nino Brown. This is big business. This is the American way.
But these are never argued persuasively. The movie closes things off in a way that perhaps harkens back to the Hays Code Morality that Van Peebles is trying to channel, but instead comes off as a little convenient. All that being said, the movie is directed engagingly, with actions scenes defined by their claustrophobia, as well as some nice textured supporting performances by Ice-T and Judd Nelson as the two loose-cannon cops, and Chris Rock as a junkie trying to redeem himself. And of course, you can't argue with the Snipes performance.

This is a sign that the film you're watching is about to get awesome.
It didn't disappoint. 🐵

What about New Jack the wrestler, though?

He's the one getting fallen on there, for the record.