Rock's Cheapo Theatre of the Damned

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Does he say "I'm taking you to detention... permanent detention!" while killing one of the students?



Of course, for sheer visceral school-gang unpleasantness, nothing really beats Class Of 1984.
Yeah, that movie owns.



*evil student dies horrific, fiery, explosive death at Belushi's hands*


"Sounds like... somebody didn't make the grade."


This movie practically writes itself!



I assume "Hot for Teacher" features heavily on the soundtrack, usually when teachers are getting blown up by the bad guys.



Victim of The Night
*evil student dies horrific, fiery, explosive death at Belushi's hands*


"Sounds like... somebody didn't make the grade."


This movie practically writes itself!
You're hilarious.



Lust for Frankenstein (Franco, 1998)



This movie has maybe the least appealing collection of bearded dudes Iíve seen in a movie. Just uniformly awful, shouldnít be anywhere near a camera. As a bearded dude in real life, Iím glad that this movie isnít all that widely seen, as Iím not sure we would recover from the negative representation. If the movie were about Lina Romay and Michelle Bauer killing off all these gross bearded dudes, it might not have been an entirely unwelcome development. That is not what the movie is about. What the movie is about is that a bearded dude convinces Lina Romay, playing a character named Moira Frankenstein, to help him seek revenge. He does some of this convincing by having her listen to one of his records, a punkish hard rock song that wasnít entirely unpleasant to my ears. Of course, as Romay plays Frankenstein, she must have a monster, and the one here is played by Michelle Bauer, who helps Romay enact her plan while pretty much always completely nude. What ensues are a bunch of violent and/or sexy shenanigans, with a Sadean bent. As youíve likely guessed by now, this is a Jess Franco joint.

This is a movie he made in the late Ď90s, a period in his career that seems to be not at all well regarded, and this movie in fact has a 2.8 rating on IMDb, which is below what most consider the acceptable band for a good movie. As a result, I went in with extremely low expectations, and I actually didnít mind the movie. Some of that of course is the expectations, but some of that is the angle from which Iím approaching Franco. This is not my observation, but Franco is someone who returns to a certain set of themes and images obsessively, and the interest in his arguably lesser films comes from the way they fit into his whole body of work, and the variations they offer on said themes and images. A while back, I read this excellent article on Francoís digitally shot films, and the context it offered definitely helped me appreciate this movie more. This was apparently one of the last movies he shot on film before his transition to (digital) video, and you can see how it uses the lower grade film stock, creaky slow motion and crude video effects to alter the DNA of those classic Franco images. The nude woman with the knife. The zoom (this time on a cute dog). The low angle shot of trees. The extended striptease. The shots on the shore, the charactersí clothes fluttering in the breeze. The reflective surfaces. Their presence here lacks the fluidity and ethereal qualities of Franco at his best, but I found that very lack of elegance interesting. (I do think the video effects make Romay look extra cool in sunglasses.)

The team-up here of Romay and Bauer is like Arnie and Sly joining forces in Escape Plan. Both are past their prime, but itís nice to see them work together in any case. Of course, in a movie chock full of nudity, I would much rather look at Romay and Bauer than Arnie and Sly, and I do think itís sweet that Francoís gaze is so loving and appreciative of Romay even as sheís aged. (That being said, I kinda wish they took off their socks and shoes during their sex scene.) There is definitely a Sadean quality to the sex in the movie, although as the sound mix on the copy was pretty awful, I had trouble following the particulars. At one point I think thereís an incestuous threesome, but donít quote me. I did chuckle at the sex scene where the participants are stacked on top of each other, like human jenga, and also thought it was nice when Romay helped Bauer get off while the latter humped a tree. There is one moment that taps into some of Uncle Jessí classic BDSM magic, although to enjoy it, youíll have to tune out what happens immediately before and after. Which moment is none of your damn business, but hope you can compartmentalize.

This is also pretty self referential, with Romay wearing a Succubus t-shirt at one point, a spider web behind the bed, and posters of Francoís films scattered on the wall. In a key moment, Romay and Bauer stand on a beach, having disposed of one of their victims. Bauer is for once clothed, yet her breasts are exposed. Romay chastises her, and she responds, ďI like to be provocative.Ē That got a smile out of me.




Year of the Dragon (Cimino, 1985)




This review contains spoilers.

Thereís a difference between a movie being racist and a character being racist, and I think a scene here between Mickey Rourke and Ariane that illustrates the distinction. Rourke tells Ariane heís been reading up on the history of Chinese people in America, and shows an awareness of the discriminatory laws they were subject to. He refers to a picture celebrating the completion of a railroad, noting the demographic groups who were present, and points out that the Chinese labourers who did the actual backbreaking work of building them were not in the photo. One might think heís developed an understanding of their marginalization, but his next line reveals the opposite, as he speculates that it was due to their secretive nature. Rourkeís character, a highly decorated police captain who takes over the precinct in New Yorkís Chinatown, spews an endless stream of bigotry as he wages his war on the local triads, yet scenes like that illustrate his limited understanding. His Vietnam service is a critical detail, showing that he conflates the Chinese with the Vietnamese as he tries to essentially re-fight the war on his own terms, disgusted by the defeatist, corrupt cops that populate his precinct and try to constrain him.

And while Rourke is our protagonist and much of the film is filtered through his perspective, the movie devotes a sizable amount of screentime to upstart gangster John Lone, who plays the movie in silky smooth drip king mode. And while Loneís charisma is undeniable, it isnít eager to either glibly worship him or play up his villainy, but instead drops us into his world, showing his role in the community (offering his help to people whose options are limited in mainstream society), with his peers (maneuvering to oust an elder, more risk-averse triad leader) and running his criminal enterprise (a trip to Thailand to give us supply contacts a bloody surprise). These are not positive images of Chinese Americans, but like William Friedkinís Cruising, which attracted similar controversy for making a cynical thriller about the gay leather bar scene when LGBTQ representation in Hollywood movies was extremely limited, thereís too much detail and genuine fascination in the portrayal for it to be dismissed as bigotry. Was any other Hollywood movie of this time and with this level of budget even acknowledging that there are multiple Chinese languages (going so far as to reference the Hakka dialect)? I am not of the group being depicted and as a result may not share the same sensitivities, but I canít agree with the claims that this movie is racist. (Itís worth noting that Victor Wong and Dennis Dun, who have important parts in this, also starred in the following yearís Big Trouble in Little China, another movie about a clueless white guy in Chinatown, although that movie is more overtly satirical in this respect. I also should note that as a Torontonian, I chuckled whenever the villains mentioned the rival triad from Toronto.)

This is also a moody, forcefully directed crime thriller, powered by a electric performance by Rourke, who hurtles through the movie like a natural disaster, leaving everything and everyone he comes across in ruins. (If thereís one issue with Rourkeís role, itís the weird dye they put on his hair to make him look like a grizzled veteran. Rourke was at the peak of his sex appeal at this point, so the bad dye job clashes extra hard with his good looks.) I just got finished defending the movie for distinguishing its perspective from its heroís, yet thereís no denying that Rourkeís immense magnetism pulls us into his orbit, and in its most thrilling sequences locks onto his feverish intensity. Look at the scene where a pair of assassins kills his wife, and he takes frantically takes them out, the second one being dispatched with a gruesome headshot and subsequent explosion. Or the scene where he accosts Lone in a garishly lit nightclub, barging into multiple bathroom stalls where people are doing cocaine (an unexpectedly comedic touch), and then chases after two gunwomen with new wave hairdos, recklessly exchanging gunfire through traffic. Or the showdown with its mixture of car chase and gunplay on train tracks. The movie may be messy (thereís a subplot about an undercover agent that seems forgotten about for much of the runtime, although it too gets a bloody, forceful denouement), but as a fan of Michael Ciminoís Heavenís Gate, I donít think neatness is always and asset, and scenes like these are bracingly visceral in their impact.

I do think the movie suffers in its portrayal of its female characters, with Rourkeís wife and Ariane coming off less like fully formed people than as plot devices and extensions of Rourkeís psyche. The idea of the long suffering wife seems more important than who the wife really is. And the idea of Ariane, with her cultural identity and her fancy apartment with a view to die for (which Rourke transforms into a police clubhouse of sorts in one of the movieís funnier scenes) seems more important than how she really thinks and feels. I understand Arianeís performance was frequently cited as one of the movieís weaknesses, but I think the writing lets her down more than actual deficiencies in her acting, and the last line of the movie concludes their relationship on a completely wrong note. (I understand that Cimino was forced to put this in at the studioís request after they didnít like the original closing line: ďWell, I guess if you fight a war long enough, you end up marrying the enemy.Ē In my opinion, the original line would have been clumsy but still greatly preferable to what we get in the finished film.) But I suppose the fact that these characters donít feel like three dimensional characters is true to how Rourke sees them, being so caught up in his crusade that itís withered away his empathy.

In short, this is undeniably messy, but also very good.




The Couch Trip (Ritchie, 1988)




This review contains mild spoilers.

I like Dan Aykroyd. By definition, you canít hate someone who is simultaneously a Blues Brother, a Ghostbuster, and a Doctor (Detroit). But with the exception of The Blues Brothers, literally the one time he has ever been close to cool, heís hopelessly lame, and those other movies understand that. Aykroyd has a tendency to make a certain face, a smile with his eyebrows raised but without any wryness, thatís usually a signal that youíre in trouble, that the movie will present his lameness but not grasp the implications of said lameness. He makes that face on the poster of The Couch Trip, and itís no surprise that heís the movieís biggest weakness. The plot is about an escaped mental patient whoís mistakenly hired to fill in for a psychiatristís radio show when the host decides to go on a much needed sabbatical and insists the hire the head of the institution where Aykroyd is being held. This scenario presents a double switcharoo, in that Aykroyd is believed to be the stern but ineffectual head of the institution played by David Clennan, and also becomes better received than the showís original host Charles Grodin. Aykroyd does plenty of unconventional things like swear on air, hold a free therapy day for his listeners, takes a bunch of them to a baseball game, and generally takes the air out of the stuffed shirts around him with his wisecracking and unusual methods. (I should note that like Grodinís later switcharoo comedy Taking Care of Business, this too makes reference to the the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series. But that is a more central element to the latter movieís narrative, and what is suggested as an impossibility here becomes reality in the latter movie.)

If you replace psychiatry with the army, this might seem a little bit like Bill Murray in Stripes, and Aykroyd seems to be hitting a lot of the same notes, even with his vocal delivery. The difference is that Murray is cool and Aykroyd very much is not, and that Murray is able to imbue the material with a genuine irreverence while Aykroyd seems to be going through the motions. This is directed by Michael Ritchie, who is unable to use Aykroyd as astutely as he used Chevy Chase in Fletch, where the starís laconic presence mixes interestingly with the energy of the noirish plot. (Chase makes a brief appearance here in a commercial as a dad proud of his sonís choice of condoms. I laughed.) The movie also gives Aykroyd a potential love interest in Donna Dixon, who must be channeling feelings from their real life marriage as she regales him with longing gazes, because thereís little onscreen to explain the attraction. Yet at the same time, this material can inspire a Pavlovian response in the viewer. You get Aykroyd on the air, dropping words like ďballsĒ, ďson of a bitchĒ, ďassholeĒ and ď****Ē (all of which send his producers into a panic over possible FCC fines), and I canít help but hoot and holler at least a little bit on the inside. Take that, psychiatric profession! It goes without saying that the movieís view of mental illness is not terribly nuanced, and it tries to insert some sentiment with the inclusion of a street preacher type played by Walter Matthau. I donít think the attempt is successful, but Matthau is still funny in the role.

I watched this movie to chase Last Resort, the dirt cheap Roger-Corman-produced vacation comedy starring Charles Grodin, and my primary motivation in watching this was more Grodin. That other movie is not well made by traditional standards, but it understands that the more Grodin you have, the better your movie is. The whole thing is an extremely contrived, poorly-thought-out series of scenes designed to grind Grodinís gears, and becomes an almost free-associative string of the kind of facial expressions and line readings that only Grodin could deliver. If one could step into the dreams of the real Charles Grodin, Inception-style, Iíd wager it would look like this. This is a lesson that The Couch Trip does not grasp at first but tries to atone for in the third act. The fact is, aside from the initial setup, Grodin disappears for much of the movie, but when he returns, he overcompensates, going on a rampage as he seeks revenge on Aykroyd for upstaging him and taking his money and his lawyer and friend Richard Romanus for sleeping with his wife Mary Gross. In Grodinís absence, the movie is relatively middling, but itís worth checking out just to see him approach the maniacal and unhinged heights of his work in Clifford.




Glad you got the link to work.

Now we need crumbsroom to suffer through it.
lol it'll be a cakewalk for him



Victim of The Night
Year of the Dragon (Cimino, 1985)




This review contains spoilers.

Thereís a difference between a movie being racist and a character being racist, and I think a scene here between Mickey Rourke and Ariane that illustrates the distinction. Rourke tells Ariane heís been reading up on the history of Chinese people in America, and shows an awareness of the discriminatory laws they were subject to. He refers to a picture celebrating the completion of a railroad, noting the demographic groups who were present, and points out that the Chinese labourers who did the actual backbreaking work of building them were not in the photo. One might think heís developed an understanding of their marginalization, but his next line reveals the opposite, as he speculates that it was due to their secretive nature. Rourkeís character, a highly decorated police captain who takes over the precinct in New Yorkís Chinatown, spews an endless stream of bigotry as he wages his war on the local triads, yet scenes like that illustrate his limited understanding. His Vietnam service is a critical detail, showing that he conflates the Chinese with the Vietnamese as he tries to essentially re-fight the war on his own terms, disgusted by the defeatist, corrupt cops that populate his precinct and try to constrain him.

And while Rourke is our protagonist and much of the film is filtered through his perspective, the movie devotes a sizable amount of screentime to upstart gangster John Lone, who plays the movie in silky smooth drip king mode. And while Loneís charisma is undeniable, it isnít eager to either glibly worship him or play up his villainy, but instead drops us into his world, showing his role in the community (offering his help to people whose options are limited in mainstream society), with his peers (maneuvering to oust an elder, more risk-averse triad leader) and running his criminal enterprise (a trip to Thailand to give us supply contacts a bloody surprise). These are not positive images of Chinese Americans, but like William Friedkinís Cruising, which attracted similar controversy for making a cynical thriller about the gay leather bar scene when LGBTQ representation in Hollywood movies was extremely limited, thereís too much detail and genuine fascination in the portrayal for it to be dismissed as bigotry. Was any other Hollywood movie of this time and with this level of budget even acknowledging that there are multiple Chinese languages (going so far as to reference the Hakka dialect)? I am not of the group being depicted and as a result may not share the same sensitivities, but I canít agree with the claims that this movie is racist. (Itís worth noting that Victor Wong and Dennis Dun, who have important parts in this, also starred in the following yearís Big Trouble in Little China, another movie about a clueless white guy in Chinatown, although that movie is more overtly satirical in this respect. I also should note that as a Torontonian, I chuckled whenever the villains mentioned the rival triad from Toronto.)

This is also a moody, forcefully directed crime thriller, powered by a electric performance by Rourke, who hurtles through the movie like a natural disaster, leaving everything and everyone he comes across in ruins. (If thereís one issue with Rourkeís role, itís the weird dye they put on his hair to make him look like a grizzled veteran. Rourke was at the peak of his sex appeal at this point, so the bad dye job clashes extra hard with his good looks.) I just got finished defending the movie for distinguishing its perspective from its heroís, yet thereís no denying that Rourkeís immense magnetism pulls us into his orbit, and in its most thrilling sequences locks onto his feverish intensity. Look at the scene where a pair of assassins kills his wife, and he takes frantically takes them out, the second one being dispatched with a gruesome headshot and subsequent explosion. Or the scene where he accosts Lone in a garishly lit nightclub, barging into multiple bathroom stalls where people are doing cocaine (an unexpectedly comedic touch), and then chases after two gunwomen with new wave hairdos, recklessly exchanging gunfire through traffic. Or the showdown with its mixture of car chase and gunplay on train tracks. The movie may be messy (thereís a subplot about an undercover agent that seems forgotten about for much of the runtime, although it too gets a bloody, forceful denouement), but as a fan of Michael Ciminoís Heavenís Gate, I donít think neatness is always and asset, and scenes like these are bracingly visceral in their impact.

I do think the movie suffers in its portrayal of its female characters, with Rourkeís wife and Ariane coming off less like fully formed people than as plot devices and extensions of Rourkeís psyche. The idea of the long suffering wife seems more important than who the wife really is. And the idea of Ariane, with her cultural identity and her fancy apartment with a view to die for (which Rourke transforms into a police clubhouse of sorts in one of the movieís funnier scenes) seems more important than how she really thinks and feels. I understand Arianeís performance was frequently cited as one of the movieís weaknesses, but I think the writing lets her down more than actual deficiencies in her acting, and the last line of the movie concludes their relationship on a completely wrong note. (I understand that Cimino was forced to put this in at the studioís request after they didnít like the original closing line: ďWell, I guess if you fight a war long enough, you end up marrying the enemy.Ē In my opinion, the original line would have been clumsy but still greatly preferable to what we get in the finished film.) But I suppose the fact that these characters donít feel like three dimensional characters is true to how Rourke sees them, being so caught up in his crusade that itís withered away his empathy.

In short, this is undeniably messy, but also very good.

I was a fan of this when I was a teenager but haven't seen it since and it sits in my queue just wondering if I will ever watch it again.
This helped.



I was a fan of this when I was a teenager but haven't seen it since and it sits in my queue just wondering if I will ever watch it again.
This helped.
It popped up on the Criterion Channel this month, although it looks like it might be leaving at the end of the month.



It popped up on the Criterion Channel this month, although it looks like it might be leaving at the end of the month.
Watch it before it leaves forever!!!!!!1!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!1!



Wrt Jess Franco, I'm wondering what are your top 10-15 essential Franco's.


It crossed my mind, I've seen an okay number - of he turned out movies at a normal human pace, and some of them worked much better for me than others.


Since it feels like you've done a much deeper and thorough dive on the man, I'm wondering which are some of the other ones I should go for next.


Seen:
A Virgin Among the Living Dead
The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein
Vampyres Lesbos
-------------
She Killed in Ecstasy
Jack the Ripper
The Demons


I feel like there's one more I'm forgetting.


In the personal collection, still yet seen:
Venus in Furs
Dr Orloff
Female Vampire


I plan to pick up Dr Z


But after that, I'm less clear where to go from there.


On letterboxd, I see Eugenie (different than Eugenie de Sade...) and Count Dracula up there in terms of popularity.



lol I've only seen 20 (which is a lot for most directors, but a tiny fraction of his filmography), and some of my favourites I see you have covered. I also have leaned on podcasts and articles for context, but generally go by which ones are well reviewed by my Letterboxd circle when choosing which ones to see next.


Some others I'd suggest making time for:


Doriana Gray (this is straight up hardcore porn though)

Succubus (earlier, sturdier Franco)
What a Honeymoon! (what my avatar is from)
Greta the Mad Butcher (WIP fun with Lina Romay and Dyanne Thorne)

Barbed Wire Dolls (WIP fun with Lina Romay and Monica Swinn)
Night has a Thousand Desires (sexy, stabby dream vibes with Lina Romay)
Devil Came From Akasava (Eurospy fun with Soledad Miranda)


Count Dracula is not bad (and is apparently fairly accurate to the book), but it doesn't move like the best Francos


I have not seen Eugenie, but I didn't mind Eugenie De Sade when I saw it, even if I wouldn't give it a recommendation.


Most people seem to really like Bloody Moon, but I remember finding it a chore. But I saw it before I was really familiar with his work.


Most people seem to hate Oasis of the Zombies, but I found it pleasant enough to veg out to. Absolute garbage zombies, though.