Sunday, March 26, 2017

Angels' Brigade (Greydon Clark, 1979)

Look at me, I'm drowning in women, and I couldn't be more pleased. Seriously, I needed Greydon Clark's Angels' Brigade (a.k.a. Seven from Heaven and Семеро с небес) for sanity reasons. It was like receiving a shot of sweet, sweet estrogen right to the forehead (oh, and, yes, I'm currently obsessed with estrogen - I might have mentioned the stuff in my Nomads review). You see, earlier in the week I found myself in the company of five men. Don't ask me why, I just did. And after about two minutes of listening to their macho-based jibber-jabbering, I started to feel uneasy. Now, I wouldn't say I felt threatened by them (I hammered a nail with a hammer just the other day). But I did not like being around all that testosterone one bit. Well, I didn't have that problem at all while this film prattled along in a very non-threatening manner. Sure, Jack Palance and Peter Lawford, two guys who are as macho as they get, play drug dealers. But other than... Oh, I almost forgot... Yes, The Skipper and Thurston Howell, III are in it as well, the former plays Michelle Wilson's manager and the latter plays the bumbling leader of a right-wing militia. But trust me, this flick is wall-to-wall women. And that alone caused me to feel relaxed. In addition, the women are introduced one at a time, or, I should say, recruited one at a time. If you're wondering why attractive women across Los Angeles are being recruited to join an underground women's only vigilante group, get in line behind me, because I have no idea as well. Wait. I think I remember a disco singer named Michelle Wilson (Susan Kiger) saying something about her son or brother being beat up by a drug dealer/Leif Garrett-look-a-like contest winner over some stolen PCP, and that they need to put these drug pushers out of business by blowing up their supply warehouse.

What I don't understand is: What's wrong with children using PCP? Seems perfectly acceptable to me. Okay, maybe I should have looked up "PCP" before writing that last sentence, as it turns out PCP is quite the central nervous system depressant. Either way, I think children in 1979 should be allowed to experiment with powerful hallucinogens. If you ask me, it builds character.

The drugged out, beaten up son and/or brother of a blonde disco queen's teacher, Maria (Noela Velasco), proposes to Michelle Wilson that they assemble a team of foxy chicks (one's who possess unique talents) to take out the people responsible for flooding the streets of L.A. with PCP.

And by "take out," I mean drop a bomb down the chimney of the building that makes the child-harming stuff.

Since a disco queen and an elementary teacher can't really destroy a PCP operation all by themselves, they set about putting together a team.

The first woman they approach is Terry Grant (Sylvia Anderson), a Hollywood stunt performer. Tall and slender, the inclusion of Terry not only increases the team's bad-ass quota by a huge percentage, it signifies that Michelle and Maria are serious about stamping out the city's PCP problem.

Next on the list is Kako Umaro (Lieu Chinh), a karate expert. I know it's 1979, but the cast of Angels' Brigade is already a thousand times more diverse than most movies and TV shows made nowadays. Okay, maybe that's a tad unfair. But still, it's kinda groundbreaking. If the next woman they recruit turns out to be a Pakistani demolitions expert, I'm going to freak the fuck out.

While the next three recruits are white chicks, Policewoman Elaine Brenner (Robin Greer), is gorgeous beyond belief. I know, April Thomas (Jacqueline Cole), a busty fashion model, is supposed to be the "gorgeous one." But I'm telling you, Elaine's beauty has a way of creeping up on you. What I mean is, you'll be looking at her, and then all of a sudden... Bam! She will throw you this seductive look that will leave you hypnotized. (So, what you're saying is, she's an attractive woman?) Well, they're all attractive women. It's just that Elaine seems have that an extra twinkle about her.

Anyway, I don't think Elaine and Trish (Liza Greer), one of Maria's students, were actually meant to be recruits. I think they just joined of their own accord.

Needing guns, the women decide to use April's cleavage to acquire some from a right-wing militia. Now, this scene is just plain pointless. And, no, I'm just saying this because Officer Elaine is nowhere to be found. No, the scene is an overlong, unfunny waste of time. Fans of Gilligan's Island might get a kick out of seeing Thurston Howell, III (Jim Brackus) as a deluded militia leader. But that's about it.

The next step is finding out where the PCP is delivered and intercepting the shipment before it hits the streets. After torturing the Leif Garrett clone for information, the women head to the beach. And you know what that means? That's right, bikinis!!!

While the beach scene is just as stupid and unfunny as the militia stuff, it does feature... (Yeah, yeah, we get to see the women in bikinis.) Well, yeah.

Well... Elaine doesn't actually wear a bikini, she wears a caramel one-piece, but still...

Oh, and while delivering the confiscated goods to her boss, Elaine can be seen wearing a pair of white shorts over top of her caramel one-piece. Which, I must say, is a great look for her.

After watching a montage where the ladies turn their ho-hum van into a battle wagon of estrogen-fueled death, the seven women eventually launch their assault on the PCP factory. The end? Not quite. The film gives us a bonus action sequence after the PCP factory battle. Which, I guess, was nice of them. But I was pretty much done with this movie after the beach scene.

And why wouldn't I be... done with it, that is? The film's anti-drug message and overall tone is kinda square. Plus, the film has zero nudity and hardly any graphic violence. I know, what gives, Angels' Brigade? Granted, the film's pro-feminist slant was very much appreciated. But c'mon, give us some tits 'n' gore. I mean, yeah, seriously. (Don't forget the fact that the acting is atrocious.) Oh, yeah, there's that, too. I did like "Shine Your Love on Me," the disco-tinged song that opens the film and the fact that Susan Kiger lip syncs the song (Patty Foley is the actual singer) while wearing sequined outfit with a massive slit down the side.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Metal Skin (Geoffrey Wright, 1994)

This is what happens when you leave Australians unsupervised for a few minutes. Am I right? New Zealanders know what I'm talking about. Just kidding, the Aussies in Metal Skin wish they were as loopy as their Aussie movie brethren. No, the wonderfully long-haired fellas that populate this not quite lawless version of Australia are just plain annoying. Oh, in case you're wondering. The reason I called them "wonderfully long-haired," as supposed to just plain long-haired, is because I'm sick of seeing people with undercuts. Sure, I used to sport one for what seemed like forever, but the moment I saw a smallish child on the subway rocking an undercut was when I finally decided enough was enough. So... what was my point? Oh, yeah, I liked how the two main guys in this movie had longish hair on every part of their head. Meaning, it was the same length on top, on the sides and in the back. And I think I speak for everyone when I say, the fact that the two male leads didn't have undercuts was the film's strong suit. (Um, aren't you forgetting something?) Okay, the drag racing was pretty strong, too. (No, not that, silly. The goth chick.) Uh, she wasn't goth. For starters, I didn't see any goth band posters on her bedroom wall. And secondly, her footwear wasn't pointy... at all. Of course, these aren't hard and fast goth rules. But just because you're a woman with a thing for dark makeup and witchcraft doesn't make you goth. Seriously, though, does this chick even own a Sisters of Mercy album? I doubt it.

Way too busy trying to cast love-spells on douchebags with great skin and even greater hair, non-practicing Satanist and full-time nut-job Savina (Tara Morice) spends the bulk of the movie acting like a boy crazy nincompoop. I'm sorry for using such harsh language, but that's what she is. Think about it. No self-respecting goth would repeatedly demean themselves the way Savina does in this movie. And even if they did, I like to think they'd choose someone a little less... (Douchey?) Yeah, all right... a little less douchey as the object of their affection.

Granted, this particular douchebag, Dazey (Ben Mendelsohn), like I said, does have great skin and hair, and he drives a cool car. But still, there are so many less douchey options out there. Or are they? You would think the obvious choice would be Joe (Aden Young), a co-worker at the warehouse-style mega-supermarket they all work at. But she, for some reason, decides to put Joe in the dreaded friend-zone.

If you take away all the character's quirks, it's essentially Pretty in Pink crossed with The Fast and The Furious (the DVD artwork for this movie tries to capitalize on that franchises blockbuster success). Except replace the high school setting with the Aussie version of Costco. And while you're at it, switch out Vin Diesel and Ludacris for a couple of floppy-haired Aussie gits.

While I would date Dazey in a heartbeat (his skin is so smooth), I can't quite see what the appeal is for the women in this movie. Take Roselyn (Nadine Garner), for example. It's implied that Dazey's reckless driving is the reason Roselyn can't wear a bikini to the beach anymore (there was apparently a terrible traffic accident some years ago). So, why does she still allow him to hover around the way he does?

The film is basically a critique about the toxicity of male-based rejection. While most guys handle rejection with either whiny griping or a series of indifferent shrugs. A small number tend to act out in a destructive matter. Now, a "small amount" might not seem like a lot. But all it takes is five or six spurned men to destroy the earth. In other words, a man whose recently been rejected by a woman has the potential to be a danger to all those around them.

And Davey and Roselyn learn this the hard way, when Joe decides one day that their aloof brand of smugness needs to be altered in an extreme manner. And given that the film is Australian, it only makes sense that these alterations be legislated via vehicular violence.

However, it should be noted that there are only a handful of car chase/car race scenes in this movie. This, I'm sure, will irk some viewers. No, the majority of the film centers around the dating ups and downs of the  four main characters. So, if you were hoping this was going to be the Mad Max of the 1990s, you're going to be severely disappointed. Personally, I found their antics to be more irritating than anything else. That being said, if you love Aussie weirdness, illegal street racing, annoying non-goth chicks and guys with floppy-hair, Metal Skin is the film for you.

Special thanks to Ian Butt for recommending this movie.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Trash (Paul Morrissey, 1970)

At first I was like: Just give him the damn shoes! Then it suddenly dawned on me. Fuck no. Don't give that motherfucker your shoes. Sure, you can buy another pair once the welfare checks start rolling in, but those are your shoes. I know, it's kinda unorthodox to talk about the final scene at the beginning of a movie review. But if you've seen Paul "Women in Revolt" Morrissey's Trash, you know the final scene is probably one of the most important scenes in film history. Well, at least it is to me. While Holly Woodlawn's decision not to give her dandy-ish caseworker her silver shoes in exchange for welfare might seem illogical to some, I totally understood where she was coming from. You see, Holly has struggled to get everything she owns. Whether it be the bathroom sink (which also doubles as a toilet) or the chest of drawers (which also doubles as a bassinet), Holly has earned the right to be proud of her possessions. In other words, she's not merely going to hand any of them over to some Joan Crawford-loving, welfare check-dangling Friend of Dorothy. And this includes her fabulous silver shoes.

Fab shoes aside, when you get right down to it, Trash is basically about a junkie named "Joe" (Joe Dallesandro) who doesn't get his cock sucked by a shrill cadre of women with irregular eyebrows. Actually, he gets his cock sucked... for awhile. Let me explain. When it obvious that Joe isn't able to transform his flaccid penis into an erect penis, the shrill, irregularly eyebrow-ed women [usually] cease massaging his cock with their mouths. I mean, what's the point, right?

Wait a minute, Holly Woodlawn is one of these cocksucking women. And most people will agree, Holly Woodlawn ain't shrill. In fact, I would go as far as to declare Holly Woodlawn's performance in Trash to be one of the greatest ever to be captured on film. (She's that good, eh?) Are you kidding me? She's amazing.

Seriously, every time she would appear on-screen, the not even close to being feckless audience that lives inside my head would let out an audible gasp.

Sadly, we have to wait eleven minutes for Holly to first appear. (Eleven minutes? That's not too bad.) Yeah, I guess. But watching Joe, who, like I said, is a junkie, talk with a go-go dancer named Geri Miller was pretty painful. On the plus side, we do get to observe Joe's cock as it napped peacefully on his pillowy ball-sack. That being said, after about five minutes, I had grown tired of watching these basket cases not have sexual intercourse.

The same goes for Andrea Feldman's LSD-obsessed "rich girl." Even more shrill and annoying than Geri the go-go dancer, watching these two brainless twits discuss drugs and...uh. All I remember is her screaming about wanting some acid. Anyway, I was getting restless.

Don't get me wrong, I love the film's gritty, nasty, sleazy vibe. But these women are causing me a shitload of emotional distress.

Of course, things get a whole lot better when the gorgeous Holly Woodlawn and her slender jet black pantyhose-adorned legs show up.

The story goes something like this: Transgender legend and one of my biggest inspirations, Holly Woodlawn, who met producer Andy Warhol at a screening of another movie some time before filming, was only supposed to have a bit part in Trash. This changed, however, once Paul Morrissey saw Holly in the dailies.

Realizing that she was more talented than the rest of the cast combined, Paul wrote a bigger part for Holly on the spot. And his instincts paid off big time, as Holly gives a funny, touching and sexy performance as a woman who turns tricks to pay for her boyfriend's heroin habit and has a talent for finding furniture on the side of the road.

Now, you're probably thinking to yourself: Side of the road? Where I come from, that's called garbage. As Holly would say, "Just because people throw it out and don't have any use for it, doesn't mean it's garbage." What can I say? You can't argue with that kind of logic, now can you?

Frustrated that Joe, the man she provides drugs and free furniture for, doesn't slip his erect penis into any of her moist orifices with any regularity, Holly resorts to using a beer bottle instead. This, as you might expect, causes her to become despondent and a tad cranky. I mean, a beer bottle is no substitute for a hot juicy cock. Am I right, ladies? Ladies? Hello? Oh, hey. There you are. I couldn't see you in the corner. At any rate, I am right. It's no substitute.

Blaming the drugs for Joe's impotence, Holly plans to get him on methadone. She also plans to adopt her sister's unborn child in order to qualify for welfare. If all goes to plan, Holly should be up to her eyebrows in welfare checks and succulent cock.

Well, she would be if she wasn't so attached to her shoes. Then again, who needs welfare checks and succulent cocks when you've got a killer pair of shoes? (Can't she use the money she gets from welfare to buy another pair of killer shoes?) Haven't you been paying attention, those her shoes. Gawd.

Containing several laugh out loud moments. Meaning, it boasts multiple instances where laughter occurs. Trash is a scummy look at New York City back when it was filled with junkies and whores. Helping matters greatly is the fact that the film's primary junkie and main whore are played Joe Dallesandro and Holly Woodlawn. Watching them wallow in the filth of that dingy room of theirs brought me a surprising amount of joy. His laconic brand of indifference meshed with her unhinged style of acting (I've read that most of her lines were improvised) in such a way, you would have thought they had been married for years.

Warning: The film features close-up shots of intravenous drug use, women with irregular eyebrows in almost every scene, ass acne and sex with a beer bottle.