I Spit on Your Corpse!

starstarstar

“Surprisingly survivable 70’s schlock – but, oh, that soundtrack!”

Porn stars who try to act are usually on shaky ground – see Traci Lords’ career – except, it seems, when the characters they play have something of the porn star in them. Brigitte Lahaie in Fascination is a good example, and Spelvin, best known for The Devil in Miss Jones, impresses here as Tate, a cold, animalistic killer, freed from prison by mob boss Moreno (Taylor) to kill a treacherous lawyer. Which goes fine, it’s when her unwitting accomplice Donna (McIver) realises what happened, and goes on the run, that the film really starts. The chase is on: can Tate and sidekick Erica (Miles) hunt Donna down before she reaches Mexico?

Originally Girls For Rent, the new title (presumably inspired by I Spit On Your Grave) is certainly more apt, thanks to Spelvin’s brutal character – particularly one scene involving a mentally deficient kid, that is simply nasty. Moments like that, or Erica’s sudden ‘conversion’ to Christianity, are great and will hopefully stay in my mind longer than the truly dire stock soundtrack, which alternates between being woefully inappropriate, and simply bad. I suspect Adamson, buried in concrete beneath his own hot-tub in 1995, was murdered by a music-lover.

However, Spelvin and Miles hold this together well, and at times it has the same energetic air as Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! This is cheap, drive-in product, shot in only 9 days (not counting the sex scene spliced-in later), and won’t be mistaken for anything else. Don’t expect too much, however, and this will occasionally surprise pleasantly. Just bring the ear-plugs.

Dir: Al Adamson
Star: Susan McIver, Georgina Spelvin, Rosalind Miles, Kent Taylor

Confessions of a Psycho Cat

starstarstarstarhalf

“The Most Dangerous Game: distaff version.”

psychocatThis 1968 film is totally loony, but none the less entertaining – the subsequent addition of (extremely subdued) sex-party footage to spice it up and increase the running time, is really the film’s weakest ingredient. For the plot is intriguing enough as is: a rich but loopy socialite (Lord) offers three men $100,000 each, if they can survive her hunting them through New York for 24 hours. Easy enough to do, you’d think, but the neat thing is the way the villainess/heroine (it’s hard to say which, really!) uses her targets’ weaknesses to lure them into her sights. For example, one is a former championship wrestler and she taunts him with accusations of cowardice until he charges into her apartment. That victim is played by Jake La Motta, who was the real-life inspiration for Raging Bull, and his demise is entirely fitting, if amazingly surreal.

The acting on view is pretty basic, but does the job, and it lures the viewer in nicely. Lord chews the scenery with extreme prejudice, and there’s a fabulous flashback where we discover the origins of her character’s madness. These help tide you over the frequent and tedious nudity, though amusement can be had by seeing how crudely these scenes have been inserted. It all ends grimly, as you’d hope, and for a cheap exploitation flick, it’s really quite memorable. The DVD from Something Weird also offers other delights, including trailers for Ride the Wild Pink Horse and Olga’s House of Shame, plus an entire second-feature, Hot Blooded Woman, which is so awful as to be unwatchable. In comparison, Psycho Cat is a fine idea, ripe for a Hollywood remake – perhaps starring Liz Hurley or Angelina Jolie…

Dir: Herb Stanley
Star: Eileen Lord, Ed Brandt, Frank Grace, Jake La Motta

Big Boobs Buster

starstar

“Does exactly what it says on the tin.”

As you can probably surmise from the title, this is most emphatically not a gentle and touching saga of four women who laugh, cry and grow together. Instead, it’s about a schoolgirl, traumatised by rejection due to her small chest, who adopts a secret identity in order to make silicone moulds of her larger-bosomed schoolmates. I’m tempted to claim it’s based on an Oscar Wilde short story, but your credulity is already under enough strain.

Instead, I’ll start by pointing out to any lurking breast-fetishists that the Japanese definition of “big boobs” is, shall we say, not as expansive as ours. Still, less-demanding deviants should just about find enough to keep them entertained in lines like “Damn your raunchy bra!”, especially in a fine opening quarter. With a school full of perverts, it’s a concept with scope for Kekko Kamen-style parody – unfortunately, it peters out when mammorially-challenged heroine Masako (Harumi Kai) joins the track team instead. This is full of the usual tough training cliches, and is thus generally uninteresting.

The tape also includes ten minutes of Masako falling off her bike, plus other wondrous footage from behind the scenes. Wonder what the makers, including respected anime creator Taro Maki as executive producer, did with the rest of their weekend…?

[This review originally appeared in Manga Max]

Creator: Hisashi Watanabe
Star: Harumi Kai, Maruki Itsuki

Tokyo Blue: Case 1

starstar

“Cops and robbers, Japanese style, with much T&A.”

You know where you stand with this film inside five minutes, from the moment policewoman heroine Mika Hino (Shiratori) is made to strip off by bad guys hunting for a key – which she naturally is keeping in her lingerie. Mind you, this pales in comparison with where partner Rin Kakura (Kuribayashi) hides her gun… The problem with this tape is that such intimate details are far more interesting than the plot, a tired and severely uninteresting search for a master counterfeiter.

While there’s no denying the charms of the leading ladies, most of the time they’re displayed with precious little imagination, and their characters are far less appealing than their bodies. It’s also very hard to disapprove of the lecherous colleagues depicted by the movie, when the film is at almost the same mental level. Only in the last fifteen minutes, as Mika strives to rescue the captured Rin from an all-girl team of guards, do things start to perk up, with Mika becoming something of an avenging angel, slaughtering receptionists with effective skill and disturbing delight. Unfortunately, this only really goes to show up the first hour of this film, actually the third in the Metropolitan Police Branch 82 series, for the tedious waste of time it is. Best line in the enthusiastic but futile dub: “I’m a blueberry tart!”

[This review originally appeared in Manga Max]

Dir: Younosuke Koike
Star: Chieko Shiratori, Tomomi Kuribayashi, Keiji Matsuda, Hitomi Shimizu

Bury Me An Angel

starstarhalf

“Nowhere near as good as the advertising.”

Though with a tagline of “A howling hellcat humping a hot steel hog on a roaring rampage of revenge”, how could it be? Dag (Peabody) sees her brother get blown away for stealing some guy’s motorcycle, and goes on a hunt for the killer, all the while tortured by visions of her dead sibling’s death – which is perhaps not a good move, since it lets us see how woefully inept the effects were. Accompanied by two male sidekicks, she tracks the killer down as he heads towards Canada.

This 1971 film is a rarity for an action heroine movie (and also for a biker flick), in that it was written and directed by a woman, Barbara Peeters, who’d go on to make Humanoids From the Deep. This shows itself in little touches throughout, but mostly through the heroine’s over-frequent mental anguish – the ‘roaring rampage of revenge’ never materialises much. Dag makes for an interesting heroine, determined and obstinate (she hangs on to her shotgun, even when visiting a school!), but Peabody never seems to get the tone of her performance right, under- or over-acting at random.

The best moments see the trio interacting with other people, be this taunting a midget cop, provoking a bar-brawl with locals, or being out-weirded by a witch. Apart from this, and one impressive nightmare where Dag repeatedly blasts her brother’s murderer with a shotgun, only for him to keep coming back, there’s way too much sitting around, and not enough action. Selling largely on sizzle, this is truly a classic of exploitation, and as such, deserves grudging respect – if not perhaps any further attention.

Dir: Barbara Peeters
Star: Dixie Peabody, Terry Mace, Clyde Ventura, Stephen Whittaker

‘Gator Bait

starstarstarstarhalf

“Swamp saga is buoyantly sleazy, but sinks at the end.”

Between being Playmate of the Year in 1970, and her death in a car accident at the end of the decade, Jennings appeared in a slew of action/exploitation flicks which earned her the title “Queen of the B’s”. Despite unlikely casting as Desiree, an alligator poacher – with perfect hair and make-up, even in the Louisiana swamps – this film comes within an ace of getting our seal of approval, falling short only at the finale.

Desiree finds herself in trouble when she’s involved in the death of a local cop. His family, a bunch of half-breeds of hugely dubious morals (witness the immortal line, “What’re ya tryin’ to do, ya horny little bastard? That’s yer sister!!”), get on her trail, dragging the more or less unwilling police chief with them. But the bayous and backwoods are home turf (the title comes from her father’s habit of dragging her behind his boat as a lure!) and after her sister is murdered in truly repellent fashion, mercy is in short supply.

Rather too much speedboat footage slows the second half down, but it’s an interesting twist on the Deliverance nightmare, with rednecks being hunted rather than the hunters. Jennings doesn’t have many lines (kid bro’ is mute, so there are few chances for conversation), which is perhaps wise. However, she carries herself well, whizzing through the swamps, blazing away with her shotgun – it’s unfortunate she has to rely on assistance to finish things off, a weakness in character which is hugely disappointing.

Dir: Ferd and Beverly Sebastian
Star: Claudia Jennings, Sam Gilman, Doug Dirkson, Clyde Ventura

Barbarian Queen II

starstarstarhalf

“In which our heroine learns the ropes…and the chains…and the rack…”

Much like the first, bondage fans would probably mark this a grade, possibly one and a half, higher given the amazing length of time the heroine spends tied to racks and other torture devices – or just tied in general. Not that this, per se, makes it a bad movie. No, the severely limited budget (the population of the land where this takes place appears to be about 1/10th that of San Marino) and clunky acting take care of that…

However, the writing helps, since tongue is in cheek, right from the movie’s subtitle: The Empress Strikes Back. It would be churlish to point out the total lack of any empress in the film. There’s also the mud-wrestling bout, carefully set up early on when a barrel of water is knocked over, instantly turning about two acres into the Everglades. As for the story, Clarkson plays Princess Amathea – her character has the same name as the first part, but how she became the king’s daughter is never explained – whose father’s throne has been usurped by the evil Ankaris (Bracho). She escapes and builds a band of curiously large-haired heroines to lead a revolt.

One interesting subplot is Ankaris’s daughter (Tijerina), a genuinely creepy teen with a disturbing interest in methods of torture. She has a crush on Amathea’s love interest and evokes the spirit of her dead mother to help her out. This angle adds a welcome depth, to a story that otherwise is largely what you would expect. The fighting is largely woeful: one participant holds their sword up while the other bangs their weapon off it. Yet, it’s never dull and Clarkson makes a good heroine, independent and feisty from the opening scene.

Dir: Joe Finley [probably a pseudonym for Hector Oliviera]
Star: Lana Clarkson, Greg Wrangler, Cecilia Tijerina, Alejandro Bracho

PB 82 (Police Branch 82)

starstarstar

“Dirty Harry with breasts. And angst. And a partner scared of roaches.”

Okay, pardon me if I’m confused. What the IMDB says is the plot for Metropolitan Police Branch 82 is actually Tokyo Blue: Case 1. However, there are multiple parts to the series, and I think that this tape from ADV may be the first. Or perhaps the second. Not that it’s important, but just so you know. :-) Mika (Inoue) is a cop with a liking for her Magnum, who loses her partner while capturing the criminal Nezu (Yamato). He then escapes, and she gets a new partner (Tayama), who is more concerned with fashion than the down and dirty world of criminal detection, and also hates cockroaches to the extent of unloading a full clip on one in the police station. Mika rolls her eyes a lot at this, but in Mika’s past lurks a dark secret when she shot first and asked questions later.

As they chase after Nezu and his accomplice (Lilico), there is a load of naked flesh, portrayed in the enthusiastic yet restrained approach typical of Japan. It probably isn’t worth your while, and you kinda wish they hadn’t bothered. In between times, there’s also a lot of the usual “mismatched cops” routine, and it’s no more fresh or interesting here, than in all the Hollywood movies which use it. However, the finale, set in a deserted amusement park, is well-staged and imaginative, with an underwater fight which makes you wish for more of the same. Inoue’s performance also lifts this one up a notch, doing a good job of the “hard case with a soft centre.” It’s still a cliche, but she brings enough life to it to deserve credit.

Dir: Daisuke Goto
Star: Harumi Inoue, Mamiko Tayama, Yukio Yamato, Lilico

Golgo 13: Queen Bee

starstarstarstar

“A tale with plenty of sting, but too much sexual bee-haviour.”

Four stars but no seal of approval? That’s because this is about the most wildly variable animated film I’ve seen. The story and characters are great, but the frequent sex scenes are incredibly tedious and clearly put in solely for the teenage male fan (all pneumatic breasts and moaning). It’s rare for me to say this, but they are genuinely gratuitous, and the film could have coped fine without them.

Between times, there’s certainly plenty going on in terms of plot. Ultra-taciturn hitman Golgo 13 is hired to kill narco-terrorist Queen Bee, who has been sending threatening letters to a presidential candidate. From here an entire web is spun (sorry, failed to come up with a bee analogy!) of deceit, double-dealing and death. The anti-heroine comes across rather better than the anti-hero, since you see more about her background, and she’s certainly a fascinating personality, even in a grim world where no-one is innocent.

The animation uses every trick in the book to mixed effect, with some of the violence particularly well-executed. The tape I saw was dubbed, which is another reason to deny it the seal, though the voice acting here is largely painless (it helps that Golgo 13 has about five lines!). It may yet make it: I’ll likely pick up the subtitled DVD sometime, with a director’s commentary, apparently revealing that the candidate and his adviser were shown as gay lovers in a deleted scene. Frankly, I’d have been happy to trade that for one of the heterosexual encounters.

Dir: Osamu Dezaki
Star (voice, English dub): Denise Poirier, Carlos Ferro, Dwight Shultz, John Dimaggio

Scorpion’s Revenge

starstarhalf

Scorpion’s Revenge is an understandable, if not really helpful, retitling of a film called Sasori in USA; as this suggests, it attempts to add an exotic flavour by setting things in an uncivilised and/or dangerous locale. Foreigners are, after all, inherently evil, and do far worse things to our women than we ever would. This isn’t new: many of Roger Corman’s 1970’s WiP movies were shot in the Philippines, albeit partly for cost reasons.

During its first half, Revenge is largely an identikit job, wheeling virtually every staple of the genre into play. Heroine Nami Matsushima (Yohko Saito) is sent to prison for killing her boyfriend with a car-bomb. Of course, she’s innocent (they always are), and soon finds herself facing the horrors of jail life. These include vicious guards, a predatory lesbian who resembles Jamie Lee Curtis, her innocent friend in the cell next door, and frequent showers. All of these are common WiP ingredients – except, obviously, the need for someone to look like Ms. Curtis. Even the Bible-quoting warden comes from Reform School Girls, where the role was memorably played by Sybil Danning, herself a graduate of the classic Chained Heat. But this incestuous plagiarism is okay: you always know where you are with a WiP film.

Revenge romps through this at high speed in a mix of English and Japanese, until it all gets too much for our heroine to bear. She escapes with her friend, Yuko – who turns out to be blind, though it took me half-an-hour to realise this. This is a great pity, since the film then completely loses its way: while the prison genre offers plenty of scope for entertainment, the wandering-aimlessly-round-a-desert genre is trickier and has been largely avoided (Nicolas Roeg’s Walkabout being the obvious exception).

They eventually reach familiar ground, and that’s more than can be said for the movie, which spirals spectacularly down from this point. Nami discovers the truth about her boyfriend’s death, Yuko goes out for revenge against those responsible for her incarceration, and the resulting plot twists are so ludicrous and badly executed, they kill the film dead. The absurd climax does at least explain half the title, but the contrast to the opening 40 minutes suggests some people are better off cannibalising other movies.

Dir: Daisuke Gotoh
Star: Yohko Saito, Shizuka Ochi, Kristin Norton, Tetta Sugimoto