Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Black Mama, White Mama Review: Revolution, and the Women Who Struggle

If you're looking for a mild version of exploitation to get a feel for the genre of general schlock cinema, while having it not make you feel too awkward, then Black Mama, White Mama is the film that you're looking for. This is tagged as a WIP (women in prison) movie, but in reality, less than 20 minutes of this movie actually takes place in a prison, and it ends up being a women in fields movie as they run across the countryside trying to escape. We do get a shower scene, and some chick fights, but I wouldn't really consider it a WIP movie.

I've also heard this referred to as a blaxploitation film. It really isn't because there is one black character in the movie (Pam Grier), and she isn't trying to "stick it to the man." She just wants to take her money and leave the island. So, I wouldn't really consider this a blaxploitation movie either. If you want a Pam Grier blaxploitation movie, then look for Coffy or Foxy Brown.

Let's take a look at Black Mama, White Mama.

People to Know
Pam Grier - Defying the
man since 1949
Lee Daniels - The black mama. She's a hooker with a heart of gold, that just wants to escape from the island with the money that she stole from her pimp. She don't talk no jive.

Karen Brent - The white mama. She has revolution in her blood, and will stop at nothing to achieve whatever vague goal she has.

Ruben - He's a cowboy just trying to get by in whatever country they are all in. He's a pimp, a dealer, and a general badass. Ruben runs the vice in his portion of the island, and he is arch enemies with Vic.

Vic - A big boss, pimp, and dealer on the island, who electrocutes his hos when they try to run. Lee stole $40000 from him, and is trying to escape with it. Vic is out to let her know that he ain't no punk.

Matron Densmore - She's a strict no-nonsense guard, who has a thing for nearly all of her prisoners. Lee ain't havin that!

Captain Cruz - Semi-bumbling police captain that is trying to track down Daniels and Brent. He enlists the help of Ruben.

Enesto - Gee, could he be the leader of the revolutionaries?

And the Story Goes...
We begin our cautionary tale with our two leads being bussed in to join the dance squad at their new home...a Filipino prison! (at least it might be a Filipino prison. We never know where the movie takes place.) They're both lean, mean, authority fighting mamas who I know won't take no crap from the Warden. Oh dear, the anticipation of their interactions with each other while in prison is almost too much to bear.
Prison for women is fun. I can't wait for the pillow fight! 

After a fight or two between the mamas, the women end up in the oven without shirts. For those of you who don't know, "the oven" is a large steel box that is barely large enough for two people, and the mamas are placed in solitary confinement together in this box to help them work out their issues. It's slightly less cruel and unusual than forcing level-headed people listen to Bill O'Reilly for hours on end. The Matron has enough of the feisty gals after one unsuccessful attempt sex with Lee, and a possible successful attempt with Karen. Since the Matron isn't getting laid, her and the Worden decide that it might be time for transfer.

During our transit to the big city, Lee's freedom loving revolutionaries attack the convoy in an effort to rescue the young vixen. They ultimately fail, because if they didn't the movie would probably end. Though, our heroines are able to escape during the madness, and run off. The mamas decide that yet another unproductive chick fight is necessary before they make the decision to work together and escape.

The Matron likes to watch young girls shower
more than Hillary Clinton.
So, after obstacles, mishaps, and topless Asian girls giving pedicures, our heroines are forced into one final confrontation with everybody in order to achieve their goals of obtaining freedom.

All-in-all, this is a fairly entertaining movie, and the mamas are very creative when it comes to the use of costumes and seduction throughout their odyssey of escape. Norwegian scholars have concluded that nun costumes are the perfect outfits for escaped convicts, and the mamas must be privy to this analysis. Personally, I didn't find Black Mama, White Mama to be that slow, but I have a pretty high tolerance to slow paced film (compared to most film-goers these days).

Sid Haig was especially funny playing Ruben the cowboy gang leader. I have no idea where this movie is supposed to take place, and he seems so culturally out of place in his bright blue cowboy outfit, and always blaring country music.

The mamas are both good in playing their roles, and I thought that they played off of each other well. The black person and white person being forced to overcome their differences is nothing new to cinema, but I didn't think that it felt stale in Black Mama, White Mama. This movie doesn't come across as preachy, which is good, and is pretty much just an action film.

Sid Haig -  Checkin' peckers since 1939
If you're looking for pure exploitation, this isn't it. I guess it could technically be called a WIP movie, but I wouldn't consider it so because only a fraction of the film takes place in prison. It's a fun movie though, and I would recommend if you like Fred Olen Ray type pointless nudity and action.

Things Learned

  • Women's prison is much different from men's prisons. Shower time isn't scary for them!
  • Female prisoners have to wear short pink and yellow dresses in prison.
  • Louis takes what he want, when he wants.
  • If you are following a cowboy and he notices, then he will force you pull your pants down so he can check you business. 
  • Ladies of the night consider themselves to be revolutionists. 
Previous: Machete Review

Monday, December 13, 2010

Machete Movie Review: The Best Action Movie to be Released in September of 2010

Robert Rodriguez is a hit or miss director for me. He is capable of making really entertaining, though mostly mindless, movies that serve no other purpose than looking cool and throwing out nonstop action. Then, he is able to turn around and make some horribly mindless (in a bad way) dribble.  Machete falls somewhere between the cool and the crappy to give us a fairly forgettable modernized version of exploitation. That's not to say that Machete is horrible, because it isn't, but it just doesn't have that fresh magic that Desperado or From Dusk til Dawn had.

And the Story Goes...
Machete is an ex Federale whose wife was killed by Torrez, a kingpin. Machete was left for dead as Torrez's men set the house he is in on fire. He ultimately escapes, and is now living in the States as a day laborer.

While Machete is looking for work for the day, he is approached and asked by a man that works with Torrez to kill a senator. He is forced into doing the job, but is double crossed. He spends the rest of the film searching for those that set him up so that he can get revenge. He ends up working with Luz, a woman that helps Mexicans cross the border, and finds them work and housing, and Sartana, an immigration and customs officer.

Together, they uncover a conspiracy to get a certain anti-immigration senator elected so that a fence can be erected on the border. An it comes down to fisticuffs!

The Good
Michelle Rodriguez - Missing an eye
and a shirt.
As far as the actors are concerned, most good, and some are bad  (mainly one is bad one). Trejo is cool, and delivers as always. It's nice to see him get star billing after all these years of playing character bits in the background. He's a pretty charasmatic dude, and is still able to play the hardcore role at 66 years of age. It's pretty impressive. Seagal, Cheech, Fahey and De Niro were all great and clearly having fun with this one. Michelle Rodriguez is good, though she's playing the same "tough girl" role that she does in every movie that she's in.

The action is pretty cool, and in true Rodriguez style, the weapons get pretty creative. There's a scene where Machete is in the hospital after being shot. Some henchmen come in to kill him, and he is forced to create some makeshift weapons from hospital surgical tools (?), and take them all out. Personally, I would have never thought of cutting a man's stomach open, and using his intestines as a rappel rope. But now, I know what to do if I'm ever in a similar situation.

The Bad
Lindsay Lohan - Ruining movies since
I have a distaste for Lindsay Lohan, probably because of her real life persona, and she's pretty much playing herself in this. I'm not even exaggerating. She's some skinny cracked out rich girl that apparently makes internet adult videos with her mother. Here's the kicker though, she is constantly covered with hair, or positioned so that you never see her body when she's supposed to be nude. It's just dumb to be in something where the character is supposed to be nude, but refusing toactually play it nude. Honestly, you can't tell me that she believes that she is too classy to go topless.

If you're in any way concerned about Mexicans crossing the border illegally, then be prepared to be preached to. There's no question about the director's stance on the subject. Personally, I'm more concerned the baby boomer's greedy destruction of America. This wouldn't even be an issue if we didn't send our jobs everywhere in the first place. That's all for my soapbox.

One thing that irritates me to no end, and this pertains to movies in general, is the constant use of Ave Maria when violence is going, or is about to go down. It's been done over and over, and it isn't really clever. There are plenty of other beautiful songs out there to choose from if you want to contrast beauty with destruction.

Basically, I would say that this is an ok movie. Is it great? Eh. But, it definitely has some cool moments in it. I like seeing Steven Seagal as the villain, instead of the usual silent hero that he always plays. I wish he would've been in it more. And, for the most part, everybody does well, and has fun with their roles. It does run slow at times, but I didn't find it to be too much of a problem because the action that is in the movie is really good.

Steven Segal - Mexican Samurai since 1986
If you like over the top action, like Shoot 'Em Up, then I think that you would probably find this to be an entertaining movie, unless they are overly sensitive about immigration. If you don't care, Machete is a decent enough action flick. I still prefer Desperado over Machete, but it's tough to beat that one anyways.

And as a bonus, you get some hot chicks to look at in case you start to get bored.

See it, but rent it before you buy it.

Previous: Chrome and Hot Leather

Friday, December 10, 2010

Chrome and Hot Leather Review: Featuring the Nerdiest Green Berets This Side of the Mississip

Not to be mucked with. 
If you're down with bikersploitation, then boy I have a treat for you today. Of course I'm talking about Lee Frost's 1971s Chrome and Hot Leather! Maybe it's not a perfect movie, but it does have chrome in it, and I think one of the guys in the gang wears a leather coat (most of them wear denim)!

Let's take a look at some of the least biker-ish bikers ever filmed, and how Chrome and Hot Leather contributed to cinema, and ultimately changed the bikersploitation genre.

What's makes this movie different?
Marvin Gaye is in this bad boy! His weapon of choice? The voice of an angel.

Anyways, People To Know

Mitch - A Green Beret whose fiancée was (accidentally) murdered by a (not really) vicious biker gang. He needs revenge, and he needs it now. This guy is so straight laced that Joe Friday would tell him to loosen up.

This magic moment
when I was menacing you
will last forever
forever, 'til the end of time
Jim - Mitch's friend. He's not afraid to ask the question "What's going on?"

T.J. - A large armed biker who often makes statements that don't seem to be true. He'll say things such as "we don't want trouble," or "I'm happy to see you," but you can't help but think that he in fact does want trouble, and is not happy to see you. Also, he does not like noise in the room when he's "menacing someone."

Casey - T.J.'s fellow biker. He smashes Mitch's fiancées windshield with a chain as she's driving down the road. She ultimately drives off of a cliff in true 1970s fashion, and he claims it was an accident. That's just dumb.

Mike - He's controls munitians, and in no way follows protocol.

We're playing G.I.s and Vietcong(s) again? Aw, but I
was the Vietcong last time. 
And the Story Goes...

We begin with Mitch, Jim, and the gang watching some army guys playing the Vietnam equivalent of "Cowboys and Indians." After comparing notes and determining that they probably wouldn't win the Vietnam war, they vow to be hypocritical, and to force their children to endure the same type of situation in the Middle East based on greed, preferably during the the 00s. For the younger readers out there, it is not uncommon for baby boomers to be completely self-centered and greedy. Often you will find them exploit even friends and family to get ahead.

Anyways, we move back to the States to see Mitch's fiancée and her friend being harassed by a biker gang as they are driving down the road. The two try to escape by turning down a road, but "Casey the obsessive biker" decides he will not be rejected by the young beauties, and turns back to run them off of the road, thus killing them.

Look kids, a 1970s "driving off a cliff" shot. This is when
movies were fun. Real cars, real cliffs, real hookers promised
a shot a fame. Ah, times have changed.
Mitch gets word that his fiance has been killed by the vicious biker gang, and comes back to the States with his beret buddies. It's time to track down some outlaws, and to judo-chop some heads.

So, what's the best way to track down and infiltrate a gang of Harley riding outlaws? Buy Kawasakis, and Village People costumes, of course. And it sort of works! Based on their research, Estonian scientist have concluded that bikers can smell a cop a mile away, except when they ride a Kawasaki and dressed as a construction worker.

Eventually Mitch is discovered to be in the army by the gang, and is beat by "large-armed T.J." His Beret buddies are able to track him down, and he is ultimately rescued.

Mitch and his boys somehow are able to get weapons from one of their army buddies who just gives them a ton of stuff. I don't mean a handgun, or a riffle. We're talking dynamite, smoke grenades, mini-rockets and a bunch of other explosives. You'd think that they were invading Canada with the way that they're loading up on bombs.

We enter the final confrontation. Amazingly, there are no deaths in the battle, in spite of the fact that the Berets blow up entire mountains. The Green Berets, through strategy and ingenuity, are able to defeat the bikers and take them to wherever they plan on taking them. Roll credits


That's Marvin folks. 
Eh, there's nothing special. It's not even "so bad it's funny." It's just kind of boring. The only funny parts are from William Smith (T.J.), who actually is pretty good in this. Marvin Gaye is cool too, but everybody else is just kind of there.

In spite of the images that the title would make you think about, there aren't any steamy scenes. I would expect some of that in a bikersploitation movie. It was the 70s for crying out loud. Streaking was all the rage.

The bikers themselves are just kind of lame, and the Berets are lamer. The bikers are impressively not intimidating in the least. They seem like after school special bikers, instead of down and dirty hardcore bikers. They make renegade look masculine.

I don't really recommend Chrome and Hot Leather unless you're a hardcore __sploitation fan. Or you want to see William Smith or Marvin Gaye handling their business.

Things I learned   
  • When a woman says she wants to talk, talk, and talk some more, she doesn't really mean that she wants to talk.
  • Bikers fight like the villains in the Adams West Batman series.
  • Marvin Gaye should've been in more movies. 
  • Bikers don't actually want to hurt people, they just like to sass back. 
  • Draft dodgers love to play pinball. 

Previous: Encino Man Review

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ecino Man Review: The Comedy That Was the Voice of a Generation

Hey kids, if you ever want to see what the 90s looked like, or at least how the generation perceived themselves to be, then look no further than Encino Man. You won't find any ground breaking cinematography, or a deep story trying to say something. But, you will get pure stupid early 90s comedy geared for Gen Xers, before Pauly "The Weasel" Shore was completely shunned by both Hollywood and audiences.

What sets this movie apart from all of the other fast editing, unnecessary-sound-effects laden movies of the late 80s and early 90s? Well, Ecino Man has a caveman in it, of course. Let's take a look at this wonderful character study.

People To Know

Dave - Dave is the typical self-absorbed nerd that is constantly seeking popularity. This not an uncommon trait for the offspring of the greedy generation that destroyed any notion of personal values and responsibilities, and ultimately ruined America by singing multiple free trade agreements and sending our jobs overseas, thus destroying our economy, and now our generation has to deal with it...the baby boomers.

Link - A caveman that was frozen in ice for thousands of years, only to be dug up and exploited by Dave. He's one of the more thought provoking characters in the movie. 

-My career only has about 2 years left.
-It's ok Weasel. You've made it this far without any real talent.
Maybe you can put a show together with Screech.
Stoney - Stoney is the pretty much the exact same character that Shore played in every other t.v. show and  movie that he was in. Somehow, he seems to really be on the level of a caveman, and it really works here. Kudos. 

Hi, my name is Matt Wilson. I will be representing
the Billy Zabka-esque character of our film.
Robyn - The popular girl that Dave has been obsessing over since childhood. We know this from the picture he proudly displays of him and her in the bathtub together as children. She's either completely clueless or just a real biznitch because when Dave asks her out, she declines, then immediately request that he ask his friend to go with her instead. Seriously? 

Matt Wilson - The man that Robyn is kind-of dating. He hates Dave, and has a real penchant from discussing people urinating on each others gums. He would later pioneer the __ girls __ cup phenomenon.

And the Story Goes... 

We begin with cavepeople (don't want to be sexist) stiring bowls, and trying to start fires. Suddenly an earthquake strikes, and the caveman falls out of his cave, an into a block of ice. Luckily, the human body is in no way complex, and freezing it in an uncontrolled environment will always allow the person to be revived in the future with nothing more than a couple of space heaters, almost certainly without fail. 

Before we move on, I would like to give a little bit of a history lesson to the younger readers out there. You see, in the early 90s, if you were considered a nerd, then you would always resort to digging swimming pools in your parent's back yard. This would help others see that you were cool. The act dates back to prehistoric times when usefulness was a virtue. (do I smell juxtaposition?)

The honeys love spite of the fact that he
looks like Yahoo Serious. And, that's a fact!  
Moving along, Dave is demonstrating our innate prehistoric coping mechanism in his parent's backyard, whilst Stoney watches. Our two lovable ne'er do well main characters inevitably discover a caveman. So, what would the obvious decision be if you found a caveman in your backyard, and you were able to successfully resuscitate him? Why, enroll him into highs chool solely on the notion that he will help you to have all sorts of wacky adventures, and ultimately make you popular, of course.

But first, we need an 80s style montage of Link being cleaned up!

They end up being half right. Link does create some crazy high jinks for the duo as they make multiple failed attempts at becoming popular. Alas, it is only Link that ends up becoming popular, but he makes a few enemies along the way...namely Matt Wilson!

One aspect that I can praise about this film is the serious attitude that the director took when demonstrating that it is wrong to use the caveman that you found in your backyard to try to obtain fame. This is tough material to cover, and Dave and Stoney's dramatic conversation brings tears to my eyes, even today. This subject is long overdue for serious debate.

We finally wrap-up the motivational speeches on what friendship with cavemen really is, and move on to the final confrontation. Matt Wilson tells the entire school that Link isn't from Estonia (like Dave & Stoney always said), but is, in fact, an caveman. Oh dear! But, what will the students think?!

Well, if you're versed in 80s/90s films for young people, then you probably know the answer. They cheer!

After Stoney dumps punch on Matt Wilson's head whilst quoting his famous line "shoosh," we move on to happier times. Link is out of the closet, Dave and Stoney have finally achieved popularity, and now it's time for a stylish unrehearsed dance routine. It's amazing how the entire school know this dance without ever rehearsing...or even sharing ideas on the choreography.

The caveman dance
is your chance to do the cave

This is a fun movie. I thought it was goofy when I saw it as a kid, and I still think it's goofy now. Perhaps it has a bit of nostalgia for me, but I think that if you like some of the movies that I've reviewed up to this point, then you would probably like this. 

Give it a shot. And don't make that "I want the director to give me the 1.5 hours of my life back that I wasted on this stupid movie." It's old, and you probably don't have that much going on anyways.

What I learned from Encino Man:

  • Indians don't like when you weaze the ju-uice
  • Milk does the body good
  • If you are cornered by Mexicans, 5 to 1, then you should refer to their wives as "moldy cheese." Not only will they not jump you, but they will accept you as one of them
  • Estonians are famous for eating dog food...out of dog bowls...on the floor
  • Some ups pump, and some of us slump

Previous: All Souls Day

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

All Souls Day Review: A Testamete to the Horror Movies of the 00s

All Souls Day. The zombie genre
is reborn. Or not. 
Few can speak of the most influential horror movies of the 00s, and not mention All Souls Day. Ok, maybe that isn't completely true, but the gospel according to Jack specifically states "All Souls Day isn't the worst-eth movie produc-ed by man." So, there you have it.

Alright, I'll go into more detail. Director Jeremy Kasten, who you may know as the director of the remake of The Wizard of Gore, was given a fairly standard script, and he ultimately pushed out a fairly standard zombie movie. What's the difference with this one? The zombies are Mexican, of course!

People To Know

Alicia - The only person who speaks Spanish in the whole movie, in spite of the fact that it takes place entirely in Mexico. She has an incurable condition known as "the creeps."

Joss - Don't even ask. I've never hated a completely underdeveloped character the way that I hate this guy. You know that kid that warms the bench, but still thinks he's the stuff and acts like an ass because he's technically on the team? That's Joss.

Erica - Cheerleader bimbo. She's rich. We know that because it's mentioned about 7,291 times. I don't want to be mean, but I think that this actress may want to learn how to type. Acting doesn't seem to be her thing.

Tyler - A fairly unconvincing premed student that has to take care of things once Joss is injured. His other choice for a major was pre-law. This leads me to believe that he isn't really interested in becoming a doctor, but he instead just doesn't want to finish school. Why go for 4 years of nonstop drinking when you can go for 6 years of nonstop drinking?

Martia - Enigmatic inn keeper. This Laura Harring  from Mulholland Dr! How is this possible?! Maybe David Lynch was originally signed on to direct this?

Vargas Diaz - The villain, played by Danny Trejo. He's so important that he gets a surname. He's known for laying in bed and beating it while his subject is standing in the room with him. He hasn't perfected his stalking techniques, I guess.

And the Story Goes...

There is a prologue in the beginning, that really isn't important, about the White family who stops in this backwards little Mexican town while on vacation, and it ends with a bunch of screaming. The family is eliminated with the exception of the little crip boy for some reason.

Now the real story begins! We catch our first glimpse of our main characters, an interracial couple, a Mexican girl and a white American guy, who are going to visit her family on what happens be Dia De Los Muertos...The Day of the Dead! Oh Kasten, you're always pushing the envelope.

As they drive, they discuss important issues such as Mexican street name diversity, and the struggle that all interracial couples face.

You know, we're all alone out here in this desert. Your
emotions are probably running wild, and you know that you
don't really have a choice....because of the implication.
Throughout these dialogs we learn that Alicia is a sassy-streetwise Latina, who's always quick with a comeback. Oh, wait...that's a character that would've been fun to watch. Our Alicia is not really boring, but not somebody that you would want to watch for an 1.5 hours...aside from her physical appearance. She's just kind of there.

Joss is annoying. I know that in my review of The Wizards of the Demon Sword review I said that Damon is extremely annoying, but Joss blows that idiot out of the water. I don't even want to think about it.

Anyways, Joss is being his tarded self and is paying more attention to trying to make his "girlfriend" laugh than driving. Because of his constant search for attention and approval, he ends up driving into a funeral progression. The people in the progression want to not die, and end up dropping the casket into the street while jumping out of the way of the car. A living girl, whose tongue has been cut off, falls out, and a shifty eyed cop takes her to the station to help her. Meanwhile our favorite couple is stranded in this Mexican equivalent to a hick town until their car can be fixed. They seek shelter in the only inn in town, where they meet the enigmatic Martia.

Hi, I'm Laura Harring. My career started off good enough, but
 for some strange reason it plummeted, and now I'm forced to
act in low budget films like All Souls Day.
 How can I hep you today?
 As they find their way around the inn, strange things begin to happen. It's your standard low budge scare tactics such as little boys in the mirror's reflection, screaming, and bones in bread.

In spite of all that's happened, Jack-off-Joss decides that he is bored, and the best thing to do is call his friends Tyler and Erica to join them in Mexi-hell. They inevitably come, just in time for All Souls Day. It's a good thing that they do come because where else are we going to get our exposition?! I'm being serious, almost all the attempts at character development in this movie take place in this one scene where they arrive.

Oh, there's also a series of not-really-necessary flashbacks that let us know that Vargas Diaz was a bad man who destroyed all of the villagers of the small town for some reason decades ago. Trejo is Trejo, so I'm not going to be too judgmental of these scenes. I've always had a deep admiration for former-childhood-drug-addicts-turned-actors.

Back to the main story. It turns out that the tongueless girl was meant to be a sacrifice to appease some zombies that are cursed. Without her, the zombies will rise and kill everybody that lives in the town. Tongueless girl dies, and Alicia is taken as her replacement, but Joss saves her before the ceremony is finished. So, the zombies rise. Even when Joss tries to do good, he is annoying, and he screws things up.

The gang eventually gets trapped in the inn with a ton zombies roaming the streets. It's here that Erica displays her supernatural jumping/flying abilities that she learned in cheerleader camp(?). Luckily for us Joss is injured because a zombie thinks his leg "is a Bigmac." There is still hope for this movie!

Can the gang get out alive? Can they discover the secret of the zombies, and how to stop them? I don't want to give away too much, but just know that my dreams were shattered when a certain character does survive.

And for the record, I'm not really leaving too much out of the story here. This is pretty much it. There are a couple of scenes where the kids argue about Joss' possible transformation, and Erica's richness. But, it doesn't go much deeper than that.

What do you like to eat again?
The acting is somewhat uneven. Some were pretty decent, but some were not even almost good. I was really impressed at how well David Keith was able to deliver his monologue about how much he enjoys eating cats. I found it a little strange because we don't usually eat cats in Ameri....wait...what? He wasn't talking about cats?! 

Poor Laura Harring. That's all I got to say about that. 

Do I recommend? Sure. A dirty little secret that I like to keep is that I've seen this thing more than 10 times. It makes great background noise when you're trying to type up resumes, write blog posts, ignore your family, or find a job! 

It's stupid, but honestly what zombie movies aren't these days.   

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