Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Emanuelle Around the World

So I'm nowhere near completing my education on the Emanuelle movies, mainly those commonly referred to as the Black Emanuelle movies, that starred the lovely, the seductive, the incredibly sexy, Laura Gemser. (I can't help but wondering what she looks like today. Has she aged gracefully? Does she look like a sexy grandma or has she aged really badly and is basically unrecognizable? She should make convention appearances, but then at which conventions would she appear? Vintage sleaze sexploitation conventions? God, please let there be something like that invented just for me. Anyway, I'm rambling.) I think Emanuelle Around the World is like the fifth one staring Ms. Gemser that I've watched so far and I'm totally hooked. I started with Emanuelle in America, directed by Joe D'Amato and Emanuelle Around the World is also directed by D'Amato so it bears many similarities. I can't wait to see some of the other films she starred in for D'Amato because they seem to be a bit more wild than the ones he didn't direct, namely Emanuelle on Taboo Island and Sister Emanuelle, which is more from another girl's perspective that it is from Emanuelle's. Again, I digress. 
Emanuelle is a jet-set photo-journalist famous for uncovering 'shocking' events, namely those events involving sexy scenarios (and some not so sexy but involving sex, which I'll get to in a second). This outing, she's off to uncover white slavery prostitution rings in a variety of exotic locales. More digression, I did watch this over two sittings, one late at night, having drunken several glasses of wine, the second being the next morning with a bit of a hangover. Anyway, she goes to Rome and manages to get invited to a party where this prostitution ring is operated. One things leads to another, and she's bound and gagged about to be raped by the 'boss,' a deformed man with a burnt looking face and a yellowed over eye. She is squirming around too much so the 'boss' selects another nubile young thing and rapes her instead of our titular heroine, if you could call Emanuelle a heroine, but I might get to that later, too. Then, the prostitution ring gets busted up by an phone call aptly placed by a young man Emanuelle had enlisted for this very task. She repays him  by having sex with him in a closet on his father's yacht while his stepmother has sex with her female maid in the main cabin. 
Then I fell asleep. And it was hard to remember where I left off. So....when I started to write this review, I couldn't remember every single detail so from here on out, I'll just list what I think is important. 
Next, Emanuelle visits a Indian guru. She witnesses, and briefly participates, in a giant orgy. I don't know how much of this has to do with white slavery, or if that was even mentioned. The scenes are totally hardcore at this point. So much for that softcore shit, right? This is what I love about Emanuelle movies. I cannot imagine an age where you could go to a theatre, sit in the dark, and watch a movie like Emanuelle Around the World with a bunch of other people jacking off around you. I was born too late I often think. I would have loved to walk up to a box office, purchase a ticket for a film, and be treated to something like this. Because wait, it gets weirder, more hardcore, and bestial. I wonder what other people's reactions to this would have been. And granted, there are a lot more hardcore films out there, especially now, than D'Amato's seventies take on the genre, if you could call pornography a genre, but this is where all that started, right? These are famous, artsy pornos, essentially. 
Anyway....of course Emanuelle manages to fuck the guru and check out his Kama Sutra school, a surreal collection of images of women in varying positions with giant stone penises. Fast forward a bit...
Emanuelle's in Macau and she winds up during her pursuit of yet another prostitution ring, in the hands of Chang. She tells Chang she wants to make a lot of money and Chang ties her up and forces her to watch a few acts that might ensure her employment with his organization. For instance, a bound girl is treated to milk being poured about her most private of areas and then a snake is released, because, according the expert Chang, this particular snake loves milk. He puts the snake inside her, she rolls around in horror/feigned ectasy, and Chang laughs maniacally. This all goes on waaaaaaaaay to long for my taste, and when that subsides, another bound girl is raped by a German shepard, again set to the tune of Chang's maniacal laughter. Before a similar fate can befall Emanuelle, her reporter lady friend busts in and shoots up the place. There is talk that the dog is still aroused and should be unleashed on Chang, but alas, we aren't treated to that image. 
Having white slavery as the story arc, you end up with lots of different kinds of sex. It's such a great premise for a movie like Emanuelle Around the World because appeals to whatever you might be into. It's got lesbian stuff, animal stuff, rape fetish stuff, softcore, hardcore, sex with fruit, you name it, it's in there, at least in this one and when she's in America. Since it's Emanuelle that is taking us around the world, she is spared from the violence herself. She always manages to elude her captors and fornicates with who she deems appropriate. No harm comes to her and she is free to continue her work exposing injustices to woman and expressing herself sexually as she pleases. But that's just it, she exposes these injustices, but what does she do to help the women that these fates have been bestowed upon? Sure, she frees the girls involved in Chang's bestiality, but by merely just exposing white slavery rings, she doesn't really DO anything or make any comment about the wrongness of what she has seen or been involved in. She takes pictures of these events with her hidden bracelet camera, and she fucks a bunch of men and women, but can she really be seen in a feminist light? Sure, it's the swinging seventies and she does what she wants when she wants to, but refrains from actually having an opinion on any issues whatsoever. 
Curious even still is her ability to infiltrate these organizations and webs of crime. She always gives her real name, her bracelet camera is painfully obvious, and many times, tells people her occupation and intent to uncover the operations. At one point, a guy involved in a harem says, oh yeah, look, it's those American lady reporters. They're famous the world over. People know Emanuelle and her reputation in these movies, so why do they keep letting her into their brothels, Kama Sutra schools, orgies and parties? Because they want to fuck her too, I suppose. She exudes sex so everyone just must do as she says in any circumstance. 
Perhaps I'm searching for depth where there isn't much? Emanuelle is beautiful and exotic, I get it. These films contain sexual scenarios for whatever it is that may turn ya on. With the international locations, the film seems more expensive and better than it actually is. The fashion is absolutely superb in that great seventies way. And like I said before, I'm quite smitten with these films and the era in which they were made right now. I won't make any judgments right now about whether or not Emanuelle is the seventies spokeswoman for feminism or anything, but she's fun to watch, if nothing else. And I've got my work cut out for me. There are a lot of Emanuelle movies out there. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Between my vicious, violent hangover yesterday (seriously, I still feel it and it's like two days later-box wine and stella! do not mix!), figuring out why I still pay private mortgage insurance after owning my house for over five years (try wrapping a hungover brain around escrow and tax information), and the excitement of the inauguration, I nearly forgot to post this lovely, lovely still from Them!, 1954's wonderful atomic giant ant movie. I saw this still over at Boing Boing, immediately LOL'ed, and posted it to my own damn blog. Number 6 is of particular interest, especially the part about unnatural things alive or dead. I think had this been my own newsboard, unnatural living or dead things would take priority over the theft of sugar, sweets, or syrups. But that's just me. Which is more important? Flying saucers or migration of wild life? Perhaps this list isn't in order of importance. We all need to keep these things, and more, in mind when dealing with giant ants invading our human sphere. Just a reminder, I guess. I love it all the same.  If I had any photoshop skills at all, I would add tattooed, crazy cat ladies with a penchant for horror movies to the board. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It's Alive! Alive!

Well, It's Alive III: Island of the Alive isn't necessarily 'alive' and if by alive, I mean, interesting enough to capture my attention while I watched it without reverting to the internet or idle gossip on the phone while it played out. I mean, it's not without its merits. I actually quite love love love the first installment. It solidified Larry Cohen as one of my all time favorite directors, at least until I learned he was responsible for Captivity. He had actually fallen off my radar long before Captivity, but still. I like his early crap, especially It's Alive and The Stuff, and to a lesser extent, Q, the Winged Serpent. And God Told Me To is also decent. But the only thing you need to know about It's Alive III is the above still. Mutant babies all grown up. And breeding! And in love! Enough said! 

Monday, January 12, 2009

I Heart Vincent Price

I heart Vincent Price. I especially heart this picture of Vinnie from the Batman series. I vaguely have a recollection of him playing Egghead on the Batman series with Adam West, but no actual episodes stick out. I used to reeeeeaaaallly love watching Batman on syndicated television as a kid. One summer I actually got up early every day to watch Batman and Gilligan's Island after that. I think I must've been around nine years old. I was so fucking pissed when school started that fall and I wasn't going to be able to get my daily Batman and Gilligan fix. It was the beginning of a lifetime of addictions. I quit my Batman habit, it wasn't easy, let me tell you, but substituted it with other things, and now look where I'm at. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Satan's Little Helper

I'm a little late with this post about Satan's Little Helper. I initially watched this movie over the Christmas holidays and I wanted to post about it then, but was watching other stuff and posting (and not posting) about those movies, that Satan's Little Helper got pushed to the wayside. I wanted to post about over the holidays because it kind of has a holiday-sounding name, but it's not a Christmas movie, it's a Halloween movie, but whatever. 
So from my notes, here is my review. 
It's Halloween night and little Dougie can't wait for his sister to arrive home from college to help him go trick or treating. However, his sis, Jenna, brings home her boyfriend, Alex, much to Dougie's dismay. Apparently he wants to marry Jenna eventually (and their mom doesn't really discourage this idea!), and he's very jealous of Alex. So Dougie goes out on his own, meets a guy in a Satan mask (from his favorite video game - I'll get to that in a second), and, since he's dressed as Satan's helper, from the same video game, he asks 'Satan' if he can help him on his Halloween activities. Unbeknownst to Dougie, Satan is running around town really offing people. And it turns out to be quite a fun ride, at least for a time. 
It's an idea I've played around with before. I say that Halloween is every day for people like myself (well, I don't go around killing people in a rubber satan mask, but). I never take the decorations down and I've pretty much always been spooky. I don't like to have people over to my house to clean the carpets or fix the water heater outside of the month of October, because they get weirded out. Is that a coffin you have as a coffee table? Is that a real human skull. So yeah, I love Halloween BECAUSE you can get away with anything spooky, weird, devilish,  whatever, but just really for that one night.  So really, the killer in the mask, or whatever he is, Satan, some weirdo, we never find out (which is something I like about this film), is kind of like a kid in a candy store, he can run around all night and kill people and put them into gruesome scenarios and have moms and kids come up and take his picture for a job spookily well done. 
After his killing spree, he'll have to disappear or whatever, but for that one night, until someone catches on, he's free to do whatevs. He's totally unrecognizable, he even wears Satan hands to cover up fingerprints, and he never speaks, so no one would notice him from his voice. Murderous rampage is kinda justified here. 
And I haven't yet mentioned that Jeff Lieberman directed this movie! Jeff Lieberman, director of Squirm, one of my all time favorite creature-invading-the-human-sphere subgenre of 1970's drive in movies. I mean, Squirm this movie is not, it is like three decades later, it's a totally different movie, time, Lieberman is probably a totally different person from when he directed Squirm, but still! I love Squirm! So I probably like SLH a lot more just for the fact that Lieberman was the director. I actually listened to him on the commentary for a few minutes, and he's actually pretty boring.
Anysquirm, I really like the concept as I've said, I like the idea and it's played for laughs, at least in the first two acts. There's a particularly memorable scene of Dougie and Satan in a shopping center parking lot. Dougie is in the cart and Satan is pushing. They run over a pregnant lady, a lady with a baby, some old people, all the while Dougie's screaming, 50 points! 100 points! Like the video game, get it. 
Which brings me to the discussion of the video game - the representations of it in the movie are freaking god-awful. They look like a flash cartoon designed by a person who has never used flash. I'm not saying my computer animation generation abilities are anything, but damn, I've never used flash and I could probably do better. It looks so super cheap, couldn't they have just used something from a really old video game or something? I don't know the licensing rights or anything about stuff like that, but seriously, the video game representations in this are downright inexcusable. Luckily, we don't get to see many. 
Also, the last act of the movie is a big, big disappointment. It totally looses that blackly comedic edge from the first two acts. It becomes complete mayhem in the town, once Jenna and Dougie realize what's really going on (Satan kills their dad). And Dougie keeps acting like a complete moron, I mean, wouldn't he be the least bit leary of another guy in a mask after a masked murderer kills is dad right in front of him? But no, when Satan shows up in a Jesus mask (!), Dougie welcomes him in with open arms. Come on, Dougie, use your head now! Shouldn't you find out who is really behind the mask after the course of the events that just took place? There's nothing to indicate Dougie might be slow in the brains, I guess we can just chalk it up to the material. 
It's a shame, because I could seriously recommend this movie, if not for the ending, which BTW drags on waaaay to long, about 25-30 minutes too long. I felt myself wanting to fast forward, because you could kinda tell what was about to go down. I needed to finish it as quickly as possible because I needed to pick Christian up from work anyway. 
The practical effects were good, actually quite excellent, intestines being tied to a chair strait from the gut, anyone? And some really funny set pieces as Satan goes around the town on his spree. 
The movie also has some overt (so much so it was an accident?) social commentary on the effect of violent video games on children or what is appropriate for children to be exposed to in popular media as well as a decent performance from veteran weirdo Amanda Plummer as Dougie and Jenna's mom. Cool concept, decent setup, but it just couldn't' quite pull it off. Total shame because I wish I could be recommending this to everyone as one of those overlooked gems from the last five years or so (the release date I noted for this movie was 2004). 
I've got some Emmanuelle movies lined up as well as another recent outing (from 2006), Big Bad Wolf. 

Monday, January 5, 2009

Alien Blood

My review of Alien Blood is mostly a series of questions in no particular order. This review will likely make as much sense as the movie itself. That should give some indicator of how the experience of watching the movie was for christian and me. These were the questions we wrote down about halfway through this god awful piece of shit.
Quick plot synopsis: An alien is here on earth with her child and she's pregnant and there's another alien here too, with her child, but she's not pregnant and that alien and her child get killed by some men with guns so the pregnant alien takes refuge in Dracula's house. I'm serious.

Why is Dracula named James?
Why is the alien speaking French?
Why do bullets kill James? Isn't he a vampire?
Why are the vampires afraid of the aliens? They're vampires. (I come back to this one - the vampires act so freakin un-vamp like. They have fangs, that's about all. They don't drink blood, appear to be affected by crosses, they even celebrate Christmas, for crying out loud! There's a Christmas tree in their house! They drink wine and are all around wusses. James takes a bullet and falls dead. Whatever happened to beheading or the stake through the heart?! They vampires, people! Vampires. Vampires are the badasses of the monster world. They are, by my account anyway, much, much more badass than an french-speaking pregnant alien with a tiny handgun.)
Is the alien male or female? Both? (It clearly looks like a dude in a wig and there's very little dialogue, except for the French stuff, which could have been dubbed in.)
Why are the men following the aliens? Who are the men? Who are the aliens? Why are they here anyway? Why is it new year's eve?
What the hell was that? (This was Christian's question in reference to a completely random shot of a forest and bagpipe music softly playing in the background. This was a question that is asked at least fourteen hundred times throughout the course of the one hour twenty minute running time.)
Again, vampires are acting un-vampire like - how is it they can be out during the day?
Why, why, why, any of this? Seriously.
I was lying in bed after we watching this fucking thing, and I was laughing to the point of tears. One reviewer on Netflix commented: Alien Blood? More like Alien Vomit. I couldn't stop thinking about this movie. The thing about it was, we really enjoyed watching it. We laughed, we were confused, but we had a good time. I don't think I've seen a movie this bad EVER. Worse than Manos, Hands of Fate, worse that Eegah. I don't think MST3K could have done a number on this one, it's that freakin horrible. I know, I watch a lot of stuff, some good, some utter crap, some so-bad-they're-good movies, and some so-bad-i-want-to-rip-my eyes-out bad. This was neither. I was able to watch it and it's been fun writing this 'review' of it, so I can't say I want that hour and twenty back from my life. I often feel this way if I see a mainstream or blockbuster movie, like it was a complete waste of my time. Most movies today don't require half the discussion we bestowed upon Alien Blood. This one really needed a good deconstruction because there was no discernable reason for anything that happened. We really should make our own damn movie, as Lloyd Kaufman (Troma is actually responsible for distributing Alien Blood, and this is bad even by their standards) tells us, because anything, anything could be better. But maybe not as much fun. Because a bad movie is a good time.
Couple other things to note about Alien Blood: There is a CGI alien 'mother' (maybe?) that the aliens sometimes communicate with, sort of, possibly telepathically. But in one scene, a vampire may or may not communicate with her/him? Who knows.
And also, the pregnant alien does get her ass killed at the end (sorry, spoiled the ending for ya there) at the exact moment when the mothership arrives to carry her and her daughter away. Well, she's lying there dead and they get the daughter, the alien priestesses aboard the ship get the daughter, and they leave the alien there in the Dracula house, to die. Christian's question and possibly my favorite of the whole experience, Why can't they psychically lift her body into the space ship? Now tell me the last time that question left your mouth or the next time it might.
So yeah, Alien Blood. I'm sorry. Actually, no I'm not. I'm not sorry for this at all. I'm proud of this. Well, maybe not my rambling review of sorts, but for a movie like Alien Blood to actually get made, there has to be someone to instill pride, right? Or not. Watch if you dare. Or if you are very, very high.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Schoolgirl Report #1: What Parents Don't Think is Possible

Nothing quite says New Year's Eve celebration quite like a 1970's-era German sexploitation flick masked as an educational film. Thus, I spent a quiet New Year's at home with the bf watching said movie - The Schoolgirl Report #1 (quick search - found out there's ten of these bad boys - and that they were wildly popular for a time, at least in their native land).
The film is set up like so - Renate (sp?) and her classmates are on a school trip to a witness all the thrills and excitements the power plant has to offer, and as interesting as that all sounds, Renate sneaks back to the bus to lay the bus driver. She's discovered by the matronly school marm, and a council is called in order to discuss what to do with Renate. Expulsion? But she only has a month left until graduation? She's a good student, what do we do, besides sit here and ring our hands? She admitted she doesn't love the bus driver. Sex without love!? What is this crazy concept?How, oh how, do we, the parents, makes sense of all this craziness?! Enter a psychologist man to explain (and defend!) Renate's behavior, and he does so super-sexily with eight erotic vignettes involving other teens from Renate's class. 
In one, a young girl pictures two horses getting it on, begins masturbating next to her sleeping younger sister, when mom walks in and catches her, and, you got it, shames her for it. Another has two teens meet up with two 'hot' studs (hot in quotes because this is very subject to opinion) and have sex with them at a construction site with hilarious results. One couple relegates themselves to sitting on a wheelbarrow filled with some sort of white liquid, which splashes all over the other couple, in the throws of passion by some pipes. 'How am I supposed to get an orgasm now?!,' the hot stud complains. A third has a lovely try and seduce a priest with her cleavage revealing blouse, only to have her advances rebuked for not being sincere. Another involves a tryst in a pool, only to result in an unwanted pregnancy. 
The film is clearly sexploitation. However, the softcore is interspersed with real scenes of women being interviewed on the street about their ideas towards sex in the 20th century. Do they engage in sex without love? Would they ever be paid for sex? Do they have boyfriends? Etc. and on down the line. Most of the women are young, but like the actresses in the movie, appear to be over 18. Most are very forward thinking in their attitudes about sex. They speak of sexual encounters candidly and openly. They admit to having sex outside of love, of relationships, to masturbating. They seemingly have no problem being women in this sense. But there is a morality to this film. And I'm making it seem much more forward and ahead of it's time than it is. It is actually quite a (gasp!) conservative film. A conservative sexploitation film, you ask? Sure....
There are consequences to our actions as some of the vignettes indicate. In very few of the scenes, do the women actually seem to be enjoying themselves, at least not in the sense of maybe they weren't very good actresses to begin. (Often when a film is in its native language and I have to read subtitles, I don't pay as much attention to the performance. Does this make sense? It's especially true when I watch Japanese movies and I don't watch a lot of German films but yeah, maybe they aren't good actresses or I'm just not paying attention like I should. Anyway....it didn't look like the ladies were having a particularly good time, with the exception of maybe Renate in the frame story.) Even thru the most eyebrow-raising scenes (the horse love masturbatory one in particular really struck a cord), there is a certain tenderness here, especially the last scene about virginity, the conclusion being maybe it really is better when you're actually in love. Some of the women interviewed admit to having STD's and seeming somewhat ashamed of it, laughing it off eventually. The film occupies its own dual universe - at one measure it is outrageous, defiant, even anti-authority, and in another educationally minded and sincere. 
The film began as a book- a best seller in Germany in 1969. It was kind of like the German version of Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask). This humble beginning, as it were, lends the film a further conservative, if not even clinical vibe. What is masking as a nudie film is actually a smart take on a slice of life, it gives us a glimpse of the impetuous youth of the 1970's. Softcore sleaze aside, I'm going to call this a cultural artifact. Maybe not a super important one, but a cultural artifact nonetheless. 
Whoa, I didn't think it would arrive at that, but it has and I'm going to try to track down the rest of these (which I think is the first thing I've actually resolved to do for the new year, being one that doesn't really dispense with a lot of silly resolutions every year). I'm sure they get worse, and loose the edge of this one, as it so often happens, but I like it when my vintage smut turns out to be socially conscious. Well, I guess I like it now, since I think this is the first time it's happened. My smut being socially conscious, that is.