Sunday, June 28, 2009

Vigilante (1983)

The story of “Vigilante” [1983] starts with Fred “The Hammer” Williamson (“Mean Johnny Barrows”) in an underground room, surrounded by several people. He starts to explain to them that he is sick and tired of being afraid at nights and how they need to take the streets back from the gangs.

The tone of the picture is officially set after this one shot.

Soon after, we see for ourselves exactly what Williamson was talking about.
This is the best “Death Wish” rip-off – one which even manages to surpass its inspiration.

What separates “Vigilante” from “Death Wish” is that William Lustig (”Relentless”) directed without concern for the box-office and attempted to see how far he could push the audience, resulting in a no holds barred film that manages to consistently shock its audience.

Simply put, it’s an exploitation masterpiece.

Robert Forster, (”Walking the Edge”), is an Oscar-nominated, underrated B-movie veteran who gives a brave and daring performance in “Vigiliante,” playing Eddie Marino, whose life is ruined after a gang of punks brutally murder his son and severely injure his wife. Although he continues to believe that the system will provide justice, a harsh reality proves just how corrupt society can be.

As stated earlier, Williamson’s character of Nick is sick and tired of seeing the trash run his neighborhood. He knows how unjust the system is and that is why he has taken the law into his own hands. He declares himself early on as “Judge, Jury and Executioner.”

Seeing Williamson distributing his own brand of justice to these punks is a thrilling endeavor. A chase between Nick and a drug dealer through the streets also provides ample thrills; especially because you can rest assured that “The Hammer” will catch him. It’s not until Marino finally decides to team up with him, the streets start to rain with blood.

Williamson seems to be playing himself in the film, but the truth is actually that he has a natural screen presence – and this performance is not nearly as showy as some others.

The supporting cast is also strong. Woody Strode (”Once Upon a Time in the West”) plays Rake, who befriends Marino while he is in prison and becomes his bodyguard. Strode never rose to great success in Hollywood, but has collected a huge list of credits, often playing the strong silent type.

The sleazy and always reliable Joe Spinell (”Maniac,” “Rocky”) plays a smarmy lawyer on the take. His brief appearance is good enough to make you believe he is an actual lawyer.

An apology to all you attorneys out there, but the man virtually oozes professional sliminess.

The real treat of ”Vigilante” is that it allows you to be a voyeur in an area you normally wouldn’t want to visit. That mood that the director controls quite nicely allows you to root for the good guys and wish death upon the punks on the streets. No one ever said that the characters were three-dimensional, but the appeal of “Vigilante” isn’t in its ability to provoke a critically thoughtful response – it’s in its ability to make you feel as though you’re there, in this archaic and precarious time and place.

When the camera is on the streets, fear is palpable.

Early scenes set up the uncertainty people risk when walking to the grocery store or coming home from work. The audience is instantly confused on what to expect, but feels safe once the vigilantes clean up the raw sewage.

Films like these provide good escapism as well. We are allowed to be exposed to the dark side of the world and our very own minds.

However, unlike the very complex and mystifying real life, justice on these factious streets always prevails.

Friday, June 26, 2009

R.I.P: Jackson

Throughout the years Jackson was able to convince some of the greatest artists from the movies, sports and music worlds to help him create lavish music videos and improve his music. His music videos were mini-movies and the best music videos we have seen. That image alone is enough, but when realize some of the best directors helped create his music videos. John Landis, ("Trading Places") with the make-up of Rick Baker, ("The Exorcist") helped create the creepy zombie creations in "Thriller".

Also you have Martin Scorsese ("Raging Bull") shooting "Bad" and utilizing the griminess of the New York subway transit.

Most musicians were never lucky enough to have directors like that, but there's more. A-list actors such as Marlon Brando,("The Godfather") Joe Pesci, ("Goodfellas") Eddie Murphy, ("Beverly Hills Cop") and Michael Madsen ("Kill Bill") all elevated his music videos to something more. They often had unique stories to tell giving these actors meaty roles.

The man was able to create magically music videos that will continue to find an audience for years to come.

Whether Jackson was singing a duet with Paul McCartney or letting Eddie Van Halen perform a mean guitar solo in "Beat It" it just added a new dimension to his work as an artist.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Goodbye Grasshopper

June 3, 2009 marked the passing of 72-year-old actor David Carradine.

When a friend called me that day to tell me the news, I was a bit taken.

You see, to the cult film fan, Carradine was a hero. He was always taking chances on obscure films for the better of his career, much like his father. Regardless of the role he occupied however, Carradine was always cool and collected.

Quite simply, he was “the man.”

I am going to find it so hard watching his films now and realizing that his career is over. I honestly don’t think we need to know why he committed suicide because what is important is the over 200 credits he made to television and film.

So rather than harp on the mysterious and provocative way he passed, I think it’s better to remember what we loved about him, rather than what shocked us.

And boy, was there a lot to love.

It often seemed that the secret ingredient to a cult film was the addition of a Carradine. The Carradines were a hard working family of actors that seemingly took on all the roles they were offered. That work ethic often landed them in some bizarre and classic cult films. The patriarch of the family, John Carradine, had a career that ranged from “Stagecoach” to “Vampire Hookers.”

The younger Carradine however made his mark in some very important films of our times, with an early appearance as a drunk in Martin Scorsese’s breakthrough 1973 film, “Mean Streets.” The year before, he beat out Bruce Lee for the role of “Caine” on “Kung Fu,” which permanently etched his name in pop culture lore.

However, his greatest contribution to film was the 1976 bio picture, “Bound for Glory.” The then 40-year-old Carradine played folk legend Woody Guthrie. The film was director Hal Ashby’s (”Eight Million Ways to Die”) tour de force and it catapulted Carradine to the A-list for a brief period. After that film, he went to work for the legendary Ingmar Bergman in “The Serpent’s Egg.”

But I suppose people best remember his most recent success in 2005’s “Kill Bill.”

As a cult film fan, my top five favorites from Carradine. These five flicks will help you better appreciate his work.

1. ”Q: The Winged Serpent,” directed by cult film legend, Larry Cohen. (writer of “Maniac Cop”)
It is the tale of a giant flying serpent that takes over Manhattan. What separates this film from other cult films are the strong performances. Michael Moriarty, (”Bang the Drum Slowly”) gives a brilliant method performance that seems out of place in this film, but makes for great fun. Carradine and Richard Roundtree (”Shaft”) turn in some good supporting performances as detectives. Of course the real star is Q himself, who is created from stop motion animation.

2. ”Lone Wolf McQuade”
This tale finds Carradine going toe to toe with Chuck Norris in one pretty sweet action film. The martial arts are outstanding and the finale leaves you with a bang.

3. ”The Warrior and the Sorceress
This is a cheaply made Roger Corman rip off of “Yojimbo.” The variation with this film is that it is set in a mythic world. Carradine starts a major war between two feuding gangs. The flick is cheesy schlock that will appease fans of the genre.

4. ”Sonny Boy
One of the strangest films ever made. Carradine plays a woman– and what an ugly one. This is one real wacky movie and a testament to Carradine’s convictions as an actor.

5. ”Roadside Prophets
This was Beastie Boys’ Adam Horovitz’s first feature and is a road trip film, with a ton of cameos including Carradine and John Cusack. A fun ride.

We’ll miss you, Grasshopper.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fritz the Cat (1972)

"Fritz the Cat" is an animated feature that could have only been made in the decadent seventies era of film.

Simply put, it is a film that will offend everyone looking for something to be offended about.

Because of this, it is an audacious and brilliant satire of the seventies and a film worth watching over 30 years later.

Everything in “Fritz the Cat” has a deeper meaning than you would expect, giving it a levity and social significance not found in many animated films, never mind an X-rated one.

For example, the cats oppress the crows, which is meant to deal with the racism many faced at that time. Early in the film, one cat asks a crow, “Why does James Earl Jones always have to play a black man?” making us wonder if “the cats” really understand what is going on with “the crows” at all.

Aside from from addressing the issue of race, Fritz tackles authority by portraying police officers as pigs. Today, a film would never be this bold on the issue of racism and authority. The funny thing is that “Fritz the Cat” deals with the issue better then the pointless exercise in futility known as “Crash,” despite being over 30 years old.

If it isn’t obvious already, this is a film that dares to be bold and in your face. This ability and the fact that it can still make you laugh through all of this is what makes this an admirable film. Films like this are what make the cinema sometimes a great adventure. However, as stated before, this is a film for open minded and smart adults.

Aside from the story, the animation was both gritty and imaginative and a breakthrough for its time, especially since it was the first X-rated cartoon. The film’s use of vibrant colors and real life New York locations allow you to forget you are basically watching a horny cat. The film also animates real pictures to provide some of the landscapes. It is sad that not many more inventive cartoons like this were produced.

The theme of Fritz is a bi-product of the film’s director, Ralph Bakshi, who was equally as provocative and interesting. Throughout his career, his films dealt with important issues of there time and were all animated. Starting out in the sixties with Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Captain America cartoons, Bakshi evolved into a Hollywood director. Aside from Fritz the Cat, Bakshi’s other great films include "Fire and Ice", (Inspired by Conan the Barbarian) and "Coonskin".

However, Fritz served as many viewers’ introduction to his work.

To this day, “Fritz the Cat” remains a constant reminder of a time when movies didn’t try to cater to everyone or try to beat a message in by being overtly obvious. It makes you laugh, and also points out the flaws in society.

As a matter of fact, even if the message was removed from this film, it would still be a very funny film to watch.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)

In the 1980s, the screen was littered with gore-filled slashers. It seemed like every couple of weeks a new one was ushered into the theaters, where teenagers were having sex and then being hacked to pieces.

Some of them were kitschy fun, but others were extremely boring.

A select few- were actually excellent, well-made horror films.

“Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter” falls into the latter catergory.
This is the best film in the series. If only the series decided to live up to the title, “The Final Chapter” would have been a good conclusion to the series. Far superior to the first one, due to the gore effects of Tom Savani, the film also has excellent performances from the actors playing the teenagers. It would have worked well as a comedy and it is actually sad to see these characters be murdered.
However, again it is Savani,(”The Prowler”, “Manaic”) and his knack for creating the best at creating realistic gore flicks in Hollywood that truly elevates the film. Putting in a good amount of imagination into the on-screen murders in this film, they are the biggest reason to partake in this bloody adventure. Simply put, a teenager’s face being smashed against the shower wall, or a cork screw being plunged into someone’s hand come off very brutal and original, even for a slasher flick. The fact is that Savani makes the harmless cabin seems like one of the scariest deathtraps around is a testament to his genius.
Films of the slasher genre are not often made with such care.
The way Savani and director, Joseph Zito (”Invasion U.S.A”) handle the killings is what makes this film the best slasher of its time. It is a refreshing sight to see such work put into this genre by someone that knows what he is doing.
On top of the murders, Savani also put a lot of detail into the make-up for Jason. This creates the appearance of one of the scariest creatures put on film.
As far as the plot is concerned, the film begins where Part three left off, as an ambulance arrives and takes Jason to the morgue. He then escapes and returns to camp Crystal Lake.
Once back there, the film focuses on two specific cabins. One Cabin contains the Jarvis family and the other houses a bunch of care-free teenagers. Thrown into the mix is a man that lost his sister to Jason and wants revenge. The plot is simple, but is standard for the slasher genre.

Nonetheless, the rest of the film is so inventive that this doesn’t matter if the film copies your standard plot.
Our young hero is Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman, “The Goonies”, “Stand By Me”) a young man with a passion for horror movie masks and effects. He lives with his sister, Trish, (Kimberly Beck, “Massacre At Central High”) and his Mother (Joan Freeman). Though the family dynamic scenes leave much to be desired, Jarvis always seems to be left alone at dangerous times, making the film the moody gore-fest it should be and anything but an episode of “7th Heaven.”
The best performance comes from Lawrence Monoson (”The Last American Virgin”) who plays Ted. Monoson’s character is painted perfectly by his advice to his friend Jim on the car ride upstate- “Jimbo, calling Betty is definitely a dead fuck thing to do. Look first rule of love: never get rejected by the same girl twice. I mean that’s useless. If you want to make a fool out of yourself, always do it with someone new.”
Advice to live by.
Ted is a laid back stoner that seems to voice his opinion on everything. He desperately wants to have sex on this trip, but everything goes wrong for him. Nonetheless, he keeps trying. Monoson proved what a good actor he was in “The Last American Virgin” and he elevates this character into something more. In the film, he is never seen as a two dimensional character, but rather a real teenager with a very funny sense of humor.
Ted’s best friend is Jim played by Crispin Glover (Back to the Future.) According to Ted, Jim is a “Dead Fuck” and that is why women don’t seem to be calling him back. In his performance, Glover manages to capture the awkwardness of those teenage years. The character is very funny and easy to identify with. Glover even has a hysterical dance scene.
The young lovers are Doug and Sara played by Peter Barton (”Hell Night”) and Barbara Howard (”White Palace”). The two of them share some genuine on-screen chemistry. Their first appearance on screen comes off like that goofy teenage love, that we’ve all experienced. Sara is shy and Doug helps her to mature. Their love is cemented by a very steamy shower scene.
The last of the characters are Alan Hayes (”Neon Maniacs”) who plays Paulie, dating the very sexy Samantha (Judie Aronson, “American Ninja”). Unfortunately, he has a wandering eye, which sets forth soap opera fodder for the film. The tension between them allows the film to start you down the slope of horror to come.
The other big stars in the film are the locations of Lake Minnewashta, Chanhassen, Minnesota and Topanga Canyon, California, which create the genuine tension of isolation. The area is beautiful, but also a place where Jason Voorhies’ unspeakable acts of horror can be carried out.
Just add a catchy tagline, “Three Times Before You Have Felt The Terror,” “Known The Madness,” “ Lived The Horror. But This Is The One You’ve Been Screaming For,” and you have a successful horror film. The film’s opening date was Friday April 13th 1984, which would be Jason’s unlucky day.

The box office did so well that “Friday the 13th Part Five: A New Beginning” was put into production almost immediately.
Overall, “The Final Chapter” is a slasher film that packs a real punch. It provides horror film fans with everything their gore filled hearts could desire.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Island (1980)

Good music, a quality cast and a terrifying concept alone should be enough to induce a quality performance on the big screen, right?

Add in pirates and you’ve got yourself a smörgåsbord of cinematic du-jour, right?

Aside from it’s qualities, “The Island,” starring Michael Caine [“Peeper,” “Get Carter”] is in itself an extremely bizarre moment in cinema, lacking the intelligence and plot-logic to be taken ultimately seriously.

Nevertheless, it’s still fun.

The film has many going things in its favor, including a screenplay written by the author of the novel on which it is based, Peter Benchley, who is probably most famous for having penned “Jaws” and several other sea-fearing novels.

Following the exploits of Blair Maynard, [played by Caine,] a journalist that takes his bratty son, Justin [Jeffrey Frank] on a work related trip with him, “The Island” is a leave your brain at home thrill ride. After a spell, the two decide to go fishing and are kidnapped by a nasty group of pirates. These primitive assailants have existed for three hundred years, isolated from the real world.

Filmed by Michael Ritchie, ["Downhill Racer"] “The Island,” features strong action scenes. In spite of this, Ritchie’s direction doesn’t compare in scenes with the novice actors playing the pirates. Most of them are so over the top that the film loses some of its impact.

The only pirate that evokes any real fear is played by David Warner [“Tron,” Time Bandits”]. Warner is a talented classically-trained actor that adds a touch of class to the film. Ritchie seems to have directed him and Caine very well. They give earnest performances in a production that is below their normal standards.

However, Frank’s character is utterly loathsome. It’s not that Jeffrey is a bad actor, it’s just that Benchley wrote a character with no redeeming qualities. Because of this, you may find yourself wishing Caine would just save himself and leave his son to his own fate.

On the plus side, the film is pampered with a decent amount of gore, for lovers of the horror genre. The gore early on enables us to feel the tension for the main character on his voyage to reclaim his son.

Another saving grace is Ennio Morricone’s [legendary composer of such films as "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" and "Once Upon a Time in America"] score, which manages to balance the drama and horror aspects quite well. The score slowly sets each scene. At the end of the film, it even forces you to watch the entire credit sequence.

Bottom line:- it is rare to find a bad movie with so many things to recommend. That is what one misses the most from the 70’s and 80’s – bad movies had character. This could be enjoyed as your guilty pleasure. At the center of “The Island,” you have a chance to see just how talented Caine really is because this film is not something many actors would have taken seriously.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sneak Peek from Review

I have been in writing boot camp at

This site is going to be used more for my Creative Writing but here is a look at how my work improved.

Our Ten Best- Episode Two: Movies That Deserve a DVD Release
Posted by Anthony Benedetto on 6/13/09 • Categorized as Movies

Why is everyone anxiously anticipating Blu-Ray releases when so many great movies have not yet received a proper DVD release? With that being said, here is a list of films that desperately need to be released on DVD. A majority of these films haven’t even surfaced o video format.
However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t fantastic works of cinema in their own right.

1- “Walk Proud” (1979): Recently on Turner Classic Movies on May 26 , some may be a bit stunned at the unintentional racism within it. It is truly an oddity of American cinema. Instead of hiring a tough Spanish actor to play the lead in this gang film, they went with an American actor, this case, the extremely miscast Robby Benson, (“Die Laughing,” “One on One”) plays a Chicano. That fatal flaw makes this film campy trash that is amazingly entertaining. The flick desperately wants to be the 70s answer to “West Side Story,” but those are very big shoes to fill. Oddly enough, the film has a strong soundtrack, which includes Elton John’s “We All Fall in Love Sometimes.” Despite its obscurity, “Walk Proud” still serves as an entertaining time capsule of a very strange period in cinema.

2- “Harry in Your Pocket” (1973): Thank you once again to Turner Classic Movies for showcasing this film and allowing the public a chance to see it. “Harry in Your Pocket” has been unavailable since its theatrical release. It is simply great and leaves you wanting more once the credits start to roll. James Coburn (“Candy”) plays a pickpocket teaching two newcomers how to properly lift wallets. Coburn was always one cool guy in every one of his films and this was a prime showcase for him. However, the real scene stealer here was the 76-year-old Walter Pidgeon (“How Green was my Valley”). He plays an over the hill cocaine addicted pick pocket. The real thrill is watching an old pro that loved acting give one of the best performances of his career. Also in the film are Michael Sarrazin, (“They Shoot Horses Don’t They?”) and Trish Van Devere, (“The Landlord”) as the young couple that are being trained. They share great screen chemistry together.

3- “Lucky Lady” (1975): Gene Hackman (“The French Connection”) and Burt Reynolds (“Deliverance”) ignite the screen in this lost gem. The casting of these two tough guys is pretty exciting in its own rights. Plus, it is directed by the multi-talented Stanly Donen, (”Charade”). This film focuses on the hazards of rum-running in the prohibition era of the 1930s.

4- “Fighting Mad” (1976): This the third film that Jonathan Demme’s (“The Silence of the Lamb”) directed, which marked his presence in Hollywood. It sadly has not been seen since its days in the theatres. Peter Fonda (“Spasms,” “High Ballin”) stars a man that has to fight to protect his home because he refuses to sell it to the greedy land developers. He is a peaceful man that gets pushed to the edge. This is one of the best vigilante movies of the 1970’s and deserves a wider audience. Also, Fonda’s use of a bow and arrow is very original. It would be a great addition to the Criterion Collection of DVDs.

5- “It Came Without Warning” (1980): This is a grim and violent tale of alien invasion that is “Friday the 13th” meets “The Predator.” The creature effects were done by Greg Canom, who recently won the Oscar for his effects work in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” With his help, the film is filled with slimy goodness to delight horror fans. If that wasn’t enough, director, Greydon Clark (”Final Justice”) acquired a few talented character actors, which include Jack Palance (“City Slickers”) and Martin Landau (“Ed Wood”).

6- “No Blade of Grass” (1970): This is a post apocalyptic film with the tagline “The creeping terror drifted towards them stamping out all civilization in its eerie path!” It was directed by legendary actor and director Cornel Wilde, (“The Naked Prey”), who he created a cautionary and visionary outlook on the future. He filled the cast with mostly unknowns to concoct an eerie and realistic portrait.

7- “Harry and Son” (1984): This was a labor of love for director and star Paul Newman (“When Time Ran Out…”). He created a poignant and emotional tale of the bond between a father and his son, who are on two different paths in life. With Newman’s passing last year, it is about time all of his work finally come to DVD. He was a national treasure that deserves that sense of respect.

8- “WUSA” (1970): This is another lost Paul Newman film, in which he co-stars with his wife Joanne Woodward (“The End”). It was always a pleasure to see this real life couple share the screen because of their authentic chemistry together. “WUSA’s” focal point is about a radio station in the south that becomes entrenched in a right wing conspiracy.

9- “Lolly Madonna XXX” (1973): Don’t let the name fool you; this is not a porno. It is a tale of two families that are at war with each other. The film is loaded with violence and sadness, which convey the senselessness of the war they had started. The amazing cast includes Rod Steiger, (“Duck, You Sucker”) Robert Ryan (“The Wild Bunch”) and Jeff Bridges (“Thunderbolt and Lightfoot”).

10- “From Noon Till Three” (1976): Charles Bronson (“The White Buffalo” which deserves a DVD also.) drops his tough guy act to star in a Western comedy alongside his wife, Jill Ireland (“Love and Bullets”). The audience has as much fun watching it as Bronson did making the film. Much of the fun comes from seeing Bronson play with the genre that he was a major part of. The other great thing is to see his wife as the focus is on the time they spend together which is “From Noon Till Three”.

Now that we’re done here, I would love to know- what are you waiting for on DVD?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dawn of the Dead Still Packs a Wicked Undead Punch

Guest Writer: Patrick Hickey Jr.

Over 30 years after it's original release, George Romero's “Dawn of the Dead” is still a horror classic that begs to be seen.

Featuring the amazing gore effects of horror legend Tom Savini, who later went to become a pioneer in the industry, going on to work in other notable horror films like “Friday the 13th and “Creepshow,” “Dawn of the Dead” remains strongly atop the horror genre today because of Savani's masterful work, but it's ultimately the exceptional script that gives it the most staying power.

Much like Romero's other masterpiece, “Night of the Living Dead,” “Dawn of the Dead” keeps the viewer on a roller coaster ride from start to finish. It's far from the type of predictable horror movie that has you screaming at the screen due to the incompetence of both the actors on screen and the development of a haphazard plot. Instead, Romero's films keep the watcher guessing and maintains a realistic timbre that wasn't seen in horror films 30 years ago and isn't seen in this day and age either.

Dawn of the Dead,” especially prescribes to this due to stellar performances from the cast and a script that makes sense, something rarely seen in horror films.

The flow of the story is so viscous at times that it's almost as if you can imagine the events in the film occurring in real life. Three decades after its release, the film will still make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Because of this, many have championed Romero as a controversial entity in the genre and someone who will forever be imitated and hailed as an innovator. However, more than anything else, Romero knows how to tell a good story, creating relate-able characters and putting them in situations that bend our reality, rather than distort it and make it unbelievable.

That, my friends, is the essence of true horror.

However, without the acting performances of little-known actors David Emge, Scott H. Reiniger, Gaylen Ross and Ken Foree [Halloween, The Devil's Rejects], the only actor to garner consistent work after the film, “Dawn of the Dead” may have never been in a place to enter our dreams and captivate us for decades. Over the course of the 127-minute film, the quartet is in a fight for their lives, but manage to squeeze in a few laughs and some heartfelt moments while attempting to survive seeming inescapable battles from both zombies and reckless bikers in a desolate mall. It's almost as if Romero wanted to create a bloody version of a “Scooby Doo” adventure and show what would really happen if zombies walked the earth. (Editor's Note: For a True Scooby Doo experience check out : Humongous)

In spite of all of this, the film is far from perfect, as the opening 10 or 15 minutes are a bit slow to put the story together. It is here where some impatient couch potatoes will opt out of the film, failing to see what the film is trying to project, which is the anarchy and unstableness of our society and how it is not yet ready to defend itself against a greater and misunderstood evil, death. Nevertheless, things eventually come together in a way that no horror film has been able to duplicate since.

It is because of this that “Dawn of the Dead” is still a trademark in horror cinema and will forever be etched in every fanboy's heart.

(One More Editor's Note: Dawn of the Dead was retitled "Zombie" in Italy and other countries. Italian Schlock master Lucio Fulci jumped on that bandwagon and made Zombi 2. Zombi 2 spawned three more sequels, none of which compare to the original. But let that be a credit to "Dawn of the Dead" since imitation is the highest form of flattery.)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Memoirs from Kings Plaza Part One:

This is a new series I am creating on stories from my youth. I used love to hang out on Saturday afternoon at the Kings Plaza Mall. That was back when they sold books, CDs, and DVDs. Which was truly a long time ago. Not sure how often this subject matter will be updated but there are many stories to write. Today's stories will include: The Rooftop and Jamie. Feel free to let me know what you think.
The Rooftop: In the Pre-Sears days of Kings Plaza my friends and I had a secret place away from the rest of the world. It was the roof of Kings Plaza which was a desolate and cold area with no personality. No people, no cars, no intruding thoughts. The only concern was only if security would find us. Not sure how Joey and I came about finding the location. When you go to the mall each week and are not in a hurry to get home you try and find new adventures. Joey was a little dirty and always unshaven. He was the type of friend that if you met at any other stage in life besides pre-teen you would avoid. He was an agreeable guy that shared a passion for B-Movies. (So I thought. When we ended our friendship he claimed to hate watching them and only did because there was nothing else to do.)

The following week we had decided to share our discovery with the rest of the misfits that made up our group. Greg Cozzo was a self imposed hermit, with dirty skin that had green spots, and greasy hair. He was quiet. Sal Buzzetta was a bruiting ape of a man that loved to bully Greg. Sal would bully Greg everywhere we went. In school he made Greg curtsy to him. He also put a lock on Greg's schoolbag once and made him pay ten bucks to have it removed. The worst thing Sal probably did to Greg was pee on a carpet sample and slip it in Greg's PB and J sandwich in the cafeteria. Maybe some of this lead to the fact Greg has not left his house since 1998. Richard J. Lopez was also there and he was the coward of the group. After a couple of weeks when we finally got caught on the roof, Richie said, "Don't worry guys. I will handle this". Then he ran up to the guard and said, "I didn't want to do it but they made me".

But to backtrack to that first time as a group that we were on that roof was amazing. The five of us escaped to a world that we owned for once. No rules, no parents and no bullies. (Except Sal.) We were right next to the giant lettering. We all needed to look over the edge to realize where we were. We ran around like The Beatles in A Hard Day's Night and discussed everything from girls, movies and our home life. Greg considered jumping and Sal helped him weigh in the reasons he should. Then Joey and Sal threw some rocks at a boat that was below. The Captain got out of it and yelled up to them, "Stay right there, I'm gonna come up there and beat the shit out of you". It was time to leave. I wish I was up on that roof with those guys again.

Jamie: Jamie was my first lesson that what should happen in life isn't always what will happen. And that expecting the unexpected is something that you have to learn in life.

Joey and I used to go each week to Sam Goody to buy videos. (Yes, VHS!) When a new shuttering employee approached me. "Do--o you need any help". I could hear Joey down the other aisle mimicking her voice. To this day I don't know what attracted me to this girl. She wasn't overly cute, her voice was annoying and she had a lousy hair cut. I made some small talk and left to get on the bus with Joey.

"She has twelve year old boy tits!" Joey tells me when we got outside. His voice had the dread that I was about to pick an ugly girl to date.

The following Saturday she was there again. My heart literally went up my throat. I went up to the counter, and proceeded to check out. "Would you like to reserve any of our upcoming films?"

"No, they are always in stock". We both nervously laughed and I walked out. I wished I had reserved something, what an idiot I felt like. Within ten minutes I had went back to Sam Goody and told her that I would like to reserve something. She thought I was the sweetest guy ever. So I asked for her phone number. Her pen had dried out, as she started to write it. Then the old lady behind me gave us a pen from her purse. I felt great.

Three days later that all fell apart. I called her home phone, and her Mom answered angrily and upset that I had the number. She wasn't even sure where her daughter was. She thought maybe I would know.

The next Saturday Jamie explained to me that her mother kicked her out. I was heartbroken and confused. I didn't know this girl at all but I imagined her as a saving grace in my life. I learned that sometimes in life we wish so hard for the right person that we don't even know the truth. It was a lesson we all have to learn in life.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Ode to Cinema 1

Five blocks from my home, was my favorite video store. It was on Quentin Road and East 34th street. I pass by it now and look in at what was. Memories come flooding back to me as I look into an office building with a metal gate down. It is now a tan office with two leather chairs, a desk, and a cheap ninety nine cents store portrait of flowers. My best friend Joey Smith and I used to spend our summers there. We would arrive when the store opened and take a good hour to pick our B-movies for the day out. Creating our own personal Mystery Science Theatre 3000. The wall was painted with a thousand possibilities. However, our interests were strictly in the video boxes so dusty that no one had rented them since the eighties. Movies from companies that don't exist anymore such as Media Home Entertainment, Paragon, Vestron and Lightning Home Video. Movies with titles like Flesh Gordon, Slumber Party Massacre, If You Don't Stop Soon I'll Go Blind, and the adult fairy tale classic, Alice in Wonderland. (What can you say about a movie where Humpty Dumpty can't get it up anymore?) Sometimes we would even find a movie where some punks would hassle a Chinese waiter, and at the next table would be Chuck Norris. He would try to reason with the punks first, but when that failed he would deliver a kick to their skulls. Where was Chuck Norris when my video store was closing? Why couldn't this be like one of those pointless summer camp films where Joey and I keep the place from being bought by greedy land developers. (Special Appearance by Corey Feldman.)

The video store reeked of smoke from the older lady with thick red glasses behind the glass counter. When I was thirteen she always made sure Joey and I never rented dirty movies. The dirtier movies often had a sticker on the top that read "18". Man, I couldn't wait for the day I was old enough to rent Fritz the Cat, in it's beat down Warner Brothers box. Sunday and Mondays she always had off and that is when it was time to rent the fun stuff. Of course when we rented them on Tuesday, we often would get yelled at by her. The store may have never been much but it is a place that is gone. Much like childhood. The world keeps on changing before we have time to realize how long ago the past really is.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Coming Soon from Code Red: Part 2- The 80's

Thanks to Code Red we can anticipate a lost James Coburn, two Elliot Gould movies, sexy cheerleaders, The Farmer, The Hammer, Peter O'Toole, aliens, and Jesus Christ. Sounds like the most wildest and fun dream anyone can have. Can Code Red do justice to the countless 80's film that seem stuck in the world of VHS?
Human Experiments: (1980) Geoffrey Lewis, (Thunderbolt and Lightfoot) plays the evil Doctor Kline. Much like the doctors of the S.S, Kline experiments on people. His newest victim played by Linda Haynes, (Rolling Thunder) fights for her life in this heart pounding film. The trailer creates a feeling of urgency and claustrophobia that helps you sympathize with the main victim.

The Silent Scream: (1980) Featured in 42nd Street Forever Volume 4. The poster for this film is a throwback to the days of good old fashioned horror films. The poster shows a woman's mouth with a scream that actually is silent. The tagline is simply perfect, "Terror so sudden there is no time to scream". The film is about Mrs. Engels, who runs a seaside mansion that is a boardinghouse for three college students. When students start missing the cops discover Mrs Engels may have a dark secret. Yvonne De Carlo (Lilly Munster) plays Mrs Engels and Cameron Mitchell, (The Klansman) plays Lt. Sandy McGiver.

Scream (1981) Courtesy of Media Blasters this will soon be available. This is supposedly one of the most poorly directed horror films ever made. Fans of this genre will basically want to see it for that very reason. The plot is pretty standard for a slasher film of the 80's. A group of friends who go rafting down a river and they stop to rest for the night at an old ghost town. Soon their rafts vanish, and then they begin to be eliminated one by one by a mysterious killer. One major curiosity of this film would be see Woody Strode, (Vigilante) in a very small role as Charlie Winters.

Nightmare in a Damaged Brain: (1981) This is one film that fans of Code Red have been eagerly awaiting. This film has been released in a XXX version and a standard "R" rated version. Tom Savani was forced to sue the director of this film for misuse of his name in the trailer. Romano Scavolini, (The director) claimed that Savani did the gore effects for the film, when he didn't. The main character of this film is a mental-patient, who is troubled with terrifying nightmares. Recently having escaped from a mental hospital he has nothing better to do then kill innocent people. The film is close to being released but Code Red needs a translator for the Italian subtitles of Romano Scavolini's interview. Code Red is considering releasing a bare-bone version of the film in October.

Trapped: (1982) This will be released on DVD on 8/4. A group of college students accidentally see a local psychotic redneck kill (Henry Silva) his wife. In the redneck's mind the college students have seen enough and must be killed. The students fight for their life in this backwoods thriller from cult director William Fruet. This film is loaded with enough sex and violence for fans of exploitation.

Spasms: (1983) William Fruet directs this film about a gigantic serpent that is captured on a remote island and shipped to an American college for experimentation. A British millionaire and an American scientist must try and stop the serpent when it escapes and starts to kill. Peter Fonda, (High Ballin') plays the American scientist and Oliver Reed, (Gladiator) plays the British millionaire. This is a pretty impressive cast for a gigantic serpent film. Tagline: "You scream, you expand, you explode. A new source of evil is discovered and is out of control". Code Red, please release this soon.

Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker: (1983) Billy Lynch has lived with his aunt for fourteen years and he feels it is time to move on. He is in love with the pretty girl next door, and his Aunt Cheryl is not happy about any of this. The bodies start to pile up around Billy and the detective sent to investigate has a strong hatred for homosexuals. The film also has a homosexual love triange which is very strange. The film's plot is very unusual but is helped by a strong cast. Jimmy McNichol, (Kristi's Brother.) plays Billy, Susan Tyrrell, (Angel) plays Aunt Cheryl, and Bo Svenson, (Inglorious Bastards) plays the psychotic detective. The film also features a very young Bill Paxton. The DVD was about to be released but put on hold so that Jimmy McNichol may record a commentary or interview for the special features.

The Strangeness: (1985) Much like Messiah of Evil, The Strangeness is also featured in Stephen Thrower's Nightmare U.S.A. This film provides one of the best clay stop-motion creatures ever created. The film is said to be a slow moving tale of a few explorers trapped in an abandoned goldmine. Once the creature makes the first appearance the film will have you hooked. (Coming Very Soon.)

The Mutilator from 1985 was acquired by Code Red but prints have been so lousy that this film may never see the light of day.

Choke Canyon (1986) featuring the dad from 7th Heaven as a cowboy scientist. Look for the review on this site. Bo Svenson and Lance Henriksen are the supporting cast of this no brainer thriller from the late 80's. Action films like this and the ones that starred Chuck Norris and Charles Bronson were so much fun. Bo Svenson has recorded an on camera interview for Code Red.

Riot on 42nd St.: (1987) This features an appearance by Sgt Kabukiman N.Y.P.D's Rick Gianasi. This film also marks the return of "The Black Dragon". The real thrill of this film will be seeing the footage of the old 42nd Street, which I was too young to ever visit. Those movie theatres back then seemed like a real treat. Three horror movies at an ultra low price. (Of course the junkies, crooks, and rats are a turn-off.)
The Undertaker: (1988) This is one of character actor Joe Spinell's last films. Similar to Spinell's Manaic, this film is the story of a very deranged human being. The film is about a man that kills people so that they can be his new friends. This horror film really has been lost and I look forward to seeing this eventually released.

Code Red is also working on Night of the Dribbler. A film that is about a killer with a basketball head chasing after teens. The film has never been released anywhere.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Coming Soon From Code Red

According to IMDB Code Red has gained the rights to some great cult films. The wealth of trailers on most of their discs also paints a nice portrait of this company's future in the DVD market. Code Red's DVDs have ranged from Great, (The Unseen, Can I Do It... Till I Need Glasses, The Dead Pit, and Running Hot) to the very lousy, (Chi sei?, Hot Moves and A Day at the Beach). Consumers of B-movies DVDs need to be aware that a company is actually looking out for their interests. Collectors are getting sick and tired of paying high prices for twenty year old VHS tapes and then three months later that title surfaces on a disc.

Here is a definitive list of the great cult titles to be on the lookout for:

Messiah of Evil: (1973) This film was featured in Stephen Thrower's book, Nightmare U.S.A. Thrower describes in great detail the process of making this film and he includes interviews with some of the participants. Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz had a very successful career after this film wrapped up. They became George Lucas's screenwriters for several films. They penned such classics as American Graffiti and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Then the writing team really screwed up with Howard the Duck. Code Red is presenting this film for the first time in a director approved version. This will also be the first time this film is available in a non-bootleg version. The film is an artistically done zombie tale that should delight fans of this genre when it is finally released.

Family Honor: (1973) This is a nice big slice of a mafia style Grindhouse, that became popular after the release of The Godfather. This film was never on VHS. It stars Charles Guardino (Killer Fish) and singer Meatloaf, (Fight Club).

Who?: (1973) This film was released on video as Robo Man. Elliot Gould, (A Bridge Too Far, M.A.S.H) stars in this mix of mystery and science fiction. An American scientist is severely injured in a car accident in East Germany. The doctors in Germany improve his body by turning him into a cyborg. When he returns to America the F.B.I believes he is a spy from Germany and that is when the film really starts to take off.

Pets: (1974) "There's an Animal in Every Woman" was one of the film's many taglines. The sexy Candice Rialson, (The Eiger Sanction) stars in this hitchhiker film that manages to leave its audience in shock. Would make a great double feature with another one of their forthcoming titles, Teenage Hitch-hikers (1975).

The Internecine Project: (1974) James Coburn, (Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid) plays a former secret agent promoted to government advisor. He has a past full of dark secrets that he must keep hidden. He sets up a ingenious plan to keep his future safe. Glad to see some of Coburn's lesser films get the proper DVD treatment. Co-Written by Barry Levinson.

Gang Wars: (1976) Returning to New York from a martial arts competition with an amulet found in a cave a young man unleashes a demon. The demon takes up residence in the subway. The film mixes karate films with horror and that is enough to excite fans of both genres.

Mean Johnny Barrows: (1976) Fred "The Hammer" Williamson stars and directs this film. The film is about an ex- G.I that starts to work at a gas station. At the gas station he is discovered by a local mafia boss and gets caught in the cross-fire of two rival families. Roddy McDowall, (How Green Was My Valley) and Elliot Gould as Professor Theodore Rasputin Waterhouse (What a name.) co-star in this underrated action flick. An interview with Fred Williamson has been recorded for this DVD release.

The Farmer: (1977) This is one trailer Code Red has shown on a vast majority of their releases. The trailer literally takes us through the grimy fall of its main character. The grainy picture reminds one of the classic genre of revenge films from the seventies. Gary Conway plays a retired war vet that is pushed over the edge. He wants a chance to start a farm and new life with his wife. When the going gets tough he starts working for a local mob boss and that is the start of a bloody dispute. The film was almost rated X for the depiction of violence. Columbia Pictures ignored this film after its very limited release. Not sure what type of film they thought they had because in the trailer they compare it to Five Easy Pieces, and Taxi Driver. Code Red really should put this film out very soon.
Stunt Rock: (1978) According to Code Red we can expect a loaded two-disc version of this film in August. This is basically a bunch of magic and stunts revolving around a rock band called Sorcery. This Australian film lacks a cohesive plot but provides many thrills. The film is loud, disorientating and in your face.

Jokes My Folks Never Told Me: (1978) This film is in the tradition of films like, If You Don't Stop Soon I'll Go Blind and Kentucky Fried Movie. This is a rarely seen sketch comedy film filled with nudity. They don't make them like this anymore.

Power Play: (1978) This is another trailer that received much exposure from Code Red. Released on home video by Media Home Entertainment. The film takes a provocative look at how a nation can be overthrown by the military. Director Martin Burke has recorded a commentary for the upcoming release. The film is elevated even higher by its A-list cast of Peter O'Toole, (Caligula, Lawrence of Arabia) and Donald Pleasence, (Halloween).

The Visitor: (1979) This is a curio-piece of trash from the vaults. John Huston, (Director of The Maltese Falcon) plays an alien on Earth that must battle a spoiled brat with telekinetic powers. The film managed to get an excellent cast; Glenn Ford, (Superman, Blackboard Jungle) Lance Henriksen, (Aliens) Sam Peckinpah, (Director of The Wild Bunch) Shelley Winters, (A Patch of Blue) and Franco Nero, (Enter the Ninja) as Jesus Christ. The trailer did not have any sound but some creepy music was added to it. With all the talent involved this film really needs to be seen.

Cheerleaders' Wild Weekend: (1979) This film is directed by Jeff Werner, who directed Die Laughing. It stars two cult film superstars, Jason Williams, (Flesh Gordon himself) and Kristine DeBell, (Alice in Wonderland). A school bus full of sexy cheerleaders is hijacked by a group of terrorists. This is an exploitation classic and a release Code Red says to expect this year. An interview with Kristine DeBell has been included for this release.

A few other films they have the rights to include, Teenage Graffiti and Teenage Tramp. Information on those two films are scarce.

To Be Continued... Tomorrow, the 80's films coming from Code Red.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

My Interview with an Asshole.

One of the true horror movies of life is being broke. It is one of the most scary feelings ever. You don't know where your next nickel is going to come from. It means having to dust off that old shirt and dress pants. Not to mention jump through the hoops on interviews. Due to the rough economic times it can also mean lowering yourself to go on an interview that you don't really want to. A job that has nothing to do with the goals in your current life.

I have had some rotten jobs. I spent two days working at CVS and being treated like a doormat from a fifty year old Indian man. If your fifty and working as the manager at a CVS, then suicide may not be the worst idea. Not everybody in life has a purpose and those that don't end up managing teenagers at some random store. The sad part is how serious they take their jobs. They are nobodies that try and pretend they are worth a damn.

About one week ago I went on a job interview that I was uninterested in and I met another nobody that believed he was worth a damn. We'll call him "Doc. Cock". I sat down in his office and was told that he called me in too soon. (Was this guy kidding, did he seriously want me to leave and come back?) The job was to tutor college students with learning disabilities. It seemed like the good Doc, Cock had a learning disability himself. His glasses so thick that you wondered if you could give him the middle finger and he wouldn't notice. Then I was finally called back in.

"Do you know who I am?"

"Mr. Cock."

"That is Dr. Cock." (He wasn't a medical school doctor, just a jerk that needed a title.) He then tried to teach me how to pronounce his name. Then he began to ask me to spell eligible, accommodation and pundit. (How random?) I should have asked him, "What won Best Picture in 1971?" see if he would have known The French Connection. I hated this guy with a passion and the interview had just started. I couldn't tell what was scarier unemployment or having to work for this jerk. He now felt the need to play therapist in the interview. Which no one should ever have to endure for a ten dollar an hour job.

"So tell me about yourself."

"Well I was born on September 3, 1982." I sarcastically said.

"That is a great start, what do you remember about that day?" I couldn't tell if he was for real or I was on Candid Camera. Then I did something really dumb on my part that I never do on interviews. Maybe I was possessed by Linda Blair from The Exorcist. (Yes, my second William Friedkin reference and here's my third, I think Dr. Cock was in Cruising.) I started to tell the good doc everything you should never bring up on an interview. Subconsciously I think I knew what I was doing. Then for some bizarre reason, I told him I don't like therapy. That I didn't get his whole profession and all you needed was some really good friends to talk with. He was so full of hot air that he didn't shut up for the better part of an hour. I got a few words in but not much.

Here are some tidbits from Dr. Cock (Is this who we really want helping college students):

"I think you could actually use some therapy, you seem to have mistrust and anger issues. You see therapy is like cleaning out a closet. I'm in my room and trying to clean it up, so I shove everything in the closet and now I have to stand against the door to keep it shut. But guess what the phone rings do I answer it and let everything fall out?" (You don't have a cell phone? That would solve everything.)

"Anthony, you have anger and mistrust issues. You could use therapy because you don't seem to trust doctors". (So every one is blindly supposed to listen to doctors like mindless zombies.)

"You know my son is also Anthony and he has epilepsy too and the doctor had told him the bigger he gets the less it will affect him. Have they told you that?" (No, I go to doctor's with half a brain.)

"You know Woody Allen had an analyst and I think it helped him become a better playwright".

"You must be doing something wrong to be unemployed".

"You know I'm Italian so I have connections. So no hissy fits here because I'm not above cement shoes".

Writing is my therapy and having typed this up I already feel better. I'll never forget his lame attempts to be funny and his constant voice changing. I think he needs to speak with someone? Last Monday they gave me the job and had to assign me my hours, and on Thursday they called to tell me I don't have the job. So for four days I thought I was employed. Well back to Craigslist, I hear they have erotic massages on there? Maybe I can do that for a living?
Coming Soon to this theatre:
Ode to Cinema 1

Friday, April 24, 2009

Where I was when I first saw "The Toxic Avenger"!

Their are seminal moments in all our lives. Some people can tell you exactly what they were doing the day Kennedy was shot. I, however can tell you exactly where I was the time I first saw a movie that would change my life. It was not Gone with the Wind, that I was watching but rather The Toxic Avenger. I was a fan of the cartoon series, The Toxic Crusaders and was pleasantly surprised to learn it was based on a horror/comedy movie. My Dad refused to let me rent a movie that was a hard "R". Hard "R" is the term used for an film that is loaded with sex, violence and curse words. There the film stood on the video shelf, in its dusty Lightning Home Video box. A huge picture of Toxie was on the box holding his secret weapon, (A mop). I knew I must see the film but how?
A few weeks later I had to spend the night at my Grandma Margie's apartment. (You see where this is going?) My Grandma is a very sweet lady with red curly hair that nine times out of ten is in a pretty good mood. She decided to take me to rent a video so I wasn't bored. I convinced her "The Toxic Avenger" was the only thing in the entire video store that I wanted to see. (No interest in Americathon or The Sex O'clock News.) At the time nothing scarred me more then missing limbs on people. So I kindly asked the video store lady if there was any missing limbs in this film. My Grandma was extremely embarrassed. I had did it and finally got my hands on a copy. I was extremely excited.

I had taken my bath and was now ready for this film. On the couch was my Grandma and Grandpa. My Grandpa had grown sickly towards the end of his life but in his younger days resembled Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront. He was a long shore man also with whom I was named after. His nickname was Moon and I do miss him. I put the video in and it was nothing like the cartoon. This nerdy mop boy named Melvin was being pushed around by some bullies at the gym he worked in. One of the punks looked similar to Corey Feldman. This film gave off a sense that the unexpected could happen. I was nervous that at any moment my Grandma may have cause to shut it.

Melvin had to clean the locker rooms when the gym closed down and he walked in on the Corey Feldman look a-like having sex with his girlfriend. Her big bouncy breasts on the screen. It was awesome and I loved it. My Grandma instantly jumped up and shut the tape off. Boy, was I disappointed. I waited till she walked out of the room and then I slid down the couch next to my Grandpa. I earnestly said to him, "When she goes to bed, lets put it back on". He started to laugh which he rarely did. (My Grandma always tells me that I'm one of the few people that actually made him laugh.)

I eventually did see The Toxic Avenger in its entirety and I loved it. I still love it. I had seen my Grandpa a little bit more before his passing away and The Toxic Avenger always reminds me of being ten with my Grandparents. The last time I saw my Grandpa, he slipped me a ten dollar bill when I was leaving. I used that ten bucks to buy a Web of Spider-Man comicbook. Its strange to realize that comicbook is my last link to him.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Amazon Women on the Moon

Amazon Women on the Moon is the sequel to Kentucky Fried Movie. This is a throwback to an era of films that is sorely missed. This film tries to be funny just for the sake of being funny. There is no deeper meaning behind most of the sketches. The sketches are filled with an 80's all-star cast. Some sketches are a little dated but most hold up pretty well. The film is directed by many people, including John Landis, (An American Werewolf in London, Animal House.) Peter Horton, (Star of ThirtySomething, and Children of the Corn) Joe Dante, (Gremlins), Carl Gottlieb (Caveman) and Robert K. Weiss (Producer of The Naked Gun Series). This is a very eclectic group of directors. How did T.V star Peter Horton become involved with the whole project? The five directors have their own style of directing and part of the fun is guessing who directed each sketch. If you know your directors it is pretty easy and the fun when viewing the film for the first time. This film was universally panned when released in 1987. Each critic that reviewed it stated that the film was unfunny and then singled out one sketch for being the funniest in the film. The critics all picked a different sketch as being the funniest, which means the film has to be pretty hysterical with all these funny sketches.

Here is a breakdown of the sketches in the film and the cast:

Mondo Condo: This sketch features Arsenio Hall as a man that is having a really bad day. He comes home from a long day at work and gets caught in many calamities while trying to relax in his apartment. He even has one annoying caller that is looking for Thelma, and "The bitch don't live here!". This is very old school, physical comedy and quite honestly very funny way to open this wacky film.

Pethouse Video is a spoof of the type of programming you may find on the playboy channel. It centers around a woman that does all of her day to day chores naked. It is hard to concentrate on whether or not this sketch is funny when you are looking at someone as hot as Monique Gabrielle.

Murray in Videoland is cute if not overly funny sketch of an old man that gets zapped into his T.V. This concept could have been much funnier. Look for Murray in the background of many sketches throughout the film. If the baseball announcer's voice sounds familiar that is because it is the late great Phil Hartman's voice.

Hospital is a very offbeat and crazy sketch featuring gratuitous use of a Mr. Potato Head. Peter Horton and Michelle Pfeiffer, (Married to the Mob) play a young couple that just delivered their first baby, which the hospital has misplaced. Griffin Dunne, (After Hours) plays the doctor that tries to desperately find their lost baby. "That's not a baby, its a Mr. Potato Head!"

Then we find Joe Pantoliano in a spoof of those Hair Club for Men ads, which is mildly amusing.

Amazon Women on the Moon is a sketch that is divided up during the movie. This is a send-up of those cheesy 50's science fiction schlock films. The sketch keeps intact the bad special effects, terrible dialogue, and bad science that made those films so fun. The best line is uttered by Joey Travolta, (John's brother) when he decides that the oxygen level is safe on the moon and removes his helmet, "Good Ole H20".

Blacks Without Soul is one of the funniest sketches in the film. B.B King does this public service spot to warn us about the fact some black men in this country are born without soul. He introduces us to several people with this affliction. David Alan Grier, (In Living Color and Streamers) plays Don "No Soul" Simmons. A black man that only knows how to sing white music. Don "No Soul" Simmons returns a few sketches later with a record album commercial. He turned a personal affliction into a recording career. He sings classics, like Tie a Yellow Ribbon Around the Old Oak Tree, Honey, and Gypsy Rose. David Alan Grier plays the sketch with such sincerity that he is perfect.

Two I.D.'s is a dating nightmare and very funny. What if women had a machine that could give them a guy's dating history of his past relationships before they went out. Steve Guttenberg (Diner) and Rosanna Arquette, (Pulp Fiction) have some really strong chemistry together as the the couple about to go out on a date. This is another highlight to the film.
Henry Silva, (Trapped) plays himself as the host of a show called Bullshit or Not. This is a parody of Unsolved Mysteries.
Critic's Corner,and Roast Your Loved One are two sketches that are connected to each other. The first segment is a spoof of Siskel and Ebert and instead of movies they start to review the lives of people. They review Harvey Pitnik and give him two thumbs down. That gives Harvey a severe heart attack. Do you think Harvey Pitnik gets a standard funeral? No he gets a roast from comedians, Steve Allen, Slappy White, Henny Youngman and many more. Poor Harvey. With all the comedians involved this should have been a little funnier.

Throughout the movie there are a series of hit and miss commercials which include, Silly Pate, First Lady of the Evening, and Art Sale (Where everything in the museum must go.) A sketch called Video Pirates is essentially a waste of film.

Son of the Invisible Man is maybe the second funniest sketch in the film after Don "No Soul" Simmons. Ed Begley Jr., (St. Elsewhere) is the son of the Invisible Man and believes he recreated the formula for invisibility. He hasn't and he just ends up a naked man running around a bar trying to scare people.

Titan Man is hysterical because it is the most embarrassing thing that could possibly happen to anyone. Matt Adler, (White Water Summer, Teen Wolf) plays a teenager that is about to do it for the first time with his hot girlfriend. She is played by Kelly Preston, (Secret Admirer). He needs to run into the pharmacy for condoms, but is the one millionth Titan customer.

Video Date also plays on that embarrassing moment type of humor and is why it provides a good chuckle. Marc McClure, (Marty's brother in Back to the Future) is looking for a porno. Russ Meyer, the king of sleaze is the guy behind the counter at the video store. He issues out a porno with the name of Marc McClure's character, Ray on it. The video is a porno with a woman that shouts his name out. Until her boyfriend (Andrew Dice Clay) comes in and starts problems for Ray. What is funny is that even though Ray is nowhere near any real action, it seems so real to him and that is why its so funny.
Watch the entire credits and recieve a bonus sketch featuring Carrie Fisher.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Megan- Part Two: She-Demon from Hell

This certainly wasn't the way I had planned to ask her out and I wish I didn't do it well asking about Sharon. I wanted to do something nice for her and when I went DVD shopping I decided to pick her up a copy of Legend. Megan loved the gift and expressed her joy, "Every time I watch this I guess I will have to think of you Anthony".

Things sadly turned upside down like the Poseidon after that. Except I didn't have the coolness of Gene Hackman to save the day. I started to realize that this girl told elaborate lies. If she was unable to hang out for the first several weeks, the lies would consist of a certain group of people attending a supposed event located on the other side of town. These people often gave her the wrong time and location of the event. The event was then changed to the time we were supposed to meet each other. One time she even had the excuse she was taking the entrance exam for the police academy. I told her not to expect it to be anything like the movie. The following Monday however she had not taken the exam. She forgot her pencil, went to the wrong testing site and when she found the right one she didn't have her Social Security card. Her excuses often gave me a headache. In my heart I knew something wasn't right, but I couldn't understand why this girl told me her whole life story? I thought I knew her but realized just how much of a stranger she really was.
We finally reached the point where it was time to finally pick a movie to see. (Some may think that your humble narrator was an idiot for waiting that long and I was.) Well, let me tell you that picking a movie was extremely difficult. I suggested Life or Something Like It but she hated Angelina Jolie and Edward Burns. Trust me when I say I will spare the long pointless details as to why she hates them. You don't need that headache, so we will fast forward to my next suggestion, Unfaithful. She liked Diane Lane but hated Richard Gere because he is a Buddhist. Then finally I suggested Sum of All Fears but she felt Ben Affleck's head was gigantic. She didn't mean in the vanity sense but rather the actual size of his head. "What else opens this week?" I looked at her like I wanted to kill her, I doubt much more could be opening that week.

"Star Wars Episode 2 but I got plans with Joey and Ricardo to see that. Plus Unfaithful looks like a great thriller". I told her hoping to change her mind.

"Well we could go see both". (Was she making plans for the whole weekend and wanting to hang out with me when I wanted to be with my friends.)

"Yeah sure my friends would love to hang out with you". I stated while trying to hide the fact I really didn't want her to come with my friends Saturday. Plans for that weekend seemed to be settled. That night, I had a series of terrible dreams. The first one involved me being smothered by Sharon's arm fat. The second dream started out with myself being in my forties married to Megan. She had wrinkles and a raspy smoker's voice. I was reading the newspaper trying to pick a movie to go see and every movie I picked she shot down. I was miserable and trapped with someone I could no longer stand. I wonder what my dreams were trying to tell me?

Saturday was all set to go and Joey pre-ordered us the Star Wars tickets. Except one major thing screwed up all the plans. Megan stood me up in front of all my friends. Hard to believe the girl I opened up to was a piece of shit. Ricardo kept his cool and looked a little relieved she didn't show up. Joey on the other hand laughed at me for the better part of the day. "You got rejected by a ginger-kid, that is low. She was so fucking ugly". Not what I really wanted to hear at the moment. What was even stranger was that Joey had never met her, so how could he know she had so many freckles? That day I also discovered what a creepy bastard Joey can be. A few days earlier Joey had hid out in some bushes by the bus-stop to sneak a peek at her without my knowledge. (I should have demanded that phone number so I could confront her. She didn't call me once that weekend.")

That Monday it was time to confront her. I wanted the girl out of my life for good and I felt betrayed in so many ways from her. I found her in the hallway and told her that we needed to talk. We went to a narrow staircase at the college. Before I could get one word out she started to talk out of guilt. "I had a really bad cold". She said in a really fake cold voice and that hit my last nerve.
"This isn't going to work unless you give me your phone number!" (I had a better speech worked out in my head. I figured that she would say "NO" and I would have to tell her that we are over with then.)

"Got a pen." (Oh shit, I almost got out of this relationship. I felt like Jack Nicholson at the end of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. I missed my chance to take the open window and stayed behind with the crazies.)

Getting the phone number proved one thing, her family was just as crazy as she was. Her father spent fifty minutes on the phone with me once. He was telling me all about Tarzan and how to model my life after the novels. After our long conversation he informed his daughter was not home. Her sister, Alish (Not Alice and that is the correct spelling.) grilled me for ten minutes about my intentions with her sister. Other times I would call and get Bridget. Bridget sounded just like Megan and it often took a good five minutes of conversation to realize I was talking to Bridget. She would tell me personal stories about her boyfriend. (I learned how she caught a cold from him because they spent the whole weekend making out.) I wish Tales From the Crypt was still on the air, I could have sold them this story.

The date didn't happen for another two weeks because it took that long to agree on a movie. Insomnia was the film that she had nothing to complain about. I meet her in the train station on a bright and sunny Memorial Day. Hardly any talking was done before the movie but I figured afterwards we could talk at the park and maybe get some coffee. (Later I found out she hated coffee.) "Just because you paid for my ticket doesn't mean I will have sex with you." She said as we sat down in the theatre in a very serious tone.

"I just asked if you wanted a Coke?"

What on Earth could have brought that on. As we watched the movie I turned to look over at her and noticed she was biting her fingernails so hard I was worried she was going to hit pulp. The movie ended and I suggested we head to the park and hang out. "Why so you could chop my head off?" Did I just hear right?

"Don't worry this isn't a Lifetime movie." I said, with my tongue firmly placed in my cheek. She then rushed me to the train station. What happened to the friend I made up in the lounge, all those months ago? Was this a Changeling, where was the real Megan?

I kept in contact with her through out the summer but never expected much out of it. On September 3rd 2002, Megan stood me up again, but this time it was my Birthday. I had talked to her two days before and she told me she bought a new dress for the occasion. I didn't want anything more to do with this piece of shit after that. I don't need someone like that in my life. However, I still wonder what the true story behind her was?

Coming Soon: An In-depth look at "Amazon Women on the Moon"!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Megan- Part One: Should Have Ran

It was the Spring of 2002 when my easy going lifestyle was just about to become a confusing mess. I was set up on an awkward blind date with a girl named Sharon, and this was set up by my supposed best friend Joey. Sharon made me instantly think of Paul Simon. I thought of Paul Simon because I'm pretty sure that she was the roly-poly little bat-faced girl in the song You Can Call Me Al. Sharon's conversation skills were limited and she had the most annoying habit of almost walking into traffic. Have you ever had to pull your date out of on-coming traffic? My friend Joey, urged me to give her a second chance.

The next day at school my mind was so jumbled because I really believed seeing Sharon again would be a mistake. Since I had forty five minutes before my English class began I assumed the lounge near the class would be a nice place to clear my head. (Boy was I wrong.) Eventually I was approached by a smiling stranger from the class. A girl with brownish red hair in her late twenties with freckles and a tan Members Only jacket. (I thought only guys wore them in the 80's.) Despite the smile her face showed signs of being older then she admitted. A conversation shortly started and it contained a wide range of topics from Snap, Crackle and Pop to life in general. The two of us were instantly comfortable with each other.

In the next couple of weeks we met on the same day each week and in the same spot. We talked about everything from her parent's divorce resulting in her mom leaving, movies and how lonely Valentine's Day can make you feel when you don't have someone special. As we used to sit and talk one could tell how nervous she was. She would clinch her book bag as she would tell me the stories of her life. "I can't end up like my parents". I confessed to her one day. "We won't let that happen", she quickly and calmly replied. I felt the term "we" was being used a little too fast, but I shook that feeling off very shortly. (I wanted to grow up when it came to dating and not get nervous over every small detail.)

The following week we discussed our fondness for childhood films such as The Goonies and the campy Tom Cruise film, Legend. (I am no longer a fan of Legend.) I then introduced her to my eccentric friend from the class Ricardo. Ricardo was a quiet portly black guy, who always looked angry. Never any real reason has to why he would be angry, it was just the way his face was structured I guess. (My friendship with Ricardo would end shortly after, because he brought his Mother along to see The Hulk. "You need to hang out more with my son", she insisted.) Ricardo had an unusual dream, he wanted to be a cartoonist and a professional wrestler. The three of us would hang out in an empty classroom, where I would attempt to throw a skittle in the air and catch it in my mouth. The first attempt was a success but follow-up attempts were proven unsuccessful. Megan then referred to me as a "dumb nut". "Dumb nut? That's not even a word in the dictionary. What is a "dumb nut"?" "You" she replied. This playful banter was one of the few times she let her guard down and actually seemed to be having fun and Ricardo was cracking up.

After class I tried to walk Megan to the bus stop but she gave me a look like I was crazy. Several days would pass until she informed me that I could walk her to the bus stop. (Gee whiz can I?) During this conversation, we literally bumped into Ricardo. "I'm going to sit in that classroom". Then Ricardo left after his less then profound statement.

"You think Ricardo wants company?" I asked, Megan

"We could go sit with him".

"Yeah but I don't know if he wants company? He would have said something or at least waited for us".

"He's Ricardo, you know he never says what he means, that's just him".

A few days later more seemed to unfold in this strange series of events called my life. "I'm being stalked!" She uttered this has she pointed to the quiet boy reading his book in the corner of the lounge. "That's why I couldn't come over and sit with you guys, when you asked me". That made no sense to me. If someone is bothering you, wouldn't you want to go sit next to a couple of big guys. One of which has an angry expression on his face. The second thing that made no sense was that the boy was sitting quietly reading and not even looking in her direction. Then she began a weird rant that seemed to go on forever and made both Ricardo and I a little uncomfortable. "This guy just won't leave me alone, (The quiet guy.) and I told him look I have a boyfriend, I mean I'm not going to cheat on my boyfriend with someone I don't even know". (Its OK if you know the person?) Plus I hate to give out my phone number and I hate talking on the phone, I think it is the worst part of a relationship". This whole monologue came out of her mouth with no breaks or chance for me to speak. If I recall right Ricardo may have fell asleep.

That conversation made me realize I could be nothing more then the girl's friend. I had no idea she had a boyfriend or if she was really being stalked. Plus I always had Sharon, who I still had not made a second date with yet.

Two months had passed and our friendship had blossomed into something beautiful because our conversations on Thursdays allowed us to share everything with each other. It was odd trusting someone I didn't know that long but it felt right. Megan started going on about her in theory only stalker and how her boyfriend doesn't turn this guy off. Since she brought up her boyfriend, I thought I would throw Sharon in her face. (Real mature I know. I later found out that Sharon had schizophrenia, so I never did schedule that second date.) She started to blush causing all the freckles on her face to become a human connect the dot. "Why would you ask me dating advice, you know I don't have a boyfriend stupid!" (I do?) I felt lousy.

"You and I should catch a movie sometime?" I said.

"I'd like that!"

"I know you hate to give out your number, but"

"How about I just take your number and call you?"

Coming Soon to this theatre: Megan Part 2: She-Demon from Hell. Take a seat next to the junkies and rats in the Grindhouse theatre that is my life.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Not Even Her Mother Knew Her Name

I had a very long and boring day as President of the Italian Culture Club. I only took the position so that I could have a key to my own private room in Brooklyn College. The room housed two Italian related clubs. The Italian Culture Club and The Italian Student Union. My private room was now becoming filled with actual club members, which was my cue to leave. I needed some time to myself to reflect on the paper I was about to write. This day in September was not about to be my lucky day. When you meet someone out of the blue and they start a five hour conversation with you, a red flag should automatically go up. My red flag went off but I tried to ignore it. I wish after a half hour I got up and left. "I feel my life is over and I'm only thirty one, but maybe things will look up for me someday. I got laid off my job, my boyfriend wants to break up with me, the doctors removed a ten pound cyst from my ovary and I'm flat broke with my rent due." The stranger openly confessed to me in the first half hour of our chat. How do you walk away from someone in that bad of shape? Can a ovary have a ten pound cyst?

What an odd bunch of events to openly confess to a stranger. As day fell into night I started to feel sorry for her. The strange bug eyes she had contained an empty stare. Her body movements painted the portrait of a person who was not of sound mind. She seemed uncomfortable and nervous yet she never stopped talking in her rapid pace. Somethings she said didn't make any sense, while other words she spoke made her seem like a girl that desperately needed someone to talk to. I didn't know what to do because I felt maybe I could help her before she did something crazy. "I'm normally quiet but for some reason today I feel I can tell you anything, Anthony Benedetto". Every ten minutes she would thank me for listening to her.

The date from Hell took place three days later. I realized that something was missing from the puzzle that was the girl whose name was so forgettable. The date was simple enough, dinner and a movie in the Italian clubhouse. I brought Boardinghouse to watch. The funny thing is the film is an incoherent mess much like my evening. The film focuses on a haunted house that is being rented out by sexy women. It was one of the first films shot on video and is certainly ambitious. The big question is whether or not the film is bad on purpose. That is the fun of watching the film, a chance to figure it out for yourself. The director has claimed that it was on purpose but I find that hard to believe.

My chemistry with her was almost nonexistent. Even though we were on the third floor of the college, she kept referring to it as the basement. I just couldn't wait for this night of lies to end. Then I tell her goodbye and that I will call her and of course I wouldn't. Around 9:30 the President of the other club showed up and he was in his late forties. He entered the dark room and was shocked to find two people on the couch watching a slasher flick that looked like a porno. It had the quality of a porno minus the nude scenes.

"I'll be out of you kids' way in about ten minutes!" I was so embarrassed to be caught with this girl. He took his usual seat and proceeded to talk and shortly these words were uttered from his mouth, "So after my nervous breakdown..." Did I just hear right? "My wife was two timing me, then she told me after my nervous breakdown no less that I had to sleep in the garage. That's when I stopped living for others and started living for Sal. I got a divorce from my wife and started dating women who accepted me for me. I mean I broke up with a woman because she told me to use conditioner in my hair. I told her I hate conditioner it feels like someone came in my hand and I told her goodbye."

There was no end in sight for this night. I never knew this stuff about Salvatore, and the girl with no name was engrossed in every word coming out of his saliva filled mouth. "Now you guys know Salvatore and Salvatore knows alot of people. I can help you look for apartments, jobs and that kind of shit".

"Its almost 1 in the morning. I have work in the morning". I told Salvatore as he searched the Internet for photos of his daughter. That hint went right over his head. I should have gotten up and left but it was like watching a train wreck, (or Boardinghouse).

A half hour later the freak show ended, but I will never forget the girl's last words as I walked her to the train station. "Thank you Anthony for a wonderful weekend". Then I had to remind her that it was only Thursday.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Masking Tape Story

I was trying to come up with some new post ideas when I came across a story I am very proud of. There are so many movies to review, but I felt the need to share this story. To fully understand the story, I will need to explain the assignment. This was for a Creative Writing class and the Professor instructed us to write a story and end it with the sentence, "It feel off the table again but this time not even masking tape would help". Professor Go, singled out my paper as the paper that did it the best and then I got to read it in front of the class. I felt great that day. So now for the first time outside of the class here is "The Masking Tape Story".

It was almost eleven O'clock at night on Christmas Eve. I had left out milk and cookies for old St. Nick on my broken coffee table. The cookies and milk were held tight by masking tape. Santa would have to put some effort into getting those cookies off the table but I think he will understand. I mean in my letter to him I pretty much tell him about the coffee table situation and how desperately I need a new one. I don't believe in beating around the bush. Very small list this year. The list consisted of a new coffee table and a DVD of Surf Nazis Must Die. I had finished wrapping my family's gifts and was all set for bed. All I needed to do was slip into my Pokemon Pajamas.

The reindeer came crashing into my window and broke my coffee table. I said "Hey old St. Nick, What's the Deal?" He simply laughed and pointed to his sleigh and there it was my brand new coffee table: He remembered. Being good this year paid off. The reindeer licked up the milk and ate the cookies, so there was no mess. Then I turned to Prancer , and saw in his mouth my copy of Surf Nazis Must Die. Santa placed the cookie plate on the old end table. It fell off the table again but this time not even masking tape would help.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Movies that Need to be Made but will never!

The Untold Story of Richard J. Lopez: The rags to riches story of one young man. Known has the only man to asphyxiate himself and live.

Sgt Kabukiman N.Y.P.D Part 2: Anthony Benedetto plays an undercover cop pretending to be a tutor in a local community college. When he tutors two students while they are making a drug trade, he is shot to death. Ancient Japanese powers bring back to life and he must rid the world of scum.

The Incredibly True Story of A Bachelor Party That Started in Tijuana But Ended in Harvard University: Nick Valente, Patrick J. Hickey Jr. and Anthony Benedetto play three guys who set out for a fun night at a bachelor party but end up in Harvard Law School.

Cannibal Night Massacre: Slumber Party Massacre meets Cannibal Apocalypse. John Saxon returns to play the role of a sewer dwelling cannibal and only Brett Allen can stop him. Fred "The Hammer" Williamson plays the no- nonsense Police Commissioner.

Class of Nuke'em High Part 4: Subhumanoids Take Manhattan: Brick Bronsky will play 17 unique roles this time around.

Hello You've Reached Bob: Everybody calls Bob thinking its a different number. Day and night Bob answers calls from all kinds of weird people and perverts. He sets out to change his number and comedy ensues at the phone company.

Chuck Norris VS. Dracula: Chuck Norris is back! Dracula has wiped out Norris's family. He must put his badge on the line to get revenge. Special Appearance by Charles Bronson.

Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice and Charlie and Anthony and Mikey: Elliot Gould returns to the film that made him a house hold name. One night at a hotel room in New York several people end up in the wrong rooms. Identities are mistaken repeatedly. Who will end up with whom in the end. Peter Fonda plays Anthony Benedetto and Troy Donahue plays Mikey in his last film role.

Simeon: The Journey Of One Man Through Northern India With An Oedipus Complex: I smell a Best Picture winner at the Academy Awards.

Also in the works:

The Day of the Cannibal Monkeys

Lincoln and Washington: A Perverted Love Story

Lenny the Loveable Rapist

What's Your Problem Jerk?

What Did I Ever Do To Your Mother, Oh Now I remember

I Know Who I Am: AngelHeart Part 2