Michael Pressman – The Great Texas Dynamite Chase (1976)

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The Great Texas Dynamite Chase is a well-made exploitation film which works on two levels, providing kicks for the ozoner crowd and tongue-in-cheek humor for the more sophisticated. The film had some initial playdates under the title Dynamite Women.
Claudia Jennings and Jocelyn Jones are stylish and attractive as a pair of brazen Texas bankrobbers. They stay firmly in character throughout as a loyal but very divergent criminal pair.
Jennings is a hardened prison escapee, while Jones goes on the road to avoid the boredom of being a smalltown bank teller. They use lots of dynamite along the way, but there’s little bloodshed until the last part of the film, when the film’s dominant spoof tone turns uncomfortably and unsuccessfully close to reality. Continue reading

Franklin J. Schaffner – Planet of the Apes (1968)

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Originally intended as a project for Blake Edwards, the film version of Pierre Boule’s semisatiric sci-fi novel came to the screen in 1968 under the directorial guidance of Franklin J. Schaffner. Charlton Heston is George Taylor, one of several astronauts on a long, long space mission whose spaceship crash-lands on a remote planet, seemingly devoid of intelligent life. Soon the astronaut learns that this planet is ruled by a race of talking, thinking, reasoning apes who hold court over a complex, multilayered civilization. In this topsy-turvy society, the human beings are grunting, inarticulate primates, penned-up like animals. When ape leader Dr. Zaius (Maurice Evans) discovers that the captive Taylor has the power of speech, he reacts in horror and insists that the astronaut be killed. Continue reading

John Brahm – Hot Rods to Hell aka 52 Miles to Terror (1967)

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This revolutionary masterpiece was, at first, misunderstood as a mere exploitation film. However, the subversive genius shown in its subtext and plot construction was eventually recognized. It now plays quarterly at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, which has instituted a lecture series on the various intellectual facets of the film. While the series is still in its infancy we have already heard Barak Obama speak on, “Hope and Hot Rods,” and Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan on, “Christian symbolism and family values in Hot Rods of Hell,” to say nothing of the hilarious speech by Tim Curry, “What exactly is a ‘Hot Rod’.” Those interested in perusing the literature on the subject can contact the Hot Rods of Hell Research Department at Columbia University in NYC. However, you should be prepared to show your research credentials.
@Unkabunk at TIK Continue reading

Russ Meyer – Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! [+ Extras] (1965)

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Review:

It’s been 26 years since I last reviewed a Russ Meyer movie (“Vixen”). In 1969, I wrote the screenplay for Meyer’s “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” (“simultaneously the best and worst movie ever made” – Michael Dare, Film Threat magazine). In the years since, I have passed on reviewing other Meyer films; there was an obvious conflict of interest.

But now, with the re-release of Meyer’s “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” (1965), perhaps the statute of limitations has expired.

Besides, why not a review from someone who has a conflict of interest? Meyer’s fans are vociferously partisan, and here is the movie that director John Waters (“Hairspray”) called “beyond a doubt, the best movie ever made. It is possibly better than any film that will be made in the future.” Completing the circle, Stephen Holden, in his recent review in the New York Times, credited Meyer with having invented John Waters, not to mention Madonna. Continue reading

Jack Arnold – Games Girls Play AKA The Bunny Caper AKA Sex Play (1974)

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Sultry ’70s B-movie bombshell Christina Hart (THE STEWARDESSES, HELTER SKELTER) stars as Bunny O’Hara, the underage man-eating daughter of a wealthy American businessman. After sleeping her way through the brass ranks of the U.S. military, Bunny is packed off to Swinging London and a remote finishing school for wayward rich girls.

Bored in the British boondocks, Bunny leads her nubile classmates in a contest to seduce a group of foreign dignitaries visiting London for disarmament talks…the winner being the first girl to get her V.I.P. into B-E-D!

Escapist, sexist and as politically incorrect as they go, GAMES GIRLS PLAY (aka THE BUNNY CAPER) is a titillating product of its heedless time, directed with an unblinking eye by Jack Arnold (THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN) and costarring Ed Bishop (2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY). Continue reading

Jeffrey Schwarz – I Am Divine (2013)

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How Divine, aka Harris Glenn Milstead, became John Waters’ cinematic muse and an international drag icon.

:Young, chubby Harris Glenn Milstead liked musicals, was drawn to feminine pursuits, and was bullied. He was privately playing “dress-up games” in his mother’s clothes. By 1963, Glenn was brave enough to show up at a party with his then girlfriend dressed as an astonishingly passable Elizabeth Taylor, among the many glamorous stars he openly idolized.

After meeting a crowd of gay hipsters and freaks. Glenn started camping it up, shoplifting, writing bad checks, and smoking grass. Glenn also met the man who was about to change his life – John Waters. Like Glenn, Waters was obsessed with movies and they bonded over the films of Russ Meyer and Jayne Mansfield. They began to forge a new character, one which mocked the conventional “pretty” drag queens that aspired to look as real as possible. With Waters’ encouragement, this character started to emerge. She was outrageous, outlandish and obviously overweight. Glenn’s wicked, rebellious side matched the sensibilities of Waters, and John christened his new star “Divine” and they started making films together.
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Rosa von Praunheim – Ein Virus kennt keine Moral AKA A Virus knows no Morals (1986)

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A Film by Rosa von Praunheim Nurses on the night shift roll dice to see which AIDS patient will die next. The owner of a gay bathhouse gets Kaposi’s Sarcoma but tries to keep his mind on profits. An epidemic victim is harassed by a reporter on his death bed – he sticks her with a contaminated syringe. The government opens a quarantine called Hell Gay Land. Gay terrorists kidnap the Minister of Health. A black comedy filled with everybody’s worst fears, A Virus Knows No Morals is Rosa von Praunheim’s most controversial film to date: a savagely funny burlesque on the AIDS crisis. Irreverent yet deadly serious, the filmmaker covers just about every aspect of AIDS and its effects, as well as the rumors surrounding it. Since the 1960’s von Praunheim has produced a provocative body of underground films, making him one of the New German Cinema’s most original artists. “Brave and Vicious – Armed Camp!” – New York Times
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