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Tuesday, March 31, 2009



I've received several emails and a couple of phone calls from people alerting me to how this blog's archives have been deleted and users can no longer scroll down past Saturday's entry about I WANNA BUTTFUCK YOUR DAUGHTER. Well, unfortunately Blogger periodically experiences glitches that either do or do not affect its use depending on which web browser you use. The reported problems turn up on Firefox, but if you access this site through Safari everything is just fine.

The last time something like this happened, it lasted for about a week and a half before it sorted itself out, so I'm betting this is just more of the same.


I heard back from the mysterious woman who contacted me this morning on Facebook and, yes, she is my older sister, Janice Blackmon of Chicago — not to be confused with a minsier in the same area who has the same name — , the first of my dad's four kids. I have not seen or heard from or about her in over three decades so I'm eager to connect and get to know her. I wrote her a lengthy recap of my life since 1990 and am waiting to hear back with the details of her own journey.

My head is swimming from this and I've found it quite hard to concentrate on my work here at the design 'ho house.


So I get up this morning and check my emails and what do I find? A note from Facebook with a header reading "Are You My Brother?" Confused, I looked at the note on Facebook and the only text in the note's body asked me what my father's name is. I then looked at the name and photo of the sender and unless I'm very much mistaken I've just been contacted by my older half-sister whom I have not seen or heard about since around early 1975, just before my parents split up. I'm the second of my dad's four kids and the only one from my parents' union, and I believe the woman in question is about eight or nine years my senior.

Needless to say I'm a little freaked out, but I'll post more as this latest bit of family intrigue unfolds.


For kids who grew up in the Tri-State area and were blessed with THE 4:30 MOVIE, THE GREEN SLIME was one of the most beloved classics when the show ran Monster Week of Science-Fiction Week (it easily fit into both and thus saw double-duty). I hadn’t seen it since the late-1970’s but I know plenty of folks my age who still talk about it with great affection, so in the interest of this blog’s frequent rustling up of old flicks I’ve hankered to sit through it again and review it. That quest was thwarted for years thanks to the film not being available on DVD, a state I find confusing thanks to all manner of far lesser shit being readily obtainable (but then again the classic ISLAND OF LOST SOULS isn’t legally available either, so go figure), but I finally got to see it again thanks to my friend Adrian hooking me up with a VHS copy. (It was pan & scan, but I’ll take what I can get.)

THE GREEN SLIME is a Japanese/American co-production that falls into a category I lovingly call “movies that would have happened if a ten-year-old boy had the means to make a feature film” and it’s bizarre for a number of reasons, chief of which (for me) is the look and feel of a Japanese movie of its period only featuring an entirely Caucasian cast. The story involves a space station becoming infested with man-sized, multi-eyed tentacled wigglies that replicate at an incredible rate, feed on energy and can electrocute anyone who comes into physical contact with them, a situation that eventually results in the need to evacuate the station and blow it up so the monsters don’t reach the Earth and inevitably wipe out mankind.

One of the title critters.

This dire situation plays out as viewers bear witness to an awkward love triangle between the station’s commanding officer, Vince Elliot (Richard Jaekel), his hot redheaded fiancée, (THUNDERBALL’s pouty and oh-so-mouthwateringly-Italian Luciana Paluzzi playing — now get this — “Lisa Benson”) and higher-ranking Commander Jack Rankin (Robert Horton); back in the days, Rankin and Elliot were best friends and Lisa Benson (*snicker*) was in love with Rankin, but she dumped him in favor of Elliot once she twigged to the fact that Rankin was a major control-freak and towering asshole, an aspect immediately noticeable to anyone who spends even three minutes in his noxious presence.

Commander Rankin (Robert Horton) and "Lisa Benson" (Luciana Paluzzi). Sorry, but I couldn't resist putting up a shot of the unmitigated Pastaland fineness that is "the Looch."

Before the shit with the alien monsters goes down, Rankin is sent on an unrelated mission to Elliot’s space station and given total command, much to Elliot’s undisguised displeasure, so from the moment he arrives the bad blood boils and it’s a childishly macho Alpha Male pissing contest with Lisa caught in the middle. (This triangle and the way it’s written/played feels like an examination of complex adult emotions as interpreted by a guy who’s never had a romantic relationship, such as a ten-year-old boy.)

The relationship subplot really doesn’t add anything to the story other than to continuously provide examples of what a fucking douche Rankin is and point out Elliot’s questionable qualifications for commanding anything, let alone a space station, thanks to him being “too nice” and having problems with those who outrank him (although, to be fair, I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t want to knock Rankin’s teeth out of his smug, smirking face). I suppose the subplot was left in the international cut of the film in order to give the grownups who took their kids to the matinee something by way of “adult” content, but from what I hear the Japanese cut is around thirteen minutes shorter and totally eliminates the love triangle stuff, thus allowing full attention to focus on what put asses in seats in the first place: creepy, nasty wigglies with flailing tentacles and the laser rifle-equipped spacemen who fight them with extreme prejudice. That’s the version I would love to have and hopefully when (if) THE GREEN SLIME ever finds release on DVD, both versions will be included and presented in widescreen.

But, soap opera histrionics notwithstanding, THE GREEN SLIME is good fun and will most likely be enjoyed by your kids if you expose them to it. And no discussion of this film would be complete without mention of its hilariously inappropriate and ultra-psychedelic theme song, a tune that fans of the film will break into at the drop of a hat. I mean, how many “acid rock” tunes can you name that combine all the most clichéd elements of that musical genre with vocals more suited to a lame Las Vegas number and mention of “Greeeeeeen Sliiiiiiiime?” Sheer insane brilliance, plus you get that hot-assed Luciana Paluzzi — unfortunately it’s a kid’s movie so no low-cut gowns, leather motorcycle gear or foxy swimsuits — so it’s a cheesy win/win.

Monday, March 30, 2009


I love me some slow-brewed oxtail stew, a hearty mainstay in the cuisine of many cultures, and my own version of it derives from the Chinese and Jamaican varieties. Loaded with beefy goodness, vertebrae that are incredibly flavorful when sucked on after cooking, corn, peas, onions and beans, this is tasty as a motherfucker, very filling, and will make you drop a tree trunk-solid turd as big and heavy as your head. And this same recipe can be used for curried goat as well!


Curry powder (brand is irrelevant, though I do favor Jamaican Choice or Badia)
Oxtail in inch-thick sections (2 pounds)
Beef broth (enough to cover the oxtail, with four inches extra)
2 large onions
4 smashed cloves of garlic (but if you enjoy more, go for it)
2 cans dark kidney beans (drained)
1 can lima beans (or 1 package of frozen)
1 standard-size package of frozen peas
1 standard-size package of frozen corn
1 can sliced potatoes

Optional Ingredients

SunBird Golden Curry Mix, Mild (3.5-Ounce Box)
Trappey’s Indi-Pep hot sauce

How to make dis shit, Mon

• Chop up your onions into decent-sized hunks, nothing fancy because it’ll all melt into the mixture eventually. Smash your garlic with the flat of a large cooking knife or cleaver. Have chopped onions and garlic at the ready to add when things come to a boil.

• Drop the oxtail into a big stew pot and add enough beef broth to cover it, allowing a depth of roughly four inches above the meat. Bring to a boil and add curry powder to taste. If necessary add salt and pepper; some curry powder brands have a certain amount of salt already in the mix, so taste the broth to see if you need to tart things up with the salt and pepper.

• Add onions and garlic and drop heat to a simmer.

• Add beans, peas and corn. Stir until well blended and allow to simmer, uncovered.

• Simmer until the meat is just about ready to fall off the bones, and then add the potatoes. Cook until meat is fork tender. Remove from heat and if possible allow to sit in the fridge overnight to “find its flavor” — it’s good fresh off the stove, but the overnight thing really punches up the richness.

Regarding the optional ingredients, the boxed curry mix is suggested for ease of use if you don’t feel like experimenting and coming up with a curry sauce that bears your own culinary signature. The hot sauce is recommended for those who want the stew to have a bit of “kick,” and Indi-Pep is suggested because it’s got a real West Indian flavor rather than a burn-your-asshole-out spice assault. If you chose to use it, lose that dash-regulating white bit of plastic that tops the open bottle and dump about half the bottle into the simmering stew. It’s got some heat, but it won’t kill your pets or children.

You can serve this over white rice or noodles or with crusty bread, but I go for it as a stand-alone soup or stew.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Back in 1982 a buddy and I journeyed to Connecticut’s Wilton Cinema, the lone movie outpost on the wasteland that was then Route 7, on the recommendation of a friend who managed the place at the time. The theater was pretty much a characterless shithole that played mostly grindhouse attractions, never any of the big releases since those all ended up in my hometown of Westport, and as a result I rarely ventured to Wilton. This time, however, I was told by the manager that he was running one of the worst films ever released, a sword and sorcery train wreck of a picture — a genre that I love, both bad and good, and since the genre tends to be kind of cheesy in the first place I wasn’t expecting Kurosawa — and it would be leaving posthaste. Knowing better than to pass up a good thing, I grabbed my like-minded pal, Matt, and drove on over.

When we pulled up we were shocked to see the marquee bore titles for a double feature, namely WITHOUT A TRACE, and the movie Matt and I wanted see, SORCERESS; this was a weird turn of events because the circuit absolutely never ran double features, and I soon discovered that the pairing was thanks to the two movies being the biggest money losers that other theaters in the national circuit had ever seen, so since they weren’t making any cash elsewhere why not play them together during the East Coast bookings and cut down their run that much quicker? That may have been the district manager’s strategy, but I question the wisdom of that double bill because of the completely opposing genres in the match-up; WITHOUT A TRACE was a serious drama about child-kidnapping, and SORCERESS was a would-be CONAN THE BARBARIAN cash-in, two great tastes that go together about as well as Beluga caviar and Tom’s of Maine cherry-mint toothpaste.

Matt and I entered the theater, which was about half full, and found an assortment of drunks, juvenile delinquents, stoners and garden variety Fairfield County trash, clearly not the audience for WITHOUT A TRACE, but I guess they figured if they could get two flicks for the price of one, why the fuck not? So as the serious film drew to a grindingly dull conclusion the moviegoers availed themselves to whatever refreshments they brought with them, turning the floor into a minefield of discarded Budweiser bottles and converting the air into an atmosphere more appropriate for Reggae Sunsplash, if ya know what I mean…

Then SORCERESS began to unspool, and as soon as I saw the New World studio imprint I knew I was in for some good, cheesy fun. Well, maybe not good per se, but whatever. The other big clue was the film’s score; in a classic example of New World’s cheapskate tactics, rather than pay for a new soundtrack they just re-used the existing music from their not bad STAR WARS rip-off, BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS. But what I wasn’t prepared for at all was the incredibly impoverished look of the film, a movie that I knew was made recently, but the damned thing looked like one of the legion of tits-and-togas epics — a genre dubbed “peplum” after the short skirts worn by the Greeks in those oh-so-manly days gone by — unleashed upon the world by the Italians in the 1960’s in the wake of the unexpected international box office success of HERCULES (1957) starring Steve Reeves. Adding to the peplum feel was the fact that the movie was shot in Mexico and obviously — to say nothing of poorly — dubbed up the whiz-wang.

The movie opens with a scene of a mighty army of about seven guys in ridiculous bird helmets hunting down a fleeing woman, a lady who is revealed to be the wife of Traigon, an evil sorcerer who seeks to sacrifice his child to the presumably malevolent deity, Calgara. Exactly what this god is or stands for is never explained, and neither is what Traigon would get out of all this for killing his kid. Anyway, Traigon corners his wife and is shocked to find out she’s given birth to twins, a bit of a problem since the first born must be the sacrifice and mom ain’t saying which is which. The villain then attempts to get her to talk by having one of his bird-headed goons give her an impromptu hysterectomy on the forest floor with an object that resembles a three-bladed table leg/eagle’s claw.

No sooner does that atrocity get underway than a bolt of lightning crashes from the sky, striking and igniting a tree, and from out of nowhere comes Krona, a bearded dude who looks like Moses after hanging out rapping with the burning bush, and he hands out sped-up asswhuppings to Traigon and his men like Halloween candy. As Traigon expires, he informs us that this is only his first life and he will return again in a couple of decades, at which point he beams out in a majorly poor special defect. Krona then turns his attention to the disemboweled mother who entrusts the twins, both girls, to him as she croaks. Bemused by their gender, Krona nonetheless decrees that the girls will be warriors despite having pussies, gives them a psychic/physical link so that the two of them “shall be as one,” and conveniently grants them “all of the powers of sorcery and the fighting skills of the masters.” This gift is bestowed when the old geezer passes his hands over the infants, causing a haphazardly-animated feeble blue glow to suffuse the wee tykes. They are then given to a kindly agrarian couple of the type so often found in this kind of story and instructed to raise them as boys so no one will twig to the fact that one of them is the missing sacrificial lamb. That said, Krona fucks off to who knows where and the narrative jumps ahead by roughly twenty years.

By now we were about five minutes into the film, and I said to myself, “This is the movie that’s supposedly one of the worst ever released? Yeah, it’s inept, but was this worth the trip?” That question was spectacularly answered immediately after the thought entered my mind.

True to his word, Traigon rematerializes and immediately sets about kickstarting his sacrificial masterplan, screaming, “Bring me the two who are one!!!” as a previously unseen, uber-tanned princess type bares her titties for absolutely no reason and a guy in one of the saddest ape costumes ever committed to celluloid capers about like a loon. The bird dudes “huzzah” in unison while shaking their spears, and as that line about “the two who are one” is uttered the scene jump cuts — or is badly-edited — to a shot of the now grown “two who are one” (hereafter referred to as TTWAO) swimming buck nekkid in a secluded lake.

Lemme tell ya, THAT instantly got my attention, and I do not care what the story has set up, there is simply NO WAY IN HELL that TTWAO would ever believe they are boys. They’re played by Leigh and Lynette Harris, a pair of identical twin blonde cuties who graced PLAYBOY magazine with their simulated incesto/lesbo gimmick, and they could not be further away from looking even remotely male, even when fully clothed, if they tried. As is later revealed in some throwaway dialogue, they were raised with a sister, to say nothing of their adoptive mom, so they had to have seen both of them nude at some point in their lives, and even the most witless of simpletons would have figured out the obvious physical similarities. But, whatever; for all intents and purposes they’re supposed to be 100% convincing as young men.

As the two nekkidly frolic in the water, it becomes clear that they are being watched by less-than-savory eyes. The peeper turns out to be Pando, an almost unimaginably shoddy-looking satyr whose costume looks like the budget could only afford the horns, a panpipe, and the lower half of a tatty gorilla suit. Seriously, I’ve seen better outfits that were built and designed by drunks five minutes before a Halloween party.

As Pando approaches the river’s edge the twins catch sight of the “horn” dangling between his legs (which is not visible at any point in the entire film, thank the gods), and assuming that said implement is a weapon the bareassed babes storm the shore and beat the piss out of the poor, fake-looking bastard.


After having his ass handed to him, Pando beats a hasty retreat, presumably to muster reinforcements, while the twins get dressed and hurry home only to discover the forces of Traigon (this time numbering around ten and lead by a goateed baddy named Krakanon) decimating their home. The soldiers rape and put the twins’ sister to the sword, shoot mom in the back with an arrow, and dad puts up futile resistance with what I guess are supposed to be a pair of “chuks” before getting pin cushioned with arrows. (Hey, don’t laugh: the nunchaku, made famous by the inimitable Bruce Lee, were originally used as grain flails by Asian farmers back in days until they realized they could be used to beat the living motherfuck out deserving douchebags.)

Suddenly, TTWAO arrive on the scene, turn blue in what I guess is a display of them “powering up” but exhibiting no skills of sorcery whatsoever, and beat the snot out of all comers, allowing a few to escape home to complain to Traigon.

As the twins mourn their dead, Pando returns, this time with Valdar the Viking in tow; Valdar is the living, breathing avatar of the comic strip character Hagar the Horrible, and the nano-second the guy showed up onscreen the entire audience laughed its ass off, and from that moment on no one left their seats for fear of missing anything else as utterly ludicrous.

I mean, look at these douchebags!!!

And as if his visual were not stupid enough, the Hagar-looking motherfucker is hilariously dubbed with a half-assed stentorian voice that renders such lines as “By Modin!” (Yeah, I know; it’s a script error, not mine because I’m down with the Aesir) and “By Yggdrasil! ‘Tis sorcery!” so funny that you will spew beer out of your nose.

The Hagar dude praises the “lads” fighting acumen, and after hearing about their grudge against Traigon agrees to join them on the path of vengeance, persuading them to build a pyre and burn their family’s corpses. (BTW, what the fuck kind of Viking is this douchebag if he can’t instantly spot TTWAO as hot chicks?) Then kung fu Moses shows up again, gives the “boys” some “who cares?” info regarding their vendetta, tells them that "When all seems lost, use the name: Vitaan!," and then hops onto the blazing pyre for no apparent reason, a move that drew a collective “Whaaa?!!?” from the soused audience. The Hagar dude then suggests that they find his pal Erlik to complete their “heroic” band, so they set off to the nearest city to locate the guy.

This so-called city would barely pass muster in a junior high school production of MAN OF LA MANCHA, and as our heroes make their way among the various stock types found in these tales we are finally introduced to the roguish Erlik, a smarmy bastard if ever there was one, played by an actor with a white guy Afro who is trying his damnedest to be Han Solo (and failing to a staggering degree). The second I laid eyes on this prick I wanted to cave his skull in with a frozen Butterball turkey, and I could feel that the whole audience was right there with yours truly.

After starting a pathetic fight in a tavern, Erlik runs into our heroes, and with the crew assembled the adventure proper finally begins, such as it is.

Once they’ve left the site of pathetic barroom violence, our mighty band of warriors retires to a squalid room so they can regroup and freshen up. But, unbeknownst to them, they have been watched and tailed by a topless hottie whose ass Erlik bit back at the local (see above), and she’s actually a spy for Traigon! As this skank listens at the door, the Hagar dude and Erlik converse about how Erlik’s actually a prince who’s taken to adventuring rather than face up to his royal duties — a bit of dialogue that runs by so quickly, you’ll miss it if you take the time to sneeze — but that narrative point comes to a screeching halt when TTWAO innocently disrobe. Now I have absolutely nothing against the brandishing of titties, but this scene is utterly gratuitous since there is no trace of anywhere for any of the characters to bathe, so the twins just whip out their own twins simply for the sake of a dairy display.

Anyway, this prompts the Hagar dude to squirm-inducingly attempt to explain to the “lads” exactly what the difference between male and female is — which leads to more confused unleashing of the sisters’ rib rockets — but when the Viking decides that the full explanation can wait until later, he and Erlik fuck off to the gods know where, leaving TTWAO alone to be lured away by the skanky spy.

Once in the clutches of Krakanon, TTWAO are subjected to a test of fire because "The god Agni will know the firstborn!" and it is soon determined which is which. Pleased as punch, Krakanon promises the superfluous twin to the guy in the pitiful ape suit for his own, er, "amusement" (picture that coupling...eeurgh), but at this point the guys show up and rescue TTWAO and they make like a baby and head out (into the forest, that is). However, a cadre of horny ape dudes shows up and lob primitive laughing gas bombs — yes, you read that right — at our heroes, making off with one of TTWAO and that hambone Erlik. I guess the ape dudes were hoping to get the right twin and just praying to get lucky about it because there is no identifying mark to tell them apart at this point, but I quibble.

So now Traigon has the firstborn and Erlik is deemed of no use, so Traigon pretends to release him (in order to keep his soon-to-be-sacrificed daughter happy) when in actuality he sentences the guy to be stripped naked and anally impaled on a ten foot wooden spike.


But before Erlik becomes a douchebag kebab, the ape man rummages through his personal effects and finds a cheesy-looking amulet. He presents it to the uber-tanned princess who recognizes it as the crest of the house of Armog, a fact that she brings to the attention of Traigon. Apparently, since Erlik is the prince of Armog (I'm not sure about the spelling on that, so forgive me) the sacrifice will be that much more powerful if the sacrificial twin is "consecrated with the seed of Armog," in other words osh-osh is just minutes away. Thus spared from anal agony, Erlik is cleaned up and dressed in a truly fey toga, fed some sort of intoxicant and presented to the equally cleaned up and drunk twin, and then the permed SOB takes the skin boat to Tuna Town.

Meanwhile in the woods, the Hagar dude, Pando and the other twin — distinguishable by wearing the same outfit she's had on for the whole film — try to figure out what to do next when suddenly the girl begins to complain about feeling "funny." As the Hagar dude expresses concern, she begins to writhe about in a clear state of sexual ecstasy as she experiences what her sister and Erlik are getting up to. This display shocks the hell out of the Hagar dude (and induces peals of laughter from the incredulous audience)and spurs the goat dude to try and hop on for a ride, but the Viking cuts that off before it can happen. Poor horny Pando then slinks off in search of a cold river, and the sister composes herself, only to once again immediately be overcome by her distant sister's osh-osh frenzy. Now I dunno about you, but if I were a twin I would NOT want to have such an intimate link with my sibling.

Finally the sacrifice is about to proceed, complete with the drugged Erlik wielding the dagger over the drugged and willing-to-be-sacrificed twin, and the Hagar dude and the other twin arrive to challenge Traigon once and for all. Traigon gestures magically, or some shit, and the ground beneath our two heroes gives way, plunging them into the stygian darkness below. They end up in a tomb full of ancient warriors and attempt to find their way back to the surface, but the dead barbarians re-animate with hostile intentions and proceed to menace the hapless heroes.

The horny ape dude, pissed off that he's now lost his superfluous twin twice, goes into the forest to find Pando and muster an army as a "fuck you" to Traigon, and when he does find the bargain basement satyr, the guy is surrounded by a trio of gossamer-clad nymphs, all doing some sort of would-be-erotic interpretive dance around his appreciative form. This image is guaranteed to elicit cries of "You have got to be kidding me!" from all viewers, so don't have any form of liquid refreshment in your mouth at this point or you will spew it forth like a breaching whale. Anyway, Pando is sufficiently outraged to the point of stamping his hooves in a petulant display, and he storms off into the night to rally a meager army.

So the score now stands thusly: Erlik and the firstborn are about to die, Traigon's about to achieve whatever he's gonna get from the sacrifice (we still don't know what), and the Hagar due and the other twin are about to be slain by a legion of the undead. Looks like shit's pretty thick, right? Suddenly the voice of Krona — aka kung fu Moses — reminds TTWAO, "When all seems lost, use the name: Vitaan!" TTWAO then blurt out "Vitaan!," which causes all sorts of crazy shit to happen.

At this point, we have reached the final fifteen minutes or so of the film, and all logic, sense and good taste are thrown out of the window in a display that nearly killed the audience thanks to us laughing so hard.

The drugged-up sacrifices come to their senses and start kicking ass, and the undead warriors halt their attack on the Hagar dude and the other twin and storm up from underground to join the good fight. Realizing that he's got nothing to lose, Traigon offers the uber-tanned princess as a sacrifice to Calgara, stabbing her and throwing her into a moat of fire. The evil god Calgara then shows up, presumably to in some way influence evil's chances of winning, and in a swirling nimbus of bad special effects we see this "god" for what it is, namely a giant Mexican woman's head, half-caked with oatmeal.

This gargantuan noggin then hovers in space, occasionally turning this way and that, while doing absolutely nothing other than spitting one or two balls of energy that cause random patches of dirt and weeds to pitifully explode.

And where, you may ask, is this Vitaan that TTWAO summoned? Well, another swirling mess of cheap opticals materializes, and from that psychedelic non-spectacle emerges one of the shoddiest foam rubber puppets that I have ever had the pleasure to behold.

I mean, what the fuck is this thing supposed to be? No explanation whatsoever is given, and it also hangs around in mid-air, snarling and awkwardly attempting to flap its wings.

Back in the trenches, our heroes are reunited and they watching amazement as the undead barbarians take the field. But amazement quickly turns to shock and disgust as the armed corpses take one look at the scantily-clad priestesses and decide to drop their weapons and rape the holy women. Once the heroes twig to what's on the minds of the revenants, the looks on their faces are priceless, with the Hagar dude providing the final word on the subject:

HAGAR DUDE: "It's been a thousand years...Y'know?"

Then the camera returns to the skies as Vitaan and Calgara snarl and grimace at one another, and their war of the gods amounts to Vitaan firing a bolt of lightning at Calgara, causing her to let out a scream and explode like a cranial Death star.

Vitaan then helpfully blasts open the castle gate with a lightning bolt and vanishes in another cosmic swirl, this time resembling nothing so much as a giant sky toilet in flush mode. Through the gates charges Pando, the ape dude, and a rag-tag army of perhaps twenty renaissance fair rejects, inexplicably supported by a few chickens and goats.

Erlik then confronts Krakanon and subdues him in an embarrassingly lackluster swordfight, but gets ambushed by Traigon. As the evil wizard is about to impale Erlik, two arrows penetrate Traigon's back, hurling him to the floor. We then see TTWAO brandishing freshly-fired bows, and they watch as their father does his cut-rate transporter vanishing act, reminding us that he still has one more life to go, foreshadowing a sequel that never happened.

Soon enough, the battle is over and the peasants and their farm animals rejoice. Erlik strolls out onto a balcony, the adoring TTWAO hanging on each arm, and the Hagar dude asks the permed asshole how he'll choose between the two of them. At that, Erlik delivers the films final line, one meant to be witty but instead leaving the audience ready to jump into the movie and kick his ass:

ERLIK: "You forget, Valdar...These two are one! Haw haw haw!!!"

Everybody laughs, just like at the end of a bad sitcom, and the credits roll.

As the lights came up, the audience sat there in stunned silence for a few seconds and then erupted with cheers and applause; this recounting of the experience in no way does justice to the lunacy of SORCERESS and just how much of a crowd-pleaser it truly is, and since it is inexplicably not out on DVD the only way to see it is to hope that your local Blockbuster still carries the VHS tape. It's become so hard to find that I occasionally buy used copies from eBay, just to make sure that I have several backup copies, bringing my personal tally up to five.

And why is it so odd that such a cinematic schlockfest is not available on DVD? Well, dear reader, it's odd because it was helmed by one Jack Hill, one of the greatest B-movie directors who ever lived and also the mastermind behind the exploitation classics COFFY and FOXY BROWN — both starring the one and only Pam Grier in all her ass-whuppin' and buck-nekkid-with-a-'70's-bush glory — as well as the laugh out loud insane SWITCHBLADE SISTERS, a bad movie to be reckoned with and one that I urge you to run out and rent immediately. So considering his track record, why is this movie credited to some “Brian Stuart?"

Apparently, legendary B-movie producer Roger Corman (head of New World, and the film's executive producer)withheld some of the promised budget (no surprise there) and had the final film recut, shearing off some twenty minutes of footage, so a frustrated Hill took his name off of the picture, turned his back on movie making and fucked off to an Indian ashram, leaving SORCERESS as his last film to date.

But what a legacy to go out on!

Oh, and did I mention that there is no sorceress to be found in the entire film?

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Yes, it's I WANNA BUTTFUCK YOUR DAUGHTER Vol. 4, featuring the classic tag line, "When she's home alone, you can slip in the back door!" Get yours today!!!

Friday, March 27, 2009


Now that the disappointing QUANTUM OF SO WHAT, er, SOLACE (2008) has arrived on DVD, I was once more set to pondering exactly which of the 22 official James Bond movies is the most cinematically worthless of the lot. Many factors can go into what makes for a lousy 007 entry and what individual viewers consider wretched is rather subjective, so I’ll focus my spotlight on the Bond films that are generally considered to be the bottom of the barrel and work to figure it out from there.


The Moon Buggy: a far cry from GOLDFINGER's Aston Martin.

I was six years old when this came out and my folks took me with them to see it at a drive-in. All I remember of it from my vantage point bundled up in blankets in the station wagon’s back seat was the image of that moon buggy racing over a simulated lunar surface, and in retrospect I wish that were the only memory I had of the film. Sean Connery returned to the Bond series after a four-year absence and the unfortunate departure of his replacement, George Lazenby, who starred in 1969’s superb ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE, and the regression in quality was indeed sorry to behold. Whereas the previous film dripped with style and restored 007 to a virtually gadget-free arena of straight-up espionage and shattering violence, DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER brought things back to the already-tired level of lame-brained comic book adventures and strained, largely unfunny humor, at the center of which was a visibly older and much worse for wear Connery. Looking like he’d been subsisting on a diet of pub crisps and lager, Connery sported a ludicrous hairpiece and wore fashions that made him resemble some stereotypical high-toned dockside queer on the make for some dashing Navy trade.

Oh, James...Say it ain't so!

Needless to say, such an aspect was totally inappropriate for our hero, but when one considered the quality of the so-called Bond Girls in this outing perhaps a bit of man-on-man action wouldn’t have been a bad idea. The plot was also idiotic and featured the first go-round with vehicular stunts like something out of a Hal Needham good ol’ boy flick or a DUKES OF HAZZARD episode from a few years later and felt as out of place in a James Bond movie as a twelve-inch penis sprouting organically from the loins of Jayne Mansfield.

Kidd (Putter Smith) and Wint (Bruce Glover): pernicious pooves.

The sole items of interest here were the all-too-brief inclusion of Kidd and Wint, a pair of intriguing homosexual assassins (played by Putter Smith and Bruce Glover) whose talents are barely — and fatally to themselves — put to the test against Bond, and Bambi (Lola Larson) and Thumper (Trina Parks), a checkerboard pair of athletic, gymnastic lovelies who give Bond quite a kicking…only to be defeated by the out-of-shape agent (in a pink tie/scarf, no less) when he quite unbelievably manages to maneuver them into a nearby swimming pool.

Thumper (Trina Parks) and Bambi (Lola Larson): a pair straight out of my daydreams...

Oh, and Shirley Bassey’s lovely theme tune marks what is more or less the demise of the old school classy Bond theme songs in favor of tunes provided by pop/rock stars, much to the detriment of the series’ classiness factor. But times change and DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER was there to announce James Bond’s headlong arrival into the 1970’s, for better or worse. And if you ask me, it was for the worse. Bottom line: this is one of the very few 007 films I can't sit through again for any reason. Not even Bambi and Thumper.


James Bond, now played by former-Saint Roger Moore, encounters a much different spookshow than he's used to.

Once a trendsetter, the Bond flicks would now occasionally imitate popular fads in cinema and in this case the genre being nodded to was that of black exploitation, or “blaxploitation” if you prefer. It was stupid and insulting enough to see 007 pitted against a cadre of stereotypical scary Negroes common to the genre that gave us Dolemite and Truck Turner, but was it really necessary to go there with the whole voodoo element? I think not, but at least we got a mouthwatering twenty-two-year-old Jane Seymour to make us forget the James Bond-meets-minstrel show travesty that tries to pass itself off as a spy flick. This film also gave us the first of seven 007 films starring Roger Moore as James Bond, an element that polarizes Bond fans like no other. For many Bond followers of my age group, we first saw 007 when the films were run on ABC and each airing was a big event in those pre-home video days of yore, especially when introduced to them by parents who were fans of Sean Connery. Then Moore took the role and his broadly comedic take on the character struck a chord with the slightly younger new fans, while many of us Connery groupies remained loyal to the Bond-as-school-bully version. I’ve personally never been able to stomach the humor in the Bond films and really learned to despise it with the advent of the Moore era, so I take a very dim view of all of his entries, with the exceptions of FOR YOUR EYES ONLY (1981) and THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1977), although in the case of the latter I find it disposable solely because it’s pretty much a beat-for-beat remake of the Sean Connery YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (1967), only with the emphasis on outer space in one and the ocean’s depths in the other. The Hal Needham-esque vehicular insanity returns with a truly fucking just-plain-crazy bit involving a speedboat, and in the middle of that madness is the unwelcome introduction of Sheriff J.W. Pepper (Clifton James), a Red Man-chawin’ redneck character who seems to have materialized from another film entirely.

Clifton James as the embarrassing redneck stereotype Sheriff J.W. Pepper.

I guess his countrified ways were meant to contrast with Bond’s perceived British sophistication, but the shit just wasn’t funny and veered straight into the downright embarrassing. And as noted with DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, the days of the old school Bond theme song were over and Top 40 pop music artists took the reigns from John Barry and his collaborators, and perhaps no other 007 theme song epitomizes this aspect as well as Paul McCartney and Wings’ overblown and epochal title song for this movie. I got sick of the LIVE AND LET DIE theme back in ’73 and could go the rest of my life without ever hearing it again; I know damned near everyone else on the planet digs it, and you are more than welcome to it.


Christopher Lee as Scaramanga, the world's deadliest assassin, in the process of being infinitely more cool than Roger Moore's James Bond.

Often turning up on fans' rosters of the worst that the Bond franchise has to offer, this is definitely a lesser entry but I don't think it's deserving of all the vitriol it gets. Christopher Lee out-cools Bond, the Thailand locales are exotic and surreal, a pre-FANTASY ISLAND Herve Villechaise scores as diminutive servant/assassin Nick Nack, and the whole thing comes off as some kind of odd Asian-flavored fever dream starring 007, so I can't quite slag it off. And while LIVE AND LET DIE sought to cash-in on the blaxploitation angle, THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN briefly tips its hat to the then-hot kung fu movie boom with a brief but thoroughly entertaining bit featuring Bond at the mercy of a school full of martial arts killers, only to find himself rescued by the baddest-assed pair of schoolgirls you've ever seen, one of whom, Yuen Qiu, would turn up some thirty years later in the memorable role of the endlessly chainsmoking landlady/badass in KUNG FU HUSTLE. However, on the downside are two of the series' most lackluster Bond Girls, Britt Eckland as Mary Goodnight and Maud Adams — who would return to the series nine years later as the title character in OCTOPUSSY — in the nothing role of Andrea Anders, one of the worst theme tunes out of the entire lot (sung by "To Sir With Love" chanteuse Lulu), and the Chernobyl-level unwelcome return of Clifton James as Sheriff J.W. Pepper, somehow incongruously turning up on vacation in Thailand.

Clifton James returns as uber-redneck J.W. Pepper: What the fuck is this guy doing in Thailand?

Those elements notwithstanding, THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN is a passable entry that can be enjoyed with a minimum of brain cell use.


Bond versus the enormous Jaws (Richard Kiel) atop a ski lift. Now, that's entertainment (?)!

Once more riding the cash-in bandwagon, this film can be accurately summed up with a mere five words: "James Bond meets STAR WARS." Utterly ridiculous and totally without a brain in its head, this one features an embarrassing laser gun battle in outer space between spacesuit-equipped government agents and the forces of the bad guy's private space-army, a Venetian gondola that's tricked-out a la the famous Aston Martin in GOLDFINGER (1964), a truly terrible throwback theme song by Shirley Bassey — making her the only singer to croon a Bond theme tune three times, let alone twice — , one of the series' blandest villains, a zero-G sex scene at the film's climax (which also features one of the absolute worst jokes in the series' entire run) and the return of Richard Kiel as the gigantic razor-toothed assassin Jaws, a character I found to be too over-the top in the previous THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1977). This one's enjoyable enough if you were a fourteen-year-old boy when it came out (as I was), but it does not pass muster for grownups.


Is Bond on assignment at Lucky Cheng's?

Loaded with wall-to-wall hot chicks (many of whom could have been played by top notch drag queens) thanks to the title character having an all-girl army, this flick tested the limits of just how brain-dead a 007 movie could be. The plot is some bullshit about Faberge eggs and the theft of Russian artifacts and their replacement with fakes or some such mess, but it soon becomes just so much white noise as the film moves from one uninvolving set piece to another, yielding zero in terms of thrills or entertainment. Rita Coolidge provides "All Time High," a perfunctory theme song at best, and we actually get to witness Roger Moore literalizing his buffoonish version of Bond by actually appearing as a circus clown.

No, this isn't a Photoshopped image. Seriously.

Any movie that features James Bond in clown drag is best avoided, and that element is just the icing on this very large shit-cake. I found nothing to recommend about this film and urge those who have not seen it to do nothing to alter that state of affairs. OCTOPUSSY is wholly without worth and I can't for the life of me understand who it was aimed at. Certainly not James Bond fans.


Roger Moore's thankfully final outing as 007, accompanied by Grace Jones as May Day (and not Chris Tucker as seen in THE FIFTH ELEMENT).

As much as I loathe and detest OCTOPUSSY and all that it stands for, A VIEW TO A KILL gets my vote as the very worst James Bond movie ever made, and it earns that dubious distinction for a great number of reasons but I'll just sum it all up thusly: every single thing about this movie sucks ass, except for the Duran Duran theme song, and you just may give up on Bond for life if you sit through it. Grace Jones as a Bond Girl who's more masculine than Bond, a plot that's just a colossal "who cares?', Tanya Roberts as a plank of wood, the complete and utter waste of Christopher Walken as the uninspired bad guy (Fellow Walken fans: even the mighty Chris isn't worth sitting through this movie; he's given nothing to do and he does nothing with that nothing) and damned near everything else contained within A VIEW TO A KILL's overlong 131-minute running time would have sunk just about any other franchise and I'm frankly surprised the series continued after this creative disaster. But the one thing that made me aware I was seeing the worst James Bond film ever made occurred early in the film, during the customary pre-credits mini-adventure: while on assignment in Siberia, an ancient-looking Roger Moore as 007 escapes from enemy agents while snowboarding to the musical accompaniment of — now get this — the Beach Boys' "California Girls." Honest to God! I only saw this film when it originally came out, nearly a quarter-century ago, so I don't remember if that version of the song was the real thing or a cover, but either way I guess I should be thankful it wasn't the David Lee Roth cover. Now that would have caused me to commit seppuku right then and there, spilling my assorted viscera all over the floor of Fine Arts IV, thereby providing more genuine entertainment than anything found onscreen.


Timothy Dalton's 007 tries to stay awake during what may be the most boring film in the series.

Aside from introducing us to Timothy Dalton as the world's greatest superspy and bringing him into play during a terrific pre-credits mini-adventure, THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS clocks in at an aginizing 130 minutes and is a stone-cold bore. Once seen, it's easily forgotten and even a Bond diehard like me will put the particulars of its plot out of his or her mind. Life's just too short for dull 007 stories and you will miss nothing if you turn this one off once the awful song heard during the opening credits starts, and that song annoys even more because it's the lamest thing the superlative Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders was ever involved with. Plus, at the end of the film we get the actual theme song, "The Living Daylights," as blandly droned out by the limper-than-limp a-ha of "Take On Me" infamy. I doubt even the purest Bolivian cocaine could keep anyone awake during that one.


For the second time in 007 history, a wedding leads to unspeakable tragedy...(Refer to ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE if you don't know what I'm talking about.)

Many people really, really hate this one and for the life of me I can't figure out why. I've heard it explained away as folks not liking its plot having Bond go "off the reservation" in order to avenge the mutilation-by-tiger shark of his CIA pal Felix Leiter and the rape/murder of Leiter's bride as orchestrated by a vile drug lord (a chilling Robert Davi), a rampage flat-out not approved by MI-6 that features the kind of sadistic violence common to the portrayal of Bond and his world as seen in the books written by Bond's creator, Ian Fleming. Sure it's nasty, but the series started out as quite shocking and brutal in its content, but then came GOLDFINGER and its comic book touches, a successful formula that has been repeated in nearly every 007 film released since 1964. I guess the general moviegoing audience had become so used to the Bond films as over-the-top, snarky self-parodies after Connery's later pictures and the whole goofy Roger Moore run (with the notable exception of the largely-straight FOR YOUR EYES ONLY), so when the filmmakers opted to give us a gritty and violent 007 outing many were not ready for LICENCE TO KILL's meaner-than-hell attitude. I greatly enjoy the vicious Bond of the novels and early films, so the only things that didn't work for me here were the somewhat-distracting presence of Wayne Newton (who I do like, but I find him out of place in a Bond film) and the obligatory car chase/exploding secret base finale involving an eighteen-wheeler. If you like your Bond movies more genteel and sunny then I guess that's cool, but I feel both Timothy Dalton and LICENCE TO KILL have gotten an unfair rap and that's a damned shame because Dalton was a terrific Bond. Much better than Pierce Brosnan's runway model/clotheshorse spy. (Yes, I know ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE's George Lazenby was a model, so please don't write in to tell me I'm being hypocritical.)


Pierce Brosnan cops a stay-awake move from Timothy Dalton in his debut as 007.

Bested only by THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS in the sheer boredom department, GOLDENEYE marks Pierce Brosnan's debut as Bond and it's a looooong 130 minutes that comes to life during the pre-credits sequence and 007's close encounter with Famke Janssen's memorably nymphomaniacal/psychotic Xenia Onatopp. Nothing much to say here other than to urge caution when considering sitting through it; if you choose to do so, have a comfy pillow at the ready.


007 holds co-star Robert Carlyle hostage and demands that the screenwriters alter the script so it becomes TRAINSPOTTING 2, rather than the utterly generic film that resulted.

This one offended me by virtue of it being a textbook example of a by-the-numbers entry in a long-running series. I did not give a good goddamn about anyone or anything in this rote time-waster and was especially put off by the presence of that human bobble-head Denise Richards as — I shit you not — nuclear physicist Dr. Christmas Jones (my vote for the all-time worst would-be funny Bond Girl moniker). Not only does Richards annoy the living shit out of me in everything I've seen her in (with the notable exception of a guest turn in an episode of TWO AND A HALF MEN), she's now forever captured on film as a willing participant in a post-coital moment with Bond in which he seizure-inducingly comments, "Looks like Christmas comes more than once this year." I don't ever need to see this one again either.


Daniel Craig's 007 and Olga Montez (Olga Kurylenko) traverse the wasteland that is QUANTUM OF SOLACE.

I've reviewed QUANTUM OF SOLACE at length, but I'll let it suffice to say I found this film extremely disappointing after CASINO ROYALE (2006) and felt it came off like I was watching someone else play a video game. The film was also very heavily influenced by the Jason Bourne films, replicating that series' propensity for confusingly-edited action sequences, and all I have to say to that is this: if I want to see a Jason Bourne movie, I'll go see a fucking Jason Bourne movie! I'm a James Bond fan, god damn it, born and bred, and I accept no substitutes. There is no excuse for Bond stooping to imitate those who followed in his wake, especially not after CASINO ROYALE, for fuck's sake!

Now that I've had my rant, what do you name as the most rock-bottom-awful 007 adventure? To quote the guy on the receiving end of Dirty Harry's infamous hard-on-inducing speech about his .44 Magnum, "I gots ta know!"

Thursday, March 26, 2009

GIGANTIC issues 1-3

One of the biggest influences on my imagination since early childhood, an influence that holds considerable sway some four decades later, is the work of Japanese special effects maestro Eiji Tsuburaya, the guiding hand behind the best of the Godzilla series (and other ancillary monsters) and creator of seminal Japanese superhero Ultraman. Tsuburaya's works featured a staggering array of giant monsters (daikaiju to us geeks for the subject), especially as seen on the classic ULTRAMAN television series (1966), a show that gave eager kiddie viewers a strong weekly helping of enormous city-stomping creatures that were inevitably blown to smouldering chunks of foam rubber by the equally-ginormous titular heroic space alien.

Ultraman lets fly with his devastating Specium beam.

As a kid I simply couldn't get enough of that stuff and my love for it has remained true, but most takes on the genre have left me cold since Toho Studios' relaunch of the Gamera franchise with 1995's superb GAMERA: GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE and its first two sequels (1996 and 1999, respectively). But now, from out of nowhere, Dark Horse Comics gives us GIGANTIC, that rarest of the rare American spin on the Japanese giants genre, and I'm glad to say it's one hell of a good comic.


The series' first issue sets things up quite nicely: humankind is revealed to be a race manipulated by vastly advanced extraterrestrials who engineered us for primitive superstition (i.e. clinging to the notion that there is a god), violent traits, leading to endless and pointless warfare. Why? Because it makes for good television, and consequently the Earth has been "the greatest show the galaxy has ever seen" for the past five thousand years. Skip ahead to modern day San Francisco and the sudden materialization of a gigantic alien that appears to be a fusion of the biological and the mechanical (and bearing the red and silver color scheme of Ultraman, with a little gray to shake things up). This sudden arrival in the middle of a heavily-populated area results in numerous casualties, and the body count grows when a pack of flying, plasma weapon-wielding green monsters show up in hot pursuit, causing a melee that destroys a decent chunk of the city when the red and silver giant unleashes an energy signature on the level of a tactical nuke.


That's just issue #1 and that's all I can say without revealing a hell of a lot; the two subsequent issues go a long way toward explaining just who's who and what the hell is going on, as well as including a plot development that as of page 10 of issue #2 changes human history for good and awakens mankind to its status in the universe. That action of course leads to a reprisal from technologically-advanced and highly dangerous forces, and when powerful aliens who don't give a flying fuck about whether the human race dies or not use the Earth as what amounts to a gladiatorial arena, all bets are off.


There are many comics projects out these days that read as though they were written with a movie deal in mind, and while I don't know if that was the intent with GIGANTIC, but I can tell you flat-out that it would make for a spectacular big-screen monster smash-'em-up. Definitely an American spiritual descendant of what Tsuburaya was putting down, writer Rick Remender and illustrator Eric Nguyen really get the genre and are obviously having a blast with what they're doing, and that sense of fun fairly radiates from the page. Simply put, GIGANTIC is the tits and I heartily recommend it to any like-minded readers. I'm not quite sure how you non-giant monster folks out there will take to it, but check it out for its brisk pace and virtually non-stop action. And if you know any fans of stuff like Godzilla movies and the adventures of Ultraman and his ever-expanding family of alien heroes from the Land of Light in Nebula M-78, do them a favor and send them the link to this review.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


After getting all het up after reading the new Golden Age Sheena, Queen of the Jungle collection, I got curious to see if there was any other new Sheena stuff out there. Well, imagine my simultaneous surprise and unfettered joy upon finding this 10-out-of-10 sculpture of the legendary jungle badass:

"Holy fucking shit," right? From ReelArt Studios, this incredible piece draws inspiration from several sources, namely the character itself, the works of Dave Stevens and Jim Steranko (the pose is almost directly based on Steranko's portrait of Sheena seen on the cover of his HISTORY OF COMICS Vol. 2) and the striking likeness of artist's model/actress Irish McCalla, who played Sheena on TV in the 1950's. Standing nearly ten inches tall, this sculpture is exactly what I would want in a statue of Sheena and it wisely leaves out Bob, her duller-than-dirt "mate," and her simian pal Chim, whose comic relief would have thrown off the majestic vibe of the piece. I mean, really, check out these turnarounds:

And the choice to fuse all the source elements was simply genius, especially when choosing to use Irish McCalla's likeness:

So now that you've seen it I'm going to do something I never do: every year my friends have a bitch of a time figuring out what to get me for my birthday, so I'd like to obnoxiously propose that twenty of you each chip in ten bucks to cover the statue's cost and shipping and get me this item. I'd be tempted to shell out almost two-hundred bucks for this, but in this economy it's just not feasible, however if everyone has a whip-round...

Just puttin' it out there (and please act quickly; it's a limited edition of 500 pieces).

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


"Stay, hairy beast! Your body must taste the steel of Sheena's knife! And your blood will redden the sands of this strange land!"

-Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, as she gorily drives her hunting knife right up the hilt into the chest of a would-be animal adversary.

You read this goofy blog, so you undoubtedly know of my fascination with jungle/cave-girl types, a fascination that I'm only just coming around to being able to admit is a fetish. I also groove to strong female types — what my buddy Jared mockingly refers to as "girls who could beat me up," the "me" specifically applying to Yer Bunche — so when you put the two together in violent entertainment you automatically have my attention. This latest volume in what amounts to "Sheena's greatest hits" brings us jungle-gal fetishists more scantily-clad, politically-incorrect and ultra-violent 1940's action that was unfairly put to death with the advent of the the Comics Code.

The Sheena formula is simplicity itself and I went into it in detail when covering the first volume of this series a few months back, so check out that previous post for all the pertinent background info. All you need to know is that this second volume is chock full of all the violence, jungle and "lost world" adventure, "good girl art" and scenes of Sheena bathing in rivers (while semi-discretely covered by vines and tree limbs and such as found in the previous collection) and it's all good, dumb fun. The stories are virtually all the same, but when all you're looking for is a hot chick in a leopard skin kinda/sorta bikini kicking ass with as much "Fuck you" attitude as Tarzan on a bad day, you can't go wrong with this stuff. There was a reason why Sheena comics sold well for nearly seventeen years during the comics' Golden Age and it had nothing to do with literary merit; Sheena was all about appealing to red-blooded American males in the dreary days before PLAYBOY and other like publications (well, legal ones anyway) and as such it succeed with flying colors. So put your brain in a jar of formaldehyde for an hour or so and check out this lurid time-capsule of stuff that made your dad or grand-dad "feel funny down there."


It's now 2:40AM and I've been awake and staring at the ceiling for nearly an hour and a half. Before I went to bed I got a call from a friend and former colleague from my days in the Marvel Bullpen and the friend in question informed me that he'd been laid off and now he, his wife and kid were moving to Pennsylvania sometime soon.

Folks, if you have a job in these uncertain times, even if it's one you hate, keep in mind things could always be worse. That's just what I'm trying to do, but thinking about all of this stuff makes it hard for me to sleep. Not too long ago I would have remedied this malaise with beer and tequila but these days I no longer find that a valid solution. Time to break out a boring movie.


I knew a big-screen version of Maurice Sendak's immortal WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE is on its way, but I'd forgotten all about it — more like repressed the memory — until recently when I came across this:

It's due in theaters this Fall and I weep when I think of how colossally wrong this could go. WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE (1963) is a beloved children's book for very good reason and it has a certain primal magic and joy to it that I seriously doubt will translate to the multiplex arena. Even though the book has pictures, the images allow the young reader's mind to place their own interpretation on the individual Wild Things and that is part of the fun; I can't speak for anyone else, but when that book was first read to me as a very young child I had in my head a very clear picture of how those creatures moved, smelled and, most especially, sounded like, and I've been told by many now-grownups that they had much the same experience. Some of us even felt that the long-haired Wild Thing, widely considered a female, was instead a "theatrical" artiste-type, so it was all open to interpretation (thanks to my friend since childhood, Roger, for putting that one in my head).

Now comes another Hollywood adaptation of a children's classic that will more than likely follow in the toxic footsteps of the big-screen versions of HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS, the odious THE CAT ON THE HAT and, to a somewhat lesser degree, the CGI animated HORTON HEARS A WHO. Each of these films robbed the source material of the fun and wonder that the stories overflowed with — especially THE CAT IN THE HAT; if you love your children, do not let them see that movie. It is tantamount to child abuse and should be prosecuted as such — and of all the short form books I enjoyed as a child WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE is the last one I would wish this sort of treatment upon. There is a very real and special magic to that book and to have it turned into a piece of mass-marketed prostitution fills me with feelings I'm at a loss to properly articulate.

I'm rambling, so I'll just sum up with this: parents, before the movie comes out please sit down with your little ones and read them WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE. That act will probably in no way curb their interest in seeing its wonders translated to moving and speaking action on the big screen, but you will at least have done your job and shared that special moment with your kids before Hollywood gives them a version processed for use with Happy Meal tie-ins and disposable plastic merchandise. The hearts and minds of children are not disposable and the mass media dream-makers would do well to remember that.

Monday, March 23, 2009



Elizabeth Taylor orders an all-beef frank in the film version of SUDDENLY, LAST SUMMER (1959).

Man, I love the plays of Tennessee Williams and how he perfectly captures the fucked-up sensibility of dysfunctional Southern families (I was raised in the Northeast but my lineage hails from deep in Alabama and Mississippi, so I truly get what he was going for), most especially as seen in A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE (1947) and CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF (1955). Yet one work of his that I have not seen is SUDDENLY, LAST SUMMER, a one act play from 1958 that focuses on such Williams thematic mainstays as mental illness, homosexuality and general human weirdness, but what makes this one ever so special is the bizarro catalyst for its parade of misery. I've been aware of the story's content for years and I have no idea what popped it into my head today, but I've gotta see the movie one of these days for reasons that will instantly become apparent once you've read this Wikipedia synopsis:

The play features Catherine Holly, a young woman who seems to go insane after her cousin Sebastian dies on a trip to Europe under mysterious circumstances. Sebastian's mother, Violet Venable, tries to cloud the truth about her son's homosexuality and his death, as she wants him to be remembered as a great artist. She threatens to lobotomize Catherine for her incoherent utterances relating to Sebastian's demise. Finally, under the influence of a truth serum, Catherine tells the gruesome story of Sebastian's death by cannibalism at the hand of local boys whose sexual favors he sought. Both his mother and later Catherine were only devices for him to attract the young men.

The cannibalism flashback from the movie... What the fuck, dude?!!?

Yes, you read that right: cannibalism. Motherfucking cannibalism committed by underage boys who were the target of some vile chickenhawk!!! I cannot imagine just what the fuck was going through Williams' head when he unleashed that one on unsuspecting audiences just over fifty years ago, but that element and the pedophilia must have been one hell of a kick in the head for people who probably had enough trouble dealing with all the gay stuff in his various works.

Seriously, fucking cannibalism! That's just plain balls-out crazy and another reason why I wish I could have met Williams' drugged-out alcoholic ass. Blanche DuBois' rape in STREETCAR was hardcore enough, but having a character devoured by a bunch of goddamned kids? Maniacal genius.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


A scene inexplicably cut from Bruce Lee's first kung fu opus, THE BIG BOSS (aka FISTS OF FURY, 1971).

Every now and then a would-be movie-renter needs a bit of help when choosing from an unfamiliar genre and perhaps no genre is more misunderstood and maligned than that of the martial arts flick. Most Americans roll their eyes at the mere mention of “chopsocky” films and the incredibly stilted — and often hilarious — dialogue that goes with the territory, along with a perceived sacrifice of story in favor of mindless violence and ass-whuppin’; admittedly, these criticisms are not invalid, but much like any other genre one must sift through a lot of real shit to get to the gems, but a feature unique to this kind of picture is that sometimes the pieces of shit can be more fun than their more serious-minded brethren.

Marilyn D. Mintz in her 1978 study of the subject, THE MARTIAL ARTS FILMS, defines a martial arts film by pretty much any content that portrays the act of physical combat between people, a ridiculously liberal interpretation that allows her to classify such films as ROCKY, THE THREE MUSKETEERS and THE MARK OF ZORRO as such, a position that I strongly disagree with. Yes, boxing, swordsmanship and the like can be applied as both sport and combat arts, but for the purpose of clarity I would like to define the martial arts film as any movie that features combat involving mostly Asian forms of hand-to-hand and weapons fighting, whether the combatants are of Asian descent or not, although I will be focusing on films produced in China and Japan since virtually all entries produced anywhere else on the globe are generally horrendous specimens indeed.

And now that I’ve gotten the requisite film-fuck horseshit out of the way, let’s get down to it!

There are literally thousands of martial arts films to sort through, featuring just about every possible permutation of ways in which to do harm to one’s fellow man lovingly depicted in glorious Technicolor sanguinity, and it’s the job of die-hards such as yours truly to endure the utter garbage out there so we can advise you laymen on what to avoid and what to treasure.

Even if you have a limited knowledge of the subject, or none at all, you have no doubt heard of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, both of whom have unquestionably done more to popularize the genre to the world at large than any other actors and they have both contributed their share of classics and clunkers. I’ll spare you an analysis of their respective output and just give you the films of theirs that you really need to see; Bruce only made four complete features before his untimely death in 1973 and Jackie has an uninterrupted catalog of films that encompasses more than three decades, so remember the following are their quintessential works and should not be missed:


Thanks to a moron at the American film distributor fucking up, the film that was to be released as FISTS OF FURY in the States had its new title switched with that of THE BIG BOSS, which was retitled THE CHINESE CONNECTION to riff off of the then-current THE FRENCH CONNECTION and its heroin-related content, so seeing this film as THE CHINESE CONNECTION lead to a bit of confusion as this film has nothing whatsoever to do with drug smuggling. Instead THE CHINESE CONNECTION is an archetypal “You killed my master!” revenge flick that has Bruce as the top student at a kung fu school in Japanese-occupied China whose master is poisoned by the dastardly Samurai fuckheads at a local karate/swordsmanship/Japanesestuff dojo . Bruce and his schoolmates endure all kinds of shit from the intolerably obnoxious Japanese because their teacher did not believe in vengeance, but since this is a Bruce Lee movie it’s only a matter of time until Bruce puts his slipper-clad foot right up the collective ass of every motherfucker in the dojo, all while firmly standing up for Chinese pride in the face of imperialist racism and all-around douchebaggery.

Intense and violent as hell, complete with some of Bruce’s — and martial arts cinema’s — most spectacular fights and the mother of all downbeat endings, this is simply the best film Bruce Lee ever made and it’s painfully obvious when Bruce stepped in to stage and choreograph the fights with his Hollywood trained eye since the hack director handles every other sequence in a rather pedestrian style that was common to much of Chinese cinema at the time.


Originally THE WAY OF THE DRAGON, this was released in the West after the success of the US/Hong Kong Warner Brothers collaboration ENTER THE DRAGON — more on that in a moment — hence the cash-in moniker. The story, involving Bruce as a badassed country bumpkin sent to Rome to protect a relative’s Chinese restaurant from abuse by the Mafia, is no great shakes, but this is the only film completely directed by Lee from start to finish and the fights rock some major ass. The highlights include Bruce decimating the mob’s attempts to fuck with his countrymen and a stunning one-on-one battle between Bruce and Chuck Norris in the Colosseum that has justly been hailed as one of the classic set-tos of the entire genre (if not the classic).

Fuck WALKER, TEXAS RANGER! This is Chuck Norris at his very best.


Perhaps no other film exemplifies what Westerners think of as a kung fu flick as much as this textbook tournament story. Bruce is a Shaolin monk/bad motherfucker sent by British intelligence to participate in an exclusive competition on a kung fu megalomaniac’s private island while simultaneously searching out a missing British operative/mole and gunning for the gweilo scumbag (Bob Wall) who caused his hapkido badass sister (Angela Mao Ying) to kill herself. The James Bond angle is a bit of a reach and in no way fits in with Bruce’s established “badass for the little guy” persona, but when you have this much wall-to-wall, balls out ass-whuppin’ who fucking cares? Lee’s fighting skills verge on the superhuman and there is not one other character in the whole piece that is even remotely a challenge for him — certainly not an out-of-his-league John Saxon — with even the final battle against the claw-handed main baddie being pretty much Bruce Lee kicking an old man’s ass, but it’s nonetheless a pleasure to see him and Jim Kelly, the God of the over-the-top Afro, beat the snot out of all comers. For me the highlights are Bruce’s so-unfair-that-it’s-embarrassing beat-down on Bob Wall (in which Lee’s movements were so fast that the film had to be undercranked so they could be seen on screen) and the battle in the underground dungeon/heroin processing plant where Lee takes on about a hundred guys using his fists, feet, a pole, two Escrima clubs and a pair of nunchaku, with a very young, pre-eye surgery Jackie Chan on the receiving end of a savage neck-snapping.

Yup, that's Jackie Chan about to get turned into a human Pez dispenser.

Simply put, a perfect Sunday afternoon popcorn muncher with enough violence for the guys and shirtless Bruce Lee and Jim Kelly as eye candy for the ladies and gay dudes.


Of the many Bruce Lee documentaries — most of which were cheap and offensive cash-in exploitation trash and I should know because I've seen them all — this is hands down the best and it does the Nobel Peace Prize-worthy service of including the full-length fight sequences from the unfinished Lee-directed GAME OF DEATH, thereby sparing you the torturous experience of sitting through that posthumously-released act of cinematic necrophiliac rape. You see, before Bruce took the dirt nap he had begun shooting a film that he both wrote and directed and all that exists of this work is a sequence wherein Bruce and two other Chinese dudes (who are best left out of it) ascend a pagoda and Bruce fights a martial arts master of a different style on each level, finally ending up in a visually bizarre and stunning throwdown against one of his real life students, namely all seven feet and two inches of NBA legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar. The greedy bastards at Warner Brothers and Golden Harvest took the footage and crafted a “movie” around it featuring an utterly unconvincing double for Lee and the film is not only stultifyingly boring but it also has the nerve to paste a photo of Bruce to a mirror while his double peers into the looking glass. But never mind that bollocks; the documentary is both fun and informative, with a wealth of screen tests and home movies, and of course the un-fucked-with ass-whuppin’ footage.


A young nobody when he made this one, Jackie Chan plays a silent serf at the local monastery who seeks to learn kung fu skills for reasons that are revealed late in the story. Not great or spectacular by any means, this is worth it for a look at Jackie’s pre-superstardom output and is strictly optional for the casual viewer.


Attention comics geeks! Poster by comics legend Neal Adams.

This is the first inkling of what was to come, insomuch as it's a hell of a lot of fun and is the first pairing of Chan and the scene-stealing Simon Yuen — father of Yuen Woo Ping, the genius who later went on to choreograph the fu on display in the MATRIX trilogy, among other stunners — as student and teacher. Jackie plays an abused servant at a martial arts school who is taken under the wing of the last master of the Snake Fist style, a discipline the master keeps secret since he is being sought by a murderous Eagle Claw proponent who seeks to wipe out the Snake Fist once and for all. After being secretly tutored in the art, Jackie engages in a series of set-tos and eventually incorporates a house cat’s fighting technique as witnessed against a cobra into his own skills, a bit of thinking that figures heavily into the final fight. A surprise hit, this was more or less remade the next year as…


There are those who give it up for PROJECT A (1983), but Yer Bunche says that without a doubt this flick is Jackie Chan’s finest hour and is also simply the funniest martial arts film ever made. Realizing that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” the producers pretty much remade SNAKE IN THE EAGLE’S SHADOW, only amping up the humor and fight scenes and coming out with a five star masterpiece. Jackie plays an outrageously irreverent version of legendary real life martial arts hero WongFei-Hung, here reinterpreted as a young-but-talented trouble-making kung fu asshole who is the bane of his father’s existence and so incorrigible that his dad enlists the lad’s uncle, the drunken master of the title, to train him and set his ass straight. What ensues is a cornucopia of spectacular and downright hilarious ass-whuppery replete with weapons, rude behavior and jaw-dropping choreography, basically a feature-length highlight reel. Trust me, there is not one boring moment in the entire movie and films this fun are more rare that tits on a fish, so under no circumstances should you miss this one. This also unsurprisingly proved to be box office gold and was kinda/sorta remade the following year as…


Pretty much the same as the previous two — though not quite as good — but worth checking out if you can’t find the other two. Plus it has what may be the first time we see Jackie in drag.


Typical of Chan’s mid-1980’s output, this entry greatly benefits from the presence of Jackie’s “brothers” from his Peking Opera school days, namely Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao. Shot in Spain and placing a distinct emphasis on comedy rather than action, this film goes down in history for the riotous final half hour in which the heroes engage in melee combat with a series of opponents, most memorably when Jackie takes on Benny “the Jet”Urquidez in a fight that rivals the Bruce Lee/Chuck Norris match in RETURN OF THE DRAGON.

Trust me and skip straight to the last half hour, and you will not be disappointed.


Up there with THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and THE GODFATHER PART 2 as a sequel that may be better than the film that spawned it and makes you say, “Holy FUCK! That was a KICKASS movie!,” this fifteen-years-later sequel is simply amazing from start to finish and is considered by some to be the finest martial arts film ever made. I don’t agree with that assessment, but this sure is one entertaining mammajamma and a more than worthy companion to the original. I won’t recap the plot in order to save the surprises for the first time viewer, but if you can, track down the Hong Kong version since the American release — titled LEGEND OF DRUNKEN MASTER — chops off the politically incorrect ending in which our hero has quite by necessity drunk himself into a broadly-played state of mental retardation. As a catalog of stunning beatdowns this film is hard to surpass and may actually be a bit more palatable to the layman than the original because of the slicker, faster production values.

Now that you have the skinny on the gods of kung fu cinema, here are a few picks that may or may not be found at your local Cocksucker, er, Blockbuster Video, but each has virtues that make them all special and a lot of fun, so here we go:


Chia Ling — also known in the West as Judy Lee — stars here as a badassed kung fu chick who gets two poisoned darts fired directly into her eyeballs and spends the rest of the movie doing the DRUNKEN MASTER thing and getting ripped to the tits on rice wine, a prescribed treatment that is guaranteed to cure her blindness (???). Yeah, she’s blind, but that doesn’t stop her from kicking the ass of pretty much everyone she encounters. In fact, if we weren’t told that she’s blind we’d never have known it. There’s also a nearly incomprehensible main plot that has something to do with a bunch of bad guys out to get revenge on the magistrate who imprisoned their leader (I think), the inevitable final melee that involves an over-the-top comedic government official who may be cinema’s only pipe-smoking kung fu flaming homosexual badass, the bizarre antics of “the Poison Dwarf,” and there’s even a ludicrous romantic subplot in which the male half of the couple turns into a demon, complete with Sub-Mariner eyebrows, for no adequately explained reason. Feeling like it was edited by a weed whacker-wielding psycho on some bad brown acid, this film makes virtually no sense whatsoever but it’s lively as hell and never goes much longer than two or three minutes without a fight breaking out. In fact, this is what I’d imagine a kung fu movie lensed by a nine-year-old might look like and it even exudes a childlike sense of sheer fun.


Considered in some circles to be the best kung fu film ever made — an opinion I do not share — this tells the story of a warrior cult who believe in a quasi-magical form of pugilism that will make them immune to bullets. Learning nothing from the deaths of wave after wave of ventilated adepts during tests against rifles fired at them at point blank range, the head of the cult orders the assassination of their former top instructor, now deemed a traitor thanks to his denouncing their belief in bulletproof kung fu as suicide and leaving the cult to become a recluse. The student sent to kill him has been brainwashed into a state of homicidal zealotry and it’s up to a female adept who has remained loyal to the former instructor to stop the assassin and/or find and warn the elder, both difficult tasks. When the assassin and the adept clash, it’s great fun as they both seek to accomplish their missions in secret while steering clear of an abbot who also wants to plant his foot in the former instructor’s ass. It all snowballs to the inevitable conclusion and to say more would spoil the surprises, but I will say that you get many incredible displays of classical kung fu styles performed by the cream of the Shaw Brothers studio crop.


Attention comics geeks! Poster by comics legend Nick Cardy.

This is without question my favorite martial arts film that doesn’t have a classical setting and is also my absolute favorite karate flick. The incomparable Sonny Chiba stars as Terry Tsurugi, a lethally skilled thug for hire in 1974 Tokyo who must protect an oil heiress from the combined forces of the Mafia and the Yakuza (who for some reason are said to be based in Hong Kong, which would actually make them Triads, but why quibble?). That’s pretty much the basic plot, but as the story unfolds we get to know Tsurugi and see the source of his animalistic rage, a rage that is frequently expressed in a graceless ballet of maiming, bones broken in x-ray and spewing blood, all of which won the film the first MPAA-assigned X rating for graphic violence. Not for the squeamish or easily offended, this is an exploitation milestone and should be seen at least once.

And Sonny Chiba’s performance is simply unforgettable.


An early Jet Li film, this is a charming and light-hearted comedy/romance about two families who live on opposite sides of a river; one family has nothing but sons, the other nothing but daughters and all of them are masters of kung fu. Li shines as the eldest son and the two families continually war against each other in an effort to see whose style is better. The fu on display is exemplary, particularly that of Li and a kid called “Monkey Boy” and it all comes to a head when an army of bandits attempt to abduct the girls. The would-be abduction ignites a twenty-minute martial arts free-for-all replete with flying limbs and spectacular weapons forms that must be seen to be believed.


Beautiful Shaw Brothers regular Hui Ying Hung gets her only headlining role as a proper, traditionally-raised girl from the country who marries a man old enough to be her father, much to the chagrin of his Western-influenced son.

The foxy-as-hell awesomeness of Hui Ying Hung. I mean, day-um!!!

Our heroine must endure her new nephew’s disapproval and attempts to get her to leave, all while trying to adapt to a more sophisticated life with modern trappings. And as if that wasn’t enough, she also has to thwart a plot to screw over the government. Good thing she also happens to be a hardcore kung fu phenom! The film culminates in a multi-person nonstop kung fu brawl that goes on for over a half hour — seriously! — and is so exhausting that I had to stop the DVD about halfway through to take a break.


Imported by Warner Brothers at the beginning of the Seventies kung fu movie boom, this Shaw Brothers epic tells the story of the Mountain Bandits, a bunch of Robin Hood-esque folk heroes, and their rescue of the unjustly imprisoned Jade Dragon, a pole fighting master who is framed for treason by his adulterous wife and the steward of his house. Loaded with colorful characters — Black Whirlwind and Young Dragon steal the movie — and crazy fights, this is more fun than it has any right to be and includes a scene where a bad guy warns one of his men against the technique of one of the heroes thusly: “Watch out! The Double-Kick of Death!!!,” at which point the wielder of the aforementioned technique proceeds to kick the guy THREE times. Entertaining as a motherfucker.


It’s the old Chinese versus Japanese thing again, but this time it’s in the hands of infamous director Chang Cheh, widely and not unfairly hailed as the most bloodthirsty of the Shaw Brothers helmers. A bunch of sneaky ninjas slowly decimate a Chinese kung fu school with the help of a female spy and “the five element ninjas,” and the one surviving student escapes to train in a style specifically designed to defeat the five elements. Old school kung fu at its best and the final fight against the master ninja has a shockingly explosive ending that was understandably edited for television airings in the 1980's.


The five students of the Poison Clan have left the temple and entered the outside world, and their aging master sends his last pupil to find out what has become of them. What’s the big deal, you may ask? Well, the five students are each masters of individual skills that grant them superhuman powers to complement their prodigious kung fu expertise; there’s the Toad (invulnerability), the Snake (penetrating strikes), the Centipede (multiple fist attacks), the Scorpion (stunning kicking prowess) and the Lizard (ability to cling to walls like Spider-Man and kick your ass at the same time), all of whom were groomed in evil skills that if misused could threaten the world at large. The remaining pupil has been schooled in a bit of each technique and must determine if the Venoms are using their abilities for good or ill, and if they have become villains they must be stopped, which is only possible by allying with at least one of the wayward Venoms. Much intrigue and creative violence ensues, culminating in an outrageous fight with the Lizard standing on the wall and kicking ass.


A character study of two warring schools who each seek the spotlight position in a traditional lion dance festival, this film features several great fights but really focuses on the importance of taking one’s training seriously and not using it for purposes of showing off, a lesson painfully learned by one of the protagonists.


One of the best Shaw Brothers films and unquestionably the film that made Gordon Liu a star, this recounts the supposedly true story of San Te, the man who brought Shaolin kung fu to the outside world. Basically a feature-length look at one man’s years-long training for the cause of justice, the film holds the viewer riveted from start to finish, each frame made more involving due to Liu’s ultra-expressive, sad-eyed visage. The kung fu is exquisite and the hero’s accidental invention of the three-sectional staff is a gem. This is a perfect film to show to people who aren’t into martial arts films since the movie intimately focuses on San Te’s personal struggle, a struggle that just happens to involve half a decade’s grueling study in the killing arts.


A young man (Gordon Liu) dreads entering into an arranged marriage with the daughter of his father's Japanese business partner. That is until he sees his cute-as-hell bride. The two marry and all goes swimmingly until the wife is revealed to be a mistress of the Japanese fighting arts, a fact that ignites an ongoing battle between the spouses over which is better, Chinese kung fu or Japanese budo. The two square off over hand-to-hand skills and swordsmanship, with the husband soundly defeating the wife, while smugly gloating over Chinese superiority the whole time. Having had enough, the wife attacks her husband with ninja trickery and defeats him, which leads her husband to denounce her abilities as "murder" and not martial arts. Thoroughly offended, the wife promptly leaves her husband and returns to her family home, and at his servant's insistence the husband gets shitfaced drunk and writes his wife a scathing letter that pisses all over Japanese martial arts. The letter is intercepted by her male relatives, each one a hardcore master, and HOO BOY!!! are they pissed off. The Japanese masters then show up at the husband's home, declaring that each of them will take him on one at a time each day in order to disprove his insulting comments. What ensues is a joy to behold as Gordon Liu puts his money where his mouth is and kicks much Rising Sun ass while simultaneously gaining his in-laws' respect and winning over his fiercely traditional wife (she stops wearing her formal kimono and adopts Chinese garb while cheering him on; not exactly subtle storytelling, but it works). Nobody gets killed and the film ends on a note of two proud cultures reaching an understanding, something you never see in a Chinese versus Japanese scenario. Perhaps the perfect martial arts date movie because love — and being a total badass — conquers all.


One of the all-time classics, this one relates the story of a Peking opera performer who enjoys his wine a bit too much and endures great tragedy as a result. The hero performs tales of the legendary Monkey King onstage with his beautiful sister (the toothsome Hui Ying Hung) and unfortunately the girl’s beauty arouses the lust of a local whorehouse owner (played by perennial all-purpose bad guy Lo Lei, here seen in a rare appearance without his trademark long white wig and beard) who frames the hero for drunkenly raping his concubine. Protesting his innocence, the hero is sentenced to death but is saved when his sister offers to become the brothel owner’s woman (you know what that means), but the bad guy is such an outright son of a bitch that he needlessly and sadistically adds injury to insult by having the innocent actor’s hands savagely crippled. The story then skips ahead a few years to find the actor now barely scraping out a living as a candy salesman, aided by his pet monkey. The hero soon attracts an unwanted sidekick in the form of "Monkey," a young street urchin whose apelike demeanor earned him his nickname, and the two soon come to depend on each other. When local ruffians kill his real monkey after he is unable to pay protection money, the hero trains Monkey to take the place of his pet. While working at another job to bring in extra cash, Monkey catches sight of the hero’s sexually enslaved sister and attempts to rescue her. After the inevitable ass-kicking, Monkey begs the actor to train him in monkey kung fu so he can save the sister, plunging the story into a grueling training sequence. After much intense hard work, Monkey proves to be a natural prodigy at the simian style and he and his master storm the whorehouse to lay down some righteous payback. Unquestionably one of the most satisfying revenge flicks, this is stunning in every way.

Honorable mention: YES, MADAM (1985) and RIGHTING WRONGS (1986)

Both of these are recommended due to the presence of Cynthia Rothrock, a petite blonde American kung fu champ who can outfight any man. YES, MADAME pairs her with a young Michelle Yeoh (CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON)

and the final fight scene is fucking incredible, so much so that it has been known to make non-believers fans of kung fu movies.

RIGHTING WRONGS pairs Rothrock with Yuen Biao, but for all intents and purposes Rothrock owns the film, especially during her blistering fight with the equally badassed Karen Shepard. Both films are definitely worth checking out for the awesome fights, but both have dated badly and bear all the visual earmarks of mid-1980’s action cinema that very quickly became quite tired.

And with that, let me remind you to add any of your own picks to the comments section.