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Sunday, May 30, 2010


If there's one thing I never imagined I would see, it's the sight of the Riddler initiating an act of drooly "snowballing" and doing that famous lunatic giggle as he enthusiastically eats Bruce Wayne's fiancée's asshole.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Like many superhero geeks, the classic Adam West BATMAN teevee show from the 1960's was a favorite during my formative years and it very strongly instilled certain virtues in me at a young age that are still in place today. Hey, if Batman said it was a good idea to wear a seat belt, you had goddamned well better believe that the wee Bunche buckled up for safety! Adam West's Batman was my hero with a capital H and I admired everything about him, even if he was something of a monotone square. I watched the show religiously while it ran in syndication on New York's Channel 11, and I'll never forget the moment when, after not having seen it between the end of fourth grade and the start of junior high school, I twigged to the fact that the show was in fact a comedy, in fact the very definition of the term "camp," and with that understanding came a whole other level of enjoyment.

Now comes BATMAN XXX, a porn parody of the old Adam West cult classic that is incredibly exacting in capturing the look and feel of its template, and seeing the familiar and visually-accurate characters engaging in activities that I was much to young to have contemplated when I was first introduced to them was a very strange experience. Not a bad or creepy one by any means, but definitely strange.

Taking the first episode of the series, the two-part "Hi Diddle Riddle" and "Smack in the Middle," as its starting point, BATMAN XXX plays exactly — and I do mean EXACTLY — like any given installment of BATMAN, right down to the splattery cartoon sound effects during its sole fight scene, only with its absurdity periodically derailed in favor of hardcore action where the characters leave on just enough of the iconic costumes to be recognizable to their fans. Writer/director Axel Braun's genuine love and respect for the Adam West series is evident in every aspect of the production, and that feel-good vibe makes this one of the most engaging porn flicks to come along in a while.

The plot, such as it is, involves the Riddler (Evan Stone, who played Captain Kirk in THIS AIN'T STAR TREK XXX ) kidnapping Bruce Wayne's fiancée, Kimberly Kane (Lisa Carson), so that he, the Joker (Randy Spears) and Catwoman (the very sexy Tori Black) can seal the fates of Batman (Dake DaBone) and Robin (James Deen) once and for all when the heroes speed to the rescue. As our heroes rush to save Kimberly, they find themselves in situations where they — Surprise! — fuck all and sundry. And it wouldn't be the 1960's BATMAN without Batgirl, and here she's portrayed with charm and verve by the adorable Lexi Belle.

Robin (James Deen) and Batgirl (Lexi Belle).

There's even Molly, the Riddler's ill-fated moll who was played by Jill St. John in the original version and who was subjected to Batman's legendarily goofy "Batusi" dance moves, now incarnated by the foxy and enthusiastic Alexis Texas, and this time around Molly gets to live!

The finished product is good, wholesome dirty fun and I enjoyed it quite a bit, more for its tribute aspect than for its sexual content. A few notes:
  • Best Bat-climb cameo ever: Ron Jeremy pops out of a window to invite Batman and Robin to help him out with a roomful of horny chicks, but, being the heroes that they are, the Dynamic Duo politely decline his offer and get on with their search for the kidnapped Kimberly Kane.
  • Batman and Molly's tryst held my attention from start to finish (no pun intended), largely due to Alexis Texas' spirited performance, spectacular and refreshingly real breasts, and her occasionally incoherent stream-of-consciousness ramblings as Molly is transported by animal passion. I never expected to witness Batman getting graphically laid and I certainly never thought I'd hear him on the receiving end of a line like, "You like it when my pussy fucks you back, don't you?" That leads me to wonder what the Dark Knight heard issuing from the mouths of Selina Kyle or Talia during his comic book dalliances with them...
  • Batgirl and Robin getting it on after witnessing an uninspired threesome involving the Joker and two of his toothsome minions was intriguing and more hot than I expected it to be, possibly because of my long-term familiarity with the characters as portrayed in the comics and their romantic history. The coupling of the Boy Wonder and the Dominoed Daredoll — yes, that really was Batgirl's nickname in the comics back in the days — is in no way raunchy and instead revels in a certain youthful sweetness that surprised me. Sure it's hot, but it was quite appealing and I was glad that the event didn't culminate with Batgirl being facially decorated, as has been the standard in this kind of thing for ages.
  • Sexy in just about any incarnation since her first appearance back in BATMAN #1 (Spring 1940) and definitely smokin' as embodied by current adult video superstar Tori Black, Catwoman presents her backside to the Caped Crusaders in a move that mimics a she-cat in heat, and in no time we're off to the races for a good guys/bad girl three-way.
The sexy-as-all-fuck Tori Black as Catwoman. Mee-Yow!!!

My only real complaint regarding this sequence was that, once the action got started, Tori Black performed it without wearing a trace of the Catwoman outfit, not even the ears, and the ornate star tattoo on her belly took me completely out of the 1960's Batman aesthetic.
  • After the aforementioned threesome, we get the film's classic dialogue exchange as the nude and considerably bespunked Catwoman, her upper torso glistening like a Krispy Kreme donut, observes to Batman as he complements her for efforts and tells her it's time to for her to go to jail, "Of course, Batman, but give me a minute to freshen up, huh? You wouldn't want the prison warden to see me all covered in your Bat-cum, would you?" Somehow, Tori Black managed to utter that line without cracking up herself or her co-stars.
  • Just so ya know: The Joker (Randy Spears) is not chalk-white all over and his pubes are not green.
The funny thing is that after watching the porn version, I was inspired to break out some episodes of the original series, and I find it quite interesting that Catwoman and Batgirl in the straight version are a thousand times more nuclear-hot than their admittedly cute tenderloin cinema counterparts. Then again, is it even possible to best Julie Newnar and Yvonne Craig in their prime for looks, smokin' thermonuclear bods and outright sexiness? I think not. In fact, Julie Newmar as Catwoman is the female who first made the five-year-old Bunche "stand at attention" and feel all tingly in a certain location south of my navel, a moment that confused the shit out of me, but felt quite nice at the same time.

Anyway, BATMAN XXX is definitely worth checking out for BATMAN nostalgists who appreciate a fun fuck-movie, and even the casual curiosity seeker won't regret spending time in Axel Braun's lovingly-recreated and rather lubricious Gotham City. RECOMMENDED.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


I can't do it at the moment, but I assure you I will write a lengthy tribute to my man Dennis Hopper as soon as my 48 hours of cooking are over. Stay tuned and watch BLUE VELVET tonight in his honor.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Is it just me, or do the boys look like they should be renamed "The Tampon Squad?"

At least the helmets cover up their crow's feet and Gerry's balding pate...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


All hail Her Royal Foxhhood!

It's the mighty Pam Grier's birthday, so as per my annual observance of what should be a national holiday, I'll be watching one of her films tonight. I think I'll go with THE ARENA (1974), a Roger Corman women-in-prison flick disguised as a proto-Xena gladiator-chicks movie.

I fail to find even one thing wrong with this. It's sleazy, cheesy, badly-dubbed and displays acres of nubile flesh — if only Xena had even 1/100th of this film's gratuitous nudity! — and I hope that it does not fall victim to the current wave of remakes plaguing Hollywood.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


So the people have spoken and I have altered the Vault to be more easy to read. Hope this works for you!


And none of that stupid "EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE" bullshit, either!


So Greaseball Johnny wrote in to cast a vote for leaving the background white, due to it being easier to read. I guess I can live with that despite it not suiting my usual aesthetic, but what do you have to say, o dear Vaulties?

The funny thing is when I finish writing a post, publish it and then hit the "View Post" option, it still reads as white text against a black background. Then, when I hit the Vault's logo to take me to the full blog, it's all suddenly the white background. Ah, the vagaries of the Internet...


I have no idea why the past few posts are turning up on a white background. I've contacted the Blogger help forum, so I hope to get an answer sometime soon.


Monday, May 24, 2010


The wave of positivity that I rode for the month or so after getting laid off has crested and now I find myself in a blue mood. The other day's screening of KING KONG notwithstanding, little of a morale-boosting nature has taken place in Yer Bunche's world.

Just so you know, I had two interviews in Manhattan today, both with interviewers who had digital copies of my resume, and both of them told me in no uncertain terms that I was over-qualified. What most pisses me off about this is that if they had my resumes and had read them, thus determining my alleged over-qualification beforehand, then why did they bother to have me come in and meet with them at all? I'm guessing they wanted to size me up in person, hear me talk and explain my work history and see if what was listed on my resume was bullshit. I'm guessing that when they saw my stated work experience in publishing was for real and not the expected resume cosmetic surgery, they probably realized I had been around the block and was not going to put up with the same crap that a newbie would. Whatever the case, I think it was shitty of them to call me in and waste my time and get my hopes up.

I've been kind of down and out of sorts over my work situation lately anyway, but this has thrown me into a major funk. I'll get over it in a day or two, but for now I just want to concentrate on moving forward and once more getting centered. That said, I wish I had a mook jong and a bucket of ice for my hands afterward.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Stop-motion mayhem for the ages: Kong hands out a hardcore ass-kicking to a dinosaur that was stupid enough to mess with his bride. Then again, the big lizard did have brain the size of a walnut...

I just spent this Sunday afternoon in the company of three good friends, enjoying a rare screening of the original KING KONG (my all-time favorite movie) and I'm once again reminded of why it holds the place it has in my heart and sense of wonder. My mom took me to see it for the first time when it played in restored form onscreen when I was a wide-eyed lad of eight years old, and it has marked its territory in my imagination ever since.

Released seventy-seven years ago, KING KONG has since become the template for how to make a compelling and grandly entertaining monster movie, and now holds an indelible place in both Americana and world cinematic consciousness. It's mythic, features great suspense, romance and characters that are never forgotten once encountered, and as far as I'm concerned it's a perfect movie. Seriously, I cannot find one thing about it that I can complain about. While some may cite its many dated aspects, I ignore that criticism and allow myself what I imagine the mind set of the 1933 moviegoer whenever I watch it, and every time it kicks my ass in a good way. Considering how much of a ferocious wallop the film continues to pack, even by today's standards, I'm at a loss as to what first-run audiences must have thought of such sights as Kong's brutal to-the-death battle with that T-Rex where he defeats his saurian foe by savagely, agonizingly breaking its jaw, complete with a sickening and slow celery-like crunch, or the sequence where and irate Kong enters the native village in pursuit of his blonde "bride," destroying all man-made structures that stand in his way and chewing on screaming natives or grinding them beneath his gigantic foot like he were grinding out a cigarette butt. Then there's the sequence where those poor sailors first meet doom as an aquatic dinosaur eats several of them, only to have the few who survived that horror attempt to flee Kong on a log bridge that they get shaken off of, whereupon they plummet screaming to their crushing deaths. Those scenes and others give us a mythic fantasy landscape beyond the realm of mortal man, a place one must travel a loooooong way to get to, and once there one has to pass through a thick veil of fog, kind of a barrier separating the world of mere man from this place where time has stood still for untold centuries and beats that perished millions of years ago still thrive and prey upon one another.

Then there's Kong himself, described as a native superstition, a spirit or some kind of god. The culture that exists on the island built the gigantic wall that separates them from the monsters on Kong's side of it, and we're told the wall was built so long ago that the inhabitants have slipped back into primitivism from the higher society that achieved such an engineering marvel, so Kong has been there since time immemorial. For all we know, Kong may indeed have been some kind of spirit or god that's beyond the reach of death, so long as he exists within his own space in his dreamlike world of shadows, humid vegetation, and the sound of ancient drum beats. Once modern civilization pierces his plane, it's all over and his pagan might falls before the greed of man and his inability to be a part of the rational and mundane world outside. Gone are his organic stomping grounds of swamp, jungle and stone as he is vanquished by science (in the form of gas bombs), enslaved and shamefully put on display for the amusement of effete New Yorkers, and his rampage within the urban jungle wrought by man is a tragic and inevitably impotent rage against forces that he cannot hope to overcome. We weep at the death of this noble and innocent savage, the uncontested lord of his realm, as he is blasted off the top of a precipice of steel and cement, only to plummet headlong to the pavement of Herald Square, and though we enjoy the movie viewing after viewing, Kong's sorry fate never loses an ounce of its bitter sense of a great wrong having been done. And all he wanted to love and protect Ann Darrow (the immortal Fay Wray), his sacrificial bride. What audience can't feel for that?

One-way love: Kong and Ann.

It's powerful stuff and its resonance will go on unchecked, at least until the sad day when audiences finally lose the capacity to feel, a day that I fear is growing nearer with each passing year.

The friends who accompanied me to today's showing at BAM greatly enjoyed seeing it onscreen with an audience that was totally and clearly into it. My friends Ginna and Mary-Beth are of an age with myself, and we had all seen the film on local televised movie showcases during our childhoods, Mary-Beth with CREATURE DOUBLE-FEATURE in the Boston area, while Ginna and I saw it every Thanksgiving on Channel 9's late, lamented yearly airing of KONG, SON OF KONG and MIGHTY JOE YOUNG. My other friend who came along for the show, Chi, is a fellow giant monster nut and, to my utter shock and delight, had never seen KING KONG, and upon seeing the original he now understands why I hate everything about Peter Jackson's ambitious remake except for the CGI effects. Upon exiting the theater, Chi raved about how compelling the story was and how surprised he was to see what the filmmakers accomplished so long ago. When we purchased our tickets I told him that while he may have heard the term "movie magic" bandied about in regard to certain classic movies, KING KONG is the film that most perfectly personifies the concept for me, and now he would experience that rare kind of movie magic spell for himself. It made me feel good very deep down to see KING KONG affect a newcomer to its charms in the way that it hit Chi. Yeah, all is good in the world at the moment, and KONG was just the panacea that I needed right about now.

Bless you, KING KONG, and all that you stand for.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


It's that time again, so here's a look at the relatively recent stuff I've chosen to rot my mind with.


Containing the serial THE METAMORPHOSIS ODYSSEY (1980-1981) and the graphic novels THE PRICE (1981) and DREADSTAR (1981), this hardcover edition collects the stories that introduced Jim Starlin's Vanth Dreadstar character and I could not be happier to have it. As a Starlin fan since discovering his legendary CAPTAIN MARVEL during a family trip to Madrid back in 1974 and subsequently finding the rest of that run and his equally awesome WARLOCK run, THE METAMORPHOSIS ODYSSEY holds a dear place in my heart for being the first Starlin project I was in on from the get-go. Running in Marvel's EPIC ILLUSTRATED magazine from the spring of 1980 through December of 1981, THE METAMORPHOSIS ODYSSEY chronicles the efforts of Aknaton, the last of an ancient and powerful alien race that was destroyed by serial galactic slavers and planetary rapists called the Zygoteans (yeah, I know...), who seeks to destroy the Milky Way galaxy rather than see trillions of innocent souls fall to the inevitable encroachment of his enemies. The Egyptian-looking alien traverses time and space in setting up the evolution of beings who can help him attain his goal, and one of these people is Vanth Dreadstar, a superhuman warrior of immense and somewhat nebulous power who wields a mystical sword. Saying any more would reveal too much, but if you know anything about Starlin and his propensity for heady and allegorical cosmic opera, you know what to expect here. The difference is that this time around, all of the characters and situations were created by him from whole cloth and his painted visuals display a maturity and evocative skill earned from his time on WARLOCK. This stuff hails from right around when he did the excellent and moving THE DEATH OF CAPTAIN MARVEL graphic novel, and this volume maintains that high level of quality on every page. The subsequent DREADSTAR ongoing series was pretty good, but I lost interest in it as its narrative slowly degenerated into just another space adventure with little to distinguish it from its contemporaries, but the material found here is definitely worth your reading time. RECOMMENDED.


Thank the comics gods that not only is BIRDS OF PREY back, but its signature scribe, the mighty Gail Simone, is back with it! Always a pleasure to read, Simone re-forms the mostly female team, led of course by Barbara Gordon, with the Black Canary, the Huntress and Lady Blackhawk (whom I love) as the core operatives, and all of the characterization magic Simone wielded during her lauded previous run fires on all cylinders. Rounding out the team with the post-BLACKEST NIGHT Hawk and Dove, things get off to a good start with crisp art by Ed Benes (some of his best work, in my humble opinion), so I heartily recommend getting in on this on the ground floor. The issue is not at all heavy with references to what came before, so it's easy for new readers to get a handle on, which is not to say that picking up the collected editions the original series isn't worth the cash and time. RECOMMENDED.


Cat-Man's quest for vengeance escalates as the Gail Simone-scripted excellence of D.C.s best ongoing series continues. The real question here is, now that BIRDS OF PREY is back and kicking ass, can Gail Simone steadily write the two best monthlies out there? I say "yes," but it will be interesting to observe as it happens.


A brisk and kinda light read, as was the previous issue, this is entertaining and worth reading, but I'm betting it will read as being a lot more involving and cohesive when the first story arc is collected.


This is one of those character/series-specific basic info handbooks that comics companies put out from time to time, with this one featuring a short story and detailed character bios written by Geoff Johns. Required reading for those new to the Flash.


A decent Grant Morrison script and solid art by Chris Sprouse cannot mask the fact that this project has a built-in lack of suspense because we all know that Bruce Wayne will eventually reclaim the mantle of the Dark Knight. It's just a question of seeing exactly how Bruce will make his way back to present day Gotham City from the stone age, and I really could not care less about the inevitable permutations of the Batman that we will see Wayne embody during his trans-temporal journey. This was not bad by any means, but I say wait for the collected edition.


Much like issue #0, not much really happens here. I'm hoping all of this turns out to have a point, but as of yet I can't detect one.


With only one more issue to go until the culmination of her run, Amanda Conner turns in another tour de force of visual storytelling that reminds us of when comics were actually fun. Once she's gone from it, I don't give the continuation of this series more than another eight issues. Maybe.


Though its scripts by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti are always solid, but JONAH HEX is a book that has been plagued by very iffy art. Not so with this issue, because the superlative Jordi Bernet is in the house and he was born to draw horse operas. The whole issue's a treat, plus it brings back Chula, the enthusiastic Mexican whore who's a dead ringer for Bernet's CLARA DE NOCHE and a comedic gold mine, so if you pick this one up, you win.


Presumably issued to coincide with Marvel's HEROIC AGE campaign, this one-shot recounts the origins of damned near every notable Marvel hero super-team and concisely does so with one page devoted to each of its subjects. As these things go, it's one of the best and a perfect place for those unfamiliar with Marvel's over seven-decade history to get acclimated. I definitely recommend it for new and old readers alike because it includes the current takes on all the origins and all the attendant updated status quos for the characters. The one thing that sticks in my craw is that if they bothered to include full pages of art and text devoted to Mockingbird, Spider-Woman, the Black Cat, the Hood, Power pack, Skaar and even the goddamned Pet Avengers, how can they overlook Namor? Sure, his origin pretty much amounts to his parents fucking and him being the logical result, but he's one of the major players in the Marvel Universe and, significantly, Marvel's very first superhero/anti-hero/villain. Doctor Doom and Loki got entries, so why not the Avenging Son?


Same as every other month, this series continues to be worth following and is so briskly paced and sparsely worded that it's over almost immediately after you start reading it. Nonetheless, I'm still on board.


Though not awful or anything, I fail to see the point in issuing this rather mediocre one-shot devoted to Pepper Potts and her Rescue armor. It doesn't tie in to IRON MAN 2 in any discernible way, so what was going on here? Miss this and you miss little.


After the avalanche of dour and over-long crossovers including CIVIL WAR, THE DEATH OF CAPTAIN AMERICA, SECRET INVASION, DARK REIGN and SIEGE, Marvel Comics now launches THE HEROIC AGE, in which they claim to be bringing things back to being fun and hopeful, in effect proving the narrative worthlessness of roughly four years of interconnected stories. (The CAPTAIN AMERICA stuff was by far the best of the whole dubious lot.) That kind of contempt for its audience is bad enough, but the opening volleys of this "new" direction failed to impress me in any way, which really saddens me because it brings back the Agents of ATLAS and does fuck-all with them. This one-shot contains five short pieces that serve as prologues to the upcoming AVENGERS ACADEMY (which is merely Marvel basically ripping off its own X-Men concept), AGENTS OF ATLAS, BLACK WIDOW, HAWKEYE & MOCKINGBIRD (aka Marvel's clone of the Green Arrow and Black Canary "rebel archer and his gal" dynamic) and Luke cage-fronted THUNDERBOLTS storylines, and there's nothing that interests me about any of them. Judging from what I read here, I will not be bothering with any of them, not even AGENTS OF ATLAS, which I enjoyed very much during its original run.


*Sigh*...Yet another Avengers re-launch, this time featuring art that looked like John Romita Jr. phoned it in and a plot that's reads as a super-heroic ripoff of BACK TO THE FUTURE PART II. In a nutshell: Steve Rogers — no longer Captain America and now some kind of "cop of the world" after handing the shield over to Bucky — puts together one of the least interesting Avengers lineups on record, just as Kang the Conqueror arrives to inform them that their kids have fucked up the future and it's up to the Avengers to set things right. Ya know what? I just don't care how any of this turns out. For me, THE HEROIC AGE looks to be the latest cul-de-sac from the so-called House of Ideas, so I'll just stick to the FANTASTIC FOUR for my regular dose of the Marvel Universe soap opera and goings on and leave it at that. 'Nuff said, True Believers!


Comics archaeologist extraordinaire Craig Yoe brings us this charming hardcover collection and examination of legendary ARCHIE and "good girl" artist Dan DeCarlo's 1950's humorous sci-fi series that prefigured the similar Judy Jetson by a decade. Supplemented by a number of illustrations of the character by some current artists, JETTA chronicles the mis-adventures of the title character and her friends in a far-flung retro-future of the 21st century, and it's a far better reminder of when comics were fun than anything Marvel's feeble HEROIC AGE bullshit has to offer.


The westerns of Sam Peckinpah come from a place informed by the director's boyhood amongst real-life cowboy types and his absorption of their reminiscences of the waning days of the old west, and RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY is the film where the Peckinpah oeuvre as we came to know it got started. Originally intended as nothing more than a B western, in Peckinpah's hands RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY stands as a solid and very entertaining tale of two aging lawmen whose era has come and gone.

Western cinema legends Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea as Gil Westrum and Steve Judd.

Western legends Joel McCrea and Randolph Scott star as Steve Judd and Gil Westrum, once partners in law enforcement, but now considered over the hill. When Judd takes a job transporting what's quoted as a quarter of a million dollars-worth of gold from a mountain mining camp, he encounters Westrum for the first time in years and enlists his old friend's aid as a second hand for the job. But while Judd has stayed true to his path as a lawman, Westrum has fallen to working as a carnival games gunman in the Buffalo Bill mold and engaging in endeavors of questionable legality with the young and impetuous Heck Longtree (Ron Starr), and, at Westrum's suggestion, the two plot to go along with the trusting Judd and steal the gold once it's transported away from the mining camp. Longtree's an excitable kid with no impulse control and a hair-trigger temper, so he spends a considerable amount of the story fucking up and getting his ass handed to him by a number of opponents, including the elder lawmen who both rightly think he needs to get his shit together as a man. A major stumbling block on Longtree's path of development enters the narrative in the form of Elsa Knudsen (Mariette Hartley in her screen debut), a lovely young woman who leads a restrictive and sheltered life with her fanatical preacher dad (R.G. Armstrong), a man of the cloth who sees sin in everyone and everything, so he has done everything in his power to keep his daughter away from the outside world. (There is a strong hint of the preacher thinking that no man is good enough for his daughter except for himself, a point that his daughter calls him on and earns her a hard smack in the mouth for her efforts.)

Longtree (Ron Starr), about to put the moves on Elsa (Mariette Hartley).

Upon seeing Elsa, Longtree immediately puts the moves on her, but finds out that she is engaged, a point that frustrates him because Elsa is clearly attracted to his rough-and-tuble bad boy charm (isn't that always the case?). Much to her father's consternation, Elsa tags along with Judd and his cohorts since they are on their way to the camp where her miner fiancee, Billy Hammond (James Drury) resides, and during the trip Longtree attempts to get "ungentlemanly" with the shocked Elsa, an act that earns him a back-to-back ass-kicking from the elder gunslingers. All the while, Westrum schemes to steal the gold, fully aware that he would be betraying his old friend in doing so, but an old dude's gotta do what an old dude's gotta do...

Upon arriving at the mining camp, Judd begins collecting the gold while Longtree, now pissed off about Elsa leaving, escorts Elsa to the area where her fiancee lives with his four brothers. Much to Elsa's horror (and Longtree's, for that matter), it very quickly becomes apparent that once married to her loutish fiancee, Elsa will be expected to share her body with her husband's brothers, a scurvy and unwashed bunch comprised of, among others, L.Q. Jones and the always sleazy (and awesomely so) Warren Oates.

The grubby redneck awesomeness that was Warren Oates.

That prospect is bad enough on general principle, but it's made worse by the simple fact that Billy's brothers are about on par with the ass-rapin' hillbillies from DELIVERANCE or the cannibal mutants in THE HILLS HAVE EYES, only displaying a rather sociopathically redneck sense of humor.

Perhaps the worst wedding in cinema history.

The naive Elsa gets a hard dose of reality when the wedding ceremony, held at the divey local saloon/whorehouse, swiftly degenerates into a Fellini-esque parade of human freakishness and poor behavior fueled by booze that culminates in her attempted gang rape at the hands of the Hammond brothers. Fortunately, Elsa's screams attract the attention of our heroes and they rush to her rescue, holding off her would-be attackers at gunpoint and hauling her ass out of there. The Hammonds are not at all pleased with this development and challenge Judd and company's right to Elsa in a miner's court, but Westrum resorts to a necessary underhanded move (that I won't spoil for you) to ensure Elsa does not end up returned to what would be a lifetime of unwilling sexual slavery, and our heroes leave to return her to her father. But just before they set off to take Elsa home, it is revealed that the estimated quarter-mil to be transported is actually less than one tenth of that figure, but Westrum's desperate enough to continue on with his plan, something that does not sit well with young Longtree, who has come to respect Judd and re-consider his partnership with the duplicitous Westrum. When Judd twigs to Westrum's intended treachery, things take a turn for the worse, only to be compounded by the very pissed-off Hammonds who are bent on getting Elsa back by many means necessary...

I've only related the basic elements of the film's plot, but several of what would become recurring themes in Peckinpah's films are set in stone with this narrative. The plight of the elder gunslinger becoming a dinosaur with the advent of the 20th century, examinations of masculine loyalty, the redemption of men who have lost their moral way, it's all here, plus a very sympathetic female character in Elsa. Who can't understand the sadness of her desire to escape her smothering life on her dad's farm, only to have her dreams of a better, more exciting life utterly crushed by her filthy fiancee and his disgusting, drooling brothers? Peckinpah is obviously very much on Elsa's side, despite her naivete, thus shooting down his oft-cited reputation as a misogynistic pig.

RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY is truly one of the great westerns and should not be missed by serious students of the genre or even the casual DVD watcher. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for a great many reasons that I will leave you to discover for yourself. (That said, I'm hoping my go-to guy for info on movie westerns, Big Black Paul, will write in with his two cents-worth on this film...)

Monday, May 17, 2010


Stella Stevens and Jason Robards in a sweet love story directed by Sam (THE WILD BUNCH) Peckinpah. Yes, you read that right.

It will come as no surprise that Sam Peckinpah is a filmmaker whose body of work I mostly hold in very high esteem (let us not make mention of THE OSTERMAN WEEKEND), yet in recent weeks I realized I had not yet seen all of his films. Setting out in earnest to correct that gaping hole in my cinematic education, I ordered some of what I had not seen from Amazon and what awaited me was a pair of very pleasant surprises. I'll get to discussing RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY soon, but before that I thought I'd show some love to THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE, easily the most atypical of Peckinpah's films and one of the most under-appreciated and misunderstood.

Coming a year after his fantastically violent (for its time) and simultaneously artistic THE WILD BUNCH (1969), THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE is a work that seems almost intentionally calculated to piss off audiences whose blood thirst was catered to with Peckinpah's previous film. It's a western alright, but when you look at it it's really a love story that happens to have a western setting. Yes, you read that right: a love story directed by Sam Peckinpah, a complex filmmaker and man whose work and person have been labeled as misogynistic innumerable times over the past four decades.

Rated R for no good reason — it would get a PG-13 if submitted to the MPAA these days — THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE is the story of the title character (played by Jason Robards in an outstanding and totally believable performance), a man whose "friends" (L.Q. Jones and Strother Martin) strand him in the desert with no water, yet, after a few day's trek through blistering heat and a sandstorm, he discovers a watering hole and survives to profit from it. After setting up a dinky makeshift way-station where he charges ten cents per drink — the nearest water for horses and carriage passengers is twenty miles in either direction — Hogue meets a sleazy and rather fraudulent traveling preacher (David Warner, in the first of three collaborations with Peckinpah) who gives him the idea of staking a legal claim on the land where the water is. Venturing into the nearest town to make said claim, Hogue lays eyes on Hildy (Stella Stevens in her finest role), a local whore, and in no time Hogue finds himself deeply smitten by her. There are other sub-plots, the most significant one involving Hogue's firm belief that the sons of bitches who left him to die will some day end up at the watering hole and in Hogue's vengeance-seeking clutches, but the film belongs to the romance of Hogue and Hildy, and if ever there were a film featuring a believable "whore with a heart of gold," this is it. The two snags in all of this are Hildy's disapproval of Hogue's plan for vengenace, something that does not sit well with her or the audience because Hogue is clearly not a killer, and Hildy's goal to leave the remote desert town for the high life in San Francisco, a path that will spell the end of a relationship that's a truly beautiful thing to behold. The sweet Hogue treats Hildy like the lady she very obviously is, her vocation as a whore not mattering to him one bit, and his kindness to and respect for her affect the woman deeply, an aspect of the tale that also touches the audience. Stevens deserved an Oscar for her performance, as did Robards, and their romance is a great example of the oft-seen but seldom believable cinematic trope of true love. The montage that illustrates Hildy and Hogue's blossoming relationship once she moves in with him out in the middle of nowhere is both sweetly intimate and heartfelt, and considering my love of Peckinpah's testosterone-fueled cinema of violence and sheer manliness, you can imagine my surprise at discovering the director was capable of anything even remotely within that realm of appreciably tender humanity.

Along with the unlikely spectacle of a Peckinpah romance, the film is also loaded with the most humor in any Peckinpah film before or since, and, unlike many attempts at comedy within a western context, it actually works here to genuinely amusing effect. Hogue's dealings with officials in the town, Cable's initial encounter with Hildy and his subsequent fleeing from the saloon where she plies her trade, the preacher's "comforting" of a nubile and grieving young woman, and several other segments are quite funny and may be somewhat jarring to some those in the audience who expected a standard western, especially when taking into account the film's very straight and dead-serious opening five minutes and largely serious final fifth. It's something to keep in mind when approaching this film for the first time.

Considering how open, honest and tender THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE is, I would have loved to see Peckinpah return to the narrative well from which it sprang, but such was not to be. Peckinpah immediately followed THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE with 1971's STRAW DOGS, a vicious piece of work that more than any other earned him his rep as a misogynist (thanks to its infamous two-on-one rape scene) and remains highly controversial to this day. That film could not have been more of a polar opposite to CABLE HOGUE if it tried, and from then on Peckinpah remained firmly entrenched in the realm of ass-kicking uber-masculinity, forever more denying his potential for the more sensitive story to us he-men who are unafraid of and unashamed about our enjoyment of that which is romantic.

There is much about the film's plot particulars that I have not discussed in order not to spoil its myriad surprises for the first-timer, so I'll sum up by saying that this is a very special film from a director who handled elegiac looks at the old west like no other, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to see a side of Sam Peckinpah that puts the lie to those who ignorantly slag him off as a macho shithead. With that in mind, I especially recommend THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE to any women who never gave Peckinpah a chance thanks to his mis-diagnosed misogyny or a dislike of westerns. TRUST YER BUNCHE!!!

Poster from the original theatrical release.

THE IT CROWD series 2 and 3 (2007/2008)

Our "heroes": (L-R) Moss (Richard Ayoade), Jen (Katherine Parkinson) and Roy (Chris O'Dowd).

When I was last in the U.K., My Man in Eastbourne gave me the DVD of the second series of THE IT CROWD, a Channel 4 sitcom written by Graham Linehan, one of the masterminds behind the brilliant FATHER TED. I was kind of put off by being handed the second disc in a series I'd never heard of, being one of those folks who like to start on a new show from Episode One, so I let the DVD lay unwatched for almost a year, only deigning to check it out after finally watching the entirety of GARTH MARENGHI'S DARK PLACE (2004), another show given to me by My Man in Eastbourne. I must have been in an odd mood when I first attempted to sit through GARTH MARENGHI'S DARK PLACE because I found it kind of lame, but I gave it a second chance two weeks ago and it hit me in all the right ways, proving itself to be a very funny and accurate sendup of crappy 1980's horror programs and deserving of every bit of its considerable cult rep. With My Man in Eastbourne's recommendation having proven solid, I dusted off THE IT CROWD and popped it into my DVD player, aware that two of the actors from GARTH MARENGHI'S DARK PLACE were in it. What I got was a very pleasant surprise which I enjoyed so much that I picked up the third series without hesitation.

From what My Man in Eastbourne told me, as well as opinions voiced by some friends from Ireland — some of the self-proclaimed Eclectic Micks — and, most tellingly, the show's own creator, the first series of THE IT CROWD was rather mediocre and more of shakedown run that allowed the writer and cast to work out the kinks than anything else, and watching it was in no way necessary to understanding the show's setup and characters. Diving in on the second series with no prior knowledge of the show proved no problem since the setup is about as simple as it gets; THE IT CROWD is essentially an office comedy that follows the daily misadventures of a trio of corporate IT geeks at the headquarters of Reynholm Industries who get the job done, but when outside of their insular little world they are each a fucking disaster for numerous reasons. There's the uber-geeky, childlike and socially dysfunctional Moss (Richard Ayoade, late of GARTH MARENGHI'S DARK PLACE), Irish engineer Roy (Chris O'Dowd) and their computer-illiterate coordinator, Jen (Katherine Parkinson), all of whom are relegated to a basement work area that keeps their odd and loserly behavior out of the faces of the company, and it's a good thing they have jobs at Reynholm Industries because one would be hard pressed as to where else to place any of them. Speaking of which, there's also the seldom-seen Richmond (Noel Fielding), another uber-geek who compounded his social isolation by discovering Cradle of Filth and becoming a full-blown Goth overnight, but his presence is sadly minimal.

Not Screaming Lord Sutch: Noel Fielding as Richmond.

Rounding out the cast is Douglas Reynholm (Matt Berry, also late of GARTH MARENGHI'S DARK PLACE), the outrageously priapic son of the company's founder, who shows up from out of nowhere to assume CEO duties when his embezzling dad commits suicide by jumping out of the building's meeting room window to his death in a successful attempt to thwart the encroaching authorities.

Matt Berry as the incredible Douglas Reynholm.

A privileged asshole who speaks in an exaggeratedly florid manner and has absolutely no clue about running a corporation (or anything else, for that matter), Reynholm is a relentlessly sleazy womanizer of the highest order who disappeared for seven years following allegations of having murdered his wife, coupled with a sexual harassment suit, and appearing to have learned nothing whatsoever after being busted for his douche-chill-inducing improprieties. Immediately setting his sights on Jen and every other woman in the company, Reynholm's ultra-sleazy shenanigans are a comedic goldmine and Matt Berry is simply hilarious in the role.

Out of the twelve episodes in series 2 and 3, I only found one to be anything less than laugh-out-loud funny ("Calendar Geeks") and the vast majority are gems. The cream of the impressive crop are:
  • "The Work Outing"-the opener for series 2, this concerns Jen, with Roy and Moss in tow, going on a date to a West End musical with her new boyfriend, a man that her co-workers feel in no uncertain terms is gay. This kind of story has been done before, but not with the results found here, and the scenes from the musical are sheer genius.
  • "Moss and the German"-in an attempt to open up his outside interests, Moss signs up for what he thinks is a German cooking course and encounters something quite unexpected.
  • "The Dinner Party"-Jen throws a dinner party that mingles her non-work friends and her bizarre co-workers, including Richmond the Goth.
  • "From Hell"-the series 3 opener, in which Jen becomes worried that the contractor working on her flat is the same one that Roy saw pissing into clients' sinks on the reality show "Builders from Hell."
  • "Are We Not Men?"-A chronicle of what goes hideously wrong when Moss and Roy discover a website that allows them to bluff their way through pub football conversations with "proper" men.
  • "The Speech"-When Jen wins Employee of the Month (for no feasible reason), she enlists Roy and Moss to write her acceptance speech in an effort to disguise the fact that she knows nothing about what an IT department actually does. What she does not consider is that while her co-workers are geeky technocrats, and therefore the perfect people to write her speech, they also have a great flair for pulling the most evil of practical jokes...
  • "Friendface"-in which the cast sign up on the networking site Friendface and an escalating series of social disasters hilariously ensues.
So I strongly recommend that you give THE IT CROWD a look, especially if you yourself are a geek or have every worked in a capacity as such.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Ronnie James Dio, the guy who replaced Ozzy Osbourne as frontman for Black Sabbath, has succumbed to stomach cancer at the age of 67. A veteran of Elf, Rainbow, Heaven & Hell and his own eponymous band, Dio was one of the gods of metal and his presence will be deeply missed. And if truth be told, many of us who are fans of Ozzy-era Sabbath fans may have respected Dio, but his lyrical floridness and borderline-pathological flashing of "the horns" (see above) amused the shit out of us. At times coming off like Frodo Baggins' acid-casualty cousin, Dio was a solid entertainer, and if anyone had a hope in Hell of stepping in to fill Ozzy's shoes, he was probably the most logical choice for the job, so rest well, Ronnie.

And in closing, here are the complete lyrics to M.O.D.'s "Ballad of Dio" (1987), all eleven seconds of it:

In the dark of the day
Or the black of the sun
He's coming for you

Look out!


It's Sunday once again, so to offer an alternative to all the religious boredom and MEET THE PRESS stuff that would otherwise take up your day, here's a look at the weeks' most interesting offerings in tenderloin cinema.

For whatever unknown reason, it seems like the last two years has seen an avalanche of porn parodies of movies, TV shows, video games and damned near everything else one could think of, but never in a million years would I have anticipated a dirty version of the Coen brothers' 1998 cult classic THE BIG LEBOWSKI, imaginatively titled THE BIG LEBOWSKI-A XXX PARODY.

Not only that, it stars none other then Tom Byron, a porn mainstay for just shy of three decades whose baby face found him frequently cast in horny teen roles (he was of legal age), and whose erect member resembles a long and skinny Sabrett hot dog. (My pal Greaseball Johnny and I refer to the franks we grill at cookouts as "Tom Byrons" and people stare at us in confusion as we giggle like eight-year-olds.) Here's what the product description states:

From New Sensations, the studio that brought you the AVN Award winning Sex-Comedy, 30 Rock: A XXX Parody, cums a spoof of one of the Biggest cult films of all time - THE BIG LEBOWSKI: A XXX PARODY! IT IS A XXX Parody that dares to bring the world a dirty spoof that is better than good and thorough. It is Great AND thorough! When some horny thugs almost drown Jeffrey Lebowski in his own toilet and leave some splooge on his new VHS Porn tapes (the tapes that really tied his porn collection together), it sets off a Sexy AND Funny chain of events. You will Absolutely get to see coitus, in AND out, the physical act of love, fuckin' A, and some Orgasm-achieving from one of the Biggest Lebowski's you have ever seen! What will happen in THE BIG LEBOWSKI: A XXX PARODY? Will you finally get to witness the true version of Logjammin', hardcore, the way it was meant to be seen? Will you get to see this horny Dude get his Gutterballs drained? Will the Dude accept Bunny's offer of Oral Coitus? Will Brandt watch? And will that Cable Repairman finally fix the cable? A resounding YES is the answer to these and other questions in New Sensations' THE BIG LEBOWSKI: A XXX PARODY!

The superhero genre has provided fodder for porn since as far back as the Golden Age of comics (roughly 1938, the year when Superman first saw print, and the late 1940's). Think about it: hunky he-men in tight-fitting outfits rescuing heaving-chested, often scantily-clad women from peril. How is that not the perfect setup for uglies-to-uglies shenanigans? As a convenient case in point, I have a collection of Tijuana Bibles — those old, illegal ultra-filthy and, more often than not, poorly-drawn handmade comics from back in the days — that features a story where a comics-loving little girl wishes herself into the world of comics, with the help of her Fairy Godfather, and immediately witnesses hardcore couplings featuring some of the heroes of the era. We're talking Superman "slipping the prick" to Lois Lane (significantly while he's still in full costume), aerodynamically-helmeted Bulletman and Bulletgirl, Captain Marvel and sister Mary Marvel in the throes of passionate (and badly-drawn) incest, Captain America and a fleeing female murderer — when apprehended, she exclaims, "Please don't take me to jail! I didn't mean to kill those 20 people!" to which Cap retorts, "I don't want to take you to jail. I've had a big hard-on all week and I just want fuckin'!" — and, most memorably, a graphic queer encounter between — you guessed it — Batman and Robin. The Batman sequence features a bit of dialogue that kills me every time I see it, specifically Batman's utterance as Robin chows down on his engorged cock: "I wish the artist of this comic would create a Batgirl so we wouldn't have to do this!" to which Robin, with cock in mouth, adds, "Me too!" What's most disturbing about this is that the little girl is disappointed when her heroes would rather fuck grown women than chat with her, so she has her fairy godfather transform her into a buxom, full-grown woman who gets it on with the magical figure because his cock "is so much nicer than all the others." As the old fairy "crashes the yogurt truck," Anna May exclaims she regrets that she only has one fuck to give to her fairy godfather, at which point she once more becomes a kid and returns to the real world. Which is very roundabout way of explaining that the gene-splicing of superheroes and porn is in no way a recent phenomenon. That said, here comes PORNSTAR SUPERHEROES!!!

I took one look at the box art for this one and immediately ordered it. First of all, we get the stunning Tori Black — who is also playing the Julie Newmar version of Catwoman in the upcoming BATMAN XXX — as what appears to be a knockoff of the Black Widow (which automatically made it a must for this lifelong Natasha Romanoff fan), and then we have the sultry Asa Akira as what appears to be a nod to KILL BILL VOL. 1's Go-Go Yubari. I have no fucking clue as to who the hell the Lower East Side escapee with the shotgun is meant to be, but I find not one goddamned thing wrong with this. I just hope there's some kind of scene where the not-Black Widow gets it on with not-Daredevil! Here's the ad copy:

Elegant Angel proudly presents "Pornstar Superheroes" an epic 2-disc set feature production starring Kristina Rose, Asa Akira, Sadie West and Tori Black. Featuring action sequences, a story line, and hardcore sex. Do not miss this one of a kind production. Also including a host of DVD extras including 4 featurettes and 4 bonus scenes.

I find it highly amusing that the fact that there's a storyline is a selling point. Then again, that's more than I can say for many current Marvel and DC Comics currently running...

Saturday, May 15, 2010



The previous post featured some text rendered in red rather than the usual white-on-black that's been the standard style since this blog's inception. In looking at that post, I was struck by how good the red-on-black looks and am considering making this the standard style. I've heard from a few readers that the white-on-black text can sometimes be eye-straining, so what do you all think? Please write in and let me know what works better for you.


-Yer Bunche


Yer Bunche and the redoubtable Jimmy Palmiotti. (Yes, that's really him.)

Yesterday I was chatting with my old pal Amanda Conner — she of POWER GIRL renown — and she mentioned that she and her man, Jimmy Palmiotti — of JONAH HEX and many other comics — were on their way to see Ridley Scott's new ROBIN HOOD FLICK. My friend Olliver loved it, but I am always skeptical of any attempt at a rebooting of one of the legends held most dear in western culture, so I asked Jimmy to send in his analysis and here it is for your enlightenment:

I wanted to like ROBIN HOOD…and that might have been some of the problem. It had all the right elements; fantastic groundbreaking director, academy award-winning screenwriter and two fantastic actors. I was warned by early reviews, friends and random Twitter people that it was not very good, but I never let others make that call for me. If I'm interested in the movie and subject, I am going to see it, and I did.

Right off the bat I have to say that this movie is missing a key element in any Robin Hood movie. It’s missing the thrills, chills and…any form of joy. There are great little moments here and there, but between them we have way over two hours of men on horseback riding about, growling barely comprehensible dialogue that never seems to move the movie forward. Maybe if they cut some of the slow motion closeups out and trimmed a bit of the bad guys, it would have played better.

This is a classic example of style over substance in every single sense. Scene after scene, we see men fight and die and yet feel no emotional tug other than that we know Robin is the good guy and the guy with the scar is the bad guy. I had a hard time finding why I should care for Robin in the first place, and the by the numbers flashbacks of him and his dad were not helping one bit. I would have rather watched a movie called “Maid Marian: The Beginning,” but then I would have to cut out the scene in this movie where, along with the Lost Boys by her side, we are forced to witness the ridiculous cliché of having Marian fight in the final battle. Nothing pulled me right out of the movie more than that scene. To me, having them find the post-apocalypse Statue of Liberty half sunk in the sand would have made more sense to me.

Overall, its not horrible; it just felt really hollow to me. I kept wishing for the characters to be written less like cardboard cutouts and, worst of all, the movie felt worn-out and familiar. Look, GLADIATOR (2000) was brilliant, ALIEN (1979) a staple sci-fi film. This movie felt like it was shot the week after KINGDOM OF HEAVEN (2005). I found myself bored…and that’s something a movie named ROBIN HOOD should never do. If the last 10 minutes were the first, then we would be having a different conversation. If you enjoyed KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, then you will like this..I guess. I expected something more, even after being told to expect less.


Having recently sat through COUNTESS DRACULA and THE VAMPIRE LOVERS, I decided to track down the one Hammer vampire flick that I'd never seen, namely TWINS OF EVIL, the last of the studio's Karnstein Trilogy and a film I'd heard was not all that, despite it starring a pair of very, very cute twin sisters who were not afraid to get nekkid. Lemme tell ya, I'm glad that I put forth the effort, because TWINS OF EVIL came from out of nowhere to become my favorite Hammer vampire flick. No disrespect to Christopher Lee's work as Dracula, but this film works solidly for me from start to finish, something I can't say about most of Lee's films.

Taking place in that signature Hammer world that's like some particularly grim fairytale (pun totally intended), TWINS OF EVIL opens on an ominous note as we see a group of witchfinders dragging an innocent woman from her hovel and burning her at the stake. This group is The Brotherhood and they are led by the fanatical Gustav Weil, played by Hammer mainstay Peter Cushing in what may be his most intense performance.

Peter Cushing as the fanatical Gustav Weil.

Basically a pack of sexually frustrated religious fanatics and misogynists who can't deal with the existence of sexy women, The Brotherhood is feared throughout the land for their sadistic activities, but the public can do nothing by way of protest because The Brotherhood has the support of the government. Into this not exactly female-friendly environment come the lovely Gellhorn sisters, Maria and Frieda (played by Mary and Madeleine Collinson, respectively), just in from Venice in the wake of their parents' deaths and now they are entrusted to the care of their uncle, who, unfortunately for them, is Brother Weil.

Frieda (Madeleine Collinson) and Maria (Mary Collinson), the title characters.

Upon seeing their "disrespectful" attire, Gustav's dislike of the girls is instantaneous and he relegates them to their room, where they spend a lot of time hanging out (quite literally, if you get my drift) in their diaphanous nighties. It is there that we get to know the girls' unguarded personalities and they are quite easy to tell apart, thanks to the lusty-eyed Frieda being something of an enthusiastic "bad" girl with an interest in boozing and men, while Maria is sweet, innocent and decidedly virginal, as well as being the never-heeded voice of reason in their sibling dynamic.

Upon their arrival in town, the tasty twins catch the eye of every creature with a Y chromosome, and in short order they are informed of the castle across the way from their uncle's house, a textbook example of the kind of place in horror movies where you just know great evil resides. It's the home of the sybaritic Count Karnstein (Damien Thomas), a sleazy and totally evil aristocrat who would be Number One on Brother Weil's hit list if not for his connection to the government, and he's introduced when The Brotherhood goes to burn another innocent woman and finds her about to get her hump on with the Count.

Count Karnstein (Damien Thomas): giving the amoral a bad name.

In the exchange between Brother Weil and the Count during that sequence, we witness the interesting contrast/comparison between the two characters, one being balls-out and unashamedly evil, and the other committing heinous atrocities but deluding himself into believing he's doing God's work, and it sets the two on paths of character development that bears satisfying fruit as the film progresses. Anyway, upon hearing about the forbidden pleasures to be had up at Castle Karnstein, Frieda practically drips like a broken fridge at the prospect of spending some quality time there, while her sister implores her not to consider such pursuits.

Frieda, yearning for corruption.

Meanwhile, the Count earnestly seeks to be even more evil than he already is, openly proclaiming his desire to become an active agent of Satan and going so far as to conduct a black mass in his dining hall, complete with a naked local peasant girl — who is equipped with an impressive briefly-glimpsed '70's bush — as a sacrifice. Dissatisfied with the performance of the so-called professional Satanists brought in by his chief servant (where one found those back in the days before Craig's List is anyone's guess), the Count dismisses them and himself prays to the Devil in what amounts to a job application, and in no time the spirit of his infamous vampiric lesbian ancestor, Countess Mircalla Karnstein (Katya Wyeth), manifests, fucks him senseless and puts the bite on him before returning to her infernal rest, thus transforming him into an undead suckface and he could not be happier.

A Karnstein family reunion: Mircalla (Katya Wyeth) returns from Hell.

Once happily vampirized, the Count embarks on a wanton and unholy killing spree, setting his sights on the clearly interested Frieda as a very personal "fuck you" to her uncle.

The lusty Frieda, as first seen by Count Karnstein. Ah, the subtlety of Hammer's filmmaking...

Quicker than you can say "girls gone wild," Frieda sneaks out of her uncle's house and hightails it to Castle Karnstein, where the Count turns her into a vampire and offers her his understandably horrified girlfriend as her first kill.

Frieda, fully vamped-out.

From that point on, Frieda becomes a full-blown force in direct opposition to common decency and starts feasting her way through the immediate populace, all while innocent Maria realizes something is quite wrong and the hunky boar-hunting choirmaster at the girls' needlepoint school (who coincidentally happens to be an expert on the occult in general and vampires in particular) begins fancying Maria, a sentiment that is definitely mutual. Needless to say, these plotlines eventually collide with apocalyptic results, and no one comes out of it unscathed.

The twins in their room: guess which one's the newly-minted undead suckface?

Following THE VAMPIRE LOVERS (1970) and LUST FOR A VAMPIRE (1971) as the final installment of the trilogy, TWINS OF EVIL kicks the shamelessly exploitative lesbian angle to the curb, presumably in favor of the titillating twin thing, but the two do not spend even one second face-deep in each others' humid and furry recesses, which is surprising since the Collinsons reportedly did exactly that three years earlier in SOME LIKE IT SEXY, one of the innumerable European softcore flicks, a film shot when they were seventeen (!!!). Hailing from Malta, the mirror-image beauties came to the attention of the American public when they became PLAYBOY's first twin centerfold models in the landmark skin-mag's October 1970 issue.

Needless to say, many an imagination was put into carnal overdrive at the mere thought of the possible geometric configurations possible with this pair of stunners, and their centerfold has since understandably become the stuff of legend.

Mary and Madeleine Collinson, PLAYBOY's first twin centerfold models. Jumpin' Jesus in a basket of honey-glazed chicken...

Sadly, TWINS OF EVIL proved to be the last acting work of the Collinsons, but their legacy lives on in the hearts of vampire fans and Hammer devotees. What I would not give for their autographs on this behind-the-scenes shot...

This is only a third of the shot in question; the rest can be seen in author and Hammer expert Wayne Kinsey's excellent book HAMMER FILMS: A LIFE IN PICTURES (2008).

Along with the indelible presence of the Collinson sisters, TWINS OF EVIL offers a plot that's sure to keep vampire fans glued to their seats and is a firm reminder of the time before Anne Rice pussified vampires by making them into unscary fops, a cultural blight that opened the door for the even more odious pussification found in the TWILIGHT series (aka "Transylvania 90210"). Hammer's trademark Gothic sensibility is in full effect here, aided and abetted by Peter Cushing's fantastic performance as Brother Weil, and the expected amount of gore and boobs that put the company on the map. Though quite tame by today's standards, the "adult" content found here was the good stuff back in the days and it still serves its purpose, yet its excesses are nothing that I would not allow my nieces and nephews to see.

Madeleine Collinson's "rightie": not a threat to western civilization. Quite the opposite, actually.

The sexy bits are handled with considerable good taste and would mostly go right over the heads of the under-tens — a naked boob here and there notwithstanding — and the gore, while shocking, is of the bogus but fun red paint variety familiar to anyone who's seen even one post-1966 Hammer flick. For example:

And this:

The film also contains what may be the best Hammer beheading on record, but I'll let you see that one for yourself when you check out the movie.

TWINS OF EVIL definitely doesn't deserve its rep as a feeble late entry in Hammer's vampire cycle, and I'm guessing it wears that ignominious mantle due to audiences who'd enjoyed the Sapphic elements in the two previous Karnstein movies being irked at the loss of the girl-on-girl action. Whatever the reason for that unfair assessment, it is an unfair cross that the film bears and now the film can be re-evaluated on DVD by those who did not get to see it thanks to it being infrequently run on TV or any of the numerous cable movie channels (although I hear it has run fairly recently in uncut form on Turner Classic Movies). If submitted as is to the MPAA nowadays for a rating, TWINS OF EVIL would most likely garner an R for the very brief nudity, but it's really a hard PG-13 if you ask me, so TRUST YER BUNCHE and add it to your Netflix queue.