I should note that I will be dealing heavily in spoilers for some of these movies, but in general those are movies I would absolutely not recommend another human being actually watch. Still, fair warning. Also, films denoted with an asterisk are first-time watches. Films denoted with TWO asterisks before the title are available on Netflix Instant!
My request is simple: For every movie I watch, I am asking for a small donation. I watched 90 movies last October. This year I will probably not quite hit that number, but I will still try to watch as many films as I can. Assuming I hit more around 50-60 films, a donation of just 10 cents per movie would be a total donation of $5 or $6. For the price of a bargain matinee, you could help out needy pug dogs! Even if you just pledged 5 cents or a penny per movie, every cent will go to help out pugs who need homes and medical care. You could alternately make a straightforward donation of whatever amount you wish if you prefer. Additionally, if you would like, I will take requests to watch excruciatingly bad movies and write them up in my reviews for extra pledges! Every little bit helps and many hands make for light work. Together, we can make a big difference for some sweet, weird-lookin’ little dogs who need our help! This year, I’ve chosen a different pug rescue: Curly Tail Pug Rescue, based out of New York City.
Criminally Insane* (1975, dir. Nick Philips, aka Nick Millard)- aka Crazy Fat Ethel, which is a much more descriptive title for what actually happens in the movie. Ethel (Priscilla Alden) is released from a mental institution into the care of her grandmother (Jane Lambert). It’s not entirely clear why this is, as Ethel is obviously still violently disturbed, and within a short time of living with her grandmother Ethel has stabbed the old woman to death for locking a cupboard in order to keep Ethel from eating everything in the house. Things deteriorate from there until a police detective (exploitation legend George “Buck” Flower) starts nosing around when other people start to turn up missing. If you didn’t know any better, you might think director Nick Millard was a sort of West Coast equivalent of Andy Milligan– and from a technical standpoint, that’s not entirely incorrect. However, Millard’s film lacks the urgency of the best of Milligan, and the bright California sun is a striking contrast to Milligan’s New York grime. I’ll be seeing the shot-on-video 80s sequel later this month.
The Boxer’s Omen* (1983, dir. Chih-Hung Kuei)- WOW. This is one of a series of “black magicsploitation” films from Shaw Brothers that started with Black Magic (1975). Thai Boxer Mr. Bu-Bo (Bolo Yeung, star of Chinese Hercules) loses a title match to a fighter in Hong Kong, and in retaliation Bu-Bo punches him in the back of the head, damaging his spine and paralyzing the man for life. Too bad for Bu-Bo that fighter’s older brother is Chan Hung (Philip Kao Fei), a tough gangster who vows to travel to Thailand and avenge his brother. After making a very public challenge to Mr. Bu-Bo, Hung is sidetracked and visits a Buddhist temple, where he becomes entangled in the battle between a monk on the verge of immortality and a group of black magicians. The monk killed one of the magician’s familiars, and in retaliation they are determined to curse him to prevent him from gaining immortality. Hung joins the monks and trains for an amazing black magic fight, but after his initial victory can he stay true to the tenets of Buddhism and keep his power for future battles? Not to spoil anything, but when he returns to Hong Kong he also returns to his live-in girlfriend after being a monk for three months– you do the math. The Boxer’s Omen is really bizarre, packed with crazy black magic fights and increasingly disgusting spellcasting that frequently calls for the magician to chew something up and spit it out; also, plenty of guts. Chances are you’ve never seen anything quite like The Boxer’s Omen; I know I hadn’t, and I’m anxious to check out more of the Shaw Brothers “black magic” films!
**Giallo* (2009, dir. Dario Argento)- Dario Argento has always been maddeningly inconsistent, although lately he seems to be in a (permanent?) slump. After the Mother of Tears fiasco, Argento appeared to be making a return to the genre that made his name withGiallo. Sadly, that’s not exactly the case. Giallo is bad, but for the most part it’s not even interestingly bad. It’s more like watching a couple of middling episodes of CSI: Rome. A taxi-driving murderer is stalking beautiful young female models and leaving their bodies around the city, while obsessed police detective Enzo Avolfi (Adrien Brody) tries to track him down. Avolfi’s the kind of detective who doesn’t work by the book, a fact that he helpfully points out by literally saying “My methods are not exactly by the book.” Avolfi teams up with Linda (Emmanuelle Seigner), whose sister Celine (Elsa Pataky) has been kidnapped by the killer, and they race against time as blah blah blah. There’s a bit of seriously misguided stunt casting in the part of the killer, which I won’t spoil, even though I really wouldn’t suggest anyone but Argento completists actually watch this thing all the way through. I will give it this, though– the film’s (abrupt, extremely unsatisfying) ending seems to suggest that Enzo is not all that great a detective, which is a pretty mean punch line to deliver after wading through this whole movie with him.
**ATM* (2012, dir. David Brooks)- ATM is the kind of film that you can’t even describe to a sane, reasonable person without finding yourself on the receiving end of a legion of questions: “Why are all three people in the little ATM kiosk? Why didn’t at least one of them have their phone in their pocket or something? Why did they park 200 feet away from the ATM? Why don’t they just walk back to their car and leave? Why are these two guys even friends in the first place?” Naturally, none of these questions occurred to anyone on the production end ofATM, because then there wouldn’t have been a movie. It’s really astonishing how dumb ATMis– the film totally relies on its three main characters being completely incapable of making decisions and taking actions. There are repeated opportunities for all three of them to just run to their car and drive off, but instead they stand around debating whether or not they should run to the car and drive off until the opportunity has passed. Again. Also, I’m all for movies leaving open questions, but that’s not quite what ATM does. It just doesn’t bother to supply a motive for its killer’s actions at all, probably assuming nobody in the audience could possibly be bothered to care. They’re certainly not wrong on that count.
First-time views for October: 28
Total views for October: 36