So I got my first XCESS DVD today.
Bethmaan, Bethmaan... you're not even trying to hide it this time. Just like RELAX, it's you and we all know it. But while Anthropophagous is banned in Germany, thus giving him a good reason to be secretive about who really released it, he released Erotikill before. So... he's just being a jackass and trying to convince his customers that those limited X-Rated packages were worth what they payed.
First off, the package is pretty nice: it comes in the expected hardbox, but not the inch taller than a keepcase and about 50% wider hardbox we're used to: this is a slimmer, more compact hardbox that on closer inspection, is the exact same size as a standard keepcase. I doubt it could fit 2 disks, but aside from that I think Bethmaan's finally gotten the "where the hell do I store this honkin' thing?!" problem figured out. (That having been said, I fully expect him to announce another Grossehartbox - Big Hard Box, heh-heh - any day now. Those are TWICE the size of a nomal hardbox, and frankly, you could kill a man with one if you were clever.) It's similar in design to the other Bethmaan releases: simple, but tells you everything you want to know pretty quickly, and the front cover is actually quite lovely. And I usually hate modern "photoshop the hell out of every photo we've got" packages. It's Hardbox number 05. Which is weird, since I'm pretty sure this is the first XCESS disk. Unless he'll be releasing more older X-Rated DVD's and this is his way of keeping track of which one. It's also numbered to 500, and I got 148. Not that it matters. But I still like it.
The disk itself is a DVD-9 (Dual Layer), and the image on the front is the same as the "blue" hardbox the X-Rated release had. It looks pretty cheap, and makes me feel a lot better about my own disk label designs. Cheesy bastard.
On to the disk: Everybody who bitched about the quality on the German Hardcore needs to chill. Seriously. Apart from another Bethmaan trademark, a crappy video generated title card, the print is -identical- to the "Director's Cut" included as the main feature. Which, for the record, looks about identical to the R1 release from Image Entertainment, apart from not being anamorphically enhanced and being PAL. The hardcore version includes about 11 minutes (!) worth of hardcore footage... and depending on what you're in to, this is either a blessing or a curse that will make your eyes cry tears of feces laced menstural blood.
There are a total of 5 insert scenes. But Franco only filmed 4. The second insert blowjob is used again during the film's finale, this time tinted a different color. Because as cheap hentai has taught us, tint the flick a different color and it's TOTALLY not the same footage. Like. Seriously. They're all to the same uncircumcized cock, and while he's got decent girth, this isn't Ron Jeremy by any stretch. Most importantly Romay BITES the fucking hell out of that poor dude's dork! Holy hell... I know she's in character and all that, and maybe those who still possess their turtle neck can put up with teeth chomping in to them, but just watching it makes my buddy chafe. *Shudder* And I thought getting head from Lina Romay would be a good thing... ah well, watch and learn. There's also an insert pussy licking. Of the most horriffic vagina I think I've seen in trashy EuroCine yet. Good god, can you clean your eyes out with mouth wash?
Anyway, the hardcore footage is definately taken from a tape source, probably VHS. It's letterboxed to 2.35:1 (like the rest of the film) and has a little bit of print damage, but it doesn't look like the film was shoved up anybody's pooper and then telecined on a barf bag like the alternate German opening in the extras section. You can see what's going on just fine, and the fact that the print is so much as watchable is a blessing. Sort of. Anyway, the film is definately NOT better with the inserts like I'd hoped, but it's definately a lot funnier, and a lot scarier. Neither of which were Franco's intentions... I don't think. *Shrug* The opening scene has Romay smacking the camera with her face, so who knows what sort of divine manifesto this crazy Spaniard works from.
The disk is typical Bethmaan: cool packaging, a host of alternate footage, a so-so AV presentation and a terrible film. (Why the HELL am I trying to bid on the VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD hardbox LE?) I may trash on the guy, but it was with the hard earned money I don't have that I got this damned thing, so I must not hate him too much. Or Franco. Despite that the hardcore version seems to have made my poor wife hate it even more.
Definately a decent enough print to bootleg, anyway. I'll probably make my own composite though, primarily in French (the film's original language) with German inserts, and which title card is still up in the air. A LES AVALEUSES card would be totally tits, but I only have German and a hand full of English title cards, so it may well end up being THE BARE BREASTED COUNTESS. I might even just get lazy and keep it in German. Haven't decided yet. Definately making it NTSC friendly though, so Franco fans around the world can see the horror of Lina Romay biting nasty hairy pussy for themselves.
I also watched the rarely seen Japanese psycho-tronic DEATH POWDER.
Now, it should be noted that there are several different kinds of cinematic weird. Not all films - or directors - fit in to one form of weird. (Miike has been known to CREATE new kinds of weird, for instance.) But I'll try to sum up what I see as the 3 most important kinds of weird...
Kubrick Weird: Not nessicarily a style employed only by Kubrick, but he does it well. He takes real situations, madness and war and obsession, and creates whole films about their effects on people. Symbolism is almost always there, but the film can work on a logical, straight forward level too. The weirdness is there to compliment the story, not be it.
Jodorowsky Weird: Films who's symbolism IS the film. El Topo, Izo, Fear and Loathing is Las Vegas and so many more films are all tracing their roots back to surrealism, in which logic and flow is less important that the images you see and the emotions you feel, though the stories therein can still be taken at face value, if you really feel the need. These movies are cinematic art in a very true sense, and use their stories as a spring board for imagery, no more, no less.
Tsukamoto Weird: This is where Death Powder fits in. Not content to even use a story as it's backdrop, these films assault and disorient the shit out of the viewer who's story is literally only there (or not there) long enough to give context to the film which is currently skull-fucking your reality. Some great examples of this are Subconscious Cruelty, Tetsuo: Iron Man, and Uzumaki. These are films who are trying to entertain, sure, but what they really do is bore straight in to your brain and scramble it 'till it pours out your ear in a fine paste. And that's good eatin'.
As such, I'll sum up the story for Death Powder as simply as I can: a pair of bounty hunters are hired to get rid of a scientist who created an imperfect android for a pack of skeleton Nazi yakuza known as the Scar People. As the scientist tries to complete his work, the two bounty hunters kick his ass, only to learn that they too are on the Scar People's list to whack for having taken so long to get the job done. Trouble is, the scientist has filled the male hunter with Death Powder, leaving him a cracked out melting puddle of retarded goo who just needs a direction to start swinging his one good hand with... but there troubles have only begun, since the android (which self destructed) warned them that "Muu" was coming... and was only 20 kilometers away.
This flick is just too weird for words. Trying to explain it is like trying to explain Eraserhead or Holy Mountain or Gozu. You try for about 5 minutes, and then you just sit the person you're talking to down and show them, since they think you're tripping something hard. You are. These films are a drug. They take you to new places, make you question what reality is, and if you're lucky make you puke and get an erection for 8 hours. Plus you can't OD on surrealist cinema. (Well, hopefully not.) The film is in Japanese, but there's a LOT of distorted, backwards, and random English dialogue which is so akward that it's subtitled in Japanese so that the guys who were meant to see it can follow along. The Scar Yakuza are just plain cool, lead by Mr. Hacker who wears the same mask that Tiny in HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES does, which is cool, 'cause House came out some 10+ years after this wacked out little indie production. It's shot on film (mostly) and edited on video, so the movement and framerate is constantly changing and fluxing, with a great scene in which the female hunter - while kicking mad scientists' ass - punts a picture-in-picture of him, and it cuts to him hitting the back wall. Yeah, the film literally has that little a grasp on reality and just tries to be as weird as it can be, and it does it well.
There's also a music video half way through with a guy who looks like Bill Nye the Science Guy's stunt double who rocks out singing about how kick-ass robots are. I'm not kidding. And the last 10 minutes involve puppets so freaky they'd make Cthulhu shit himself. Those puppets - the Muu we were warned of - are some truly nightmarish shit, in their underwater too freakily cute way. The puppets alone - particularly the EVIL DEAD inspired wall-of-face that blinks and licks and spews puss all over the place - are worth seeing the film for. And I'm glad I did, since if memory serves the only other version but the original Japanese tape kicking around is an unwatchable, washed-out VIDEO SEARCH MIAMI copy not worth the damned DVD-R it's burned on.
I'll show it to you if you ask. I will. Just... please, don't ask me to explain it. I can't.
Read next time when I wank all over Aussie tin boxes! Read to find out if I'm being literal.