Saturday, June 24, 2006

Zombies rock.

Seriously, nothing better than watching retarded people getting chowed-down upon by rotting bags of organs that move about as fast as a retarded toddler. Don't ask me why so many horror fans (myself included) get off on watching zombies do their thing... they're not as primal as werewolves, not as sexy (or bitchy) as vampires, not as classy as mummies... but somehow, we love them just the same, if not far moreso.

To help those of you who need a good stiff shot of Zombie Flu, Media Blasters/Shriek Show has released the ZOMBIE PACK, with 3 of their earlier DVD releases packaged in a flimsy cardboard box. The hell you say? Well let me tell you, 3 DVD's for $20 MSRP isn't an offer I can beat with my stick. I've yet to watch the extras on any of these, but I can talk about the films briefly. And I do mean briefly.

ZOMBI 3 - The "official" sequel to Lucio Fulci's "unofficial" sequel to ZOMBI, which is what they call Dawn of the Dead in Europe and Japan... with me? No? Good. Scientists create the ultimate super weapon - a zombie serum - which gets stolen by terrorists. Unfortunately, said scientitsts put the damned bio-super-weapon in a coke bottle or something, it leaks, and said terrorirst runs to a hotel where he mutates in to a squishy, bloodthirsty zombie. It's up to a bunch of goofy looking soldier boys and some slutty girls they picked up along the way - who are then attacked by zombie birds (!?) - to save humanity from the blood-thirsty hoards!

All right. This is "the movie with the flying zombie head in the fridge"... that's really all you need to know. It's THAT kind of movie. Logic, understanding, structure... fuck that. It was primarily directed by Lucio Fulci, the horror maestro best known for films like Zombi 2, The Beyond, and Don't Torture a Duckling. His films are very surreal and moody - if not always good. He got sick 2/3rds of the way through and left it to Bruno Mattei, who's directed horror movies like Rats: A Night of Terror, and Hell of the Living Dead. A lot of people have been cruel to Fulci in recent years, but let me tell you letting Mattei fix your movie while you're gone is like asking the Three Stooges to fix your shower while you go shopping. The results are hilarious... but awful. Zombies range from doing the Dawn of the Dead shuffle to jumping off of roof tops and doing undead Kung Fu. And seriously, why do zombies WAIT for peopel to be in juuuuuuust the right spot before they pop out of your stomach or out of a closet or, whatever? Did they just get lost and then get lucky? Ugh. Anyway, if you like gore and retardation and zombies being hit with flame throwers, this is the flick. This is it baby. If you want to watch a GOOD zombie movie, well... stay the hell away from Italy!

Also, it should be noted that Media Blasters' DVD for ZOMBI 3 is a bit... well, fux0red. They were given a 35mm Italian print, which was heavily cut, and so they had to take the BETA masters from the old Japanese video release to splice in the opening scene, a dialogue scene or two, and pretty much all of the gore. It sucks that they couldn't secure better film elements, but the Japanese and UK DVD's are non-anamorphic, and may or may not be all that great, and considering they couldn't have sold more than 30,000 copies (tops) I'm not too surprised they wouldn't go through the cost of getting a Japanese theatrical print with burned in Japanese subtitles so the gore would be a little clearer. It sucks, sure, but it's still the best DVD release the film's had yet.

AFTER DEATH - Sometimes called "Zombie 4", though I have no idea why. Opening with a voodoo priest raising his wife as a cracked out super zombie to take revenge on the scientists who inadvertantly killed his cancer ridden daughter, an adorable little girl - who acts like she's in a totally different movie - runs to safety while her parents are eaten by white guys wrapped up in nylons and face paint. Years later, she returns with a bunch of scruffy looking mercenaries and their old ladies for a vacation, but along the way one of them chases down a stranger in the jungle, and beats him up... only to be bitten by a zombie! That'll teach you to beat up strangers in the jungle. Dumbass. Anyway, they find an abandoned hospital full of guns... which also happens in Zombi 3. Huh. They also find the BOOK OF THE DEAD - we know because it says it in big spooky letters on the front - and after reading some passages Kandarian dem- I mean, zombies pop up to eat the living! I guess. They don't really eat them so much as they do bite them ands then let them barf up green slime and rot. Can the dem-er, zombie hordes be beaten back by what looks like a bad 80's metal band and their groupies?

Though it's arguably WORSE than Zombi 3, it isn't quite as much fun, if only because it doesn't switch from Fulci mode to Mattei mode at random. It IS an entertaining piece of crap though; it's basically just Evil Dead, Romero's entire "...of the Dead" trilogy (pre-LAND, of course) and Rambo 2 blended with just a hint of mental retardation. The star was also a gay porno star (Kurtis Stryker the liner notes say, I believe), which explains why he never hits on the heroine. And has his shirt tied off at his belly button. Yeah. Anyway, while none of the gore or action is any GOOD, there's definately plenty of it, and after the 40 minute mark (when most audiences are about ready to go watch something better) the zombies just keep on coming and don't stop 'till the final shot.

KILLING BIRDS - Released as Zombie 5 by Shriek Show (...wha?!) this marks perhaps the last horror film by the great sleaze meister Joe D'amato, director of Anthropophagous, Emanuelle in America, Caligula 2, Erotic Nights of the Living Dead and literally almost 200 others. His films are rarely any good, but there's always a combination of enthusiasm and professionalism that makes the final result a lot more lovable and exciting than his contemporaries. Especially his XXX porn.

Killing Birds start Laura Wendel, aka the cute girl who was getting naked on film at 13 in Maladolocsenza. It also has Robert Vaughn, who puts in a decent performance considering he was clearly on set for all of an hour. What you need to know is Wendel and her friends are going in to Louisiana to search for the rare Ivory Billed Woodpecker, and met Vaughn along the way. What they don't know is that Vaughn is a Vietnam vet who - upon returning home found his wife with another man, and killed them both. Her friends also showed up with their baby. He killed THEM, but saved the kid, and managed to piss off one of his pet birds enough that it tore out his eyes. 20 years later (or, whatever) he's still living, blinded... and the bodies of those he's killed have come back to life, feeding on the fear of those that get too close. Why? Ask D'amato. Oh, wait... he's dead. *Shrug*

Shot for Italian TV - and with synch English audio rather than the usual bad dubbing (bad acting is still here though) - Killing Birds (aka RAPTORS) is a pretty terrible film. It's biggest crime is that for the first half... it's pretty boring. There isn't much money to throw around, and being made for TV there isn't even any boobage. Infact the only sexy moment is when Wendel is giving the hero this "c'mere stud" look when she's nailed to a wall in one of the film's more bizarre dream/vision moments... and I'm not just saying that because I'm a freak. Seriously, 80's hair, 80's jeans, 80's in general were NOT a sexy time. *Shudder* So, all that aside once the zombies show up things get better. D'amato's films may not as a whole be excellent, but the moment any bodily fluids are on display he's in his element, and rivals the best genre directors out there. Unfortunately... again, for TV, so the gore inserts were basically just there to make it a horror movie internationally. Vaughn getting his eyes pulled out is pathetic, there's a LOT of fairly unconvincing throat-slitting, and he does re-do the "through the roof" gag from Anthro again, to a better artistic end but with a lot less splatter. The only REALLY great gore scene is when one of the kids gets his compass stuck in the generator and the gears end up not only pulling the chain in to his neck, but chewing off a few of his fingers too. That's great shit. it does get cheese points for having a guy; find a gun, run up to the zombie, get in a fight, and then DROPS THE GUN AND RUNS! "That is SO not gangsta'!" as Riley once said. Seriously, this film is worth seing mostly on an MST3K level or if - like me - you're just mental and can't get enough D'amato in your life.

And that's about it for now. I'm leaving for the weekend, so I need to grab various gore and smut and get ready to run. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Deinterlaced Digital Damnation

Remember Full Metal Jacket on HD-DVD? The first - and insofar only - High Definition disk I was somewhat interested in? Forget that it's cropped to 1.78:1, and screw the 5.1 upmix... we've got way bigger problems on the HD chopping block.

There's 2 kinds of video on DVD/High Definition (and cable these days); progressive and interlaced. This is an NTSC-land discussion, so PAL standards have their own little nuances they can deal with. Now, films are played at 24 frames per second on the big screen. TV's run at 30 frames per second. This is why something shot on film looks so different than something shot on video; the added frames per second make the movement more lifelike, but video itself has less detail and "character' (grain, etc.) than film, making it look cleaner, and thus more artificial. I know. It's retarded. But that's the way it goes.

So how do they put those 24 frames of film on 30 frames of a TV? It used to be a process called telecine; in which a strip of film was run through a machine that converted those 24 frames to 30 frames by adding "half" frames every so often. Really, TV's don't use 30 frames, but 60 scan lines - or half frames - that when played back to back trick the human eye in to looking like a single frame. It's all pretty complex, and seems unnessicary... but here's where it becomes important. After 1999, they found a way on DVD's to store the video at 24 frames per second and then change the framerate on the fly, so that it could still output itself at 30 frames per second on a regular TV, but would play the film sans-"extra" frames on a computer or an HDTV, which simply read whatever frame rate they're given. This is good, since PC and HDTV displays refresh at different frame rates than a normal TV set; infact, they CAN'T display interlaced 30 frame per second video, and they weave the 2 scans together to FORCE it to 60 frames per second. It does that by weaving the frames together and then playing them twice... and that "weaving" (or BOB Deinterlace - no, I don't know why) basically cuts the resolution in half.

Some DVD's are encoded interlaced even when they were shot on film. Cartoons made after the mid 1980's were usually edited on video, so they're part film, part video. Even if the animation was done at 24fps - for instance - if it was sped up, or zoomed up, or even had the colors changed the original 24 frames per second rate is pretty much gone. And anything shot on video - most sitcoms and the like - are also naturally 30 frames per second. However, the clever fuckers who make DVD players came up with the perfect solution in DVD players for people who had digital monitors; they came up with an algorith that reads interlaced video, and either deinterlaces it for stuff that's actually interlaced (TV shows), outputs JUST the good film-frames (for movies), and then outputs a cross between film frames and deinterlaced video frames (cartoons). This way it didn't matter how the DVD was encoded; progressive, interlaced, or a cross between the two. If you had a good DVD player and a TV to make it matter, you had a smooth, film like image to jerk off to. Everybody was happy.

And then the HD-DVD's of THE FUGITIVE, THE PERFECT STORM, and yes, FULL METAL JACKET came out. They promised 1080p; 1080 lines of progressive video. The best we're going to get until Hollywood decides to release uncompressed movies with 4,000 lines of resolution on hologram disks a decade from now. But Warner Home Video was lying.

See, the masters for these 3 films - all older films at that - were 1080i. 1080 lines of High Definition, but in Interlaced mode. So instead of performing an Inverse Telecine - the process of taking the film frames back from the video version and having a 24fps copy again (something I've done myself a few times)... they BOB'ed it. So there are 30 progressive frames per second... but they squashed the 2 video frames together, and now even if HD-DVD players could perform an IVTC on the fly (they can't... yet) , they wouldn't be able to separate the good scans from the bad ones. Because there AREN'T 60 scans anymore. Just 30 progressive frames every second. Basically, Warner done fucked up hardcore here, and what this means is that the HD-DVD has 540 lines of progressive resolution, and jerky, nasty deinterlacing issues. The DVD has 480 lines of progressive resolution and is actually 24 frames per second.

Who's the winner? Even this badly de-interlaced HD-DVD has 3 times more resolution than the progressive DVD, but it also has jerky, strange movement and jagged looking edges because of the deinterlacing that was done to the master. 3 times the resolution, or movement that isn't all jerky and funky? All I know is that the point of HD-DVD/BLU-RAY was to make the video and audio presentation perfect. DVD has extras, it doesn't degrade with every viewing, and it keeps the full resolution of standard definition video. DVD may not be perfect... but the only thing that HD-DVD has over it is better quality audio and video. And if it can't deliver... well, we're better off not bothering.

Don't get me wrong, only a hand full of disks have this problem, and only Warner Studios has done it so far. But that doesn't mean it can't - and probably won't - happen in the future. In the same way that the first DVD's were often no better than their Laserdisc counterparts, it soon surpassed anything Laserdisc could have ever tried to achieve. I'm sure with some time and practice HD-DVD/Blu-Ray will be stunning and problem free. But until Warner Home Video decides to either do an IVTC (and not a BOB) on Full Metal Jacket - or even is honest about their source material and releases it interlaced - I'm hanging on to the HD-DVD, and I won't upgrade a damned thing until I'm sure the HD/BD release is actually better than the current DVD.

You should, too. It's getting tough though; with the third HD-DVD player only costing $300 at Wal-Mart it's tempting to just buy the bastard now, grab the films I want on HD and then experience the pumped up resolution and audio bitrates when I can afford the hardware. Tempting indeed... but 'till I know how to crack them to play bootlegs and imports too, 'eff 'em all.

Will I talk about remastering grain next time? Maybe sing the praises of Procoder's PAL-NTSCi conversion? Or will I just jibber-jabber about movies you've not ever seen? *Shrug* You think I have a master plan here? You think I'm in the driver's seat? Then fasten up tight; it's going to be a bumpier ride than you imagined.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

It's a Dog's World, all right.

I've been watching MONDO CANE! A film so spectacularly advertised back in 1962 that, after seeing the trailers and TV spots for it, you too will shout the title, MONDO CANE!, at every given oppurtunity. Or even at random. It's especially fun during sex and while having wounds checked at the hospital.

"Is there any pain?"



As I said earlier, Mondo Movies were the original discovery channel, so to speak; documentaries that combed the globe looking for rare, new, unique, terrifying, gross, and awesome things to bring back home to Italy - and the rest of Europe and the United States, all in due time. Mondo Cane - or "It's a Dog's World" in Italian - was basically the first of such films. It also started a beloved tradition of making the fact mix seamlessly with the fiction, where the real horror and beauty of the world was intercut with re-enactments (or sometimes outright bullshit) with little regard for "preserving cinematic integrity". More than anything, Mondo movies were about making the audience have fun... even at the expense of legitimacy.

Mondo Cane, the original and often claimed to be the best. It's a hard film not to like; with footage that ranges from real shark attack victims working dilligently to sell shark fins to badly faked scenes of a rubber shark being tortured. From real footage of a man dressed in drag for ceremonial reasons cutting off a cow's head to clearly BS footage of a man in Italy wounding himself with coasters on Good Friday... what can I say, s'all good in da' hood, and all that. Mondo Cane doesn't hold together as a serious documentary, between the outrageous narrator who seems to make shit up on the fly and the fact that as much of the footage that's real is intercut with the fake, but it doesn't matter. It's fun, exploitave film that could only have come out of the 60's, and I like it just the way it is.

Following that was Women of the World, a film which is a bit less sleazy than the title would imply. With footage ranging from Chinese women who bathe in white cloth overalls to keep their skin nice and white to Malaysian women who's husbands emulate their wives' birth pains, it shows the woman and how she's treated the world over. Most of the footage here looks genuine - even if the narrator is hilarious, saying the Chinese girls "don't tan - between you and me, if they stay in the sun they get as yellow as a ripe mellon!" A few of the bits - particularly the women in the middle east collecting weapon fragments in mine fields to sell it as scrap - seem all too well shot to be the real deal. But again, what does it matter? The film is entertaining on a light, bawdy sort of level, and despite a few mildly disturbing chunks - in paticular a Japanese girl having her eyes widened and rounded to look more 'Western' and kindly German mothers playing with their deformed, flipper-armed babies - it's really a "nice" film in the end. Something almost heart warming and sweet. Almost. Perhaps good if you have a girlfriend and want to convince her Mondo isn't so bad after all.

Then, there's Mondo Cane 2. Prostitutes in Hong Kong, African girls sold as slaves, cows being force-fed beer and massages for their tender steaks, an artist surrounded by beauties who spit paint on his canvas... it's definately made from the left-overs of Mondo Cane, but it's pretty entertaining none the less. The opening scene - in which a dog is given surgery - basically sums up the film's intentions; "if you didn't like Mondo Cane, well, fuck you." Not to say the film is any more brutal than the first. It isn't. But it's a lot crazier, a lot funnier, and - in my opinion - has the best final scene ever with a crying, bleeding midget about to get bitch slapped. Don't ask. Just watch it. You'll thank me later. In the US it was later trimmed of it's graphic Vietnam footage - including the infamous footage of a buddhist monk comitting suicide as a protest of the war - and was re-released as "Mondo Pazzo" (It's a Crazy World).

After Mondo Cane 2 did less at the box office, the directors Jacopetti and Prosperi - whom I've grown to love so much from these films - decided to try a different tactic. One that was more in-depth... more shocking and amazing than even their imitators that had a whole slew of "Mondo" movies up their sleeve. The resulting film was AFRICA ADDIO (Goodbye, Africa), a film that took them 3 years to complete. With Brith Rule finally ending in Africa circa 1963, they were there to capture the revolutions, the chaos, and the violence first hand. Bodies litter the streets, mass graves are filled, elephants and hippo's are taken down both with rifles and spears; it's really an unpleasant film to sit through, particularly the extended Italian cut. But it's also one of the most amazing films I think I've seen yet. Any director can make a great movie... these guys survived the real deal and brought it home in a 35mm film can, which is more impressive than any adventure film - or horror film - could ever hope. The authenticity of this film has been brought in to question however, with some of the (human) gore possibly being fake, and many of the film's detractors accused the directors of paying the soldiers to "act", conning them in to executing people for the camera. I have no doubts that the overwhelming majority of the film is real... wounded cows, elephants shot in the head, and some shockingly brutal executions fill the screen and make me wonder... is it for real? I'll admit I even went back to the up-close execution and watched it frame by frame to be sure; I'm not sure. The reaction seems almost delayed... but there's definately a hole in the man's belly, something that would have been almost impossible to fake 40 years ago. All I can say is I'm looking forward to seeing what these two have to say on the disk I'm saving for last: The Godfathers of Mondo, a new documentary on Jacopetti and Prosperi.

I'll also admit to having watched AFRICA ADDIO in English. Why? For one thing, the English version - running 127 minutes - was a very controversial bit of cinema in the US when it was released back in 1967. I decided to see what raised the ire of so many critics in this abridged version. There's plenty; released before the MPAA started demanding that films be rated, this film must have been a shocker, showing a great many people the first actual human deaths on the big screen. The film isn't shy, though the edited version does skip some scenes solely for pacing, and cuts much of the tribal animal violence. So watching a white man shoot an elephant in the head is OK, but seeing a tribe of natives taking one down with spears isn't? I guess the gun is more humane; one shot and the bull goes down, while the spearing... well, it's not pretty. Regardless, it astounds me what Americans find "offensive". 'Cause remember, guns don't kill people. Even though if people didn't have guns there'd be a lot less killing. Same with Gods, but I digress.

While I haven't watched the Italian cut all the way through - though I plan to after seeing how different the narration is - I've watched the material that was actually cut from the US release. It helps the film, I think; seeing white men shoot animals in the head is unpleasant, but hardly educational. Seeing black tribal warriors taking down an elephant with some sticks? Now that's something you've never seen before. As with all of the Mondo films of Jacopetti and Prosperi, they're all tied together with the moving, whimsical scores of Riz Ortonali, a favorite of Italian exploitation cinema ranging from the not-so-subtle satire of mondo films CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST to PAPRIKA: LIFE IN A BROTHEL and even THE NEW GLADIATORS: ROME 2072 A.D. Say what you will about the films he worked on, Ortolani's compositions are always beautiful, orchestral when other composers went with synthesized garbage. He did make a disco soundtrack for HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK... but let's not hold that against that fun, sleazy piece of crap.

GOODBYE UNCLE TOM - a whole new ball of wax that has barely even been attempted since - was the last film that Jacopetti and Prosperi would make together, though one of them (can't remember which) would make MONDO CANDIDO in the early 80's. Africa Addio has been hailed by some as the ultimate Mondo Movie; a film that shocks, educates, lies to, and entertains it's audience in ways it never knew was possible. While the films that would come later - Faces of Death, Shocking Asia, and so many more - were more graphic and sleazier, nothing could ever quite match what we see in Africa Addio. Never before had documentary film-makers tried to do something this big, this epic, and release it on a world that wasn't already jaded by TV shows like COPS and JERRY SPRINGER. This was a peek in to a world the average white man didn't even know existed; and I think if this film ever got the mass audience it deserved, even now, that it deserved I think that the film would probably still raise plenty of eyebrows. After all, millions of people flock to see PASSION OF THE CHRIST... but that was fake. This is as real as showmen get; and wither or not everything is 100% genuine, it's realer than most people would be comfortable with.

What can I say? The second I have $40 I'm buying the German DVD's of SHOCKING ASIA 1 and 2. Shame they're only in German... but the covers on those new releases just scream BOOTLEG. If I wanted a cheap VHS sourced transfer I'd buy one and encode it myself, thanks.

Oh yeah - I also got THE VENTURE BROS. season 1... but the package shattered in transit. I'm trying to get over this packaging fetish, but when it arrives snapped in half... well, that's the line, damnit.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

I get out, and I keep getting pulled back in...!


So I got another 25 pounds of porno today. No sooner had I recorded the very last tape and taken a day to breathe a well-earned sigh of relief when the next massive box-o-smut arrives at my door. It's occured to me that I've yet to write about most of those lovely pinku eiga; "Pink Movies" that were basically big bidget soft-porno films that Japan released in to theatres starting in the late 60's up until the latter half of the 1980's, when the cost of shooting porn on video killed any sort of market for "artistic", "classy", or... y'know. "Good" porn.

This period created plenty of bad films, sure. There's always good porn and bad porn. Mercifully the good often outweighs the bad in the world of pinku, and even a bad pinku is usually a lot more entertaining than the lame, soulless gonzo smut that we buy in to these days. This goes for Japan and America: while I prefer Japan's generally more adorable and less penis-focused shot on video crap, it's still shot on video crap, and no fetish or bevy of cute AV girls can ever change that fact.

So, in honor of Japanese porno having once again taken any of my free time, I've decided to write about a few personal favorites while I record the second of 35 smut-tastic videos awaiting my magical DVD-R touch:

TOKUGAWA III: THE ORGIES OF EDO - The last in a trilogy of unrelated films by one of pinku's finest names, ISHII Teruo, TOKUGAWA III is a collection of tales as told by a gynocolegist who performed abortions and birthings for the very poor and the very rich during the Edo period in the mid 19th century. The film starts off with a sleazy samurai who claims to take an innocent girl away from her misey forever, and in reality sells her in to prostitution. The second story is about a girl who, after being raped by a condemned freak who was badly burned, can only get off with freaks. This leads to her riding hairy dwarved like horses and requesting a negro to please her, until her husbands' inability to satisfy her drives him mad and he begins to mutliate the both of them. Finally - and this one is super special - is the story of the shogun who, after sacrificing several women for his amusement, picks a beautiful survivor to be his next concubine - much to the dismay of his current favored wife. Turns out this mystery girl is actually his long lost sister, and while the lead wife torments this interloper. This leads to women painted with poisonous gold paint, incest bondage, and a finale in which a dead concubine has her child cut from her belly with a katana blade.

Insane is the name of the game here, and we'd expect no less from the guy who directed JOY OF TORTURE and INFERNO OF TORTURE, both of which were part of the same Tokugawa trilogy (and released both only in Japanese on remastered DVD, and subtitled in English with slightly inferior prints by Japan Shock). The third film - Orgies of Edo - is often confused with another film Ishii directed, who's title is similar. Because of this confusion Japan Shock has decided to not release the film, leaving us with a rather crummy German-dubbed DVD which cuts the most violent and erotic sequences and has a new opening. It's a shame, really: this film is definately one of the highlights of Ishii's career, easily eclipsing his non-porno films like THE BLIND WOMAN'S CURSE - a likable, but all too plain affair from the man who's given us black-light tattoos and cross dressing comedians playing imprisoned women who want to be geisha. Tokugawa III, while less of a porno or a gore film that the two before it (though there's plenty of both), is a great character driven drama for a pinku movie, and packs style and beauty in every scene, particularly the sequence where the bastardly samurai is chasing his lover down through halls of silk, a scene which would later be remade in the even wilder Hong Kong classic SEX AND ZEN. Tokugawa III is worth it's weight in class - if not porn - and that's really what I'm in to after the 15 minutes or so it takes to crank one out.

OIRAN: PROSTITUTE - I'll be honest. This film sucks. It doesn't suck balls... it's not a totally unwatchable piece of dreck. But it's got some problems. Some BIG problems. Almost all of which are nullified by the final act.

It starts off with a rather refined whore doing her thing in the brothels of Edo. Lots of interpersonal mayhem, jealousy, and reportedly hard core sex acts happen. Unforutnately, none of it's very well acted or filmed. It's sort of like a really bad soap opera. With hardcore porn. It sounds like a good idea... but, it's not, rest assured. The girls can't act worth a shit, the tattoing they show off so proudly on the old lobby cards is pretty weak, and worse yet Englishmen start showing up... and, as with 95% of white guys in Japanese (or Chinese) movies, they're acting in Japan because they weren't good enough to act in Hollywood. Or on the BBC. Yeah, it's pretty sad stuff.

So why does this film rock? The lead prostitute escapes in a basket carried off by a big fat white guy who humps her and speaks in broken English. When she escapes in to the outside world, she falls in love with a young nobleman, who speaks better English. But she's haunted by the face of her lover which appears on the nasty, scabby wound that's appeared on her knee. She finally gets married, and her dead lover's soul returns... bite her white husband's dick and not let go.

This leads to a fucking awesome scene of said male porno star biting a glowing dildo, and a goofy looking Southern priest who procesed to whip that pussy face with his rosary 'till it lets go of it's death cock-biting grip. It then pukes up semen all over the priest and husband, thus making this the funniest porno remake of THE EXORCIST. (I can only assume there is more than 1. I could be wrong.) Finally, she talks to her vag, giving a heart warming monologue that he's gone now, and that he needs to accept that she's in love again, and her white penis makes her happy.

Did I mention she doesnt speak a word of English, and as such every single line she says is a phonetic trainwreck?

Boring locations. Bad acting. Despite the film being a wall-to-wall porn addict's overload and the amazing final act with the growling biting vagina... it's pretty awful. I still like it though, and I'll be damned of that lame hour and a half before the good shit can kill my enthusiasm for the final reel.

MADAME DE SADE - A woman is stood up on her wedding day, with only a priest, a friend and a co-worker as witnesses to the tragedy. Running home, said bride to be actually just has her future husband chained to the bed, and shows him who's the boss - with a whip and a blindfold - before letting him go.

What she doesn't know is that her friend has started a romantic relationship with her captive, a man who had a lover he's tried desperately to keep from knowing the truth about himself and his owner. After abusing her man sufficently, she decides she's going to teach the cutte little girl who thought she could steal her properly just who's at the top of her kinky totem pole.

As a piece of erotica, this film literally does every single thing it can think of: burned balls, suffocated in female genitals, dragged on leashes, men butt-rammed with dildoes, masturbating with dessert, fucked at knife point, forced deep throating... if there isn't something in here that gets your rocks off, damn it man, discover some fetishes! But it's porno qualities aside, the direction gets a major thumbs up for the final reel; it's pretty common for porno, even elegant pinku films, to get lost after 2 partners. The grand finale` has not 3, but 4 participants, and not only is everyone doing something interesting at all times, but the camera never just drones on one thing and then cuts to another at random. It's a lot harder to make an orgy interesing than people might think. I know. I've watched a LOT of Japanese porn. This film succedes on the level of fantasy driven taboo-filled eroticism... and not much else. Still, if it managed to be a great erotic film, hell, mission accomplished.

STAR OF DAVID: Beautiful Girl Hunting - Ah, the classic SUZUKI Norifumi film that more or less sums up his career: Judea-Christian themes crossed with brutal violence, frightening sex, and a big budget. A more or less accurate adaptation of the manga of the same title (Dabide no Hoshii), Star of David stars a boy named Tatsuya, the product of his raped mother and a wandering thug who terrorizes and often kills any lovely woman he crosses paths with. His mother killed herself after years of she and her son being abused by her jealous and irrational husband, and at the age of 16 Tatsuya kills his father, thus inheriting the family fortune... he continues his life, courting the girl next door, until his 17th birthday, when he kidnaps the prostitute his "father" made his mother so miserable with, kills her, and then rapes her corpse.

Tatsuya decides - after wanking on WWII propoganda with sticky results - that much like the Nazi's at Auchewitz, he will decide who lives and who dies; in his eye he sees the Star of David on the flesh of those who are unworthy of their life. Innocent schoolgirls, famous idol singers, he kidnaps them and enslaves them without pity or worry. Things get even more interesting when, traveling through Japan, Tatsuya's biological father finds his son and decides he wants to join in on the fun...

Despite the vague ending and the addition of the girl he's genuinely romantically fascinated by, Star of David is a very accurate adaptation of the first 2 books of the infamous manga by SATOU Masaaki ,, and beats the living snot out of the low budgeted and badly produced anime series based on the same material. While it never reaches the supremely retarded heights of watching Tatsuya run his own island filled with his hand selected harem (whom he randomly kicks down a slide that feeds in to the ocean!), the film is really pretty horrifying as a psychological sudy of a man who's life leads him to believe that humans are unworthy of compassion. Tatsuya isn't really a villain in any traditional sense, he's a man who's rebelling against the goodness and morality of the world for the family that turned his back on him, and as such no matter how horribly he treats the girls he kidnaps, you can't help but feel he deserves some justice. And the scene where he screws the dead whore in his basement torture chamber - soullessly pumping in to her while drenched in her blood - s one of the most fascinating and creepy moments you'll see in crazy 70's porn.

A lot of people credit Pasolini's SALO`, or the 120 Days of Sodom as a sick and demented masterpiece of erotic horror film making. These people are retarded: it's a very faithful and classy adaptation of a novel by the Marquis de Sade, but a few strong moments and ideals aside - which are almost rendered null by the needless and shoehorned 20th century social commentary - it's neither erotic, nor horrifying. Star of David is both, and while as a morality play it's perhaps imperfect; after all, who is good in this mess?, it's a stylish and sleazy pinku violence eiga that's pretty hard to top. Truth be told, however, Suzuki topped it in his own SEIJUU GAKUEN: School of the Holy Beast, some 5 years earlier. It's also based on a Satou manga if memory serves, and I can only pray that there were a few more Suzuki/Satou films that history has simply forgotten.

And that's all I got for now. Give me a while and I'll give some words on the new MONDO CANE box set that just arrived. Man, this thing is sex in DVD form.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The TBC Blues

My TBC died today.

Well... more that it's more dead than it was before. A TBC, or Time Base Corrector, is a big scary piece of video hardware that tries to correct playback errors on tapes. In plain English, if you have a tape that has dropouts, jerkiness, wobblies and any other nasty tape-related problems that show up from actually playing the tape, a TBC fixes them right up.

Trouble is, I bought a decade-old (or better!) TBCX off of eBay about a year ago, and didn't have a VCR worth hooking it up to 'till a few months ago. It always had problems that TBC's just have: it washes out the colors slightly, makes it a bit softer, and in some cases makes the tape's playback worse. What my TBC is doing now is adding red and flashing lines that travel up and down the screen, generally making the whole thing look like several pounds of ass. TBC's are supposed to CORRECT errors, not make new ones. So, the fucker's officially worthless.

My VCR has a built in TBC, but it's a line TBC, not a full frame TBC: in other words, it corrects some video issues, but not all of them. I also have a Sima Color Corrector which kills copy protection and corrects some minor issues... but it's not a fill frame TBC either. It's also a total bitch to match the colors on proper sources. Like, if the black levels or whatever are fucked it'll get them back to normal, but if the tape looks good and you just want to kill copy protection... good luck.

Well, glad I didn't buy it for $500 new or anything. Trouble is now I need to bite the bullet and buy a Datavideo TBC (for like $300) for those tapes that are just plain, well, evil. I'm talking so evil that their catalog numbers are 666-69 and the film is called Asshole of Satan. These are tapes that were recorded on EP masters and watched a hundred times and left to melt in the hot sun and then chucked in a chest and buried for 20 years. That's the kind of tape you need a TBC for.

Unfortunately, I was kinda' hoping to use it for he UCHIYAMA AKI hentai tape I'm about ready to sell so I had a stable DVD of it before I hocked it, which based on it's playback has been drenched in the semen of a thousand Japanese pedophiles. So much for that plan. Man I hope these were released on Laserdisc 22 years ago... the bootleg download versions imply there's SOME kind of perfect source kicking around. Just wish I knew if it was the BETA or the LD or what. It sure as hell wasn't the VHS.

Anyway, enough bitching. I need to put my Sima SCC away and then get the massive pile of remaining hentai tapes ready for eBay. It's the last of my beloved 25 Pounds o' Porn... I miss it soo much.

Time to record the last hentai tape. Will I post more? Probably not. But who knows.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Mondo Fabuloso!

I did a bad thing today.

Not bad in the sense that I touched children or kicked in a nun's head or anything. Just a selfish, silly thing I probably shouldn't have done... but I did. Yep'. I ordered me the Mondo Cane Collection.

For those who don't know the glory and wonder of the Blue Underground 8 DVD box, here's the scoop: Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi were a pair of documentary film makers who in 1962 shocked and amazed the world with MONDO CANE (It's a Dog's Life), a film which brought the beauty and violence of man and beast to the silver screen in glorious technicolor. Basically the original Discovery Channel, Mondo Cane featured bizarre religious rights, animals doing what they do best (eating each other), wild and bizarre customs and was as educational as it was entertaining. This was the start of the so-called "Mondo" genre, a term which would go on to mean explotave and graphic documentary film making. While often immitated, it's been said that Jacopetti and Prosperi's works could never be immitated. After years of loving SHOCKING ASIA and FACES OF DEATH (to a lesser extent), I'm going to find out for myself.

The set contains 5 films on 8 DVD's, and is numbered to 10,000 copies. It retails for a whopping $150, but I got it for around half that: hence why I blew THAT much money at one time. Making it even more frustrating is the fact that Blue Underground has since released 2 "Shockumentary Collections", 3 DVD sets which contain the sane films on display in the box set. So what's the big deal? Simple: 2 of these films come in 2 separate editions. Mondo Cane, Mondo Cane 2, Women of the World and the Godfathers of Mondo (a retrospective on the Mondo phenomenon) are identical in both releases. The controversey starts in AFRICA ADDIO and hits two-fold in the controversial classic ADDIO ZIO TOM.

AFRICA ADDIO (Goodbye, Africa) was truly the Mondo opus, or so I'm told, with the films' creators having lived a total of 3 years in Africa, filming everything they saw during a time of great civil unrest as the government changed from British rule to a return to it's natives, in which formers enemies took up their old ways. Released in US theatres cut to a mere 83 minutes, though the original English dubbed version ran 122 minutes. The full Italian cut of the film runs a whopping 140 minutes, nearly an HOUR longer than the old theatrical cut. The uncut version includes many new nasty sequences, including butchered hippo's and the aftermath of war-zones caught in conflict. It isn't pretty, but it is real, and ingoring history is even worse than staring it in the face. The Shockumentary Collection only includes the 122 minute cut: the box set on it's way to me includes the full 140 minute version, in Italian no less. I can't wait to see both cuts.

ADDIO ZIO TOM (Goodbye Uncle Tom), meanwhile, may be one of the most misunderstood films in cinematic history. After 4 popular documentaries and watching the people of Africa retake their homeland in a bloddy coup first hand, the directors decided to try something new: to recreate history and use actors to play real historical figures, and show what the American slave trade was like in the 19th century before the Civil War. This is a film which, though not as "real" as Africa Addio (no dead animals on display here) is far more important in the grand scheme of things, and is so far the only film to try and realistically look at a controversial topic, and spare no detail. Slaves are raped, beaten, shot, treated like animals, forced to breed like live stock, mauled, and so much more. While I don't think that being angry for what past generations did is productive (and if anyone tells you that you're The Man keeping him down, please, tell him to kiss your flat white ass), you should at least know the facts of what did happen. Perhaps the least sleazy scene in the whole affair is seeing a slave get a cork shoved up his ass so he doesn't shit on the ship he's being carted to the states in. Yeah. It's that honest. That honesty, however, has led a lot of people to believe that the film itself is racist: that showing the horrible things that happened to blacks in America some hundred fifty years ago in and of itself is shameful. It isn't. The film makers don't agree with what's happening, no more than they agreed with the sight of seeing poachers hunting animals or men beind executed in Africa Addio. All that they've done is given us the facts, and let us judge for ourselves. If we judge the sight of history to be racist... then we're a PC prude and need to shove it up our ass.

Seriously. Dubbing a black woman in Tom and Jerry cartoons over with a white woman pretending to be black isn't less racist than a black woman using her natural speaking voice and using a now out-of-fassion Southern dialect. This is how The Man keeps you down, not by making you look bad, but by trying to make you look like him. Not to bitch about Ted Turner and his butchering of old cartoons, but it's the same principle.

That having been said, I saw the old BLACK DEVIl, WHITE DEVIL print of Goodbye Uncle Tom, a 123 minute re-edit made by the film's distributors, which lacks the real footage of Martin Luther King's followers giving interviews shortly after his death, thus grounding the footage in a sort of modern light. It also cut the more disturbing footage, all in an attempt to not cause riots in the early 70's. It didn't work, but they sure tried. Anyway, the 123 minute version is in the Shockumentary pack, the box set includes both. It's almost a shame that the uncut version is in Italian... much as I try to watch all films in their original languages, Italian (and most European films from the 60's through about the late 80's) were shot without sound, and then dubbed in all languages later on. The Italian dubs of the era were pretty awful, and some were so badly recorded and acted that even Italian directors (like Michael Soavi) have admitted that the English dubs were better. Anyway, the main reason I wish it were in English is a matter of context: the film takes place in America, and damnit, we speak Americanese here. Either way, I can't wait to see it uncut. Not to mention the rest of the Mondo Cane legacy.

Will I do anything else bad? Hard to say. Mid-June and Early December are sale-times at Deep Discount DVD and DVD Pacific - so if you want yer' fix, you'd best look up the info and order now (hint: the coupon DVDTALK will get you 20% off at DDD 'till the 17th). I should probably take this $20 I have left over and wait for THE HILLS HAVE EYES to be released unrated and pick that up instead of any other random smut or gore. Plus, all of the Media Balsters DVD mysteriously dissapeared the day of the sale, leading to much cursing and threatening of the internet on my part.

DAMN YOU ALL!!!!!!!!


Anyway, I've designed a bunch of menu's for KAZE TO KI NO UTA, my next not-legit project, and I've translated over half of my next legit DVD... even if I've beeen dragging ass as of late due to personal reasons. So, bugger it, I'm gonna' go back to translating my gory smut.

6/6/6 - Quite a dissapointment.

No, I didn't see the remake of THE OMEN. I've never seen the original, and I really don't give much of a damn to see Satan work through cute little kids. I was waiting for mass suicides, atomic bombings, the seas boiling over with the blood of non-believers... yeah, this millenium's peek in to the apocalypse was a real dissapointment. Ah well. Maybe in 3006.

Anyway, I've been watching a lot of stuff lately. And I've been working on... stuff. So I'll just give a few thoughts on the more amusing films I've watched in the past few days.

LA BETE: THE BEAST - This is a... unique film. Near as I can tell, Walerian Borowczyk made a short film, and later made a feature film to stuff said short film in to. You'd think this would be a bad thing, but it comes across as all right: the film opens with 2 horses doing it hardcore and ends with a naked hairy guy with a claw and a tail. The basic plot is about a poor aristocratic French family who's only son is betrothed to marry an English girl he's been writing love letters to for some time. He was never baptized, he's not too bright, he makes horses hump for a living, but the lovely bird loves him anyway. But as said betrothed bitch soon learns, the house has a strange history of a beast that raped a lady in waiting... and as the preperations for the wedding go awry, she dreams of the act that forever cursed the household.

Forget the infamy of the film: the majority of Borowczyk's film is basically a satire of the Victorian romance, playing people who have never met as madly in love, their families preparing the event to save their own asses, full of pedophile priests, hateful siblings, less than bemused black servants, and horny girls everyone assumes to be innocent. If you're in to the genre, I'm sure it's great stuff. For those who - like me - are just there for the smut, the last reel doesn't dissapoint. The "original" short film includes a guy in a $6 gorilla suit with a bear head and a rubber horse cock getting multiple footjobs and squirting about 6 gallons of fake semen. It's goofy, it's fake looking, and it's one of the most hilarious and awesome things I've ever seen. The film's not worth it's weight in gold the whole way through as closet beastiality fans would have you believe, but it -is- the greatest gorilla suit porno you're likely to find. And that's worth at least $20 in my book.

SEIJU GAKUEN: SCHOOL OF THE HOLY BEAST- I watch a lot of Japanese porn. I mean, A LOT of Japanese porn. One thing I learned about Japanese porn is that it's really some of the best stuff in the world. It's softcore, I admit: you can't legally show bush, vag or wang in Japan to this day (for the most part - you can kinda' get away with frontal nudity if it's not sexual now), so they have to make up for this handicap by making the most insane and awesome artsy plot driven porn. Even moreso than a lot of American porn from the 70's, which had honest attempts at being movies too. Anyway. This was directed by SUZUKU Norifumi, the guy
who directed STAR OF DAVID: Beautiful Girl Hunter, so it had to be good.

And good it was. A young woman goes off to a convent to uncover the truth behind her mother's death. While there she finds that the father is a nun-raping bastard, that the sisters partake in savage punishments for crimes against the word of God, and when they learn that our young heroine is the illegitimate daughter of the father - a man warped mentally and physically from surviving the atomic bombing of Nagasaki - they decide to call in the big guns and bring a witch hunter from Rome to try and eliminate those who may uncover the dark secrets of the convent. It's also got 2 men in nun robes raping the mother superior and stealing her porno. Stylish, violent, with a twisted storyline pulled from a vintage manga... what can I say, much like Suzuki's STAR OF DAVID, this film just starts kicking ass from the title and really doesn't stop until all is said and done. It also has a guy getting shived with a crucifix! Awesome.

THE DESCENT - See it now before Lion's Gate fucks it over with a new ending! Anyway, British horror film from the same blokes that did the awesomely cool DOG SOLDIERS film. It starts off with about half a dozen cute girls going down in to a deep dark cave. Yeah, sounds hawt. But don't let that fool you: there's no psuedo lesbian love story in the dark love tunnel. What the film does have, though, is a race of underground batlike crawlers, cannibalistic screeching monsters that hunt by sound and chow down on the half dozen hapless girls trapped in a hole.

The film is VERY stylish, has some wonderful performances, awesome gore and may well be the best horror film released outside of the US since HAUTE TENSION. (I'm still rather partial to Aja's HILLS remake, flawed though it may have been.) Fast, gory, claustrophobic, relentless, it basically delivers on every level that a "humans vs. monsters" movie should without any of the retarded cliche's or "oh come ON now..." moments Hollywood usually stuffs these affaird with. It's not quite as lovable or as action packed as Dog Soldiers, but it's definately the better film, and I can't sum this one up by saying "take Predator, Night of the Living Dead and an American Werewolf in London. Stir and chill before viewing with pizza and beer." That I can't compare it immediately to 3 American horror films without even trying makes me smile.

I could probably try harder to compare The Descent to something. But I won't. I'd rather hope they're trying hard to make something moderately original.

And that's my piece for today. I'll have work related crap to talk about next time, but for now, I need to buy toilet paper. Sorry guys, but wiping my ass is more important than pretty much anything else I can think of.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Erasing my Head with Demon Beasts

So my wife was a sweetie and gave me an early Birthday present 2 days ago, something I wrote about earlier. About my packaging fetish about how sad a bastard I am. Turns out I was wrong: the Eraserhead Deluxe package is actually 8" square, and thicker than a standard DVD keepcase. Cool as that may be, it actually gives me another reason to hate it: I can fit a keepcase on my shelf. A keepcase is about 7.5" tall and about 5.375" wide. If I were to stick that 8 inches of packaging pleasure on my shelf it'd stick out over the edge and then some. Don't get me wrong, if I had it I'd find a way... I own LD's, and those bastards are ANYTHING but small. But screw the box: what about the film itself?

I'll be honest and say that while I like Lynch's films, I haven't seen nearly enough of them. Sure, I've seen his short films and the cinema version of Mulholland Drive. I've watched his epic mangling of Frank Herbert's Dune, and I adore his treatment of The Elephant Man. All the same, I've never seen Twin Peaks, International Velvet or so many of the other films in his career that his fans get a hard-on for. All the same, the first Lynch film - not to mention the first surrealist film I ever happened upon - was ERASERHEAD, a film I saw about the age of 12 or 13. A film which blew my mind wide open more than anything else I had ever seen before, and while I think Jodorowsky beats out Lynch in sheer "WTF?!"-itude, Lynch is doubtless a master who uses cinema selfishly and beautifully. He doesn't tell stories. He paints pictures of concepts, feelings. He creates surreal worlds - even in his more "normal" narratives - in which time, space and interaction is almost meaningless. You need to look beyond what happens in David Lynch movies and ask what each thing means. I know it sounds pretentious, like I'm looking for things that aren't there, but when you're handed a film that doesn't have a conventional story or style - or indeed even a story at all - what else can you do?

At it's surface, Eraserhead had something of a story... the story of a man who's miserable life inside of his appartment is almost devoid of human contact, apart from his girlfriend he doesn't see often enough and the sultry woman across the hall. He spends much of his time working as a printer, or starring off in to his radiator dreaming of a better life. But everythjing changes when his girlfriend's family invites him to dinner, and reveals that he's the facter of a premature baby... a nightmarish little puppet who resembles a dead fish wrapped in bandages who spends all of it's time crying. His girlfriend leaves him, unable to deal with the crying mutant spawn, and he's left alone with the child who slowly and surely drives him insane until he believes that suicide - and bringing his child with him - is the only logical answer. least, that's what I think the movie's about. Seriously, this is the strangest thing I've ever seen, and it's no wonder that at the ripe age of 13, I was not only freaked out of my head by it, but that I also fell in love with cult films of all sorts. At that time I didn't stop and say to myself, "he had a child out of wedlock, so the scenes of him pulling featus after featus out of his girlfriend must be a symbol of self-loathing and paranoia about his past and future sins". No, all I did at the time was think "what, the, FUCK man?!" The film is now 29 years old, and is both as strange and wonderous as it always has been: the special effects for The Baby, though now clearly a puppet on the remastered widescreen DVD, is still a nightmarish little freak that looks far too much like a featus for any rational comfort. We know it's a puppet of somekind: that doesn't mean it doesn't freak me the hell out.

More importantly is the fact that after nearly 30 years, Lynch simply will not talk about the symbolism that's clearly the central story of the film. What does it all mean anyway? While I've yet to watch the 85 minute documentary included on the disk (but I will, probably in the next day or two) , it's mostly about the production history and how the film got made, rather than why. As dangerous as this is to it's audience, it's also the best thing for it. David Lynch is a peculiar director in many ways. For one thing, DVD's of virtually all of his films don't have chapter stops. This is clearly an intentional descision, one to try and sit down and watch and entire film in one sitting, as you would in a cinema. Another problem is that he tends to say absolutely nothing regarding his films, either before or after it's release. My theory - one I can only assume - is that he doesn't want to make the films easy for the viewer. I don't doubt that, much like Jodorowsky's cinematic streams of insanity, every sequence means something to Lynch. But we're not Lynch. We don't have his memories, his eyes, his thoughts. Whatever the hypnoic scene of The Baby screaming means to Lynch, it couldn't ever mean the exact same thing to us. So he lets us make up our own minds. While it seems almost infuriating at first, this is probably the only way to go. Lynch creates cinematic art to be enjoyed by those who want to decide what it means. If he tells us what it means, what's left to discover? Much as there are times where I feel his artistic soul becomes that of a slightly arrogant ass, I don't for a second believe he's full of shit (or even just on crack, like some film makers I love): I think he truly is an often misunderstood genius.

Oh yeah. If you have any interest in surrealism, pick it up. It's only $20, and the remastering process - which makes this film look almost brand spanking new - took 2 years of frame by frame editing. If that's not worth the wait, nothing is.

Trouble is he makes it a point to not be understood, so what are we supposed to assume of him? All I know for sure is I like his flicks, and I can't wait to pick up the Short Films DVD. And maybe Twin Peaks, if we ever get the second goddamn season released.

- Just watched the 85 minute (!) STORIES documentary last night. Nope. He doesn't tell us a damned thing about why he made the film, or how he pulled it off. He tells all sorts of cool stories about the production staff, and how he'd smuggle apple pie in to cafe's, how he had to get a steel cat out of a glass jar and even about rescuing 5 Woody Woodpecker dolls from a gas station (...have I mentioned the guy's either am honest to God clairvoyent, or on waaaaay too much crack at all times?), but not a word about what it meant, or how The Baby was made, or even what he wants people to know about the film. STORIES is just that: Stories about the making of Eraserhead. It also has lots of stills from scenes cut after the disasterous cinema premier (and the menu is a loop from the most disturbing scene shot for it and later cut) and even shows some primitive video footage from the mid 70's of rehersals, but overall it's something you should watch because you want to know HOW crazy art-house cinema is made. Not why.

Also, for shits and giggles (and to tide me over 'till I can go crazy at Deep Discount's bi-annual sale) I picked up Lynch's DUNE today. It's a DVD-18, in other words dual-sided and dual-layered. Which isn't a good thing, since these DVD's tend to be shoddily pressed and will often skip or lock up seemingly at random. Still, if it fucks up I can fix it with CDCheck, and the R1 release is in a truly boss steelbook (or, steelpack, or whatever the official US word for these armor plated plastic DVD cases are) which features a gorgeous full color design, thusly pounding the ever living crapola out of NSM Records' German releases of Anthropophagous and Cut And Run, which were formerly the most innovative and badass DVD packages known to man. They're still cool, sure... but you can't beat a full color steelbook. Seriously, why do they always keep them that brushed silver color? To prove they're metal or something? Shit, guys, we know.

The real question is wither or not Lynch's DUNE will be as cool as I think it could be in widescreen and remastered, or if it'll be the same unfocused confusing mess everybody else in the world thinks it is. Dune was the odd man out in Lynch's career as a whole, the one time where the film he made was more epic than personal, and where the studio cut truncated whatever vision he may have been going for entirely. All I know for sure is that he hasn't said a single word about the theatrical cut (not even "I hate it" - he'd probably bitch slap you for even mentioning it), but he removed his name from the extended 3 hour version that was played on cable entirely, and said it's script was written by "Judas Booth". That's always a good sign.

But fuck Lynch for just a second, let's talk about Maeda. Part of that epic 30 pounds o' pr0n I was given was all 6 sides of the deluxe DEMON BEAST INVASION (Injuu Kyoushitsu) MEMORIAL COLLECTION, which puts the original and first sequel series of MAEDA Toshio's... interesting tentacle shows all in one spot. For those who don't know Maeda by name, he's "the guy who created La Blue Girl and Legend of the Overfiend". He's a God by all rights, for having created the manga from which Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend, Sex Crime Investigator Koji, and Gedou Gakuen: BLACKBOARD JUNGLE (aka Nightmare Campus) would later be spawned from. His manga is mostly good stuff, taking hios ttraditional illustration background in to a a funky 50's EC Comic Book art style and combining it with out of control eroticism which ends up creating humanoid mutants with tentacle phalli who do naughty things to human (and other) women. While often credited with having created tentacle hentai, animation beat him to it with the Uchiyama Aki OVA's, but there's no denying that his most famous works - Urotsukidoji and La Blue Girl in particular - changed the perception, in Japan and the world, about what anime was and could be.

Demon Beast Invasion (or INJUU KYOUSHITSU, if you prefer) was a series that began vaguely based on a few Maeda manga, including Injuu Kyoushitsu and Oni Hunter, one of many supernatural monster-rape stories that was never animated, and thus was forgotten 'till one maniacal friend of mine started buying every Maeda manga in sight and Torrenting them all over them thar' interwebz. Go Nagai too, but that aside: the story is basically just a porno edition of MEN IN BLACK, though having been released in 1990 it beats the somehow lovable Barry Sonnefeld comedy film by a good 7 years. Go figure. Injuu (Immoral Beasts - in other words, Tentacle Monsters) come to Earth to impregnate the women so that they will give birth to a new race of human/injuu hybrids, which will in time thin out the unneeded (male) populace so they can move in and take over the Earth's natural resources for their own. Or such was the plot I got from watching the first 2 episodes without any translation: if I'm totally off, I'll give somebody a cookie. The first episode introduces us to a more or less likable highschool kid who runs in to (literally) a crazy mofo injuu hunting MIB - a short and kinda' scary looking guy who can eat a whole grocery bag's worth of food and talk at the same time, charming - who hunts down the evil rape machines and blasts the crap out of them with his Noisy Crick- er, mini ray gun thing. But it's not enough, and soon he enlists the help of Likable Highschool Kid, who can not only use his Manly Tears of Justice (TM) to become a glowing god of energy and power who can beat down the injuu with his fists, but can turn his ray gun in to a lightsaber handle AND can have sex with his girl and convert that orgasm energy that destroys the injuu and leaves both of them feeling satisfied. Fuck flying and X-ray vision and super hearing and whatever, THAT'S the super power I need!

Anyway, the first 2 episodes of Demon Beast Invasion are... well, pretty fucking wretched. Sure, not every anime based on a Maeda manga is theatrical quality stuff like Urotsukidoji, but the "animation" in the first 2 episodes (though they posessed a lot more motion that stuff like Injuu Kyoshi: Angel of Darkness) were just plain UGLY. Flat animation, clunky rounded character designs, bad paint splattered backgrounds during the tentacle rape scenes... while far from the worst tentacle show ever made, these two episodes are far below Maeda's usual standard that if his name weren't in the credits I wouldn't even believe it. Not to say everything Maeda's done has been perfect: Koji is an amazing technical and stylish feat but woefully incomplete piece of storytelling, La Blue Girl starts off being incredibly cheap and goofy but more or less made up for it in the sequels which were each better looking and more endearing than the one before it (though with progressively less pr0n, the one glaring flaw in RETURNS), and even the injuu designs - something both Maeda and the animators who choose to ignore his manga entire usually have fun with - were so derivitave and unimpressive in these first 2 episodes that, aside from a kawaii little Injuu faced tentacle, the show might as well have been a spoof of his better works. I was pretty much done, but trying desperately to meet a deadline, I popped in episode 3... and holy HELL did the show take a turn for the better.

Episode 3 opens - rather than with 6 minutes (...) of recap footage - with three beautiful alien ladies descending to Earth to put the smack-down on a new breed of Demon Beasts. That having been said, we still have Likable Highschool Kid and his now WAY cute girlfriend to kick around, but said Girlfriend gave birth to an Injuu in episode 2, who's returning this episode to be with his mother once and for all. But he's not alone: the Injuu seem to have developed the power to dissapear and reappear near masturbating or otherwise horny women, for some reason, and do their thing spreading the not-so-wanted tentacle love the way they like to do. Not interested in impregnating anything, the heroine's monster baby decided to sap the women dry of their energy and becomes a skyscraper sized bag o' love, who's detirmined to make mother a part of his body, so he'll never be without her again.

This is EXACTLY the kind of crazy shit we're supposed to watch tentacle porn for. I'm not sure what to expect with the next 3 episodes, nor do I know if I'll ever get the rather foul taste of the first 2 out of my mouth, but if the show keeps the level of quality at the level OVA 3 had to offer I'll buy the US box set just to see the action without any censorship. (The first 2 episodes had those lovely glowing crotches, so there was nothing to censor anyway.) That having been said, I'm going to go watch more crazy tentacle porn and hope that it doesn't suck out loud again.

Oh. And try COCA-COLA BLA'K if you can find it. Or, Black or Blaque or whatever it is. Cola and Coffee shouldn't taste good together. There's absolutely no excuse for them to. But, they do. Real good.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Packge Fetish Fading! + A Whole Lotta' Pink

So today was kind of a bummer. My house reeks, but that's another story I won't get in to. I also ran around all day looking for the VENTURE BROTHERS season 1 DVD. Venture Brothers is a show on Adult Swim and plays sorta' like a Mad Magazine parody of the Hardy Boys/Johnny Quest. 'Cept it's serious. It also has a geeky anorexic weak-stomached crown and wings wearing Supervillain who calls himself The Monarch, who alongside Doctor Girlfriend with his pack of chubby 20-something henchmen who argue over wither or not the Smurfs were reptiles or mammals based on Smurfette's menstural cycles sorta' sealed the deal: it's me in supervillain form. It really is.

Unfortunately every place within reasonable driving distance has sold out, so I returned home empty-handed. My wife decided to soften the blow with an early Birthday present: David Lynch's mind-bendingly fucked piece of expressionism ERASERHEAD. Whoo! This is exactly the kind of thing I need: a gift of a DVD I wouldn't pick up otherwise. The reason? That goddamn packaging fetish I noted was a problem I had elsewhere in the blog.

The recent set of David Lynch DVD's include Eraserhead, David Lynch's Short Films (which I own a crumby looking bootleg of and will inevitably upgrade), and Dumbland - a series of short animated films by him I've never seen. I've heard they were awful, but why knows. Anyway, they all come in a keepcase, no booklet or anything apart from a "buy more David Lynch DVD's here" card. And the DVD's are identical to the special editions that Lynch himself released a few years ago, probably hand-assembled in his basement by creepy little stop motion elves who give birth to live birds from their noses every full moon. That's just how Lynch rolls, y'know. Anyway, the David Lynch DVD's released through his website came in nifty little cardboard packages that unfolded at different levels, revealing the DVD inside (think a digipak on crack) and had a 20 page booklet each. They were $40 a piece, or some ungodly price - around $78 if memory serves - if you wanted a hand signed copy. It's cool that David would take the time to scribble his John Hancock on a bunch of disks for hardcore Lynched Buffs, but $46 (with shipping) for a DVD in a pint-sized paper case? No, nothin' doin'.

Yes, I have spent $60 on a single episode of censored animated porn. But that comes with the territory.

Now, the Lynch DVD's you can pick up at Best Buy or wherever come in generic (in comparison) keepcases with no booklets. But remember that packaging fetish I mentioned in the "I have a problem" but? Well, let's look at these two examples for a perfect summary of why it would be bonkers of me to NOT buy the keepcase versions:

Lynch DVD - It comes in a unique DVD case. I like "unique". But I don't like cardboard CD cases: they scratch and scuff easily, don't hold a damned thing securely, and where do you put them? WHERE?! I own some music video's in these monstrosities and they're just... floating around. Somewhere. Not that I watch ST. ANGER videos on a regular basis, but what if I needed it to force someone out of my house via violent bleeding of the ears?

Standard DVD - It's the same disk in a case I can keep with my other messed up psychadellic DVD's. Same extras, same transfer. Any notes that may be in the booklet of the other version will probably be covered in the exaustive interview that Lynch gives on the disk. So the only thing I'm -really- losing is a box I don't like, and a booklet I don't need. And an extra $20 on the price tag.

Want proof that package fetishes are bad? A while ago I ordered the CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST 25th ANNIVERSARY DVD from the *ahem* fine folks at Poker Industries. Their newsletter and front page pimp - and pimp hard - that they have the totally out-of-print limited to 11,111 digipak deluxe edition. Nobody else but eBay has it, and even they've more or less dried up stock, with 2 or 3 left where as there were 20 or 30 a few months ago. What's the difference? The standard version comes in a double-sided clear keepcase, while the numbered version had a graphic locking digipak with artwork on the inner flap of the infamous Impaled Girl. (If you don't know this image, I haven't taught you enough.) The back is an uncropped image of the back of the slipcase/keepcase art without all the cheesy text, and the front of the package is the impaled girl in all her glory. Awesome box, right? Worth paying $40 for when I can get the keepcase version for $20? I thought so.

And then I get said awesome ultimate LE and the fucking locking-case arrived cracked, and inside of a day the clear plastic part pulled off of the artwork. I tried to glue the bastard back down, and all I ended up doing was ripping a (very) little chunk of the art and made part of the plastic all... cloudy-like and bumpey. I doubt I'll ever sell it, so it's not like I ruied a valuable object of monetary worth for me... it's just, damnit, I spend double on a cool box and this is the thanks karma bitch slaps me with? What the crap.

So, with this in mind I'm more than grateful to have my keepcase-clad copy of ERASERHEAD getting ready to snuggle up alongside the other weirdness on my shelf, like FANDO & LIS and GOZU. Those poor bastards need company. And I don't think I'll ever upgrade for the package, either. I wouldn't mind seeing the booklet, but it's not a privelage I feel is worth $20.

I'm keeping my broken Cannibal Holocaust box though.

So, all that lovely rambling aside, I need to tell you guys something: I have recorded 25 pounds of porno. No joke! Friend of mine - one of the guys who reads this, doubtless - went quite broke buying tape after tape of vintage 70's and 80's smut from Yahoo Auctions Japan, a place so evil that no American (or Austrian...) can buy tapes and have them shipped directly to their home: you have to have a deputy service, like Celga, order it for you, ship it to you, and you pay out the peehole for the privelage. It's still the only way to get genuinely rare stuff you can't order anymore, and if you ever happen upon a lot of DVD's or whatever, you can sometimes get a hell of a deal on them, even after Celga rapes your wallet dry.

So here he was, with about 30-40 hentai, pinku ("Pink Movies", or Pinku Eiga - tehatrical soft-porn Japan produced from the 1960's to the 1980's, typically with epic stories and big budgets) and yakuza tapes and Laserdisks all at his fingertips. But my friend had a few problems; for one thing, he lives in Austria, a country that uses PAL TV's, not NTSC like Japan and the US. Another is he doesn't even own a TV, let alone a VCR anymore, and watches everything on his PC with a DVD-ROM. Last, but definately not least, is the fact that he maxed out his poor Visa in the process. So what's he do under these dire circumstances? He sends them to his ol' pal Kentai to record them all to DVD-R and then sell the originals on eBay, of course!

I'm both happy, and sad, to note that my 25 pound box of porno has been delpeted. There are a couple scragglers - the DEMON BEAST INVASION laserdisk box, for one, and I need to do some seriously hardcore restoration work on LOLITA ANIME UCHIYAMA AKI: OMORASHI GOKKO (of course - the best episode HAS to be the one with bad tape wear!), but all the tapes have been recorded, edited, compressed, burned, and within another half-hour, will be sold... aside from a few well earned souveniers of this long, strange international porno ring both he and I will be saving. I've seen movies where vaginas spew girl-juice in the face of priests, porno movies with badly fimed shark attacks, Disco inspired black light whores going on a murdering rampage porn, and everything in between. A few have sucked out loud - ZA IKENIE, I'm looking at you - some have been unespectedly amazing, like Ero Shogun's 21 Whores (do -all- concubines do nothing but masturbate in their spare time? ...I hope so...), and truth be told, a handfull of these tapes weren't even porn. But... there was a suypplimentary 7 pound box that followed, so even if the not-porn was 7 pounds worth (and it wasn't)... that's still 25 pounds of porn.

Maybe I'll review the cool ones here. Maybe not. We'll see what live hands me first.