Monday, July 31, 2023

Viewings: July 2023

The hype machine has been all about Barbie vs. Oppenheimer, but I'm all about Uschi Obermaier as Red Sun is the film discovery of the month.

Runner-up is Stephen Sayadian's sequel to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920). A surreal trip with the colour palette of a packet of Liquorice Allsorts.

Should be back to film junkie status again soon, hopefully.



Violated (Walter Strate, 1953)*

The Naked Witch (Claude Alexander & Larry Buchanan, 1961)*

Red Sun (Rudolf Thome, 1970) *

If Footmen Tire You What Will Horses Do? (Ron Ormond, 1971)* 

Never Say Never Again (Irvin Kershner, 1983)

Stagefright (Michele Soavi, 1987)

Dr. Caligari (Stephen Sayadian, 1989)*

I Don’t Like Mondays (John Dower, 2006)*


* First time viewings. 

Dada Debaser Notes:

  • As far as psycho-sexual killer movies go, Walter Strate's sleazy noir Violated predates similar and more well known titles like Psycho (1960) and Peeping Tom (1960) by several years. Nowhere near on the same level of those two films, but decent nonetheless.
  • Just under an hour and yet The Naked Witch is still too long. Dull and inept film. The only memorable things about it are Bernard Herrmann's score from The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) being borrowed and Libby Hall looking like a much curvier Vampira.
  • It's an inferior remake of Thunderball (1965), but my recent rewatch of Never Say Never Again didn't irk me as much as previous times. Still Sean Connery's worst James Bond outing, regardless.
  • Since her incarceration, notorious school shooter Brenda Spencer went from looking like Axl Rose to Tangina in John Dower's documentary about her.
  • What happens when an exploitation film maker like Ron Ormond teams up with a Southern Baptist preacher like the Rev. Estus W. Pirkle? You get a laugh a minute Christian propaganda movie, that's what!
If Footmen Tire You What Will Horses Do?
Ron Ormond, 1971

Friday, July 21, 2023

Man About the Haus

Red Sun (Rudolf Thome, 1970)

What bugs me about new wave cinema is this whole notion that its rejection of traditional film making fundamentally makes it an intelligent art form. Thus, pretentious art house films are treated like the emperor's new clothes. Straddling the thin line between art house and exploitation is the appropriately coined tern - artsploitation. Rudolf Thome's Red Sun (1970) is an example of this category and not to be confused with the testosterone loaded, east meets west western Red Sun (1971).

Red Sun's trailer instantly grabbed me as a film I very much need to check out as it gave me strong Jerzy Skolimowski's Deep End (1970) vibes. Turned out to be a correct assumption. Despite its different subject matter, it proved to be an entertaining offbeat comedy. Red Sun isn't quite as good as Skolimoski's film, but it does have enough charm which won me over.

Thomas (Marquand Bohm) is an obnoxious layabout and a sponger, who crashes the crib of his ex girlfriend Peggy (Uschi Obermaier). While dossin' there, he learns that Peggy and her housemates are a radical feminist, bomb-making collective, who murder their boyfriends after five days.

The beauty of Red Sun is watching Thomas, the German equivalent of Robin Askwith, raid the fridge and ponce money off the deadly terror cell to buy cigars and moan about the tedium of having to work. What's even more entertaining is how nonchalant he is regarding the dangerous predicament he finds himself in. The fact that Peggy and her criminal cohorts are remarkably dumber than Thomas is the icing on the cake for me.

Intentional or not, Rudolf Thome's film has so much levity that it looks and feels like a seventies sex comedy rather than a feminist laced crime thriller. There's no real depth or emotion to the characters either, save for Isolde from the death-dealing sisterhood, who sheds some remorse occasionally. Supposedly influenced by Jean Luc Godard’s work. I would say this trumps any of his films as this is art house cinema I can watch without being bored to tears. The film does lose its way around the midway point, but I found enough entertainment from Red Sun to forgive its mistakes.

For a German film from the early seventies, I presumed krautrock or German psychedelia would be the soundtrack to the film, but it turned out to be some choice British prog rock instead thanks to The Nice's Rondo and The Small Faces performing Rollin' Over along with the legendary Grand Theft Auto V trailer tune Ogden's Nut Gone Flake. To tie Anglo German relations further, Georg Friedrich Händel's funeral parlour choon Adagio (Messiah) is repeated throughout the course of the film, thankfully without Jim Morrison's spoken word poetry ruining it. 

Lastly, how fit was Uschi Obermaier back in the day? Jimi Hendrix was like a rat up a drain pipe and made the effort to travel to the hippy shit-hole she was living in known as Kommune 1 just to score with her. This blogger hates hippies with a passion, but in the case of Uber Uschi, going incognito like Sid James once did when he sabotaged the crusty hippy gig in the adjacent field to him in Carry On Camping (1969), is a worthy effort.

"Ich bin ein hippy, Uschi!"

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Gangs of New York

The Warriors (Opening Credits/Intro)
Walter Hill, 1979

Robert Wise helmed The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) and The Haunting (1963); two films more than worthy of "classic" status for your host. Sadly, he also gave us West Side Story (1961) and The Sound of Music (1965). The former irked the novelist Sol Yurick so much, it resulted in him writing his book The Warriors in response.

Walter Hill's adaptation of The Warriors (1979) really deserves a more dedicated review in the forseeable future. In any case, here are some thoughts on what's arguably one of the greatest seventies film intros alongside Jaws (1975), Star Wars (1977) and Halloween (1978). 

What I love about the opening credits is how it sets up the goal for the film's characters, the rivalry of its gangs, including the power struggle between Warriors members Swan (Michael Beck) and Ajax (James Remar) and the potential dangers involved in attending self styled Martin Luther King, gang leader Cyrus's sermon. This is all perfectly accompanied by Barry De Vorzon's killer soundtrack.

Big fan of all the various gangs from the film, even if some of them look down right ridiculous like the Marcel Marceau inspired street thugs the Hi-Hats. Personal fave dressed gang not named Baseball Furies is the all asian collective known as the Savage Huns. Despite them only appearing in the opening intro, their all green clobber reminds me of Sandy from the TV series Monkey (1978 - 1980) and the rebel commandos from Return of the Jedi (1983), which probably molded my taste in military green apparel and camo wear at an early age.

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Like Fine Summer Wine

Mondo Boys & Nisalda Gonzalez - Find Me in the Fall (scene)
The Mortuary Collection soundtrack, 2020

2020 might have been annus horriblis to many, but this blogger looks upon it with fondness. It's notable because I was actively encouraged to watch movies all day everyday by the science boffins while folks were losing their shit having to stay home - that's a luxury I wish I had right now!

The entertainment industry took a major hit, but there were a few gems here and there. Among them was Ryan Spindell's horror anthology The Mortuary Collection; boasting Clancy Brown's most memorable performance since he played Private (formely Sgt.) Zim in Starship Troopers (1997). Avoiding all spoilers, a cool scene from The Mortuary Collection is a sixties era college party featuring the song Find Me in the Fall by Mondo Boys & Nisalda Gonzalez. Incidentally, the song made it onto my Year by Ear post.

Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazelwood - Summer Wine
Nancy in London album, 1966

Find Me in the Fall sounds an awful lot like Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood's Summer Wine. Rip off or homage, I'm not complaining since I enjoy them both. Considering the film's trailer also features a choon obviously reminiscent of Nancy Sinatra's most famous song, I kind of respect its audacity, regardless. It also has me hoping for more retro themed genre films to stylistically go beyond the eighties, which has been milked to death in appeasing Gen X and early millennial film geeks.