The Good, The Bad & The Bloody: Hell’s Bloody Devils (1970) & Blood Money (1974)

I’m sure like many of my fellow movie fans, you’ve had good and bad luck when it comes to movies with “blood” or one of its variants in the title. Take Bloody Mama for example, that movie’s a total piece of shit, but First Blood? Great stuff. I had similar results with the last two movies I watched with blood in the title. Hell’s Bloody Devils look like just another 70s motorcycle movie, something like Roger Corman’s The Wild Angels and other movies that inspired 2008’s Hell Ride. Instead, the biker element ended up being secondary to something even more complex: a secret agent trying to hunt down an escaped Nazi who’s using the biker gang for his nefarious plans. It’s a really ambitious movie and I wish I had paid better attention. As I mentioned, I didn’t have high expectations for it. I was just looking for something to have on in the background one night so it was about 20 minutes in when I realized I wasn’t paying enough attention and there were spies and Nazis and not just jackholes on motorcycles (which is how it starts and ends). Unlike some movies which seem like they’re trying to shove more and more crud into a tiny bag, Hell’s Bloody Devils seemed to do a great job of balancing some somewhat disparate elements into a cohesive story without playing outside the field their low budget could afford. I say “seem” because I unfortunately wasn’t paying enough attention. If this one comes back to Netflix Instant (my queue told me it was on it’s way to wherever movies go when they’re no longer available to watch instantly, which is why I watched it yesterday).

Even more interesting, and sad, to me is the story of director Al Adamson. I haven’t ever seen one of his movies, but he apparently made a fairly decent career of making these action-filled B movies. Well, apparently, according to his IMDb bio page, he was murdered by his live in carpenter named Fred Fulford. Fulford killed Adamson and buried the body in cement under the bathroom the carpenter was working on and then tiled over it. But that wasn’t all, after killing Adamson Fulford used Adamson’s identity while he tried to escape, but was eventually picked up in Florida (Adamson lived in California), tried and sentenced to 25 years to life. That’s nuts right? Nuts enough to inspire me to get back to writing, that’s how nuts.

Far less inspiring, and good, was Blood Money, which I had much higher hopes for than Hell’s Bloody Devils. Expectations really can ruin a movie, can’t they? This was an actual disc rental from Netflix. I didn’t even remember what it was about when I got it in the mail and then I looked it up and saw the poster. “Oh yeah, the one that’s like Shanghai Noon but from the 70s and with Lee Van Cleef,” I reminded myself, “Should be cool.”

It’s not. At all. Sure, Van Cleef is cool, but that and a very few cool kung fu moves by costar Lo Lieh are the only good parts of this movie. Other than that this movie is an incomprehensible mess and I don’t think it has anything to do with it being a Spanish/Italian production (I can’t quite tell which is more prominent but the actual title of the movie is El karate, el Colt y el impostor, which means exactly what you think it does). There’s an incredibly weird series of sequences early in the movie where Van Cleef is breaking into a vault which has a series of doors (like getting into the Get Smart headquarters). The weird thing is that each door has a photo of what looks like a prostitute’s butt. Each photo turns into a scene showing an Asian man looking at her butt. This goes on four or five times and didn’t make a lick of sense to me.

Okay, so that story’s confusing at least the kung fu’s gotta be cool, right? Nope. Aside from having the weirdest cartoon sound effects every time Lieh does anything taking away from any dramatic tension (like a slide whistle as he jumps through the air to attack someone), the fight choreography is just lame. Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Tony Jaa movies make it look like dudes are really getting the shit busted up, but in this, you can clearly see Lieh’s fist stopping a foot away from an attacker’s face and him flipping away from it. Really terrible stuff. I left it on for about a half hour longer than I probably should have, but it was on and I didn’t learn much about the story. Van Cleef and Lieh meet in jail, team up and go after…someone. There’s more bad fights and whatnot. One other thing I wanted to mention is that this DVD has one of the weirdest menus I’ve ever seen. The main screen just has a picture from the film and then options at the bottom. But the only options are Play and then a list of chapters all in one row. Strange. Hey, avoid this one. Seriously.

Real World Watcher: D.C. Episode 9

Wow, okay, I’m going to just post my notes on this one. For those of you wonder, yes, this is the episode in which Andrew fell and got hurt pretty bad. As I note, I HATE this kid, but no one should get tossed over a friggin’ high-ass porch onto cement. As a long time Real World fan, I’m pretty disappointed with how violent and dangerous the non-Mike men on this cast. In this episode Ty pushes a girl in a way that is not playful and shoves Andrew off the steps (I don’t know what to call this thing, it’s not a balcony, it’s not really a porch, it’s bigger than a stoop). Meanwhile, to a lesser degree, because he didn’t actually lay hands on her, Josh gets in Emily’s face in a violent and unnerving manner. And, let’s face it, most hook ups on this show are alcohol fueled which mean they’re skirting laws at best. Blech, I’m hoping Ty gets kicked out, Andrew maybe learns to not be such a douche and Josh goes home too, but I doubt all of those things will happen. Maybe I’m getting too old for this shit. Hit the jump for the live blogging, including the full account of the altercation between Ty and Andrew. Continue reading Real World Watcher: D.C. Episode 9

Lost Thoughts: The Lighthouse

I liked tonight’s episode. It seemed a little light on action, but I felt like it was setting a lot of things up for the rest of the season. The Lighthouse itself was cool to see and the impending doom on the temple is interesting. I like seeing good and bad teams. Jack makes another decision that could inadvertently be good or bad, we’ll see. Dude’s not so good at this stuff sometimes. Here’s my thoughts and questions from the episode.

I think we’ve taken way too much stock in what other people have said about Jacob. Instead of assuming that Jacob’s a bad guy, maybe we’ve only seen the actions of a bad guy. By that I mean that we know ben never had any interactions with Jacob, so maybe he was really being directed by the Smoke Monster or some other agent to work counteractive to Jacob. Something to think about.

Another brand new dynamic: potentially crazy Claire and injured Jin. The Lost writers are great at these pairings you’d never expect.

I’m wondering if the Others have explanations for things they don’t understand much like how primitive people came up with legends to explain things like the sun and moon. Maybe this “infection” is something else entirely, it’s just the best that people whose technology tops out at guns and typewriters can come up with. I’m not saying they’re dumb, just possibly ignorant.

One of the problems with the Dimension X universe is that we don’t really know these characters. We notice how they’re different, but as of now we don’t know why we should actually care about them. I’ve still got faith we’ll find out and it will be meaningful, even having more meaning on further viewings, but I think it’s hard for a lot of people to really latch on to.

I agree with Hurley, it’s cool to see him and Jack walking around visiting some familiar sites like the cave and the Adam and Eve skeletons, even discovering a new crazy place. I still think they’re Rose and Bernard. Just a hunch though.

It’s also nice to hear characters explaining things to each other, like why Jack found the caves in the first place. If only they talked more around the camp fire in early episodes instead of running around the woods, there would be way fewer head scratchers.

Oh man. Was the lighthouse looking in on their main universe lives or the Dimension X ones? Also, who was 108? Man, either Jack just screwed up big time or helped things out without knowing it. It doesn’t seem like he can mean to do something good and it turns out good. I was hoping there would be something noticeably different in the flash sideways, but I didn’t notice anything.

The V commercial saying they’re excited about Lost’s last season was pretty funny.

Wow. Okay, a bunch of questions: What’s with Claire? Is she evil or manipulated? When was she taken to the temple? Why doesn’t she remember what happened to Aaron? Was she manipulated into becoming the next Rousseau to fill a spot on Smokey’s team? Who does she think Non Locke is? Are Non Locke and Non Christian separate beings? Is the island a prison for several different kinds of Smoke Monsters? Why did Jin lie and tell Claire Aaron’s at the temple? Was he trying to set her up so they would kill her? Is he worried that she’ll kill him? Man, she’s a really creepy character right now. Completely crazy and unpredictable.

So Jack’s important and has to figure out why. Or, is he? Maybe this isn’t really Jacob appearing but someone else. Perhaps the lighthouse was Smokey’s. We really don’t know, trust no one.

Give That E*Trade Baby An Award

I watch a LOT of television. Thanks for plenty of marathons and watching a lot of the Winter Olympics, that means I tend to see the same commercials over and over and over and over and…you get the idea. I see a lot of commercials. My favorite series of commercials right now, though, have to be the E*Trade baby commercials. I liked the old baby, but this new kid is killing it. And of course, by the kid, I mean the editors, writers and voice actors behind the baby. It can’t be easy to match up the adult voice with the baby’s mouth/motions/movements whatever. Here are my current favorites.

The Milkoholic

The Airplane (The “Dad?!” part kills me every time)

The Barbershop Quartet

And here’s some “out takes” that were pretty funny

There’s one more where the kid leans back in his seat and goes “WHOA” that I couldn’t find on the E*Trade YouTube page. Oh well, you get the idea.

Super Fun Comics: Silver Streak Comics #24

My buddy Rickey is always passing me comics that, now that I don’t have full access to each month’s comics, I probably wouldn’t get around to reading. In this case it’s Silver Streak Comics #24, which is really the next issue in Image’s Next Issue Project series. This is a series of one-shots where Image publisher and Savage Dragon writer/artist Erik Larsen helps bring back some both classic and long forgotten Golden Age characters with help from a number of other characters (for more info on this issue check out this story by my buddy Josh Wiggler over on CBR). This Golden Age comic-sized book has a nice card stock-like cover and the art and layout are done in a way to recreate the feelings of flipping through one of those old books. There’s a kind of yellowed quality to the pages, full on real and fake Golden Age-era comic ads and even that great fake price sticker on the cover. Even knowing it was a printing effect, I still had to touch it just to make sure.

Anyway, there are five stories in this comic, all of which are kept pretty short to match the style of the books from back then. Larsen wrote and drew a story starring the original Daredevil (who also apparently appeared in Savage Dragon along with a different version over in Alex Ross’s Project Superpowers) that, according to the aforementioned interview, picks up from Silver Streak Comics #23. Then, Paul Grist, who writes and draws the fantastic Jack Staff comics, worked on the title speedster character. Joe Keatinge jumps in for a one page Kelly the Cop story, Michael T. Gilbert does a The Claw story and Steve Horton and Alan Weiss came together to work on a Captain Battle strip.

For me the draw for this comic wasn’t the characters, in fact Daredevil is the only one I had ever heard of before picking this comic up and maybe the Claw, but I couldn’t have told you what he looks like. What got me excited about this comic were the creators. I’m a big supporter of Savage Dragon. At one point I read through the first hundred or so issues, maybe more, but then I fell off the wagon and couldn’t keep up. Even so, I still like the book and appreciate Larsen’s style, so a one-off story starring one character that I recognize from this company? Sold. Flipping through, I then saw Grist doing Silver Streak, almost missed Keatinge’s one-page strip, didn’t really get too excited about the Claw story and liked the look of Weiss’s art on the Captain Battle story.

After reading through, my first impressions proved to be pretty right on. I really dug the Daredevil story. I read through it so quickly that by the time I got to the end I realized I hadn’t really absorbed what had happened and went back to make sure I got it. Not that the story is ultra complicated, it’s just whiz-bang fast. Basically Daredevil and his kid sidekicks fight a monster. I’ll leave it at that.

Grist’s Silver Streak yarn was a lot of fun with him using his super speed to figure out who was trying to kill one half of his favorite TV comedy duo. I think my favorite strip might be the Kelly the Cop one even though it’s the shortest. There’s a funny sadness to it that I think speaks volumes about a lot of those wacky cartoony characters who seem so one-note. It’s cool to see behind the curtain a little.

The Claw story didn’t really grab me much. It’s about a Golden Age villain who now runs a corporation and looks back on his past life with a bit of wistfulness. It’s not bad, but I’ve seen it before. Same goes for the Captain Battle story, but, unlike with the Claw, Captain Battle made me want to read more about his exploits. He’s a patriotic super hero with a son side kick, rockets to fly around on, guns and power gloves of some sort. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of him in future comics.

Generally, I’m not a big fan of bringing back these kinds of GA characters. It seems so full of fake enthusiasm. That’s why I never got into the Project Superpowers books, even though I could have easily read them all. I just didn’t care. Alex Ross used to be a draw, but he doesn’t pencil or paint the books, so it’s not enough to draw me in. With this book, you know it’s not an overwhelming thing you’re getting yourself into. Twelve issues of characters I know nothing about with character designs and plotting by my favorite painter? Nope, no thanks. One issue of a book with at least 50% characters I recognize and creators I really like in a fun format that hails back to the feel of the GA books without being, let’s be honest, not very good like a lot of mass produced Golden Age books were. Larsen did a good job and this comic makes me want to go back and check out the previous issue Fantastic Comics #24. I also want to start writing comics based on a character called Captain Marvel who can shoot his feet and hands at people. Or something. It’s crazy.

Toy Commercial Tuesday: McDonald’s Super Mario Bros. 3

I intended to shine my meager spotlight on the commercial from Marvel’s Secret Wars with the crazy vehicles, but it wouldn’t load. And, when things don’t load right away on YouTube, I’m three other videos deep by the time it would have taken for that first one to load. That’s what got me to this commercial for the Super Mario Bros. 3 toys from McDonald’s. If memory serves, I had both the flipping Goomba and the suction/spring Mario. Better yet, I remember going and getting my copy of Super Mario Bros. 3 from Toys R Us. It was the first day it came out and we had one of those papers with the name of the game on it that you had to take up to the register and switch out (along with some money) for the game. It was really early and I was 7. If Wikipedia is to be believed and I really was there on the first day, that would have put this all on February 12, 1990, 6 days after my birthday. What an awesome birthday present. I am a huge fan of that game, and how mind blowing were the frog, raccoon and Tanooki suits? Very cool, but not as cool as the hard-to-find Hammer Brother Mario suit. As a kid I spent big chunks of time drawing those characters. Anyway, I loved Super Mario Bros. and am having an awesome time playing my way through New Super Mario Bros. Wii which I am loving at every turn. None of which has much to do with these toys themselves, but I figured I’d get that story out now instead of later when I’m talking about the Wii game, which I can then link back to this. Kinda meta, right?

Awesome Aussies: Mad Max (1979) & Mad Max 2 (1981)

After watching Not Quite Hollywood, I came to the depressing realization that I’ve never actually seen the original Mad Max. Looking to correct that immediately, I added it to the top of my queue and got to watching it last week. Man, this movie is out of control. Tarantino mentioned in NQH that these are the kinds of movies that really suck you in because you know that these are real people doing real stunts. I don’t remember if he was talking about Mad Max specifically, but you really get the sense that everything you’re seeing is really happening because you know at least some of it is really happening. That out of control car crash? Is that one of the ones that almost got someone killed? Did that arm really get run over? Holy shit!!! It’s the same feeling I get when I watch Thai movies like The Protector and Ong-Bak or older Jackie Chan movies (you know, ones where he’s not playing the schtick for the kiddies).

Anyway, the parts where Max isn’t on screen can be a bit dull. The idea behind the movie is that we’re in Australia after some kind of global apocalypse. Max, played of course by Mel Gibson, is a cop who takes out a crazy car bandit who goes by the name of Nightrider. This makes Nightrider’s former gang pretty peeved and they go after Max and his friends. From there you get a lot of car crashes and killings. Unfortunately, Max gets sent over the edge with some pretty terrible stuff happening that kind of informs not only his character in the rest of the series but also his character in the Lethal Weapon series. Anyway, the poster is rad, right? So’s the movie. Give it a watch either for the first time or because it’s been awhile.

Unlike Mad Max, I know I’ve seen Mad Max 2, or as it’s called in the States Road Warrior, once at a Manly Movie Night and maybe one other time, but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember more than the very basic premise of Max going after a gang of car marauders, this time even crazier with weirder cars lead by a guy named Humungus sporting a Jason Voorhees hockey mask. There’s more to it, taking into account the fact that Max is actually helping a group of people who are running an oil rig from Humungus and his crew, a little kid with a super-sharp boomerang and one of the best dog actors I’ve ever seen. Seriously, dog’s got skillz.

Anyway, there’s something about Mad Max 2 that takes it away from the original. It’s a lot bigger and weirder with more larger than life villains with cooler cars, but it feels less real thanks to a lot of those. You still get Gibson being cold, hard and generally badass but he spends less time in his pimp ride and more hanging out with a dude who built his own helicopter on a mountain and in a compound.

Director George Miller, who also directed the original and oddly enough Happy Feet and Babe: Pig In The City (weird right?), seemed to pick up on some cool elements from the original without bringing over the actual coolest moments and making this a completely balls to the wall nutzo crazy fest. Instead, we still get our somewhat boring down moments just like in the first one. Don’t be mistaken, there is a truly ass kicking car chase at the end of the movie that makes it worth while and so far, this is the best Mad Max sequel (I HAAAAATE Thunderdome). Heck that movie seemed to take the one cool kid with the boomerang and turn him into an entire clan of weirdo dummy children that I wanted to punch in the face individually but can’t because, you know, it’s a movie. Ah well, it’s still a fun ride (no pun intended) and worth the price of admission (a Netflix rental). I’ve got a super trashy Drive In 50-pack along with a much smaller kung fu DVD pack coming in the mail which will surely be far more disappointing. Especially Black Hooker.