Halloween Scene: Savage Weekend (1976)

savage_weekend If you think that mispresenting horror movies by way of posters or home video boxes is a new thing invented by Lionsgate, I offer you the rad poster for Savage Weekend. Pretty cool, right? That vaguely Skeletor-looking Grim Reaper pointing right at you Uncle Sam-style with bloody scythe and that tag line, “You have been chosen. You are doomed. Prepare yourself for…Savage Weekend.” Hey, SPOILER WARNING: none of that has anything to do with the film, just FYI. I don’t even think there’s a scythe in the background of a scene in this weird little gem of a movie.

To be fair, I wasn’t actually duped by the poster. This is one of 50 movies in a pack I bought years back called Drive In Movie Classics. It’s a mix of thrillers, action, exploitation, horror and other mostly forgotten B-movies. I was looking around for something I could watch on my computer while doing work this morning and a movie about friends spending some time in a remote locale getting offed by a masked killer sounded like just the thing. As it turned out, this is an odd film that wound up capturing my attention a lot more than I thought.¬† Continue reading Halloween Scene: Savage Weekend (1976)

Drive-In Couchfest: Country Blue (1973)

I bet I’ve put more thought into Country Blue than most folks, including some of the people who worked on the movie. As the next installment in the Drive-In 50-pack I was leery for two reasons, first, the previous entry was a pretty huge load of crap, and second, it’s got a 108 minute run time. Then once it started, I thought I was in for a real crap fest thanks to some awkward freeze framing, bad sound and inane cutting from action to the credits. But, in the end, I kind of liked the movie.

It must be said that this isn’t necessarily a good or original movie. Technically, it’s pretty bad and logically you want to scream at the TV, but some folks are really like that, so you can’t fault the story. The acting varies from person to person with the lead (and director thanks to talks with guys like Jeff Bridges and Robert Blake running long and threatening to squash the movie) varying from God awful to pretty good. The old man known as Jumpy is a ton of fun, as is the Ex Lax T-shirt he wears throughout the entire movie. And the lead’s girlfriend Ruthie, played by Rita Georg is stunning and not such a bad actress either.

The story revolves around Bobby Lee, a guy who can’t stay in one place too long. He just got out of jail for robbing a convenience store, but has his sights set on robbing a bank and moving to Mexico. Unfortunately for Bobby Lee, he’s kind of a dumbass. He and Ruthie rob the bank, her mask falls off and they refer to each other by their first names. THEN, after getting away, they rob a store and just stop to hang out near a lake only to get pissed when he reads a newspaper article that talks about how the bank president tricked him. So, of course, they go back and rob the bank again.

It’s a familiar story. Bobby Lee’s the kind of guy who just can’t let himself fit into society. He also doesn’t seem to try, not wanting to do the job Jumpy offers him. He wants a lot and doesn’t want to work to get it. There’s actually a pretty interesting metaphor that just kind of sits in some of the scenes without calling too much attention to itself: Jumpy’s monkey. The monkey’s in a cage in front of Jumpy’s garage always trying to get out. I was actually surprised that Bobby Lee didn’t break the little dude out before taking off. That would have been poetic.

I also want to compliment the cinematography. I know I trashed the technical aspects above, but there’s something about the filmwork here that makes it seem like a documentary, kind of like the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but without chainsaws. It helps that the southern setting (I think the movie takes place in Tennessee?) looks like a camera’s never been there before. Everything feels very authentic, so sometimes the not-so-great acting doesn’t really hurt the whole puzzle because it fits with overall picture. Like I said, I’m thinking about this movie a lot.

I do have to call bullshit on the ending though. Consider this SPOILER territory if you care. So, at the end of the movie, Bobby Lee’s adoptive mother helps break him and Ruthie out of prison. They’ve ditched the cops and are driving through the woods. All of a sudden he goes from being on a road and talking about his plan to get to Mexico to bushwacking through the woods with his car and flying off of a small cliff into a body of water. Huh? The editing is sloppy, so it seems to come out of nowhere. We see Bobby Lee pop up out of the water, thrash around a little, dive down twice and then swim back to shore where he presumably waits to see if the love of his life and his adoptive mother get out of the car on their own. What?! Seriously, I’d by swimming around there until I was about dead myself and I would imagine a bull-headed dumbass like Bobby Lee would do the same. I get that they probably didn’t have the budget or wherewithal to do an underwater shot, but the weird flashback montage they do show of the car as it was crashing didn’t help matters.

I can’t think of another movie that was such a rollercoaster of opinions for me. I started out thinking it was going to suck, then got kind of engrossed by the tragedy of the whole thing but then at the end I was left with a WTF taste in my mouth. I wouldn’t say that Country Blue is a must see by any means, but it’s been one of the more interesting movies in the Drive-In series.

I intended to go back and do some screen grabs of Jumpy’s Ex Lax shirt, the guy who looks like he could be Will Forte’s dad and the weird post-sex Ritz product placement, but alas, my computer won’t read the disc for whatever reason.

Drive-In CouchFest: The Creeper a.k.a. Rituals (1977)

The Creeper (a.k.a. Rituals) is the perfect example of a movie I should have paid way more attention to. You’d think with these drive-in movies, you could just put them on, watch and have a good ol’ time without paying too much attention, but that’s not really the case with The Creeper. It also doesn’t help when you start it one week, fall asleep and then try to watch it two weeks later, fall asleep and then finish it the next morning. The plot of the movie finds five adult friends going to a really remote patch of forest–so remote that it takes two separate plane rides to get there–where they’re planning on doing some camping. But, things get crazy after the first night when all their shoes get stolen and the one guy who thought to bring a second pair (and who apparently told the others to do the same, which they didn’t and he yelled at them for it like a scolding mother) goes off to find help. After the creeper sets up a weird deer carcass near their camp, the remaining guys try to follow their more adventurous buddy. Soon enough, they start getting killed and injured thanks to bee hives and bear traps hidden in the river. Oh, by the way, Fletch Lives‘s Hal Holbrook plays the hero.

So, why did I have a hard time following this flick? Well, first off, the transfer is pretty awful. It’s not so bad when it’s daylight and you can see what’s going on, but there are plenty of scenes in the dark, like the finale that are indecipherable thanks to the smudgy darkness. As it is, I have zero idea why the creeper was actually killing them though I assume it has something to do with Holbrook and company being doctors. Possibly in the war? I dunno. The other aspect of the movie that wasn’t very absorbing were the characters. Holbrook’s rad and one of the other buddies, Martin, is kind of fun in a philosophical drunk sort of way, but his main counterpart, Mitzi, is so annoying you wish he would have gotten it in the beginning.

All that said, the movie is worth checking out, especially if you can get a better transfer, which apparently there is or at least one planned according to IMDb. Even though there are plenty of stuck in the woods movies, I like this one because it stars older people and not a bunch of kids. This not only offers a different perspective from the various parties involved but also gives them more skills with which to survive, for all the good it does them. For instance, Martin starts talking about how all of the accidents are really well placed traps put in place specifically to screw with them. It’s also a good alternative to something like Deliverance because, well, there’s no rape.

The following pics show how bad the transfer is at times, especially at night. There’s also a pic of the bear trap, a crazy old man who I think is the brother of the creeper and the poster again which looks pretty cool.

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Score: Pretty good pacing and action with a mix of good and bad characters, I’d give it another watch.

Drive-In CouchFest: Day Of The Panther (1988)

I almost thought about making this review for Day Of The Panther another entry in the Awesome Aussies list, reviews which have included a documentary about Australian drive-in fair called Not Quite Hollywood, Dead End Drive-In, Mad Max and Road Warrior, but, seeing as how it technically came in the drive-in box set, I’ll stick with what I’ve got. As far as I remember, DOTP wasn’t mentioned in NQH, but it was directed by noted Aussie action director Bryan Trenchard-Smith, who also did Dead End. I will without a doubt say that this movie is in fact awesome and Australian, but I can’t really tell you much about the story because for the life of my I couldn’t follow a damn minute of it. One minute you’re watching a bunch of white people in a very Asian looking dojo being granted something or other, then a woman (I THINK the same woman from the dojo) has a knock down drag out fight with some dudes wearing masks, then you’ve got our hero Jason Blade (sounds like a Mortal Kombat name to me) getting a weird dance in the middle of a work out session, then an old friend of his shows up but they fight, then Jason, the dancer girl and the old guy all go after a guy who looks like he’s set up shop at the next location for Shakespeare in the park. As for why any of this happens or anyone’s mad at each other, I can’t tell you. It doesn’t help that the brown haired, square jawed white guy playing Blade looks just like the brown haired, square jawed heavy who plays the bad guy. Just now reading the two or three sentence rundown of the plot made things make sense, there are drugs and what not involved and Blade’s partner does get murdered (after that lengthy fight through what looked like a set of Cyborg against several guys in masks, this woman gets taken out by some douchbag in a sportcoat with a switchblade!

Anyway, the hows and whys aren’t what make this a rad movie. At 86 minutes you don’t really have time to worry about those damn plot developments as it seems mostly packed with awesome fights which look dangerously real and weird dance numbers by 80s ladies in leotards that would make a superhero from that time period blush. Or more likely cringe. I’ve said it before in regards to Thai and Australian action movies, what makes them so awesome is the fact that it really seems like those people are doing what they’re doing and most likely getting hurt. There’s one scene towards the end where the old guy tosses his former captor over a ledge. It’s shot from the bottom of the hill through barbwire. You see the guy fly out, then hit the rocky hillside, then roll down into the barbwire where someone’s hand shoots out to stop him. That might take some people out the movie, but it keeps me right in there. That dude could have DIED. The screencaps I took all match up to points why I think you should watch the movie. If you’re not convinced, I don’t know what more I can say.

SCORE: Completely awesome and worth watching, while being mostly hard to follow. Makes me want to check out Strike Of The Panther, the sequel which came out THE SAME YEAR!

Drive-In CouchFest: Twister’s Revenge (1987)

Wow, I figured the movies in this Drive In Movie Classics 50-pack would be obscure, but I didn’t think they’d be SO obscure that I wouldn’t be able to find poster art for them online. Instead, I had to settle for the title image as it appeared onscreen. And, hey, there’s a reason Twister’s Revenge is obscure, it’s pretty stupid. And by stupid I mean in two ways: the movie is full of stupid characters and the script doesn’t really make any sense.

Here’s the plot. Three goobers are in a mechanic’s shop when they hear a guy come in and tell the owner (not one of the three goobers) that he’s got a brand new monster truck which operates on computers. They decide to steal the computers and fence them. Turns out that the guy–wearing the cowboy hat above–just sits in the cab while his fiance actually controls the truck using the computers. Now, at first it just seems like this is just a giant remote controlled car, but as it turns out it’s like the Knightrider or monster trucks (whose name is Mr. Twister by the way). We only find that out after a failed attempt to steal the computers make the goobers change their plans from robbery to kidnapping and ransom after the heroes get married. Jesus, I can’t believe how much detail I have to get into to explain this movie.

After the bad guys kidnap the girl, it’s up to the cowboy and the truck to get her back. The result is a ridiculous series of shotgun battles and scenes of people being chased by Mr. Twister like he’s a slasher (and for some reason can’t catch up to a person running and stumbling through an open, though hilly, field). I got confused for a few minutes because I wasn’t sure if the truck was running on its own or if the guy was in. Either way, why is the truck chasing down the dumbest of the goobers girlfriend? She didn’t do anything but love an idiot.

Anyway, like I said, it kind of drags on, but Mr. Twister wrecks a bunch of shit and eventually the good guy saves the girl, but only after the bad guys get their hands on a tank and a weirdly slow and surprisingly uninteresting chase scene follows.

Okay, so like I said this movie’s crazy. For some reason the bad guys keep the girl in what looks like an underground cavern with dynamite…and a coffee maker? Okay. Then, in the middle of the movie, there’s a pointless scene in a bar with a large woman dressed in spandex singing with two similarly clad back-up singers and a very new wave band clearly not playing the music that was in the movie. Which reminds me, the movie looks about as good as the screencaps which is fine, but the sound actually skips like a scratched CD or poorly transferred MP3, which gets really annoying. Oh, yeah, this also pops up in the club scene for absolutely no reason and is never referred to before or after.

So all in all, Twister’s Revenge is not a good movie. It’s a very bad movie, but it’s fun. Definitely worth watching if you’re a fan of the so-bad-it’s-good school of thought or with a bunch of friends and some beers. How can you not love a movie with an outhouse dubbed “Shit House.” And yes, that’s the dumbest of the goobers and yes, he jumps into the outhouse in order to avoid Twister’s revenge to the results you’d imagine.

Score: So bad it’s good. Way WAY better than The Devil With Seven Faces.

Drive-In CouchFest: The Devil With Seven Faces (1971)

I had a little birthday money lying around and decided to go on a little Amazon shopping spree. One of the things I was most excited about was Mill Creek’s Drive In Movie Classics which is a 12 disc, 50 movie pack that I’m sure will have me pulling my hair out by the time I finally finish up with it somewhere in the future. Unfortunately, the first movie in the set is a boring, complicated snoozer called The Devil Has Seven Faces which was written by Tito Carpi and Osvaldo Civirani who also directed. Maybe something gets lost in the translation from the Italian (the original title is Il diavolo a sette facce) or maybe it’s just a movie that doesn’t make any sense.

The movie revolves around Carroll Baker who plays twins, one of whom is a jewel thief and the other who gets confused for her and hassled by a bunch of people. Now, I’m not sure how sisters who are in different¬† countries get mistaken for one another, but it happens. Eventually the main version of Baker heads to…some other country where people are still after her, of course. She gets involved with two men who look and sound alike, but are about 20 years apart in age. As the movie went on, it get less interesting to me, but it also, as you might expect, got more and more confusing. There’s a scene where two guys show up in Baker’s apartment after a date with the younger go. The attackers run outside where two cops are. One attacker shoots a cop and the other cop shoots an attacker. While the surviving cop is checking on his co-worker the younger guy (who was still in the house with Baker) comes out and hits the cop in the head and they run away. Now, this ends up making a little bit more sense later on when things start coming out in the open, but while watching it, I just kept scratching my head. There are some interesting foot chases at the end of the movie, but overall it’s pretty boring.

Now, a few random notes. This woman’s lighter looks like a blowtorch. The transfer on this movie wasn’t great, but I wasn’t expecting much. I kind of like seeing all the scratches and whatnot. I don’t like seeing the Mill Creek logo pop up while I’m watching a movie though. This isn’t a screener and I already know what I bought, so stop advertising!

Okay, I can’t resist, call this SPOILER territory if you care. The whole twist at the end of the movie is that the twin we’ve been following actually has the diamond that was stolen. They revealed this right after I thought to myself “I wonder why the director keeps showing shots of the woman’s cigarette package. Then it hit me that, of course, that’s where the diamond must be. At the very end, though, two cops are talking and one explains to the other that the REAL diamond was never stolen because it was really in a safe deposit box. Oh, and the younger of the two guys was really a bad guy after the diamond and the older one knew the deal the whole time. Now, I’m not sure if the twin we’ve been following was really who she said she was or not or what the hell was going on. So, I’m not sure if you watched this movie a second time around (assuming you either followed it or enjoyed it enough the first time) if everything makes sense. It could be a really intricately written script like Usual Suspects, or it could be a piece of nonsense like the horror film High Tension which was pretty rad up until the end made the rest of the movie not make sense. I doubt I’ll watch again, but maybe if someone else out there saw it and liked it, they could tell me the deal.

Score: I need a second opinion, but I’m leaning towards blech.