Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Phil attends a special screening of SHOWGIRLS 2: PENNY'S FROM HEAVEN at the Castro Theatre-August 25, 2012

Greetings and Salutations from San Francisco! This past Saturday was the Peaches Christ 15th Anniversary screening of the cult classic SHOWGIRLS. And as a special bonus, the historic Castro Theatre was having a special afternoon screening of SHOWGIRLS 2: PENNY'S FROM HEAVEN! So my good friend and fellow movie buff Jennifer and I made our way to the City by the Bay to see this sexy sequel!

The film stars Rena Riffel, who reprises her role of the sweet, sexy, and somewhat dim Penny Slot. According to the film's website, Penny leaves Las Vegas to "become the star dancer on a dance television show. With stars in her eyes, she tries to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow but instead finds danger in a town more wicked than Sin City. Romance then leads her down a path towards her dream of stardom, fame, and fortune. But danger lurks at every twist and turn while Penny Slot becomes lured by a dangerous love triangle full of temptation and seduction. Penny's longtime fiancé/boyfriend, James "Jimmy" Smith (Glenn Plummer) warns her that she needs formal technique training if she wants to be taken seriously as a real dancer, so Penny heeds his advice and sets out to take ballet classes and practices her pique turns. But, she must pay the price. And there is a price to pay for success, sacrifices to be made at every imaginable level, and it all comes down to... How bad do you want it?"

Rena not only starred in this sequel, but she also wrote, directed, and edited the film! Combining elements and references from the first film, Ed Wood dialogue, Russ Myer-esque sets, and her auteur skillmenship, the film comes off like an existential dream laced with images of betrayal, greed, lust, hope, and G-strings. The film's campiness is off the charts, and Rena knows this full well. She let's it rip with a furry of hilarious one liners used repeatedly, overacting among its performers, and the barely there sets. However there is a charm to the film; a charm that compelled me to stare at the screen during the film's 2 1/2 hour running time.

Rena has said in an interview that the film's budget was about $30,000 and it was filmed in 30 days over a four-month period in In LA in the middle of 2010. With this low budget and inconsistent film schedule, it's a wonder that the film was ever finished. This is a prime example of underground, gorilla filmmaking: doing whatever it takes, never giving up, and going the extra mile to achieve your dream. Dreams are the main theme of the film. Penny's dream is to become the featured dancer, Rena's dream is to make this film. Despite the limited resources, the film's a testament to the director's determination to overcome all obstacles to achieve her vision.

What I loved were the numerous references to the first SHOWGIRLS. From the eating brown rice and vegetables, rubbing Vaseline on Penny's teeth to make her smile (in the first film it's ice cubes on Nomi Malone's nipples), to the hot sex scene in the pool. Only this time it's Penny and the ultra stacked Katya, portrayed by luscious Shelly Michelle. But it's Rena who shows us all that she still has it: from the dance steps to her form fitting outfits, and to be honest, the women looks drop dead gorgeous in her G-strings! I'm sorry for going off on this tangent, but the woman is so damn sexy in the film! And just in case if she is reading this review, I would like to take this moment to pledge my love to you Miss Rene Riffel! You can pour champagne all over me anytime you wish!

In the end SHOWGIRLS 2: PENNY'S FROM HEAVEN is destined to be a cult classic that will be screened at midnight shows for years to come! While Hollywood is cranking out the endless supply of crap, here's a film that doesn't pretend to be something it's not. Instead it entertains you like no other film can. Campy, hilarious, and serious in it's theme of chasing after your dreams, Rena's film is layered with so much more offerings than you typical Hollywood schlockfest. So go check out this flick and don't forget your G-string! Highly recommended!

SHOWGIRLS 2: PENNY'S FROM HEAVEN is available on DVD. To purchase a copy for yourself, along with posters, T-shirts and other memorabilia, visit the film's official website at www.showgirls2movie.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil sees THE EXPENDABLES 2 at the Camera 7 Pruneyard-August 24, 2012

So I've been trying to get caught up with what's out in the theaters. Now earlier in the day I saw the powerful indie film BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD, then the political comedy THE CAMPAIGN. And so I ended my movie day with the new action/adventure film THE EXPENDABLES 2. Let this be a lesson to myself: I need to quit while I'm ahead.

So here's the film's synopsis that was written by its distributor Lionsgate, "The Expendables team of Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Yin Yang (Jet Li), Gunnar Jensen (Dolph Lundgren), Toll Road (Randy Couture) and Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) along with newest members Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth) and Maggie (Nan Yu) are reunited when Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) enlists them to take on a seemingly simple job. When things go wrong, the Expendables are compelled to seek revenge in hostile territory, where the odds are stacked against them. Hell-bent on payback, the crew cuts a swath of destruction through opposing forces, wreaking havoc and shutting down an unexpected threat in the nick of time - five tons of weapons-grade plutonium, more than enough to change the balance of power in the world. But that's nothing compared to the justice they serve against the villainous adversary (Jean-Claude Van Damme) they seek revenge from." Somewhere in this synopsis, Lionsgate forgot to mention that the movie sucked ass. I hate it when Hollywood studios leave that part out.

There is absolutely nothing new in this sequel. It's lame, it's boring, it's the same crap that we saw in the first film! Stuff blows up, guns are shot, big fight scenes, and two dimensional characters portrayed by juiced up actors who are way passed their prime. Sure it was a hoot to see Chuck Norris return to the big screen as the lone wolf Booker, but it was kinda painful to see the very old and haggard Arnold Schwarzenegger as Trench. In some scenes, it looked like Schwarzenegger was having a heart attack. However, Norris looked great in the film, and didn't show his age at all! Also making a small appearance in the film is BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER alum Charisma Carpenter as Lee Christmas' girlfriend Lacy. Oh how the mighty and popular have fallen.

The film was directed by Simon West, the man responsible for such films as LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER, WHEN A STRANGER CALLS, and THE MECHANIC starring Statham. West has another film coming out in September called STOLEN, starring actor for hire Nicolas Cage. And I bet you that one is going to suck as well.

THE EXPENDABLE 2 is your typical brain dead, shoot 'em up, big explosions, testosterone driven, action flick that will lower your I.Q. The only two good things about the film is the poster and the ending. So let's say we skip seeing this one folks, unless you want to come out of the theater totally brain dead. 1 out of 5 stars!

THE EXPENDABLE 2 is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cameracinemas.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil sees THE CAMPAIGN at the Camera 7 Pruneyard-August 24, 2012

With the elections right around the corner, you knew that Hollywood wasn't too far behind with a comedy that pokes fun at politicians, the political system, and big business buying our votes. So to ease your minds, yes Hollywood did release such a film. Starring funnymen Will Farrell and Zach Galifianakis, THE CAMPAIGN pokes fun at all the above and then some.

Farrell plays long-term North Carolina Democratic congressman Cam Brady, who unfortunately commits a major sex scandal before an upcoming election. This leads the corrupt multi-billionaire Motch brothers (Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow) to search for a new lackey to run against the unchallenged Brady. They find their Republican puppet in the form of naive Marty Huggins (Galifianakis), director of the local Tourism Center. But while Huggins and Brady duke it out for the North Carolina's 14th District seat, they are unaware of the Motch brothers' true objective: to sell Hammond to their Chinese business partner and turn the town into a large series of factories.

The film was directed by Jay Roach, the man responsible for films like MEET THE PARENTS, MEET THE FOCKERS, DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS and the AUSTIN POWERS TRILOGY. But did you know he also direct two very powerful HBO films RECOUNT and GAME CHANGE, detailing the outright real life shenanigans of the 2000 and 2008 Presidential elections? I bet your surprised right now, aren't you? Well, this film is familiar territory for Roach, who shows us that politics and comedy go hand in hand. But he also shows us (or maybe reminds us) that the driving force in the film is the very same force that drives all political campaigns, including the 2012 presidential campaign: Money!

While I can sit here on my high horse and explain to you all the dire significance of the film as it parallels the 2012 presidential race and can be seen and used as a metaphor for the political climate of the 21st century, I think I will skip the college grad speech and tell you, in plain old English, what I thought of the film.

The film is freaking hilarious! Oh, you want me to explain this more thoroughly? Ok, if you say so.

For Cam Brady's persona, Farrell channels George W. Bush's speech, Tom Brady's haircut, and Richard Nixon's corrupt political strategies. Brady will stop at nothing to win the election, even if means airing commercials that accuse Huggins of being part of Al Queda or video tapping him having sex with Huggins' wife Mitzi (the adorable Sarah Baker). Galifianakis's Huggins is part Mister Rogers, part John Holmes' mustache, and part Queer Eye. Both Farrell and Galifianakis have great on screen chemistry and play off of one another with such ease.

The film is filled with political satire, crude and vulgar jokes, dog punching, sex scandals, driving while under the influence of alcohol, political back stabbings, adult language, adult situations, sex, and baby punching! Politics was never this funny! Well, actually it is, but I'll skip the irony part too,

All in all, THE CAMPAIGN is political satire at its finest! It's one of my favorite comedies so far this year! So if this year's political race has got you down and you need a break from all the bantering, then go see this film and enjoy the 90 minutes of hilarity it has to offer you! 4 1/2 out of 5 stars!!

THE CAMPAIGN is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cameracinemas.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil sees BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD at the Camera 7 Pruneyard-August 24, 2012

It has been far too long since I have seen an original film. Usually, you would have to look high and low to find a film that really and truly grabs you right from the start and doesn't let go til the end of the credits. However, this past weekend at the Camera 7 in the Pruneyard Campbell, I saw one of the most intriguing, fascinating, and highly original films I have ever seen! The film I am talking about is BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD.

Directed by Benh Zeitlin and written by Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar from Alibar's one-act play Juicy and Delicious, the film's about a six-year-old girl named Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane Wallis), who along with her sick and dying father Wink (Dwight Henry) live in "The Bathtub," a southern Delta community at the edge of the world. But when her father becomes terribly ill, the forces of nature begin to unravel simultaneously. Rising temperatures has caused the polar icecaps to melt, causing the water to rise and threaten to drown her community. It also unleashes an army of prehistoric creatures called aurochs. Wink tries to teach Hushpuppy everything he knows she can be brave and strong. During this turbulent time, she leaves home to go search for her long, lost mother. But will she make it back home in time to see her father or will the aurochs find her first?

The film is a powerful example of experimental filmmaking while at the same time confronting social, political, and enviormental topics (extreme poverty, alcoholism, global warming, and child neglect are just the first few overt issues) while anchoring the story with deep emotional connections to our protagonist Hushpuppy. Young Quvenzhane Wallis is just superb in the film, and her performance is so convincing, I wondered, after viewing the movie, how did director Zeitlin explain to her what to do in certain scenes. Because there were some scenes that were just downright emotionally heartbreaking and some dealt with adult situations, such as drinking, swearing, and death. The film is told through Hushpuppy's eyes, which makes the film that more magical and horrifying to watch.

Benh Zeitlin sets the tone of the movie right away, which puzzled me for a bit. Was this a narrative film was this a documentary, chronicling a community that was left to its on demise; a community that was forgotten as well as abandoned. The film is shot in the handheld manner, giving the film that  realism feel. It gives this community authenticity even though it's not real at all, but it could very well be. "The Bathtub" is a fictitious island located among the other islands of southern Louisiana, however it is not protected by the New Orleans levee system. The film shows us how they survive, which resembles a lot like a third world country: poverty stricken, living in makeshift homes built out of debris, rubble, and junk, wearing the same clothes day in and day out. While we sympathize with them, we are also drawn to them by their determination to live like there's no tomorrow. While they're physically poor, they are rich in spirit and life.

As stated previously, the film touches on real life topics, but it is also filled with metaphors. The prehistoric aurochs can be seen as metaphors about outside forces: global warming, the impending doom on "The Bathtub" inhabitants, or just life itself spiraling out of control. However you interpret it, Hushpuppy seems to know what it means, which shows us all the power of a child's mind.

BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD is one of the most mesmerizing, striking, and poignant films I have ever seen before! It is a tour de force in both storytelling and filmmaking! You must see this movie with your own eyes! I predict that come Oscar season, look for this film to take home many golden statutes! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD is playing in select theaters nationwide, including the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cameracinemas.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Phil attends the RiffTrax Live Broadcast of MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE at the Century 20 Oakridge-August 16, 2012

Hello again everybody! So this past Thursday night, my sister Stephanie, my brother Thomas and his fiancee Sharon and I attended the live RiffTrax broadcast of MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE, one of the WORST movies ever made! So we all couldn't wait to see this show!

So if you don't know what a Rifftrax is, let me give you all a quick definition. Rifftrax "are downloadable audio commentaries featuring comedians Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett heckling (or riffing) films in the style of Mystery Science Theater 3000, a TV show in which Nelson was the head writer, and later the host. The RiffTrax are sold online and delivered by digital download," according to the website Wikipedia. But all this is just a fancy way of saying, "it's funny as hell!" Now Nelson, Murphy, and Corbett do the occasional live shows from one venue that is broadcast to hundreds of theaters all across the country, courtesy of teaming up with NCM Fathom Events. The closest theater that was participating in the live broadcast was the Century 20 Theaters in Oakridge Mall. So all of us headed over there to catch this awesome cinematic event!

Before the show, the RiffTrax broadcast had some hilarious jokes put up on the screen to get the audience primed and ready. Then at 8pm, the show began! Coming to us live from a theater in Nashville, the night started off with a couple of side-splitting shorts. The first short entitled WELCOME BACK, NORMAN was about a traveling salesman named Norman who flies back to his hometown airport and all the hilarious shenanigans that happens to him and his car. Now what I would like to know is this: exactly what kind of film was this supposed to be anyway? Was it a comedy? A documentary? An educational short about the plight of the American salesman? Whatever the point of making this film was, thanks to the RiffTrax crew, I was laughing hysterically, especially when they popularized Norman's catch phrase of "Ugh!" The whole audience was quoting this throughout the rest of the show!

The second short was an educational short that was just really creepy! AT YOUR FINGERTIPS: CYLINDERS showed the young children of America in the 1970's how much fun it is to make things out of cylinders. Arts and crafts were never this funny, as the guys tore this short a new one!

Newspaper ad for premiere in El Paso. 11/15/66
After the shorts, Mike had to make way for our "sponsor" for this evening's show. He then proceeded to show us an old Sixties commercial of a man drinking prune juice. Now if that wasn't scary enough, the man had a SECOND glass of prune juice! Yup, every man, woman, and child squirmed in their seats during this one! 

Then it was time for the main event of the evening! Now the film was featured in the final episode of season four of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) on January 30, 1993 (#424 to be exact) and it immediately became the show's most popular episode! The film was written, directed, produced, and starred Harold P. Warren, who at the time was a Texas fertilizer salesman (which explains way the film sticks like poo)! The films about a vacationing family who get lost and stumble upon a Satanic Inn run by a lackey named Torgo who, "takes care of the place while The Master is away." While watching this, I did have flashback jokes from the old MST3K episode, but it was only fleeting.  That night, Nelson, Murphy, and Corbett unveiled an all new riff and jokes that made the audience laugh so hard that I thought I saw people passing out! The jokes were right on, creative, and just flat out hilarious! I think their riff was better than the original! As Mike said, "It's the worst film ever made that's not a TRANSFORMERS movie." Also, during the show's credits, Torgo sings his version of the classic Eagles song "Take It Easy," with the lyrics telling the film from his point of view! The video showed clips of the upcoming MANOS sequel!! The film was written, produced, and directed by Rupert Tailbot Munch (who plays Torgo in the sequel) and looks to have some of the cast of the original film to make appearances!

From the workprint discovered in 2011.
Now a quick sidebar for you cinephiles!  According to Wikipedia, "In 2011, the original 16mm Ektachrome camera workprint of MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE was discovered in a collection of 16mm films by Ben Solovey, a Florida State film school grad. Solovey announced his intention to preserve and restore MANOS for a High Definition Blu-ray release. The DVD release is a digital copy created from a 35mm print magnified from a 16mm workprint. Solovey financed the restoration via crowd funding website Kickstarter, raising $48,000 (nearly five times the initial goal). The restored print will be released on Blu-ray in the fall of 2012." How unbelievable is this bit of news? Yes folks, pretty soon you can watch the worst film ever made in glorious High Definition in the very near future! What a wonderful age we live in!!

Bill Corbett, Kevin Murphy, & Michael J. Nelson
This was a great RiffTrax event! I really hope these guys will release this show on Blu-Ray and DVD soon because I want a copy of this so I can watch it over and over again just like my MST3K DVD!! Now for all you folks out there who missed out on all this laughter, don't worry because you'll be getting a second chance to see these guys again real soon! On October 25, 2012, there will be another RiffTrax live event, and this time they will be riffing on the modern cult classic BIRDEMIC, which was filmed in Sunnyvale, the next city over from San Jose! And just in case you have never seen this film....well.....let's just say that you have never experienced pain like this before! If you thought MANOS was bad, what until you see this cinematic piece of crap! So mark this date on your calender and be sure to check out RiffTrax Live!!

To purchase RiffTrax downloads of audio commentaries, DVDs, and Blu-Rays, visit their website at www.rifftrax.com. To learn more about Mystery Science Theater 3000, visit their website at www.mst3k.com. To learn about upcoming Fathom Events coming to your town, visit their website at www.fathomevents.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Phil wants you to check out B.O.M. Production's horror webseries AMERICAN ZOMBIES-August 15, 2012

Now I am a big time supporter of anything that's local, especially if it has to do with movies! There is so much film activity in my community that one has to wonder just how much is going on here? Well let me give you some examples: there's the great silent film shows at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, the indie film co-op group Scary Cow Productions, horror hostess Miss Misery and her Movie Massacre show. And then there's the new kids on the block: Box O' Markers (B.O.M.) Productions, who with their new zombie webseries AMERICAN ZOMBIES are putting their stamp on a classic horror sub-genre while simultaneously helping to put the Bay Area on the map for horror filmmaking.

According to their Facebook page, B.O.M. are a, "group of bay area filmmakers collaborating on a genre web series. We plan to explore a new genre every season. We collaborated and sought out to create a genre web series where they can tap into a new genre every season." For this season, they have a chosen a horror series!

So far this season, their series AMERICAN ZOMBIES has been nothing short of excellent. Written and directed by Roun Tamaki, the series has thus far contained some great acting, tight directing and editing, fantastic cinematography, and gratuitous amounts of blood, gore, and zombies to satisfy any horrorhound's bloodlust! B.O.M. plans on releasing a new episode every two weeks. Three episodes have been released so far on their Youtube channel, and they have just wrapped the fifth and final episode this past week.

AMERICAN ZOMBIES is a perfect example of grassroots, local independent filmmaking at its finest! For this group of filmmakers who, "met in a film class at Ohlone College in Fremont, CA.," the sky's the limit for them. Whatever genre they tackle next, it will be exciting to see and I for one cannot wait to see what they do next season! Highly recommended!!

AMERICAN ZOMBIES can be viewed on the B.O.M. Youtube channel at www.youtube.com/user/BoxOMarkers. You can also check their official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/B.O.M.Productions and make sure you "like" them while you're there! Now go out there and SUPPORT LOCAL FILMMAKING!!

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Phil goes Bollywood: Phil watches AGNEEPATH-August 12, 2012

Hello again and welcome to the return of Phil Goes Bollywood! Now it has been a very long time since I've traveled to India via the amazing and astonishing Bollywood films that it exports! So for tonight I watched India's latest release: the action drama film AGNEEPATH.

The film's about a young man named Vijay Chauhan (Hrithik Roshan), who's father was lynched before his eyes by the evil and sadistic Kaancha (Sanjay Dutt) fifteen years ago. He returns home to his small Indian village of Mandwa with a single goal of avenging his father's death.

The film is a retelling of the 1990 film of the same name and was directed by producer Hiroo Yash Johar's former assistant Karan Malhotra. Here, Malhotra does a superb job of showcasing his skills as a director; capturing in your face action sequences juxtaposed to raw, emotionally charges scenes of love, sorrow, and death. The script was written by Malhotra and his partner Ila Dutta Bedi, both whom weave a complex tale of revenge with such strong layering, tight storytelling, and interesting characters. Speaking of which...

Roshan (DHOMM 2) gives a great performance of the vengeance driven Vijay, who's character is very complex. One side is determined to do whatever it takes to avenge his father's death, even if it means he has to kill anyone who stands in his path. The other is very giving and caring, loves his mother and sister, and who's heart is captured by the love of his life Kaali, portrayed by the stunning Priyanka Chopra (RA.ONE). She is the Ying to Vijay's Yang; she is the light that brightens his darkened world. However, no one is as dark (and as evil) as the sadistic Kaancha. Dutt's performance is just out of this world. His Kaancha will make the hairs on your neck stand up! To be quite honest, he could give Bane from THE DARK KNIGHT RISES a run for his money in the twisted evil villain category. Just an outstanding performance by Dutt!

Since I've never seen the original version of AGNEEPATH, I cannot comment as to how this remakes compares or hold up to its predecessor. However, I think it would be unjust and unfair to compare the two. Both films represent a different point in history, and captures and reflects the Indian culture at that particular moment in time. 2012 is a lot different than 1990, but it's interesting to see how Indian films have evolved since then.

AGNEEPATH is a powerful, bloody, violent, brutal, and brilliant piece of Indian cinema! When you watch this film, ask yourself this one question: how far would you go to avenge the death of someone you love? This is one movie that you defiantly should see! Stop reading this and go see it now! Five out of five stars! Highly recommended!!

AGNEEPATH is still playing at select theaters, but the film was just recently released onto DVD. To purchase a copy, visit the Amazon website or the Dharama Productions website at www.dharma-production.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Phil reviews THE ROCK: ED WOOD OF THE 21st CENTURY 2-DISC DVD from November Fire Recordings-Agugust 8, 2012

Starring David "The Rock" Nelson with Michael Flores and Janet Lynn
Directed by Jace Whitman & Chuck Jarmin
Produced by Strephon Taylor
A Nightgod/Bump in the Night FX Production
Released by November Fire Recordings

As you may remember a couple of weekends ago, I attended a very special encore screening of the local indie documentary SUTRO'S: THE PALACE AT LAND'S END at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum. It was there that I met local hero Strephon Taylor, founder and president of November Fire Recordings and distributor of the SUTRO'S documentary. While talking to him and his wife Heather, I mentioned that I was a film buff, an avid horror film fanatic, and do movie reviews. So out of the kindness of his heart, Strephon gave me a DVD copy of the 2010 film he produced to review. The documentary THE ROCK: ED WOOD OF THE 21st CENTURY chronicles the life and films of David "The Rock" Nelson. Now I have never heard of this guy before, and now after watching the documentary, I cannot wait to meet this guy!

Unlike other pretentious documentaries, directors Jace Whitman & Chuck Jarmin jettison the standard and traditional narrative form and does a complete 180 degrees. Basically, they just pointed the camera in front of The Rock and let's him say whatever the hell he felt like saying. And this makes the film so much more interesting! Hearing Dave speak idiosyncratic ramblings about his beliefs on life, God, and monster movies are just gold! Never have in my life have I heard ramblings like this! But his ramblings tell one hell of a story, to which Dave does like no other! From his Marine days, his body building training tips, his films and meeting his muse Janet Lyn, David tells it like it is, without any filter.

David "The Rock" Nelson was a former Golden Gloves boxer and was going to become a preacher if not for the intervention of  Michael Flores, the creator of the Psychotronic Film Society (to which in the film he takes full credit for making him become a filmmaker). So in the early 1990s, he dropped out of Bible college and started churning out a series of backyard made, no-budget monster movies that, literally, brought him acclaim and recognition. According to the Psychotronic website, Dave "makes the cheapest, most poorly acted and ineptly directed monster movies ever made, shooting them on videotape and editing them on an editing bay that consists of two VCRs, his camera, and a Radio Shack f/x box." He has made more than 30 short films and over 20 feature length films! Believe it or not, because of his films he has been on the front cover of the Chicago Reader, held sold out shows, and was even on the old John Stewart Show! All this from making cheapo monster flicks!

The man lives, breathes, and eats monster movies, and it is this passion that compels you to watch his films from beginning to end, no matter how bad they are. And they are pretty bad, not gonna lie to you about this. But as I stated, David LOVES monster movies, loves making them as well. And it's because of this love and dedication that earned him the title, "Ed Wood of the 90s and beyond." Case in point, this special edition DVD set came with a copy of one of his films WEREWOLF AND THE WITCH. The film's about....well... a werewolf and a witch. Conrad Brooks appears in the film, along with himself and Janet Lyn and it's bad folks. But beneath the bad acting, terrible dialogue, and the non-existent sets, there is an innocence and a child-like quality that just makes you laugh and smile. David's films reminds us of our childhood; making these kinds of films with our friends was all the rage back in my day. If your folks had a video camera, the first thing you and all your friends did was make a monster movie. David's films capture that youthful spirit and idea of going out and making a movie and having fun doing it.

THE ROCK: ED WOOD OF THE 21st CENTURY is a fantastic, hysterical, and informative documentary as well as a loving tribute to one of the most original filmmakers I have ever seen! Not since Edward D. Wood Jr. has there been a filmmaker making cheapo monster flicks and having the greatest time making them. For this, I salute you David "The Rock" Nelson. Thanks for making me feel like a kid again. 5 out of 5 stars! Highly recommended!!

THE ROCK: ED WOOD OF THE 21st CENTURY 2-Disc DVD Set is currently available at the November Fire Recording website. To purchase a copy, please visit www.novemberfire.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Phil gets an exclusive sneak peak at the new horror film HATE CRIME-Aug. 7, 2012

Now I have been very fortunate to attend many important film events and festivals so far this year. Tonight's film review came courtesy from the film's director himself, 20 year old indie filmmaker James Cullen Bressack. While on Facebook, Bressack messaged me and asked if I would be interested in reviewing his latest work, the horror film entitled HATE CRIME. I said yes of course, and he then emailed me a link to watch the film. So I sat back and was prepared to watch this very exclusive movie. After it was over, I couldn't believe what I had just saw!

The film's about a recently relocated family that is having a birthday party when their home is invaded by some unexpected guests. Now Bressack requested that I not give away any details of the plot in this review, and I will honor that request. However, let me just say that this was one of the most brutal films that I have seen in a very long time!

The film is shot in the "Found Footage" vein, ie THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, THE DEVIL INSIDE, and those type of films. But what sets this film apart from those that came before is that this felt much more real. Hate crimes still exist out there, and the story told here could very well happen! With the recent climate of openly hate towards having a black president, gays having the right to marry, illegal aliens, and so forth, we have come full circle as to what this country was like during the 1960s. Those who were part of the making of this film deserve to be praised for showing us (and reminding us) that even though we have made major advances in our country, we as a society have not yet learned how to get along with one another.

This is an ugly movie to watch; dealing with such a heavy subject mater, but what gives the film its authenticity are the powerful performances by the entire cast. So let me just congratulate Jody Barton, Maggie Wagner, Nicholas Clark, Sloane Morgan Siegel, Greg Depetro, Debbie Diesel, Tim Moran, and Ian Roberts on an outstanding job of conveying such a high level of realism in the film. Scared, terrified, anger, confusion, and hate are just some of the emotions that are found within the frames. This couldn't have been an easy film to act in, and all of these amazing actors and actresses deserve a round of applause!

Of course credit must also go to Bressack, who directed and wrote the film (along with Jarret Cohen). There were no punches pulled in this film. Skillfully crafted with such intensity and preciseness, one has to wonder how will  Bressack top this film!

HATE CRIME is one of my top picks for Best Horror Film this year! If Wes Craven's THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT had rapped Bryan Bertino's THE STRANGERS, this would be the bastard offspring of that incident. No other horror film has left me this disturbed in quite some time. And once you've seen this, I can guarantee it that you will be too! Five out of five stars!!

You can follow James Cullen Bressack on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JamesCullenB. His film company Psykik Junky Pictures's website www.psykikjunkypictures.com is still under construction, but keep your eyes peeled for it to launch soon!

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil attends the midnight screening of THE ROCKY HORROR PICUTRE SHOW at the Camera 3-August 4, 2012

When the clock strikes midnight, that's when the crazy, freaking, scary people come out! And where are these ill-mannered, foul mouthed hooligans go to hang out? At the midnight screening of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE show at the Camera 3 in Downtown San Jose of course! To bring this cult classic to life, my good friends from Barely Legal Productions were there to act out along with the film! And once again my friends Jennifer, Leslie, her daughter Oceanna and her new boyfriend Caleb were there with me to join in on this 37 year old midnight tradition!

This past Saturday night's show was a special event indeed. First off, the Camera 3 now has a stage!! Now we can see all the action! Hellsyeah!! Second, it was Mrs. Bridgid McHavoc's birthday! And our emcee Nate (aka Riff Raff aka Bridgid's better half) had everybody in the audience sing Happy Birthday to her....in the ROCKY HORROR way! Unfortunately I cannot repeat exactly what we all sang, but it went along the lines of "Happy Birthday, F*** You!" This how we do it at midnight people! But when we sing it, it's really touching. Nate also called up to the stage anyone who was celebrating a birthday this month, and yours truly is celebrating his birthday on the 22nd. Bridgid and I hugged and enjoyed the spotlight while the others looked terrified. So the few of us got onstage and we were all serenaded. To have my friends from Barely Legal (Christy Robinson Mila, Sandra Dee, Travis Venturi-Tackett, Lizzie Bernard, Drea Storey, Tina Rupnik, and Nate) singing and flipping all of us the bird was a wet dream come true!

Now as usual, Nate had all the virgins come up on stage, do the infamous Butt Dance, and had the lucky chosen ones participate in an embarrassing game! One of these virgins was Oceanna's boyfriend Caleb! And just as she did months earlier, his team won the challenge! Their prize: Jack shit! You gotta love virgins!!

Again, the Barely Legal crew did an awesome show! Afterwards, Jennifer, Leslie and I wished Bridgid a Happy Birthday and told her that she played a kick ass Magenta, even though she disagreed. So if a certain Bridgid McHavoc is reading this, I want to say that you did a great job that night! And I'm so glad that I get to share my birthday month with a really fantastic, talented, far out, groovy chick, who just happens to be a good friend! Happy Birthday again Bridgid!!

After the show, myself and the rest of my friends headed to our favorite post-ROCKY hangout: the Denny's off of Monterey Road and Alma. There is nothing like stuffing your face with French Toast at three in the morning! Oh man it was so good! It's the little things in life that make it all worth living!

So another great midnight screening has come and gone. But don't fret, the Barely Legal crew will be back in San Jose on September 1st. Also they are looking for actors, especially men! To learn more about future shows, and how you can become a cast member, visit their website athttp://barelylegal.rhps.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Phil attends the MIDNITES FOR MANIACS "DISCO 4-EVA" triple feature at the Castro Theatre-August 3, 2012

Hello again folks! Last night my good friend Jennifer and I were at the historic Castro Theatre to attend the Midnites for Maniacs triple feature show! Hosted by the great Jesse Hawthorne Ficks, the theme was "DISCO 4-EVA", which kicked off the weekend long 90th anniversary for the theatre! Jesse screened three far out disco themed movies complete with some groovy vintage trailers! So let's get down tonight, shall we?

Theatrical Movie Poster (1979)
The first film of the night was ROLLER BOOGIE, starring the great Linda Blair as Terry Barkley, a prodigious flautist on her way to Juilliard who is also tired of being ignored by her rich, prestigious, and oblivious parents. So she runs away to Venice Beach for the night and meets Bobby James (real life rollerskating champion Jim Bray, who had won about 275 trophies before the making of this film), the king of the disco-driven roller skaters. Terry hires Bobby to teach her some cool moves so they can compete in the Boogie Contest at the local roller disco rink Jammer's. But when they discover that the owner is being threatened by a powerful mobster who wants the land and is willing to take it by any means, it's up to them and the rest of their friends to stop him so they can save their beloved roller rink.

The film has been touted as the "CITIZEN KANE" of the roller disco movie trinity (the other two films were SKATETOWN USA and XANADU, which I will discuss next). Blair was only 20 years old when she made the film, and she is so smoking hot in the picture! Those eyes, those legs, those skin-tight leotards and cleavage revealing tops! Blair tries to channel Terry's youthful angst is the most outrageous fashions! This film made me fall in love with Mrs. Blair all over again. And Bray's rollerskating is just out of sight man! The man was born with roller skates on his feet! Both leads have great on-screen chemistry, and Linda was no slouch on the skates! This film is filled with numerous scenes of kneee-high stripped socks, really short shorts, and enough crotch and cleavage shots to fill the pages of a smut magazine! God I miss the 70's! This "groovy" 33nd anniversary 35mm print came courtesy of Park Circus. The film was originally released by United Artists on December 21, 1979. Before the feature, Ficks screened three trailers from next month's M4M show: 1999's THE IRON GIANT, 1986's LABYRINTH, and 1977's THE EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC.

Click here to view the film's original trailer.

Theatrical Movie Poster (1980)
The next film up was the other rollerskating film of the aforementioned roller disco movie trinity, XANADU. The film's about a frustrated artist named Sonny Malone (Michael Beck) who meets an out of this world chick named Kira (Olivia Newton-John). She inspires his new friend Danny McGuire (the legendary Gene Kelly) to open up a new club, to which he makes Sonny his partner. But there is more to Kira than meets the eyes, and Sonny will stop at nothing to prove his love for her.

The film is such a great example of "being ahead of its time." There were no other fantasy musicals being made like this. With it's lavish costumes (including leg warmers), disco soundtrack, the combination of old 40's and 80's art design and dance numbers, abstract transitions and, of course, rollerskating scenes, it looked so different than anything else that came before it. The "Don't Walk Away" animated sequence in the film was done by Don Bluth, who directed animated classics like THE SECRET OF NIMH, AN AMERICAN TAIL, and ANASTASIA. Olivia made this film hot off the heels of the hugely successful musical GREASE. The film's soundtrack was provided by the rock group Electrical Light Orchestra (or ELO as they are affectionately called) as well as songs by Olivia, who scored such smash hits like "Xanadu", "Suddenly" and my favorite "Magic." This was also the last film that Gene Kelly ever made and he proved that he still had all the moves, even at the age of 68 (his age when he made the film). Directed by Robert Greenwald (now famous for making political and social documentaries such as OUTFOXED, WAL-MART: THE HIGH COST OF LOW PRICE, and IRAQ FOR SALE: THE WAR PROFITEERS), the film was a bomb at the boxoffice, but since then it has gained a huge cult following! After all these years, XANADU is now getting its long over due praise! This "far out" 32nd anniversary 35mm print came courtesy of Universal Pictures, which released the film on August 8, 1980. Four righteous trailers were shown before the film: 1979's SKATETOWN USA, 1983's STAYING ALIVE, 1978's GREASE, and this year's MAGIC MIKE.

Click here to view the film's original trailer.

Theatrical Movie Poster (1976)
The last film of the night was the Blaxploitaion classic CAR WASH. The film is a snapshot of a day in the life of a tight-knit group of employees working at a car wash in Los Angeles. Featuring a great ensemble cast that included Franklyn Ajaye, Bill Duke, George Carlin, Irwin Corey, Ivan Dixon, Antonio Fargas, Jack Kehoe, Clarence Muse, Lorraine Gary, The Pointer Sisters and the late, great comedian Richard Pryor, the film is told in a one-day-long episodic fashion, which we would see later on in mainstream films such as AFTERHOURS, DAZED AND CONFUSED and CLERKS.

Words fail to describe how funny and groovy the film is. It's eclectic cast of black, Indian, and white actors really brought that sense of realism to the screen. They looked, acted, and sounded like real people! Like the people in my old neighborhood over on 14th Street on the eastside of San Jose during the 70's! In fact their was even a car wash that looked like the one in the film. Now that's realism at its finest! Carlin was great as the New York transplanted can driver and Richard Pryor was on fire in his role of the Preacher Daddy Rich! Throw in the Pointer Sisters and a funky soundtrack with the main song sung by Rose Royce, and you my friends, have one outrageous comedy! Now believe it or not, the screenwriter for this film was none other than Joel Schumacher, the man responsible for making films like FLAWLESS, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, PHONE BOOTH, and the abysmal BATMAN AND ROBIN. This "solid" 36th anniversary 35mm print came courtesy from Universal Pictures and was originality released by them on October 22, 1976. Before the film, three classic Richard Pryor film trailers were shown: 1976's SILVER STREAK, 1980's STIR CRAZY and 1982's THE TOY.

Click here to view the film's original trailer.

And that is it for this edition of Midnites for Maniacs! The next M4M show will be on Friday, September 14th at the Castro Theatre. Then there's two shows in October: Friday, October 5th at the Castro and Saturday, October 13th at the Roxie Theater! So make sure you mark these dates on your calender and come out here to the City by the Bay for some movie magic and fun! To learn more about Midnites for Maniacs, visit their website at www.midnitesformaniacs.com. To view upcoming shows at the Castro Theatre, visit their website at www.castrotheatre.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!