Friday, June 25, 2010

"Popatopolis" review

Popatopolis (2009)

Director: Clay Westervelt
Writer: Clay Westervelt

Jim Wynorski

So I was in a strip club in the San Gabriel Valley when Stormy Daniels strutted in. She was the feature performer that night and you could get your picture taken with her for $20. Who was I to deny myself this pleasure? Also, I had just reviewed "The Witches of Breastwick" and I wanted to talk to her about the movie. Stormy was very open and honest with me about the making of this softcore flick. She told me she got paid $800. For comparison, she told me she gets paid $8,000 to direct a hardcore flick. I asked her about her Co-stars and she said that Glori-Anne Gilbert was a very sweet girl. I asked her why she thought Wynorski put her in the movie since I didn't perceive any charisma in Glori-Anne. She said that Glori-Anne was Wynorski's girlfriend. Ahh, it all makes sense now. She also talked about how Julie Smith was not happy that she was there and that Julie argued with Wynorski all the time. She also never received a DVD of the movie but she did get a VHS tape. It was an enlightening and pleasant conversation. Little did I know that four years later I would watch a documentary about the making of "Witches of Breastwick" which complemented my late night strip club conversation.

"Popatopolis" is a documentary about breasts, B-movies, porn stars, greed, and a man who epitomizes cut-throat filmmaking. I am referring to Jim Wynorski, the most prolific, (and shameless), B-movie maker working today. This documentary follows Wynorski as he goes through the motions of bringing his latest softcore flick, "The Witches of Breastwick", to life. But it's also about the rise and fall of Wynorski and how he has let himself get corrupted by the never ending checks flowing from the bottomless coffers of late night cable.

"Popatopolis" is a fascinating documentary. Speaking as a guy who has not only seen "Witches of Breastwick" but has sat through many Wynorski late night flicks, this documentary really pushed a button in me. I had an image in my head of the guy who cranked out "Breastford Wives", "The Hills have Thighs" and "Cleavagefield" and it was reinforced after watching Wynorski in action. Now I can safely say that Wynorski only cares about himself and his $65,000 check from Cinemax. There is nothing else in his life that matters. Making movies only irritates him as it slows down his ability to get paid.

"Popatopolis" starts off with Wynorski saying he's a big movie fan. He runs through his house showing off his video stashes in the kitchen and in the bedroom. The dichotomy of Wynorski as a movie fan and Wynorski as a director just doesn't make any sense. How can this guy profess to being a movie fan and still live with himself for cranking out some of the movies he's attached his name to? Has he not picked up any filmmaking techniques from watching countless films?

The only techniques Wynorski has picked up over the years is in the art of getting away with it. When Wynorski was working with Roger Corman, he actually made an effort to produce some quality B-movies. "Not of this Earth" and "Chopping Mall" were both fun B-movies. But left to his own devices, Wynorski just wants to get the annoying filmmaking process out of the way so that he can collect his money. Actors, actresses and the crew are only there to irritate him as he barks his way through the production.

"Popatpolis" shines a light on how much Wynorski cares, (very little), for the other people who make his movies possible. When the cast and crew arrive at the cabin for the shoot, they are surprised to find out that there are no amenities available. There are no towels or working can openers. Of course that doesn't matter since there's no food to eat anyway. I thought there was only going to be one bed to share and Wynorski was going to have all of the ladies pile onto his to save some space.

Speaking of ladies, the three babes in "Witches of Breastwick" are the topless muses that keep Wynorski's creative juices flowing. Julie Smith, Glori-Anne Gilbert and Stormy Daniels are the witches and they will pop their tops at Wynorski's command. Monique Parent also shows up at the destitute cabin and her top will be popped at some point during the shoot.

Julie Strain and Julie Smith, (Big and Little Julies), are given the chance to reflect on Wynorski and B-movies in general. Both of them seem a little melancholy over the state of the industry and how Wynorski has changed over the years. Big Julie can not even bring herself to refer to what Wynorski is filming these days as B-movies. She has to call them C-movies. Both of them seem slightly offended, (especially little Julie), that porn stars are now able to get into B-movies. Julie Smith has been working with Wynorski for awhile and even though she tries to defend him, it can't be denied that Wynorski's lust for profit means less interesting B-films and more mindless softcore sex flicks. Of course when Julie Smith shows up in one of Wynorski's softcore movies, I'm not complaining.

One of the most fascinating aspects of this documentary is watching Wynorski's directing style (or lack thereof). In one protracted scene, he tortures Julie Smith until she gets a line about a tow truck right. He makes her repeat the line over and over until she reads it exactly as written. Torturing his one good actress interests him and yet in other scenes Wynorski show no directing interest at all. There's another scene where Stormy, Monique and Glori-Anne are in a hot tub and Wynorski doesn't do anything to move the scene forward except sit on his rear end while the girls go at it. If these are the money shots in the flick, why isn't Wynorski offering any advice on how to make the scene better? This one scene, (and Stormy's sex scene against the tree), clearly illustrate how much Wynorski cares, (very little), about sex scenes. They seem to bore him so he just lets them play out naturally. It's up to the performers to improvise their way through them as Wynorski takes a nap and dreams of his paycheck.

"Popatopolis" highlights the real tragedy of Jim Wynorski. If Wynorski was just some guy using a fake name to film fake sex, no one would care about him. There wouldn't be a documentary about him. People who he's berated and screamed at for years would not be sticking up for him if there wasn't at least something there to like. B-movie fans can only bring themselves to praise the movies he made in the late 80's to mid-90's because every movie since then has been a rush job to get in the hands of his masters at Cinemax. He's an ambitious guy who has a manic need to make films but he can't seem to bring himself to expend too much energy to make the movies really enjoyable. We've seen him make good movies in the past and we know he has the skill to do it but his lust for more money overrides any and all other filmmaking needs.

"Popatopolis" is the best movie Wynorski has been associated with in fifteen years. It's a documentary that should be seen by B-movie fans. It is an honest look at Jim Wynorski and his mercenary filmmaking style. It may also scare you away from the B-movie world after seeing the utter lack of glamour associated with it's unrelenting production schedule. "Popatopolis" won't endear people to Wynorski but it does help to understand the mindset of a rapid fire filmmaker.

SCORE: 3.5 out of 4 Wynorskis in action

Wynorski gives the number one lesson in B-movie making: Pop that top.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead" review

Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead (2009)

Director: Declan O'Brien
Writers: Connor James Delaney Alan B. McElroy

Tom Frederic ... Nate
Janet Montgomery ... Alex
Gil Kolirin ... Floyd
Christian Contreras ... Willy
Jake Curran ... Crawford
Tom McKay ... Brandon
Chucky Venice ... Walter (as Chucky Venn)
Tamer Hassan ... Chavez
Jack Gordon ... Trey
Louise Cliffe ... Sophie
Charley Speed ... Brent
Borislav Petrov ... Three Toes

A bunch of teens are going kayaking, getting topless and smoking dope. Their revelry is interrupted by a mutant cannibal with a bow and arrows. Of course it is. Just when you thought the movie was over, our attention is diverted to a prison where there will be a high risk transfer of their most dangerous prisoners. On the way through the backwoods, the hillbilly freak attacks the prison bus and makes it fall down a hill. The prisoners have taken a Wrong Turn. Well, not really a turn so much as a Wrong Roll. The rest of the movie has the guards and prisoners debating survival tactics and money management as the hillbilly cannibal picks their bones clean.

"Wrong Turn 3" is a corporate exploitation movie. It is a ruthlessly efficient vehicle for blood, guts and multiple dismemberment scenes. It's pretty much an hour and a half of pure violence. It also doesn't have anything to do with the previous "Wrong Turn" movies. Well, there are people running through the woods from a hideous hillbilly but Eliza Dusku wasn't one of them so it wasn't as interesting. I saw the first "Wrong Turn", (and loved it), but I didn't see the sequel. It feels like this movie was made because the filmmakers had a script about convicts escaping through the woods and they weren't sure what to do with it.

But is there a right way to make a "Wrong Turn" movie? Is there only one way these films are supposed to play out? Why can't a "Wrong Turn" movie have convicts and prison guards getting slaughtered instead of the usual teens? Oh sure, I'd rather see a busload of sorority girls running from the freaks but you can't have everything.

Speaking as a sleazy exploitation fan, "Wrong Turn 3" has some enjoyable aspects. It is shameless gore entertainment. Body parts are hacked off regularly and there are plenty of scenes of torture as the hillbilly chops his way through his victims. What the movie lacks in imagination, it makes up for in blunt force trauma to the viewers head. The violence is unrelenting. Blood effects are let loose on a constant basis.

However, if you were a big fan of the original "Wrong Turn", you may despise this movie. Everything about "Wrong Turn 3" reeks of cheapness. From the dismal CGI effects to the rubbery masked mutant, the budget was not spent on making convincing special effects. They didn't have the funds for a whole clan of cannibals so they had to settle for one and a half maniacs. But the real exploitation at work here is on the goodwill associated with the "Wrong Turn" franchise. They took their convict action script and added a few scenes of a deformed backwoods freak to make it seem like a "Wrong Turn" movie. The slaughter scene at the beginning was probably added on later to at least give the illusion that the filmmakers actually watched the first two movies.

So if you're looking for a faithful sequel to the "Wrong Turn" movies, you'd be better off letting this one go. But if you're just looking for some mindless gore entertainment, "Wrong Turn 3" has some scenes worth watching. It's not trying to be a horror movie. It just wants to spend ninety minutes throttling you with scenes of blood and destruction. It's quite content to be a gory action movie. Whether it succeeds or not depends on how low your standards are.

SCORE: 2.5 out of 4 mutant hillbillies

Monday, June 14, 2010

"Bikini Frankenstein" review

Bikini Frankenstein (2010)

Director: Fred Olen Ray

Frankie Cullen ... Dr. Frankenstein
Jayden Cole ... Eve
Brandin Rackley ... Ingrid
Christine Nguyen ... Claudia
Billy Chappell ... Clyde (as Tony Marino)
Ted Newsom ... Professor Van Sloane
Ron Ford ... Dr. Waldman

Dr. Frankenstein has a horny dream. A noble wet dream. It involves bringing a really hot corpse back to life. He finds the tallest, hottest dead woman he can find and pumps her full of electricity. Thankfully the lust experiment is a success. Eve, (Jayden Cole), springs to life and proceeds to do what any grateful undead babe would do. She grabs Frankenstein's assistant, (Brandin Rackley), and has sex with her on the operating table. Now that Frankenstein has the resurrected babe he's always wanted, he needs to show off his particular genius. So naturally he takes Eve to a cocktail party where everybody gets laid and a good time is had by all.

So "Bikini Frankenstein". It was on cable and I was up. Who was I to neglect watching yet another Fred Olen Ray bikini movie? Although no one actually wears a bikini in this movie, Jayden does wear a fetching two-piece. But why does the word "bikini" thrill Ray so much? Does he have some sort of Pavlovian response to the word? He hears the word "bikini" and starts drooling? I suppose we could consider some sort of classical conditioning testing on these prolific softcore auteurs but it may lead us down alleys in the mind that we're not ready for yet.

Now I'll be honest. I was fading in and out on this one. I didn't really catch all the subtle nuances that encompass a Fred Olen Ray softcore flick. But I was wide awake during the sex scenes and "Bikini Frankenstein" has some memorable ones. Brandin Rackley has a good scene with Jayden Cole on the operating table. Brandin is a kisser and I love that about her. She starts making out with Jayden and eventually they get into some tribbing which causes sparks to fly. Later, Brandin and Jayden head to the shower for some cooling off after their life igniting tribbing. Jayden is such a tall woman that Brandin has to stand on her tip toes just to reach her mouth for some more kissing scenes.

Now about Jayden Cole. Wow. She's amazing. She was an inspiration. Well, she inspired me to keep watching that's for sure. When the movie shifts to the cocktail party, there are the obligatory guy/girl scenes which really didn't thrill me too much. But the movie ends with an outstanding three way scene with Jayden, Brandin, and Christine Nguyen. This scene makes the movie worth watching. It also makes life worth living. Brandin and Christine pile up on Jayden and make her the center of their Sapphic attention. There is a lot of kissing and breast licking here which is what makes softcore movies the treasure they (sometimes) are.

So if you're up late one night and you need a tall woman in your life, give "Bikini Frankenstein" a look. Jayden Cole is a woman of action and gets a lot of it. Even if you can't stay awake to watch the whole thing, be sure to set your alarm clock so you can catch the last twenty minutes. Forget about a good night's sleep because there's a Jayden three-way scene that you have got to see.

SCORE: 2.5 out of 4 two-piece Jaydens

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

"Avenging Angel" review

Avenging Angel (1985)

Betsy Russell ... Molly "Angel" Stewart
Rory Calhoun ... Kit Carson
Susan Tyrrell ... Solly Mosler
Ossie Davis ... Captain Harry Moradian
Robert F. Lyons ... Lt. Hugh Andrews
Steven M. Porter ... Yo-Yo Charlie
Paul Lambert ... Arthur Gerrard
Barry Pearl ... Johnny Glitter
Estee Chandler ... Cindy

I bought this video for three bucks. Angel is no longer a high school student by day, Hollywood hooker by night. Now she is a law school student by day, Hollywood homebody by night. But since this would make for a boring movie, Angel's life has to get a little more exciting at night. The cop who saved her from the nightmarish Hollywood streets is gunned down trying to save a topless female cop. At least he died for a good cause. Angel decides to go back on the streets to find his killer. So with the help of her goofy friends, Angel hits the mean streets of LA to find out who is up to no good in Hollywood.

"Avenging Angel" is the sequel to the brilliantly marketed but ultimately disappointing exploitation flick "Angel". "Angel" was pretty light on the sleazy scenes I'd expect to see from a Hollywood hooker with a gun movie. So after giving up another three bucks to watch the sequel, I have to wonder why I'm surprised "Avenging Angel" was also fairly routine for a faux Hollywood hooker with a gun movie. When you're a B-movie maniac, hope comes in all forms. Sometimes, it's in a tattered video box holding a sequel to a movie you weren't too thrilled about to begin with. Sometimes, your love for cheap thrills leads you astray. So when you see a video box cover with a hooker holding a gun, you know what needs to be done.

"Avenging Angel" is a lame attempt at humor and action as Angel tries to muscle her way through a Hollywood goon squad. Once again, Angel does not get naked even though she is ostensibly a Hollywood hooker. She's not even trying at this point. She just wants to exact revenge while wearing high heels and hot pants. Killing is more comfortable that way. The only true exploitation scene is at the beginning where a female cop gets shot in her apartment. Before she gets wasted, there are some nice lingering scenes of her getting out of the shower and putting her clothes on. "Avenging Angel" needed this scene. Actually, I wanted Angel to get revenge for the topless cop instead of her mentor. I was quite sad when she left the movie.

The rest of "Avenging Angel" has Angel in various states of distress as her and her crazy cowboy friend, (Rory Calhoun), have shootout after shootout with various anonymous thugs. It moves along at a fairly steady pace but doesn't deliver the necessary bang for the three bucks. It was worth about $1.25. It can be skipped.

One last thought, the one good thing I can say about "Avenging Angel" is that it was interesting to see the Hollywood Blvd scene in all its 1985 glory. "Avenging Angel" does make for an entertaining time capsule. There was a theater showing Prince's "Purple Rain". There was also a poster for Clint Eastwood's "Tightrope". But aside from the hairstyles and clothes, the most significant aspect of the 80's on display were the actual hookers walking Hollywood Blvd. Those days are long gone. I know this because I drive down Hollywood Blvd all the time and I can assure you that the hookers are not on the Boulevard anymore. Not that I'm looking for them mind you, but the working girls are now on the internet selling their wares. There couldn't be any more "Angel" sequels as it would involve Angel setting up dates over a secure internet connection and asking for references. If their credit card gets denied, Angel goes berserk. But since Angel never has sex in these movies anyway, it's really no big loss.

SCORE: 2 out of 4 armed Angels

Monday, June 07, 2010

"Chained Heat II" review

Chained Heat II (1993)

Director: Lloyd A. Simandl
Writer: Chris Hyde

Brigitte Nielsen ... Magda Kassar
Paul Koslo ... Franklin Goff
Kimberley Kates ... Alex Morrison
Kari Whitman ... Suzanne Morrison
Jana Svandová ... Rosa Schmidt
Marek Vasut ... Stefan Lotsky
Lucie Benesová ... Tina Lukof (as Lucie Benes)
Markéta Hrubesová ... Carla

An innocent girl has been thrown into prison. She is a sweet, virginal girl who has been framed for drug smuggling. They send her to the toughest woman's prison movie set they can find. She arrives at warden Brigitte Nielsen's private dungeon. Warden Nielsen likes to run a nice and sleazy prison. The girls are used and abused on a regular basis. Since there's money to be made in prostitution and pornography, why shouldn't Brigitte get a taste? She whores the girls out to the highest bidder and gets to taste the merchandise when the mood strikes her. She's in the mood a lot. There's another story going on about the innocent victim's sister trying to get the evidence she needs to free her but since it doesn't involve S&M chains and prisoner exploitation, it's not as interesting. It all ends in an orgy of violence as the girls strike back at warden Brigitte's excessive debauchery.

"Chained Heat II" is an acceptable entry in the mightiest of all exploitation genres, the woman's prison movie. There isn't a better vehicle to showcase excessive female nudity and wanton violence then shoving the cast onto a cheap set, making them wear tattered rags, (although all of these prisoners wear green short skirts), and letting the ladies run wild through the prison. All of the usual scenes are here. The shower scene, the random nudity scenes, the random violent scenes and random scenes of the corrupt warden indulging in various debased sexual acts. These random scenes somehow coalesce into a movie that is fairly painless to sit through.

The most important character in a woman's prison movie is the warden. Brigitte Nielson is the amazon warrior who runs the prison and she does a fine job. She likes to be submissive to her homicidal sidekick, Rosa. Rosa hates all living things and delights in causing the inmates as much anguish as she can. But the main character in a woman's prison flick is almost always a nice, sweet girl who will have to toughen up to survive. The poor, innocent girl needs to find an understanding friend who will comfort her in her darkest hour. And by comfort her, I mean that they need to have hot sweaty sex on the cell room floor. This genre is set in stone and any deviations will not be tolerated.

Unfortunately, this is where "Chained Heat II" falters. While there are some decent exploitation scenes to enjoy, the filmmakers fail to follow the two most basic woman's prison movie rules. The first one clearly states that there will be some sort of lesbian activity behind bars. The girls need to find a release for their pain and their cell mates should be there to help. When I saw the innocent girl and her friend end up in solitary confinement together, I was sure the filmmakers had set this scene up for the eventual Sapphic payoff. I was wrong. Instead, we are treated to a scene of the ladies talking and the nice girl giving her friend a necklace to remember her. I was shocked at the lack of exploitation in that scene but felt the movie would bounce back with Warden Nielsen.

I was wrong again. The second woman's prison rule this movie violates is failing to let their star get naked. Warden Nielsen does not have any nude scenes. For shame. Although she does have some interesting scenes playing a submissive to various dominating women, it doesn't make up for the lack of Brigitte in this film. I had dreams of Brigitte towering over some prisoners in the shower as she makes them wash her back. But my dreams went down the drain.

"Chained Heat II" is for the undiscriminating woman's prison lover. It doesn't provide all of the necessary thrills associated with the genre but it does manage to be mildly entertaining in its own sordid way. I would have liked to have seen a little more Brigitte stalking the prison halls but you can't have everything. It's worth a look if you're in need of a WIP fix. If not, it can be skipped.

SCORE: 2.5 out of 4 Brigitte's in chains

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

"Bikini Girls on Ice" review

Bikini Girls on Ice (2009)

I was sent this DVD. I wasn't expecting it but there it was. "Bikini Girls on Ice". Clearly, this was a movie I was meant to see. Someone out there knew I needed to experience this very important film. What wonders were in store for me? Would there be bikini girls? Would they be on ice? What does Bikini Girls on Ice mean anyway? I didn't have anything more important to do that fateful day but find out for myself.

A girl's soccer team is stranded at a maniac's gas station. They were on their way to a bikini car wash when their bus broke down. The girl's decide to make the most out of their predicament and have the car wash outside the psycho's front door. Anyone who dares to venture inside the gas station is greeted by the mad killer Moe. Moe the maniac likes to kill bikini girls and stick them in his cooler. They become bikini girls on ice. Half the soccer team will be slaughtered inside the tiny gas station before anyone realizes they're stuck in a horror movie. The bikini girls start running and screaming in circles in a desperate attempt to escape the mad clutches of Moe.

"Bikini Girls on Ice" was a B-movie with potential. It piqued my interest with thoughts of bikini girls and car washes and the inevitable slashers that these exploitation elements create. But there is a fatal flaw in this movie which kills the entertainment value of watching dead bikini girls shoved into freezers. It's something I find myself lamenting far more often than I should. Shamefully, there isn't any nudity at the bikini car wash. Yet another B-movie tragedy.

So without naked bikini girls to enjoy, what other visual thrills does this movie have to offer? Not much I'm afraid. The filmmakers found an abandoned gas station and decided to build a slasher flick around it. People keep walking into the building and then promptly get attacked by Moe. There is no logical way that all of these people could get slaughtered without anyone hearing it. The gas station is barely large enough to walk through and Moe likes to scream and shout when he's butchering bodies. Fifty minutes go by before anyone realizes that something is amiss in the old gas station. The remaining bikini girls, (two), scream and run from room to room, (three), in a desperate attempt to get the horror movie started. It's too late bikini girl.

"Bikini Girls on Ice" is a dud. It's not scary, has almost no gore, and, most importantly, there are no naked bikini babes. I suppose you could appreciate the fact that the title didn't lie. There were plenty of bikini girls. And yes, Moe did put a lot of the dead ones in a cooler full of ice. But other than that, "Bikini Girls on Ice" doesn't have much in the way of thrilling entertainment to offer. It can be skipped.

SCORE: 1.5 out of 4 frozen bikini girls

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

"Vampz" review

Vampz (2004)

Director: Steve Lustgarten

Terrence Flack ... Sweet
Terrence Atkins
Lamik Blake ... Keith
Tawanna Browne
Chantal Lashon ... Cleo
Raymond Parker ... Fred
Serria Tawan ... Lillith

"Vampz" is about black vampire hookers. Three black beauties decide to open a massage parlor so that their prey will come knocking on their door. Their plan works perfectly as men show up at their lair and are promptly slaughtered. They'd be disemboweling horny tricks to this day if it weren't for those meddling vampire hunting cops. They're on the lookout for the cop's cheating wife who likes white guys and lesbian vampires. Basically anyone who's not her husband. Some women are so hard to please. It all ends in a showdown to the death with as much gore and violence as the filmmakers could afford.

Black vampire hookers. I like writing that. "Vampz" certainly seemed like the exploitation movie for me. I wasn't expecting much from it. Just some good times with the vampire hookers. That's all I wanted. While "Vampz" has some entertaining qualities, there is one simple fact about this movie which will doom it to obscurity forever. The vampire hookers do not get naked. You wouldn't think it would be possible to have sex wearing your lingerie but you'd be wrong. When you've lived as a vampire for thousands of years, you learn a thing or two.

It's a shame the filmmakers couldn't convince the vampire babes to drop their clothes as "Vampz" could have been a pretty decent B-movie. I'm shocked to tell you this, but "Vampz" wasn't terrible. It had some fun scenes, (including a brief lesbian kissing scene), it kept moving along and it provided as much blood and guts as a hundred bucks will buy you. But I knew when I saw these women that they were not going to fulfill their B-movie destiny and get naked. They were too attractive. They looked too good for this movie. There was no way the filmmakers could afford to pay these women to disrobe and still have twenty dollars left over for blood effects.

So the filmmakers decided to forgo the expense of having naked vampire hookers in their vampire hooker movie and instead spent their money on cheap gore effects. This was the wrong call. Especially considering one of the vampire babes was a Playboy Playmate, (Serria Tawan). I'm sure she would have been fine with being all the vampire hooker she could be. Why did they hold her back?

While "Vampz" has some fun scenes and beautiful women to look at, it doesn't need to be seen. Although I can give it some points for filming near where my friend used to live. "Vampz" seemed to have been filmed all over Los Feliz, Silver Lake and Hollywood Blvd. There's one scene near a Rite -Aid that was shot near New Hampshire and Hollywood. I used to go there all the time. But then the movie goes back to fully clothed vampire hookers and I lose interest.

SCORE: 2 out of 4 seductive black women