Sunday, April 23, 2017

Kamikaze 1989 (Wolf Gremm, 1982)

Damn, it's cold! Who knew the winters (hell, the springs, too) in Canada could be so chilly? Speaking of which, whose bright idea was it to continue removing my arm hair throughout the winter months? Brrrr. What's that? Yeah,  dysphoria is a real thing and it doesn't simply go away once it starts getting colder. I know, I could just put on a sweater... Wait a minute, if I had a leopard print blazer like the one Rainer Werner Fassbinder sports as Polizeileutnant Jansen in Kamikaze 1989, that would solve all my problems. What I mean is, if I owned a leopard print blazer, I could express myself through fashion and remain warm at the same time. Win-win. Anyway, this West German film, based on the book, Murder on the Thirty-first Floor by Per Wahlöö, about a 50-something detective working in a grim yet stylish totalitarian state is a... Huh? You're telling me Rainer Werner Fassbinder isn't 50-something. He was actually 37 when he shot this? Really? Wow, kudos to the makeup department for making Fassbinder look so much older than he really is. You say he's not wearing makeup? Hmm. Well, let that be a lesson for all you kids out there. If you continue to smoke and drink booze to excess, you'll end up looking like Rainer Werner Fassbinder does in this movie. Don't get me wrong, the movie is a visual/audio feast to behold, it's just that Fassbinder doesn't look so good. It's true, he would die soon after filming this Wolf Gremm-directed movie. But still. It's a stark reminder to take better care of yourself.

When Polizeileutnant Jansen tells Anton (Günther Kaufmann), a fellow detective, to: "Refrain from unnecessary remarks" for the very first time during the first of their many conversations, I thought: Huh, that's a nicest way I've ever heard to tell someone to shut the fuck up. When he instructs others to "Refrain from unnecessary comments" and "Refrain from unnecessary questions," I thought: I love this guy. Sure, his scraggly beard was mildly triggering. But as far as being an onscreen detective goes, I dig Jansen's style.

In his defense, he does make a, if feeble, attempt to trim his scraggly beard at one point.

Nevertheless, telling people to refrain from using extraneous phrases while saying words out loud while wearing a leopard print jacket and leopard print trousers is, you have to admit, pretty bad-ass.

Did I mention that the handle of his snub-nosed revolver is leopard print as well? Yeah, well, it totally is.

It should be noted though that Jansen's kooky blazer game isn't limited to the gruff detective. No, it would seem that the entire country of Germany, which has apparently unified in 1989, has gone kooky blazer mad.

In fact, I don't think I spotted a single drab, ho-hum or bland blazer during the entire film's running time.

It wouldn't surprise me to learn that the film's wardrobe department didn't plunder the wardrobe of The Apple, as a lot of the outfits worn throughout Kamikaze '89 had a distinct disco science fiction vibe/stench about them. And, as you know, The Apple was shot in West Germany, well, West Berlin. Which makes my theory even more plausible.

Actually, if I had to compare Kamikaze '89 to just two movies, I would have to say, The Apple and Blade Runner are the two that spring to mind immediately. Yes, there's some A Clockwork Orange sprinkled here and there as well. But the tone and look are purely The Apple and Blade Runner. Which, of course, is a good thing.

A hard-boiled detective story set in a garish cyberpunk universe, Kamikaze '89 will have retro futurism enthusiasts scrambling to suck on their inhalers. Granted, the story itself is a tad convoluted. In other words: Refrain from unnecessary complexities.

Let's see, the plot involves a plot to blow up the head quarters that belong to a ruthless tyrannical entity known simply as "The Combine." Brought in to help solve this mystery is Polizeileutnant Jansen, a cop who is considered to be the best in the business. Sure, he's a little rough around the edges, but if there's anyone who can penetrate the shadowy confines of The Combine, it's Jansen.

Of course, the further he penetrates these confines, the more confusing things become. While the confusion that inevitably comes might be a turn off, the film is never not interesting to look at. Nor is it never not interesting to listen to, as the soundtrack by Edgar Froese is a synth-lovers dream.

Along with top-notch production values, a fascinating lead performance by Fassbinder... Wait... Fascinating? Fassbinder? That was totally not on purpose. Ugh. Where was I? Oh, yeah. The film looks and sounds amazing. Highly recommended.

(What about those gender non-specific assassins?) Yes. Thanks for reminding me. Yeah, these assassins try to rub out our unhealthy-looking hero at one point and they do so while wearing ski-masks and stockings.

Well, one is wearing black fully-fashioned stockings, and the other is wearing what looks like black fishnet pantyhose. I can't believe I almost forgot to mention that scene. I'd go as far as to say it alone makes this film worth watching. But like I said in the above paragraphs, there's so much to savor in this film.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Domino (Ivana Massetti, 1988)

I'm no math whizz, but I'd say 99% of the movies I watch are devoid of anything of value. What I mean is, they contain things I'm not interested. Of course, if the people who make these movies had the slightest interest in the things I'm interested in, I wouldn't have to start every other review in this manner. But this is the universe we live in. One where the majority of films released on any given day are severely lacking in the appealing to me department. However, it's not all bad. In fact, there's this movie I might review one day that actually features a ton of stuff I'm into. You know what? Screw one day, I'm reviewing this film right this minute. It's called Domino and... OH MY GOD, it's so fucking... appealing. Seriously, I just sat there in awe of the sheer amount of Euro-approved stylishness being shoved in my face at any given moment... it was glorious. Synths, black PVC skirts, gloves in almost every scene, wigs, neon, compact discs, indoor wind chimes, mannequins, phone sex, white lace body stockings, delivery boys who accept smiles from leggy dames in lieu of money, and...  well, I could keep listing shit for hours. Granted, the plot is kinda stupid and some of acting is a tad on the suspect side, but.... then again, who cares about non-stupid plots and quality acting in a movie where Brigitte Nielsen talks to her jewel-adorned pet turtle? That's right, Brigitte Nielsen has deep, meaningful conversations with a bejeweled turtle.

And she has a live-in mannequin. Which she also talks to. Let me put it this way: Imagine if Stephen Sayadian had directed Obsession: A Taste for Fear. Well, if he had, it would look something like this. I know, that's sounds pretty awesome. Any film that can invoke the name Stephen Sayadian, a.k.a. Rinse Dream, has to be doing something right.

Even though I was down with director Ivana Massetti's Rinse Dream-esque aesthetic right from the get-go. The moment I heard the sci-fi-ish swooshing noise the door to Brigitte Nielsen's apartment makes when it opens and closes was the exact moment I declared this film to be a straight-up masterpiece.

Again, and I can't stress this enough, the film is chock-full of nonsensical gobbledygook. Yeah, the movie I'm currently praising is a total mess when it comes to the basic tenets of cinematic storytelling. And the acting is atrocious in places. But holy crap, does it look good.

It also helped that the film doesn't seem to take place in any realm I'm familiar with. And if anyone has read any of my other reviews, you'll know I'm a big fan of films that seem to take place within there own universe. Sure, the words they utter and the objects they manipulate are recognizable, but there's just something off about this world.

And from where I was sitting, Brigitte Nielsen's Domino seems to be at the centre of this world/universe. Meaning, the world seems to revolve around her. And why wouldn't it? She has a killer wardrobe, a seemingly endless cadre of suitors, a swanky apartment (did I mention that the doors make a sci-fi-ish swooshing noise when opened and closed?), and she owns a plethora of wigs.

Desperate to get funding to make a video about Billie Holiday, an artist named Domino is harassed by a mysterious stranger who insists on calling her on her cordless telephone. She's also being spied on by someone who lives in the building across the street.

Despite the fact that she seems content to be alone with her live-in mannequin (and her bejeweled pet turtle), Domino must contend with multiple violations of her privacy.

And, yeah, that kind of sums up the plot. Like I said, she has many suitors (all douchebags from I what I could see).

Oh, and from I could gather, it would seem that poor air quality is causing Domino's arm to itch. I think this was the film's subtle way of reminding the audience that things in this world are not as rosy as they seem. And, if you listen closely, every time Brigitte is outside, you can hear helicopters flying overhead. I took this to mean that Domino is living in a surveillance state.

While it might not come right out and say it, anyone with a half a brain can figure out on their own that this film is about isolation. Putting a number of different barriers between her and the outside world, Domino is desperate to find love, yet she craves the comfort that only a solitary existence can bring.

When it becomes increasingly clear that the people harassing her might not be real, Domino begins to lose her grip on reality.

Personally, I don't know why Domino didn't pursue a relationship with Geretta Geretta's Gabriele, a self-proclaimed whore who works at a strip-club called Eye. I guess Domino found Gabriele's lifestyle too overwhelming; in a classic scene, Domino ceases to masturbate to Gabrielle's striptease show and runs from the booth (complete with a toilet roll for easy clean-up) in a stylish huff.

Which, should go without saying, as everything Domino does is stylish.

Frankly, I have no idea how I managed to make through this film in one piece. As it seems to go out of its way to be cartoonishly chic. At times I thought I was watching a parody of the 1980s by some hipster comedy troupe who possess only half-remembered fragments of what the 1980s were really like. But I wasn't. No, Domino is a real movie, made during the 1980s. Cherish the movie and treat it with the respect it deserves. Of course, many of you will still mock and deride it using whatever passes for sarcasm nowadays. But you can't deny that it earns its place in the pantheon of mildly ill-conceived movies that end up being more amazing than anyone involved in its creation could possibly comprehend.

In fact, I would place Domino alongside the likes of Liquid Dreams, Shredder Orpheus, Skinner, the aforementioned Obsession: A Taste of Fear (this and Domino would make a sweet ass double-bill), and, of course, the granddaddy of them all, Dr. Caligari.

Oh, and you'll notice I didn't once complain about Brigitte Nielsen's breast implants. Well, that's because I don't do that anymore. If a woman wants breast implants, who am I to deny her the right to do so? After all, it's her body, not mine. I am, however, against breast implants, or any other cosmetic surgery for that matter, if the woman is forced to do so by someone other than herself.

Special thanks to Silk Stalkings Stills for recommending this movie.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Boardinghouse (John Wintergate, 1982)

At first I was comfortably prepared to declare that the three actresses who appear in Boardinghouse are wearing the same pair silky smooth black satin disco pants. But as of right this minute, I'm not so sure. Why? It's simple, really. Unless director/star John Wintergate is a master when it comes to employing camera tricks, I doubt they would be able to make it appear as if two women were wearing the same pair of silky smooth black satin disco pants in the same scene (I doubt he even knows how to turn on a camera). No, what I think happened was, each of the three actresses who appear in silky smooth black satin disco pants decided to wear their own silky smooth black satin disco pants to the set, and no one batted an eye over the fact this flagrant display of trouser-based uniformity might cause a certain someone to lose an uncertain amount of shit some thirty-plus years later. What I think I'm trying to say is this: I want a pair of silky smooth black satin disco pants. Granted, I'm currently working on attaining the curves necessary to wear such a garment. But mark my words, my soon to be shapely butt will be housed in a pair of silky smooth black satin disco pants in the not-so distant future. Oh, you better believe it. (Um, hello? I'm sorry to keep asking this... But what on Earth are you babbling about?) Um, I'm clearly talking about silky smooth black... (Yeah, I got that. But why are you talking about them in a review for a shot on video horror classic?) Um, it's what I do. I watch a movie. Then after it's over, I type words pertaining to said movie. Duh.

And sometimes, if I'm feeling extra saucy, I like to describe the position the movie caused me sit as I watched said movie. And Boardinghouse had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. Though, to be honest, the reason I was sitting on the edge of my seat had nothing to do with the film's overall intensity, it was mostly upholstery-related. You see, the chair I was sitting on was poorly upholstered. Unable to provide me and my not yet shapely butt with the support I/it needed, I started to favour the outskirts (or the edge, if you will) of the tumbledown piece of furniture. Thus, creating the illusion that the film was scaring some but not all of the bejesus out of me.

In reality, the film, which, like I said, was shot on video, mostly confused and bewildered me. However, I'm not one to let confusion, or even bewilderment for that matter, ruin what is essentially an on the cusp of being watchable hot chicks in a haunted house picture.

If you're like me, and you have a soft spot for films that feature attractive women doing asinine nonsense pool-side in the early 1980s, Boardinghouse will deliver in that regard.

While most viewers will look at the seemingly-unending gaggle of semi-elegant ladies who end up at the boardinghouse at the centre of this cinematic mind-scrambler, and think to themselves: I would love to engage in state-sanctioned sexual intercourse with one or more of these women. I, on the other hand, simply want to possess their physical characteristics.

Oh, to be ensconced in the soft, flow-y glow-y mire of womanhood. Ensconced in womanhood. Ensconced. Womanhood. Mmmmm. Hey, would you look at that, the wind is causing my robuster than usual ponytail to sway to and fro like a pendulum.

(Hey, snap out of it.) What? Sorry 'bout that. I must have drifted off or something.

So, yeah, Boardinghouse is about this super-lean, mildly douchey guy named Jim (John Wintergate) who inherits the Hoffman house, a large residence on Mulholland Dr. with a dark past (many people have died mysteriously there over the past ten years).

Deciding to rent it out almost exclusively to hot young women, Jim goes back to astral projecting in his downtown office. No, wait... Jim has chosen to live with his tenants. At first I thought this was odd, as landlords don't usually live with their tenants. But judging by his pronounced pantie bugle, I'd say Jim's penis has somehow persuaded Jim proper to take advantage of the situation.

When the women do arrive and start moving in, a wave of relief washed over me. You know, because I want to be ensconced... (Yeah, yeah, ensconced in womanhood... we get it.) Even though it was difficult to tell at first, I'd say around six or seven move in.

If there's one thing I don't like about these types of movies, it's that they don't make it easy for us to distinguish one hot chick from another. Sure, having one "black chick" and one "Asian chick" made it somewhat easy. But still, I have to wade through three brunettes and a shitload of blondes. I know, life is hard.

A latecomer named Debbie (Lindsay Freeman), an English blonde, shows up and eventually gets a room. Things seem pleasant enough at first (nothing but non-stop pool parties and pie fights). But that all changes when a forthright brunette named Victoria (Kalassu... you heard me, I said, Kalassu) starts having weird visions. In fact, most of the women start having weird visions. But Victoria's weird visions seemed extra... weird. And I think it has something to do with the fact that she has recently taken an interest in astral projection (she checks out a ton of books on the subject at the library). Which, of course, she picked up from Jim (she watches Jim move a bar of soap with his mind while taking a bath).

In order to protect the squeamish, director John Wintergate has devised a method to shield easily triggered audience members from harm. And he does this by flashing a warning (the image of a black leather glove) accompanied by a synth flourish.

Let's be honest. The warnings, apparently titled, "Horror Vision," were kinda unwarranted. I mean, other than some spewing fake guts and some self-induced eyeball popping, the gore in this movie is pretty tame. But then again, I'm sucker for synth flourishes. So, yeah, it's got that going for it.

Don't let gore-hounds or shot on video aficionados fool you, Boardinghouse is all about hot babes under duress in a domestic setting. Some wear silky smooth black satin disco pants, some wear short shorts (which were just called shorts back then), some wear studded bracelets... Actually, some wear silky smooth black satin disco pants and studded bracelets. I know, talk about your win-win.

Anyway, if you're like me and want to be surrounded by as many women as humanly possible at all times, you can't do better than Boardinghouse. (Are you sure about that?) Not really.

This review, by the way, is a review of the 98 min theatrical cut. There's a "rare" 157 min on the second disc that comes with the 2013 Slasher // Video release of this film. Surrounded by women or not, I don't think I have the stamina to make through a 157 minute version of this movie. I'm sort of curious... Nah, I better not. My brain cells need a break.