Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

After the last film moved away from street racing to more heist movie, this film moves the series into spy adventure, or as I have asked before this week, “When did this little street gang become G.I. Joe?” You can follow a similar path with the Saints Row series of video games, which somehow again went from small street gang in a turf war to being the leaders of the free world, superheroes and battling in Hell.

This movie is also two hours and ten minutes long, so plan accordingly.

After the big score of the last film, the family has settled down around the world. Dom (Vin Diesel) is with Elena (Elsa Pataky, Giallo) while his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) and Brian (Paul Walker) have had a son. Gisele (Gal Gadot) and Han (Sung Kang) are in love, while Roman (Tyrese) and Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Parker) are living the high life. As for Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), he and Riley Hicks (former MMA star Gina Carano) are keeping tabs on former SAS special ops soldier Owen Shaw (Luke Evans, Clash of the Titans), who may have the supposedly deceased Letty Ortiz in his gang.

Hobbs promoses amnesty to Dom and his crew if they help him take down Shaw. The fact that Dom can reunite with his dead lover only adds to the urgency of the mission. All manner of double crosses occur, but at the end, everyone ends up in the old Los Angeles house saying grace over a meal. One hundred cars gave their mechanical lives for this film.

The end of this, however, introduces Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), as he seemingly murders Han in the events of The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift.

SAVAGE CINEMA: Hell on Wheels (1967)

The Savage Cinema set from Mill Creek just keeps on rolling this week, bringing to us not only some NASCAR, but former racer turned country star Marty Robbins, who sang “El Paso” and “Honkytonk Man.”

Three brothers — stock car driver Marty (Robbins playing himself), mechanic Del (John Ashley, the man from Blood Island) and revenue agent Steve — all have their issues. Marty is trying to be a star, Del wants to be Marty and Steve is busting some moonshiners.

Del tries to out do his brother to prove himself to his girlfriend Sue (Gigi Perrau, The Cool and the Crazy) and the gang ends up almost killing them all. Meanwhile, Connie Smith and the Stonemans play a whole mess of songs.

The entire film was independently made in Nashville, Tennessee. John Ashley told Trash Compactor, “Marty was a terrific fellow and a great singer, and I was a big fan of his. He was a stock car racer, loved stock cars, and the producers had put this thing together. They said to me that this was going to be his motion picture debut, and they needed me to play his brother and basically carry the movie. So I went down there for six or seven weeks.”

This was directed by Will Zens, who also made Trucker’s Woman and Hot Summer in Barefoot County, two Joe Bob Briggs-approved redneck movies.

You can watch this on YouTube.

Fast Five (2011)

Somehow, the street gang from the first film has become almost like G.I. Joe in these movies. This film — the fifth as you can tell by the title — tells the story of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) as they steal $100 million while being pursued by U.S. Diplomatic Security Service agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson). This is the film that moved from street races to big action scenes and fans went wild.

The film starts by having Dom busted out of prison by the gang and ends with the Rock showing that he just might join these guys, which includes Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce, Ludacris as Tej Parker, Matt Schulze as Vince, Sung Kang as Han Lue and Gal Gadot as Gisele Yashar.

This is also where the movies start feeling bloated, pushing themselves past a two-hour running time. The other criticism is that women barely have names and are just sex objects in these films. Hell, they don’t even tell you what Gal Gadot’s character’s name — Gisele — is for the entire movie!

One of the good things is that these films have minimal CGI and rely mostly on practical effects for the car stunts.

Also — that scene where they found out that Letty is alive? Michelle Rodriguez didn’t know anything about it until she saw the movie in a theater.

SAVAGE CINEMA: The Wild Rebels (1967)

Savage Cinema promises you biker movies and it delivers on them. Such is the joy of a Mill Creek box set. While you may often find things that you had no idea you needed, by and large, if the cover art has an alien or a motorcycle, you may get at least 30% out of the films inside about what was promised. Those kind of odds get you into the Hall of Fame, at least in Cooperstown.

William Grefe came right out of the Florida swamps and demanded that you watch his films. He was second unit on I Eat Your Skin before unleashing films like Mako: The Jaws of DeathDeath Curse of Tartu and Stanley, a movie in which a young man menaces Alex Rocco and Marcia Knight with snakes.

Rod Tillman (Steve Alaimo, whose life took him from being in the Redcoats, whose song “Mashed Potatoes” hit #75 on the Hot 100, hosting Dick Clark’s Where the Action Is and even owning TK Records, who dabbled in the Miami bass scene) is a stock car racer out of cash. He sells everything he owns and enters Swinger’s Paradise where he does nothing if not swing. Actually, that’s where he meets Satan’s Angels, a biker gang who needs a getaway driver for a con they have in mind.

They are Banjo (Willie Pastrano, who held the unified world light heavyweight boxing titles (WBA, WBC, The Ring) from 1963 until 1965), Fats (Jeff Gillen, yes, Jeff from Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things and the director of Deranged: Confessions of a Necrophile, as well as Santa Claus in A Christmas Story), Linda (Bobbie Byers, the voice of Johnny Sokko in Voyage Into Space) and Jester (John Vella, who played for the Oakland Raiders).

The cops try and get Rod on their side too, but he’s all into Linda, who claims she doesn’t do the crimes for the financial prize, but for the kicks. It all ends up in a lighthouse shootout between the cops, the bikers and our hero, who is caught between both sides.

Featuring real-life members of the Hell’s Angels and a Tampa garage rock band known as The Birdwatchers — you know, for the kids — this movie is probably amongst the best on this set. It also has, I can assure you, motorcycles in it.

You can either watch this on YouTube or see the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version on Tubi.

 

Writers wanted!

Over the next few weeks, we’ll have several theme weeks. If you’re reading this and wondered, “I’d sure like to learn how to write for B&S About Movies,” this is your chance.

There are no rules for length and few for content other than your work should be original. Generally, I like to have articles in by a week before when they run, but I’m always willing to make exceptions.

Here are the theme weeks we have coming up!

  • August 9-15: Jayne Mansfield
  • August 16-22: Italian Westerns
  • August 23-29: Werewolves
  • August 30-September 5: 90s and 2000s Horror
  • September 6-12: Vampires
  • September 13-19: Turkish movies
  • September 20-26: Rock and Roll part 2 (more rock and roll movies, hold the Gary Glitter)
  • September 27-30: No theme

And don’t forget our November Mill Creek blowout of their 50-film DVD set. The films are going fast! Help us out with a review, will ya? All the deets are HERE.

And don’t forget about our Drive-In Friday feature that we post every week at 11 AM. All the deets are HERE.

If you’d like to be part of the site, comment here or email us at bandsaboutmovies@gmail.com

Drive In Friday Advert

The Skulls (2000)

You know when a conspiracy theory — like Yale University’s Skull and Bones student society — becomes true? When Hollywood makes a movie about it. Here’s the real conspiracy. This movie is pretty much the 1970 made-for-TV movie The Brotherhood of the Bell. That said, this is where Rob Cohen met Paul Walker, so that’s how this movie has ended up in the middle of our The Fast and the Furious theme week.

Walker is Caleb Mandrake, a name that only exists in movies, and Joshua Jackson is Luke McNamara. They’re the two newest members of The Skulls, which prepares its members through war. It barely takes any time for this alignment to cause Luke’s best friend Will (Hill Harper, CSI: NY) to stop talking to him. But hey — he feels like he needs an edge to stay with his rich girlfriend Chloe (Leslie Bibb).

Speaking of CSI, William Petersen plays the leader of the inner circle and Caleb’s dad is played by Craig T. Nelson. They’re powerful because of the group and will crush anyone who gets in their way.

Another conspiracy: this movie was shot in Toronto and not Yale. Imagine being from that city and seeing your landmarks all over this movie and someone saying, “No, that’s really America.”

They made a whole bunch more of these — well, OK, two more — that went direct to video. Rob Cohen went to Harvard, so he was probably in a group just like this that allowed him to keep making films after  xXx and Stealth.

Someone on IMDB noticed this — and I thought it was funny — that every Skull gets a watch for their left hand. Which means they are all right handed. At least they don’t show them masturbating in a coffin while other members watch. Not that I know tons of Skull and Bones stories or anything.

SAVAGE CINEMA: Death Machines (1976)

The Savage Cinema set has motorcycles. It has stock cars. It has dynamite coffins. And now, it has death machines. The poster for this movie has always fascinated me and now the time has finally come to see if it lives up to the insane promise of the painting that hawked its wares.

Madame Lee has gathered three martial arts masters, now and forever known as White Death Machine (Ron Marchini, who is also in Omega Cop and Karate Cop), Asian Death Match (Michael Chong, Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects) and Black Death Machine (Joshua Johnson, The Weapons of Death) after she injects them with a mysterious formula that makes them her commandable karate fighting soldiers.

There’s a green-faced cop named Captain Green. A good guy who loses his hand, gets his ass kicked in a bar fight and still gets the girl. Bikers who bother zombie killers when they just want to eat burgers and talk to old men about God. A mysterious mastermind in the shadows. Dudes getting thrown off buildings. And a distributor — yes, our friends at Crown International Pictures — that wanted a science fiction angle for a movie about evil martial artists shot in Stockton, CA.

I have no idea what was in that zombie juice, but it makes street fighters impervious to bullets. This was all a passion project of Paul Kyriazi, who also made Ninja Busters. There’s also a cop named Lt. Clay Forrester, who is no relation to Gene Barry or Trace Beaulieu.

This movie doesn’t make any sense and you’re either going to be bored into oblivion by it or love it like the lover who broke your sixteen-year-old heart and you never quite got over her. There is no in-between.

If you want to see it for yourself, you can do no better than the blu ray release that Vinegar Syndrome has put out. Freshly restored in 4k from its original Techniscope camera negative and featuring brand new interviews with its director and stars? I never thought I’d see the day. You can also check this out on Amazon Prime.

Fast and Furious (2009)

Finally, eight years after The Fast and The Furious we get a direct sequel. This time, Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) must work together again to avenge the murder of Toretto’s lover Letty Ortiz (Rodriguez) and apprehend drug lord Arturo Braga (John Ortiz).

It’s rare that a series of movies finally finds itself in the fourth installment, much less gets that many chances. But here you go — these movies really start becoming beloved right here.

Sung Kang shows up as Han Lue, Dominic’s right-hand man, bridging the last Japanese side of the franchise, while also introducing Gal Gadot as Gisele Yashar, a liaison for the evil Braga. Laz Alonso also shows up as Fenix Calderon, Braga’s right-hand man who murders Letty and sets this whole movie’s story arc in motion.

This movie paved the way — pardon the road pun — for the other movies in this series. In fact, it outgrossed The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift in its first weekend.

Of course, Letty wouldn’t stay gone long. But we’ll get to that soon enough.

SAVAGE CINEMA: The Sidehackers (1969)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Back when COVID-19 felt like a thing that may not last all that long, circa March 7, 2020, we talked about this movie. It’s in the Savage Cinema set, so now it’s back. I still have no idea what a sidehacker is.

What the hell is a sidehacker?

It’s racing motorcycles with sidehacks, which is a sidecar with a rail but no sidewalls or seat. As the bikes race, the passenger rides and tilts around curves. Sidehacking is also known as sidecarcross or sidecar motocross racing. The fact that it has a movie made about it doesn’t astound me. After all, I’ve watched movies about arm wrestling (Over the TopHands of Steel) and even games that don’t really exist like BASKetball and The Game from The Blood of Heroes.

Surely I can make it through a movie about side hacking, I thought. But man — what a ride. I nearly wiped out.

Ross Hagen, who was in SupercockThe Devil’s Eight and Alienator (amongst many others), plays Rommel, who is a bike mechanic who dreams of sidehacking stardom. That’s a thing, I guess.

He runs into JC (Michael Pataki!), another sidehacker who is abusive to everyone in his gang, including his girl Paisely, who promptly tries to seduce our hero. Or protagonist. Or guy we’re supposed to get behind. He turns her down, JC beats her up and blames Rommel and then the gang all descends on our man and his lady Rita (Diane McBain, Wicked Wicked).

Robert Tessler, a stuntman who formed Stunts Unlimited with Hal Needham, is in this, as is the writer of the film Tony Huston (he also would write The Hellcats) and Hoke Howell (Humanoids from the Deep).

This was directed by former Broadway dancer — and husband of Goldie Hawn — Gus Trikonis, who also brought The EvilMoonshine County ExpressNashville GirlTake This Job and Shove It and Supercock to the big screen.

It ends as all biker movies must, with the hero killed for no good reason. Ah 1969, when the kids had given up on life.

You can watch this with help from Mystery Science Theater 3000 on Amazon Prime and Tubi.

SAVAGE CINEMA: Little Laura and Big John (1973)

I have no idea why this is on the Savage Cinema set from Mill Creek, but man, when has anything these box sets have on them make any narrative sense? “We have all these Crown International movies and some maniac, somewhere, someday, is making a Letterboxd list about these movies no one other than he cares about!” I love you, Mill Creek. I do.

Back in 1929, John Ashley murdered a Seminole trapper named Desoto Tiger and dumped him in the site of what would someday be the Hoover Dike. Days later, in Miami, he sold some of those furs and got caught, but was repeatedly allowed to escape custody. So yeah, he was the first white man jailed for killing a Native American. But no one took it seriously and, go figure, he did a whole bunch of others crimes, including piracy on a British colony in the 1920’s, of all things. He also joined with Laura Upthegrove to become white trash heroes, defying banks and the government until he was jailed.

Their story gets even crazier, as Upthegrove married a member of Ashley’s gang named Joe Tracy in order to avoid testifying in his trial for murdering a taxi driver. Ashley then planned to rush the jail, act like he was saving Tracy and then planned to kill him in a fit of jealousy. So she todl the law, who killed everyone involved after handcuffing them and pretty much executing them in a move that was completely against the law.

Upthegrove hid out for a few years until she got in an argument with a man trying to buy moonshine from her. She ended up drinkinhg Lysol and dying. Her mother decided that she was better off dead, so she never called for help.

Fabian Forte plays John and Karen Black plays Laura, so whoever casted this movie knows my heart. Ross Kananga, who is also Seminole, plays Tiger. Kanaga is the man who did the stunt where James Bond jumps over the alligators in Live and Let Die, getting 193 stitches before filing was done. He’s also where Yaphet Kotto’s character gets his name from. Also, Paul Gleason from The Breakfast Club, one of film’s greatest jerks, is the sheriff.

Luke Moberly, who was in the art department for Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things, wrote and directed this. It was the only film he’d ever direct. It was made in 1969 and didn’t come out for four years. It also has a debt to 1967’s Bonnie and Clyde, but you probably figured on that.