Future Warrior Amazons (2017)

If you thought there was nowhere else to go after Future Century Amazons, oh man, well, there is.

Put on your PPE, galoshes and grab a barf bag, I guess.

Remember how Dr. Maki Amamiya had come to Amazon City to become the new artificial insemination expert? Well, that’s about when a Christian missionary named Kenta is captured while trying to give some of the castrated men of the city a proper burial. For some reason, he’s selected for Amazon City’s new and ultra-secret Male Weaponization Program. He’s dosed with testosterone. which seems against everything this tribe of amazons — let’s call then Future Warrior Amazons –standsd for, so who knows what will happen next?

Also, this movie shows us that the great unwashed of the forbidden zones yearn only to be horrible men and act as you’d expect. Also, tentacles. Also, Alien ripoff monsters. Also, the end of this world.

Also also also: more women removing the testicles of men while dressed in paramilitary costumes.

I’m sure this is someone’s fetish. They probably bought this off the rack at Lawson’s or 7-11 because that’s how Japan does it.

Future Century Amazons (2017)

I think director and writer Naoyuki Tomomatsu has some issues.

I mean, who would make this movie? A film in which radical feminism has caused the downfall of civilization, with the few remaining humans live in various settlements with vast fobidden zones between them filled with mutant creatures, all while the warring female factions battle over their male cattle and remove their bloody scrotums in ritualistic fashion to keep the human race alive? Indeed, who?

Amazon City is one of the large cities left, a place where men are more than a source of, well, balls. They’re also canned and given to the women for food. The Love Liberation Army wants to return to the days when man and woman could lie together and as such, have been killed all of the scientists. But now, Dr. Maki Amamiya has come to bring her science — and her husband — to this strange new world.

Obviously, this movie has next to no budget, but for what it has, it has a cast that throws themselves into its berserk exploitation storyline. Don’t expect any deep thinking on how men and women can fix their relations. Just enjoy the costumes, I guess. Not for long, with this being a modern Pinky Violence movie, after all.

Lily C.A.T. (1987)

Sure, Lily C.A.T. is Alien, but isn’t Alien also Queen of BloodPlanet of the Vampires and It! The Terror from Beyond Space? Hey, what if they throw in some of The Thing too?

The Syncam Corporation is investigating a new planet and has hired the deep-space cruiser Saldes to take a hypersleep trip of 20 years — which will feel like a month for its crew — to see what they can find. At least two of the crew are imposters and one of them is definitely a killer, which gets worse when each dead body disappears, a victim of a super bacteria, while another member of the crew — perhaps one you’d least expect — is something more than they seem.

Director Hisayuki Toriumi directed Gatchaman, the anime that was translated here as Battle of the Planets, while writer Hiroyuki Hoshiyama wrote episodes of The UltramanUrusei yatsura and Mobile Suit Gundam. These shows will not prepare you for how gory this movie is, even in its American version. That’s due to creature designer Yoshitaka Amano, who worked on Gatchaman and Vampire Hunter D.

My favorite part of this is when the captain explains how once you start time jumping, the things you are working for and the people you are making the money for no longer matter and you become forgotten. It’s a shockingly raw and honest moment of pain in the midst of a science fiction gore cartoon.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Sonatine (1993)

This Japanese yakuza gangster-noir written, directed and edited by Takeshi Kitano was his response to Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas. Courtesy of Quentin Tarantino’s fandom, the film found its way to U.S. theater — art house — screens in 1998 via his Rollling Thunder-imprint, which subsequently released it to home video in 2000.

Of Kitano’s 18-film writing-directing career, it remains his best-known international film, although his action-revenge thrillers Violent Crime (1989), which served as his feature film debut, and the follow up, Boiling Point (1990), were sought out by Tarantino fans and came to find an audience on post-’90s home video imprints.

Kitano got his start as an actor in the late ’60s, making his debut in Go, Go, Second Time Virgin (1969), but he’s best known to U.S. audiences in that discipline, courtesy of Senjō no Merī Kurisumasu, aka Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983), co-starring David Bowie — Kitano starred as “Sgt. Gengo Hara.” You may also know Kitano for his work as a ruthless yakuza in William Gibson’s Johnny Mnemonic (1995), as well as the imported Battle Royale (2000) and Battle Royale II: Requiem (2003).

As for Sonatine — a play on the musical term sonatina — was a critically appreciated but a commercial failure in its homeland. Its commercial acceptance in the west was courtesy of Tarantino touting the film; it didn’t hurt that America’s leading critic at the time, Roger Ebert, gave it a “thumbs up” and three and a half out of four stars. The film’s failure in Kitano’s homeland is attributed to the fact he was, at the time, primarily known as a television comedic actor.

Kitano stars as Murakawa, a burnt-out yakuza enforcer who discovers his newfound, lackadaisical attitude towards his profession has led to his bosses wanting to get rid of him. As with Scorsese’s gangster opus, Sonatine is a film of not of dumb-down, trite action-driven dialog of no substance, but an introspective intelligence — that revels in its silent moments — that pulls back the reigns on the ultra-violence to use the violence as — to carry through with the musical imagery of the title — punctuating crescendos across its celluloid measures.

This is a film that is disserviced by the usual rat-a-tat-tat reviews scoring every “beat” of the film for you to decide to watch it. It’s a film where you simply need to stream it, sit back, and enjoy Takeshi Kitano’s sonata.

You can watch the trailer and this seven-minute vignette of Quentin Tarantino speaking of the film and the works of Takeshi Kitano on You Tube.

You can stream Sonatine on Amazon Prime and Vudu.

You can learn more about Quentin Tarantino’s Rolling Thunder-imprint with our “The 8 Films of Quentin Tarantino’s Rolling Thunder Pictures” featurette.

— R.D Francis writes for B&S About Movies.

Boris Karloff: The Man Behind The Monster (2021)

Thomas Hamilton, who directed this movie and co-wrote it with Ron MacCloskey* (also the writer of Karloff and Me), had a big task when making this movie. Horror fans love Boris Karloff, so what new things can we learn about someone that we know so much about? And is what we know merely his roles and not the real man behind the mask?

To tell the story, there’s a tremendous cast of people on hand, everyone from Caroline Munro, Christopher Plummer, Stefanie Powers, Lee Grant and Ron Perlman to Guillermo del Toro, Peter Bogdonovich (who directed what Karloff wanted to be his last film Targets) and John Landis. Oh there’s more — Roger Corman, Jack Hill, Joe Dante, Leonard Martin, Donald Glut and even Bela Lugosi Jr. and Sara Karloff.

I learned from this film the fact that Karloff — born William Henry Pratt — was an Anglo-Indian who dealt with prejudice for his looks and a family scandal, two subjects that he would never discussed. Or that he struggled until 1931’s The Criminal Code, a Howard Hawks movie, and of course Frankenstein.

Even before he was a star, he was once waiting for the bus in the pouring rain and was picked up and given a ride by an actor he didn’t know: Lon Chaney Sr., who told him “to find something different that will set you apart and is different from anything someone else has done or is willing to do and do it better.” At the time, Karloff was working backbreaking — literally — manual labor jobs to subsidize his family when acting wasn’t paying.

Karloff acted in eighty movies before the “overnight success” that came from being discoverd by James Whale and cast in Frankenstein. The part may have typecast him for life, but Karloff even had the opportunity to play Broadway in Arsenic and Old Lace and played non-monster roles for Val Lewton in The Body SnatcherBedlam and Isle of the DeadKarloff said Lewton had the man “rescued him from the living dead and restored his soul.”

Beyond a litany of the roles that Karloff played so well — TV like Thriller, Bava’s Black Sabbath, Michael Reeves’ The Sorcerers, Corman’s The Raven, the voice of the Grinch, the Jack Hill directed Mexican films Isle of the Snake People, The Incredible Invasion, Fear Chamber and House of Evil and many more — the film shows you who Karloff was as a person, including a moving appearance on This Is Your Life.

There’s so much more to discover — how Karloff felt about the Fu Manchu movies, the fact that he wasn’t even invited to the premiere of Frankenstein, the pain he was in at the end of his life yet how he could still turn it on and perform — in this delightful movie. A man that didn’t become a scar until 44, who overcame racism, a lisp and the tough world of Hollywood rejection was able to become not just a star, but a legend.

Trust me — this is more than recommended watching.

*McCloskey travelled internationally to conduct research for the documentary for over a period of 23 years!

You can watch this exclusively on Shudder and learn more at the official site.

Sonatine (1993)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a freelance ghostwriter of personal memoirs and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit https://www.jennuptonwriter.com or send her a Tweet @Jennxld

In Sonatine (1993), Takeshi Kitano plays Murakawa, a tired Yakuza who is sent to Okinawa with his cohorts to calm a gang feud, which turns out to be a ruse for his boss to take over his territory in Tokyo. The movement of the group of men from the city to a rural location moves the violent gangsters into a state of regressive childhood, allowing for Kitano to explore the theme of identity via travel and humour. Their journey begins with a group shot of the men sitting on a bus waiting to leave the airport in Naha. Not only do they resemble school boys on a field trip with blank, bored expressions on their faces, seated geometrically, but their Yakuza connection who greets them goes so far as to offer them drinks and ice cream, looking very much like a school trip chaperone in his T-shirt and baseball cap. 

Symbolically, this is the beginning of the journey into the final stage of life for the men, which at once is signified by their being represented as children. It’s a theme Kitano would explore again in 1999’s far warmer Kikujiro. 

Once they arrive at the beach house, which serves as the primary location for the rest of the film, the men engage in child’s play acting out Sumo tournaments and having pretend gunfights with fireworks. In this location, at least temporarily, the men are free from the violence of their urban lives as gangsters and in what is effectively a holding pattern, waiting for something to happen between their superiors (the symbolic parents), free to play at their leisure. Unlike Kikujiro, which has a happy ending, Sonatine ends with violent acts of revenge and death. Kitano is a hell of a director, having more than earned the international awards won for this film. 

Delinquent Girl Boss: Worthless to Confess (1971)

The fourth film in this series has a similar set-up to Delinquent Girl Boss: Blossoming Girl Dreams, with Reiko Oshida’s Rika getting out of reform school and working for the mechanic father of one of her classmates, who is of course being muscled in on by the Yakuza. Have they learned nothing from the other movies?

The end of this film, where the five female leads wear red overcoats and literally walk in high fashion to the mob boss’ lair with the soundtrack blaring was taken and used by Assassination Nation, but trust me, this movie is a billion times cooler than that film can ever dream of being.

Obviously, reform school has only made Rika tougher, but also more concerned about her friends, her community and others, while the Yakuza only wants to take everything they can. That’s why she’s a hero, even if the world only sees her as a girl that needs tamed.

These films in no way get close to the excesses of this genre, but are certainly worthy of your time.

Meatball Machine (2005)

Yūdai Yamaguchi keeps showing up on our site, but when you make movies like Battlefield Baseball and Versus, you get as many entries as you want.

Based on the 1999 film written, produced and directed by Jun’ichi Yamamoto (who co-directed this) and featuring effects by Yoshihiro Nishimura (Kataude Mashin GâruKyûketsu Shôjo tai Shôjo Furanken), this film has two geeky would-be lovers who never really get together, as Sachiko ends up penetrated not by Yōji, but by the NecroBorg in his room. Instead of the love that they wanted to experience, they must battle to the death, and by battle to the death, I mean a war that explodes viscera and blood and meat and organs all over the place.

As a kid, I always dreamed of getting to transform into something better, like Ultraman, but the reality would probably be that I’d be one of these gory creations, battling for the joy of some high pitched alien floating in space that can’t wait to eat me.

This isn’t the kind of movie I’d watch on a first date, unless you’ve found a partner that likes movies that have ten minute long grossout fights and try to make Tetsuo into something directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis. And if you find them, keep that unicorn and treat them like the magical and special royalty they assuredly are.

You can watch this on Tubi.

 

Another Heaven (2000)

Tough old cop Inspector Tobitaga (Yoshio Harada) and young Inspector Manabu (Yosuke Eguchi) are on the case of brutal murders that start with a missing brain being found boiling in a stew and everything just gets weirder from there, because the killer can change bodies, so he or she can be anyone.

It’s a great idea — see The Hidden and Fallen — and this would be a much better movie with some trimming. I mean, 130 minutes is a long time and I apologize for my attention span, but I wanted a little more.

That said, the call girl killer for the first half of the film is quite sinister, packing plenty of murderous intensity into her small size. Between this and Audition, I imagine that Western boys who are obsessed with Japanese girls will always have horrible death in the back of their heads.

Why Don’t You Play In Hell? (2013)

How much do you love cinema? Are you willing, like the threesome known as the Fuck Bombers in this movie, willing to put your life on the line to film real violence in the guise of creating a good movie? Will you be like the crime boss Ikegami, who is so obsessed by samurai films that he turns his gang’s base into a castle and forces everyone to wear costumes? Or would you be Sasaki, a man who other see as potentially the next Bruce Lee?

Why Don’t You Play In Hell? finds the Fuck Bombers separated ten years after their failed prayer to the God of Cinema, hoping to finally make a movie they can be proud of.

In the past, a mob boss named Muto defeated a home invasion, killing everyone but Ikegami. Now so many years later, they have both gained followers and are destined to battle one another, as the Fuck Bombers have the destiny of capturing it all on film.

Here’s to director and writer Sion Sono, someone who is so willing to make it great while keeping it weird as it gets. I get the feeling that much like his heroes in this film, he is willing to die to create something that pleases the God of Cinema.

We should all love movies. We should all be willing to die for them, but as you will discover, Fuck Bombers never die.

You can watch this on Tubi.