Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (2010)

As stated in our previous review of Cha Cha starring Herman Brood, Nina Hagen, and Lene Lovich, your enjoyment of this (admittedly) pretentious “art house” flick hinges on your appreciation of the music of Ian Dury (which, I’ll admit, is an acquired taste for U.S ears raised on the commercial, new wave refrains of America’s the Knack and the Cars and the U.K.’s the Police and Gary Numan), the world’s first disabled “rock star.”

If you were lucky enough to have a college radio station in your area or frequented the then trendy, big city new wave clubs of the times, then you’re probably familiar with Ian Dury’s most memorable album hits of “Sweet Gene Vincent” and “Billericay Dickie,” but you’ve surely heard his hit singles “Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick” and “Reasons to Be Cheerful, Part 3” with the Blockheads in a TV series, film, or video game in recent years. The title of this bioflick is, of course, derived from Dury’s biggest selling and most memorable single, 1977’s “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll.” And while MTV ignored Dury’s catalog, the burgeoning video channel embraced the music of ex-Blockheads Chaz Jankel and turned his single “Questionnaire” into a minor U.S radio hit (watch the MTV video link, you’ll remember it).

So, in regards to the “art house” aspects of the film: Don’t go into this expecting a fluid, commercialized Tinsteltown chronicle on Dury’s life, ala Ray (Ray Charles), Walk the Line (Johnny Cash), or What’s Love Got to Do With It (Tina Turner). In lieu of a traditional, chronological narrative (that’s punctuated with animated segments and kinetic editing typical of an arty, indie film), Dury (a fantastic Andy Serkis — who you know as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and as Ceasar in the Planet of the Apes reboot series) appears as a colorful, brash carnival barker, telling his own life story from the concert stage via a series of flashback (e.g., his wife gives birth to his child upstairs, while he’s telling his story on a club stage; of how, as a child, he contracted polio from a swimming pool and was bullied for his leg brace; of how he met Jankel backstage at Kilburn and the High Roads (Dury’s band prior to forming the Blockheads with Jankel) gig, etc.).

Dury would go on to become an actor in his own right, with roles with in several British films and television series. Here, in the U.S., you’ve most likely seen Dury in Bob Dylan’s 1987 box office bust Hearts of Fire (hopefully, we’ll get to that one for “Rock ‘n’ Roll Week”), The Cook, the Theif, His Wife & Her Lover (I dragged my date to see that one at an art house theatre because of Dury; she hated it, but of course), but you definitely saw Dury in the sci-fi flicks Split Second with Rutger Hauer (1992), Judge Dredd (1995), and The Crow: City of Angels (1996).

You can watch Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll as a free-with-ads-stream on TubiTv; if you’d prefer an ad-free experience, it’s available on You Tube Movies. You can also get all of the music of Ian Dury you could possibly need — featuring album tracks, videos, and live performances — over on his official You Tube page. You can also catch Dury at the top of his game with his 1978 appearance on the live German television rock program Rockpalast (aka “Rock Palace,” a Euro-version of U.S TV’s The Midnight Special), also on You Tube.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S Movies.

Groupie (2010)

And the stars align at B&S Movies once again . . . courtesy of our propreitor, Sam, coming up with the idea of back-to-back “Mark L. Lester” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll”* tribute weeks. So this direct-to-video/streaming outing from the “director of Commando” . . . and our beloved redneck romps Steel Arena, Truck Stop Women, Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw . . . and Roller Boogie . . . and The Funhouse . . . and Class of 1984 . . . and 1999 . . . and Firestarter is the prefect closing transition to our tribute week to all things Mark and our start of all things rock n’ punk! This time out, Lester only directs and leaves the writing to prolific SyFy and Lifetime Channel producer (Lester’s wife) Dana Dubovsky (Sand Sharks, Pterodactyl).

Taking its scripting cues from Great White’s tragic 2003 performance at The Station night club in Rhode Island** (which also served as fodder for “Blaze,” a 2003 “ripped from the headlines” episode of NBC-TV’s Law & Order: TOS that starred John Doe of X as “Teddy Connor,” the leader of the once great Wotan), Travis Bellamy (Hal Ozsan) and Dark Knights (think Buck Cherry’s “Lit Up” and “Crazy Bitch” colliding with Jet’s “Cold Hard Bitch“) love their pyrotechnics — and that love of the flame is what put them on top: Travis sets himself on fire amid a wall of sparks for the band’s encores. . . .

Oops. The club goes up in flames — and a 16-year-old (male) fan is trampled in the ensuing chaos.

Fast forward a year later: Dark Knights are cleared from any wrong doing and back on the road; but without the pyro-gimmicks, the ticket and albums sales are down and manager Eric Roberts (who produces; and is in this one a lot longer than most the films of his 500-plus resume) is urging Travis to “bring back the flames.”

. . . And in steps — instead of a Lifetime movie-inspired psycho babysitter or student or a long-lost “kidnapped” daughter or an orphaned niece infiltrating the family and tempting the emotionally flawed dad — an “innocent” groupie (Taryn Manning of Eminem’s 8 Mile and the Oscar nominated Cold Mountain) who begins to (bloodless and boringly) dispatch press agents, groupies, Eric Roberts (Lone Star Deception), and band members one by one.

Since this rock flick comes from the competent lens of Mark L. Lester, a man who’s blessed me with so many great films during my duplex-triplex theatre and video store youth, I really wanted to get lost in this horror-tinged murder mystery — in the same multiple-watches vein as Ash Avildsen’s intelligence rock n’ horror flick, American Satan (2017). And while Groupie isn’t utterly awful, this probably was going for the feel of Mark Wahlberg’s major studio rock romp, Rock Star (2001), as a slasher flick (with a crazy Jennifer Aniston performance), but it ends up being undone by its against-the-budget set and production design that leaves it meandering one step above a TV movie. (And if not for Lester and Roberts on the marquee — others have name-checked Taryn Manning — I wouldn’t have hit the big red streaming button at all.) I was hoping for some supernatural hocus pocus; e.g., the dead male fan returns as a female for revenge, ala The Wraith. Denied. We got a Hand that Rocks the Cradle twist instead.

Does Lester’s behind-the-camera’s eye and sense of tight pacing (this clocks in at a brisk 78-minutes) make for a more effectively-produced rock ‘n’ horror flick than say, Ferd and Beverly Sebastian’s Rocktober Blood (1984) — which, unlike Groupie, has no “second act” at all — absolutely. However, unlike Groupie, Rocktober Blood lends for repeat viewings because it gives us Billy Eye Harper in his face-painted and ghoul-masked glory, along with memorable, original tunes by Sorcery belted by Nigel Benjamin.

Perhaps if Groupie had the budgetary and creative confluence of American Satan and Rock Star — along with a few more boob shots, blood and, say, the retro-cum-modern rock sounds of Greta Van Fleet standing in for a Sammi Curr-styled rocker (Trick or Treat) fronting Dark Nights — we’d give Travis Bellamy some bow-to-the-alter-of Billy Eye worship. (Or even John Doe’s Teddy Connor and Wotan — who didn’t sing or play a note to achieve their faux band stardom.)

So while the film around him spins nothing we haven’t heard before from the rock n’ murder jukebox’s crackling speakers, Hal Ozsan (who you’ll recall in the early-2000’s final two seasons of Dawson’s Creek) shines (he’s the best part of the film) as trouble rocker Travis Bellamy — courtesy of his L.A. based band, Poets & Pornstars, providing the music for Dark Knights. You’ve probably seen Ozsan’s band live during their U.S opening slots for the revamped Alice In Chains (sans the late Layne Staley), the 21st century reinvigorated Bon Jovi, and modern rockers Muse. These days, Hal’s hung up his six strings to concentrate on his newly cast role as “Ryan Porter” on CBS-TV’s NCIS: New Orleans.

Check out this playlist of Poets & Pornstars’ 2007 second album; you can learn more about their albums on Discogs.

Groupie is readily available in the online marketplace as a DVD for your rock ‘n’ roll flick collection, but we found a free (with ads) copy over on Roku’s online streaming platform. There also a free (sign in) no-ads stream on Vudu and PPV streams on Amazon Prime, Google Play, and You Tube.

And for Tayrn Manning fans: She stars in another indie rock flick with the always awesome Peter Fonda (the wise ex-rocker), along with Jason Ritter (the troubled rocker) and Lucas Haas (the intrepid journalist), in the pseudo-cliched “road movie” The Perfect Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll (2010), a crossroad where the legends of the “27 Club” meets Eddie and the Cruisers with the dramatic arc and production quality of the rock flicks Almost Famous (based on the downfall of Humble Pie) and Still Crazy (based on the ’80s Animals reunion). Sorry, no freebies on this one, kids. You can check it out as a VOD on Amazon Prime (where it pulls 4 to 5 stars and a 91% approval), Apple iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, and You Tube Movies.

* Don’t forget! July 19 to the 25 is “Rock ‘n’ Roll Week,” and we’ve got some great, deep obscurities to rock you all week long!

* Be sure to check out out review of the Providence, Rhode Island-shot rock-radio flick, “A Matter of Degrees,” which was part of last October’s Scarecrow Video’s “Psychotronic Challenge.”

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

Blackaria (2010)

Francois Gaillard and Christophe Robin must be big Danzig fans, as their arty French neo-giallo films often reference his albums, whether it be the solo instrumental album this one is named for, the Samhain song that inspired All Murder, All Guts, All Fun, The Misfits song Last Caress or Die Die My Darling, which in turn was named for the 1965 Hammer movie.

Angela fantasizes about the gorgeous fortune teller who lives next to her. She dreams of what it would be like to touch her, but soon finds her decimated body. She accidentally breaks a crystal ball, which gives her the ability to see the future. But will it protect her from being the next victim?

This movie may have been made in the style of the giallo, but it doesn’t have the story to back it up. Let’s back up — yes, most giallo movies actually do have plots and are not formless exercises in style. This looks gorgeous, but it is inevitably empty inside.

Also, much like all giallo, my wife walked in at the exact moment that two nude women were making love. How am I still married?

MacGruber (2010)

Directed by The Lonely Island’s Jorma Taccone, MacGruber does what all SNL  films do: stretch a short segment into a full movie. However, because this movie has a rich history of spy films and MacGyver to make fun of, it does much better than most.

Star Will Forte would tell The A.V. Club, “What you see with this movie is exactly what we wanted to do. It’s the three of us having a bunch of fun writing it, then having fun making it with a bunch of our friends—old friends and new friends. I think that fun comes across when you watch it. It’s rare that you get that kind of creative freedom.”

Basically, MacGruber is the greatest secret agent of all time, but he’s been retired ever since his archnemesis Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer) killed his wife (Maya Rudolph) on his wedding day. Of course, he comes back. And oh yes, as I always say, hijinks ensue.

WWE wrestlers Chris Jericho, The Big Show, Mark Henry, Kane, MVP and The Great Khali appeared in this movie as past agents that have worked with MacGruber, which led to Forte, Ryan Phillippe and Kristen Wiig hosting Monday Night Raw. And one of the henchmen is remake Jason, Derek Mears.

I’m for any movie that has Powers Boothe as an authority figure and Kilmer as a villain who ends up getting his hand chopped off, machine gunned, blown up real good and then, as MacGruber prepares to marry the love of his life, pissed on.

There’s going to be a series of this on the NBC Peacock streaming service. I can’t wait. Hopefully it’s as much fun as this movie.

Strangely enough — and this feels like complete BS because there’s no attribution on IMDB — Kilmer and Forte almost ended up being on Amazing Race as a team, as Kilmer later stayed at Forte’s house for a few months after this movie and they became such friends that they watched the show all the time together.

Monster: The Josef Fritzl Story (2010)

In this sickening story, Elisabeth Fritz tells the story of how her father Josef kept her locked in a cellar for 24 years, during which time she gave birth to seven incestuous children before she was eventually freed from a life of beatings, rape and torture,

This is not the strangest tale director David Notman-Watt has created. He also did a TV show with former Happy Mondays frontman, Shaun Ryder, who was abducted by aliens when he was 15 and traveled the world to meet others who had been taken by UFOs.

This is a rough tale, but if you enjoy true crime, you can watch it on YouTube.

 

The Other Guys (2010)

Between AnchormanStepbrothers and The Campaign, Adam McKay has made plenty of funny films with Will Ferrell, who stars in this with Mark Wahlberg. Points for Samuel Jackson and Dwayne Johnson playing against type here in a movie where two desk cops learn how to be the kind of supercops you only see on TV.

Allen Gamble and Terry “Yankee Clipper” Hoitz — called because he shot Derek Jeter and cost the team the World Series — are up against the villainous Sir David Ershon (Steve Coogan) in this one. It’s very much a hijinks ensue type of film, but I really enjoyed Michael Keaton as their Captain, Eva Mendes as Allen’s wife and Ice-T as the narrator.

Wrestling fans will be happy to know that Billy Gunn and Road Dogg show up, too.

I had fun with this one, as it’s written and edited really well. Your enjoyment of it depends on how much you like the leads, but it got a lot of laughs here.

Midnight FM (2010)

Ko Sun-Young is an arrogant celebrity DJ on the last two hours of her final overnight shift on a highly-rated radio station. While popular with the listeners, Sun-Young also has her detractors for being “too American” in her tastes and, instead of talking up Korean movies and K-Pop, she’s all about the music of Leonard Cohen and the movies of Martin Scorsese. So it’s no surprise Sun-Young’s decided to move to her beloved America for a groundbreaking medical treatment to cure her young daughter’s neck injury-induced mutism.

Not if her biggest fan can help it.

Someone’s invaded Sun-Young’s home and holds her daughter and sister hostage and forces her to play a deadly question-and-answers game based on the history of her show. And every wrong answer results in a gruesome pain inflicted on her loved ones. Sun-Young is also instructed to play songs featured on past shows and to recreate the introductions verbatim-by-memory.

Now that’s a radio studio! It’s all about the technical details. That, along with great acting, cinematography, and directing and you have a ratings winner.

The best “Americanized” references to guide your viewing on Midnight FM would be Jodie Foster’s Panic Room meets Colin Ferrell’s Phone Booth—only the “room/booth” is the confines of a radio studio. Unlike most Korean thrillers that opt for extreme graphic violence, Midnight FM (Simya-ui FM in its homeland) opts for some good old fashioned, American-styled cat-and-mouse games of the film noir variety between the secret admirer and victim (thus the victim’s love of American film and music). You may also reflect back to the J-Horror hits Pulse (2001) and One Missed Call (2008), only this time the tormenting calls aren’t from the beyond.

You can rent the subtitled version of Midnight FM on Google Play, Vudu, and You Tube Movies. There’s a free version—without subtitles—on Vimeo. There’s also a four-part free version—with subtitles—on the Korean TV Facebook page.

About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook.

Strange Nature: Monster Wolf (2010)

A creature of ancient legend manifests, bound to protect the ecological balance of the land as well as kill anyone that threatens it. This elusive guardian is both feared and celebrated by the locals. However, a deadly curse soon impacts them all, uniting them with the goal of recapturing the monster wolf’s spirit or facing their ultimate doom.

The film was part of Syfy’s 31 Days of Halloween 2010 and premiered on Syfy October 9, 2010.

Yeah, you know how it is for oil workers. You try to find a new place to drill, set off an explosion and unleash a wolf-like creature that kills all of your co-workers. Time to fill out an incident report!

Director Todor Chapkanov has worked second unit on big films like The Hitman’s Bodyguard and London Has Fallen. This was written by Charles Bolon, who was also behind Swamp Shark.

Robert Picardo, who played Eddie Quist in The Howling, is now ironically facing off with a werewolf in this one. This movie is in no way as good as that film, but I’m sure you already guessed that.

Mill Creek Entertainment’s Savage Nature set has this movie and three other films all about the evil side of Mother Nature. You also get a code for all four films on their MovieSPREE service. Want to see it for yourself? Then grab a copy right here.

You can also watch this on Amazon Prime.

DISCLAIMER: This movie was sent to us by Mill Creek Entertainment.

Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010)

Written, directed, and produced by James Nguyen, this is a tale of romance and, well, software development as birds descend on humanity. He’d also direct the films Julie and JackReplice and Birdemic 2: The Resurrection. There were plans to make the third film in the series, Birdemic 3: Sea Eagle, but it only raised one percent of its goal on Indiegogo and Kickstarter.

This film cost $10,000. Before you see it, you may wonder how that was possible. After you watch it, you’ll wonder where the money went.

Rod, a Silicon Valley software salesman, and Nathalie, an aspiring fashion model, are living a charmed life. His bonus allows him to start his own business, she’s become a Victoria’s Secret model and they both are in love with each other. However, the signs of the end of the world are all around them, with unexplained wildfires and dead birds washing up on beaches.

After a night of passion, Rod and Nathalie wake up to find that their town is under attack from acid-spitting and constantly exploding eagles and vultures. Joining up with an ex-Marine named Ramsey, his girlfriend Becky and two orphans named Susan and Tony, they go from town to town battling birds.

Finally, Rod and Nathalie make their way to a small beach, where our hero battles the birds one more time until doves show up to drive them off. It turns out that the birds want to have peace and decide to give humanity a second chance to fix the environment.

It’d help if the birds weren’t all the same bird, just endlessly and lifelessly rotating in space, oblivious to reality. Then again, no moment of this film feels rooted in the world that we live in.

During filming, Nguyen instructed Whitney Moore (Nathalie) not to socialize with her costar Alan Bagh (Rod) after filming. He also shot without permits and the crew was often kicked out of locations while in the middle of scenes. Nguyen would often flip out at people while filming, which led to Moore telling him not to yell and him refusing to talk to her or direct her for three weeks.

To promote the finished movie, Nguyen took the movie to Sundance, handing out flyers from a van that was covered with stuffed birds and a paper sign that read BIDEMIC.COM (yes, he spelled the name of his own movie incorrectly) and WHY DID THE EAGLES AND VULTURES ATTACKED before premiering the movie at a bar. This caught the eye of Severin Films, who distributed the film. You can grab a copy at their site, while you’re at it.

Tippi Hedren — from the original version of The Birds — appears in the film, but only on a TV via footage from Nguyen’s Julie and Jack.

This is an absolutely ridiculous film and as such, I love it. It’s pretty amazing that one man’s vision — of birds attacking the world as inspired by Hitchcock and Al Gore — went this far.

If you want to watch this, its on Tubi and Amazon Prime. It helps to watch it with Rifftrax help, though. You can also find that streaming for free on Tubi and Amazon Prime.

Houses of Hell: Mask Maker (2010)

A lucky couple hits the jackpot when they purchase a 19th-century plantation home for way less than it’s worth. Determined to get rich quick, they invite their friends up for the weekend to celebrate, but of course, the former residents of the house haven’t left yet. Whoops! Looks like everyone is about to fight for their lives!

Shorter and more to the point: A young and deformed boy witnesses his mother’s death, which ensures that for the rest of his life, he will come back to take revenge on anyone who dares enter his property.

This movie follows the tried and true method of having actors like Terry Kiser (Bernie Lomax!), Michael Berryman (Pluto!) and Treat Williams (umm, Xander Drax?) who draw the eye of those who recognize their names or love horror films, then carry the action with younger people.

Originally made as Maskerade, this has what you’re looking for, if what you’re looking for would be thirty-year-old actors playing college students who are all getting killed with an ax. I mean, sometimes, I am looking for that.

This is one of four movies on Mill Creek Entertainment’s Houses of Hell set. It’s an affordable way to get some scares that you may not have seen otherwise. Plus, you get a free code to save these movies digitally on Mill Creek’s MovieSPREE! site. For more information, check out their site.

This movie is also on Amazon Prime.

DISCLAIMER: This was sent to us by Mill Creek Entertainment.