APRIL MOVIE THON DAY 16: The Runaways (2010)

Based on the book Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway by the band’s lead vocalist Cherie Currie, I thought this movie just wouldn’t work, but it had to age before I watched it. Post-Twilight it felt like sacrilege to have Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett, but now it feels right.

Director Floria Sigismondi made the music videos for “The Beautiful People” by Marilyn Manson, “Obstacle 1” by Interpol and multiple videos for Bowie and Sigur Ros, so she understands rock and roll. And while this movie moves pretty quick through the history of the band, she succeeded in her goal of making it a coming of age story more than a biography. I really like the look of the film as well, as it moves from a colorful world to darkness by the end with each major moment having a slightly different look that never distracts from the whole of the movie.

Cherie Currie praised Dakota Fanning for her performance in the film, but obviously realized that so much of the book wouldn’t be filmed. She said, “My book is the real story. This is just a lighter kind of flash of what The Runaways were for a specific amount of time. How do you possibly take two and a half years and make it a film that’s an hour and a half, and make it even closely touch what was truly going on?”

As for Joan Jett, she felt that it captured 1970s Los Angeles.

Along with Stella Maeve as Sandy West, Scout Taylor-Compton as Lita Ford and Alia Shawkat as Robin Robins (Jacqueline Fuchs would not allow her name or image to be used in the movie), the girls start the film in the shadow of Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon), who sees himself as the creative force behind the band, which may be true at first, but so many of his mental games just end up destroying what he’s started.

It’s not perfect, but if it allows one person to discover the real music, isn’t that a great thing?

Kyonyū doragon: Onsen zonbi vs sutorippaa 5 (2010)

At the unsuccessful gentlemen’s club Paradise Ikagawa Theatre, there’s Ginko, as well a goth girl named Maria who likes slicing herself and reading occult books, as well as Lena (Sola Aoi, one of the most famous AV idols of the 2000), who can tell you fortune and Darna, who just wants to see her family.

The girls get invited to perform at a neighboring spa whose owner recently committed suicide, which makes this immediately sound like a bad idea, as well as the fact that they’re shamed into using the back door. Lena gets drunk and sleeps with the wrong man, which upsets Ginko, and their fight ends up revealing a Well of Spirits where Darna finds money and Maria finds a very Sam Raimi-like Book of the Dead, but none of the spells work. Except that suddenly, all of the sushi starts coming back to life.

Soon, zombies have taken over the streets of Ikagawa and Maria has become their queen through a combination of candy and flashing them her breasts. I mean, say what you will about insane Japanese movies, but this is how every goth girl I’ve ever met got me to do things I wouldn’t do for millions of dollars.

This was based on the manga Kyonyû doragon and is just as ridiculous as it sounds.

And yes, I totally watched a movie called Big Tits Dragon: Hot Spring Zombie Vs. Stripper 5.

Bloodline: Vengeance From Beyond (2010)

Fifteen years ago, Sandra lost her twin sister Giulia in the woods — they have twin telepathy — but after Sandra steps into a bear trap, Giulia is killed by a serial killer named The Surgeon. Years later, he kills himself and takes away any chance that Sandra would ever be reunited with her sibling when he killed himself and took his secrets with him.

Now, she’s a reporter and her partner Marco joins her as they shoot a behind the scenes feature of Klaus Kinki’s latest adult film, which just so happens to be shot at the mansion that once belonged to The Surgeon.

Sandra feels that this will be a way to get over her sister’s death, Marco discovers that he may have a future in porn and oh yeah, the murders start all over again. And perhaps Sandra keeps seeing her sister’s ghost. Then Sandra finds Giulia’s body. So yes, The Surgeon may be back, but now his victims come back from the dead.

Is the movie just an adult film? Or has Kinki decided to start making snuff? Is Giulia’s ghost on her sister’s side? How did The Surgeon survive? Or is it a copycat? Man, a lot of questions!

A post-Filmirage Italian movie that feels like it belongs in the 80s in the best of ways, this even has gore from Sergio Stivaletti and music from Claudio Simonetti and this all pleases me. My quest to find horror made in this century from Italy continues!

SLASHER MONTH: Black Rat (2010)

Directed by Kenta Fukasaku, the son of Battle Royale director Kinji Fukasaku, this movie starts with a girl named Asuka wearing a rat mask and committing suicide by leaping off the roof of her school. 49 days later, a note brings her classmates together to be confronted by what seems to be her ghost.

But who does the mask belong to? Can it belong to more than one person? And will any of the students survive to see the next school bell?

I have to say, I’ve never seen a more adorable killer, a girl who loved to smile and who now leaves stickers and smiley faces on her revenge notes. Also, killing someone who doesn’t get a perfect score in karaoke is totally the modus operandi of a Japanese schoolgirl slasher.

It’s only 76 minutes long, which if you ask me, is the perfect length for a movie like this. Also, more scooters should blow up in films.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Tron: Legacy (2010)

One of the few things that never rang true to me about Tron was that Flynn ends up as a CEO. Luckily, Tron: Legacy fixed that by telling us what happened next, all while keeping up the Tron legacy of being a hyped big deal and then not being seen by anyone except those that it was intended for before becoming a cult film that few talk about — if a $170 million movie can be a cult movie, that is.

Screenwriter Adam Horowitz, who wrote the story along with Edward Kitsistold, told Collider, “For us, it was if we’re going to revisit this movie and try to take it forward, we’re the children of Tron. We grew up on it. It informed us. It really helped shape us and get us excited about the possibilities of technology and film and all that stuff. It’s one of the reasons we’re doing what we’re doing – so in that way its like how can we approach this movie in a way that as writers we have an emotional entry point ourselves.”

The writers and director Joseph Kosinski — who made the Gears of War “Mad World” commercial and who will also direct the sequel to Top Gun — had to answer this question: ” In a post-Matrix world, how do you go back to the world of Tron?”

Where the first film glorified the world inside a computer, this film went in a different direction. To wit: finding the humanity that lives within a digital world.

I love that the first hints of this film appeared when tokens to Flynn’s Arcade were sent out and a site claimed that Kevin Flynn is alive, even though he has been missing since 1989. At San Diego Comic Con, a real Flynn’s was open and a rebooted light cycle was on display. I couldn’t wait until this film debuted with all this hype.

Twenty years after Flynn disappeared, his son Sam is ENCOM’s primary shareholder and he uses whatever power he has by releasing the company’s signature operating system online for free. Even though ENCOM executive Alan Bradley — who is Tron in the other world — approves of this, Sam is arrested.

A pager sends Sam a message to visit the dusty old Flynn’s Arcade, where he’s blasted into the video game grid just like his father. This brings him into conflict with the new MCP named Clu, as well as meeting his father’s apprentice Quorra.

I’m easy to please when it comes to Tron. All I needed was to see Daft Punk — who composed the score — show up as the DJs at the End of Line Club, the same place where original Tron creator and director Steven Lisberger appears as a bartender named Shaddix. And I adore that this movie ends with the digital world coming into our own, while lamenting that this is where the story — for now — ends.

SHARK WEAK: Sharktopus (2010)

Yes, this is just the first in the Sharktopus saga, followed by Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda and Sharktopus vs. Whalewolf, all produced by Roger Corman for SyFy.

In Caribbean folklore, the Lusca is a type of sea monster said to exist near Andros, an island in the Bahamas, that is half dragon, half octopus. That’s what inspired S-11, an intelligent shark with the arms of an octopus because, well, science. The science of Dr. Nathan Sands, who is played by Eric Roberts, so instantly this movie has won me over.

This is also a shark with a computer brain and no sense of paternal love, so you know that it’s going to make a meal of the man who once contended for Oscars and now appears in every streaming movie released that Nicholas Cage refuses.

Sharktopus was directed by Declan O’Brien, who made the sequels for The Marine, Wrong Turn and Joy Ride.

Speaking of science, Sharktopus has tentacles instead of fins. So how does it get thrust in the water (also, I have no idea what Sharktopus’ pronouns are, my apologies)? After all, octopi — thanks to an intrepid IMDB user for pointing this out — use the siphon under their heads to push themselves through the ocean. Also, sharks — contrary to the psychic monster in Jaws: The Revenge — cannot make barking noises. They also have gills to breathe underwater, but Sharkopus spends most of its time on land.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Dream Home (2010)

We just bought a new house and let me tell you, if Becca had gone through what Cheng Lai-sheung goes through in this movie, she would have killed numerous folks too.

She has promised her parents — who were forced to move from their homes to make way for luxury real estate when she was a child — that she would get them a home some day. She’s already missed the opportunity to give her mother this gift, as she has died, but as her father is on his death bed, she has the goal of purchasing the Victoria Bay No. 1 high-rise.

The bank will only give her 70% of the money she needs and her father’s medical bills cost so much that she must take a second job, as those costs cut into her savings. Even her married lover refuses to help, so Lai-sheng allows her father to die one night so that the dream can come true.

Despite finally qualifying for the home, the owners raise the price again, at which point our heroine kills eleven people in a frenzy before cooly returning to work and demanding that the price be cut, as after all, who would want to live in a place where so many have died?

Josie Ho, who is Lai-sheung in this, decided that she wanted to make something as wild as Riki-Oh: The Story of Riki while director and writer Pang Ho-cheung wanted something a bit more in the realm of reality. The outcome? Someone fainted and two people threw up during its Italian premiere, which is pretty much a standing ovation in my mind.

SON OF KAIJU DAY MARATHON: Banglar King Kong (2010)

Banglar King Kong is how the filmmakers of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh see Kong and let me tell you, there is no way that American audiences are prepared for this.

There are times within the film where footage looks thirty years old and as if it played numerous times in drive-ins through the southwest, with pops and lines and dust all over the film. And then there are moments when it appears to be video, mostly for the music numbers. Music numbers? Yes, Banglar King Kong is packed with them. And finally, there are moments where old school greenscreen and evil Photshopped stills with Ken Burns effect on them are used. It’s like a remixed multimedia film with the budget of a trip to the grocery store and every moment is astounding.

Somehow, this movie has a running time of two hours and twenty-three minutes but I didn’t notice. My wife walked in for a bit, saw Kong and said, “This is upsetting. This movie is the kind of thing that I don’t want to watch.”

This is a film where people wear black leather ensembles to a jungle adventure. The Fay Wray in this is curvy and has a splash fight with a guy in this that looks like it got out of hand and the camera never cuts away. And when Kong starts stomping on buildings before going to see stock footage of a carnival that had to be filmed decades ago, it only got better.

Sure, the theme from Gladiator is in this, the buildings go from rear projection to cardboard cutouts and remote control cars are used. But it has a real Kong mask that I assume that Amazon delivered to make this film happen and stock footage of explosions and human fistfights mixed with Kong going wild in a city and sometimes, the jump cuts are so nonsensical that they challenge even my brain.

At one point, I thought that the directing style of Çetin İnanç took a mindset shift that permanently broke my ability to watch movies the same way ever again. I can happily report that this movie does the very same thing, as time, place, scene, pacing and camera angles do not matter any more. This feels like it was assembled from the ghosts of a hundred other movies and the dream of making one, a blockbuster version of King Kong unlike any seen before or since.

The copy I found on YouTube has long stretches where artifacted video breaks into the picture and the sound struggles to keep up with it. There’s also a scene at the end where the Fay Wray character hugs a reverse projection of the big dead ape and she just stands there with her arms open.

I couldn’t love this movie any more that I do.

Please watch it on YouTube.

Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore (2010)

Herschell Gordon Lewis has informed both sides of my life, from his work in direct marketing teaching me the ways of marketing and his propensity toward making shameless exploitation showing me the ways of the world.

Directed by Frank Henenlotter (Basket Case) and Jimmy Maslon, this film takes you through the life of Lewis with the man himself speaking throughout. Plus, nearly everyone alive that had worked in his movies shows up and you also get to hear from John Waters and Joe Bob Briggs.

While this movie concentrates on the gore that everyone knows the man for, it also takes time to show his nudie-cuties, hillbilly and biker films, as well as delving into his love of fried chicken, which he made sure was on every single set. In fact, Colonel Sanders even shows up in Blast-Off Girls.

Sure, the movies of Lewis are cheap films that even he would not admit are art. After all, he was quoted as saying that he saw movies as a business and pitied anyone who saw it as an art film. But so what? His bally-hoo is something that movies no longer have. They also don’t have many Egyptian caterers ripping the tongues out of Playmates, but we can all dare to dream.

2020 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 9: Big Money Rustlas (2010)

DAY 9. OG NETWORK: See something made after 2010 with no visible cell phones. No texting while watching this one!

Ah man, remember those great old days when the FBI was convinced Juggalos were a gang — which was no fun for them — and we weren’t worried about people standing back and standing by?

Look, if you don’t know the Insane Clown Posse, well…hmm. Where to begin?

Originally known as JJ Boyz and Inner City Posse, the group that would someday become known as ICP introduced supernatural lyrics to create what some call horrorcore. Their albums have all been concept in nature, telling the story of the Dark Carnival, a limbo beyond our reality where lives are judged. The Joker’s Cards that emerge are the albums of the band, designed to change the evil ways of the band’s listeners. Beyond just being a band, they’re a licensing juggernaut, even creating their own wrestling promotion and an annual event called the Gathering of the Juggalos.

So why not movies?

Here’s the thing — for a movie made by a rap group that dresses as evil clowns, I was totally expecting this movie to be horrible. And the truth is, I laughed out loud several times and was kind of awed home much it took from classic cartoons. Sure, it’s filthy as it gets, but there are moments of literal sidesplitting silliness.

Sheriff Sugar Wolf (ICP member Shaggy 2 Dope) has returned to Mudbug, the town of his birth, to find it in the grip of Big Baby Chips (ICP member Violent J) and his gang, which includes Raw Stank and Dusty Poot, who are played by Jamie Madrox and Monoxide of the band Twiztid. These evildoers have already killed Wolf’s father (Ron Jeremy) and brothers. Now, they sent assassins after our hero.

Then, amazingly, the movie takes a page out of Django, with Wolf’s hand being damaged — trust me, Franco Nero never had a gigantic cartoony hole in his hand that he looks through — and must learn all over again how to fight.

This film has plenty of actual actors in it, like Jason Mewes, Brigitte Nielsen, Jimmie Walker and Tom Sizemore, along with pro wrestlers liek Jimmy Hart, 2 Tuff Tony and Scott Hall.

Most of the characters in this film are the ancestors of the characters in Big Money Hustlas, another ICP film. They have said that at some point, a third movie — this time science fiction — would be made called Big Money Thru$ta$. I mean, one of the killers in this movie has laser beams for eyes.

I kind of love the idea that this movie is a spaghetti western that just so happens to have two characters that wear clown paint, which no one ever mentions throughout the entire film, along with plenty of moments of sheer anachronism.

This movie goes best with Faygo. Pour it directly over your head.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime.