Saturday, March 22, 2014

TITLE SEQUENCE: Murderers' Row

Murderers' Row
Director: Henry Levin
Year 1966

Saturday, March 8, 2014

X-MAS LOOT: 2013

Merry Christmas… Happy Holidays…. Happy Festivus…. Or whatever happy greetings you festive film nuts prefer. Well actually Happy very f'n belated across the board, because I'm a bit late (scratch that) ridiculously late on this entry, but due to a plethora of changes in my everyday life, I've been unfortunately neglecting my duties here at The Lucid Nightmare. Be that as it may, it’s finally time to show off my X-Mas Loot for Christmas 2013! Better late then never!

As usual I've got a ton of new movies thanks to generous family and friends, so it's time for the yearly rundown of all the cinematic gold that has come my way. From the respectable to the downright loony, there's a plethora of great flicks here, sure to serve for some outstandingly entertaining nights. Let's get down to it!

The Films of Alejandro Jodorowsky

Fando y Lis
Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky
Year 1968

I've always been curious about the works of Alejandro Jadorowsky. His films seem so weird and out of control, that they border on visual insanity. There's a supercharged
style to his productions that look as if ripped straight out of a dream, and I'm extremely excited to finally check it out for myself. Intimidated, but very excited.

Fando y Lis, AKA Fando and Lis, appears to be a fairy-tale type entry which follows lovers Fando and Lis as they attempt to find the mythical city of Tar. Based off of a play by Fernando Arrabal, Jodorowsky presents this surreal story in stark black and white imagery, giving the film a distinct style that looks to be anything but ordinary. With outlandish characters and equally odd settings, this twisted narrative looks to be unusually entertaining and outstandingly unforgettable.

Thanks for the sheep Santa..... You fat asshole!
El Topo
Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky
Year 1970

Speaking of weird, here's another Jodorowsky oddity in the form of El Topo. I know little to nothing about this intriguing entry, but as close as I can figure it, the film follows a man by the name of El Topo as he wanders a desert wasteland interacting with various oddballs and weirdos. That's all I got. Needless to say, I'm very interested in figuring out what this film is all about.

Aside from its unusual appearance, the film looks absolutely beautiful. With expansive desolate vistas and trippy visuals to boot, El Topo takes weird to a whole new level. The mystery behind this project has definitely got my interest peaked. Now I just have to gather up enough courage to take it on.

All I want for Christmas is a MASSACRE!!!!!

The Holy Mountain
Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky
Year 1973

Here we go again! Another Jodorowsky mindfuck, this time in the form of The Holy Mountain. Just what the hell is this guy on anyway? Approached in that same unorthodox way, Jodorowsky presents a story that is unlike any other, with mythical imagery, disturbing situations, and confusing visuals. Abrasive and robust, El Topo looks to be his most interesting work yet.

The film follows a christlike figure who wanders through a series of bizarre situations as he takes on a quest to find the Holy Mountain, a place of legend where the gods live. His eventual goal is to gain immortality there. As vague as any of Jodorowsky's summaries, it's going to be a real treat uncovering the real meaning behind this most heralded and mysterious film.

Weirdest Christmas Dinner EVER!!

Blood Money
Director: Antonio Margheriti
Year 1974

Now here's an interesting looking flick! Take one part martial arts flick and one part spaghetti western and you've got yourself one hell of a cinematic mix. Directed by Italian filmmaker Antonio Margheriti of Cannibal Apocalypse fame and starring western cult icon Lee Van Cleef, Blood Money, AKA The Stranger and the Gunfighter, looks to be none stop entertainment.

The film follows a martial artist and a rough and tumble gunfighter who join forces in order to recover a treasure. After stumbling across the trailer for this flick a few months ago, I knew I needed to check it out for myself. It looks absolutely outrageous and that's right up my alley. Van Cleef has always been a favorite of mine and the combination of martial arts and western is just too good to pass up. Really looking forward to this one!

How about a knuckle sandwich for Christmas?

Director: Sergio Corbucci
Year 1966

Django! Franco Nero absolutely nails it as the mysterious gunslinger with a haunted past. I finally checked out the movie after years of wanting to hunt it down and I can say without a shadow of a doubt, that it was worth the wait. Absolutely atmospheric and exceptionally brutal, this unique western is all that it's cracked up to be and then some.

The story follows a coffin-dragging gunslinger as he wanders the old west in search of the man that murdered his lover. Caught between two warring factions, Django uses every trick in the book to bring both parties down, pulling off some rather impressive feats and extremely entertaining deaths. Italian Spaghetti Westerns are a potent bunch, and Django is right up there as the best of the bunch. Franco Nero captures the character beautifully and I'm so happy that I finally checked it out for myself and above all get to place it in my collection.

Santa.... Is that you?

Madam City Hunter
Director: Johnnie Kong
Year 1993

If you're looking for an action packed, weird-ass, Hong Kong flick, then give this one a go. I watched this one over the weekend and it is nothing but non-stop fun. Starring the beautiful and total badass Cynthia Khan, the film has a ridiculously tongue and cheek nature to it where perverted comedy and no holds barred action go hand in hand. Outrageous in all aspects of the word, this is one unorthodox flick.

The film follows police officer Yang Ching as she is suspended in the death of a gang leader, one that just so happens to have four other members, called the Five Fingers. Feeling responsible in protecting the family that the Five Fingers gang is after, Ching makes it her mission to keep them safe at any cost, while she and the family are constantly attacked by the four remaining Five Fingers members. What results is a strange action flick that has to be seen to be believed. Madam City Hunter will sit nicely next to my other outlandish Hong Kong action films.

Can I interest anyone in some Holiday loving?

Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Season Five
Director: Dave Filoni
Year 2013

Seems like every Christmas I'm updating the collection with the next installment of the Clone Wars animated series, and this year is no exception. This time it's Season Five of the long standing show and just from the first few episodes, I can tell that this is going to be a great closing mark on the sadly ending series. I've had a lot of fun with this show, which gives a whole hell of a lot more heart to the characters than the prequels, which strangely enough helped spawn this series.

The show follows the continued adventures of Anakin, Obi Wan and the rest of the gang, as they continue to fight the good fight in the Clone Wars. Though the idea of yet again, delving into the aspects of the Clone Wars, seems like overkill at this point, I'm still looking forward to seeing how they close this chapter of the Star Wars universe and to eventually see what else happens to our main heroes. Here's to adding another Star Wars entry into the collection!

Merry Christmas from the Mauls

Director: Jon Wright
Year 2012

Grabbers is simply wacky fun. After checking it out on Netflix, I knew that I had to add it to the collection. Bridging that gap between horror and comedy, Grabbers instantly makes its mark as an entertaining hybrid with character to spare. Starring Richard Coyle, who I've always been a fan of ever since seeing him in Coupling, and Ruth Bradley, a newcomer in my eyes but astoundingly watchable and full of piss and vinegar, the film is brimming with well acted characters and outrageous moments.

The film follows a local police officer named Ciaran O'Shea and a new transfer officer named Lisa Nolan, who come to realize that the sleepy coastal Ireland town they live in is about to become a feeding ground for a bloodsucking alien and its ravenous spawn. Armed with their wits and the knowledge that the only way to survive this new found horror is to get as drunk as a skunk, the two along with a rag tag group of villagers aim to save the town and take down the hideous monster, by any means necessary. Expertly filmed and brimming with outrageously fun moments, Grabbers is definitely a winner.

You call this a present?!?!

Pistol Opera
Director: Seijun Suzuki
Year 2001

Now here is an obscure wonder that I've been meaning to get a hold of for a long time. Pistol Opera looks like nothing I've seen before. Super-charged with a stylistic madness that can only be brought to us by those crazy Japanese filmmakers, this film looks absolutely out of its mind. Bloody, violent, strange and stunning, there really isn't much else you need in order to have a cinematic blast of unparalleled portions.

The film looks like it follows a group of assassins as they try to usurp each other for the coveted number 1 spot. Backstabbings, front stabbings, and everything in between appears to run rampant as blood and guts fly within every frame. It truly looks like an arthouse film gone mad, with a vibrant color scheme and a feverish pitch. Pistol Opera looks to be a great addition to my Christmas List and I can't wait to finally see all of this crazy mayhem explode on the screen. Should be one hell of a bloody event!

Well that's no way to act on Christmas!

Director: Richard Wenk
Year 1986

If you're looking for some fun 80's horror then look no further than this overlooked gem. Vamp is a ridiculously entertaining vampire flick headlined by the equally ridiculous Grace Jones, who is in true weird form as an Egyptian vampire running a strip joint. Yeah, you've got to love the 80's. With a funny cast, a strange premise, and a whole lot of tongue and cheek attitude, Vamp is an enjoyable ride which captures the spirit of the 80's to perfection.

The movie follows two college students, Keith and AJ, as they try to make it into a fraternity, by way of obtaining a stripper for their next party. Setting out for the big city along with a rich nerdy fellow student named Duncan, the motley crew search for a stripper to bring back to the fraternity in order to pass initiation. Unfortunately for them, they enter the wrong strip club which just so happens to be run by a pack of blood-thirsty vampires. Trapped in a seeding part of town and hunted by ravenous creatures of the night, this is going to be one boys night out that they are sure to remember. The film is as crazy as it sounds and it is nothing but fun. I'm so happy to finally have it in the collection. It will go great right next to Fright Night and The Lost Boys!

Have yourself a scary Grace Jones Christmas.

Ultraman: The Complete Series
Director: Akio Jissoji
Year 1966

Ultraman, AKA Urutoraman: Kuso tokusatsu shirizu, looks to be insane kaiju fun! I've never seen the show, only small clips of it online, and I can say that it looks to be a real treat. Plus the price tag of $8 for the complete series didn't hurt either. I've always been intrigued by these types of far-fetched Japanese shows and I think it's high time that I jumped into this obscure genre. With its wild premise, quaint effects, and overall batshit attitude, it looks to be a kaiju paradise!

The series follows a human member of a defense force team as he is given special powers to turn into a giant super-hero in order to do battle with monsters that threaten humanity. Sweet and simple, and a bit off-kilter, the production has all the elements to make an interesting package that begs to be explored. Without a doubt, this is one of the most unusually intereting entries on this list, but one that I'm extremely looking forward to checking out. Bring on the kaiju goodness!

Looks like someone has been naughty this year.

Director: Alfred Hitchock
Year 1969

It's always a good day when you can add a new Hitchcock film into your collection. This time it is the intriguing looking movie Topaz, featuring Frederick Stafford and the beautiful Karin Dor. This spy-tinged political thriller looks to be quite interesting and when you add Hitchcock into the mix, you've got yourself a must see feature. Set in picturesque locations against thrilling events, Topaz has all of the unique elements that I look for in an espionage tale, yet portrayed in classy flare that only Hitchcock can bring to the table.

The film follows a French intelligence agent who becomes embroiled in Cold War politics, ranging from taking on an international Russian spy ring to getting mixed up in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Based on true events, the intrigue is high on this interesting feature film. I'm a huge fan of Frederick Stafford after his work on the French OSS 117 films, among other Eurospy movies, so I'm interested to see how he does in a less fantasized role. Plus the inclusion of Karin Dor in any way, shape, or form within the cast is a positive in my book. I'm hoping that the recipe makes for a great film and another home run for Hitchcock.

Surely it's a Merry Christmas. It is a happy Christmas.... and don't call me Shirley.

Midnight Movies Volume 2: Western Triple Feature

Director: Sergio Corbucci
Year 1970

It's Spaghetti Western time, and starting off this western triple feature set is Sergio Corbucci's Companeros. Starring Franco Nero and Tomas Milian, and featuring a soundtrack by Ennio Morricone, this is one Italian production that seems destined to impress. After finally checking out Sergio Corbucci's masterpiece Django, I've got high hopes for this entry. Hell the fact that Franco Nero is in this is enough for me to get excited about, so I'm sold in checking this one out no matter what.

The film follows two unlikely men Yolaf and Vasco as they get tangled up in a grand scheme against a corrupt General, a pacifist Professor, and a band of revolutionaries. Appearing to be a twisted and unorthodox tale, Companeros looks to be anything but ordinary. From what I've read, the film is filled with great characters and an outstanding attitude, and the direction by Sergio Corbucci and the music by Morricone is an accomplished combo. I have a feeling that this is going to be a great ride!

Merry Christmas! Yeehaw!

Four of the Apocalypse
Director: Lucio Fulci
Year 1975

Lucio Fulci is one of my favorite Italian directors, but mysteriously enough I haven't seen any of his Spaghetti Western efforts. I'm finally going to remedy that horrible fact when I sit down to watch this intriguing little gem. Appearing as gritty as his other films, Four of the Apocalypse looks to hone in on that visual trademark which sets this particular genre apart from the rest, and that's raw atmosphere. Italian Spaghetti Westerns seemed to capture a specific attitude of the wild west, in its unchained violence and its visual desolation, and I'm hoping that Four of the Apocalypse falls in line with the rest of the genre.

The film follows four petty criminals, three men and a women, as they are hunted by a sadistic bandit across the harsh terrain of the untamed wilds of Utah. It's an interesting, yet vague plot, but I'm most looking forward to how Fulci brings it all together. Brutal, bloody, and surprisingly sweet are just some of the descriptions that I've run across on various reviews, and I'm optimistic on really enjoying this one. When you have the combination of Lucio Fulci and the Spaghetti Western genre, you have to have a winning formula... right?

This is the last time you get me socks for Christmas.

Run, Man, Run
Director: Sergio Sollima
Year 1968

The last film of this Western triple feature is Run, Man, Run, and it looks to be another raw entry in the Spaghetti Western catalogue. Directed by Sergio Sollima, a frequent filmmaker of the genre, the movie takes that same visceral edge which permeates these types of films to perfection.

The film follows a gang of competing individuals as they hunt down a cache of gold worth $3,000,000, which was culled during the Mexican revolution. With a string of interesting characters and a plot that seems simple, yet hopefully effective, Run Man Run is primed to entertain. Out of all three of these films, Run Man Run is the one I know the least about so it should be fun taking on this flick without hardly any prior knowledge. I say bring it on!

I'm going to give you the gift of DEATH!

Patlabor: The Movie
Director: Mamoru Oshii
Year 1989

Bring on the anime! Patlabor is a series that I've always wanted to check out. Steeped in giant mech lore and brimming with future tech goodness, it's a production that seems to scream... Check this shit out! Directed by Mamoru Oshii of Ghost in the Shell fame, I'm highly interested in seeing what the notable filmmaker had up his sleeve prior to making his modern sci-fi classic.

The film is set in a futuristic Japanese society where large mechanized robots perform most of the work on industrial sites. Strangely, a string of suicides and accidents begin to occur and it seems that the Labor robots are at the root of it. A task force inside the law enforcement department is assigned to keep the malfunctioning Labors in-check, led by enforcer robots called Patlabors. It's an interesting concept, and one that seems to be approached in a sensible and mature manner by the creators of this exceptionally intriguing anime. I'm really looking forward to diving into this original world.

How about a Christmas hug?

Patlabor 2: The Movie
Director: Mamoru Oshii
Year 1993

Taking the helm again, Mamoru Oshii propels this series into another chapter, bringing that same vivid and deep world filled with giant robots and human melodrama. Just like with the first film, I'm excited to see all that this animated world has to offer, and from the trailer, it looks that it has an abundance of offerings.

The movie mixes political intrigue with a terrorist plot, setting a whole new course of events into the Labor units storied existence. It appears that the story is consistent with that same solid framework that made the first entry so alluring, as we are presented a whole other aspect of this surprisingly detailed fictional future world. Maintaining that sense of realism and unabashed spectacle, I'm sure I'm going to have a blast with this series.

Everyone deserves a Mech for Christmas.

Man From U.N.C.L.E.: 8 Movies Collection
Director: Various
Year 1964-1968

In all of my spy and Eurospy loving film watching, I somehow have overlooked this classic series. I don't know how it happened, but I'm about to remedy that sad fact. This clever and witty spy series is headlined by Robert Vaughn and features a plethora of special guests and equally diverse plotlines. Re-edited from the television episodes into 8 feature length movies, this Man From U.N.C.L.E. collection looks to be an absolute blast.

I've always been drawn to the 60's spy craze and to finally get the opportunity to check out this cult television classic is an absolute treat. I've already watched the first two entries of the collection, starting with the pilot episode turned full feature film "To Trap a Spy", and they were absolutely outstanding. Fun, entertaining and spy-tastically enjoyable, this is one collection that I know I'm going to fully get a kick out of. And honestly, how can it not be a hoot with Robert Vaughn in the mix?

These guys have got your back Santa.

The Night of the Devils
Director: Giorgio Ferroni
Year 1972

Now I saved the best for last! The Night of the Devils is 70's Spanish horror at its finest. Adapted from the Tolstoy story entitled Wurdulak, the same story that inspired the Mario Bava segment of the same name in Black Sabbath, this unique horror gem has all the trimmings of an outstandingly creepy entry with an over-abundance of atmosphere.

The film follows a mentally ill patient as he recalls the night of horror which has driven him mad. After seeking refuge with an estranged family, Nicola comes to find that the family has a curse set upon them, where an infected member of the family succumbs to feed on the surviving members. Deeply diabolic and exceptionally moody, The Night of the Devils is a grotesque, haunting and tonally rich production which truly is an overlooked gem. With its gory moments and its consistently deep atmosphere, Night of the Devils is a film you won't soon forget.

Take it easy dude... so I was late with the Christmas DVD list. It's not the end of the world.

Well that wraps up all the loot I received over the Christmas holidays (some three freaking months ago) and I hope you came across a few unknown flicks to take on for yourself and track down. Happy hunting, Happy belated Holidays, and hopefully my next entry won't take centuries to be posted! Take care!