Recently Rated Movies #44

So, what's the deal with the drive-in showing of Grindhouse? Did I go, and where the hell is my review? Well, it never happened, and now it is gone from the Mission Tiki Drive-In, but luckily, we can still go there for true drive-in fare like Ice Cube's Are We Done Yet? Having seen Grindhouse twice, I will say that, truly, the only place today it should be playing is the drive-in and not in the cineplex, and any drive-in theatre worth it's salt should be showing it Rocky Horror-style for the next five years. As for why I never made it there myself, I won't go into the details; suffice to say, that for the first time in my life, because my ability to see this film in a drive-in has now twice been thwarted by it, I am regretting my decision to never get a driver's license. But, when I start to weigh the cost of my missing out on seeing a film at the drive-in that I have seen twice already against my adding personally to the awful toll that rampant auto emissions have committed against our planet... well, crap, I'm ready to buy a gas-guzzler right effing now!

Damn it, I love the movies... even against my better judgment.

Here's The List:
Idiocracy
Dir: Mike Judge // 2006 [DVD]
Cinema 4 Rating: 6

My buddy Chewy sent me a comment on my little-used MySpace page, saying "Watch Idiocracy! It's what plants want!" Of course, I had wanted to see this film in the theatres, but never saw it appear on screen one. Why not? Blame the studio that quashed, it if you will; but truly, if it had appeared in theatres, then likely the sort of people wandering into the film would be exactly the sort of people that director Judge is mocking to no small degree within it. The current unchecked growth of our strangely proud white-trash culture, including a president who came from what used to be considered better stock but has decided to knock society back a few pegs on his own with every vote he gathered through the last two elections and every stubborn statement out of his guilty mouth -- all of this surely has Judge fearful of the future depicted in Idiocracy. I am certain this film will gather the sort of cult audience that Judge's previous Office Space did, but like with Chewy, those of us who have enjoyed it are really going to have to work on getting the word out. It's never as great as I anticipated it to be, but it's certainly worthwhile.

Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter
Dir: Lee Demarbre // 2000 [DVD]
Cinema 4 Rating: 4

I had hopes that this film would turn out to be a low-budget treasure trove of delights the way that films like The Evil Dead, Re-Animator and Cannibal: the Musical did for me. Finally watching it after putting it off for a couple of years, I have to report my sincere disappointment that it is not even close to those much beloved films. There are some terrific gags to be sure, but they see-saw constantly with other gags that don't pay off in the way the filmmakers seem to intend. Here's the problem in a nutshell: when you name a film Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter, half the work is done for you. If a filmgoer has fallen in love with that title, then you really don't need to do much to capture their attention for 80 minutes beyond supplying Jesus Christ and some vampires for him to hunt. That Jesus is made a martial arts expert makes the odds against you go down even more. But then, in a nod perhaps to Jesus' supposed affinity to the modern counterculture, you take away his hair, beard, sandals and robes early in the film and outfit him like any other post-punk poser on the street: leather pants, Skechers, various piercings and a black T-shirt. I am not even close to being a Christian, and even I recognize that when one wishes to see a movie about Jesus kicking ass for the Lord (I guess that would be for himself, now that I think of it), you want to see him traditionally dressed and shoving a cross up Dracula's ass. Instead, you have to think hard at certain points of the film to convince yourself that it is Jesus doing the ass-kicking, and not just some dude who wandered out of a Starbuck's. And if you are going to go so far as to add Santo to the mix, find someone who can actually execute a couple of wrestling moves in a half-decent fashion. That's really not too much to ask. Santo has a precious reputation to maintain, masked or not. I will add that, having just watched some of my friends in a Bigfoot movie while back in Anchorage, I had the feeling I watching the Ottawa version of my hometown theatre crowd in this film. This made me root for it a little more to overcome its low-budget roots, but it wasn't enough to make me love it for more than a few -- too few -- sporadic moments. Still fun enough for a party, I guess.

Der Teufel kam aus Akasava [The Devil Came From Akasava]
Dir: Jesus Franco // 1971 [Sundance]
Cinema 4 Rating: 4

Here's the skinny: this is an atrocious film. It only rates more than a "2" on the Cinema 4 scale for two reasons: like Vampyros Lesbos, from the same much-derided filmmaker (though Franco is the source of a good deal of cult adoration), it benefits mightily from an impossibly catchy score. It's like porn movie music but more surreal and inventive, even if Franco's visuals, which are often well-composed and intriguing, struggle hard to play catch-up with the tunes. The film's chief asset, however, comes in the form of the "gone too soon" actress Soledad Miranda, of whom I must admit I am sorely in love. She made a handful of films for Franco before her tragic youthful death in a car accident, and despite their quality, they deserve to be preserved if only for her remarkable beauty and for the way that Franco seems to always have her either coming out of a shower or performing some actually rather boring strip-club scenes, no matter what part she is playing in the film. In both this and Lesbos, I couldn't help but notice the crowds during her "act": they are not the usual drooling perverts with a fistful of ones in their sweaty palms, but rather couples out for a night of wine-drinking and artful viewing of scantily-clad "artists". The reality is, Miranda's body was her canvas, so, applause all around for her "art". But still, at the same time, mark me down as one of the drooling perverts, too.

Comments

I just have to mention that I think you gave Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter a bit too much credit, saying it was good for a party.

I ordered it a few years back based on the title and description, and my reaction was almost exactly the same as yours.

My anger at this film comes from the fact that they fucked this premise-which seems like a no brainer success- up so much that I wanted to make my own film, but I can't because it's already been done. Thank you for posting this. No one believes me when I tell them they should probably stay away.

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