Sunday 22 August 2010

Romano Et Mano Jungle Jousts Gaines

Jungle Rats

‘‘Sergeant Pete ‘Killer’ Rayo. His name does exactly what it says ! ’’

South Vietnam 1968. General Corad heads up a reconnaissance transport unit through the jungle border. His presence is felt by the Darth Vader of the Vietcong army, and soon the dark forces are upon him with a rebel yell. Poor old Mike Monty is the set upon General, once again in the wrong place at the wrong time but as ever perfectly cast. Corad and a few of his surviving men are taken captive and soon find themselves hostage to the Vietcong, deep within the man made tunnels in unforgiving territory.
The American military want their General back and immediately put together a crack team of five, all with experience of the terrain and particularly of the network of tunnels. Steely eyed Romano Kristoff is Lieutenant John Smith, who heads up the Tunnel Rat Team, with Jim Gaines as his sergeant at arms Pete ‘Killer’ Rayo. There is friction between the two main men from the outset, which proves to later compromise the mission as Rayo’s battle wearied character loses control over the team objective.
Lieutenant Smith leads his handful of men cautiously into the jungle region to track down General Corad but is soon beset by the Vietcong and some ineptitude from an inexperienced soldier within the ranks. The opposing faction are aware of a rescue mission and they act to move the abducted General to alternate incarceration. Smith and fellow mercenaries readily engage the enemy, as between them both bodies and foliage become peppered like blood splattered seasoning upon the indigenous jungle canvas.

This is low budget, high output mano et mano Action where the good guys cry havoc and unleash a whole heap of whoop ass upon the Vietcong, as they stamp out their intent to bring the General home. It’s by the numbers jungle Action, but the interesting hook here comes in the shape of usually regular good guy Jim Gaines, as his character Pete Rayo is a nasty piece of work with the soul intent of looking out for number one !. Gaines’ portrayal of a soldier descending into narcissistic self destruct is attention grabbing. From the outset he questions Lieutenant Smith’s leadership and soon defies orders, culminating in compromising the teams position. When he beats and rapes a Vietnamese village girl in the care of the team his mental stability is questioned by his fellow soldiers, but it is not until he is directly responsible for the loss of innocent lives that Lieutenant Smith fully realises that he is more of a liable threat than the Vietcong closing in around them. Smith has to square off against Rayo in order to preserve both the mission and his own life, as well as pulling it all together to storm the Vietcong holding place to rescue General Corad.
Good casting and another solid piece of Direction from the relatively fledgling movie making skills of Irvin Johnson make for another enjoyable jungle raid and rescue outing. By this time ‘B’ movie Action genre Directors like Johnson were churning out three or four movies a year and this is one that has the feel of a relatively quick shoot making use of re-used locations and sets, not to mention a reworked thematic script. Nevertheless, anything with the likes of Romano Kristoff, Jim Gaines and Mike Monty in are always plus points in attracting a viewing, and this is no exception. What Jungle Rats loses in originality it makes up for in the Action set pieces that are never too far apart.
Movie Rating: 5/10

Review Paul Cooke / Source Japanese NTSC VHS

Jungle Rats (1987)
Directed by Irvin Johnson
With Rom Kristoff, Jim Gaines,
Jerry Bailey, Michael Welborne,
Richard King & Mike Monty

Saturday 7 August 2010

Human Centipede Hit For Six

The Human Centipede
(First Sequence)

‘‘Feed her, feed her !’’

From the land of tulips and windmills comes the pestle and mortar of grind house gazumping that you do not have to put your mortgage on to seek out. This is one to categorise under the need to not know exists, as otherwise like any true infamous word of mouth and shocking press, once learned of, you cannot help but need to see for yourself. Once drawn into that inevitable trap you will almost certainly come away from the experience of ingesting The Human Centipede: First Sequence with a sense of feeling unclean !.
This is without question a boundary of shocking experimental cinema gone beyond any realm of entertainment. The on screen debauchery and visceral realisation is almost all implied, but even a seasoned gore hound will be left feeling queasy at the subject matter. There is not even a release in the form of unintentional humour to mock such an implausible act of human degradation. Director Tom Six throws a desperately daring dice into the cinematic arena of perversion, and craps out a gastric abomination to alienate all but the carcinogenic harbingers of putrid pleasures. Be only drawn to this as a fly would be, to feed off the end product that should otherwise be flushed out of sight.

The premise of the piece is of a renowned surgical genius in the field of Siamese separation, brought to the brink of his sanity by his self imposed solitude in his remote fortification. Doctor Heiter is a modern day Dr. Frankenstein, experimenting on animals and ultimately upon human beings in his relentless obsession to create a human centipede. An abomination of science, conjoining three people together, connected by surgical procedure to each other by mouth to anus !. It proves to be as offensive and utterly nauseating to behold as it sounds. Crippling natural movement to the hosts by removing knee cartilage and severing tendons to cripple the ability to stand, leaving the afflicted unable to move other than by being effectively on all fours. Three human beings, operated upon against their will at the whim of an insane genius, and paraded about within the confines of his remote boundaries.
Two attractive young women from New York, vacationing in Europe and one very unfortunate Japanese fellow, all just happening upon the mad scientists home off the beaten track in Germany, fall victim to his perversion of science. Reduced to twelve lumbering limbs and mouth to anus conjunction, in one gastric bypass that does indeed at one point deliver the resultant by product of feeding at the head mouth end to later deliver on the resultant digestive dispatch down the line !. If ever there were a viewing moment to throw up in your own mouth, this for sure is it !.

The portrayal of Doctor Heiter could not have been better cast than to actor Dieter Laser, his characterisation of a gifted man borderline insane is right out of the Nazi genocide texts. Calculative calm to the extreme of nastiness personified. Unbearably bold acting that is truly memorable but for the actors future, perhaps ultimately damning with such a film upon his resume !?.
Perhaps then The Human Centipede: First Sequence is today the perceived abomination in the face of human respectability that Todd Browning’s Freaks was back in 1932. When the boundaries between fiction and reality are transfused we become ill at ease as the questions that we do not wish answered are thrust before us, forcing us to question our own moral fibre. It is still here, however, with The Human Centipede: First Sequence highly questionable as to what purposeful plus point may be gained from such a turbulent atrocity, captured upon celluloid and thrust at unsuspecting patrons likely to decorate that directly sitting in front of them with a coat of regurgitated stomach bile. If ever the collectable vomit bag, from the grand old gimmick days of times gone by, were truly a necessary adjunct to the price of admission, then this would be it !.
Unbelievably pre-production has apparently already begun on The Human Centipede II: Full Sequence. To be once again directed by Dutchman Tom Six. After such an abomination as this surely he and his centipede cinema days will be Amsterdamed forever more !?.

Movie Rating: Seek Absolution Before, During & After Viewing

Review Paul Cooke / Source Pal Region 2 DVD

The Human Centipede (First Sequence) (2009)
Director Tom Six
With Dieter Laser, Ashley C. Williams,
Ashlynn Yennie, Akihiro Kitamura,
Andreas Leopold & Peter Blankenstein

Thursday 5 August 2010

Project UFO: The Phillip J. Roth Files

Shark Hunter

‘‘Guys, we’re gonna need a bigger sub’’

Carcharodon Megalodon, everyone’s favourite super monster-shark has come to the hallowed halls of UFO, and of course… it has to make a big impact. For those who don’t know, a MEG is one jumbo shark that is really long extinct.
After all the splash made by Steve Alten, about making a movie of his book MEG, it would seem there are now literally tons of them… somehow I don’t think Alten’s check is in the mail though. This one starts off with a Meg attack that takes our main characters family down and out for lunch, seemingly leaving him alive to suffer… or not ?. That is how he interprets it though, because he drinks and looks kind of haunted. This is, as any shark flick fan can tell you, the Lorraine Gary effect, under the spell of which undersea predators will hold grudges and say, “I told you so” all whilst attempting to eat every living relative of the first victim.
The trauma of his past is not a psyche health enhancing event at all, and now Spencer Northcutt may have found his evil shark. Divers at an underwater research facility seem to have encountered a monster, yes an eating machine… and perhaps it is THAT extinct dino-shark, MEG ! As one character says, “You should know better than to bring Captain Ahab to the bottom of the ocean.”

Yes, Antonio Sabato Jnr. has his eyes set on beating up a 60 foot monster. Dogged and relentless as Tron (1982) with a bad accent, he heads down into the depths with a half baked plan and a mini-sub, and proceeds to go nose to giant nose with the beast. Thankfully, the cannon fodder known as other characters are in abundance, and ready to be eaten.
Well shot and acted, this is great low budget fun. Giving the usual underwater science fiction setting some bite, the script by Phillip J. Roth and Sam Welles, is peppered with decent dialogue, and a mean streak that has many of the crew biting down and saying AAAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHH more often than not. The Meg gets in the ship (at least his snout and eyes do), the Meg smashes the research facility… it bites, it slices, it dices, and makes guppy snacks out of everybody it can find.
While CGI sharks aren’t new, the work done for Shark Hunter is particularly impressive, as are the submarines. As is the case with many UFO productions, not only does the shark become CGI, but so does much of the flicks environment. Sharks versus Torpedoes, Antonio Sabato Jnr. looking grim, a blonde with attitude, and all set to a good Tony Riparetti action music score. Bliss.
If nothing else, you’ll certainly get a kick out of this Meg’s final solution. Yow… only in the low budget movies can you have this kind of ending !

Movie Rating: FUN

Review David Zuzelo / Source Region 1 NTSC DVD
Shark Hunter(2001/USA)
Director Matt Codd
With Antonio Sabato Jnr, Christian Toulali,
Grand L. Bush, Heather M. Marsden & Velizar Binev