Thursday, March 25, 2010

Peter Jackson

      Most people know film director Peter Jackson by his epic works such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the (2005) remake of King Kong. Those that dig a little deeper know of his involvement with Weta Workshop. (Known for their amazing special effects as demonstrated by their involvement in all of the aforementioned Peter Jackson movies, as well as James Cameron's beast of a film, that's been smashing box office records for weeks now, Avatar) What most people don't know about are the kinds of films he did before he making it big.

What a lot of people fail to realize is that before Peter Jackson was directing epic features backed by breathtaking visual effects, his roots were planted firmly in the splatter genre. His break-out film was the 1987 splatter comedy, Bad Taste. As the title suggests, this film relied heavily on the gross-out factor of his splatter effects for a good laugh. (Good toilet humor, all in bad taste)

This low budget, silly movie requires a taste for movies in the same vein as Troma films in order to fully appreciate the product. (Mainly, a strong stomach for this type of humor) One scene that stands out in particular involved vomiting into a bowl and then passing the bowl around for everyone to take a swig out of. (Yeah, it's as sick as it sounds) Jackson's follow-up to this gross-out feature was a pitch black comedy that plays out like some kind of sick, demented Muppet Show... on heroin. Meet the Feebles is like what Jim Henson would see off of a bad acid trip.

there's blood, pus, guts, shit, vomit, piss, and bodily fluids galore!!! This gritty, disgusting comedy follows the personal lives of a theatre troupe both on and off the stage. The leader of the troupe is a dirty, adulterous, mean-spirited walrus that dabbles in drug deals on the side of running his show, "The Feebles Variety Hour" or whatever it's called. One of a few memorable bathroom scenes in the movie featured a fly reporter for a dirt sheet, snacking down on a "hot" meal. (It was so hot in fact, I guess you can say that it was "steaming") This is one of those movies that leave you with a dirty feeling after you watch it.

Then there was Braindead. Known here in North America as Dead Alive, this film is touted as the goriest film ever made. This zombie horror/comedy features some great lines as well as some of the sickest gore around. A kung fu priest shows up to beat down some zombies while exclaiming that he "kicks ass for the Lord!!" This was the very pinnacle of Peter Jackson's greatness in the splatter genre. Braindead was a laugh out loud, gross humor epic that will be a staple of zombie movie lists as well as cult classic lists for years to come. I've played this for some friends and was told to turn it off one time because she thought she was going to puke. 

All 3 of these films come highly recommended as they were Peter Jackson's firsts. Everyone knows him by his big budget works... but before chronicling the adventures of hobbits and documenting giant apes as they destroyed the city, Peter Jackson was one sick motherfucker with a truly twisted sense of humor. Z-portal would like to salute Peter Jackson for his contributions to the splatter genre and for being a truly sick individual.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Crazies (2010)

  
      This is a remake of a 1973 George Romero film. I would've liked this review to be a cross comparison of the two films but unfortunately, I haven’t seen the original yet. The remake starts off in a small town on the baseball field. An old man walks onto the field, with a little league game in progress, brandishing a shotgun. He points it at the local sheriff, who proceeds to blow him away. Some question the sheriff’s actions but most don’t bother to question his judgement. (All except the old man’s family that blames him for murdering their husband and father) Soon, another tragic “accident” occurs involving the bizarre death of a man’s family. The investigation leads the sheriff to the site of a downed army transport plane in the lake. (Which drains into their drinking water) As it turns out, the plane was carrying a chemical weapon Code name: Trixie, used to “thin the population”, and was on its way out to be disposed of. The army comes in for the quarantine and the sheriff gets separated from his wife. The rest of the movie consists of the Sheriff and his deputy trying to find his wife and then the three of them trying to avoid any run-ins with the army. The “infected” in this movie have open sores and pulsing veins in their face, giving this movie sort of a “pseudo-zombie” feel… except for the fact that they talk. (Not that they didn’t do that in Return of the Living Dead!) To produce the creepy feeling of the sudden appearance of someone, this film made interesting use of camera angles and focus. (i.e. While the camera is focused on the character in the foreground, an out of focus character will suddenly appear in the background without coming into focus. Giving the impression that there’s always something lurking in the background) Not a bad movie, but just a little lackluster in the action and gore departments for my taste. This movie does set up a good eerie atmosphere and builds some pretty decent suspense. Though while there aren’t too many major flaws in this film, it seems to be almost forgettable due to the absence of any particular stand out performances or memorable moments.

Netflix links:

The Crazies (1973)

Availability:

DVD - Very Long Wait

Return of the Living Dead (1985)

Availability:

DVD - Now

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Havoc (2005)

   
      If you’re like me, then when you were watching Princess Diaries wondering what Anne Hathaway looks like under that gown. (or her schoolgirl uniform…) Well, if you’ve ever wanted to see her act like a sexy, slutty little suburban teenager…(along with titties everywhere you turn) then rent this bad boy!!!! For those with a short attention span, the first boob shot comes at around 10 minutes into the movie. There’s supposedly a message somewhere in the convoluted subplot about wiggers trying to act hard and crossing boundaries or something… but the storyline is irrelevant here, the only reason to watch this movie for movie is to see Anne Hathaway’s tits.


BAM!

Yes, that's Anne Hathaway with her hand down her pants


Hardcore Wrestling

      I've been a fan of wrestling ever since elementary school, back when the nWo were the biggest heel group in all of the industry. When I first started watching wrestling, Sting had just left WCW because he was accused by long time friend Lex Luger of siding with the nWo. It turned out to be an evil nWo Sting. (who eventually became a popular wrestler in Japan.) After being a fan of WCW for many years, what finally converted me to a WWF (as it was called then) was a match between the Undertaker and Mankind. Having always been somewhat fond of horror, the Undertaker was a character that I found really interesting. But what was more interesting to me was the character of Mankind. The match I was watching in particular had Undertaker on the outside of the ring, Mankind having just pulled back the protective mats and exposing the concrete floor underneath. Mankind then proceeded to climb up onto the apron of the ring and dive off with an elbow drop on the Undertaker. All I heard was J.R. Jim Ross yelling, "Oh my God! Mankind is willing to sacrifice his own body for the sake of a match!!!" Something about that kamikaze-style that really appealed to me. Shortly after I started on the WWF, they began their Attitude era. Over the years I would jump between programs before finally switching to watching WWF full time. As Mick Foley developed his character, Mankind, he eventually became the first ever WWF Hardcore Champion.



It was around this time that Mick Foley wrote an autobiographical novel, entitled Have a Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks, about his rise to Hardcore Legend status. I was hooked now, I wanted more of the hardcore wrestling. I liked the idea that a match can take place anywhere, not just inside the ring. In my opinion, it allowed the wrestlers more freedom for creative expression. Hardcore, to me, was just an element added to a normal wrestling match to make it even more interesting.

  
     I had been aware of ECW for a long time. Sometimes you would hear the name mentioned in passing on WWF and anyone who was a serious enough wrestling fan, always had some access to it. I assumed that because I could never find it on TV that it played on Pay-Per-View or some pay channel that I didn't have. Aside from what I would hear about them from other people, I didn't know too much about the promotion or its wrestlers. (except the ones that jumped ship early and I knew them as WWF wrestlers) That was until the company folded in 2001, allowing the WWF to step in and acquire the assets of Extreme Championship Wrestling. (which included their video library) They also purchased WCW about a month later and thus began the Invasion storyline. Which had ECW wrestlers teaming up with the WCW wrestlers to invade the WWF. This rivalry culminated to a showdown at the Invasion PPV. The only member of the WCW/ECW alliance to win a title that night was none other than... Everybody's favorite wrestler... Rob Van Dam.


It was RVD who, while representing ECW and the hardcore brand of wrestling they stood for, successfully snatched the WWF Hardcore Title right out of the hands of one half of WWF's Team Xtreme, Jeff Hardy. The Hardcore Title would become an outlet through which ECW's wrestlers were given the opportunity to shine. After the Invasion storyline, the wrestlers that were assimilated into the WWF roster mostly played minor roles and would eventually become mid card wrestlers to pad storylines with. Raw would move to TNN, a channel that was not available to me, and I was to be without wrestling for a few years. In August of 2002, the WWF (now renamed World Wrestling Entertainment following a lawsuit over the name filed by the World Wildlife Fund) retired their Hardcore Championship Title after a unification match between WWE Intercontinental Champion Rob Van Dam and Hardcore Champion Tommy Dreamer. (This match took place a month after Rob Van Dam defeated Jeff Hardy and unified his IC Title with Hardy's European Title in a ladder match.)



In late 2004, the WWE released a documentary entitled, "The Rise and Fall of ECW" This 2-disc DVD documents the meteoric rise of ECW all the way to its bitter end at the mercy of television networks. Thanks to this DVD, new interest toward ECW sparked and eventually led to the PPV event ECW One Night Stand. This was supposedly a one time only reunion of ECW alumni, allowing them a chance to show the world what ECW was all about on a WWE stage, which took place the following year. (June 12, 2005) Unfortunately, Rob Van Dam was injured and wasn't medically cleared to wrestle that night. (But that didn't stop him from skateboarding a chair into the face of long time nemesis, Rhino!!)



The popularity of the Rise and Fall of ECW DVD, along with Internet buzz following the One Night Stand PPV, prompted Rob Van Dam and Paul Heyman to approach Vince McMahon with a proposition. They pitched the idea of rebooting ECW as a separate show with its own roster that specifically catered to fans of the original promotion. (As well as any new fans that surfaced thanks to the Rise and Fall of ECW) Shane McMahon was rumored to be a supporter RVD and Paul Heyman and intended for it to be an online show that fans can log on every week and watch. Running with the idea, the WWE decided to reboot the promotion as a 3rd brand to Raw and Smackdown. At WrestleMania 22, we would also see RVD win the Money in the Bank ladder match. The prize for winning Money in the Bank was a title shot that RVD could request at any time, for any World Title. Upon being drafted to the ECW brand by Paul Heyman, RVD announced that he would be cashing in his Money in the Bank title shot against John Cena for the WWE Championship at ECW One Night Stand 2006. So the match was set, June 11, 2006 would see John Cena defend the WWE Championship against RVD at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York. (A regular venue for the original ECW promotion.) Tensions were high that night as fans threatened to riot if John Cena won the match. A pretty decent PPV that eventually saw RVD capture his first World Title. The next night on RAW, Paul Heyman announces that the WWE Championship would be re-christened the ECW World Heavyweight Championship on the inaugural show of ECW on Sci-Fi.

    
     Neither here nor there, what would come to follow in the next few weeks was a show that lacked the charm of the original ECW and thrived on the star power of familiar faces alone. You could tell Paul Heyman still had some creative control as the new brand tried desperately to revive as much of the feel of the original promotion as possible, but there was an apparent power struggle between those who wanted to stay loyal to the original product and the WWE censors that were cracking down on them. RVD, Dreamer, Sandman, Sabu, and a handful of guys from the original ECW tried their best to entertain the fans and make the show the best it could be. Then one fateful night, tragedy struck in the form of RVD and Sabu being pulled over and arrested for possession of drugs and paraphernalia. This was the final straw as WWE execs took this opportunity to crackdown and seize control of the operations. After RVD's suspension was lifted, he was entered into an Extreme Elimination Chamber Match at ECW's December to Dismember. It was on this night that Paul Heyman went head-to-head against Vince McMahon and his creative team. Apparently, a dispute on the booking of the match led to Paul Heyman being removed from the ECW creative team. This was would mark the beginning of the end of this joke they tried to pass off as ECW. What came to follow were garbage segments that attempted to retain interest in the brand but all efforts were in vain as the new brand had already lost support from the die hard ECW fans. As with most sports out there, it's the support of the fans that really keep it alive and without the support of those who were loyal to the original product, this new brand was destined to fail. Shortly after this period of time, I would stop watching the new brand and eventually lost cable altogether. I am happy to announce that upon searching the net for ECW, it turns out that the WWE had finally closed its doors on the ECW brand. Finally! For what it was, a brand of WWE wrestling that happened to be named ECW, you have to give the credit to Paul Heyman and RVD for their efforts in at least attempting to revive the original product. In retrospect, I would've preferred that they pulled the plug on ECW the same night that Heyman left. Without him, the WWE was not going to be able to reproduce the brand successfully. They shouldn't have even tried in my opinion. Unfortunately, the legacy of the original ECW had to be sullied by the WWECW's incompetent efforts. The new brand aired its last episode on Feb 16, 2010.

I can't claim to be an old school fan of ECW, however I am a collector of the old PPVs and DVDs from the original promotion. I only wish could have been to see at least one live show. (I didn't turn 18 until 2004, just a tad bit too late.) However, they've made a die hard fan out of me.

==========================

Netflix links:

The Rise and Fall of ECW (2004)

Availability:

DVD -Now

ECW One Night Stand (2005)

Availability:

DVD - Now

ECW One Night Stand (2006)

Availability:

DVD - Now

WrestleMania 22 (2006)

Availability

DVD - Now

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006)



      As stated in my previous post, no one does cheese and sleaze quite like Troma… and Poultrygeist was no exception!!! (Who can argue when the movie starts with a young couple having sex in a graveyard?) Soon we’re treated to a guy who dies from getting fisted in his ass, a fat man who shits himself skinny, and a guy that gets some serious “wood” for his chicken. Rude, crude, lewd, and completely tasteless… Poultrygeist incorporates musical numbers with trashy humor to make for an instant schlock classic.


When a fast food chain by the name of American Chicken Bunker is built over an old Indian burial ground, the spirits of the Native Americans combine with that of billions of chickens to create an evil that is contaminating all the food and people around. When hundreds come to protest the opening of another fast food chain, it only makes for more victims to fall prey to the gruesome chicken zombies and their horrible plan for revenge.



With the usual violence, nudity, and sick toilet humor we’ve come to expect from Troma films, this one’s filled with plenty of red, green, and brown colored splatters to satisfy even the most insatiable lust for multi-colored ooze. (I don’t know about you… but I likes my movies like I likes my food, sloppy and messy.) The effects were typical cheesy Troma effects… but I would gladly take corny physical special effects over poor, low-budget CGI any day. The acting is as bad as you would expect from a Troma film, so that neither hurts nor helps the movie. (Look for cameos from Ron Jeremy as well as “Jared” from Subway.) The plot mixes satire on the fast food industry while poking fun at the zombie genre at the same time… it’s also part musical when the characters burst into music numbers, which director Lloyd Kaufman accredits to Takashi Miike’s The Happiness of the Katakuris for inspiring. Both the cheese factor, as well as the sleaze factor, comes into play here as Troma delivers on the splatter humor AND the nudity… earning this little gem a Z-rating of 8.5 out of 10. Highly recommended for fans of cheese, sleaze, and a little (or a lot) of toilet humor. So grab a bucket of KFC and a gallon bottle of meat steroids then get set to battle a legion of undead chicken zombies. “By the power of Allah, I have the power!!!”



Recommended Viewing:

 



Netflix

Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006)

Availability:

DVD - Now
Play Now - Yes

The Happiness of the Katakuris (2001)

Availability:

DVD - Now

Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (1988)

Availability:

DVD - Now

Flesh Gordon Meets the Cosmic Cheerleaders (1989)

Availability:

DVD - Now

Monday, March 15, 2010

Greetings from Tromaville!

     Welcome to the Z-portal, where the focus is on movies of the cheesy and sleazy variety. I will be posting reviews and any news or information that I find relating to the movies that I enjoy. So if you like movies that are silly, raunchy, outrageous, sexy, hilarious, weird, wild, unbelievable, shocking, strange, and anything considered over-the-top, so-bad-they’re-good garbage gems… you’re in for a treat! This blog was not meant to appeal to the masses. In fact, my target audience is likely to be male, aged 18-36, and fans of violence and gratuitous nudity. Settle in and get ready for a different journey through a darker side of cinema.

When I think of cheese and sleaze garbage, first thing to come to mind is none other than…


… for bringing us classics such as Class of Nuke ‘Em High, Terror Firmer, Sgt. Kabukiman, NYPD. Troma Entertainment studios began in the mid-1970’s headed by Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz. It wasn’t until 1984 that Troma came out with their biggest hit yet…


…which became so popular, it even spawned an animated children’s TV series called The Toxic Crusaders.

With works as recent as Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, Troma studios has been supporting independent cinema for 30+ years. Lloyd Kaufman has even been known to make cameos on low-budget horror movies, even for free on occasion. Troma films have since become synonymous with gratuitous gore, excessive violence, and plenty of nudity. For this, Z-portal salutes Troma Entertainment for all the cheese and sleaze you’ve supplied us over the years.


For those of you who don’t already know, a Netflix account is a MUST have. I am a major advocate of Netflix and despite the usual argument of their foreign selection being limited, (although I am inclined to agree) it’s the best movie rental service available with a very generous selection in my opinion. Netflix will be a major part of this blog as I will try to post as many links to Netflix and as much up-to-date information on availability I can offer for Netflix members that browse this blog.