Stupid picture of the day: The Four Amigos Big Band

Friday, 28 December 2012

For your Friday delight, allow us to present you a stupid picture of the day: The Four Amigos Big Band, consisting of Jean-Claude Van Damme, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and man of the one face: Steven Seagal.

Have a crazy weekend, and remember to reserve some popcorn for hangover movie marathon!

Get some good hangover movies at Amazon:
Buy Van Damme movies (Hard Target, Double Impact, Kickboxer, Bloodsport etc.)
Buy Schwarzenegger movies (Total Recall, Commando, Predator, Terminator etc.)
Buy Stallone movies (Expendables, Cobra, Rocky, Rambo etc.)
Buy Seagal movies (Out for Justice, Above The Law, Under Siege, Hard To Kill etc.)

REVIEW: Savage Streets (1984, Danny Steinmann / L. Blair, J. Vernon)

Monday, 24 December 2012

First of all, merry Christmas everyone! Are there better things to do than watch a real cult B-movie from the 80s today, such as "Savage Streets"? Well, perhaps a few, but that's truly a perfect choice, as well. Savage Streets at these days is rather obscure movie to say, at least. It was directed by an unknown director Danny Steinmann, who hadn't got much discography on his side prior to Savage Streets. He debuted in 1973 under alias "Danny Stone" with a porno film "High Rise", and later on directed his latest film Friday The 13th Part IV: A New Beginning, which wasn't much of a success.

But, in between those movies he directed his (only) highlight "Savage Streets", starring Linda Blair as Brenda, a leader of teenage-schoolgirl-gang. Blair was an actor in original Exorcist movie, by the way; remember the possessed little girl in the movie? Well, that's her, all right!

Savage Streets is a movie which succeeds to be brutal and merciless, without really showing very much blood and gore, or without purely going for slasher-like action. Even when being cheesy, the movie manages to raise that feeling, where you really feel bad for the victims a couple of times, wishing they would not get killed or raped - before laughing at the action, again. Although there's no that many death scenes all together, the victims' fates are rather brutal, and you can feel the pain and call for the vengeance. This impression is backed up with strong and inspired acting of tough teenage-gang-queen Brenda (Linda Blair) who doesn't take shit from anyone, and Jake (Robert Dryer) who leads a male gang of violent rock'n'roller thugs called 'Scars', an anti-hero of the film, who just manages to give perfect impression of total maniac.

Shortly, the story (spoiler alert) goes like this: One night, Brenda and his girl-gang are having a regular girls night out, while they bump into a male-gang ('Scars' members) on a mid-town streets, led by Jake. The guys shout and whistle for the girls from the passing car, but fail to impress the them. Final "nail to the coffin" is when the guys almost run over Brenda's deaf sister Heather with the car and a quarrel is ready to go between the two gangs of different sexes. Things calm down for a second as the no-luck-with-the-puss angered Scars gang leaves the girls alone, angered. Shortly after, Brenda and her gang soon discover the car of Jake and his gang's car parked down the street empty, and decide to steal it to have some fun with it. They then dump some thrash inside the car while having a bit fun with it first.

Jake swears for revenge about trashing the car, and then turns into his maniac mode. The Scars gang now on the hunt, soon wanders into the local school, and discover that the girls study there, when they notice the familiar faces, as the girls are having a cheerleading rehearsals on the football field. Jake's goes after Brenda's deaf and innocent sister Heather, when she's left alone for several minutes in school, and mutilate and handicap the poor girl for life. The gang then stalks Brenda's best friend few days later, chases her to a close by bridge, and throw her down to flat asphalt into her death. Afterwards Brenda finds out what has happened: first her deaf sister, then her best friend; she snaps and is now OUT FOR REVENGE!

Does Savage Streets deliver? Hell yes! Heather's and Brenda's best friend's fates are quite "touching", well in manner that they can be in such a cheesy film, and the movie manages to raise emotions such as anger and sympathy a couple of times; not of course on level such as in a serious drama movie. On the other hand, most of it's running time Savage Streets has it's overly cheesy, not-to-be-taken-too-seriously drive going with the events. For example, the events which take place in the school (high school?), when some hopeless guy is trying to flirt with Brenda, who's not too impressed, while the guy's girlfriend constantly calls Brenda a slut for flirting with his boyfriend, leading into bit of a brawl between the girls. The school-part is goofy side of this film, with cat-fights, cheerleaders, teenagers acting like all stupid, angered teachers, and it features even a sexy shower nudity scene, as well as Linda's gutsy move to show her tits while sitting in a bath-tub with an empty stare, as she memorizes the horrible events in front of her eyes, turning into pure will of revenge.

The best part of the movie happens in the streets and bars, where the plot takes more violent twist, where more action takes place, in a good, cheesy, eighties way. Scum of the town chasing chicks, neon lights, spiky leather jackets, lit cigarettes, rock bars, and hard rock combined with cheesy eighties synth music as a soundtrack, which is just quite memorable enough lift the spirit of the movie up. Not memorable classic such as Brad Fiedel's masterpiece, musical score of The Terminator, but still very good and fitting.

Savage Streets is pure flashback of the good times couple of decades back in time with all the cheesy elements of the era, presenting decent story line, but even better execution and fine acting by Linda Blair as strong female hero going for vengeance, and by John Vernon, who reminds of Liam Neeson with his commanding voice, but has rather small part as a school principal Underwood, and especially Robert Dryer as Jake, who manages to give impression of a totally brutal wacko going so far over the line. Rest of the cast does decent job too, including scream-queen Linnea Quigley as Heather (the sister), and Johnny Venocur as Vince, who is almost halfway forced to join Jake's gang Scars, and Sal Landi as Fargo, one of the gangers. Yes, some acting is rather cheesy, as is the dialogue, but hey, it's good cheese. And, to be honest, most of the time acting isn't even all that bad. Combine brutal and merciless presentation of the events this movie offers, with loads of eighties cheese,  great music, goofy school parts (It's not quite a Breakfast Club, but that part of the movie is enjoyable as well), and you pretty much get what Savage Streets is about: half-serious cheeseburger with some chili added.

There's seriously few moments that makes you crack up too! One of my favorites is a school-scene where Jake and the Scars are about to lure Vince away from the school and studies and hit the road with them, but principal Underwood (Vernon) interrupts them and literally tells them to "go fuck themselves":

(on school's hallway for Underwood interrupting their conversation with Vince)
Fargo: ha ha who the fuck is this asshole
Underwood: Go fuck an iceberg!
Underwood: Get your faggot asses out of here - before I feed them to the cops.
Jake: *insane stare against Underwood*

This movie surprised me pleasantly. It's rather memorable, and it's engine runs on the great spirit eighties cheese, which the whole movie keeps up from the beginning to the end. It's doesn't have the most perfect professional acting, the best story line ever, or best props and special effects, but it's the overall spirit, memorable eighties cheese, and several very memorable scenes such as poor Heather's fate (which may be hard to watch for some), and Brenda's revenge chase at the end with a crossbow. Great stuff for any "good" B-movie fan or anyone who seeks to discover enjoyable eighties movies! A must see if you liked movies such as: Death Wish -series, Vigilante, or The Class of 1984. Fun fun fun...

The Good

  • Blair is tough
  • Dryer succeeds as a maniac
  • Eighties cheese all over
  • Especially music!
  • Few memorable brutal scenes
  • Hot chicks!

The Bad

  • Can't think any

8 Bullets out of 10
(Edit: I just re-watched this movie and cannot help but raise it's score from 7 to 8!)

Buy Savage Streets as DVD disc from

REVIEW: Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986, John McNaughton / M.Rooker, T.Towles)

I haven't watched much of serial-killer movies lately, so I thought to check out some movie out of the older ones. Last one I saw was probably Zodiac, the newer one, and comparing Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer to Zodiac, the formerly mentioned gets much down deeper into the storyline and characters than Henry. This movie was directed in 1986 by John McNaughton, director, who hasn't really directed that many movies. He's most known for his sexy crime-drama from 1998 called Wild Things. Henry is perhaps more comparable to slightly less story driven slasher Maniac from 1980.

McNaughton does respectively good job directing this serial killer film. The story of Henry as I understand is mostly fictional, and very loosely based on real-life character named Henry, who after being caught by the police of a murder, confessed several other murders too.

The story revolves around Henry (Michael Rooker), a serial killer, who goes around killing random people by different ways around the city without much reason what so ever. In addition two more stars in the film are Henry's old friend Otis (Tom Towles), and his sister Becky (Tracy Arnold), who looks like your typical "girl next door".

The movie begins directly at the killing events, showing Henry meeting several people and behaving like regular gentleman, then jumping over the actual murder-events, directly into the camera-shots of showing dead bodies lying around, the bodies of people who had just ran into Henry. This movie rarely shows the actual events, the murders, especially in the beginning of the movie (it saves a few for later sequence). It's more like that "smart" crime movie which shows before-after camera-shots, and lets viewer connect those events, imaging by himself what Henry must have done to the victims. This is both good and bad. That style is really artistic and leaves viewer space for imagination, but also reduces amount of gore, blood and horror in the film - which leaves space for final kick of tension. As notorious as this movie was claimed at the time of it's release, it's not as violent visually than Maniac or The New York Ripper. That being said, there's still a few selected scenes which may be too much for a sensitive person.

(Otis filming a guy getting beat, while Henry's eating a burger)

Back to the story... After killing some people randomly, such as the friendly waitresses in coffee house, and a hitchhiker-girl in his car, Henry then arrives to his old friend Otis' house, who has been released from prison bit more earlier than Henry. Otis being friendly, offers Henry a place to stay and sleep in his apartment, where he also meets Becky, Otis' sister, living temporarily under the same roof.

Henry's maniac side is shown very directly from the beginning, while Otis at first looks like quite regular dumb-guy working at a gas station. His personality is just a bit of a rude side without much manners, and he's not very bright either, and one can soon sense there's something wrong with this guy too. While Henry and Otis get together for some beers, Henry takes Otis to one of his killing-trips around the city, letting Otis' own maniac side loose as well, as Henry offers Otis a chance to join him to kill someone.

Henry and Otis soon realize that they have some things in common, and they begin their killing spree together. However, serial killing is sensitive subject for these two maniacs, especially for Henry, and they soon notice they are growing apart on the matter. Henry and Otis find out they are different kinds of serial killers, and Henry has some strict rules that he subconsciously follows and respects. While Henry, being more straight forward maniac with pretentious respect for women, although killing them, hates sexual abusers - Otis is revealed to have a lust for sexual abuse too. This will raise controversy between the two killer-friends, and arrival of the Otis' sister Becky, who Henry seems to like, and Otis seems to have lust to, won't help the situation either...

The movie doesn't try to make much sense for reasons behind every event and characters. All there is revealed of Henry, for instance, is that he has been jailed for killing his mother, who made him wear a dress, while forced to watch her sleeping with several men, when he was young boy. That's pretty much all there is to it. Makes some sense for defining Henry's maniac personality, but doesn't explain anything more in depth. It's more like just a quick reference. There isn't explanation for Otis, however.

While Henry seems like stone cold killer with gentleman manners, after Becky gets to know about Henry's past, she opens up about her own past telling how she has been sexually abused as a child. For a blink of an eye viewer sees, that Henry can feel sympathy for this poor young woman, being even "protective". While it seems that Henry is actually falling for Becky, and starts caring about her for real, the road of a maniac is a lonely one after all...

Unlike Zodiac, this movie does not really build up the character backgrounds to the viewer that much before things speed up. When you start watching "Henry", you're dragged to the speeding events instantly without knowing much about our killer at the first place. The beginning of the movie is like fast-forwarded part of several killings by Henry at some point of his serial-killer "career", and then the movie jumps straight into the "love triangle" between Henry, Otis, and Becky, with some more kills along the way by the two "gentleman".

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer presents sort of a fast-forward-ride of partly career about "Henry". The story is lacking a bit, but is the movie entertaining? Well yes, quite. The movie doesn't give the beginning and the end for Henry's own story, but it presents part of it, and resolves the "love triangle" between Henry, Otis, and Becky, completely. The movie actually tells the love triangle-story (in darkest meaning possible that you can imagine that word in your mind), rather, than Henry's full life-story, and that one is well presented with plot twists and with sinister ending.

The highlights here are good acting of Michael Rooker, who does probably his best role of all time, at least the best one I've ever seen from him. He's very believable as a serial killer, and does much better job than in Cliffhanger for example. The "love-triangle" is also intelligently presented and never gets boring as things evolve and keep the viewer glued to the television screen. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer doesn't hesitate to present morbid topics such as Henry's and Becky's sexual abuse in their childhood, or Otis forcing his own sister to sleep with him. Tom Towles also plays role of a guy with low IQ, who eventually becomes murderer and sexual abuser himself, quite memorably too. The gore factor, however, isn't quite close to the likes of Maniac and The New York Ripper, despite Henry being quite violent movie too.

My favorite scene (*spoiler alert*) would probably be Otis and Henry visiting together to a crappy warehouse-like television store without having enough money to buy, eventually ending up killing the big-mouthed store-owner with a TV crushed to his head, and stealing expensive full-color television as well as video-camera, which will provide some sinister fun for their upcoming deeds... but the ending managed to surprise too, just don't want to spoil that one here, but it was very clever indeed (although slightly predicted).

Camera work is well executed, and filming locations vary from Otis' house to dark alleys road tunnels setting the dark tone for the movie, along with simple but sinister soundtrack. While movie seems to lack bit of a direction in the beginning, it finds the reason with love-triangle and manages to be enjoyable ride, despite having bit of a randomness in the air with it's events, and falling bit too short (83minutes) to make very strong story out of it.

However, movie like this, without very deep meaning behind things, would had needed bit more gore to be more striking and memorable ride. There's very few murder-scenes, which actually show the actual kills, rather than just the before-after camera-shots, and when the kills are shown, they aren't quite shocking. I'd had enjoyed this movie more, if it was tad more brutal (I apologize for sounding like a maniac myself). It could had been leaning more towards crime/horror fields, while it's now clearly crime/drama with "shock-factor" of something like score 4/10.

(Typical "body-shot" scene after the events that weren't shown directly - not so shocking)

That being said, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer falls above average score with it's solid acting, entertaining love-triangle-relationships and stylish cinematography. Recommended for anyone who likes crime-based movies, and especially for those who like serial-killer flicks. This might not be the most brutal one, or have the most deep story, but it's a "fun" ride. Still not recommended to watch after 10pm if you're sensitive person.

The Good

  • Love-triangle is interesting
  • Michael Rooker tops himself
  • Unhesitant to take on sinister topics

The Bad

  • Not enough gore
  • The story lacks a bit
  • Falls short on running time