Weekend of Trash VIII

The Weekend of Trash is back for its eighth incarnation after a longish gap (backstory and previous write-ups can be found here – I, II, III & IV, V & VI & VII). We actually had another one in-between VII and VIII, but I never wrote it up – sorry! Anyway, we started early on the Friday this time and didn’t go anywhere on Saturday other than to the pub for lunch, so we crammed in nine films into an altogether great weekend. Only three of these were on VHS I’m ashamed to say, and we fit in more modern releases than usual, but all films had their trashy aspects in some way or another, so here are my thoughts and plenty of clips and trailers for your enjoyment.

Forgive the brevity of the reviews – I’m a busy man and most of these are films that don’t require analysis, I’ll let the trailers and clips do the talking…

Friday Night

Strike Back

Director: Carl Schenkel
Screenplay: Carl Schenkel
Starring: Dave Balko, Blixa Bargeld, Rolf Eden
Year: 1981
Country: West Germany
Duration: 87 min




Not a good start to the weekend. This was painfully dull, certainly not what the box advertised. It had some semi-stylish flourishes, but nothing happens, the characters are all wankers and everything is taken far too seriously. Most of the film consists of lead character Dave (Dave Balko) sulking and watching tv. The best bits were the totally unnecessary punk rock band performances and some of these were painful too. The film was clearly meant to be punk-inspired art but instead is dull pretentious crap with some tits and blood thrown in to try and sell it off to mugs like me that thought it looked like fun. Fans of German punk might find some enjoyment in this, but we certainly didn’t.

An appropriately bizarre and painful scene from the film:


Immortals

Director: Tarsem Singh
Screenplay: Charley Parlapanides, Vlas Parlapanides
Starring: Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, John Hurt, Freida Pinto
Year: 2011
Country: USA
Duration: 110 min




Not being a big fan of 300 and not thinking much of the trailer for this I enjoyed Immortals a lot more than I expected to. Being a Tarsem film it looks gorgeous of course. The action is what surprised and impressed me most though. Employing a number of long take fight scenes, these are stylish, clear-to-follow and refreshingly bloody. The film in general was a lot nastier than I expected, but in a good way. It’s not without its problems though; it does get a little too campy at times in its costumes and performances (although Mickey Rourke is great as the villain) and these moments threaten to unbalance the dark edge. Overall though this is an exciting, beautiful yet impressively grim update of the sword and sandals genre.


Saturday

Gone in 60 Seconds

Director: H.B. Halicki
Screenplay: H.B. Halicki
Starring: H.B. Halicki, Marion Busia, Jerry Daugirda
Year: 1974
Country: USA
Duration: 105 min




A slow but nonetheless funky and nicely retro start makes way for an astounding climax. I say climax but the entire last half of the film is the climax – one long 40 minute car chase. This is amazing stuff with a realistic edge. In a newly recorded intro to the film, the star and director’s wife tells how much of the supporting cast and bystanders were actually policemen, firemen and pedestrians as they appear on screen. Everything was done on the cheap and for real. It’s nice to see a truly independent car chase movie that was made for the love. It’s got some ropey non-professional acting, zero plot and takes a while to get going, but when it does it’s pretty damn spectacular.

The trailer:



And here’s the entire movie! :


Skinny Tiger, Fatty Dragon

Director: Chia Yung Liu
Starring: Sammo Hung Kam-Bo, Karl Maka, Carrie Ng, Chia Yung Liu
Year: 1991
Country: Hong Kong
Duration: 100 min




This is classic Hong Kong action comedy at its best. Great fight sequences and effectively goofy humour. Hung and Maka make a decent double act. There’s a chunk of unnecessary padding in the mid section but it more than makes up for it with an action packed finale. Great stuff.

The trailer:


Star Crystal

Director: Lance Lindsay
Screenplay: Lance Lindsay
Starring: C. Juston Campbell, Faye Bolt and John W. Smith
Year: 1986
Country: USA
Duration: 91 min



or maybe
for the sheer audacity/stupidity of its ending



‘Filmed entirely in space’ according to the credits, this begins as an ultra cheap, tedious Alien rip off and then, out of the blue, turns into a schmaltzy ET wannabe!!! Yes, the murderous being that wipes out most of the crew of a space station suddenly apologises and makes friends with the two remaining survivors – and they agree!? Despite it being incredibly dull, shot on only three sets and featuring an alien that switches from looking like a castrated penis to a goo-covered roast chicken, the ridiculous twist at the end gave us the biggest laugh of the weekend. Utterly preposterous.

The trailer:



And if you don’t believe me about the ending – here’s how it pans out, including the 80’s classic song, ‘Crystal of a Star':


Elephant White

Director: Prachya Pinkaew
Screenplay: Kevin Bernhardt
Starring: Djimon Hounsou, Kevin Bacon, Jirantanin Pitakporntrakul
Year: 2011
Country: USA
Duration: 91 min




Prachya Pinkaew (Ong Bak) makes his English language directorial debut with this overly po-faced, sloppy and slow thriller. It has its moments; the few action scenes are well executed and Hounsou is decent in the lead. Kevin Bacon has one of cinema’s worst ‘English’ accents but is at least fun to watch in this very serious film. There’s a random spiritual aspect too which is rather silly including a ridiculous twist which we saw coming quite early on. It’s a shame, as the subject matter (sex trafficking) is powerful, but this dull and clumsy film doesn’t do it justice.

The trailer:


52 Pick-Up

Director: John Frankenheimer
Screenplay: Elmore Leonard & John Steppling
Based on a Novel by: Elmore Leonard
Starring: Roy Scheider, Ann-Margret, John Glover, Vanity
Year: 1986
Country: USA
Duration: 110 min




A suitably seedy neo-noir thriller from John Frankenheimer and writer Elmore Leonard. With a dark atmosphere and hard edge, especially for the time, this is a twisted, taut thriller featuring a number of nasty characters screwing each other over. Roy Scheider is great as ever as the ‘hero’ that isn’t without his own dark side. Leonard’s biting dialogue and wonderfully executed plotting is what works best though. Excellent stuff.

The trailer (which makes it look terrible!):


The Nesting

Director: Armand Weston
Screenplay: Daria Price & Armand Weston
Starring: Robin Groves, Christopher Loomis, Michael David Lally
Year: 1981
Country: USA
Duration: 104 min




The Nesting is a textbook haunted house movie. It’s cliched and incredibly predictable but it kind of worked in a classic cheesy horror sort of way. It’s never amazingly scary, but creepy enough. It tries a bit too hard to have a ‘deep’ psychological element too, but this side is pretty weak. Still, it’s a fun watch and was engaging enough.

The awesome original VHS trailer:


Sunday

Wyvern

Director: Steven R. Monroe
Screenplay: Jason Bourque
Starring: Nick Chinlund, Erin Karpluk, Barry Corbin
Year: 2009
Country: Canada/USA
Duration: 89 min




This was a surprisingly solid, fun monster movie. A dragon, sorry, a Wyvern, is awoken in a quiet Alaskan town, causing the various residents to become supper at summer solstice. This was much better than expected – well paced, didn’t take itself too seriously and had reasonable effects for a straight to DVD movie. The town’s motley crew of residents are all likeable too and never too dumb or annoying. It didn’t set the world on fire (literally – Wyverns don’t seem to breath fire, despite one doing so on the cover?!), but it’s good stuff nonetheless and a must watch for monster-movie fans.

A fan-made trailer, which is actually pretty good other than the graphics (it’s a little spoiler-filled too):

David Brook
RowThree's UK correspondent.

2 Comments

  1. This sounds like a great (and varied) assortment of films! Nice to find some gems among the trash, eh? :) I love that one of them is “one star” or maybe “five stars.” That’s kind of how Troll 2 is for me.

    Reply
  2. Absolutely – we do try and watch ‘good trash’ when we can if you know what I mean. That’s why we throw films like 52 Pick-Up into the mix which are classy films, but have enough sex and/or violence to have a trashy edge. My star ratings are a little more lenient than usual here though :)

    I think 52 Pick-Up is in the forthcoming Movie Club Podcast actually so it’ll be interesting to see what people think about it. I think I remember Andrew being a fan?

    As for the one star or maybe 5 – Star Crystal is nowhere near as fun to watch as Troll 2 unfortunately, but that ending was so gobsmacking that it deserved a rating all to itself!

    Reply

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