REVIEW: KILL BILL – VOLUME 2

CAST

Uma Thurman (My Super Ex-Girlfriend)
Lucy Liu (Cypher)
David Carradine (Kung Fu)
Vivica A. Fox (Independence Day)
Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs)
Daryl Hannah (The Job)
Michael Parks (Tusk)
Gordon Liu (The Man With The Iron Fists)
Bo Svenson (Speed 2)
Jeannie Epper (Drum)
Samuel L. Jackson (The Legend of Tarzan)
Larry Bishop (Hell Ride)
Sid Haig (Halloween)
Perla Haney-Jardine (Spider-Man 3)

The pregnant Bride and her groom rehearse their wedding. Bill, the Bride’s former lover, the father of her child, and the leader of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, arrives unexpectedly and orders the Deadly Vipers to kill everyone at the wedding. The Bride survives and swears revenge.Four years later, the Bride has already assassinated Deadly Vipers Vernita Green and O-Ren Ishii. She goes to the trailer of Bill’s brother and Deadly Viper Budd, planning to ambush him. Budd has been warned by Bill of her approach; he shoots her in the chest with a shotgun blast of rock salt, then sedates her. He calls Elle Driver, another former Deadly Viper, and arranges to sell her the Bride’s unique sword for a million dollars. He seals the Bride inside a coffin and buries her alive.Years earlier, Bill tells the young Bride of the legendary martial arts master Pai Mei and his Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique, a death blow that Mei refuses to teach his students; the technique supposedly kills any opponent after they have taken five steps. Bill takes the Bride to Mei’s temple for training. Mei ridicules her and makes her training a torment, but she gains his respect. In the present, the Bride uses Mei’s martial arts techniques to break out of the coffin and claw her way to the surface.Elle arrives at Budd’s trailer and kills him with a black mamba hidden with the money for the sword. She calls Bill and tells him that the Bride has killed Budd, and that Elle has killed the Bride. She uses the Bride’s real name: Beatrix Kiddo. As Elle exits the trailer, Beatrix ambushes her and they fight. Elle, who was also taught by Mei, taunts Beatrix by revealing that she poisoned Mei in retribution for his plucking out her eye. Beatrix plucks out Elle’s remaining eye and leaves her screaming in the trailer with the black mamba.Beatrix tracks Bill to the Mexican countryside and discovers that their daughter B.B. is still alive, now aged four. She finds her with Bill in a hotel and spends the evening with them. After she puts B.B. to bed, Bill shoots Beatrix with a dart containing truth serum and interrogates her. She recounts a mission in which she discovered she was pregnant, and explains that she left the Deadly Vipers to give B.B. a better life. She disables Bill with Mei’s Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique, which she kept secret. Bill makes his peace with her, takes five steps and dies. Beatrix leaves with B.B. to start a new life.Slick, fun, and occasionally macabre, Kill Bill Vol. 2 complements the first film nicely and in its own right stands as a classy piece of cinema

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REVIEW: JACKIE BROWN

CAST

Pam Grier (Mars Attacks)
Samuel L. Jackson (Iron Man)
Robert Forster (Dragon Wars)
Bridget Fonda (Easy Rider)
Michael Keaton (Birdman)
Robert De Niro (Joy)
Chris Tucker (Rush Hour)
Michael Bowen (Django Unchained)
Lisa Hay Hamilton (Drunks)
Tom Lister Jr. (The Dark Knight)
Hattie Winston (The Electric Company)
Sid Haig (Hatchet 3)
Aimee Graham (100 Girls)
T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh (Cosby)
Denise Crosby (Star Trek: TNG)
Quentin Tarantino (From Dusk Till Dawn)

Jackie Brown is a flight attendant for a small Mexican airline. To make ends meet, she smuggles money from Mexico into the United States for Ordell Robbie, a black-market gun runner living in the Los Angeles metropolitan area under the ATF’s close watch, forcing him to use couriers. Ordell learns that another of his couriers, Beaumont Livingston, has been arrested. Assuming that Livingston will become an informant in order to avoid jail time, Ordell arranges for bail with bondsman Max Cherry, then coaxes Livingston into a car trunk and murders him.

Acting on information Beaumont had already shared, ATF agent Ray Nicolette and LAPD detective Mark Dargus intercept Jackie as she returns to the United States with Ordell’s cash and some cocaine that Brown was unaware was stashed in her bag. Initially refusing to cut a deal, she is sent to jail which alerts Ordell that she might also be a threat to inform. Having received payment from Ordell, Max picks up Jackie from the jail and begins to develop an attraction to her. Ordell arrives at Jackie’s house intending to murder her but she surprises him by pulling a gun surreptitiously taken from Max’s glove compartment. Jackie negotiates a deal with Ordell to pretend to help the authorities while smuggling in $550,000 of Ordell’s money, enough to allow him to retire.

To carry out this plan, Ordell is counting on Melanie Ralston, an unambitious, stoned surfer girl with whom he lives, and Louis Gara, a friend and former cellmate. Unaware of Jackie and Ordell’s plan to smuggle in $550,000, Nicolette and Dargus devise a sting to catch Ordell during a transfer of $50,000. Unbeknownst to all, Jackie plans to double-cross everyone and keep $500,000 for herself. She recruits Max to assist with her plan and offers him a cut.

In the Del Amo Mall on the day of the transfer, Jackie enters a dressing room to try on a new suit. She has told Ordell that she will swap bags there with Melanie, supposedly passing off the $550,000 under the nose of Nicolette, who has been told that the exchange is to take place in the food court. Instead, the bag she gives Melanie contains only $50,000 and the rest is left behind in the dressing room for Max to pick up. Jackie then feigns despair as she calls Nicolette and Dargus out from hiding, claiming Melanie took all the money and ran.

In the parking lot, Melanie mocks Louis until he loses his temper and shoots her. Louis confesses this to Ordell. Ordell is livid when he discovers that most of the money is gone, and he realizes that Jackie is to blame. When Louis mentions that during the hand-off he saw Max Cherry in the store’s dress department and thought nothing of it, Ordell kills him and leaves with the bag. Ordell turns his anger toward Max, who informs him that Jackie is frightened for her life and is waiting in Max’s office to hand over the money. A menacing Ordell holds Max at gunpoint as they enter the darkened office. Jackie suddenly yells that Ordell has a gun, and Nicolette jumps from a hiding place and shoots him dead.

Having had her charges dropped for cooperating with the ATF, and now in possession of the money as well as Ordell’s car, Jackie decides to leave the country and travel to Madrid, Spain. She invites Max to go along with her, but he declines. Jackie shares a meaningful moment with Max, kisses him goodbye, and leaves as Max takes a phone call. Moments later, Max cuts the call short and seems to contemplate his decision to stay behind as Jackie drives away.Tarantino has a flair for raw energy in all of his films, and “Jackie Brown” is no exception. The movie is bursting at its edges, packed with wild antics and the occasional fierce brutality. The movie was criticized by Tarantino’s die-hard fans for being too different from his other films. However, the mistake of many directors is to repeat the same formulas over and over again. One must at least give Tarantino credit for trying new things in each of his films. An excellent film.

REVIEW: BATMAN: THE COMPLETE 60’S SERIES

CAST

Adam West (Family Guy)
Burt Ward (Legends of The Super Heroes)
Alan Napier (Marnie)
Neil Hamilton (Tarzan The Ape Man)
Stafford Repp (Plunder Road)
Madge Blake (The Long, Long Trailer)
Yvonne Craig (Olivia)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Frank Gorshin (Star Trek)
Jill St. John (Diamonds Are Forever)
Burgess Meredith (Rocky)
David Lewis (The Apartment0
Leslie Parrish (Sex and The Single Girl)
Cesar Romero (The Thin Man)
Nancy Kovack (Marooned)
George Sanders (All About Eve)
Anne Baxter (I Confess)
Susan Silo (James Bond JR)
David Wayne (The Andromeda Strain)
Malachi Throne (Catch Me If You Can)
Myma Fahey (House of Usher)
Julie Newmar (Mckenna’s Gold)
Ziva Rodann (Forty Guns)
Victor Buono (Beneath The Planet of The Apes)
Olan Soule (The Toweing Inferno)
Francine York (The Family Man)
Roddy McDowall (Planet of The Apes)
Sherry Jackson (Brenda Starr, Reporter)
Julie Gregg (The Godfather)
Barbara Nichols (Where the Boys Are)
Art Carney (Last Action Hero)
Van Johnson (The Caine Mutiny)
Phyllis Diller (A Bug’s Life)
Sid Haig (The Devil’s Rejects)
Michael Pataki (Rocky 4)
Bruce Lee (Enter The Dragon)
Van Williams (Surfside 6)
Shelley Winters (Alfie)
Walter Slezak (Lifeboat)
Vincent Price (Edward Scissorhands)
Liberace (Another World)
Woodrow Parfrey (Dirty Harry)
Otto Preminger (Anatomy of Murder)
Carolyn Jones (The Addams Family)
Cliff Robertson (Spider-Man)
Ted Cassidy (Genesis II)
Maurice Evans (Rosemary’s Baby)
Michael Rennie (The Day The Earth Stood Still)
James Brolin (Hotel)
Lesley Gore (The Pied Piper of Astroworld)
Bob Hastings (batman: TAS)
Roger C. Carmel (Star Trek)
Alex Rocco (The Simpsons)
Seymour Cassel (Rushmore)
Lee Meriwether (Barnaby Jones)
Grace Lee Whitney (Star Trek)
Tallulah Bankhead (A Royal Scandal)
Eli Wallach (The Holiday)
Elisha Cook Jr. (Rosemary’s Baby)
Joan Collins (Dynasty)
Ethel Merman (Call Me Madam)
Gary Owens (That 70s Show)
Milton Berle (Hey, Abbott!)
Glynis Johns (Mary Poppins)
Rudy Vallee (Sunburst)
Eartha Kitt (Holes)
Barbara Rush (When Worlds Collide)
Dina Merrill (Caddyshack II)
Linda Harrison (Planet of The Apes)
Ida Lupino (High Sierra)
Howard Duff (Kramer vs Kramer)
Zsa Zsa Gabor (Jack of Diamonds)

This is the show that set the tone for the Batman franchise for decades, good and bad, as its indelible mark is hard to erase. The power of the show is in how iconic it was, with every element so vibrant that it’s impossible to forget. Yes, it had the advantage of being the first modern-era mass-media representation of the character, and it also basically had the stage to itself forever, but there was so many memorable ingredients that made it the definitive Batman for generations. First among those were the performances of Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin. Playing it completely straight–West with thoughtful gravitas, Ward with youthful enthusiasm–these actors kept the show from descending into parody. The world may be crazy, but our heroes remain vigilant defenders and detectives. The contrast makes their square-jawed heroics comedic, and the effect is enhanced when things get unusual like seeing Batman dance or surf, or when the Dynamic Duo are chilling out in the Batmobile eating burgers.
The structure of the series, which leans heavily on the style of the old serials and a well-defined formula, was also a big reason for the show’s success and long-lasting legacy. During the first two seasons, stories were split over two half-hour episodes, shown twice a week. The first episode would always end with Batman and Robin on the edge of destruction in some sort of insane death-dealing set-up, with the now classic refrain “same Bat-time, same Bat-channel” reminding viewers to come back to see the story’s weekly conclusion. These cliffhangers, along with the emphatic narration, the atmospheric music, the wonderfully detailed sets and costumes and the choreographed fight scenes, which feature the show’s famous “Pow!” and “Bam” visual sound effects, all serve to create a larger-than-life adventure series that’s great fun to watch.
Though West doesn’t appreciate the show being described as campy, it’s hard to think of a word that fits the series better. The thing is, you have to separate the ideas of bad and camp. Camp doesn’t have to be bad. It just has to be absurdly silly. So much of the show is obviously aiming for comedy, be it the way Batman solves impossible clues impossibly quick, the goofy names of the bad guys’ labeled henchmen, the villains’ strange obsession with personal branding, the overly literal signs seen all over the place, or the strangely specific gadgets Batman always has at the ready. I mean, really…an empty alphabet soup bat-container? Then there are the overtly humorous parts, like the cameos when Batman and Robin climb up the sides of buildings, which feature celebrity cameos from Sammy Davis Jr., Don Ho, Santa Claus and Lurch from The Addams Family. Elements like this earn plenty of chuckles throughout the series, but they don’t take away from the fun of the action or the crime-fighting plots. They also serve to make for what might be the most accessible Batman ever; enjoyable for young and old alike.
The show burned brightly, but only for three seasons, crashing hard considering the show’s immense popularity. Perhaps it was overexposure due to the twice-a-week schedule, with 58 episodes in season two, but the show was definitely showing signs of slowing down in the final season before cancellation, including mostly eliminating the cliffhanger, instead linking episodes via a coda at the end. Whether it was an artistic choice or otherwise, the weird way the show started to use “suggested sets,” in which parts of a set were placed in an otherwise black room to create the idea of the setting, made it seem like something had changed for the worse. Another major change in the third season also stood out somewhat negatively, as Yvonne Craig’s Batgirl (the crime-fighting alter-ego of police commissioner Gordon’s daughter Barbara) was added to the show as a regular. She didn’t bring a great deal to the party though, outside of a great costume design, as she often needed saving as much as she helped the team.
The other issue with Batgirl was she was further evidence of the show being a product of its time, as, in addition to the clothes, sets and language all being heavily dated to the ‘60s (especially in the third run), sexism is rampant throughout the series, whether display via the eye-candy molls of the villains or the drooling narration for the new distaff member of the Bat-team. The portrayal of women is pretty much entirely negative in the show, with flippant remarks about the vanity of women or their value, while one villain, Nora Clavicle, is actually a women’s rights activist, who replaces the police force with women, who are only interested in coupons and recipes. The rampant misogyny is odd considering the show was progressive enough to have an interracial flirtation between West’s Batman and Kitt’s Catwoman.
Though the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder are obviously the stars of the show, the villains are what defines the series, as has always been the case with Batman. In addition to his traditional rogues gallery, including Joker, Riddler, Penguin and Catwoman, this series introduced a number of freshly-minted felons, some of which eventually were incorporated into the comic books, like Victor Buono’s over-acted King Tut. The oft-ridiculous nature of these baddies, which were often created to give big celebrities of the day a chance to play, like Zsa Zsa Gabor’s Minerva, Milton Berle’s Louie the Lilac or Liberace’s Fingers, was a big part of why the show was viewed as campy.
As goofy as the new creation were, the originals were wonderfully evil, especially Cesar Romero’s Joker, Frank Gorshin’s Riddler and Julie Newmar’s Catwoman (though that shouldn’t take anything away from Eartha Kitt’s purr-fect turn in the cat suit in the show’s third season.) These three each brought something special to the show, be it Romero’s manic glee, Gorshin’s dark intensity or Newmar’s unrestrained sensuality. The problem with having the villains be such a focal point of the show is it makes the series uneven, as a weak villain, like Van Johnson’s Minstrel or Maurice Evans’ Puzzler, usually makes for a weak episode. The exception to that rule would have to the two-part “A Piece of the Action”/”Batman’s Satisfaction”, which had a terrible nemesis in the stamp-forging Colonel Gumm, but which is great fun because of a crossover with The Green Hornet, which meant Van Williams and Bruce Lee were on hand for twice the crime-fighting action. Just seeing Lee on Batman was great, but having two masked heroes and their rich alter-egos interacting without each other knowing made for a fun twist on the heroes.

Looking at the set as a whole, it’s easy to wonder why the first 12 discs are extras-free. There’s not a commentary to be found. Considering how long the wait has been, and how influential and popular the show is, you’d think there would be plenty of people that would want to sit down and talk about this show. It’s bad enough that the lengthy delays have resulted in many of the cast and creators passing before its release, but to not have any contemporary perspectives is just doubling down on this problem.
There’s also the fact that two separate releases of bonus content that have been released in the past, “Holy Batmania!,” which offered four documentaries on the series, and “Adam West Naked,” a collection of recollections produced by West himself. Some of this contest should have been included on the third disc of season three, which has just two 30 minute episodes. What’s worse is Warner Brothers is offering “Adam West Naked” as part of an odd package online that includes the first 64 episodes, the Batman ‘60s movie and some ephemera.
Thankfully the 13th disc fills in a lot of the gaps holding all of the set’s bonus content, most of which is courtesy of master extra maker Alexander Gray, who has produced and directed this kind of material for loads of DC-related DVDs. It all starts with “Hanging with Batman” (29:56), which focuses on West, looking at his life, from his childhood to his acting career, with plenty of time on his experiences as Batman and the legacy of that performance. The piece, which is loaded with archival photos and video, isn’t fluffy in any way, touching on some of the darker moments of West’s life, including controversy that surrounded him at his peak as a star and his personal and professional struggles in the wake of the show’s cancellation and the character’s rebirth with the Tim Burton movies. An excellent profile of a charismatic man with an interesting life.
“Holy Memorabilia, Batman!” (29:59) looks at the fans, a few in particular, and the collecting that sprung up around the show, including the key pieces and the process of acquiring them. With Toy Hunter’s Jordan Hembrough providing expert (and some personal) perspective, the featurette checks out the collections of actor Ralph Garman (Family Guy, the Hollywood Babble-On podcast) and Guinness record-holder Kevin Silva, as well as the work of Mark Racop, who builds replica Batmobiles. The Garman segments also feature a visit by West to check out (and even try on) the goods, and the result is an excellent look at a side product of the series.
An odd inclusion is “Na Na Na Batman” (12:15) which features a huge roster of producers and directors from Warner Brothers-produced series talking about the Batman series, including their memories of watching the show (if they are old enough) along with the costumes and villains. The connection to the show for most of these participants, which include Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, Mike O’Malley, Stephen Amell, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins and Jensen Ackles, is beyond tangential, which coats the whole piece with a sheen of promotion, but if you’re a fan of shows like Supernatural, Arrow, The Following and The Mentalist, perhaps you’ll enjoy these worlds crashing together. Wedged in here with all these people is West and Burt Ward, bringing things back to center a bit.
The point of “Batmania Born!” (29:41) isn’t entirely clear, as it can get a bit scattered in terms of the subject matter, but it seems to mainly talk about the look of the series, and mainly features the voices of people from the world of comic books and related TV series, though some production design and costuming people sneak in as well to discuss the visuals of Batman, including the influences of the comic books, the animated opening, the tights and, most interestingly, the negative effect the show had on comic books in the larger world of entertainment. Among those sitting down to chat are Jim Lee, Bruce Timm and Julie Newmar, long with archival clips of Cesar Romero and Frank Gorshin, making this catnip for comics fans.
Lee and Garman return in “Bats of the Round Table” (45:08), joining Batman superfan Kevin Smith and actor Phil Morris (Smallville), as they sit down for a meal with West. Unsurprisingly, the chat is dominated by Smith–a natural conversationalist–but they all chime in at some point, peppering West with questions and actually getting some interesting answers, including talk about dealing with a difficult Otto Preminger, who West’s favorite guest star and favorite Catwoman was, life on the set and a fun story about Ward and Bruce Lee. One wonders how the mostly unconnected Morris got in on this group (though he does have a Batman story of his own to share), but they all interact well in a smooth-flowing get-together. The ending may be slightly cheesy, but it’s a satisfying featurette.
Though there are no commentaries in this set, there are two pseudo-commentaries, in the form of the two-part “Inventing Batman: In the Words of Adam West.” These pieces, which run a total of 59:08, feature West, in occasional picture-in-picture appearances, reading excerpts from his shooting scripts for “Hi Diddle Riddle” and “Stuck in the Middle” while the episodes play. There’s a tremendous amount of dead air (probably more than half the episodes are just the original audio), which may explain the lack of commentaries, but it’s great when West shares the notes he made on the script during the production process and his thought process for the character.
The bonuses wrap up with a quartet of rarities, which are mostly great to check out. First up is the 7:54 pilot for Batgirl. This never-aired “episode” was intended to show the character could work, in advance of her introduction in Batman’s third season. This compact adventure, which features Batgirl fighting Killer Moth and his gang alongside the Dynamic Duo in a library, feels just like the Batman series, complete with the “Pow!”s, but with a lot more sexism, courtesy of the narrator and Batman himself. Today, it’s really kind of creepy.
Also included are a pair of screen tests for the show, which are truly fascinating. First up is West and Ward (6:16), in a proto-Wayne Manor and the Batcave, doing a pair of scenes, following by a brief tumbling and karate demonstration by Ward and some silent footage of the pair in the ‘Cave. The performances were so fully formed right off the bat (no pun intended) that it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the roles. That’s solidified when you see Lyle Waggoner and Peter Deyell try out for the parts (4:23), doing the same roles on the same sets, with the same sketchy costumes. Robin is more childish in Deyell’s performance, while Waggoner doesn’t bring the same measured intensity as West. Watching it though, allows you to picture an entirely different history for Batman.
The final entry is a James Blakely Tribute (2:24). The title is a bit misleading, as it’s just a clip of Blakely, post-production supervisor on the show, discussing the story of the series’ development and the idea of editing in the show’s iconic sound-effects graphics. It’s not really a tribute in the traditional manner.
 It’s only natural that waiting so long for these episodes to arrive on home video has made expectations unmeetable, but between the wonderfully silly show, the quality of the presentation and the excellent extras that actually have been included, this set is one all Batman fans will want to own.

REVIEW: THE DEVIL’S REJECTS

CAST

Sid Haig (Jackie Brown)
Bill Moseley (Arm of Darkness)
Sheri Moon Zombie (Halloween)
William Forsythe (The Rock)
Ken Foree (Dawn of The Dead)
Leslie Easterbrook (Halloween)
Geoffrey Lewis (Maverick)
Priscilla Barnes (Jane The Virgin)
Lew Temple (Lawless)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Tom Towles (Miami Vice)
Michael Berryman (Star Trek IV)
P.J. Soles (Carrie)
Ginger Lynn (31)
Chris Ellis (Catch Me If You Can)
Daniel Roebuck (Lost)
Glenn Taranto (The New Addams Family)
Tyler Mane (X-Men)
Steve Railsback (Lifeforce)
Robert Trebor (Hercules: TLJ)

Rob Zombie’s second film picks up shortly after the events that finished up House Of 1,000 Corpses. The Firefly clan are holed up in a farmhouse, surrounded by cops and wanted for murdering seventy-five people. Needless to say, the police are pretty hot to get their hands on the clan, but they’re not going down without a fight and soon enough, a bloody shoot out goes down. Otis (Bill Moseley) and Baby (Sheri Moon) make it out of the house before the law closes in, but Mother Firefly (Leslie Easterbrook picking up where Karen Black left off) isn’t so lucky and the cops are only too happy to bring her into custody.
Captain Spaulding, as luck would have it, was out of the house when the shoot out occurred, so he too manages to avoid the police and it doesn’t take him long to find out what’s happened. Once he does, he figures he should head on out and look for Baby and Otis, who have spent some time hiding out in a remote hotel where they’ve been holding a country and western band (made up of Priscilla Barnes, Geoffrey Lewis, Kate Norby and Lew Temple) hostage. One thing leads to another and soon Baby and Otis, after making waste of the band, head out to meet up with Spaulding at a whorehouse run by Spaulding’s ‘brother from another mother,’ Charlie Altamont (Ken Foree).
While the family is on the lam, Sheriff Wydell (William Forsyth) is becoming more and more obsessed with getting revenge on them for the murder of his brother in the first film. He rounds up a band of hired guns to help him out and heads into the desert to find the three Fireflies and give them what for.

Prod DB © Lions Gate Films / DR THE DEVIL'S REJECTS (THE DEVIL'S REJECTS) de Rob Zombie 2005 USA / ALL avec Sid Haig, Bill Moseley et Sheri Moon horreur, gore, otage, prisonniers, attaches, tortureRob Zombie has crafted one mean little movie this time out. While a lot of the black humor that made the first movie as fun as it was is still here, there’s a much stronger mean streak in The Devil’s Rejects that gives it a certain air of uneasiness. Otis and Spaulding as sicker, more depraved and more psychotic here than in the last film (if that’s possible) but the story allows us to get to know them better this time out, which makes for an interesting paradox. These are definitely not heroes or even anti heroes that we’re following in this film, they’re despicable human beings but their story is interesting and while we don’t necessarily root for them, the movie sucks us in enough that we do want to find out how it all ends.

DevilsRejects-SheriZombieIn addition to some brilliant casting choices, Zombie has also done an excellent job of recreating the dirty, sweaty atmosphere of so many of the seventies drive in horror and exploitation films that so obviously inspired him to make this movie. The film will leave you in need of a shower, it’s been baked in the sun a little too long and as such it’s got a strange funk to it that just makes an already fairly seedy movie even seedier. With supporting roles from Michael Berryman, Rosario Dawson (well, in a deleted scene), the late Matthew McGrory, Danny Trejo and Diamond Dallas Page as the Sheriff’s mercenary pals, P. J. Soles, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, Ginger Lynn Allen, Mary Woronov, and more, the film also makes for a fun game of ‘spot the b-movie celebrity’ you’re your friends.
vlcsnap-2015-04-06-02h14m31s233While the film played theatrically with an R-rating, this two-disc set is uncut. The main difference is the fact that the hotel room scene plays out a little longer than it did theatrically, the rest of the added content (to the best of this reviewer’s memory – I don’t have the R version to compare it to) is some restored trims to the nastier bits of violence in the movie.

REVIEW: HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES

CAST

Sid Haig (Jackie Brown)
Karen Black (Soulkeeper)
Rainn Wilson (Super)
Bill Moseley (Arm of Darkness)
Erin Daniels (One Hour Photo)
Dennis Frimple (King Kong 1976)
Wolton Goggins (The Hateful Eight)
Irwin Keyes (The Flinstones)
Sheri Moon Zombie (Halloween)
Michael J. Pollard (Superboy)
Rob Zombie (Slither)

Rocker Rob Zombie burst onto the horror film scene with his 2003 movie House of 1000 Corpses.  It took years to get released (and necessitated a change of studios) and the movie was generally slammed by the critics but horror fans understood what Zombie was trying to do; create an homage to the classic 70’s horror films he grew up with.  With a good dose of humor and just as much gore, Zombie succeeded brilliantly.  Now this film has made its way to Blu-ray with a very good transfer, high definition sound and even a bonus JAVA game not found on the SD release. Just before Halloween, four budding authors are researching a book on road side attractions when they stumble upon Captain Spaulding’s Museum of Monsters and Madmen which also doubles as a gas station and sells “tasty” fried chicken too.  They meet Captain Spaulding himself, a foul mouthed grungy man in clown makeup (wonderfully played by Sid Haig) and he tells them about the local serial killer, Dr. Satan, the two couples head off in the rain to see the tree where he was hanged.
Nearing their destination they spot a hitchhiker, Baby Firefly (played by they hypnotic and ultra-sexy Sheri Moon) and offer her a lift.  When the car blows a tire, Baby takes everyone to her house, a bizarre and unusual affair with decapitated dolls nailed to the walls.  There they meet the Firefly family including the disfigured giant Tiny (Matthew McGrory), crazy Grandpa Hugo (Dennis Fimple), and Mother (Karen Black) who tries to seduce one of the young men.  The leader of this group is Otis (Bill Moseley), an insane psychopath who spends most of his time torturing five cheerleaders that he kidnapped.  After an odd dinner an even more bizarre floorshow starts.  After Grandpa tells some off color jokes, Baby comes out dressed in a slinky outfit and sings a sex song to the men.  When their girlfriends object, a fight breaks out and the four youths are asked to leave in their newly fixed car.  Spooked, they jump into the car and try to leave, but they don’t get very far before the car is stopped and everyone is beaten and captured.  What maniacal plans do Otis and the Firefly’s have for their new victims?
2677_10_screenshotThough there were problems with this film, it is still a very good horror flick.  Rob Zombie takes an everything including the kitchen sink approach to the movie and throws in all the horror conventions: serial killers, demonic clowns, sex-starved older women, disfigured freaks, mad doctors, and a crazy family, just to name a few.  Because of this the movie starts off at a fast pace (with a pair of would-be criminals deciding to rob Captain Spaulding….big mistake!) and never really slows down. This was Zombie’s first directorial effort and he proves that he has a lot of talent.  He used old film clips, split screens, and mirror images to very good effect.  These never came across as artsy or film-school pretentious but worked to advance the story in a visually interesting way.  There were some scenes that really stand out too.  One of my favorites was when Otis confronted a sheriff’s deputy (played by Walton Goggins.)  The deputy is kneeling with his hands up and Otis has the barrel of a pistol touching his forehead.  The camera pulls back and stops, and still Otis doesn’t do anything.  Will he let the man live and tie him up?  Will he kill him?  As the scene goes on with neither character moving the tension builds and builds.
lindsay-lohan-charlie-sheen-scary-movie-5That’s not to say that this is a perfect film.  The four victims aren’t developed at all and it’s hard to feel sorry for them.  The two girls especially, they spend most of the beginning of the movie whining and complaining.  There’s really not much of a plot either, and at the end of the movie there are more questions than answers.  The driving force of the film is really to see what atrocities will occur next, not whether any of the kids will survive.  The reason the film works so well even with the flawed script is because of the strong cast.  Though the four victims are very bland and fade into the background, the other actors create unique and memorable characters are a huge asset to the film.  Sid Haig is the run away star as Capt. Spaulding.  His vile clown is both funny and displeasing at the same time and every scene he’s in is a joy to watch.  He’s at the top of his form when he confronts the robber who’s holding a gun on him.  It’s a classic scene.