Sunday, January 22, 2017

Dangerous Seductress ( H. Tjut Djalil, 1995)

I don't know 'bout you, but the super-long car chase/shoot-out that opens Dangerous Seductress better have a decent pay off, because that was seven of the most painful minutes of cinema I have ever endured. Sure, it's seven painful minutes of hyper-insane Indonesian cinema, but there's only so much H. Tjut Djalil (Lady Terminator) can bring to car chases and shoot outs (two of the most overplayed tropes in movie history). Of course, given that this review is currently in the process of being hatched, it should come as no surprise that the film delivers on so many levels. And begins to do so immediately after the pink getaway car belonging to three jewel thieves crashes in front of the Jakarta mansion belonging to Linda (Kristin Anin), a blonde fashion model. While the police do their best to collect the mangled body parts that litter the crash scene, a severed finger manages to allude them. And you know what that means? Right, the finger is absorbed by an ancient compact mirror, and then burrows itself into ground. After some mild rumbling, a skeleton emerges. Slowly but surely, the skeleton begins to grow flesh. Eventually the skeleton transforms into... "The Evil Queen."
Don't worry, I'm sure nothing bad will happen. I mean, so what if there's a "dangerous seductress" loitering on the front lawn of the suburban Jakarta mansion belonging to a blonde fashion model? Just as long as a Guinean anthropologist doesn't give the blonde fashion model a book about Indonesian mysticism for her birthday, and just as long as the blonde fashion model's blonde sister, Susan (Tonya Lawson) doesn't decide to read from the book out loud while standing in front of a mirror, everything should be fine.
However, things don't turn out fine, now do they? Or do they? Unless you're proponent of heterosexual men and their equally heterosexual penises, everything actually will be fine. You see, when everything I stated earlier does happen, this leads to many deaths within Jakarta's burgeoning douchebag community. Boo-hoo? I don't think so.
And like said, it all happens thanks to a weird con-flux of events. In a way, you could blame Susan's asshole rapist of a boyfriend. While "The Evil Queen" is drinking dogs blood on Linda's Jakarta front lawn, Susan is trying not to get raped by her asshole rapist boyfriend on the dining room table. Thanks to the shoddy quality of the table (it collapses under the weight of the violence), Susan manages to escape.
Desperate for help, Susan turns to her sister in Jakarta, who is celebrating her birthday with her husband Bob (John Warom), a decent human being with suspect taste in blazers. Inviting Susan to stay with her in Jakarta, Linda helps her battered and bruised sister recover (her attack was extremely brutal).
It's when Linda goes to Bali for a photo-shoot and leaves Susan all alone that things begin to go nuts. Now, I don't know what compelled Susan to read that book on Indonesian mysticism aloud like that (I didn't get a strong likes to read books vibe from her). But nonetheless, the passages she reads lead to her becoming the unwitting pawn of... "The Evil Queen."
Was I annoyed that Susan's post-possession dress-up montage was three minutes shorter than the obnoxious car chase/shoot-out that opens the film? A little. That being said, I think most people, well, most sane people, will agree that Susan's dress-up montage is fucking fantastic. Seriously, I lost track of how many different outfits she tries on.

She even tries on red stockings!!!
Eventually settling on a little black dress, Susan hits the streets in search of sustenance. And by "sustenance," I mean douchebag blood.
I know it says that this film was shot in the mid-1990s. But everything practically oozes the mid-1980s. Maybe it's because Jakarta was a little behind when it came to keeping up with the latest fashions. Or maybe Jakarta circa 1995 is just plain awesome. Either way, the scenes in the nightclub contained everything I look for in a good club sequence.
(You mean fashion-forward leggy floozies and synthesizer music?) Exactly.

This place was crawling with fashion-forward leggy floozies.
And there's no better leggy floozy than Susan herself. A thousand times hotter than her sister, Susan and her sturdy legs and ample breasts make short work of the heterosexual men in this joint.

Settling on a lanky fuck in grey bikini briefs, Susan allows this oily twerp to escort her back to his boat so that she can extract his blood. Using a fishhook at first, Susan ultimately decides to use the spiky heel on her shoe to withdraw his... crimson nectar. Yum.
While I feel bad using the term "douchebag" to describe what are essentially man-shaped globs of yuppie scum, those three guys Susan lures to a meat locker on the outskirts of town were definitely douchebags. Again, using her sturdy legs and ample breasts, Susan manages to score three bodies worth of blood for... "The Evil Queen."

You might be thinking to yourself: Is anyone trying to stop Susan's reign of righteous terror? Well, there's this cop. But he seems more interested in hassling Linda, who he thinks might have stole some jewels from the corpses of the jewel thieves. But other than that, it looks like Susan and... "The Evil Queen" are pretty much in the clear as far as achieving their goals. Which is, I think, to restore... "The Evil Queen" to her original glory. And with Susan, a walking, sort of talking blood bag in heels, on her side, they should be unstoppable.
Of course, since not many movies openly promote the advancement of evil, I'm totally sure someone is going to come along to fuck up their plans. In meantime, however, we can relish in how close Susan came to undermining heterosexuality in Jakarta. Think about it. All she needed to do was kill two or maybe three more guys, and women throughout the city would have been free of unwanted harassment for, like, forever. Okay, maybe not forever. But a solid two weeks for sure.
It should go without saying, but Dangerous Seductress delivers the brain-sick and then some. The film is sexy, gory and the special effects are... uh, let's just say, they're uniquely Indonesian. Personally, I would have trimmed the opening car chase/shoot-out scene and done the same to Linda's Bali scenes; don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the bikini modeling scenes, it's just that the parasailing stuff was tedious. But other than that, the film is a glorious piece of trash.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun (Joann Sfar, 2015)

First off, how about a round of applause for Freya Mavor's freckles? If you thought Natalya Rudakova's freckles were off the hook in The Transporter 3, you'll love Freya Mavor's freckles in The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun... (Hold your horses, that's the name of the movie? And secondly, do people still say, "off the hook"?)  Yes, that's the name of the movie. As for "off the hook." Fuck these so-called "people." Besides, who still says, "hold your horses"? Talk about lame. Anyway, as of writing this, I have purchased a total of six dresses at my favourite thrift store (it's on Bloor St. and it's the only place I feel comfortable shopping for clothes). Now, given that I'm rather new to buying dresses, I'm still trying to figure what my size is. At first I thought I was in the 9-10 range. Then I started to think I was more of a 7-8 kind of creature (edit: 3-4 seems about right). Either way, deep down I feel as if the garments I'm getting all a tad on the small side. That is until I saw what Freya Mavor wears as Dany Dorémus is this strange retro road movie from France. Even though she mainly wears the same outfit from start to finish, every outfit she does wear is pretty skimpy. And given that Freya and I are both 5' 9", I was thinking that maybe the dresses I'm buying were in fact the correct size. Oh, and it's not that they don't fit, it's that they seem a little short. However, since Freya and I, like I said, are both 5' 9", and we both have great legs, I've decided to conclude it would a crime for us to not wear short dresses and skirts.

As for the quality of this movie. Now, that's a different story all-together. Of course, only someone who is completely dense in the appreciating beautiful women department would deny that Freya Mavor, a Scottish-born actress who is fluent in French, is gorgeous. That being said, the movie itself doesn't quite live up to lofty standards put forth by Miss Mavor (the lady). Neither does it live up to the blue Ford Thunderbird (the car). As for the her trademark glasses. Hmm, I'd say it's a tie. Everything is better than the gun. Seriously, the movie becomes a huge chore to sit through when the gun finally appears on-screen.

Traditionally, the gun is supposed to represent action and danger, but all it does in this movie is elicit yawns and/or groans. For one thing, it's a rifle. Yet it sounds like a pistol. To make matters even more aggravating, they keep referring to it as a shotgun.

Enough about the gun, let's talk about Freya Mavor and that car of hers. Well, it's not really her car. Uh, I'll get to that in a minute. Nevertheless, the pairing of Freya Mavor and that blue Thunderbird is an intoxicating combination. Add the fact that she's wearing glasses and a short light beige dress, and the combination gets even more potent.

The decision to set the film during unspecific time period was also rather ingenious. There's not a single item, phrase uttered or object that betrays what year the film takes place in. It also helped that phones are never used in the film, as nothing dates a movie faster than a phone, especially a mobile phone.

The car is timeless, the clothes are timeless, the John Carpenter-esque soundtrack is kinda of timeless, hell, even the typewriter is timeless, I loved the film's overall vagueness when it came to style. Parts of the film screamed the 1960s, while others had a 1970s vibe. Even the film's protracted title has a certain 1970s exploitation hint to it.

It's too bad the film doesn't really earn its title. I mean, those expecting to see a sleazy revenge movie along the lines of Thriller: They Called Her One-Eye or I Spit On Your Grave are going to be severely disappointed.

While I'll don't normally care about revealing plot points. Since this movie is relatively new, I'll refrain from doing so. I will say this, Freya Mavor, a tall, lanky drink of leggy water, plays Dany Dorémus, the secretary of a business named Michel Caravaille (Benjamin Biolay). After completing some important typing for Michel, Dany is asked to drive her boss, and his wife and daughter to the airport, and then drive the car back to their house.

However, instead of driving it, a blue Thunderbird, to their house, Dany decides to go on a bit of a joy ride and heads toward the sea. Of course, this decision has unintended consequences, as things get more and more stressful for Dany and her long, slender legs.

Unsure as to why all this weird shit is happening to Dany, the audience is left to figure out... No, wait. All the film's mysteries are explained in, what felt like, a twenty minute plot wrap up sequence at the end of the movie. This may sound harsh, but the final twenty minutes are terrible. As the film's unique flavour is basically flushed down the toilet. (Wow, that was harsh.) Well, the film up until this point had a sort of surreal vibe about it that was quite appealing.

Add the fact that it had a sexy chick, a cool car and a some times synthy soundtrack, it had the potential of becoming a future cult classic alongside the likes of The Duke of Burgundy and It Follows. But it doesn't... (Don't forget the killer shopping/dress-up montage.) Oh, yeah. There's a shopping/dress-up montage. Of course, Dany doesn't wear any of the clothes she ends up purchasing (the skimpy beige dress that may or may not be two sizes to small for her is what she wears from start to finish). But still, you gotta love the fact she takes the time to try on clothes. Or you don't. Either way, the movie is... all right, I guess.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

I, the Jury (Richard T. Heffron, 1982)

How am I supposed to learn how to apply makeup in a tarty manner if they don't show it being applied? (What the hell are you babbling about?) The sexual deviant/serial killer/C.I.A. assassin, played by the striking Judson Scott, at the centre of I, the Jury likes to slather his female victims in heavy makeup before killing them. (Yeah, so?) So? We never see how he applies the makeup. And another thing, does he carry around the makeup with him? It's revealed later on in the film, directed by Richard T. Heffron (the film's writer, Larry Cohen, was set to direct but was apparently fired for some reason), that he carries around a bag that contains a red wig and a switchblade. So, I can only assume he keeps the makeup in that bag as well. Either way, I would have liked to have seen him put the makeup on the women he murdered. I know, there are literally thousands of videos out there that can help you apply makeup to your face. But those videos are mostly about cis women applying makeup in a competent manner. I, on the other hand, want to know how to apply makeup in an incompetent manner. What can I say? I'm a tart at heart. In case it isn't obvious, the Judson Scott subplot of this film, loosely based on the novel by Mickey Spillane (his debut, if I'm not mistaken), was my favourite aspect of this NYC-set detective movie.

Unfortunately, Judson Scott doesn't appear in the film right away. Sure, you get to see some of his handy-work in the early going (a tarted up, red wig-adorned woman is found dead in the park). But the film is mostly made up of car chases and Armand Assante's [thankfully] always clean shaven Mike Hammer whining about his pet fish dying (every time he enters his office, one, or some times even two, of his fish are lifelessly floating in his fish tank). Actually, I kind of liked the dead fish gag.

Anyway, I would say a good chunk of this film, especially the first half, had the feeling of an expensive TV pilot. However, that all changes when the orgy gets underway. Yep, I said, orgy. Investigating the murder of a one-armed army buddy (they served in Vietnam together), Det. Mike Hammer, with the help of his sexy secretary Velda (Laurene Landon), uncovers a vast conspiracy involving the mafia, the C.I.A., serial killers, sex clinics and mind control.

As you might expect, the serial killer/sex clinic plot line scratched me where I itch the most. What can I say? I'm a... deviant, I guess.

I don't know what this says about me, but I was rapidly losing patience with this film during the early going. And it didn't help that the Al Pacino-lite macho asshole vibe Armand Assante was repeatedly putting out there rubbed me the wrong way. Granted, I grew to accept, and eventually admire, Armand Assante's brutish performance as Mike Hammer (he is someone you don't fuck with... big time). But I wasn't having any of it at the beginning.

While the orgy scene I alluded to earlier is an obvious indicator that the tone of the film had changed. I would say the scene where Mike Hammer and a fellow detective played Paul Sorvino stand over the dead body of that tarted up woman lying at the base of the Alice in Wonderland statue in Central park was the exact moment I started to realize that this film might have some sleaze potential. I mean, the way the camera lingered voyeuristically (that's a word, right?) on her dead body was definitely exploitative in nature. And I dug that.

What? You don't think I watch movies to see finely woven plots unfold in a semi-clever manner. Uh-uh. I want to see the bloated, pockmarked underbelly of humanity exposed, warts and all. And I want to see bright colours and fashion. Sadly, there isn't that much fashion in this film. Nevertheless, the sudden uptick in this film's sleaze factor not only pleased me, it guaranteed that it would be worthy of a review.

And judging by the words I've typed so far in correlation with I, the Jury, it's clearly being reviewed.

I don't want it to seem like I'm obsessed with the orgy scene, but I think I would remiss if I didn't mention that the bulk of the orgasm faces used in the close-ups were provided by porn legends Samantha Fox (Her Name Was Lisa) and Bobby Astyr (Corruption).

The actual plot, in case I forgot to mention, involves Mike Hammer investigating the murder of... No, wait. I already mentioned that. Nevertheless, the part of the plot where we learn that the C.I.A. has employed/brainwashed a sex-crazed serial killer to murder America's enemies is kind of interesting. Think about it. The C.I.A. can kill anyone they want without it being connected to them. Just as long as the killer can get his victims to wear a red wig and tarty makeup and get them to profess their love for him in a sincere manner, they're good to go... murder-wise.

A prime example of what can happen when 1970s-style grittiness/paranoia is mixed with together with the burgeoning urbanity of the 1980s, I, the Jury is the best of both worlds: a glossy action-thriller with enough sleaze to satisfy fans of both 1970s and 1980s cinema.