Sunday, February 7, 2016

Hellgate (William A. Levey, 1989)

A spine-tingling taint-moistener of the highest order, Hellgate is a fever-inducing nightmare come to life for one reason, and one reason only. No, not because the film, directed by William A. Levey (Skatetown, USA) and written by Michael O'Rourke, features women who walk through walls. And not because a biker gets axed in the head. No, the reason this film had me toweling off so many damp areas after it was over was because I saw Ron Palillo, Arnold Horshack from TV's Welcome Back Kotter, naked. I know, you're thinking to yourself: So what if you saw Ron Palillo, Arnold Horshack from TV's Welcome Back Kotter, nude for a brief second as his character, oh, let's say, got into the shower. Well, that's just it. He's not naked for a "brief second." I didn't have my stopwatch handy, but I'd say Ron Palillo, Arnold Horshack from TV's Welcome Back Kotter, is naked for at least three minutes. And get this, he's naked in a manner I've never seen anyone naked before. Straddling his naked girlfriend on the bed after they just had sex on, Ron Palillo, Arnold Horshack from TV's Welcome Back Kotter, proceeds to give her a back massage. Think about it. You're lying naked on your stomach with Ron Palillo's jizz-spent cock and balls pressing tightly against your recently waxed coin-slot. How weird is that? It's highly irregular, if you ask me.

It wouldn't shock me to learn that Ron Palillo's razor-wire-esque pubic hair caressed her buttery anus with a forceful yet gentle swooshing motion. I know that's not the image most of you want rattling around inside your heads at the moment. But you've got to remember, I'm not the type of person to shirk the sight of a naked Ron Palillo, Arnold Horshack from TV's Welcome Back Kotter, straddling a naked woman for an extended period of time. If anything, I'm the type of person who welcomes the sight of a naked Ron Palillo, Arnold Horshack from TV's Welcome Back Kotter. I say, bring it on.

In an expected twist, three women make plays for Ron Palillo's cock in this movie. It would have been four, but Bobby (Joanne Warde) is a staunch lesbian. More on Bobby in a second. Playing Matt... Actually, two women make plays for Ron Palillo's cock, one of the women, Pam (Petrea Curran), already owns Ron Palillo's cock.

As I was saying. Playing Matt, a college student of some kind, Ron Palillo must fight the urge to have sexual intercourse with a diner waitress played by Kimberleigh Stark (Cyborg Cop and Cyborg Cop II) and a mysterious woman named Josie Carlyle (Abigail Wolcott), an apparition who thinks she's leggy as all get out.

(She's not leggy as all get out?) Oh, don't get me wrong, she's leggy. I just don't think she's as leggy as she thinks she is. Plus, she seems to think that she has pretty hands. (Huh?) Just watch the way she moves her hands in this movie. You'd think she was modeling gloves or something. I, on the other hand, have pretty hands. Yet, you don't see me constantly shoving them in people's faces, practically begging the meaty-pawed masses to bask in the ethereal creaminess of their ghost-like delicacy.

Anyway, while Josie uses her leggy, but not as leggy as she thinks they are, legs to snag herself some rarefied Horshackian boy-cunt, the diner waitress uses clothes and make-up.

Now, most people who lived during the 1980s utilized the styles of the decade quite sparingly. A neon scrunchie here, a pair of parachute pants there. Your average citizen, though, merely dabbled with the 1980s. The diner waitress in Hellgate, however, said, fuck that, and told the clerk at the 1980s store to give her everything the decade had to offer.

Meaning, her character is walking advertisement for the 1980s. Yet, despite her commitment to the 1980s, she is, like Josie, unable to secure herself a juicy slice of Palillo's pasty penis for penetration purposes.

What is it about Ron Palillo circa 1989 that makes him so damned desirable to human females?

Remember that scene in The 40 Year-Old Virgin where Seth Rogen tells Steve Carell to act David Caruso from the movie Jade before hitting on a bookstore employee played by Elizabeth Banks? Yeah, well, Seth Rogen could have easily told Steve Carell to act like Ron Palillo from Hellgate instead and not lost one iota of douchebag-adjacent swagger (the majority of humans currently walking the face of the Earth owe their very existence to douchebag-adjacent swagger).

When the film opens, we're introduced to three friends, Bobby, Pam and Chuck (Evan J. Klisser), who are telling scary stories by the fireplace in their cabin in Sierra Forest. What struck me about the opening scene was the actresses who play Bobby and Pam. While reciting scripted dialogue in a convincing manner isn't exactly their strong suit, they both have certain qualities about them that I found appealing. This bodes well for the rest of the movie, as no matter how putrid things get, at least two of the film's female leads are interesting to look at.

Getting back to the ghost stories. Unsatisfied with the caliber of ghost stories Chuck was telling, Bobby decides to share with the group the tale of the "Hellgate Hitchhiker."

Taking place in the 1950s, the story involves a woman named Josie and an unruly gang of bikers. Entering Jay's Diner with a moronic elan, Josie... Seriously, Josie. What were you thinking? The way she just saunters into diner without making sure the diner isn't crawling with unruly bikers beforehand was beyond aggravating. I know, she's there to pick up an apple pie for her father. But still, the steady stream of customers fleeing the diner after the unruly bikers arrive should have clued you in to dangers that lay ahead.

That being said, if Josie never did enter Jay's Diner, there would be no Hellgate. You know what that means, right. (We wouldn't get to see Josie running around an authentic 1890s ghost town in her black panties.) Well, yeah, that. I was thinking more along lines of: We would never get to see Ron Palillo naked. Either way, a lot amazing things wouldn't have occurred if Josie had never set foot in Jay's Diner. So, thank you, Josie. Thank you for setting in motion the events that ultimately lead to your death.

Actually, death isn't the right word for what happens to Josie. You see, Jonas (Victor Melleny), an employee who works for Lucas Carlyle (Carl Trichardt), Josie's dad and the owner of Lucas Carlyle's Hellgate, an 1890s-style ghost town, finds a magic crystal while poking around in the town gold mine. And like any good employee, Jonas dutifully bringing the magic crystal to Lucas. When it's discovered that the magic crystal can bring dead things back to life, Lucas heads down to the local cemetery to resurrect his dead daughter.

However, instead coming back normal, Josie is doomed to wander the roads luring men, and, I suppose, women, to Hellgate.

Anyone care to guess who Zombie Josie is going to lure tonight? That's right, it's Ron Palillo's Matt Coleman. Who, if it weren't for Chuck's wonky directions, would be at the cabin straddling Pam.

Oh, and before Matt meets Zombie Josie, he flirts with Kimberleigh Stark's diner waitress. I was being serious, by the way, when suggested that Miss Stark bought everything at the 1980s store. In fact, she looks like one of those people you see nowadays who dress up in so-called "80s clothes" for Halloween. In other words, it comes across as a little too '80s, if you know what I mean.

Instead of taking Matt to Hellgate, Zombie Josie has him drive her home (which is in Hellgate, but not in Hellgate proper). There, Zombie Josie shows Matt her leggy, but not as leggy as she think they are, legs. Just as they're about to kiss, Matt remembers Pam, his interesting looking girlfriend, who, I'm sure, isn't going to be all that thrilled when she learns that he's been out cavorting with a blonde zombie.

After escaping from Zombie Josie (Lucas nearly zaps him with his magic crystal as he casually flees the scene), Matt scolds Chuck for giving him wonky directions. "You know you're an asshole," he tells him. Matt reaffirms this by saying, "You really are." To hit the point home, Matt adds, "I mean it."

Kooky fun-fact: The whole, "You're an asshole... You really are... I mean it," bit is used a total of three times over the course of the movie.

Technically, the movie should be over. But for some strange reason, Bobby, Pam, Chuck and Matt all decide to go to Hellgate. (The place where Matt was nearly killed?) The very same. On the bright side, Bobby, thanks to an impromptu can-can number, discovers that she's a lesbian. While the film doesn't really come out and say it, it's obvious to anyone with half a brain that the scene where Bobby watches five women kick up a storm can-can-style is her coming out scene.

Now that I think about it. The reason Bobby, Pam, Chuck and Matt decide to go to Hellgate is because they're drawn to it. Much in the same way Candace Hilligoss is drawn to the Saltair Pavilion in Carnival of Souls. Now that I think about it some more. The plot's of Hellgate and Carnival of Souls are eerily similar. The biggest difference of course is that Hellgate has a naked Ron Palillo, a cunnilingus scene, a mutant exploding goldfish, and a pretty sly reference to Miami Vice. Film Review Links, A-Z

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Subway (Luc Besson, 1985)

On the surface, this might look like yet another film that features ambiguously European men of European extraction trying to figure out what's going on inside Isabelle Adjani's head at any given moment. But it's not. It's called Subway, and it's directed by Luc Besson, and it stars Jean Reno as a rock drummer, Jean-Hugues Anglade as a roller-skating purse snatcher, Richard Bohringer (The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover) as a roving flower salesman, Michel Galabru as a gruff Métro cop and Christopher Lambert as the suavest bleach blonde safecracker this side of Toulouse Lautrec's quivering ball-sack. In other words, if I'm going to watch a movie where a bunch of ambiguously European men of European extraction are bewitched by Isabelle Adjani in the Métro de Paris circa 1985, it's going to be this one. Though, I have to say, it's a good thing Isabelle Adjani's character is played by Isabelle Adjani, or else I would have had a difficult time believing that such a large number of ambiguously European men of European extraction would lose their escargot-soaked minds so thoroughly over a woman. To be fair to all the ambiguously European men of European extraction who appear in this film, it's primarily Christopher Lambert's Fred who uses up the most energy trying to figure out what Isabelle Adjani is thinking.

Now, you would think, given the sheer amount of pure, undiluted sophistication he exudes throughout this movie, that Fred would have a no problem whatsoever figuring out what makes Isabelle Adjani  tick. But not even he can crack this nut. Personally, I would have succumb to his charms the moment I saw his bleach blonde hairdo. That being said, I'm not Isabelle Adjani. (No shit.) What I mean is, Isabelle Adjani is probably the most powerful force in the known universe.

Okay, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration. But I'm telling you, don't ever underestimate the power of Isabelle Adjani, especially when she's acting surly and sporting a DIY Iroquois hairdo (more on that in a minute).

It just dawned on me that other than the car chase that opens the film, the majority of the action takes place in the Métro de Paris. In fact...

(I'm really glad that dawned on you and all. But I want to hear more about Isabelle Adjani being all moody and junk with kooky hair.) I thought I'd build to that. In the meantime, maybe I'll talk about how the film manages to create the sense that the world outside doesn't exist and that everything important is taking place in this self-contained subterranean community that lives on the fringes of a once flourishing society. (Fuck that shit, man. You always do that. No, start jibber-jabbering about a cranky, Mohawk-sporting Isabelle Adjani, like, right now.)

I'm afraid I can't do that, unnamed voice in my head. There's more to Subway than Isabelle Idjani's (justifiably) unpleasant attitude and her punky hairstyles. It's sleek and modern. It's arty and new wave. It's funky and fresh. It's stylish and urbane. Let me put it this way. It's the kind of movie that makes you feel cooler for having watched it. And believe me, not a lot of films can say that.

After the aforementioned car chase has concluded, Fred (Christopher Lambert) takes refuge in the Métro de Paris. While down there, he meets all sorts of quirky characters. Even though he's credited as "Le Roller" (the first quirky character Fred meets), Jean-Hughes Anglade's character's name is actually "Jean-Louis." How do I know this? Um, he uses this name when he introduces himself to Isabelle Adjani. Duh. Anyway, with the help of Le Roller, Le Fleuriste (Richard Bohringer) and Le Batteur (Jean Reno), Fred manages to allude the goons who work for Isabelle Adjani's husband and Le Commissaire Gesberg (Michel Galabru), the head of the Métro cops.

The Métro cops want him because he's a thief, while Isabelle Adjani's husband wants back what he stole from his safe. Since Isabelle Adjani's Héléna was the one who invited Fred to the black tie affair at their house the previous night, they figure she's the one most qualified to reason with him. Big mistake, Isabelle Adjani's husband. You don't let your wife hang around a bleach blonde Christopher Lambert in the Métro de Paris circa 1985.

(Okay, I can understand not wanting her to hang out with a bleach blonde Christopher Lambert, and I even get the Métro de Paris thing. But what does 1985 have to do with anything?)

Take a look the people walking through the Métro de Paris. What do you see? That's right, not one man is wearing baggy Adam Sandler-approved shorts with flip-flops. You see, back in 1985, people had self-respect. Oh, sure, people have self-respect nowadays. But these people clearly don't ride the subway. Which reminds me. I've seen things you people wouldn't believe down there. I've seen sweaty tourists in fanny packs. I've seen grown men in beige cargo shorts. I've seen black ankle socks paired with the brownest of sandals. All these moments, unfortunately, won't be lost, in time... like  [chokes up] tears... in... rain.

When Héléna's 10pm meeting with Fred to discuss her husband's "papers" goes badly (one of her husband's goons tries to handcuff him), Fred goes deeper underground. Jumping down onto the tracks, Fred makes his way through the bowels of the Métro de Paris (while the sinister yet beautiful music of Eric Serra throbs on the soundtrack). Still wearing the handcuff one of the goons tried to snag him with, Fred discovers a world unto itself.

Don't worry about the handcuffs dangling from Fred's wrist, Le Roller knows a guy, a guy named Big Bill, who specializes in unwanted handcuff removal.

With the thought of Héléna's black nylon-adorned legs never far from his mind, Fred seems determined to drag this out for as long as possible, as he has, to the surprise of no-one, fallen for the leggy enchantress. The big question is, however, does Héléna feel the same way?

She clearly isn't happy with her husband. But is she willing to jeopardize her cushy existence? If the attitude she displays at a dinner party thrown by some of her husband's annoying friends is any indication, she's definitely open to the idea.

It should go without saying, but Isabelle Adjani's hair during the dinner party fiasco is to die for. Punk chic, anyone?

While the film has some pretty energetic action scenes here and there, and guns are pointed at people in anger every once and awhile, the film is essentially a modern romance, one with, get this, two musical numbers (in an effort to go straight, Fred decides to start a rock band). If you don't believe me, check out the scene where Fred and Le Roller take turns dancing with Héléna in the food court. It's filled with whimsy and tenderness. Which shouldn't come as a surprise, as a lot of Luc Besson's films have moments like this. But still, I wasn't expecting to be so thoroughly moved.

How's this for a fun-fact: The Belgian EBM band à;GRUMH... have a song called "Drama In The Subway," and Jean Reno's Le Batteur character reminded me of SΔ3 Evets, à;GRUMH...'s founder. [Special thanks to Digital Orc and Keenan at Eyesore Cinema for recommending this movie.] Film Review Links, A-Z