Shitty Movie Sundays: Women’s Prison Massacre, aka Emanuelle Escapes From Hell

In the annals of shitty cinema, the 1980s saw the Italians holding the world championship crown. Between Enzo G. Castellari, Joe D’Amato, and Lucio Fulci, American b-flicks just didn’t stand a chance. Bruno Mattei is another filmmaker who can be added to this list of sublime cinematic futility. His 1983 film, Women’s Prison Massacre, also released as Emanuelle Escapes From Hell, among a couple of other titles, is an unbelievable piece of shit. Not only is it bottom feeding trash, it’s sexually exploitative. Being a film about a women’s prison, that’s to be expected. But there is also a cut floating around out there with hardcore porn, using body doubles of the cast, stitched into the R-rated sex scenes. I didn’t see that cut because, believe it or not, I wanted to watch this dog for the plot. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Women’s Prison Massacre, aka Emanuelle Escapes From Hell”

Empty Balcony: Shot Caller

Jacob (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) was having a good day. He and a co-worker, Tom (Max Greenfield), were about to close a big deal, and took their wives out for a double-date to celebrate. Too bad for Jacob, then, that he had one or two too many drinks. Otherwise, the red light he ran, and the accident he caused that killed Tom, probably would not have resulted in jail time. As it is, vehicular homicide and all the DUI stuff has left Jacob with a two and a half year stretch in a maximum security prison. His lawyer advises his upper middle class client not to show weakness while serving his time, and Jacob decides to run with that advice. Continue reading “Empty Balcony: Shot Caller”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Timecop

In choosing a film for Shitty Movie Sundays, care must be taken. Too often, before being watched for a Shitty Movie Sundays review, a movie appears to have the all the right ingredients that make for a shitty movie. There’s a veteran of shitty cinema in a lead role, the ideas behind the film are ridiculous, and the trailer is an absolute howler, but then the film turns out to be more mediocre than shitty. A mediocre film is such a disappointment. At least when a movie is bad, and really wallows in it, it can be a captivating watch. But a mediocre film just fades away. It has no significance and leaves no lasting impression. What to do, then? Make an executive decision, that’s what. Timecop, the 1994 film from Peter Hyams, is a forgettable sci-fi/action flick that normally wouldn’t be bad enough for this space, but then there are the cars. Oh, my goodness, the cars. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Timecop”

Stallone Month: Creed

Here it is — the end of Stallone Month. Sly isn’t in the lead role in this last film, but there isn’t a better set of bookends for this month than Rocky and Creed.

Creed, from 2015, is a spinoff of the successful Rocky series. In a surprising change, Sly did not pen the screenplay for this film. After having seen all the Rocky films, it’s clear that not only is Rocky Sly’s opus, it’s also his most personal character. The lovable meathead aspects of Rocky are pure invention, but all the motivational stuff — the pronouncements about hard work and not expecting any handouts — that’s all Sly. Rocky was the vehicle Sly used to share his worldview. Continue reading “Stallone Month: Creed”

Stallone Month: The Expendables 3

90 million bucks. That’s how much it costs to make a shitshow of a movie. A bad film can be made for far less than that, of course, but an unofficial motto of The Expendables films has been ‘go big or go home.’ Those 90 million dollars are about all that’s big about this film, though. Sure, The Expendables 3 looks like a big Hollywood action flick, but pay close attention and one will realize that just about everything in this movie is ersatz — an imitation. Continue reading “Stallone Month: The Expendables 3”

Stallone Month: Bullet to the Head

If there is one positive from Hurricane Katrina, one not worth the cost yet still a positive, it has been the emergence of a Louisiana style of crime filmmaking — a bayou noir. Filmmakers have been drawn to the state in a show of solidarity with the residents of Louisiana and to take advantage of tax credits. It’s a win-win for the film industry and for local economies. Whether or not it’s a win for audiences rests on whether or not these films are worth watching. Continue reading “Stallone Month: Bullet to the Head”

Stallone Month: The Expendables 2

I’m not sure that Sylvester Stallone, or anyone else involved with The Expendables, thought that film would spawn a franchise. In many ways, The Expendables felt like a lark — a one-time moment that tapped into a well of nostalgia for 1980s-style action in the moviegoing public. It sold itself on its cast and its cameos, then followed that up with an uneven, but very exciting, film. It made a pile of cash, so of course there were going to be another one made. Continue reading “Stallone Month: The Expendables 2”

Stallone Month: The Expendables

Despite being a big star, Sylvester Stallone has always seemed to struggle with relevancy. The 2000s had a pair of ‘comeback’ films for Sly, with Rocky Balboa in 2006 and Rambo in 2008. It seemed like every success he had was forgotten. Perhaps that’s because these two films felt like a coda to beloved characters from decades past, whereas The Expendables, from 2010, was new-ish. Or maybe having a comeback film is just part of Sly’s brand in the 21st century. Either way, The Expendables is the throwback to 1980s action that no one knew we needed until it showed up in theaters and made money. Continue reading “Stallone Month: The Expendables”

Stallone Month: Rambo

2008 was another treat for Sylvester Stallone fans. After the success of Rocky Balboa, it was time to resurrect Sly’s second most popular alter ego. It had been 20 years since the last Rambo movie, and it was a sad end to the series. In the intervening years the Cold War came to a fortuitous close, and Rambo’s Mujahideen buddies from the third flick became America’s enemies. Never mind all that, though. Rambo doesn’t bother with any of America’s bugaboos, past or present. The bad guys in this flick are from Burma. Continue reading “Stallone Month: Rambo”

Stallone Month: Rocky Balboa

Rocky V was supposed to be the last Rocky movie. In it, Rocky is robbed of all his money by an accountant, and he has to retire from boxing due to brain damage. His final fight, and there is always a final fight in a Rocky flick, took place on the streets in front of Mickey’s gym, where it all began. It was meant to wrap the story of Rocky up with a nice little bow. In that, the film did its job, even though the mediocre quality of the film left some fans feeling a little let down. But, by the mid-2000s, Sylvester Stallone was feeling nostalgic, and along came another sequel, sixteen years after the last. Continue reading “Stallone Month: Rocky Balboa”