Shitty Movie Sundays: Caged Heat

What a piece of trash. I’ve written before that it’s folly to impose present morality on the past, and that includes living memory. But in this day and age, should someone try and make a film like Caged Heat, they might end up having to register as a sex offender. At the very least, Twitter would be apoplectic…for perhaps a week, before moving on to the next outrage. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Caged Heat”

Empty Balcony: Undisputed

Monroe Hutchens (Wesley Snipes) is a hell of a boxer. In fact, he has never lost a fight. The big problem for Hutchens, though, is that all the boxing he’s done for the past ten years has been care of the California Department of Corrections. Once the California state champ for his weight class, Hutchens was poised to enter into a lucrative professional boxing career when he came home to find his woman in bed with another man. Hutchens beat the paramour to death and was sentenced to life without parole for the murder. While in prison, he continues to ply his trade, doing his time and beating up on the boxing champions from other prisons around the state. Continue readingEmpty Balcony: Undisputed”

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 readingShitty 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 readingEmpty Balcony: Shot Caller”

Stallone Month: Tango & Cash

Tango & Cash is somewhat of a watershed moment for the excessive 1980s style of action flick. It’s so ridiculous and over-the-top that a viewer could be forgiven if they thought this film was a spoof. It is not. However, it is an excellent example of what can go right and wrong in an action film, and in film productions in general. Continue readingStallone Month: Tango & Cash”

Stallone Month: Lock Up

Lock Up is a strange lesson in how Hollywood movies are made…[W]e have a star, a theme, a shooting date, a budget, a studio, but…no script.” — John Flynn, director of Lock Up

I don’t know how often films are made on the fly, but in putting together Stallone Month, it seems that it was common for projects Sly worked on to barely make it to completion. Another commonality in these films is that Sly worked very hard to keep the projects together. Whether it’s Eye See You (later this month), or Tango & Cash (tomorrow), or today’s film, the people who worked with Sly are effusive in praising him for the efforts he made to make sure a movie came off. Still, production troubles rarely bode well for a film. Continue readingStallone Month: Lock Up”

Stallone Month: Victory, aka Escape to Victory

The Vietnam War wreaked havoc on the United States — its sense of self-worth; its trust in leadership, both civilian and military; and its ideas of what constitute heroism. Vietnam was the first war we fought where the awful violence wasn’t hidden from us. It was also our first tick in the loss column. There are a whole host of complex emotions that war put us through. It’s no surprise, then, that war films made after the Vietnam War ended are quite different than those that came before. There were still a few holdouts, however — anachronisms from the earlier style. Continue readingStallone Month: Victory, aka Escape to Victory”

Empty Balcony: The Raid 2

Despite how much I liked The Raid, my review of the film ended up being a little thin. That’s because, while there was much to recommend, the film was overwhelmed by its violence. It took all the hard work that went into the sets, the music, the costumes, even the acting of the leads, and rendered it subservient to the majesty of the violence. As it turns out, that’s because the only thing to survive writer/director Gareth Evans sprawling vision of crime, police corruption, and kickass martial arts, was the violence, owing to a budget that precluded any grand scope. The success of The Raid opened the taps more for the follow-up, and allowed Evans to explore in-depth themes that were forced to remain on the periphery in the first film. Continue readingEmpty Balcony: The Raid 2″