Monday, March 31, 2014

Night Claws


 
If you check out Apex-Predator expect Cliché City. A Bigfoot is on the loose in the wilds of Mobile County, Alabama, and a number of individuals who encounter it become dismembered victims. The mayor wants the sheriff to find this thing before the big pumpkin festival, an anthropologist (and her assistant) are given government clearance to seek out the s’quatch, a trio of bounty hunters are out to get that monster for their own personal gain, and a mob of locals seem to be on the verge of descending into the wilderness to kill that thing before it harms their own. A “survivalist” tour guide and city slickers go into the woods to learn how to survive in the wild absent creature comforts (pun intended), and the s’quatch doesn’t waste much time trying to make mincemeat out of them. So this creature feature complies with the formula, including a man in a furry costume, prosthetic body parts that look as if bought from a novelty store, and kooky characters making up the locals of the setting. Guess what? The sheriff and his deputies (along with the anthropologist) are out to hunt the monster themselves as the mob is held at bay because they don’t want to be arrested. But despite the sheriff’s warning, two idiots with beer in the back of their truck plan to have a party in the woods…some more fodder for the beast.


 
If you enjoy lame Bigfoot movies with a costume creature that has a face made to imitate a type of ape, characters known to populate these films (the hunter out for a species certain to bring him notoriety, couple who make out at the opening of the film that are first in line to be clawed, the scientist who studies and searches for new beings, the law enforcement not quite ready for something this bloodthirsty and savage, partying kids not prepared for a monster to crash their shindig, and tourists at the wrong place at the wrong time), and no-budget gore effects that will tickle your funny bone more than repulse you, Apex-Predator is perhaps a fun waste of 80 minutes.


 
The end of this film becomes ridiculous in its unnecessary plot developments. There’s a sudden transformation where one of the characters just happens to be an actual hired assassin in the disguise of another profession, Frank Stallone appears as a father seeking vengeance for the murder of his son during a black ops situation, the sheriff is dispatched by someone he trusts (and it really didn’t even need to happen; she could have just knocked him out) as he is about to question the hunter, and a survivor just walks after his/her job is done into the wilderness seemingly forgetting that the Bigfoot is out there, and we see that there may be more than one. This is the kind of movie that has no reason to be so convoluted. This is a Bigfoot movie, and the added twists ultimately factor little that make the end results any more interesting. Stallone’s part—and actually the hunter’s—seemed stuck in the film just so someone with a name (even if of the C-level variety in actors) would be listed in the cast, and the encounter of mad father and the man responsible for his son's death seem meant for a completely different movie. The hunter and his prey never converge as the film seems to be building towards. There wasn’t the money in the budget, either, to really give us some bang for the buck in regards to limbs torn off or throats ripped out. The best we get are some mangled faces. Consider this on par with something like Creature with Sid Haig, except without the hot babes to ogle. You do have odd character moments like this asshole with an ax to grind and his bimbo wife who seems content with his thuggish need to fight people and a moment where he frees himself from being a kidnap victim only to turn his back on her despite how she aided him in disarming one of the hunters. The survivalist guide seems like a ready-made candidate for outwitting the s'quatch due to her training, yet she is removed from the film rather early.
Just so I wouldn't ruin the surprise (not that it will be all that awesome for viewers), I have added full view of the Bigfoot in the Image Gallery on my blog. So if you just don't want to bother with this film (it has like a 2/10 on imdb), you can go ahead and take a look at the thing.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Megan is Missing


I’m not about to lie: anything on topic regarding online predators creeps me the fuck out. This is something that is very real and scary as hell. It wasn’t too long ago, I watched a CSI: Miami episode about this, and there are shows on Investigation Discovery all the time that discuss this very frightening, and sickeningly twisted online activity. Young teenage girls chatting online with older men masquerading as teenage boys their own age fall prey to them. Typically these men are gradually gaining their trust, winning them over with methodical manipulation, telling them what they want to hear, and by capitalizing on their vulnerability, these sickos eventually get a meet. A fake photograph of some guy is shown to them, and if he is cute enough all that remains is to use language that connects to their age group to secure their undividing attention and affection. Megan is Missing focuses on technology of today to point out how easy it now is for predators to satiate their base, hostile, secret desires and eventual homicidal tendencies do often conclude after these monsters have had their fun. While Megan is shown as a beautiful teen acting out, with profanity excessively used in her dialogue and conversations about sex and blow jobs often mentioned with friends, it is later learned during a telling document of “who she is” that this poor girl was raped/molested by her imprisoned stepfather and abandoned by her father. Her mother blames her for the stepdad’s incarceration and often berates her. Megan’s difficulty adjusting to any sense of normalcy makes sense because of such a rough childhood/teenage upbringing. Her disappearance becomes noticeable, but missing persons cases (I watch Disappeared on Investigation Discovery religiously) typically are frustratingly lacking. So that the investigation goes nowhere makes logical sense because they often result in no body found. When Amy tries to find her when others fail to connect the dots or fail to realize the reason she might have disappeared, it puts her in jeopardy. “Josh” who seduced Megan online realizes that Amy (who sees him as questionable) is a threat and soon both girls are missing. While I’m not sure Amy’s abduction is quite as plausible as Megan’s, I just watched a show the other day that featured the “Springfield Three”, three women in Missouri who vanished without a trace, so the idea that someone could do away with two teenage girls might not be so far-fetched. I still can’t imagine Amy would put herself in such a position, embrace that kind of danger without guidance from others.

 
Amy is innocuous, craving acceptance, kind-hearted, and innocent. The “cool kids” want nothing to do with her, but Megan is different. Megan might seem like a party-girl into all the bad stuff, but Amy offers her an ear and a heart. When Amy mentions that her father is rarely home due to his job, this is another tell that allows us to understand something behind their bond. The final 22 minutes enter a dark place I didn’t care to go. Is it unsettling to see what happened to Amy, stuck in a room, chained, in just her bra and panties, soon to be raped, her virginity taken, eating out of a dog bowl, with no light, soon to be stuffed in a barrel, eventually seeing Megan in a decomposed state? Sure. Was it necessary? I didn’t think so. However, found footage allows for such events to be recorded and viewed on a discarded video camera, with the psychopath involved never seen on screen. The two “fetish” photos of Megan trapped in a wooden device with her head in a hole, her face with metal prongs forcing open her eyes, nose, and mouth, reported by someone perusing a website for such material; was this necessary? Megan is Missing is designed to strike a chord and poke a nerve. The first hour is spent with teenage girls and conversation. The last 22 minutes is spent seeing innocence destroyed. Not my idea of a fun evening.

The Returned



In the future after a zombie outbreak, there was a synthetic compound developed to keep those with the infection from turning into the viral flesheating human monsters that result from the plague. But it is later determined that the current injection doses (to be administered daily or else) is running out and so desperation sets in as people will do anything to attain or confiscate vials needed to keep the infection from manifesting. A nurse named Kate (Emily Hampshire) understands this terrible reality and will do what she can to help her beau, Alex (Kris-Holden Ried, of Lost Girl) escape from a terrible fate awaiting him (a supply to keep him from turning or a safe location until she might can get him doses elsewhere once a close party he trusts steals his doses). But there’s another synthetic protein possibly on the horizon, and Kate is involved in its potential success…or failure. Of course when taxed with the possibility of losing yourself (or have someone you love dearly a potential victim of the zombie plague), betrayal and using violence to survive both contribute to a dilemma Alex and Kate are ill-prepared for. Sometimes those you trust almost implicitly will seem totally reliable and helpful, well-meaning and cherubic only to stab you in the back and take a coveted supply not belonging to them. When doses are scant, and the wait for a possible new synthetic protein might be a bit too late for some, people are sometimes willing to steal and knowingly allow innocents to die to rescue their own.

 
 
This isn’t a zombie film in terms the diehard fan typically expects where emphasis is on the threat of a turn instead of focusing on attempting to survive an outbreak as it surges. For a while, this film had me. But plotting for pure melodramatic purposes left me a bit miffed. I found it implausible that Kate would lose a case of doses in that park garage; and the way doses are treated so openly, I would imagine everyone would guard them with kid gloves, in a locked secret area. The nonchalant nature for which Kate acts with her doses kind of infuriated me. Why would she roll down the window, or, better yet, why wouldn’t she put the case in her trunk? Oh, and how she hits the guy who steals the case, and how the camera captures it just plop open with all of the vials shattering on impact…it is melodramatic bait that had me rolling my eyes. The movie is like The Walking Dead in that it does lay it on thick. This movie goes out of its way to force you to mourn uncontrollably for Alex when he decides to conceal himself with collar and chains while Kate tries to comfort herself and him while the turning begins. At the beginning of the film, Kate is in front of hospital bureaucrats and we get a history lesson on the outbreak, lives lost, the fortunate “turned” who were aided by the synthetic protein (“return protein”) a few hours after contracting the infection, and the need for funding of research. Debates also mention that the protein exists because it is extracted from those who died from the infection, and as resources dwindle, the reality that the current product will be maintained is a reminder to the paranoid and aware that the outbreak of zombies could once again emerge. So this is more of an “epidemic” film (think Contagion except you turn zombie instead of flu-like sick) than a zombie film. The fear of another outbreak has the overly concerned picketing the hospital Kate works, and those “returned” face harsh scrutiny and prejudice. The film has a lot going for it. Some meat on the bone; it does sacrifice gory thrills for drama, so I can only imagine zombie fans needing their ripped throats, disembowelment, and brains exploding from the back of heads after a shot to the foreheads will perhaps grimace. I just wouldn’t recognize this as a zombie film anyway. Again, I consider this a film about an epidemic that is controlled at the time it starts with the knowledge that as supplies dissipate, a growing concern is there, as is contempt and outrage at the threats of one possible missed injection or infected walking among them, considered a “ticking timebomb.” The ending might be considered unsatisfying to viewers expecting retribution for a particular theft that costs Alex dearly, but whatever Kate's plans are (and there's more than enough evidence to consider she's got some vigilante justice on the mind for two individuals that wronged her and Alex), we don't see them come to fruition.
 
However, that opening credits sequence (shot in a type of sepia-toned palate, with a rough 8 millimeter film stock look, and the lines and faded colors that send off this degraded age and gives the zombie outbreak of its time the perfect horrorshow aesthetic) is a real grabber. I would love to see someone shoot a whole zombie film in this degraded film stock, except with sound (or maybe as a silent film with titles just for the hell of it). That’s a topic for a different film that The Returned just isn’t.

Reel Evil



“I’ve got an idea.”
“Famous last words.”

Okay, yet another paranormal found footage film set in a haunted insane asylum. Three documentary filmmakers are desperate for income and land a humbling gig following a film crew on a low budget horror film set in a real asylum. Diva director and lead actress--plus an asshole producer--make things difficult for our starving-for-that-big-break crew, so they venture into the darker parts of the hospital to do some snooping and see if they can catch something far more interesting than their paid assignment. The voice and “brains” of the crew is Kennedy (Jessica Morris; after looking at her resume, this girl has done some time in the soap opera and has been in a lot of horror, as well), the sound man is Corey (Kaiwi Lyman; always carrying around the boom mic), and camera operator/specialist is James (Jeff Adler). These three encounter a lot more than they bargain for (as does the aforementioned director, diva actress (who can’t act a lick but has a nice body), and grumpy, self-absorbed producer of the film), as the hospital’s former patients and personnel return as deadly spirits to disrupt future career plans. With the usual video feed disruptions and technical difficulties when the spirits appear, the emergence of ghouls, popping up and disappearing at their leisure, and the hospital’s “personality” (the appearance of mad scribbling in ink on walls, cluttered desks and floors with trash and filth as a result of occupants abandoning the premises after closure, the ugly green and grime of the color palate that echoes what once was and no longer is as time has made the institution its bitch, and the convenience of what two camera set-ups are able to capture as the spirits crash the party), Reel Evil is in some ways a companion piece to the Grave Encounters films.


 
The trio falls apart emotionally and the finale has the usual running around, freaking out, and eventual fall to the spirits after them. I guess whether or not you like the three actors of the crew and the special effects of the institution spirits will determine if Reel Evil is a good time or dud. There is plenty of tits (Cory films sex with a compliant assistant to their film producer employer, an extra under a sheet, playing a dead victim, rises up after a take is stopped and twirls her hair as the crew argue, and the lead scream queen gets all hot and heavy with a camera guy on the film set), and once again Hollywood independent filmmaking is subjected to a negative light (those involved in the film are pretentious pricks). I will probably forget this not long after I watch it, but Morris is an actress I found quite watchable (not just attractive, but Morris gives her character some dimension; she’s headstrong, determined, somewhat assured, willing to take risks, and not above hurt when her skills are in question by untalented performers). I do think there will be some, however, that find Kennedy a moron for not listening to her cohorts as they demand returning to the film set and out of the inner confines of the creepy asylum. But without doing so, there is no movie, so this “NO!!!! DON’T DO IT!!!” we might scream at the screen is actually, “WHILE YOU’RE AN IDIOT FOR DOING SO, PLEASE MOVE FORWARD INTO THE ASYLUM!!!!”


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Bloody Birthday




What is it about background piano music (even with slight off-key arrangements on occasion) set to a darkened melody as if meant for children while reading to them Grimm’s Fairy Tales that seems so haunting? The simple explanation of an eclipse is used as the device that seems to have instilled an evil in three children born at the same time during it. Ten years after birth we see an attractive couple making out in a cemetery; the guy is struck multiple times in the face/head with a shovel while the girl is hung by a rope until asphyxiation. They’re then buried by those responsible for their murders. This isn’t the end, but only the beginning.

Call it a slasher movie or another of the notorious “killer kids” subgenre popular with horror fans. The kids are psychopaths with no conscience or guilt. When they kill, there’s nothing that heavily convicts them of their crimes. Because the three kids are so bratty, unnerving, cold-blooded, and devoid of any awareness of the cruelty that results from their violent actions, I think that is where the success of Bloody Birthday lies.




There are some scenes that maybe at the time it was made wouldn’t be considered as shocking but today would appall. Like seeing one of the child killers aiming a gun at another child, a daughter leading her sheriff father out of their house so one of her cohorts could bludgeon him with a baseball bat (later pretending that it was an accidental trip over a misplaced skateboard down the steps), or trapping a fellow student (one of the leads targeted by them because he came upon them as they were staging the death of the girl’s father) in an old freezer left in a junk yard. The scene with the gun and the kid pointing at another child (later shrugging it off as a toy, but we see it is a loaded weapon that kills a teacher!), I can only imagine, would send cold chills down those parents who have lost their children to school shootings. I can’t imagine this would ever pass a screen test today unless viewed in a dramatic light that is used as a message against gun violence. But, yet, it was once used in a slasher drive-in entertainment movie during the era of Friday the 13th. The shooting of the teacher (Susan Strasberg, as one of those stuffy, stern, austere types who is an anal control freak demanding her students to follow her instructions for proper etiquette and a strict disciplinarian), no matter how annoying and irksome she might be, certainly would have a difficult time passing censors. My how time passes and what seemed perhaps to be not all that big a deal in 1980 is a bellyful of wrong in 2014. I have to admit that seeing a boy struggling to free himself from a locked fridge in a junk yard wasn’t altogether entertaining. Is it disturbing? Some would probably just roll their eyes at it, but I must admit that it was unsettling to me.  The kid’s breathing hard and the influx of terror that could be felt in him I could only imagine was probably scary at the time it would have been seen on VHS (I have read conflicting sources that say the film was put on the shelf while I read elsewhere that it was released theatrically).



The sun and the moon were blocking Saturn so these bad seeds have “something missing from their personality” according to lead final girl, Lori Lethin, studying astrology for a school project (she swoons for her science teacher, played by pre-Jake and the Fatman, Joe Penny). The convenience of Lethin’s study of astrology is purposely put in the film thanks to a screenplay that goes out of its way to explain why exactly the kids are so warped. Supposedly, Saturn controls the emotion and the way that you treat people. Yeah.



 
Of the three kid killers, Billy Jayne (of Just One of the Guys) seems to get a lot of the love. He has this smirk that you just want slap off his face. He likes to shoot people. He shoots Strasberg while she’s cleaning a cup in the sink after she scolds him for his “replica” gun, threatening to take his toy, not knowing it was the sheriff’s (confiscated by him while his widow is sleeping) prior to his “skateboard accident”. He also fails to shoot Lethin and her kid bro when a van’s lights shine towards him. Inside the van is another attractive teen couple preparing to shag, interrupting them by shooting both of them. Another kid who tosses rocks at the three child killers is nearly strangled by them with a water hose. In the climax, the trio decide it’s time to put an end to Lethin and her brother (played by KC Martel), with Jayne shooting at them with the cop gun. Andrew Freeman is the kid who gets the shaft among the three killers. He’s kind of the blond follower of the trio, helping Jayne and Elizabeth Hoy (every bit the pig-tailed princess feigning the sweetheart while present in front of her mom or needing to convince adults that she’s a “good, lil girl”; the very kind Patty McCormick made famous in ’56) clean up their messes or participate when needed. As a unit, they can be successful because adults just generally have a hard time believing these cute kids are actually homicidal monsters. They capitalize on those unaware of their psychopathy.


 
The screenplay obviously needs to provide us with someone able to see past what others are fooled by, so Lethin and Martel are chosen as the two fortunate enough to avoid the peril that befall others. When Jayne shoots at them, he always misses because that element of surprise is ruined and a clear target evades him. I can only imagine when Martel gets to deliver some nice punches to Jayne, many watching cheer and applaud. Still, Jayne sends off that same shit-eating grin when placed in the cop car to be taken off. Freeman gets put in a chest so that he can be no bother. Lucky for Hoy, however, she has mommy to whisk her away. We see at the end that even though her daughter promises for now on to be a good girl, she will continue to grow up a maniac (a mechanic was underpinned by a truck when she released his hydraulic press).



I first watched Blood Birthday on a Chiller Theatre program on a Fox channel affiliate late one Friday night. This was during the old days when I didn’t have cable at my house and had to turn the antennae just right as to pick up the signal. Of course, the film was cut, particularly the delicious nakedness of Julie Brown dancing a bit while her breasts were absent a bra. I can remember when the program would go to commercial, the voice would say, “We will return to Bloody Birthday, starring José Ferrer.” Ferrer was in the film maybe five minutes tops. He was the doctor who brought the three children from the womb to grace our world with their infamy.

To me, one of the enduring reasons behind why this film is a cult item is Hoy’s charging boys to peep on Brown undressing through a peep hole. There are two make-out sequences featuring blonde babes and their male suitors, all four at the wrong place, as the wrong time. Brown’s fate thanks to Hoy and her bow and arrow also might be considered one of the more memorable scenes in the film. I was surprised Bert Kramer is dispatched so early. He is the sheriff. I would have thought he might stick around for a while considering he was after the killer, with the irony of his very own daughter being responsible a token dramatic arc to use in the film. But his death bears greater emphasis on just how much of psychopath his daughter (and her male companions) really is. To convince daddy to follow his baby girl into the yard to later get his head caved in and not bat an eye tells us really early that all bets are off.

The violence is basically of the off-screen variety because showing explicit violence by kids to adults seems a bit too risqué even as the plot sickeningly suggests what these kid cretins are capable of doing to innocent people. That the kids are probably never to be punished for their crimes until reaching the appropriate age, we are left to wonder just how many more will be added to their body count. Hoy, it suggests, might leave a trail of dead behind her.
I have never watched a pristine copy of this film or even know if there is one available. I guess it is just as well. There's a part of me that likes to see a film look as if it was on a VHS tape tossed around in ransacked boxes, left to abandonment for a while, rescued from forgotten slumber after rummaging for something else, appears as if it plays on a barely-functioning VCR, and actually has the visual quality Grindhouse homages try so hard to mimic and represent. Bloody Birthday, with its open willingness to offend and titillate, seems to fit that bill, deserving to look ugly.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Criminal Woman: Killing Melody


We are introduced to some inmates. Each beautiful Japanese female inmate has committed a certain degree of crime. Pickpocketing, cheating, theft of motorcycle, abuse towards johns, and violence through the blade. So right away, we have a woman-in-prison film. With our opening fiery female, Maki (Reiko Ike), newly imprisoned (and mute to the point that when inmates talk to her, she doesn’t even act as if they are there), she immediately makes enemies by provoking the wrath of the leader of the pack , Massayo (Muki Sugimoto) by openly defying her presence of power within the prison population. Then we get one hell of a fun catfight as it starts with broken pieces of glass as knives (the two women in battle use a torn cloth shared in a type of tug-o-war where one hand, and their teeth, grab hold to the said cloth so that they keep each other tight and close; obviously, if one or the other were to let go of the cloth while in the heat of battle, the victor would be decided), turns to karate chops, and finally has the two tumbling around in the dirt as inmates serve as an excited audience to it all. What I thought was so awesome about it was how there appears to be an obvious victor throughout, but even as it looks as if Maki is outmatched and outperformed she just keeps coming. That spirit and lack-of-quit makes her a formidable opponent of anyone who crosses her. There’s no stop in her even as exhaustion and fatigue set in. This is a beaut.  I love how the actresses involved don’t use stunt doubles, too. We see them up close going right at it, giving us better than a ringside seat. Maki would collapse, get back up swinging wildly, while Massayo seems stunned by her insistence to keep going even as defeat beckons for her to call it quits.




 
Finally, Muki breaks her silence and tells the inmates her story. A no-good drunkard father fell victim to the Yakuza, and he's later discovered in the water, dragged to the beach, with his lifeless body noticed by his daughter, Muki. Not only that, because she was also raped by the Yakuza. So that ferocity and venom so visible as Muki attacks the Yakuza in a strip club is better explained once she had battled Massayo in the activity yard.


 
 
 

 
In Japan (in regards to the Yakuza), it is like the Wild West even though we are in the 70s. The Yakuza seem to be the untouchables, and in order for them to get what they deserve those fed up with them must take the law into their own hands. In pinku eiga, with the mention of Maki’s rape, Criminal Woman: Killing Melody has another of the exploitation staples: the rape revenge film. The murder of Maki’s father wasn’t enough on its own, so the addition of a heinous rape adds fuel to the fire: those wretched Yakuza vermin should be shown no mercy.

 
 
 

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I couldn’t get enough of Reiko Ike. That burning hatred for Oba Industries. She is so fuming and stewing, you just know there’s no other goal in mind but to make those bastards pay. When she tells the main mob boss all she wanted to do was chase him down to a miserable finish and then toss his corpse in the ditch with the dead rats, it has an intensity that is palpable and vivid. I love these kinds of anti-heroines. This film is every bit like the western in many ways. When the law seems unable to rein in the crime, the underbelly is dealt with in a lawless, violent fashion.

 
 
 

 
Once, the film returns Maki and the girls associated with her and Massayo to the city, we see an orchestrated plan take shape. Massayo and Maki are in a conflict that only heightens the drama of the film’s central plot: Massayo is the squeeze of Oba Industries’ main Yakuza boss while Maki plans to build weapons and arsenal to the point where she takes his ass down. No surprise that Massayo and Maki will engage in a second fight at the end, but I think this is overkill as the first catfight was long enough and strenuous enough on the leads that repeating that just feels unnecessary. However, in the case of the final catfight, the victor is reversed in that Maki is the one on the offensive as Massayo finds herself on the receiving end of ground dirt, cuts, and blows. Massayo is the one swinging wildly while Maki seems to have better focus and aim. So in terms of where the women are positioned, the film seems to come full circle. Maki has gotten her revenge while Massayo is left without a sure goal in life now.

Maki and her entourage embark on their scheme to hit the drug warriors in the city, the pulse of Oba’s ultimate success besides taking money from citizens. Hamayasu Crime Family were at one point the Yakuza leadership of the city, but Oba, a thug with the kind of thug-like aggression that can gain power quickly due to his manner of killing and removing those that stand in his way, quickly ascended to the top of the food chain. Maki has the girls assist in concealing her identity from Oba while burying her dagger in the back (and stomach) of each drug warrior of the Yakuza (those that ply the drug market in the city to addicts and locals needing their fix). Maki likes to look at her handiwork for a length of time, to relish her vengeance, before the girls try to drag her off to safety. Oba’s goons consider Hamayasu the one responsible for the murder of their guy, even though Massayo realizes her girls were the actual culprits.

A wild card to use by Maki is the cocky, liquor-guzzling, repugnant, abrasive, and antagonist firebrand Tetsuo, son of  Hamayasu. Tetsuo is eyed by Maki because he’s so hard to rein in, with Oba especially tired of his grandstanding. Meanwhile, Massayo is stuck in a bind…does she tell Oba about Maki or allow circumstances to continue until a path of bodies result by remaining quiet.


By instigating a rift even further between the Yakuza organizations in the city, Maki can allow them to tear each other apart then capitalize on Oba when resources have been strained. To whittle down the men around Oba, and encourage Tesuo's wrath (with Oba listening to his men who tell him Hamayasu is responsible for the dead among them, and a theft of their high-priced dope in a suitcase, stolen by Maki on a motorcycle, with her girls firing machine guns at them during a supposed trade with drug traffickers), they can watch as these criminals are rendered to next to nothing. When Maki looks at Oba without the gaggle of goons surrounding him as protection, it is that moment she has longed for and fantasized about.

Of course, there is that moment where Maki appears to have been caught and is in trouble of suffering torture or worse. One of Oba's men smacks her around and even threatens to cut her with a chainsaw, but Maki has a reluctant but willing secret ally in Massayo. Massayo sees Oba as a meal ticket, nothing more. She calls herself his woman, but it is about the benefits of a man of his power. Maki threatens to disrupt her leisure, but, at the same time, Massayo respects and admires her moxie and courage. When Massayo burns her nipples with a cigarette (Yikes!), this willingness to suffer so the endgame provides her with the revenge such agony is worth proves just how much Maki wants to destroy Oba. Whatever it takes.

I love these movies mainly because women often are left standing while the men are fooled, tricked, and ruined by them. Reiko Ike is my reason why I dig Criminal Woman. She is a force, and a badass nut that doesn't crack. She wants vengeance and will go as far as she has to in order for Oba to get what's coming to him. We see Oba surround himself with a lot of men and guns. Hamayasu suffers an honorable death by taking to Oba's men with a Samurai sword, but this doesn't last long. Bringing a sword to a gunfight ends badly if you are the one carrying the blade. But Maki arms herself and the girls. Even better Maki and her girls have brains and cunning. They want money as a unit, but Oba's demise is chief among their plans.

With plenty of nudity, bloodshed, women behaving badly, Yakuza thuggish activities, and guns dropping bodies, Criminal Woman: Killing Melody has lots going on for the exploitation fan. What Pinku eiga might have over 70s exploitation in other countries is the style of the studio system, the incredible talent of filmmakers in this system, and the comic book nature of the characters and actors' performances in those roles. The way the crooks are lit up by grenades and bullets and how criminals react to their necks slices and stabs to their torso; not to mention, the way characters react to developments beyond their control. This is all over-the-top to a certain degree as to tell us it is all just a movie.

 

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Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.

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The Boogens - Intro

While I must admit that as a monster movie, The Boogens (1981) doesn’t quite measure up (its monsters aren’t particularly menacing ...