Sunday, May 3, 2015

Uncanny eXfest V: The Case of the Utterly Despicable

One day removed from the 2015 eXfest, and despite the crowd's unfavorable reaction to a few of the films shown, I can't help but feel that this was the strongest Exploitation Festival yet. If you don't agree with that sentiment, I'm sure you can at least agree that it was the most challenging group of films & shorts that Harry and the gang at Exhumed Films has ever put together. Let's get to it!

11:00am: Prizes and announcements.
Dan announced their June show, which is a Massacre Triple Feature of Meat Clever Massacre, Mardi Gras Massacre and Drive-In Massacre. I'm sure it'll be a fun-filled romp.

11:15am: Action/crime fan favorite from an iconic director
-Assault on Precinct 13 (1976 Dir. John Carpenter)
I think most of us were surprised that they started with such a well known film, but I had no complaints as I'd never seen Precinct 13, and this was the best way to experience it for a first time.
It's a bit of an odd film, but it just screams Carpenter, which is probably why it's beloved. I honestly don't see how Precinct 13 is an exploitation film, and I welcome someone to explain it to me.

1:00pm: Kung Fu Comedy never released theatrically, on VHS, or DVD
-Ninja Busters (1984 Dir. Paul Kyriazi)
This. Was. A delight. Ninja Busters is one of those films that you can't believe IS an actual film. It's for people who're fans of the Kung Fu classic Miami Connection, as these two would make a perfect stoner double feature.
I don't remember there being much of a story; Ninja Busters is 70 minutes of montages, with 20 minutes of plot on the side.

2:45pm: Infamous exploitation drama/character study - animal lovers be warned!
-Born to Die aka Cockfighter (1974 Dir. Monte Hellman)
Are ya havin' a good time, audience? A fun shoot-em-up, followed by a wacky Ninja romp? Well, here's a heaping spoonful of graphic animal violence for you. Swallow it whole.
Born to Die is the "Over The Top" of professional cock fighting movies, except featuring up close, slow motion footage of roosters clawing & pecking each other to death, instead of greasy, swollen, arm wrestling men. So both films are equally offensive when you think about it.
The juxtaposition of Born to Die is that it's actually a good movie, outside of the bloodshed. A bluray with an edited version(as well as the unedited original), ala Cannibal Holocaust, would be much appreciated.
As the film ran, I noticed more and more people leaving the theater for it's remaining duration, and I noticed that the young lady behind me had been crying as the lights came on.
Challenging and sadistic? Yes! Quality story and well acted? Yes! Did I keep confusing Harry Dean Stanton with William Devane? ...yes.

4:15pm: Cheech & Chong's Basketball Jones
What the actual fuck.

4:30pm: Silly sexploitation spoof
-Flesh Gordon (1974 Dir. Michael Benveniste & Howard Ziehm)
It's hilarious to realize that the Flash Gordon porn parody pre-dates the 1980 schlock epic by six years, and then you realize how much better Flesh would've been had it been based off the movie, rather than the '50s serial.
I talked this over with my buddy Phil, and we both agreed that nobody over the age of 13 would've used this as any adult would with real pornography. It's funny to think of Flesh Gordon as a Porn Starter Kit for some 8th grader who's just hitting puberty.

6:00pm: Italian action/crime movie
-Street Law (1974 Dir. Enzo G. Castellari)
I watched the first ten minutes. I watched the last ten minutes.
Street Law had an awesome score, from what little of it I heard.

The only downside to eXfest is that it usually falls on the first beautiful, non-rainy weekend of the year. I took this time to go for a nice walk, returning to the theater just in time for some rape/revenge antics.

8:00pm: Trashy, bizarre exploitation film that somewhat defies categorization
-Black Vengeance aka Poor Pretty Eddie(1975 Dir. Richard Robinson & David Worth)
Black Vengeance is a disjointed, but fun, blaxploitation/hixsploitation "black woman lost in the woods and kidnapped by local yocals" film.
While it was enjoyable in an eXfest setting, most people were annoyed that there was little to no actual black vengeance. I mean, she shoots her attacker after he'd already been shot-up by someone else. This film should've been titled "Black Closing the Barn Door after the Cows got Out."
A rape/revenge film is less satisfying when it lacks the key revenge aspect. Imagine Last House on the Left and I Spit on You Grave w/o the final act killing sprees? Without those scenes, you're left with revenge blue balls(and whatever the female equivalent is).

9:45pm: Sleazy, perverse, and unpleasant thriller
-Forced Entry (1975 Dir. Jim Sotos)
Nothing pleases an audience more than following up a rape/revenge film with an even worse rape/revenge film.
I noticed quite a few people leaving during the first on-screen murder, and then even more heading out when you disturbingly see the corpse's face during the aftermath. Sleazy, perverse and unpleasant indeed.
This was the only film of the day that a large portion of the audience "booed" as the credits rolled, just in case you wondered how people felt about this one. I'm interested in finding out what the Exhumed Films guys thought of those boos.
Apparently, this is a toned-down remake of a hardcore porn "roughie," of the same name, from 1973. Just for fun, here's the great Tanner Otoobach reviewing the hardcore version of Forced Entry.

11:00pm: 15 minutes of XXX hardcore porn trailers. Lots and lots of suckin' & fuckin'.

11:15pm: Transgressive streetwalker saga from a beloved/reviled filmmaker
-The Girls of 42nd Street (1973 Dir. Andy Milligan)
Ah, Andy Milligan. A favorite among the Exhumed Films crowd. I'm personally not a huge fan, but I did like this film.
'Girls' is the other side of the softcore coin. While softcore classics like Flesh Gordon are made to be silly and make teen boys laugh, Girls of 42nd Street was the type of film that Mom & Dad would turn on after you've gone to bed. They'd pay an extra $5 a month to the cable company, and get access to the Adult Entertainment. Romance ensued.
Nine months later, I was born. Thanks, Suburban Cable.
Interesting fact, Laura Cannon, who plays Dusty Cole in 'Girls,' also appears in the hardcore version Forced Entry. Coincidence?
I had to leave halfway through the last movie, but I pretty much enjoyed every film that was screened this year. I reiterate this was Exhumed Films strongest eXfest to date, and I look forward to what they have in store for the rest of the year.