Hey folks, Harry Here. I'm getting set to write up reviews for all the films I reviewed on SISKEL AND EBERT, and figured that I would repost the review of the 2nd Night of the Quentin Tarantino FilmFest where I first saw THE MIGHTY PEKING MAN. Scratch that.... The only time I've seen it thus far, but I will be going back with some friends that did not get to experience that film the first time around. This is the review of that ENTIRE NIGHT's worth of films, so if you are only interested in THE MIGHTY PEKING MAN, scan down to where it appears. Enjoy...
DAY 2.... The Complete Coverage.... EXPLOITATION NIGHT.....
Quentin comes out in a Black T-shirt, pants and alligator boots. The audience... packed... looked set to be here for the long haul. 6 films running all night long. Mere mortals would leave, but the immortals... they would stay and not survive, but thrive. No drugs needed, film will keep your pulse pumping and your brain kicking.
Quentin came out and did a whole thing on how what we were about to see wasn’t just grindhouse exploitation films, that we have all types of exploitive genres like WOMEN IN PRISON FLICKS, BLAXPLOITATION, CHEERLEADER FLICKS, SUPER GORE FILMS, etc... That these films he was set to show us were films that weren’t made just for grindhouses... they played in some mainstream places, as well as the grindhouses. They were the off beat exploitive films. These were the films that “If you bought a ticket for a piece of shit, you came out pleasantly surprised!”
“In fact, I’m kinda ruining the whole fucking thing for ya right now....” This began a line of dialogue that was just fucking brilliant in my opinion. Quentin went on to tell us how 60% of exploitation films are “so fucking bad that you come out screaming about what a fucking piece of shit that movie was”, then he talked about the 34% that are just pretty good pieces of shit, then he put Jack Hill’s REVENGE OF THE CHEERLEADERS in that category, to which I instantly voiced my disapproval. You see... for me, REVENGE OF THE CHEERLEADERS is this near brilliant insane film. Kinda like SCHLOCK or DARK STAR for that place in life where you are utterly disabled from higher brain functions. Then there is the 6% of exploitation films that you come out of just shocked at how much you loved it. And what he’s doing tonight is ruining it for us, because we’re supposed to earn our 6%, that 60% may suck like as asshole siphoning your gastank, but at least you earned the right to draw that parallel. You know of what you speak.
“Oh... and another thing... don’t worry about falling asleep... That’s kinda one of the things that’s great about this kinda thing. You fall asleep remembering a man being bit in half by a giant alligator and you wake up to see a country western singer getting a blow job and you’re kinda like.... WHOA... what’s happening here... is this the same fucking movie, where’d the hell did these Dwarves with machine guns come from, what’s happening.” A-FUCKING-MEN my brothers.... Disorientation is your friend, sometimes it’s good to feel like Dick Powell, confused at trying to pull up your pants with a nasty bruise on the back of your skull. Who is this naked chick next to me, where’d I get this tattoo? These are the questions that set the tone for a really fucking interesting next 24 hours.
Quentin feels that this film came out right at the heighth of Blaxploitation. That the film was amazingly misunderstood for it’s uses of stereotypes. That it mixes into a pot an entire world and history of stereotypes from the teens and twenties through to the sixties and the ones from the time Bakshi made this film in the seventies. He takes them all, stirs them together to create a really remarkable film that comments on it all.
“Social groups always think in very broad terms... and don’t really pick up on subtle nuances....” There ya go... absolutely, this should be a mantra that everyone that hates political correctness and the verbal police should just throw into their rolodex of ‘why they don’t get it’ cards...
Then Quentin went ahead and did his intro for ALLIGATOR and NASHVILLE GIRL.... you see he realizes that we have to get a rhythm going... you let the films begin to build and move and transform and meld into one another. If he does all the intros between it’s kinda like stopping after each round of the track.... twould be a pretty boring race.
ALLIGATOR.... Robert Forster was soo good in this movie for Quentin that when he was writing Jackie Brown... he remember Forster from this film, and when he rewatched this film during Jackie Brown... he feared that people would just think that he was doing a continuation of the cop character that Forster had done in this movie. The movie is a John Sayles script that is... well a rip off of Jaws, “but in my opinion,”Quentin said, “this is the best of the JAWS ripoffs.”
NASHVILLE GIRL... The film’s director was married to Goldie Hawn for a bit was the first tidbit we heard, but then he went on about how feminist groups really kinda dug this series of NEW WORLD PICTURES cause they focused on women that were their own people. “Sure there were a couple of rape scenes, and the prerequisite titillation, but these films, but in the end the lead female emerges victorious” and the feminist groups liked that.
The film starred Monica Gayle, who was Patch from Jack Hill’s SWITCHBLADE SISTER, he feels her Patch was the best cinematic portrayl of Shakespeare’s IAGO character ever. Something that I’ll need to rewatch that film with that series of thoughts tied to.
Quentin then went on a rap about tipping your waiters... that they are just amazing. Someone in the audience razed him for RESERVOIR DOGS..... to which he said.... “DON’T LISTEN TO MR PINK... LISTEN... TO ME!!!”
Then concerning leaving early... “Coolness counts... We’ll remember if you leave... and if we don’t... then you’ll always know...”
EMPIRE OF THE ANTS... I loved this Joan Collins film. When the ants are brainwashing mankind it just got me going. Scared the hell out of me when I was a kid.
DR PHIBES... “A nice night for a murder.... or two.... or three or NINE... NINE MURDERS!”
Then it was time for COONSKINS.....
I love this film and always have. I’ve seen it my whole life, and seeing it here with an audience was just fantastic. Personally I believe Bakshi was a genius in this period, bringing something to animation and turning it in an angle we’d never before seen. The film isn’t an animated film nor a live-action film... it is a COLLAGE. It’s brilliantly experimental... Fantastically textured and trippy.
If you’re looking to rent it, look for STREET FIGHT, that’s it’s video title.
“369 people threw themselves off that bridge last year... only 2 were niggers and one of them were pushed...”
So it begins...
Then we goto a SCATMAN CROTHERS singing number at the beginning that made me scrawl in my notebook that SCATMAN IS A GOD.
The film’s dialogue, look and style are fantastic. Here’s some of the dialogue....
A preacher is preaching to God.... Repeating “I see ya lord” over and over again culminating in.... “I sees ya lord.... and YOU better FUCKING well see me!” The line is delivered with such a sincerity that it got to me.
Then there’s Barry White saying, “It’s all them crackers shooting on the way int that’s gots me so worried”
Or Scatman Crothers hugged up against the prison wall saying, “This nigger ain’t been on this side of the wall for a 100 years..... WHAT makes you think I’m not enjoying it.”
“Killing Krackers is FINNNNNNE I guess everyday!”
When Quentin mentioned Krazy Kat in his introduction, and was having trouble with the artist’s name.... I shouted out George Herriman on account of the fact I’m a fucking geek and know stuff like that in a sorta scary extra-sensory perception sorta way... but I really didn’t see how it applied to this movie. Bakshi often apes different styles of artists for his films... be it Crumb for FRITZ or Vaughn Bode for WIZARDS.... but Krazy Kat? George Herriman? Shit, the characters don’t look anything like his.... until...
A BRILLIANT scene between a down on her look harlem harlot who is talking to her baby about a cockroach she loved, and the spurning of the rat that came next.... How she learned to just be lonely... cause it hurt too much to be otherwise. “I got some time before I find a place to laying my burden down....” There is a side of the screen that’s illustrated EXACTLY in Herriman’s style and when I saw it.... it was the first time I had ever noticed it. THIS is why seeing these films with Quentin helps... I knew KRAZY KAT.... I knew this film.... But that fucking Quentin... he made the connection I never saw... and it improved my already high opinion of this movie.
AMERICAN POP is still my fave Bakshi film... but This one.... I think in a lot of ways it’s his most Avant Garde experimental film. It’s fantastic. The imagery of the black horn player alone on the desolate streets of Harlem playing a bluesy sad tale of woe.... Sporadically spread out through the film.... It’s a recurring image that haunts me.
The film... hell... I could write 3 or 4 thousand words on, but I’sa got to move on to the next one.
TROG--- This movie I’ve seen doubled up with SCHLOCK about a dozen times. Always watch TROG first though...
LIFEFORCE --- Eeeeeeeeeeeeek, Mathilda May..... I LOVE THIS MOVIE!!!!
Roman Polanski’s THE TENANT --- “Nobody does it to you the way Roman Polanski does it to you!”
As the movie started Annette grabbed my notebook and wrote.... “You’re an angel” I have no idea what she was referring to, but hell, she’s just about the best friggin thing in life at the moment, and having her here for just one night makes this fest for me. She’s about three months away from living here... Then we won’t have to ever not follow through..... She’s the angel....
ANYWAYS..... sorry... I was distracted by her sentence in my notebook. It’s strange, these notes, these scribblings of mine of tiny memories of mine that I wrote.... Not complete stenographers writings, but rather.... it is a series of just a series of lines... thoughts.... And then my memory fills in all the blanks. When you see another’s thoughts in there. Well... It’s like reading their mind. And reading Annette’s mind and seeing I’m an angel... well, I just better have some strong fucking wings.... else I’m never leaving the ground.... :)
The movie scared the shit out of me as a kid. I was so terrified that I wouldn’t take the damn garbage out for weeks, and then... only in the daylight. Ya see, there was one of them sewer runoff things right by where the Garbage Cans were to be sat.... I swear to God I saw glistening reptilian Alligator eyes down there just waiting to eat me. Then Dad started telling me about how flushed baby alligators got all in the rivers in SAN ANTONIO.... or was that when the Zoo flooded... I don’t remember, but Dad had a real life story about kids being eaten by alligators just an hour and a half away. Now, I’m ignorant as hell about the migratory habits of alligators... but... San Antonio was close enough...
Now... when I originally saw this film I didn’t pick up on nuance one of Robert Forster’s character.... All I knew was that alligator scared the shit out of me. I mean... JAWS can’t eat me in Austin. But Alligators.... well, I wasn’t sure.... I mean them bastards can chew your ass up and run on land, chase ya in water... They’re like all terrain vehicles with teeth.
Anyway... this time out, I wasn’t cowering in my chair.... Instead I was paying attention, and Quentin’s right... Forster is the shit in this film. There are not many people that can say, “I’m going out there to find that alligator and kick his ass” and make it sound super cool... But Forster did it. And I’d never noticed that Claude Rains’ THE LOST WORLD was playing on a tube in the film, and then there is all that cool kung fu Gator shit when that creature is kicking ass with that tail.
But the best scene has got to be... Let’s just say it’s the ‘Walk the plank” scene. For me, the nerve needed to carry that on out was just wonderful.
Next was NASHVILLE GIRL... but first.... some trailers...
PHANTASM II -- I’ve seen all the Phantasm trailers and this one is quite simply one of the best, though the voice over for the original was amazing. The first trailer Robert cut to THE FACULTY used that voice over, but then that never got seen by the public at large.
THE PACK -- Man, I’ve been dying to see this flick for a long time. It’s directed by Robert Clouse and I’ve enjoyed a fair share of his flicks, and the trailer makes it look really good. Double bill this with WHITE DOG and you’ve got a hell of a double feature.
While I didn’t like go head over heels for this movie, I did appreciate the eye candy, and I thought there really was quite strong material here that could’ve been honed a bit. The songs are really strong, but the redundacy of some of the scenes were making this one a bit tough going.
Next Quentin came out and introduced DEATH COLLECTOR and LITTLE CIGARS
He seemed alert and awake, and I was ready for more movies. At this hour the comraderie was forming between the audience members... We were in this to the end.
DEATH COLLECTOR is the movie that made Joe Pesci.... WHAT!?? Well, ya see it turns out according to Tarantino that DeNiro was watching this film, then really wanted him to be in RAGING BULL and brought him to Scorsese’s attention. Then... well Quentin went on a bit of what I’ll call a filmic machismo speech on the CAMEO and ARCADE in Downtown Los Angeles. These were, according to him, the GRIND GRINDHOUSES. They were the hotels for the homeless, vagrants and those on the lam from the law. The types of theaters where you keep your feet up off the ground for fear of rabies. These theaters were “the difference between the boys and the men”.
LITTLE CIGARS.... stars Angel Tompkins.... and man.... she’s just a megababe. My dad’s been mentioning her forever, and the only thing I’d seen her in before was THE DAWN IS DEAD.
The funniest thing about Quentin’s introduction was when he was trying to think of the politically correct terms for the wee people and said, “What do you call midgets nowadays?... Uh... Diminutive Actors?” Meanwhile the audience where screaming out “Dwarves” “Hobbits” “Shrimps” “SpeedBumps!” Of course you have to realize that this was.... EXPLOITATION NIGHT.... the whole vibe was exploitation. So, well, that’s what was needed to happen.
Quentin quickly wrapped up his intros and took his seat.... he seemed as anxious as everyone to keep the ball rolling.
DEMONSEED..... Man.... Is Julie Christie like a babe or what? Ya know, I think it’s that whole DON’T LOOK NOW / DR ZHIVAGO thing fucking with my head, but she’s always been one of them idyllic types floating in the misty lobes of mine.
Right up front I want to apoligize for not being able to tell you the name of the lead actor in this movie, but I didn’t take note of his name at the beginning, or during Quentin intro.... By this point in the evening I had consumed 120 ounces of Schlitz Malt Liquior, and... was feeling very little pain other than a stabbing agony in my bladder from time to time. My handwriting was getting... fucked up, and I was looking at the screen through a haze of.... “This is allllllllll coooooool maaaaaaaaan” I was completely in that, “I want world peace and a rotating round bed with all the girls on my row naked and playing gin rummy”
But I was trying to focus, I was still taking notes of lines like....
“He’s got a faggot limp dick welcher for a fucking nephew”
“What am I? From Butte, Montana? Ya think I just parachuted into this neighborhood?”
But the main thing is... I didn’t take many notes, because... Well I fucking forgot about it, not because of the inebriated state that I was in, but because my friends... This movie was the shit. It was amazing. Annette Kellerman wrote in my notebook that “That guy was definitely from SCARFACE” in reference to the main character, but other than that.... that was the last note.
The film is basically about this punkass New Jersey collector, no not like Forry Ackerman, more like that bastard that knocks on your door when you’re late with the rent and you hide in the back bedroom, not making a noise and wishing him away. Joe Pesci plays a great character... You’ve seen it before, and for anyone that thought that it was a product of Martin Scorsese’s brilliant direction.... well, that may be the case, but ever single thing you like about Pesci in a Scorsese film is in THE DEATH COLLECTOR. I mean, it was as if this character was ripped out of this movie ala Howard the Duck and placed in Scorsese’s GOODFELLAS and CASINO.
The main actor (nameless due to my stupidity) had this wonderful young Al Pacino/DeNiro thing going. He wanted to whup ass and take zero shit. When he said.... “fugiddaboutit” the audience roared it’s approval. This is one of them jewels to keep your eyes out for.
Then it was on to the next film....
BABY NEEDS A NEW PAIR OF SHOES... This greying numbers racket guy likes to suck on a stogie while weird women bellydance for him and others play dice. A WEIRD trailer that looks like the movie would be cool.
BLACK BELT JONES... Nothing I can say is adequate in the preparation for the glory of Jim Kelly on the big screen. He’s the coolest of them all. Let’s face it, he’s “That Son of a bitch threw his panties in my face” and I love him for it.
Oh my god, this was a cool bit of weirdness. Kinda imagine this. You’ve got five midgets that tour the country putting on a show which features them running around and bumping into one another. No real act, just bumbling bumping. They’re bitter that the audiences don’t applaud... so they rip them off... picking their pockets... stealing stuff from their cars.... UNTIL a tall fuck goddess played by Angel Tompkins comes into the scene. She won’t fuck the head little guy till he pulls BIGGER jobs.
Ok, now I went over to IMDB.COM and did a check on this movie, and they call it a CRIME/COMEDY.... It is not... at least not to me, it is a crime film, but it’s more like a crime drama, and I get the idea that perhaps whoever did the little synopsis... well, perhaps they didn’t see the movie... or get it.
Ok... They’re midgets... Hardee har har... But they’re also real people, with this extreme distrust for the taller folks. And Angel’s character is looked down on from the midgets because of the fact that she’s willing to fuck the midgets, therefore... she must be the lowest of the low.
I really liked this movie. Some of the others in the group didn’t, but hell, I began associating with the movie on some drunken plane of existance and enjoyed it.
The scene where the midgets are about to pull a gang bang on Angel is one of the most frightening conceptual scenes I think I’ve ever seen.... I said aloud, “Oh god no!” Which set off the audience into this collective uneasiness throughout the conclusion.... You’ll have to see for yourself.
THE MIGHTY PEKING MAN......
That was the final movie of the all nighter. It was 0600 in the cool standard hour of the morning. And I was more awake than when I started the evening. Quentin comes up, looks at the crowd and was utterly shocked to see that about 80% of the audience was still in their seats, wide-eyed and bushy tailed.
His introduction was basically... less of an intro, and more of a preparation for what was coming. He first saw this film in Amsterdam when he rented it from CULTVIDEO, an amazing video shop. All he knew when he rented it was it starred the other guy from THE KILLER and an amazing German babe named Evelyne Kraft.... OH... and there was what slightly resembled a giant monkey on the box. I say resembled... and I use the word lightly. Cause what the PEKING MAN is... no man can adequately describe.
This is the perfect Six A.M. movie to end a run. Surreal and stunning, the film is the most likely to play a theater near you this April. It’s amazing.
I’m not going to describe the movie. Nothing I can say can do it justice. I highly recommend seeing it when it plays near you in April. Cause only then can you see the glorius Leopard penis, tiger food, angry elephants and of course.... THE MIGHTY PEKING MAN.
Every member of the AICN crew came through with very little damage besides the bed sores on our asses, but hey.... Annette was up to treating those with Cora Smith.... They take care of us wild and crazy guys.... or so I wish....