08.09.10

Razorcake #57

Razorcake #57

Here is a link to the ordering information for the latest issue of Razorcake. In this issue is a long piece I wrote about the life and films of Pedro Almodovar. I hope I did him justice; I worked on this thing for a long time. Amy did the illustrations. The cover drawing of Noam Chomsky is by Cramhole regular Danny Martin who also did several of the illustrations inside.  Razorcake is a great magazine.

For any of my beltway friends looking in, I was watching this really low budget Hong Kong movie directed by Godfrey Ho called Undefeatable (1993) when I realized that one of the fight sequences takes place in the parking lot of Fair City Mall in Fairfax. I could tell the movie had been shot in Maryland as soon as one of the local hires opened his mouth. It was a trip to see FCM in the movie. It was especially funny because it is an extended fight sequence during an abduction in the middle of the day with cars going by. Later in the film, the cops are still baffled as to who is doing these abductions. I find it hard to believe they could fight for that long without somebody seeing something, but this plot hole is the least of this film’s problems. Still, it was a pretty entertaining watch.

Here is a link to my review at the Loft Blogspot- Undefeatable

08.04.10

 

Body Rock (1984)

It makes sense that Body Rock was made the same year as Breakin’ (1984). All the good dancers must have been making Breakin’ when Body Rock was being filmed. Where as the cast of Breakin’ was largely a group of unknowns who knew how to dance, part of Body Rock’s budget went to pay Lorenzo Lamas. Chilly (Lamas) is a cut-rate rapper/break-dancer who runs a crew called the Body Rock Crew.The BRC are, according to Chilly, ready for their big break despite the fact that only a few of them dance competently. But the big break comes when an uptown businessmen wants Chilly to perform in his club. He goes on to achieve great fame in the club circuit despite the fact that he has no discernable talent. He is able to sleep at night under the notion that he is eventually going to ease everyone from the BRC into his club act so they can all “make it” like he has. But after a few leather jackets and sexual encounters with strangers hot for his fame, Chilly quickly forgets his roots. The BRC must struggle without him.

First of all, isn’t this the plot of Breakin’? Krush Groove? Both of these movies came out the same year as Body Rock. The differentiator is that there were talented people in those movies. Lorenzo Lamas is hilarious as he lumbers through the movie like a rapper in a fast food training video. The best parts of the movie for me were the ludicrous stage productions put together by the club choreographers after he “makes it.” One where the lights go out and these neon skeletons dance around him incompetently is worth sitting through the whole movie to see.

Breakin’ was essentially a pretty awful movie, but the dancing saves it. Here, the dancing saves the movie as well; only it is all the terrible moves making the movie worthwhile. The best dancer in the whole thing is a young man named Magick (La Ron A. Smith). There is an awesome montage where Magick teaches Chilly to dance. Of course, when it’s over, Chilly can’t dance any better than when he started.

Another bizarro-world parallel between Body Rock and Krush Groove/Breakin’ is that Chilly forgets his friends and must eventually choose to if or not to redeem himself. I don’t want to give the story away, but I will tell you that if he does happen to come crawling back to the BRC, it is because he has no other choice. In Krush Groove, for instance, Joseph has to make a moral choice regarding whether or not to realize who he was. In Body Rock, the moral is that talentless schlubs who fall into high paying jobs should not burn bridges.

 

Frankenstein’s Daughter (1958)

Frankenstein’s Daughter is one of those great, nonsensical science fiction movies from the late 50s where the science and motivation of the characters doesn’t make much sense. Dr. Frankenstein’s grandson (which I believe isn’t possible as the story takes place in 1958) wants to continue his family’s eccentric work. But this particular Dr. Frankenstein, hiding in America under the moniker Oliver Frank (Donald Murphy), isn’t as much an insane genius as he is just a jerk. He is taking advantage of poor Professor Carter Morton (Felix Locher) by using his lab, screwing up his research, and drugging his daughter. It sort of serves Morton right for not asking for references. Frank cannot even produce a fake I.D. that says who he is. For a Frankenstein, he is a pretty lackluster mastermind.

When Frank drugs Morton’s daughter Trudy (Sandra Knight), she becomes this sort of Frankenstein’s monster/werewolf hybrid. She runs around town in a bathing suit terrorizing people. This is endlessly amusing to the local police department. When Frank is not drugging Trudy, he is sexually harassing Trudy’s friend Sally (Suzie Lawler). Frank turns Sally into the permanent monster that is inherently promised by a Frankenstein narrative. The monster is a man in a very masculine looking mask. There is noting remotely feminine about the monster, which is not created from the only daughter in the story, which is not Frank’s daughter anyway. A better title would be: Frankenstein is Sexually Harassing Someone’s Daughter’s Friend, Eventually Turning Her Into a Man. I guess that doesn’t fit on the marquee. On the plus side, Frank’s monster is better behaved than his creator; it knocks on the front door of the house before revealing itself.

If this sounds at all complicated, it really isn’t. Because of the thin plot, Frankenstein’s Daughter contains one of my favorite elements to be occasionally inserted into movies from the 1950s: a performance by a rock band. The Page Cavanaugh Trio, a white bred-pseudo rock group, does a couple of numbers to fill out the run time. It’s a nice break in the action for both the actors and the audience. I felt refreshed after their songs, fully prepared to return to watching people run around in masks. Frankenstein’s Daughter is misguided, 50s-sci-fi fun. There isn’t much to it, but it manages to entertain on a lot of levels.


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