58 posts categorized "Independent Cinema"

October 19, 2023

TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL — SHOCKTOBER!

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ColeSmithey.comCo-writer/director Eli Craig deconstructs nearly every slasher horror movie cliché dating back to "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" for a gross-out laugh fest that works better than it has any right to.

Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine play the film's hilarious title characters. Tucker and Dale are a couple of backwoods best friends who fit the description of every hillbilly psychopath from "Deliverance" to "Creature."

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And yet, these two overall-wearing goofs are just a couple of well-intentioned beer-lovers who want to enjoy the serenity of a rundown cabin on a quiet lake. Enter a group of hysterical college hipsters to stereotype our scruffy duo as serial killers from their worst nightmares. The kids can't help instigating a series of guffaw-inducing suicidal accidents that leave behind an explosion of gore.

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The filmmakers get a little too carried away in a sloppy third act, but "Tucker & Dale vs. Evil" is a refreshingly funny black comedy. In turning the tables on worn-out horror movie tropes, Eli Craig and co-writer Morgan Jurgenson create a cogent diatribe on slasher movie clichés. They have purged 40 years worth of hackneyed ideas that deserve to be put out to pasture. We always knew that snotty young urban interlopers (read as capitalist imperialists) were the real blight on out-of-the-way regional locales; now here's your proof. Oh the irony.

Rated R. 86 mins.

3 Stars SHOCKTOBER!!!!!!Cozy Cole

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October 10, 2023

ILSA: SHE WOLF OF THE SS — SHOCKTOBER!

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

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Thanks a lot acorns!

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THE BLOOD OF DRACULA

ColeSmithey.comDon Edmonds’s 1975 classic “Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS” is one of the most outrageous additions to the sexploitation genre ever envisioned.

Even by modern cinema’s jaded standards, “She Wolf of the SS” remains a powerfully sexy, campy, blood-soaked, and fetishistic tour de force.

Hairy bushes and buxom breasts come with the territory.

Get tied up in Dyanne Thorne's sexy brutality; she takes no prisoners, but she does leave marks.

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Producer Herman Traeger tears a page from Kroger Babb’s exploitation publicity playbook that marketed Babb's 1957 “Mom and Dad” (1957) as a touring “sex-hygiene” road film. Traeger feigns social responsibility by inserting an intro paragraph dedicating “She Wolf of the SS” with “the hope that these heinous [war] crimes will never occur again.”

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There is more than a little irony in the systemic actions of the American military industrial complex that continue to commit far more disgusting acts of brutality against human beings than what we witness onscreen, however terrible they are.

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The naturally gifted and buxom Dyanne Thorne plays Ilsa, a surrogate composite of Ilse Koch (a.k.a. the Witch of Buchenwald), the sadistic Nazi concentration camp murderess, and the notorious Irma Grese (a.k.a. the Beast of Belsen), who at 22 became “the youngest woman to die judicially under English law in the 20th century.”

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The film’s wacky tone of bloodthirsty eroticism relies heavily on Dyanne Thorne’s inspired performance. Dressed in a tight low-buttoned white shirt — complete with Nazi insignia armband — Thorne administers and oversees the unspeakably brutal torture of nude victims with a sadistic glee that dominates the twisted World War II drama. Having worked as a stripper and in porn, Thorne commits completely to her cruel and sexually omnivorous role. She never winks.

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Thorne’s frequently nude Ilsa is the sexually insatiable commandant of Nazi Medical Camp 9 where she conducts private “scientific” torture experiments on female, and male, prisoners alike. Ilsa has a penchant for castrating male captives after they’ve tried, and failed, to quench her lust. She might promise freedom in exchange for their stud duties, but Ilsa doesn’t keep promises.

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Ilsa’s professional agenda, that she anticipates will advance her up the male-dominated Nazi ranks, is to prove that women can withstand more pain than men, and are thus better suited to serve the Third Reich as soldiers. She discovers an ideal female prison subject who is indeed able to endure all variety of gruesome tortures, such as being boiled alive, without so much as a squeak. The film’s gruesome make-up designs (courtesy of the incomparable Joe Blasco) are convincing enough to leave you with nightmares.

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Only the ever-randy American prisoner Wolfe (Gregory Knoph) can sate Ilsa in the sack. Knoph’s amateur performance is so laughable that it provides reliable comic relief for the graphic horrors on display.

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A too-good-to-be-true production design element resides in the film’s familiar- looking Nazi prison camp. The popular ‘70s era television show “Hogan’s Heroes” had recently been cancelled, allowing “She Wolf’s” filmmakers to repurpose the Los Angeles-located set for their production.

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Knowing that they were creating a pornographic work that would garner an X-rating, the filmmakers push sex acts and gory nude torture scenes beyond the pale of audience expectations. Increasingly shocking torture scenes unnerve the viewer as the story shifts focus to the arrival of Nazi general to inspect the camp. Ilsa’s attempt to impress the general with the results of her insane experiments fall as flat as his failed seduction of her, which involves requesting a golden shower that leaves Ilsa wanting the attention of real man.

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Rated X. 96 mins.

5 StarsColeSmithey.com SHOCKTOBER!!! THE BLOOD OF DRACULA
Cozy Cole

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October 03, 2023

THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE — SHOCKTOBER!

Screen Shot 2023-10-04 at 11.45.44 AMWelcome!

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Thanks a lot acorns!

Your kind generosity keeps the reviews coming!

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ColeSmithey.comSHOCKTOBER! reaches a fever climax of terror with Tobe Hooper's THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE for episode #76.

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Dramatist Phil Holt returns to the podcast to guest co-host this very special Halloween edition with the addition of Brooklyn Brewery's POST ROAD PUMPKIN ALE !

Close the curtains, light some candles and settle in for our scariest episode yet! 

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This film’s intimidating title alone was enough to keep weak-kneed audiences away from cinemas and drive-ins back in 1974 when filmmaker Tobe Hooper released what was, at the time, the most intense horror movie ever made.

In the United Kingdom, the picture was banned on principle alone.

Rumors of the film’s notorious chainsaw-wielding Leatherface character, who impales a young woman on a meat hook, a scene revealed in the movie’s promo poster, spread quickly.

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Audiences were afraid of how badly they might be scared – and they had good reason.   

If Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” was the premiere slasher movie, Hooper’s film followed that film’s thread to its logical arc of exploitation. Tobe Hooper’s limited budget hardly encumbered the visionary filmmaker’s ability to wring psychological tension from the same pool of inspiration that Hitchcock had used for “Psycho,” namely the notorious Wisconsin grave robber and murderer Ed Gein.

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Hooper baited his film’s hook with a time-honored exploitation trope about the picture being based on a “tragedy” that “befell a group of five youths, in particular Sally Hardesty and her invalid brother, Franklin.” There are still plenty of people who believe that the murders we witness onscreen are based on real-life killings; they are not.   

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Over a black screen we hear the sound of a shovel digging. Camera flashes reveal short visions of fresh corpses. A news broadcast tells of Texas grave robberies. The camera pans down the body of a ripe cadaver holding the head of another while propped up on a tombstone. Dry dust blows across the macabre scene. We are firmly inside an American gothic atmosphere of Grand Guignol gore. A dead bloody armadillo lies facing up on a Texas road.  

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The story’s setup has been ripped off so many times that it now seems rote, but remember, no one had seen anything like it at the time. A group of five white hippie types (three guys and two braless girls) pull their Ford van to the side of the road to allow their wheelchair-bound member Franklin to pee into a coffee can. A big rig rolls by and Franklin goes spilling down the hillside.

Vulnerabilities lurk.

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The group is on their way to visit Franklin’s and his sister Sally’s grandfather’s grave to make sure it isn’t a victim of one of the spate of grave robberies. Driving past a slaughterhouse delivers a pungent stench that disgusts the quintet. Picking up a hitchhiker backfires immediately when the facially disfigured young man passes around snapshots of slaughtered cows before cutting himself with a pocketknife. He soon cuts Franklin’s arm before the group evict him from the van.

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Soon the five are separated while visiting grandpa Hardesty’s disused family home. Little does the group realize that they are next door to the [family of] grave robbers, who also happen to be bloodthirsty killers. 

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Tobe Hooper uses an arsenal of filmic techniques, lighting designs, while an increasingly noisy soundscape (of screams and chainsaw sounds) ratchets up the fear and suspense to a heart-palpitating rhythm of horrific discord.

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Breathtaking Dutch angles Dutch angles and extreme close-ups of images like bones and eyeballs underscore a gothic dinner table scene that takes the cake for sly social commentary and black humor. No matter how many filmmakers have attempted to recreate the all-out insanity of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” very few have come close.   

Rated R. 83 mins.

5 Stars ColeSmithey.com Screen Shot 2023-10-03 at 5.38.43 PM

Cozy Cole

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