Sunday, November 29, 2009

Torrent Picks 11/29/09

Well its that time of the week again, time for us to dive head first into the deep end of the ocean that is the world of cinema and see what interesting little treasures we can find. So with out any farther delay, here we go...

Oh and just like last week, i'm feeling my roots, we're totally going Grindhouse.... 

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes: The film opens with a scroll dictating that, when Alfred Hitchcock's film The Birds (1963) was released, audiences laughed at the notion of birds revolting against humanity, but when an attack perpetrated by birds occurred in 1975, no one laughed. This is followed by a pre-credits sequence of a tomato rising out of a woman's garbage disposal unit. Her puzzlement turns into terror as the tomato draws her into a corner. Following the credits, we see the police investigating her death. One officer discovers that the red substance she is covered with is not blood, but tomato juice. A series of attacks perpetrated by tomatoes occur (including a man dying by drinking tomato juice made from a killer tomato and a sequence where the tomatoes attack innocent swimmers, in a parody of Jaws). While the President's press secretary Jim Richardson tries to convince the public that there is no credible threat, the president puts together a team of specialists to stop the tomatoes led by a man named Mason Dixon. Dixon's team includes Sam Smith, an African-American disguise expert who is seen at various points dressed as, among other things, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and even Adolf Hitler; Navy diver Greg Colburn; Russian Olympic swimmer Gretta Attenbaum; and parachute-toting Wilbur Finletter. Smith is sent out to infiltrate the tomatoes, eventually blowing his cover when he asks if anyone could "pass the ketchup." Colburn and Gretta are sent to sectors, and Finletter stays with Mason. Meanwhile, the president sends Richardson to the fictitious ad agency "Mind Makers," where executive Ted Swan spends huge amounts of money to develop virtually worthless ploys including a bumper sticker with "STP" for "Stop Tomato Plants" on it, a satirical reference to the real "whip inflation now" campaign and its widely ridiculed "WIN" slogan. It is revealed that a human is also plotting to stop Dixon when a masked assassin attempts to shoot him, but misses. A senate subcommittee meeting is held where one secret pamphlet is leaked to a newspaper editor who sends Lois Fairchild on the story. While she tails Finletter, he mistakes her to be a spy and trashes a hotel room attempting to kill her. He then chases the assassin as the masked man fails again to kill Dixon, but loses him. Gretta is killed and further regression has led leaders to bring in tanks and soldiers to the west coast in a battle that leaves the American forces in shambles. Dixon, walking among the rubble, sees a trail of tomato juice and decides to investigate. He ends up being chased by a killer tomato to an apartment where an oblivious child is listening to the radio. The tomato is about to kill Dixon but suddenly flies out the window. Dixon peers out to see if it has died when he spots the assassin hijacking his car. He chases the assassin until he is knocked out when it is revealed that Richardson is behind the tomatoes. He is about to reveal his secret of control when Finletter charges in and runs him through. Dixon, picking up some strewn records, realizes that both times the tomatoes left him the new hit song "Puberty Love" had been on the radio. He orders Finletter to gather all remaining people and bring them to the stadium, which is soon attacked by the tomatoes. The tomatoes are cornered in a stadium. "Puberty Love" is played over the loudspeaker, causing the tomatoes to shrink and allowing the various people at the stadium to squash them by stomping on them repeatedly. Fairchild, meanwhile, is cornered by a giant tomato wearing earmuffs. Dixon saves her by showing the tomato the sheet music to "Puberty Love." He professes his love to her, in song. The film ends by showing a carrot that rises from the Earth and says "All right, you guys. They're gone.". This is BY FAR one of the best of the Grindhouse genre has to offer, in many ways its the definition of what Grindhouse is all about, low budgets, absurd plots with enough cheese and shock to keep you sitting in your seat at the drive in or the old dollar theater on a saturday afternoon or night, the movie is redunkulusly bad, but thats the fun of it really, you get to laugh at the completely off the wall out there story, and thrill as the humans run away from killer tomatoes, its just so delightfully cheese.

The Cars That Ate Paris: A small town in rural Australia (Paris) makes its living by causing car accidents and salvaging any valuables from the wrecks. Into this town come brothers Arthur and George. George is killed when the Parisians cause their car to crash, but Arthur survives and is brought into the community as an orderly at the hospital. But Paris is not problem free. Not only do the Parisians have to be careful of outsiders (such as insurance investigators), but they also have to cope with the young people of the town who are dissatisfied with the status quo. Now this film is one of my favorites in whats called "Carsploitation" which during the heyday of Grindhouse was very popular at drive ins, go figure right? movies about cars, popular at a place you sit in your car and watch a film, who'd have guessed. This is one of those cool ones that didn't just put big fancy bad ass muscle cars or sleek imports on camera and let people tool around in them, this one actually built and costumed up some great cars, most noted is the Volkswagen Beatle thats covered completely in spikes, that has become the iconic image from the film, and from what i understand is in an Aussie museum of movie and television, but I'm not really sure on that honestly. Its still a fun campy ride through international grindhouse, should definitely check it out.

Dirty Mary Crazy Larry: a cult 1974 car chase film starring Peter Fonda, Susan George, Adam Roarke, and Vic Morrow. The film was directed by John Hough. The music score contains no incidental music, apart from the theme song over the opening and closing titles, and a small amount of music heard over the radio. The story deals with two would-be NASCAR hopefuls; the driver, Larry (Peter Fonda), and his mechanic, Deke (Adam Roarke), who successfully execute a supermarket heist to finance their jump into the big-time auto racing world, extorting $150,000 in cash from the supermarket manager (Roddy McDowall in an uncredited role) by holding his wife and daughter hostage. In making their escape, they are confronted by Larry's one-night stand, Mary (Susan George), who convinces them to take her along for the ride (under the threat of her blowing the whistle on them both). After the heist is reported to the Sheriff, Captain Franklin (Vic Morrow) obsessively sets out to capture the trio in a dragnet, only to find his patrol cars woefully inadequate to catch Larry, Mary and Deke in a high-performance 1969 Dodge Charger. The trio evades several patrol cars, a high-performance police interceptor, and even Captain Franklin himself in a Bell JetRanger helicopter, but finally colliding with a small freight train, in one of the most shocking (and now legendary) movie endings of all time. This is another of those awesome race chase movies that ruled the drive ins of the grindhouse era, and where the foundation for many of the action films you see today, only these had plots, but this film has everything, car chases, awesome stunts, a brilliant climatic scene that if it were made today would have been surely done by Micheal Bay the master of the explosion, its just so awesomely done. Plus its one of the few Peter Fonda films that I can sit and watch with out feeling kind o sick inside, which is always a plus. The film is also abit of a hidden easter egg in many things, its been seen on movie and tv screens in various movies and tv shows, and the train scene was used in the opening sequence of the craptacular 1980s television series The Fall Guy, which starred Lee Majors. Thankfully though, this film is loads better.

Dr. Goldfoot And The Bikini Machine: Price plays the titular mad scientist who, with the questionable assistance of his resurrected flunky Mullaney, builds a gang of female robots who are then dispatched to seduce and rob wealthy men. (Goldfoot's name reflects his and his robots' choice in footwear.) Avalon and Hickman play the bumbling heroes who attempt to thwart Goldfoot's scheme. The film's climax is an extended car–bike–cable car–boat-on-wheels chase through the streets of San Francisco. This is one of those films that you read about, and think "nah, they couldn't have made this.. its too crazy to be real" kind of like my favorite "Candy" from 1968, and more so, the fact it has horror master Vince Price, in the most completely absurd and arguably the most embarrassing role of his career, though if you were to ask Price about his years of playing Dr. Goldfoot in both films in the series, he would fondly and jokingly talk of how much fun it was to play the role, and how he would continue to play the insane Doctor Goldfoot to the day he died if he could, kind of like his role as Egghead on the old Batman show in the 1960s. Plus, with all the awesome that is Horror Master Vincent Price over acting to comedicly embarrassing levels, but also, you have 1950s singer turned horrible actor Franky Avalon as the heroic lead, you can't make up stuff this bad in your worst nightmares. But seriously, have a look cuz its so hilariously bad.

The Fearless Vampire Killers: This film takes us into the heart of Transylvania where Professor Abronsius, of the University of Königsberg, and his apprentice Alfred are on the hunt for vampires. Abronsius is old and withering and barely able to survive the cold ride through the wintry forests. Alfred is bumbling and introverted. The hunters come to a small Central European town seemingly at the end of a long search for signs of vampires. The two stay at a local inn, full of angst-ridden townspeople who perform strange rituals to fend off an unseen evil. Whilst staying at the inn, Alfred develops a fondness for Sarah, the daughter of the tavern keeper Yoine Shagal. After witnessing Sarah being kidnapped by the vampire, Count von Krolock, the two follow his snow trail, leading them to Krolock's ominous castle in the snow-blanketed hills nearby. They break in to the castle, but are trapped by the Count's hunchback servant, Koukol. Upon being taken to see the count, he affects an air of aristocratic dignity whilst he cleverly questions Abronsius about his interest in bats and why he has come to the castle. They also encounter the Count's son, the foppish (and homosexual) Herbert. Meanwhile, Shagal himself has been vampirized and sets on his plan to turn Magda, the tavern's beautiful maidservant, into his vampire bride. Despite misgivings, Abronsius and Alfred accept the Count's invitation to stay in his ramshackle gothic castle, where Alfred spends the night fitfully. The next morning, Abronsius plans to find the castle crypt and kill the Count, seemingly forgetting about the fate of Sarah. The crypt is guarded by the hunchback, so after some wandering they climb in through a roof window. However, Abronsius gets stuck in the window and it is up to Alfred to kill the Count, which he feels unable to do. He has to go back outside to free Abronsius, on the way coming upon Sarah having a bath in her room. She seems oblivious to her danger when he pleads for her to come away with him. After freeing Abronsius, who is half frozen, they re-enter the castle. Alfred again seeks Sarah but meets Herbert instead, who first attempts to seduce him and then, after Alfred realizes that Herbert's reflection does not show in the mirror, reveals his vampire nature and attempts to bite him. Abronsius and Alfred flee from Herbert through a dark stairway to safety, only to be trapped behind a locked door. They also realise night is falling. As they watch horrified, the gravestones below open up and they see that there are many vampires at the castle. The Count appears, mocking them and tells them their fate is sealed. He leaves them to attend a dance, where Sarah will be presented as the next vampire victim. However, the hunters escape by boiling water in a cannon and blowing off the door, and come to the dance in disguise, where they grab Sarah and flee. Escaping by horse carriage, they are now unaware that it is too late for Sarah, who bites Alfred, thus allowing vampires to be released into the world. Outside of Hammer Studios, this film is one of the few that truly catches the truest feel of what a vampire movie is ment to be in the era of Grindhouse, its just camp enough to make you laugh, its just bad enough to make you feel ashamed to admit you watched it and enjoyed it, and its just horror enough to scare you slightly. Plus, its a Roman Palanski movie which is pretty awesome regardless of what you think of the man and his, strange, personal lifestyle, and also its got Sharon Tate, which is also pretty incredible, given how little movies she actually was in before she was killed. Its a ridiculously bad, and thats what makes it so damn funny.

Well thats it for this week, i hope you all enjoy these films as much as i enjoy sharing them with you. So until next week, i hope you all enjoy your little adventures in Professor Collins Film Study Class.



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