Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated Action/Adventure - Justin Bozung ""

Friday, July 25, 2014

Underrated Action/Adventure - Justin Bozung

Justin Bozung is a writer/blogger who frequently contributes to Shock Cinema and Phantom Of The Movies' Videoscope Magazines.  He has written in the past for Fangoria, Horror Hound, Whoa, Bijou and Paracinema Magazines, and is currently the blog editor at TV Store Online.com.  As a researcher/writer he has collaborated recently on a book about Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (which is slated for release in March 2015). Justin is currently working with the blessing of the estate of filmmaker Frank Perry on a film-by-film analysis and biography on the late and under-rated director.   Follow him on Twitter:
https://twitter.com/mondofilm 
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01.)  Flesh Gordon Meets the Cosmic Cheerleaders (aka Flesh Gordon 2: Flesh Gordon Meets the Cosmic Cheerleaders) (1990)
For those who as a kid thought Flash Gordon was "too out there"....   Then there's Flesh Gordon Meets The Cosmic Cheerleaders.  I can still remember working at my local videostore as a 18-year-old kid and the UPS guy dropping off next weeks new releases off and buried at the bottom was a VHS forFlesh Gordon (1974) and Flesh Gordon Meets the Cosmic Cheerleaders  (The Video Store thought that this would be a good top-self raincoat double feature I guess five years after the latter was released).   Shot in Toronto, Canada and in Detroit, Michigan, Writer & Director Howard Ziehm mixes the big boobs of Russ Meyer and the dick and fart jokes of Mel Brooks with Georges Méliès A Trip To The Moon(1902), Richard Elfman's Forbidden Zone (1980) and Nick Zedd's Geek Maggot Bingo (1983).   The results are insane and surreal.   This isn't a porno, to be clear.  Yet, how in the hell did they manage to raisethe money to make such an epic-scale oddball film?   This is a...Well, shit, you'll have never seen anything like this in your life once you watch it.  
To encapsulate:   Flesh Gordon pisses off his girl Dale Arden, she walks out on him and gets kidnapped by a morbidly obese horny-toad ice queen and Flesh is forced to blast out into outerspace with Dr. Flexi Jerk-Off after her.   Throw in a Motown-esque musical number played out by ten men in giant turd costumes, a evil cunninglingus Octopus monster,  a Harryhausen dick monster that can't stop giggling, dog-men in BDSM gear, and a water slide streaming semen that takes us and the characters deeper into the depths of the netherworld and you have the quintessential WTF midnight film.
Ziehm's script was written by the 13-year-old boy inside of himself, or by Beavis & Butthead.   There are dick jokes every 10 seconds here.  It has always seemed to me that Ziehm was more interested in the male anatony here over anything female, and with all of the dick-shaped space helmets, and jokes about Uranus, visually, the film is so damn fascinating because of just how strange and ambitious of a concept it actually is.  The monsters are crazy, the spaceship effects remind one of "Pigs In Space" from The Muppet Show, and there is an element of Fellini going on throughout mixed with that '40s Buster Crabbe FG aesthetic as well.

02.)  The Seventh Curse (1986)
Fun over-the-top Chinese-Thai production that is part chop-socky and supernatural jungle adventure.   With Chow Yun-Fat along for the ride, The Seventh Curse, at 75 minutes moves at a lighting speed.   You really need to be on your toes as you start in a hostage situation and then are quickly transported via flashback to a jungle in Thailand and then back, and then onward into a jungle in Thailand in the present.   It's a crazy little film about a guy who contracts a blood curse and has to travel into the depths of a Thailand jungle for the cure. It owes a lot visually to Sam Raimi.    It has it all though.  Demonic possession, chest-bursting creatures, a flying Godzilla-man, a giggling kabuki sorcerer who feeds people their nipples, and a vice-cum-death-device that flattens little baby boys down into bloody pancakes.  It's weird, it moves fast, and you can't catch your breath.  It's a acid trip of a film and it also features the best man-fighting-with-fake-skeleton scene ever put onto film.  Fuck Army Of Darkness(1992).

03.)  Pearl Harbor (2001)
I've been saying it for years and no one has been listening...Michael Bay is a great filmmaker.  Regardless of how you feel about Bay's films, you can't deny his gift for visual communication.  He is visual auteur.   Stanley Kubrick believed that the best way to examine a film was to turn the sound down to observe how the filmmaker communicates visually.   Bay does this like a master.   He knows how to tell a story with the sound turned down.  He tells a story visually.  He does it better than so many other filmmakers.  In that way, he's a sort of 21st Century Abel Gance or D.W. Griffith.  He's too late for his era really.  He would be the greatest living director had he been alive and working in the silent era of film.   Pearl Harbor speaks so strongly of this idea.   Go back, and watch it again.  Laugh at the hilarious "I will walk again" Jon Voight-as-F.D.R. wheelchair scene, laugh at the cardboardness of all the films characters if you must, but then turn the volume down and start it from the top.  It will be as powerful of a experience as the first time you saw the great silent-era masterpieces Wings (1923) or Sunrise(1923).  
 
04.)  China (1943)
One of two films that really just had to be the main inspiration for Indiana Jones.  Alan Ladd plays "David Jones", a clever-quipping, tough smuggler in a fedora and leather jacket that is trying to get the hell out of China alive.  Along the way he falls for a broad  who is part of it all and befriends an orphan Chinese baby who is knicknamed "Donald Duck".    This is a Paramount film as well.   Visually, the way the camera moves really seems to have been an influence on both Steven Spielberg and George Lucas.   The majority of China also feels like an extended version of a chase scene in any of the Indiana Jones movies.   It's a cool little picture, and it's a fun watch because of how much it emits it's influence over the Lucas/Spielberg films, and you know that instantly while you're watching it.

05.)   Wind Across The Everglades (1958)
Nicholas Ray's Wind Across The Everglades is a total masterpiece, but I doubt that most would agree with me.   Most see it as a "flawed" film, but it goes out way beyond film itself.   It has a very unsettling feeling about it.  The vibes aren't quite right inEverglades.  If you know anything about the life and career of Nick Ray then you might know about how when the film was made he was in pretty rough state personally and professionally.   Wind Across The Everglades  is a man vs. man, man vs. nature, and man vs. society film with a young Christopher Plummer going up against Burt Ives in theEverglades at the beginning of the 20th Century.  
The brilliance of the film lay in Budd Schulberg's epic script, the color palet and performance angst created by a very strung-out heroin addicted Nick Ray.   It was a troubled production with Ray not showing up to work almost 9 months after pre-production had started, actors dropping out and then dropping back in, studio interference, local Florida non-actors filling in for parts.  When you read aboutEverglades, on paper it sounds like what came out of it should've been an absolute un-watchable disaster, but when you see the film you realize that it is one of the greatest and most complex films thematically ever made.   It's overly macho and mystical.   One character utters, "There's a lifeforce out there in the glades.."   Another says, "The Glades are just like being out on the prarie.." One shoots a gun up into the air and says, "They've fired their shotguns up into the face of God.." A great line by Christopher Plummer, "Sir, Progress and I never got along very well.."  There's a machismo present that doesn't quite echo that of The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre(1942), but you could put both film up against each other thematically.    It has reminded me many times also of One-Eyed Jacks (1961) for it's dark exploration of man vs. man.  
It's all about the overall vibes here, and the performances.  It's dark, something is working against you the viewer.  It's difficult to comprehend it over your first couple viewings.  It also feels very out-of-time to me, and those films that adhere to mybelief system that all of cinema is a dream, stick with me and haunt me forever.   

1 comment:

KC said...

I don't know how I missed that there's a Flesh Gordon 2. The first one was so funny. The monster complaining about his ass cracks me up every time. I also thought it was pretty clever and never understood why it wasn't better known.