Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Film Discoveries of 2015 - Paul Corupe ""

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Film Discoveries of 2015 - Paul Corupe

Paul Corupe: Writer, editor, salvager of cultural detritus. See:,, @BlackMuseumTO lecture series, @RueMorgue magazine.

Drying up the Streets (1978)
D: Robin Spry
Canadian exploitation movies of the 1960s and '70s tended to depict Toronto's infamous Yonge street as a hotbed of risqueadult businesses, a mini-42nd street for the toque and snowmobile set. One of the first films released in the wake of calls to clean up the strip's seedier elements, Drying up the Streets first aired on national TV broadcaster CBC. In it, anaddict gone cold turkey (Don Francks, looking grizzled with greasy long hair) heads to the big city to track down his estranged daughter who has also gotten involved in the drug trade. To find her, he makes a deal with a hard-nosed cop to go undercover and help him take down a local criminal enterprise by posing as the gang's chemist. Released the year after an infamous 1977 murder and sexual assault of a 12-year-old shoeshine boy on the rooftop of a Yonge street massage parlour, director Robin Spry doesn't shy away from the street's more unsavoury aspects, including depressing sex clubs and brutal pimps that ruled the neon-lit sidewalks. Sure, it's a heavy-handed anti-drug parable (complete with a police-administered "scared straight" slideshow), but Francks gives an affecting performance and the film is often cited as an apparent influence on Hardcore (1979).

Together Brothers (1974)
D: William A. Graham
A surprisingly engrossing (if admittedly minor) entry in the ‘70sBlaxploitation boom, Together Brothers is a memorable entryabout a black youth gang in Texas trying to get to the bottom of the murder of a popular African-American cop nicknamed Mr. Cool (Ed Bernard). The only witness to the act is Tommy (Anthony Wilson), the younger sibling of gang leader HJ (Ahmad Nurradin), and when it looks like the killer is now after Tommy, HJ has to form a truce with other gangs in the area and try to find the assailant’s identity, including working with them to break into the local precinct to peek at important documents. Director Graham mostly specialized in TV movies, and the gang members are all virtual unknowns, but it succeeds due to theself-sufficient teens, a clever script that examines permutations of brotherhood and dose of local atmosphere in the depiction of the hot Galveston afternoons. It’s also still relevant today,revolving directly around themes of race and police relationships with black communities.

Wild Beasts (1984)
D: Franco Propseri
made some progress catching up with previously missedEurotrash classics this year, but few in the subgenre resonatedwith me as much as Wild Beasts, one of the craziest and sickest animal attack films ever unleashed on an audience. When hippies dump PCP into a German zoo's water supply, absolute mayhem breaks out as creatures great and small trip out and head for the city. Elephants smash walls and storm an airport, cheetahs get involved in a highway chase, tigers stalk subways and polar bears hunt down kids, all layered on a melodramatic story in which people try to locate their loved ones. Not everyone will find this stuff palatable--I doubt the SPCA would approve of much of anything here, including one sceneinvolving attacking rats and a flamethrower. Stillon the whole,it’s actually less disturbing than some of Mondo movie pioneerPropseri’s other filmsfocused less on transgression than jaw dropping novelty, right up until the wild (and nonsensical) twist endingThis would make a great double feature with Roar, a seeming inspiration that it easily outdoes in the gore and shockdepartment.

Night Patrol (1984)
D: Jackie Kong
Move over, Zuckers--Exploitation power couple Jackie King and Bill Osco didn’t just dabble in horror and XXX crap, they also were the brains behind Night Patrol, a weird no-brow comedy vehicle for Gong Show star Murray Langston (AKA the paper-bag clad The Unknown Comic) tailor made for the Up All Night crowd. There have been a handful of films that have managed to transpose an anarchic Mad Magazine spirit to film, and this attempt—although not particularly good by traditional standards—is remarkably fun in its energetic, aggressively dumb approach that encompasses sight gags, wordplay, slapstick, rude noises and film parodies (and also, unfortunately, a blackface bit). The plot involves Langston’s character, a cop, having to moonlight as a standup comedian with, ahem, a paper bag on his head to hide his identity. Comedians Pat Paulsen, Jaye P. Morgan, Bill Kirchenbauer and Andrew Dice Clay make cameosalongside established actors like Linda Blair, Sydney Lassickand Pat Morita. For all its faults, it’s the pinnacle of a certain kind of dopey comedy from the early 1980s that made me nostalgic for my old beat up copies of Laugh Factory magazine (anybody remember that one?). But in sheer audacity, it’s in a distinctive league alongside willfully crude ‘80s classics like Oddballs (1984) and Bad Manners (1984).

Seventeen (1983)
D: Joel DeMott and Jeff Kreine
Like Together Brothers, this great cinema verite doc considers race relations, but from the raw and painfully honest perspective of teens growing up in the Midwest United States. Aside from the expected sex, drugs and rock music, the film largely focuses on one girl’s harassment for dating outside her race, and then shifts focus to the accidental death of Church Mouseanother teenager who doesn’t recover from a car crash. The candidness of the teens and incredible access granted to the filmmakers are what make the film such an indelible experience of “fly on the wall” reality. It goes out on a high note during the boozy house party finale which ties together the story’s sometimes episodic nature (it was originally conceived as an ongoing TV series before being dumped by PBS for its frankness). "No doubt about it, it just ain't a kegger without Church Mouse!"


Marty McKee said...

Paul is the man, but NIGHT PATROL is one of the worst pieces of shit I've ever seen. I saw it theatrically when it came out. I don't recall a single laugh occurring in the whole picture.

Paul Corupe said...

Oh I agree it's not funny, but I have a soft spot for really aggressively dumb stuff like this.

Garnet said...

My Star colleague Ben Rayner positively treasures Night Patrol.