Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '97 - Brandon Smith ""

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Underrated '97 - Brandon Smith

Brandon Smith has been a film junkie since the yesteryears of VHS and Laserdisc, also a hardcore advocate of physical media. @bsmith8168 is dedicated to seeking out any under seen and underrated film from around the globe. In his spare time he helps out the good people at AGFA to help in the preservation and distribution of many of oft talked of titles that many thought lost in the malaise of the grindhouse era.

Kichiku Dai Enchi aka Banquet of the Beasts
Whew! This one is a crazed beast of a film if I've ever seen one.. A militant far left party is in a strange state with their leader behind bars and his girlfriend leading on the outside. The group is an odd mix of weirdos that range from weaklings to bullies that all seem to succumb to the sexual whims of the girlfriend leader that results in trouble for everyone. The imprisoned leader sends a message with a friend he meets in prison that is soon to be released for his girlfriend.. Once the new guy is intregrated into the group things go from strange to crazy and the carnage begins. Definitely not for everyone, in fact this is for a small few that is unflinching to the most grotesque. The film is low budget, which seems to add to the aesthetic and realism. It also has a great deal of symbolism thrown in and makes it open to interpretation. Either way don't say I didn't warn you about this one.
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All you have to do is get past the opening which looks sort of cheesy and the dialogue is a little forced and then this turns into a tense one room thriller. The cast is amazing with Rooker and Penn as cop partners interrogating Roth for the mutilation of a prostitute played by Zellweger. As the ball starts rolling you start to see that no one is what they seem and everyone has something to hide. I wish the Pate brothers had more success with this film, because they would of fit right in the film scene of the late '90s. A minor cult classic, but should have a cult status nonetheless. RIP Michael Parks.
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Dance with the Devil
First off I want to say that every film by Alex de la Iglesia is criminally underrated, he is a god among genre directors, and has dabbled in all subgenres with success. Perdita Durango aka Dance with the Devil I feel got lost in the slew of Tarantino rip offs that saturated the market in the mid to late '90s, but is completely it's own beast. Featuring an amazing cast Rosie Perez is the lead and from the opening scene in which she propositions a software salesman to become part of a plot that includes soliciting herself as a prostitute and also take part in pimping her out, you automatically know that this film will hold nothing back. The film also features Bardem as an equally crazed sociopath that is on the run and partaking in black magic rituals with his sidekick played by none other than the incredible Screaming Jay Hawkins. When Perez and Bardem team up all sorts of fucking hell breaks loose and includes a kidnapping while being chased by ruthless criminals and a DEA agent also extremely well cast by James Gandolfini and his partner played by Alex Cox (WTF!)! Original from start to finish and sadly an obscenely looked over film.
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Nil by Mouth
Bleak directorial debut from Gary Oldman is one of the extreme British family dramas I've ever seen. Stars Ray Winstone as the highly abusive alcoholic patriarch of a family that seems to be going do the tubes. Heavy drug use and non-stop profanity fill the film and it's all topped off with a score composed by Eric Clapton. This is still the only directorial effort from Oldman until possibly a project that is announced for next year. It's still a hell of a debut and you can't tell that it is not the work of a veteran filmmaker as it looks like something from either Leigh or Loach.
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Chinese Ghost Story Animated
One of the strangest premises of all that can only be made possible by anime. A young debt collector is working in China when on the job he finds himself in a town filled with ghosts and a female ghost that he falls in love with at once. At the same time the new relationship is put to the test when the debt collector and his new girlfriend are constantly hunted by a couple different ghostbusters that won't stop until all the ghouls are destroyed. Not really a children's film by any means, the animation is pretty awesome. Unfortunately the DVD copy is an early DVD and the picture quality is comparable to VHS. A new transfer could breath some life into this mostly forgotten tale of the dead.
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Full Metal Yakuza
If you've seen a few films from Takashi Miike then you know that you are in for a wild ride, Full Metal Yakuza is no exception as the title would hint at. Part Robocop, part classic Yakuza film, and part Tetsuo: The Iron Man, but unlike either entirely. The film is about a yakuza boss and a young loser yakuza, the boss murders some rivals and is in prison for seven years. Upon his release he is escorted to a meeting by the young yakuza that ends up being a setup and both men are killed. The corpses are forged together by some perverted mad scientist into what becomes Full Metal Yakuza and that's when the fun really begins. I mean he literally kicks some one up the stairs, it is a true marvel. Completely over the top and not for everyone as the film is loaded with gore, strange sex scenes, and an extremely unsavory gang rape scene. Still Miike probably the hardest working director in the world that has just released his 100th film is always entertaining.
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City Hunter: The Motion Picture
City Hunter has that certain '80s anime style to it, which is what sucked me in. It also has the same strange sensibilities that '80s anime had as well with the protagonist who is a complete badass is actually a peeping tom pervert that is always out to creep on some young girl, but thanks to the protective friend that seems to be around every time our hero is about to perpetrate some undesirable deed he is smashed with a ridiculous sized mallet. Meanwhile the city is under attack by a terrorist that begins a cat and mouse game with our hero. Completely unPC, but still highly entertaining and inventive throughout with some of the best action set pieces out of any anime from any decade.
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The Blackout
Hard to find Abel Ferrara film that started his change from his most mainstream films like The King of New York, Body Snatchers, and The Funeral to a more arthouse like type of filming. In The Blackout Ferrara shoots some of the film digitally and the narrative is a lot more dreamlike than his previous works. In a way Ferrara has jumped headfirst into Lynch territory with this film. The tone even has a Lynch vibe to it, there is still the cornerstone Ferrara decent into hell for the main character played by Modine who is just as much of a junkie as Keitel in Bad Lieutenant. This film would be the ultimate double feature with Mulholland Drive on so many levels. Also features Dennis Hopper as the quintessential sleazy Hollywood type that seems to parallel some of the people in recent headlines.
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Kiss or Kill
Strange independent film from Australia involves two criminal lovers that both have troubled past. When they accidentally kill a man that they planned on robbing things rapidly get of hand, especially when the man that they killed has a videotape that incriminates a popular rugby star partaking in child molestation. The couple are being hunted not only by the police, but the rugby player as well. Well acted by all, the plot is similar to many other films, but this one has a certain spontaneity that keeps you engaged from start to finish. Unfortunately this is pretty hard to find, the only DVD release is a mediocre Italian DVD. Worth it!
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Sticky Fingers of Time
Oddball independent time travel film that does a pretty good job considering how small the budget is. The film starts off in the '60s and then jumps between the past, present, and future as the story of an author is told through the views of different characters. The cast is pretty much a bunch of unknowns minus a performance by James Urbaniak who was in Henry Fool the same year. Not the most important film of the year, but highly ambitious and effective for the most part.
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