Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '78 - Brandon Smith ""

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Underrated '78 - 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.

The Shout
Whew! What a sizzler! I first heard about this film on the Pure Cinema Podcast, I cant remember what episode. The film was describes as being pretty wild and it delivered on that statement ten fold. The film follows a man played by Alan Bates in some sort of hospital as he and a colleague converse about another man that is in the hospital played by John Hurt and then the film shifts to the past. Hurt is happily married and is a musician that also plays the organ at his church in his spare time. One day on his way home he meets a stranger (Bates) and he invites to his home for lunch. Once at the house things instantly go off the deep end and Bates seems to have a couple screws loose as he describes that he has a shout that is powerful enough to kill. Man, this film is fucking nuts. The crazy relationship that blooms between Bates and Hurt’s wife played by Susanna York has a certain taboo feel to it as you watch it. Then the shout scenes are like something straight out of Skyrim. Intense as fuck and equally entertaining.
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To Be Twenty
If you’re already savvy with Fernando Di Leo than you know what you’re in for, pure exploitation madness. However To Be Twenty is quite different from the regular Poliziotteschi films that is his norm. In this film the focus is on two beautiful twenty year old girls that are all about partying, sleeping with ransoms, and just really out to have as much fun as their rebellious selves can handle. The film is pretty light for Di Leo for the most part as the girls do a little shoplifting, smoke dope in the commune they shack up at, and have I mentioned the sex? It’s hard not to love the dynamic duo of Gloria Guida and Lilli Carati, the chemistry between the two rivals even the greatest buddy films of all time. There is a lot of Di Leo regulars to fill the background and I thought the setting of Italian hippy culture in the ‘70s was a good addition to add more depth to what seems like a straightforward plot. Then the ending happens and it’s one of the most notorious in all of Italian cinema. There is a new Blu-Ray that’s been announced from Raro Video that puts out some really nice looking releases.
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Money Movers
When I think of Bruce Beresford films I think of course of Driving Miss Daisy and some of his earlier work in Australia like Breaker Morant and the Barry McKenzie films. For the most part the films are all dramas and comedies that are all fairly light. Then there is Money Movers that straight out of the gate blasts on the screen loud and vividly violent. The film is about a group of men robbing armored cars and it seems to be a somewhat inside job. Double crosses and crazy gunfights throughout the film it feels like a mix of Heat and Reservoir Dogs, but only from down under. I’m pretty sure that I’ve read that Tarantino is a big fan of this film as you’ll see that makes perfect sense.
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Surprisingly engaging Film about a group of news reporters in Australia after World War II and the lengths that they’ll go for a story. Well acted with a great cast that keeps your attention drawn in. The way the film is edited with real footage by the actual reporters injected into the film adds to the realism and also teaches a great deal about Australian history, that at least I knew nothing about.
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The Fury
When it comes to De Palma there is a lot of films that can be discussed, but rarely do you hear people talking about The Fury and I don’t really understand why. The film starts with a tongue in cheek scene involving an attempted assassination of Kirk Douglas’ character by John Cassavetes so that he can take Douglas’ son who has telepathic powers. Sounds like more than possible to make a film work, but it does and the film is great. Douglas is a bonafide badass, Cassavetes is cast as the villain (one of the smartest casting choices for a villain), and the scenes of telepathic mayhem rival even the finest of today’s superhero films. If you haven’t seen it, get on it!
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The Demon
The Demon has that special way of throwing you right into the story just as it begins. In this case the film focuses on a man that is married, but has been involved in an ongoing affair that has bared three children with his mistress. One day the mistress is feed up of her lonely life and shows up at her baby daddy’s shop and leaves him with his kids and is gone. Meanwhile the man’s wife is slowly convincing him to get rid of his children by any means necessary. Rough stuff! The way the scenes of child endangerment are done almost turn this drama into a thriller and then there are other scenes that are just heartbreaking. Incredibly hard to watch due to the rough subject matter, but a minor masterpiece in it’s own right with an ending that will make you jump up and shout triumphantly.

Mean Dog Blues
This film came up a couple of years ago when I decided that for some odd reason I wanted to track down every film that I had seen with Kay Lenz in it, so I figured now was the time to watch this. The film has a certain made for television feel to it with how the setup is instantly lead out for you. A hitchhiker is picked up by a rich couple that have him take turns driving until the couple decides to stop at a bar and get wasted while the hitchhiker waits outside. After leaving the bar the drunk rich guy runs down a girl, the hitchhiker then commandeers the vehicle to check on the damage, and then is wrongfully accused as the driver and taken to some backwoods prison. The prison segment checks off all the prison boxes with a little more abruptness than expected and weirded not only me out, but also the lead into becoming a trainer for hunting dogs (human hunting dogs). Strange, very far from PC, and just downright outrageous at times, but still a worthwhile watch with Gregg Henry as the lead and George Kennedy as the crazy ass warden that rocks a sleeveless cop shirt the entire time.
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Convoy Busters
Out of the three Poliziotteschi that director Stelvio Massi and actor Maurizio Merli made in 1978, this is my favorite. It all starts when the body of a girl is found that is linked to a burned out car and yet another body. Merli plays the inspector on the case and links all of this to some unsavory arms dealers. The film has it all that you come to this genre for Merli’s immaculate blonde hair, the slow motion helicopter gun fights, and my personal favorite Merli making sexy banter with a pasta peddler. “Put some of those spicy peppers in there too. It makes it so flavorful”. I’m sure it does Merli!
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Youngblood starts off with what seems like it’s going to be a cautionary tale of high school kids going off the tracks. In actuality the film is about gang warfare. The focus of the film is a fifteen year old aptly named Youngblood, at first it seems that he and his friends are just up to random teenage hijinks. Then the tone changes dramatically as Youngblood decides to not take the advice of his mother and well to do brother and decides to join a gang. He becomes a member after he bare handily takes down an opposing gang member with a knife and cuts off his gang tag. Low budget and a pretty obscure late entry in the ‘70s Blaxploitation craze, but still definitely worth a look for this funky little gem.
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Stony Island
From the director of The Fugitive comes his debut feature Stony Island. Like most Andrew Davis films the setting is Chicago and the music scene there. The film centers on an up and coming bass guitarist Richie, who suffers from nightmares of blowing his chance in a group that is still in the forming process. Richie’s best friend is a vocalist in the band that is run by a veteran musician saxophonist Percy. Together the band mates scheme and track down talent to make their first performance memorable. Unfortunately tragedy strikes and the film takes a more dramatic turn. The film has a cinema verite feel to it as the main character seems to be Chicago and the focus of all the inter workings of the city. As for the music, it’s a lot different than I expected when reading about the film and was enjoyable. There is also a nice amount of cameos by some actors before hitting the big time, primarily Dennis Franz and Rae Dawn Chong.
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