The Questions Lady Terminator Raises

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Question #1: Does Lady Terminator have anything in common with The Terminator? What are the similarities and differences between Lady Terminator and The Terminator?

Similarities:

-A destructive force from another time comes to the present to exterminate someone in both films.

-Both include the line, “Come with me if you want to live.”

-There is a moment in each film where the virtually indestructible villain is knocked to the ground with ample gunfire and the camera shows their twitching fingers.

-Both feature an eye-removal-before-a-bathroom-sink scene.

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Differences:

-Guns are reloaded significantly less in Lady Terminator.

-In The Terminator, a cyborg from the future travels to the past to stop the birth of an eventual wartime revolutionary. In Lady Terminator, an anthropologist is possessed by a sea witch from the past, who seeks vengeance on her husband’s great granddaughter.

-No characters in The Terminator have magic eels in their vaginas; no sex scene in The Terminator culminates with castration by a vagina-dwelling magic eel.

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Question #2: What kinds of TVs explode into flames when shot?

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Sonys.

Question #3: Ricky Brothers composed the music to Lady Terminator. Is Ricky Brothers one man, whose first name is Ricky and last name is Brothers, or is the Ricky Brothers a band name, not unlike the Doobie or Allman Brothers?

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I don’t know, but Ricky Brothers—whether band or man—wrote for synthesizers, in my opinion, at least as well as Pino Donaggio did for The Barbarians.

Question #4: Exactly how many instances of violence to the male genitalia occur in Lady Terminator?

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Thirteen, although I’m only counting the wise old sensei getting excessively machine gunned to the crotch as one instance.

Question #5: Was Michael Sorich, the actor who overdubbed the voice of the character Snake, aware at the time of the children’s cartoon program Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Particularly, was he aware of Townsend Coleman’s work on the voice of Michelangelo?

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Probably.

Question #6: “What’s the point of not having money if you can’t spend it?”

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Question #7: How does a urine stream with that much propulsion form when the fly isn’t even open?

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Question #8: Lady Terminator lists Dave Mallow as the film’s dialogue coach. Was Dave Mallow fired before the completion of the movie on grounds of incompetence?

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Question #9: Is the glowing green thing the wise old sensei shoots into the eponymous villain’s eye what causes her to grow extra nipples?

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On the same token, does the growth of extra nipples alone warrant the painful removal of one’s own eye with an X-acto knife?

Question #10: Wouldn’t it be nice if more cops, before final showdowns with devastating murderesses, could join hands and say, in unison, “Let’s kick ass?”

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Yes.

Question #11: Why does Tania, the lady terminator, wait till she is incinerated by the flames of a bazooka blast to shoot deadly lasers out of her eyes?

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She had this ability the whole time, and, up until the last five minutes of the movie, relies on automatic weapons?!

Question #12: Isn’t it possible to be both a lady and an anthropologist?

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“I’m an anthropologist, not a lady!”

You know, like, when did anthropologist become its own gender?

Click this link, to attempt to answer these perplexing questions for yourself.

 

The Corpse Grinders (1971)

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What’s it like working for the Lotus cat food company? If your experience is anything like Caleb’s, your shift starts at midnight and you’re expected to dig up graves and retrieve dead bodies. You’re also continually stiffed on your paycheck. Lotus will stop at nothing to save a buck, so be ready for when, rather than paying you, they attack you and try to shove your body in a big hopper which grinds your flesh into ground meat.

Caleb (Warren Ball) has got it rough. His wife Cleo (Ann Noble) is stingy with the beef jerky (“a man’s gotta have meat!”), and thinks a toy doll is her daughter. Cleo, while she feeds the doll soup, nags and nags Caleb about the money. Lotus is doing just fine. Why can’t they pay him?

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Lotus is doing just fine. Yeah. Its CEO, Mister Landau (Sanford Mitchell), is one shrewd guy. Who would’ve thunk human flesh made such great cat food? No one seems to read Consumer’s Digest, so the fact that their product turns cats into crazed killers isn’t slowing down sales any.  The FDA’s none the wiser: “According to FDA standards, there was nothing adulterous or hazardous about it.”

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I don’t think that’s real American Sign Language, by the way, that Landau is using to communicate with his hearing-impaired secretary, Tessie.

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Lotus might be getting away with grave robbing to cut down on material costs. Landau might have a giant meat grinder for people right next to his office, but Dr. Howard Glass (Sean Kenney) and his lovely assistant Angie (Monika Kelly) are suspicious. Dr. Glass is a jack of all trades. His hospital apparently specializes in humans as well as animals. He’ll examine a cat’s autopsy and remove a man’s gallbladder all in a day’s work. And Angie. She’s a regular gal. She’s just like anyone else. After a long day’s work, she likes to strip down to her bra and panties, crack a Budweiser, and watch some television. “Why would the cats suddenly turn into man eaters?” That is the question that plagues Dr. Glass and Angie. Do they actually resolve this question? That’s up to the viewer’s interpretation, I suppose.

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Yes, you better believe the crew of The Corpse Grinders breaks out the red and green tints for the human flesh meat hopper scenes. Other than that, the photography is minimalistic and economical: You only really need one shot of gross, light brown man burger coming out of a meat grinder. Reduce, reuse, recycle. The Corpse Grinders only has one weakness. There aren’t enough cat attack scenes. You’re left wanting more, more, more scenes of cats launching themselves onto people’s necks and red, lipstick-like blood appearing. Other than that, it’s just as good as Ted V. Mikels’s other flicks: The Astro Zombies, The Worm Eaters, The Doll Squad. Thanks for this, Mr. Mikels. Thank you.

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Watch the theatrical trailer right here! 

Wiener-Dog (2016)

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When I saw Todd Solondz (Welcome to the Doll House, Palindromes) had a new movie out, I knew I had to see it. But I had to be ready—in the right state of mind—for the darkness, awkwardness, and sadness a Solondz movie entails. So, I waited till I was couch-bound, sick, and loopy from cold medicine.

Anyway, Wiener-Dog. It’s an homage of sorts to Robert Bresson’s Au hasard Balthazar: you know, that horribly depressing and stark French art film where the poor mule has all the different cruel owners. It’s the same idea with Wiener-Dog, except it’s with, yeah, a wiener dog instead of a mule.

The female wiener dog, our hero and protagonist, goes through a number of different owners. Each one gives her a new name. Her names include Cancer, Dootie, and Wiener Dog. With each different owner, we get a different vignette, and we see our hero the Dachshund go from a wealthy suburban family’s kid (Keaton Nigel Cooke) to an awkward do-gooder Veterinary Assistant (Greta Gerwig) to a developmentally disabled husband and wife (Connor Long and Bridget Brown) to a failure of a film professor (Danny DeVito) to a bitter elderly woman (Ellen Burstyn). Each owner is too dysfunctional in their own special way to care for and keep the poor wiener dog, and in every vignette, human hangups prevent our hero from ever enjoying a stable home.

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Wiener-Dog has its hilarious moments as well as its heart wrenching, the world-is-a-cruel-horrid-place moments. It’s definitely a lot funnier than Au hasard Balthazar, but then again so is The Virgin Spring. It also might be even sadder, in its own weird, deadpan way. There’s something so perfect about the wiener dog. In spirit, it seems far and beyond superior to the humans that determine its life. If you have a dog, you’ll be hugging, clasping, and saying, ‘I’d never ever treat you that way’ to it after seeing Wiener- Dog. Affective, the film is, with Solondz’s signature dark humor keeping the sadness in check.

The scene where Greta Gerwig rescues the dog right before it’s about to be put to sleep at the vet’s is pure teary triumph.

The scene where the dog is fed a granola bar by a kid who doesn’t know any better is familiar, disastrous, and cringe-inducing.

Overall, the movie is loaded–it’s rich–with so many different elements. It philosophically posits the question, What are dogs in human lives even for? It lampoons, if not indicts, film school and doctrinal screenwriting approaches. Danny DeVito plays one sad sack. I loved the scene where his students tear him apart behind his back, ridiculing his tastes and achievements. There’s an awfully tender love story between Greta Gerwig, the dog’s potential best owner, and Kieran Culkin. There’s a hilarious performance by Michael Shaw as a controversial New York artist whose first name is Fantasy.

It’s a simple story, yet very complex in the emotions it plumbs the depths of.

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I recommend it. It’s an experience.

NIGHTCRAWLER (2014)

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Jake Gyllenhaal plays Lou Bloom, a complete sociopath who adheres to a thoroughgoing capitalist ethic, much like Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman in AMERICAN PSYCHO.  Bloom communicates primarily by parroting the entrepreneurial self-help advice he reads on the Internet, and climbs the social ladder by cheating, lying, obstructing justice, and, overall, having a frigid heart. He’s a foil for the nasty underbelly of the so-called American dream: get ahead in life through hard work, elevate your status. NIGHTCRAWLER is here to remind us, all too often, getting to the top isn’t necessarily the most scrupulous endeavor, and—regrettably—certain sects of society have come to revere a greedy, Machiavellian ruthlessness.

NIGHTCRAWLER is the antithesis of feel-good escapism. It’s a sober, ballsy film with a bitter, bummer ending reminiscent of CHINATOWN, FIVE EASY PIECES, and so many classic, confrontational films of the 1970’s. Its socio-political indictments aside, it’s also an extremely well-crafted and engrossing thriller.

In the beginning of the film we find our antihero, Lou, hawking scrap metal to a construction company. It’s obvious he’s down and out as he drives around L.A. in his old, dingy Toyota, selling stuff he stole to pawn shops. His life changes, though, when he meets Joe Loder (Bill Paxton), a nightcrawler, or freelance video crime journalist and all-around gritty dude. I could do this, Lou thinks, and, sure enough, it’s not long before he’s racing to crime scenes to film bloodied car jacking victims and the like.

He’s in business. He eventually makes enough to trade in his Toyota for a Mustang and hire an assistant, Rick (Riz Ahmed), who is virtually homeless and willing to work for thirty dollars a night (Rick’s trust in Lou really comes back to bite him in the ass).

All the while Lou sells his footage to Nina (Rene Russo), the director of a news network down on its ratings. He becomes infatuated—enough to proposition her in a tacky Mexican restaurant (one of the most uncomfortable scenes I’ve watched in recent memory). She resists his forward, commodified attempts at seduction . . . but is that subject to change? Ultimately, she’s ruthless enough herself to admire him. She’s also willing to run his increasingly unethically obtained footage because, as Jane’s Addiction put it: “the news is just another show with sex and violence.”

Did I mention Lou’s footage is increasingly unethically obtained? Because it is. Big time.

NIGHTCRAWLER works. Unbelievably well. A lot of that has to do with its undeniably strong cast. Gyllenhaal: you thought he was screwed up in DONNIE DARKO? Just you wait . . . I don’t know what it takes to realize a venture capitalist sociopath. Now, I don’t think anyone does–not like Jake Gyllenhall, anyway. His dark, crazed power culminates as, in a fit of rage, he screams at his bathroom mirror before smashing it. That’s the face of a horrific refusal of weakness, and therin lies the essence of Gyllenhaal’s unforgettable character.

Everything about Rene Russo is so immensely believable, too. A seasoned, tough journalist, she’s beyond cynicism. It no longer occurs to her the purpose of the news is to inform citizens–to the best of its ability–of the true state of affairs in the world. Whatever gets the ratings is her mantra, and that means: “violent crime creeping into suburbia.” Aging Paxton is similarly jaded, and emerging actor Riz Ahmed is utterly plausible as a lost, desperate twenty-something. After his “job-interview” scene with Gyllenhaal in a greasy spoon diner, you’re left wanting to know more about him. Unfortunately, your curiosity is never satisfied.

Like the culture it critiques, NIGHTCRAWLER demonstrates an obsession with objects. So much cinematic significance is packed into recurring shots of the stolen watch Bloom wears, his Mustang, his chic sunglasses. Status symbols: the closest thing Bloom has to a raison d’etre.

You get so caught up in NIGHTCRAWLER’s thought provocation, in fact, that you worry it won’t have a bummer ending. The good guys, who are about as compassionless as the bad guys, can’t win, you say. A popcorn Hollywood ending would really muck up its integrity. It puts you on, for a moment, but there is no need to fear. NIGHTCRAWLER retains its integrity.

Writer/director Dan Gilroy (Rene Russo’s husband) has made his mark on confrontational cinema with NIGHTCRAWLER. He’s already a seasoned screenwriter (THE FALL, BOURNE SUPREMACY), but this is his directorial debut. He’s done something powerful. He’s penetrated a core, shown us a world all too real.

We’ll see if he can outdo himself.