Wednesday, September 23, 2015

New Reviews and Best of the Blog at Exploitation Retrospect

Fall is here which means we'll be kicking into 31 Days of Fright, Exhumed Horrorthon IX and Halloween 2015 mode at any moment.

But before we do that – and begin finalizing Exploitation Retrospect #53 for its Fall/Winter publication date – the ER website at was overdue for some updating.

While work continues on a master review index for the website (as well as some other housekeeping issues) I did take the opportunity to add some new reviews and a couple popular blog reviews that you might have missed.

Dr. Peter Peel has a few problems. There's Dr. Alice Cross, the roommate/researcher he's carrying a torch for and Neil the Financier who wants results from the research he's been funding since the pair were fresh out of college. Oh, yeah, and there's that personal pan pizza-sized melanoma growing on his shoulder. But things are looking up. He's had a breakthrough in his cancer research and plans to synthesize the enzymes of a cancer-eating parasite in order for the serum to attack and eat cancer cells. What could go wrong...?

Now there's a title for a skin flick, one that conjures up Sapphic ménages, perhaps some bush league money shots... which, given that this is an early '80s Japanese skin flick probably won't materialize (despite the noble membership in the Nikkatsu Roman Porno Collection). It's still a pretty little ditty however, one that Japanese Film Scholar Jasper Sharp informs us in the liner notes belongs to that "most curious" of genres, "the ama or 'girl diver' film." And it's about...

As convoluted as THE LICKERISH QUARTET is, and Roger Ebert certainly pointed it out in his original review, it's still a delectable piece of surreal family drama sandwiched between two slices of bare-chested erotica. It flourishes in its own logic and makes its own broken rules. In short, it's superb.

ZOOM UP: THE BEAVER BOOK GIRL isn't structurally complex. The characters don't develop exponentially. The revelations aren't mind-blowing. Yet, almost every scene remains surprising. It's as if you don't expect to see any of it and when you do, you still don't believe what you just saw.

1988's tv movie SCOOBY-DOO AND THE RELUCTANT WEREWOLF emerged at a time when the Scooby-Doo franchise was at a bit of a crossroads. Fans of the original series were all grown up, ironic appreciation of the series was a few years off, and newer fans had boosted flagging ratings only after the introduction of Scrappy-Doo, the brave, energetic and highly annoying nephew of the star pooch. RELUCTANT WEREWOLF jettisons Fred, Daphne and Velma in favor of Shaggy (voiced by the one and only Casey Kasem) and his "adoring but liberated girlfriend" Googie. Now an accomplished race car driver (?!), Shaggy becomes the object of desire of none other than Count Dracula himself. 

Cary Hill's SCREAM PARK takes the time honored (shopworn?) premise of the throwback slasher film for a spin with an entertaining 90 minutes that features masked maniacs, unleashed breasts and the occasional special effect to liven up the ride.  While it may not be the 5 Star Octopus Loop-Dee-Loop of modern slashers, it steers clear of ending up in the spinning tea cups section as well.

The 1980s was definitely an age of best-selling novels being adapted into major motion pictures – with varying degrees of success. For every THE SHINING (1980) there's a FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC (1987). For every THE NAME OF THE ROSE (1986) there's a BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY (1988). For every THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP (1982) there's a trip to DUNE (1984). In other words, what happens when you yank the printed word from a reader's hands and splash it up on the big screen isn't always pretty. Or successful. George Roy Hill's boring 1984 adaptation of John Le Carre's 500-plus-page international bestseller THE LITTLE DRUMMER GIRL is no exception.

When Adam discovers that his wife has been killed by the local crime boss he sets out on a mission of revenge, hell bent on killing anyone that stands in his path. But what separates ADAM CHAPLIN from the endless stream of flicks with similar stories is that we're treated to an almost non-stop parade of insanely hyper-stylized supernatural action gore in which our frequently shirtless vigilante "hero" roams the fictitious town of Heaven Valley literally pulverizing anyone even remotely involved in his wife's demise.

I can save anyone that is not a hardcore fan of either director Joe D'Amato or a worshipper of Chinese nipples a little time right here. CHINA AND SEX may not be for you. However, this is a nice piece in the later career of D'Amato as he moved away from Filmirage cheap shockers such as CRAWLERS and into his final and ultra-prolific career as a full-time porn maven.

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