Film Reviews: February 2006
Note: Reviews are in no particular order

"The Murder of JFK: A Revisionist History"
DVD - (MPI Home Video)

Everyone has his or her own opinion regarding the assassination of JFK. Just ask any number of theorists that you might know. You'll hear it was: the mob, a CIA plot, Castro, and even Lyndon Johnson himself! THE MURDER OF JFK: A REVISIONIST HISTORY gives a purely historical view of the events, through archived newsreel footage. It is a little ironic that they use the term 'revisionist' in the title, since there are no real revelations that will change anyone's mind.

While this film gives a great background of the events leading up to the JFK assassination, such as Cuban source material on the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis, this 'intro' does get a bit tedious. In fact, my wife fell asleep during this section! However, it is worth the wait to see Fidel Castro interviewed by Ed Sullivan! During the archived interview with John Connally, he narrates the events during the shooting, with the Zapruder film inserted during key descriptions. While it does include the first digital rendering of the Zapruder film, it is split up during Connally's interview and I would have loved to see the whole version. Also included is the only known color footage of Lee Harvey Oswald, albeit only a very short clip.

What I found most interesting was the section on the link between the film Psycho and the FBI's report on Oswald. Also, there were Lyndon B. Johnson's surprising thoughts concerning a conspiracy - he alludes that there probably was one. Also, I wasn't aware that the Warren Commission basically just confirmed the findings of the FBI report - they weren't really a totally unbiased panel after all.

History buffs, and especially JFK assassination followers, will really like "THE MURDER OF JFK: A REVISIONIST HISTORY". It is a treasure trove of archived information.


Review by Scott H. Platt


"Threat"
DVD - (Kings Mob)

Since "Rebel Without a Cause" in the '50s, every generation has a powerful film that youths can identify, justifying their rebellion and questioning the "values" that the older generation holds dear. For me it was the 1979 film "Over the Edge", with its tale (actually taken from a true story) of the huge rift between the "values" of parents and their kids.

"Threat" is simply the voice of THIS generation's youth. Centering around a homeless kid named Jim, the film is powerful and explosive in its accurate portrayal of youthful angst, covering a myriad of topics including: racism; the sexual mores of today; pointless violence; alcohol abuse; the loss of innocence; the 'American Dream'; and of course turmoil and confusion about the future. While this might sound like some preachy "After School Special", "Threat" isn't preachy...just painfully honest. And you would think that "Threat" tries to cover too many topics, but it succeeds in flying colors on each count.

What is so amazing is that it was an independent film group, Kings Mob, that created this film - not one of the 'established' film companies. Kings Mob is definitely a group to keep an eye on, and hopefully this film is a sign of things to come from these brash, young filmmakers! "Threat" is easily one of the most important films of the decade!


Review by Ronnie


"The Velvet Underground: Velvet Redux Live MCMXCIII"
DVD - (Rhino)

This dvd was filmed live over a three day stand in 1993 at the L’Olympia Theater In Paris. All four original members were present. Lou Reed was still Lou Reed. Musically speaking not much has changed. He’s still the same guy that taunted us to take a walk on the wild side all those years ago. Maureen Tucker, or Moe, had all the snap and precision of a Charlie Watts. Her visually simplistic style of drumming is directly proportional to her incredible skill and ability to make it look so easy, much like the aforementioned Watts. John Cale was exactly what you would expect John Cale to be and last but by no means least, Sterling Morrison was the glue holding the whole mess together. Sadly, Morrison died of cancer a couple of years later. All the favorites are here like “Femme Fatale”, “Sweet Jane”, “Heroin” and “Pale Blue Eyes”. Most are really good, some… not so good but all in all it’s worth the look and listen.


Review by J.R. Oliver


"The Losers"
DVD - (Dark Sky Films)

The year is 1970 and the U.S. is involved in the Vietnam War. When the army wants to rescue a captured CIA operative in the neutral (officially, but we know the truth...) Cambodia - who do they turn to? It was too early for Rambo or Chuck Norris. So, who does the army get? Well, a biker gang of course! This sets the tone for one of the most "imaginative" movies I've ever seen that was set in the Vietnam War. And it gives you a good idea of what to expect for the rest of the movie - lots of brighter-than-reality red blood, slow motion fight scenes, 'good guys' that never run out of ammo, and tons of macho bravado! Much to the biker's chagrin, the army supplies them with Yamahas, instead of their beloved Harleys (with much grumbling from a biker who calls the Yamaha a "chick bike"). I had to laugh when I saw the name of the bar in one scene - "Mama Sans A Go Go" - and that's about the level of stereotypical images you get. And the background looks suspiciously familiar - like the same set that M*A*S*H* was filmed at! It is so bizarre and funny at the same time to see this gang riding their motorcycles through the jungles of Vietnam kicking ass. You don't feel sad in the least as, one by one, the bikers die heroic deaths - you are almost rooting for the Viet Cong!

A great beer-party "guy" film - it doesn't get much cheesier than this!


Review by Scott H. Platt


"Werewolves on Wheels"
DVD - (Dark Sky Films)

Originally released in 1970, "Werewolves on Wheels" gives a heavy nod to the wildly popular "Easy Rider" biker film of 1969, but with a supernatural twist involving a devil worshipping cult and werewolves! There is plenty of "Easy Rider" imagery, such as scenes of the bikers riding on the highway with rock music playing (it even sounds similar to the music used!). And, while the rednecks in the truck in "Easy Rider" get away at the end of that film - a similar bunch of biker harassing rednecks in this film get chased down by the biker gang in this film and get the beating they deserve! The outlaw biker gang of this film, called "The Devil's Advocates" do have one thing I've never known a biker gang to have - their own Tarot card reader, who imaginatively goes by the name "Tarot"! Along their journeys of the highways of the American Southwest, they happen upon a cult of devil worshipers, who they manage to piss off - and who cast a spell on the bikers, turning them into werewolves. All along the way you get: drug taking, a devil sacrifice, a druggy and semi-nude snake dance, and plenty of fights.

"Werewolves on Wheels" has components of "Easy Rider", "Billy Jack", "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Trip" rolled into one - resulting in a very interesting "time capsule" exploitation piece of early '70s filmmaking. Of interesting note for trivia hounds: Barry McGuire has a role in this film (No, he doesn't sing "Eve of Destruction")!


Review by Scott H. Platt


"Dog Eat Dog"
DVD - (Dark Sky Films)

Featuring '50s blond bombshell Jayne Mansfield, the murder/mystery "Dog Eat Dog" typifies the murder/mystery genre of the film's time (originally released in 1964, but not released until 1966 in the U.S.). Set in the Mediterranean, "Dog Eat Dog" is the tale of a group of assorted characters trying to get their hands on one million in stolen cash, with most scenes taking place on a small island. Each person is trying to outsmart the other, while thinking of ways to eliminate their competition and making their escape off the island with the loot. On the island are the three thieves, a hotel manager and his sister and an eccentric old lady.

Sure, some of the action scenes and dialogue are a little "over the top", but I'm pretty much a sucker for any film that features Jayne Mansfield, and you get plenty of Jayne in this movie. While my favorite Jayne Mansfield movie is "The Girl Can't Help It" (1956), and "Dog Eat Dog" isn't of the same caliber as that classic film, it still has plenty of "Mansfield moments". Not only do you get to see Jayne in a hilarious catfight, but also she gets to deliver a barrage of sexual innuendoes. Typical of these is when she is asked about underwear, "I didn't think you wore any?" - to which she answers, "I do TOO wear undies!" While filmed towards the end of Jayne's career in 1963, she still had enough raw sexuality to deliver the lines effectively. And the film shows a slightly pudgy Jayne, who was then four months pregnant with her daughter Mariska Hargitay (That's Mariska who stars in "Law & Order: SVU"), and the costumes she wears carefully conceal her slightly protruding tummy. There is another familiar face in this movie - Western aficionados might recognize one of the film's 'bad guys' Cameron Mitchell as Buck Cannon from the 1967 TV series "High Chaparral".

"Dog Eat Dog" is a welcome addition to any sexy, cult classic collection!


Review by Scott H. Platt


"Terror Beneath the Sea"
DVD - (Dark Sky Films)

Sometimes the best thing about watching an old horror/sci-fi flick is simply the humor factor of watching it many decades after it was released. "Terror Beneath the Sea" is no exception - while the effects and dialogue are cheesy, it is guaranteed to give you more than a few laughs. Two things make this film notable. The first is that you get to see legendary action hero Sonny Chiba many, many years before he played Uma Thurman's sword master in "Kill Bill: Vol. 1". The second is that Peggy Neal is pure eye candy (especially the bikini-swimming scene). I'm going to definitely check out to see what other films she was in. "Terror" was never been so funny!


Review by Scott H. Platt


"Scary True Stories"
DVD - (Dark Sky Films)

One of the things that push a scary movie to the next level is when you think the story is true. It seems to add an extra bit of horror as you imagine, "I wonder if that could happen to me?" "Scary True Stories" is a collection of such "true" stories, set in modern Japan, from the '90s hit series from Japan. While it is in Japanese with English subtitles, it doesn't really dim the effectiveness of the tales. None of the stories seem truly unbelievable, which is a plus. This film kind of reminds me of "Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction", the American TV-Series from 1997-2002. All in all, this shows that language doesn't have to be a barrier in the horror genre.


Review by Scott H. Platt