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Exterminator City (2005)

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Reviewed by The Foywonder

Starring Julie Strain, Brinke Stevens, and a billion other scream queens, glamour models, and porn starlets

Written & directed by Clive Cohen


I don’t know what kind of drugs this Clive Cohen does, but they must be some seriously powerful stuff. I can only imagine that if I had viewed Exterminator City while high on God knows what then I can only imagine I would have either thought it was the greatest motion picture ever filmed, or been so freaked out that someone would have found me curled up in the fetal position and rocking back and forth in a corner several days later.

Watching Exterminator City is like watching some sort of Jess Franco meets Philip K. Dick meets Russ Meyer acid trip. It’s an ultra low budget, cyberpunk, slasher flick with very big breasted women and robot puppets. When I say puppets I’m talking about the kind of puppetry used to bring Crow T. Robot to life on “Mystery Science Theater 3000”. We’re talking the stick puppet heads with articulated mouths on top of clothed mannequin bodies with poseable arms sort of puppets.

The year is 2027. The place is the fictional Atro City. Neither of these facts are important. What matters is that robots now serve as everything from police officers to psychiatrists to televangelists to pest exterminators. It’s probably a good thing the pest control officers are robotic because the pests they exterminate are all abnormally large – a few are outright mutants – but most are just really big toy bugs you could probably from the local zoo’s gift shop.

There is a human population in this dark future but we never see any of them other than incredibly well endowed females. See those two guys on the box art right next to the title? I don’t know where York Entertainment found them but I assure you that they aren’t in this movie.

Now just as in Blade Runner, everyone zips around the dark cityscape in flying cars. Unlike Blade Runner, but much like “Thunderbirds Are Go!”, these flying cars are clearly models on strings flying in front of faux buildings. Actually, they tend to quickly “whoosh” past the camera so fast you usually don’t get the opportunity to marvel at the toy-like nature of the prop. You’ll see them “whoosh” past the camera a lot – constantly – often serving as a buffer between scenes. By the end of the first half hour alone you may very well begin to experience motion sickness from all these split second flying car zipping past the camera buffers. I know I never want to see a model of a flying car whiz past a night time model cityscape ever again.

One particular pest exterminator robot (a skull-faced nightmare that looks like the head of a Terminator endoskeleton that’s just a top hat away from being put behind the wheel of a hot rod) has gone haywire becoming a schizophrenic serial killer. It goes on a non-stop killing spree, zipping around the city in one of those flying cars on a string in search of victims. All of the victims share the common trait of being extremely buxom females that aren’t the least bit shy.

Folks, I cannot recall the last time I saw this much gratuitous nudity in a non-Cinemax After Dark film. The human side of the cast reads like a roll call of scream queens, porn starlets, and nude models. A few of the names include Julie Strain, Brinke Stevens, Teresa May, Cathy Barry, Zenova Braedon, Fembomb, Rhiannon, Lilith Stabbs, Jill Kelly, Syn Devil, Amy Lynn Best, Katarina Nikita, Lana Cox, Penny Lynn, Taylor Wayne, Persephone, Jacklyn Lick…I think there may have been more. I’ve never heard of most of them but the closing credits individually lists about 20 some odd personal websites where you can see more of the various women on display in yet further stages of undress. I believe there may have been three that didn’t actually get naked. And naked they do get! None of these ladies were hired for their acting talents, that’s for damn sure. Most of them can’t even convincingly do as little as look momentarily scared and scream their heads off without looking like the worst actresses in the world. Heck, one of the film’s jokes is Julie Strain’s character getting impaled with an Oscar. You know that had to be someone’s idea of a joke. These women exist solely to show off their very top heavy talents, and they do so whether by exercising in the nude or admiring their naked body in the mirror or listening to their walkman topless or reading a book in bed topless or, in one instance, walking in the front door and immediately stripping of her clothes and fondling herself. And then a psychopathic robot puppet savagely kills them (the actual slaying usually happens off-camera) leaving behind unrecognizable mounds of quivering meat corpses.

A hardboiled robot cop with a head that consists of little more than a disturbing set of bright red eyes, and dressed in a brown suit and tie like the most clichéd hard nosed cop, is in hot pursuit of the killing machine. It’s partnered with a shady robot psychologist that knows more about what’s might be behind the slaughter than its willing to admit. Making matters worse, as the tough talking cop tries to profile the serial killing cyborg, he begins going so far deep into the schizobot’s damaged psyche that it too begins to drift into madness.

I use the term schizbot because all the while the serial killer robot is zipping around the city mutilating D-cups, it’s also experiencing surreal (let’s face it, nonsensical is the opportune word) hallucinations involving religious imagery, metaphysical conversations involving human-robot consciousness, and demonic puppets.

I know the concept of a serial killer that experiences religious themed hallucinations and a detective on the case that gets so far into the killer’s head that their very own dark side begins to emerge may sound cliché, but I bet you’ve never seen it done with robot stick puppets before. I know a lot of that is done to be intentionally poking fun at this sort of film but it ends up being less laugh out loud funny and more outright bizarre.

In the end, Exterminator City is about three things: naked women getting killed by a robot serial killer experiencing strange delusions in between slayings, a robot cop and a robot psychologist on the case, and lots and lots of split second shots of a model car zipping past the camera.

Exterminator City is an uniquely morbid trainwreck of a movie and yet it’s hard to find fault with that since the movie was obviously designed to be such. Is it a good movie? Is it a well made movie? Was I entertained? Even now I really could not tell you for certain. All I know is that I couldn’t stop watching because despite the repetitive nature of the killings – brace yourself for the third act when they suddenly go into a overdrive – I was definitely curious to see where this film was going, or if it was going anywhere at all, and if it actually did get somewhere would it be somewhere I’d like to go, or, at the very least, someplace that made sitting through this film worthwhile. I’m still not sure since the finale just goes off the charts into weirdness. I can’t say for certain if there really was any method to Clive Cohen’s madness but there was definitely enough madness to keep me watching.

This is less a case of watching a movie as it is experiencing it. Just don’t write me any angry emails later on if you check the film out and hate it. I’ve given you sufficient warning.


3 out of 5

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Delirium Review – Bros, Cameras And A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin On

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Starring Mike C. Manning, Griffin Freeman, Ryan Pinkston

Directed by Johnny Martin


When will these testosterone-overloaded frat bros with cameras ever learn that pissing off the evil souls of the departed all in the name of amusement won’t get you anywhere but wrecked? Same goes for filmmakers: when will they learn that found-footage exploits set in a house of pure sadism are something of a wrung-out affectation? Oh well, as long as people keep renting them, they’ll continue to get manufactured…which might or might not be to the benefit of the horror film-watching populous.

Delirium opens with a poor lad, strapped with a GoPro, running for his life through a labyrinth of haunted territory, praying for an escape…and it’s a foregone conclusion as to what happens to this trespassing individual. We then relocate our focus towards a collection of (ahem), “gentlemen” self-titled as The Hell Gang, and their escapades are about as profound as their grasp on the English language and its verbiage. The words “dude”, creepy”, and the term “what the fuck” are thrown about so much in this movie it’ll make your head spin to the point of regurgitation. Anyway, their interest in the home of the Brandt clan is more piqued now than ever, especially considering one of their own has gone missing, and they’ve apparently got the gonads to load up the cameras, and traverse the property after-hours, and against the warnings of the local law-enforcement, who surprisingly are just inadequate enough to ignore a dangerous situation. The cursed family and the residence has quite the illustrious and bleak history, and it’s ripe for these pseudo-snoopers to poke around in.

Usually I’m curb-stomping these first person POV movies until there’s nothing left but a mash of blood, snot and hair left on the cement, but Martin’s direction takes the “footage” a little bit outside of the box, with steadier shots (sometimes) and a bit more focus on the characters as they go about their business. Also, there are a few genuinely spooky scenes to speak of involving the possession of bodies, but there really isn’t much more to crow about, as the plot’s basically a retread of many films before it, and with this collection of borderline-douches manning the recording equipment, it’s a sad state of affairs we’re in that something such as this has crept its way towards us all again. I’m always down for jumping into a cold grave, especially when there could be a sweet prize to be dug up in all that dirt, but Delirium was one of those movies that never let you find your footing, even after you’ve clawed your way through all of the funereal sediment – take a hard pass on this one.

 

  • Film
2.0

Summary

Got about a half-dozen bros with cameras and a wanton will to get slaughtered on camera, all the while repetitively uttering the same phrases all damn day long? Then my friends, you’ve got yourself a horror movie!

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Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters Review – A Timid Step Towards a Frightening Possibility

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Starring Mamoru Miyano, Takahiro Sakurai, Kana Hanazawa, Yuki Kaji, Tomokazu Sugita

Directed by Kobun Shizuno and Hiroyuki Seshita


The Godzilla series is the longest-running franchise in cinema history. With over 30 films over a 60+ year career, the famous kaiju has appeared in video games, comic books, TV shows, and more, cementing its place as one of the most recognizable cultural icons in the past 100 years. With Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters, the titular beast makes its foray into the world of anime in this first film in a proposed trilogy. While there are moments that are genuinely thrilling, the film unfortunately fails to capture the imagination and wonder that is at its fingertips.

The story is quite simple: Earth is under attack by swarms of various kaiju who are wreaking havoc across the planet. Entire cities are being destroyed when Godzilla appears to vanquish humanity’s foes. Unfortunately, the King of the Monsters isn’t really there to help humans and its rampage continues until a race of alien beings arrive at Earth asking for a place to stay in exchange for defeating Godzilla. When they are unable to do that, the remaining humans board a giant spaceship to venture off into space in search of a new home only to come back some 20 years later, nearly 20,000 years later by Earth time (think Interstellar logic), to search for resources and, possibly, a planet that will welcome them once again. However, Godzilla is still around and isn’t keen on sharing.

The main character of the film is Haruo Sakaki, a young man who begins the film by nearly following through on a suicide bomber terrorist act that is meant to call attention to humanity’s loss of vision and failure to fulfill their mission of finding a suitable home for the remaining survivors. Even though he is accosted and jailed for this act, he is eventually freed when people realize that his lifelong passion of killing Godzilla is the foundation for research he’s done in finding a way to take down the creature…a plan that just might work. The other characters are so forgettable that I forgot their names during the film.

From there, the film essentially pivots into following a massive team of volunteers who land on Earth’s surface to lay a trap for Godzilla in order to destroy it. Since this is Earth 20,000 years after they left, the flora and fauna have evolved and changed so radically that the team have no idea what to expect or how to react, so caution is a must.

The problem with this is that while the characters have to be cautious, the film doesn’t nor should it. The movie has the chance to explore the wealth of imaginative opportunities at its fingertips and yet does almost everything it can to avoid doing just that. The color scheme is flat and uninteresting. The character movements lack smoothness and the action sequences fall victim to shaky cam syndrome. There are a few mentions of some of the changes that have taken place on the planet, such as razor sharp plants, but they’re so incidental or offhand that it feels like no one making the film has any interest in seeing anything other than man against beast.

Speaking of this dynamic, the action sequences are quite entertaining but also feel somewhat reserved. Godzilla barely moves and much of the destruction levied against the humans is seen from a distance, apart from an attack on a military outpost by dragon-like creatures. For nearly the entire film, I found myself thinking, “I’m okay with this but that’s about it.

The brightest moment in the film are the last few minutes and I won’t spoil what happens. Suffice it to say that it definitely has me interested in the second and third films but I really hope that this new world will be explored further in those entries. Otherwise, we’ve got a fascinating foundation that will be squandered.

  • Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters
2.0

Summary

Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters is a bland entry in a trilogy that has great potential. For a first course, there’s a distinct lack of flavor or complexity. The final minutes are the only saving grace and I hope that the second and third films make use of that grand wonder.

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Satan’s Cheerleaders Blu-ray Review – Sacrifice This Snoozer At The Altar!

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Starring Jack Kruschen, John Ireland, Yvonne De Carlo, Jacqueline Cole

Directed by Greydon Clark

Distributed by VCI


The ‘70s. Satanism. Sultry cheerleaders. Sex appeal. With these tools nearly any low-budget filmmaker should be able to turn out something that is, at the very least, entertaining. The last thing a viewer expects when tuning in to a film called Satan’s Cheerleaders (1977) is to be bored to tears. But that is exactly the reaction I had while watching director Greydon Clark’s wannabe cult comedy. Even on a visual level this film can’t be saved, and it was shot by Dean Cundey! No, unfortunately there isn’t a cinematic element in the world that can overcome a roster of bad actors and a storyline so poorly constructed it plays like it was written on the day. The only saving grace, minor as it may be, is the casting of John Ireland as Sheriff B.L. Bubb (cute), a hard-nosed shitkicker who adds all the gravitas he can muster. But a watchable feature cannot be built upon the back of a single co-star, as every grueling minute of Satan’s Cheerleaders proves.

The cheerleaders and jocks of Benedict High School rule the campus, doing what they want, when they want, with little else on their minds except for The Big Game. Their belittling attitudes rub school janitor (and stuttering dimwit) Billy (Jack Kruschen) the wrong way. What they don’t know is Billy is (somehow) the head of a local Satanic cult, and he plans to place a curse on the clothes (really) of the cheerleaders so they… suck at cheerleading? Maybe they’ll somehow cause the jocks to lose the big game? When Billy isn’t busy plotting his cursed plans, he spies on the girls in the locker room via a hidden grate in the wall. I guess he doesn’t think being a sexual “prevert” is fair trade enough; might as well damn them all, too. Billy has his own plans to kidnap the girls, for his Lord and Master Satan, and he succeeds with ease when the girls’ van breaks down on the highway; he simply offers them a ride and they all pile in. But when Ms. Johnson (Jacqueline Cole) gets hip to his plan the two tussle in the front seat and Billy winds up having a heart attack.

The squad runs off in search of help, coming across the office of Sheriff B.L. Bubb (John Ireland), who, as the name implies, may be a legit Satanist. Bubb invites the girls inside, where they meet his wife, Emmy (Yvonne De Carlo), High Priestess of their quaint little satanic chapter. While the girls get acquainted with Emmy, Bubb runs off to find Billy, who isn’t actually dead. Wait, scratch that, Bubb just killed him for… some reason. The girls figure out things aren’t so rosy here at the Bubb estate, so they hatch an escape plan and most make it to the forest. The few that are left behind just kinda hang out for the rest of the film. Very little of substance happens, and the pacing moves from “glacial” to “permafrost”, before a semi-psychedelic ending arrives way too late.

“Haphazard” is one of many damning terms I can think of when trying to make sense of this film. The poster says the film is “Funnier Than The Omen… Scarier Than Silent Movie” which, objectively, is a true statement, though this film couldn’t hope to be in the same league as any of the sequels to The Omen (1976) let alone the original. It is a terminal bore. Every attempt at humor is aimed at the lowest common denominator – and even those jokes miss by a wide berth. True horror doesn’t even exist in this universe. The best I can say is some of the sequences where Satan is supposedly present utilize a trippy color-filled psychedelic shooting style, but it isn’t anything novel enough to warrant a recommendation. Hell, it only happens, like, twice anyway. The rest of the film is spent listening to these simple-minded sideline sirens chirp away, dulling the enthusiasm of viewers with every word.

A twist ending that isn’t much of a twist at all is the final groan for this lukewarm love letter to Lucifer. None of the actors seem like they know what the hell to be doing, and who can blame them with material like this? I had hoped for some sort of fun romp with pompoms and pentagram, like Jack Hill’s Swinging Cheerleaders (1974) for the Satanic set, but Clark provides little more than workmanlike direction; even Cundey’s cinematography is nothing to want on a resume.

Viewers have the option of watching either a “Restored” or “Original Transfer” version of the 1.78:1 1080p picture. Honestly, I didn’t find a ton of difference between the two, though the edge likely goes to the restored version since the title implies work has been done to make it look better. Colors are accurate but a little bland, and definition just never rises above slightly average. Film grain starts off heavy but manages to smooth out later on. Very little about the picture is emblematic of HD but given the roots this is probably the best it could ever hope to look.

Audio comes in the form of an English LPCM 2.0 track. The soundtrack sounds like it was lifted from a porno, while other tracks are clearly library music. Dialogue never has any obvious issues and sounds clear throughout. Subtitles are available in English SDH.

There are two audio commentary tracks; one, with director Greydon Clark; two, with David De Cocteau and David Del Valle.

A photo gallery, with images in HD, is also included.

Special Features:

  • Audio commentary with director Greydon Clark
  • Audio commentary with filmmakers David De Cocteau & David Del Valle
  • Photo gallery
  • Satan's Cheerleaders
  • Special Features
1.3

Summary

Although the title is enough to reel in curious viewers, the reality is “Satan’s Cheerleaders” are a defunct bunch with little spirit and no excitement. The ’70s produced plenty of classic satanic cinema and this definitely ain’t it.

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