Saturday, 24 December 2011

Alternative Christmas - Submissions and Other Great Reads

Hey All,

Well first off I want to start by saying thanks to Jenn over at the amazing "Calavade of Perversions", who not only has supported this blog since it's early and confused beginnings, but also sent me the groovy Christmas card you see above while regualrly hunting down the most random and obscure films to review for her blog, while still finding time to heavily feature her cats.

Here though is what I am sending out as a Christmas card, especially as it's alot more amusing than anything Hallmark currently had to offer.

So as I sit down to write this we are now just one sleep away from Food induced coma's, wrapping paper strewn living rooms and questioning how well your love one's really know you when it comes to thier gift choices.....I mean how many pairs of socks and dodgy jumpers does one person need?!?.

As you know December here on the blog we are celebrating an "Alternative Christmas" while opening the floor to anyone who wanted to submit reviews, essays or any other kind of musing on Alternative Christmas Movies, so here are the submissions that I have recived so far, aswell as other articles I have dug over the course of the month, all now collected below for your reading pleasure.

"Alternative Christmas" has not been restrained by myself to this blog alone, as it has also leaked over to my "Cinema Obsura" column over "The Life And Times of Lucy In Da Sky With Diamonds"

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

Emily at "Deadly Doll's House of Horror Nonsense" has been checking out some of the cheesest and god awful Christmas Movies to ever try and cash in on the Holiday with her series of "Cheese In Your Stocking Reviews

Direct To Video Connoisseur


"Knifed In Venice" has gone all out this year with this hefty haul of reviews

Thanks to everyone who has submitted links so far and if I have missed any "Alternative Christmas" reviews leave your links below and join in the Cross blogging fun!

In the meantime have yourself a great Christmas and a fantastic New Year!!!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Bikini Bloodbath Christmas

Title: Bikini Bloodbath Christmas
Director: Jonathan Gorman & Thomas Edward Seymour
Released: 2009
Staring: Debbie Rochon, Rachael Robbins, Phil Hall, Dick Boland, Lloyd Kaufman, Sheri Lynn, Niki Rubin, Monique Dupree, Margaret Rose Champagne, Matt Ford, Sarah Dauber, Thomas Edward Seymour, Phillip Guerette

Plot: The Bikini Bloodbath girls are back and now working at a pot emporium called “Snotlocker”, while constantly battling their Christian rivals across the street who work at “The Underground Deli”. Meanwhile Chef Death has once again returned from the grave intent on causing some holiday havoc!

Review: The third and final film in the Bikini Bloodbath Trilogy though honestly it is far from essential to have seen either “Bikini Bloodbath” or “Bikini Bloodbath Carwash” to understand what is happening here as it works just as well on it’s own, while once again being one of those movies which makes you feel just a bit sleazy for reviewing it. Still it’s another curious Christmas movie which makes all the more perfect to look at as part of this ongoing “Alternative Christmas” season.

Right from the beginning the tone is set for what essentially the rest of the film will is like, as within the first fifteen minutes you get enough nudity, foul language and toilet humour to put most teen comedies to shame, while no doubt making it the new favourite movie of teenage boys everywhere, as it sets out to do pretty much what it says on the box, while highlighting how perhaps some of the cast got their parts as was no doubt the case of Monique Dupree, who has all the acting ability of a rock, while her IMDB profile states that she is regularly named as the first black scream queen, but surely there has been other black scream queens before her right?? Surely just because your a girl who appears in horror films doesn't automatically qualify you for such an honour!?!

Spending pretty much the whole movie in their bikini’s, the girls spend the majority of the film running from one random situation to the other, while usually being verbally abused in the meantime by their transvestite boss Mrs Johnson (Boland) who seems to be taking tips from Monty Pythons Terry Jones as Mrs Johnson is almost an exact copy of many of his grotty female characters. Still for fans of “Troma” this style of film making will be all to familiar and it only makes it all the more surprising to find out that this isn’t one of their titles, but still Troma founder & president Lloyd Kaufman shows up briefly as Dr. O’masterblaster who has a rather literal hands on approach when it comes to his patience, but it’s the sleazy kind of role that we have come to expect from him, after all it’s the sort of humour which “Troma” was built upon and it’s briefness stops it from becoming too bad taste unlike some of the scenes involving the fake ass, though once again I couldn’t help but think of Mel Brooks whenever I saw him, as to myself at least the two are scarily similar.

Despite the cast seemingly being hired for seemingly their zero qualms in regards to nudity, the performances are largely pretty good, though perhaps the less said about Monique Dupree’s acting ability the better really, though thankfully her screen time is kept mercifully short, so you don’t have to endure her rabbit in the headlights style of acting for long. The only problem the film has though is that we have no clear final girl for although the girls are easily distinguishable from each other; none of them come across as the one girl that is going to step up and save the day. Meanwhile the guys get off slightly easier, though mainly left to play curiously random roles as is definatly the case for Seymour and Guerette who show up as Prince Colwyn and Rell the Cyclops from “Krull” (1983) who have seemingly fallen on hard times since we last saw them, as they show up trying to sell the glaive as a security device, yet no one seems to question the fact that one of them is a Cyclops. Still these two characters are just another prime example of how you really stop questioning what is happening in the film, especially by this point were by now you’ve seen numerous exposed breasts, had the air turned blue by the expletives riddled rants of Mrs Johnson and seen the rival santa’s of the two stores duke it out in a paddling pool wrestling match, so “Krull” characters randomly appearing is pretty much accepted as the norm for this movie.

Although it is marketed as a slasher Chef Death” is actually given very little to do here, other than randomly appearing and killing off a member of the cast before disappearing again, usually until the film needs something to link one random situation to the other. Still the deaths are all suitably gory and graphic, with the film really pulling off some original kills, which perhaps loose some of their effectiveness due to the cheapness of some of the effects. Still the final twist makes zero sense, especially when we see him resurected only to get a twist revel which would have you believe otherwise.

“White Liger” are once more on hand to provide the soundtrack which largely consists of rocked up Christmas songs, which fit the film perfectly yet frustratingly I’ve been unable to find a copy of the soundtrack, as would love to have these guys sound tracking my Christmas parties, so alas it looks like I will have to dig out the Phil Spector’s again.

As with the previous films it seemingly acknowledges and embarrasses its sheer awfulness at the same time, which somehow makes it a strangely fun watch, though it’s hard to tell if it’s this reason or just the sheer amount of skin on display, foul mouthed monologues, gratuitous splatter or just the sheer randomness which makes up the relatively short run time, with the whole thing clocking in at just over an hour which those of you who are less forgiving when it comes to trash cinema will no doubt seem a lot longer especially as it seems like a lot of randomness with little in the way of actual plotting. Still if your looking for somthing a little gratuitous for the holidays then you can't go to wrong with this.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

The Star Wars Holiday Special

On May 25, 1977 George Lucas created with “Star Wars” the summer blockbuster, launching a saga which go onto be one the most popular franchises of all time, while giving nerdy males like myself something to fill all that time we had on our hands from you know not being able to talk to girls etc, while raking in $4.41 Billion in box office revenue from the films alone and this doesn’t include the money generated from the countless spin off’s and merchandise…because after all no home is complete without it’s glow in the dark lightsaber!

Needless to say George Lucas has frequently tried to torpedo his cash cow with some shall we say interesting directions in which he chose to take the franchise with the first of these being in “Return of Jedi” which introduced the Ewoks, a creation which grew out of his desire to have a village of Wookies which somehow turned into these monstrosities which as we all know, were greeted by much disgust by the fan base, while also being one of the few cute and cuddly characters that people didn’t mind seeing being blown up. Still these would seem quite passable by the time that “The Phantom Menace” finally came out sixteen years later and unleashed the now legendary (and not in a good way) “Jar Jar Binks” which once again caused further venom to be unleashed by the fan verse as well as the occasional burning effigy, as Lucas had finally managed to create something even crappier than those bloody teddy bears!!

Alas there would be something would top both these thing in terms of overwhelming badness, so much so that it would only ever be shown once in 1978 only to ever reappear on bootleg VHS copies as all those involved tried to forget it had ever been created. I am of course talking about “The Star Wars Holiday Special” and seeing how this December I am celebrating an “Alternative Christmas” what better time to revisit this rightfully forgotten cash in.

Riding high on success of “A New Hope” the story follows Han Solo and Chewbacca as they travel to Chewbacca’s home planet Kashyyk to celebrate Life Day with Chewie’s family who comprise of his father Itchy, his wife Malla and son Lumpy all of which would be later retconned to Attichitcuk, Mallatobuck and Lumpawarrump, rather than taking the more sensible choice of just killing them off. Still these bargain basement Wookie costumes you best get used to watching, as they are you main company for pretty much the whole run time of this thing, while their various grunts and growls are even more nonsensical when they are the only characters on screen, often meaning that Art Carney seen here as the trader and family friend Saun Dann is left to try and string things together for those of us who don’t speak Wookie, while the audience wonders why they aren’t getting to see their favourite heroes instead of these second rate characters.

Meanwhile the Empire are busy searching for rebel agents on the planet after losing Han and Chewie, whose attempts to elude the Empire once again forms the mainback bone of the plot, which is intercut with random cameo appearances by Luke Skywalker, C3PO, R2-D2 and Princess Leia, aswell as several variety show style segments, musical performances and a cartoon, all of which add up to a two hour car wreck of a holiday cash in.

Still what is most interesting about this special is that all the cast return to play their characters, something unheard of for a special of this type and something which they would all later regret upon the release of the final product, with Lucas rarely commenting on it and seemingly refusing to acknowledge it’s existence, while Carrie Fisher would provide her commentary for the Star Wars DVD’s on the condition that Lucas gave her a copy, somthing which she openly admits to showing at parties, usually when she wants everyone to leave. Still these appearances outside of Chewie and Han Solo are pretty much glorified guest appearances with the majority of the special being left to Chewie’s family to irritate the audience with their painfully unfunny attempts at humour while preparing for Life Day or eluding the Empire.

Still if the antics of Chewie’s family were not annoying enough we also get even more unlikable characters introduced via various celebrities of the time who will no doubt be unrecognizable to most people not born back then, as they try to earn some cool points and no doubt an easy pay check off the back of the Star Wars craze, so hence we get Harvey Korman (yep i’ve no idea who he is either) showing up in three separate skits, with the most memorable of these being the mildly amusing “Cooking with Chef Gormanda” a four armed cook who Malla struggles to keep up with. Meanwhile his appearance as a malfunctioning droid in an instructional video is just painful to watch. Still slightly better is “Golden Girls” star Bea Arthur as a bar tender at Mos Eisley cantina, which also see’s a welcome return of the various residents and cantina band, though her bursting into “Good Night, But Not Goodbye” will have you quickly looking for the fast forward button.

This random musical interlude is not the only questionable musical moment, as Princess Leia even bursts into a song set to the tune of the Star Wars theme, which unsurprisingly didn’t catch on and hence why you always get folks trying to warble the instrumental version. I did wonder though why “What do you buy a Wookie for Christmas, when he already has a comb” didn’t make the special.

Outside of the amateur hour operatic’s we also get musical performances by both “Jefferson Starship” and “Diahann Carroll” both of which quickly descend into 2001 style acid trip light shows , while Carroll’s performance is creepily watched by Chewie’s father as Carroll informs him that she is his “fantasy” while inviting him to “experience her”, while certainly not made any less creepy by the fact that Itchy is sitting in a machine pressing buttons which supposedly control the experience, which also brings into question if sex with a wookie is classed as bestiality?

So while the majority of the special is plain garbage there is still one good thing to come out of this and like the penny in the pile of shit, it is the first ever appearance of Boba Fett!! That’s right the coolest character in the whole of the Star Wars Universe made his debut here in the cartoon segment of the special, which take the term “Artistic License” to whole new level meaning that we get a rubbery looking R2-D2 and a version of Han Solo which bares a striking resemblance to Mick Jagger. Still it’s a fun first appearance for Boba Fett and is the only real reason to sit through the rest of the special which no doubt explains why it’s in the third quarter and not at the start.

To say that the special is flawed, is to put things lightly as honestly it deserves to have any copy in existence gathered up and burned and should in no reason what so ever be attempted to view while sober, with laces in your shoes or without atleast a couple of friends to heckle to hell out of it, neither of which I had for this last viewing which created an experience which is nothing short of cinematic root canal surgery… have been warned!!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Die Hard

Title: Die Hard
Director: John McTiernan
Released: 1988
Staring: Bruce Willis, Bonnie Bedelia, Alan Rickman, Reginald Veljohnson, Paul Gleason, De’voreaux White, Robert Davi, Grand L. Bush, Alexander Godunov

Plot: Flying into LA on Christmas Eve to reconcile with his estranged wife Holly (Bedilia), New York cop John McClane (Willis) is invited to her company Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza, only to have the festivities interrupted by armed terrorists led by criminal mastermind Hans Gruber (Rickman) quickly taking over the building and leaving John as the last hope for the hostages now trapped inside.

Review: Since it’s release “Die Hard” has been a long time favourite amongst action fans, while regularly being the movie which was named when I asked people what their favourite Christmas movie was, which might surprise some people but it is quite rightfully a Christmas movie, if an extremely action packed and violent one!

Released at the height of the 80's Action movie craze it is now seen as being one of the best action films of the era. Based on the Roderick Thorp novel “Nothing Lasts Forever”, a sequel to his earlier novel “The Detective” which was also filmed with Frank Sinatra whose decision to not star in the sequel, which may have had alot to do with being offered the role at the age of 73 thanks to a contractual clause which entitled him to first refusal on the sequel. I was also a decision which would also be the main reason that the book was turned into the film we now all know and love, allowing director McTiernan to make minor tweaks to the story to “help bring more joy” to the story especially after describing the original screenplay as “a nasty piece of work” and in doing so made the character of McClane younger than he is in the book, which in turn helped pave the way for Willis to make his break into movies, in what at the time must have been a really surprising choice for the role, especially seeing how his only role at that point had been on the long running TV series “Moonlighting” which he was still filming during the shoot and even more so when this was the age of the pumped action hero with Stallone and Schwarzenegger being the ones cleaning up at the box office. McTiernan also changed the political motivations of the terrorists to make them a group of thieves portraying themselves as terrorists, which is really sold by the Rickman who here also makes his feature film debut as the charismatic and highly quotable Hans Gruber in yet another surprising casting choice, but could anyone else really play this role as well as he does?

Essentially the story of one man having a very bad day, John McClane is an everyman kind of hero, as he’s not a pumped up marine or trained in any kind of tactics for handling terrorists but rather a balding New York cop surviving on his wits alone and generally making things up as he goes and constantly seen questioning his own actions as a result of this. Meanwhile the sole support is more morally via fellow police office Al with hold McClane frequently talks to over his CB radio, as he frequently inspires McClane to keep going especially as his situation seems all the more hopeless, as his supplies begin to run low and his injuries start rack up. What also makes his character stand apart from other action heroes is his use of humour, as rather than cracking corny catchphrases when he kills off a bad guy, as he instead continually makes wisecracks often for his own amusement and frequently to taunt Hans. Still seeing how both Stallone and Schwarzenegger turned down the role, it’s interesting to think if McClane would have retained any of these traits in the hands of one of these pumped up action stars?

Still the key thing which also makes this film stand out from the other action films of the 80’s is that McClane unlike his contemporise is not invincible and injures just like any other regular guy, while still managing to live up to the promise of the title as he frequently proves to be a very hard man to kill, even when he’s the one putting himself in the most suicidal of positions such as his leap from the top of the building using a fire hose, with almost every situation frequently seeing McClane questioning his actions, as he knows instinctively how much he is out of his depth, yet still he refuses to give up, still it's funny that out of the things which have been frequently carried across the films is his now trademark grubby vest, which like every inch of his body is covered in grime and filth, a radical departure from the usual heroes who would somehow remain miraculously clean throughout, much like their injuries which they simply shake off, yet when McClane is injured he stays injured, most noticeably after being forced to walk barefoot across broken glass, which leaves him with a noticeable limp for the rest of the film, with McTiernan’s keen eye also making sure that even the smallest of details are not over looked as seen by the bloody footprints that McClane leaves on the window pane as he pushes away from it.

While “Die Hard” runs through the usual action movies motions, what also helps to separate it from other films from the era, is how developed the characters even with supporting bad guys such as Karl, we still get the feeling that you know more about these characters than their primary motives for doing the things that they do, with Hans being possibly the most developed bad guy to ever appear in an action movies thanks to the various hints to his background peppered throughout, from referencing his classical education, to general banter between himself and his henchmen which is a real change of pace from the info dump back story we have come to expect were normally the hero discusses said bad guy with their superior while going through a heavy looking file on said bad guy.

For some unknown reason “Die Hard” has remained pretty timeless and can still be viewed as the solid action flick it is, without any of the cheese that other 80’s action movies are frequently associated with, while undoubtedly being a great choice for Alternative Christmas viewing.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Celebrating An Alternative Vision of Christmas!!

Hey all,
Well with Christmas fast approaching and the TV schedules already being crammed full off those god awful made for TV Christmas movies, you know the kind were the family learns the true mean of Christmas by letting the friendly hobo into their house or whatever random event they can make seem plausible with a Christmas setting.

So this year "From the Depths of DVD Hell" is celebrating an alternate Christmas, by looking at the movies which might be set at Christmas, but are frequently far from the usual festive nonsense, with terrorists invading the office party, Santa battling the Martians and Serial Killer Snowmen!!

Prime examples of these movies of course being "Die Hard", "Silent Night Deadly Night", "Gremlins" and "Rare Exports" to name but a few and over December I will be looking at these great films and others, both on the blog aswell as in my "Cinema Obscura" column at "The Life and Times of Lucy In Da Sky With Diamonds" as part of a month long celebration of the Christmas movies which are anything but traditional.

To help celebrate this latest season of reviews, I am also opening up the floor once again to some cross blogging fun, by asking you all for your help, by posting your own reviews, rants or pretty much anything else you want to submit which relates to these movies which give a very different view of Christmas. If this sound like something you'd like to be part of, all you need to do is to send me an e-mail ( with a link to your posts and I will then highlight them here on the blog!

So dig out that your alternative festive viewing and join in the fun!!

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