Thursday, October 31, 2019

The Atlantis Interceptors (1983)

Exploitation films are some of the most polarizing for movie fans. Since Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez put out 'Grindhouse' in 2007 there has been a slew of films trying to duplicate what filmmakers were doing in the late '70s and early '80s. 'Hobo With a Shotgun' is a phenomenal example of capturing the spirit of those films, but 'Grindhouse' is playing it a little too safe. Sure, it's a fun movie and pays great love and admiration for the films of yore, but it's too self aware. The same can be said for 'Machete'. It too is a fun movie, but it's not the same as watching films like 'Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS' or 'Fair Game'. Movies like that took themselves serious, and pushed what, at that time, was the envelope for genre films.

Ruggero Deodato you may know from as the director of the infamous 'Cannibal Holocaust'. It's a powerful, visceral film that is a prime example of exploitation filmmaking. His follow up, 'House on the Edge of the Park' was another great example of a brutal movie with an unrelenting tale of home invasion. After making two films with unrelenting violence I guess Deodato decided that he needed to make a ridiculous, completely absurd film about Atlantis rising from the ocean.

Mike (Christopher Connolly) and Washington (Tony King), who insists on being called Mohamed, are mercenaries who are the best at their job. After kidnapping an old man for some unnamed colonel, the two take their payment and head on their boat for a little vacation in Trinidad. While journeying out to sea, a helicopter circles the vessel pissing off the crew of Mike, Washamed and their boy servant, Manuel. The chopper is carrying Dr. Cathy Rollins, an expert in Spanish languages, to a government research station in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. The crew is composed of nuclear scientists who are trying to raise a Soviet submarine from the ocean floor.

On land, however, a group of a-typical post-apocalyptic cyber punks have taken to the streets, slaughtering the citizens of Miami. Their leader, a pleasant fellow by the name of Crystal Skull rules the violent gang. Suddenly an earthquake moves the oceans, and an island breaks the surface. There are trees, and mountains, and the island looks to be enclosed in a bubble similar to that of a vending machine toy. The research station is being taken down by the force of the water as Mike and his crew brave the storm in their boat, and they miraculously make it through. As the boat sails on, Mike and the gang run across survivors from the station and they head for land not knowing the horrors that have unfolded on shore.

In the early '80s there was a wave of Italian produced post-apocalyptic movies that came on the market. 'Atlantis Interceptors' is one of the better of the bunch as Deodato plays with many different genres to really make one ridiculously fun film. From action to comedy, to horror and thriller Deodato borrows heavily from many other films. You see shades of 'Escape from New York', 'The Road Warrior', and even some James Bond type of elements. A solid foundation, but the film also has a pretty well crafted original story. Just over-the-top enough to be absurd, but handled well enough that it isn't awful. The acting isn't that bad considering other films of its type. Tony King is solid comic relief, and does well at being that sarcastic asshole throughout the film.

The acting, being better than I expected, I was let down by the lack of violence that I've seen in other Deodato films. Many movies in his catalog are littered with gore that it was interesting to see a 'less is more' attitude to the violence. This is one area that would have improved the film as the gang, while raising hell on the beaches of Miami, doesn't really get to shine. The villain, Crystal Skull isn't really as fleshed out as you would like. He's the sort of character that really needs to be malicious and terrifying. We get a guy decapitated, and another guy spiked to death in a jungle trap. Other than that, we don't see this gang really be all that terrorizing other than slicing one or two people up with swords.

The soundtrack was another downside of the movie as the disco jams just didn't really fit the tone of the movie. It's awkward actually, and takes away from this Atlantis rising world. Thankfully you can excuse the soundtrack because there are some great action sequences with shoot-outs, motorcycles and Mad Max style cars.

As a cult movie though, 'The Atlantis Interceptors' is a real blast. It's nothing that will change your view on post-apocalyptic movies, but solid performances, over-the-top action really elevate it to something better than it really should have been. It won't be remembered as Deodato's best, but it's a fun way to spend an hour and a half.

'The Atlantis Interceptors' is currently available in the Grindhouse Experience Vol. 2 DVD Box Set. It's loaded with 20 other fantastically shitty films ranging from 'Jaws' knockoffs to foreign superhero films. It ranges about $20, and is really worth your time if you're looking for some bad movies.

Rating: 3 out of 5 Trash Bags

Friday, June 24, 2016

Examining Alternate Edits

Do you remember watching a movie like Billy Madison on TV, and all of the sudden there's a scene of the staff playing kickball you hadn't noticed when watching on video? Or maybe you've heard that a movie like Johnny Mnemonic had an extra 14-minutes in the Japanese cut? One of the more trying points of being a movie fan is keeping track of all edits/alternate scenes to your favorite films. The world of alternate versions is pretty vast, so I'll select a few recent films I've viewed.

Over the past few years I've come across edits of some of my favorite movies that were released strictly for foreign markets. We, as the consumers of these films, have little to no insight as to why a distributor may feel that one scene may work for their European market, but when the film is released here in the United States the edit could be different. Let's take for instance Alex Winter's Freaked. Upon my first viewing of Freaked on HBO in the early 90's I was hooked. I loved the ridiculous characters, dialog and the plot. The film was perfect for my pre teen humor, and as I grew older I found new jokes that went WAY over my head years earlier.

This year I found the German DVD release of Freaked that contained two scenes which were not in the American edit. Sure, these were more than likely included in the deleted scenes portion of the supplemental features on the Anchor Bay disc, but to see the new flow felt a little better to be honest. The inclusion of a scene in which the Freaks play Wheel of Fortune continued the riff on Hollywood Squares to show how the mutated residents of Freek Land spend their time. Later in the film, once Ricky Coogan (Alex Winter) finds out about his horrid fate to be turned into a super-freak and destroy the others, he says fond farewells to each of the freaks. While not adding more than a few minutes to the American run time, these scenes were a welcome addition and felt like they should have been included originally.

Then there's edits of movies for television. While not every movie is edited for television, most are. In can be for a multitude of reasons (as stated prior to any airing), but more often than not these movies are relatively the same version you'd see in theaters or on video/disc/interwebs. Sometimes these result in hilarious dialog censorship (see: Casino) or glaring omissions of violence (see: Casino). Then there are films where questionable material is edited out, and new footage inserted to make up the running time. When the Disney Channel used to be a premium station, and they had the "free preview weekend", they would air a version of The Goonies which included the octopus scene, which I have recorded and is my preferred edit of the movie. There's also the discussion Jason and I
had on the podcast last year in which we detail the differences between the theatrical and television edits of Alligator.

One recent example of a TV edit that stands out was a recording I received of Fred Dekker's The Monster Squad, which was recorded off of a Fox affiliate out of Augusta, GA in 1995. Monster Squad for me as a kid was the best movie in the world. Sure, I was also a big Ghostbusters fan, but the combination of all the classic monsters was a joy to see as a 5-year old who was just discovering horror. Flash forward 26 years, and now I see a version of this beloved film with a few scenes extended, and a random flashback sequence added later on. While not adding anything major to what was already a perfect movie, this was a real interesting watch. There's something fun about watching a movie with a fresh set of eyes, looking for any of those slight changes to alter your experience.

Then there's the much maligned discussion of the "Director's Cut" and "Unrated" editions of films that have come out in the past few years. Granted, there are instances where a film deserves to have the director release their version of the film (see: Superman II), but how many fucking times do we need Blade Runner released? Anyways, this particular conversation has been done to death, so in lieu of that, why don't we leave the forum open to you. What are some of your favorite edits to a movie that may not be the most commonly seen?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Charly, Dias de Sangre (1990)

Over the past five or six months I've been really going on an "obscure to me" movie kick. Now, when I say "obscure to me" I really mean that these are films that barely have mention here in the United States. Every country produces movies for their native audiences each year, but only a portion of those actually find worldwide distribution. I'm sure even more films were made for the video market that had never dreamed some American kid would give it a view, but here we are. 26 years later, and here I view some supernatural slasher I'm sure the people in Argentina have forgotten about.

Charly, Dias de Sangre tells the basic story of Danni and his cousin, Charly. Charly has been having a tough time at school, and has been very introverted since the death of his brother when they were kids. Charly's uncle hopes to get him out of this mental slump, and asks Danni to try and get a lady for Charly. After getting some friends together, Danni and Charly bring them to Charly's family cottage off in the woods.

As the evening progresses Charly becomes smitten with one of the girls, and the two talk for the whole night. But they're not alone, as an unseen, heavily breathing entity is stalking the teens in the shadows. Soon truths are told about the house, and no one will be safe.

Charly, Dias de Sangre is a pretty routine slasher, but there's enough here to keep even the most seasoned gore hound watching. The opening sequence is the strongest in the film, but there's a decent enough flow to keep your attention throughout. While you're probably not going to recognize any of the Argentinean actors here, they all do their part in helping progress the story. Not any one of the actors particularly stands out, but they're serviceable fodder to get the "Days of Blood" the title promises.

The movie does suffer when it comes to actually laying out a cohesive story. While we are given background in regards to the death of Charly's brother, it feels as if there's portions of the script that were tossed out, or sequences of the movie that were deleted as if to make less sense. The film just kind of ends and we're left scratching our heads trying to figure out if anything truly supernatural was going on, or if Dias de Sangre is a look at how someone deals with grief. Probably not the later, so we're just going to say this is a daft slasher played up for the video market. 

With a brisk 75 minute run time and barely a lick of character or plot development, Dias de Sangre is one movie to throw on if you're just looking for mindless gore and scantily clad women.You won't see anything truly original here, but to be honest it shouldn't affect your enjoyment. There are far worse slashers that have received theatrical distribution here in the USA, so you'd be doing better to watch Dias de Sangre than the recent releases from any major studio.

Rating: 3 out of 5 Trash Bags

**This version is missing the first 2 1/2 minutes of random girls taking a topless bath.**