Archives for posts with tag: bad acting
No One Lives Forever BCI

Grab it while supplies last … or not!

Included in the ten-feature action film collection No One Lives … Forever!, released in 2002 by the now-defunct BCI Eclipse DVD label, is an obscure 1999 Israeli oddity, Full Circle, directed by one Bernard McWilliams. The story concerns Boaz Golan, a Mossad agent sent to New York City in 1990 with the task of preventing a shipment of arms from reaching Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Golan is psychically scarred by the dual traumas of seeing his mother raped when he was a child and the adult experience of gory warfare in Lebanon (which, the movie deems it necessary to note, caused the hero to soil his pants). An early scene in Full Circle has Golan fantasizing about raping his female analyst, to whom he tells the blackly comedic war anecdote of discovering the bodies of a couple who had been unceremoniously killed in the middle of a blowjob.

Once he arrives in the United States, women find it difficult to resist Golan’s Hebraic charms, and a neighbor woman enthusiastically throws herself at him, enjoying a sex session on top of a table. Hilariously, the woman grabs a handful of what appears to be tapioca pudding and smears it across the Israeli’s ass in the heat of passion. Also true to the movie’s ethnic origin is a perverted scene in which the woman’s daughter discovers the mother’s vibrator and uses it as a toy airplane.

Full Circle Yuval Ovadia

Israeli superspy Boaz Golan in Full Circle (1999)

Being a spy and a Jewish one at that, Golan thinks nothing of lying to people to get whatever he wants. “I may be moving to New York to study engineering,” he gives as his reason for coming to America. He is also eager to demonize Saddam Hussein and to champion Israel as the ally of the U.S. “Saddam Hussein is crazy. He’s capable of doing anything,” Golan claims. “You know, if the Israelis hadn’t bombed his atom shell, he’d be using it right now against the United States.”

The action is stupidly pedestrian, with Golan depicted as a superhuman who is able to swing on a rope like Tarzan and have a fistfight even after being shot in the abdomen. A goofy scene of a dweeby Mossad asset being mowed down by a woman with a machine gun hidden in a baby carriage earns the movie some extra unintentional humor points, however.

The dull presence of singer-songwriter Richie Havens in a supporting role does nothing to enliven Full Circle, although his sassy girlfriend is an entertaining character, an anti-Semite who can smell an Israeli. In another scene indicative of Israeli attitudes toward American gentiles, Golan warms himself by a bum’s barrel fire, but becomes unnerved and flees when a vagrant approaches and giggles with a maniacal look on his face. This, no doubt, is intended as some sort of evocation of the eternal specter of the Shoah that hovers above all Jews.

The dialogue, typically Judaic, is filthy, with characters calling each other insulting names like “dickless piece of shit” and saying repugnant things along the lines of, “Wake up and smell my asshole.” Also quintessentially Israeli are soulless scenes of sleazy sex, meanness, and torture.

Whether or not Full Circle was designed primarily for American consumption is difficult to say. If so, the decision to leave more than one scene of this otherwise English-language film in untranslated Hebrew was poorly considered. Ludicrously, the end credits are interspersed with disingenuous anti-war messages like, “Instead of fighting one another we should fight those who make us fight.” A “special thanks” credit acknowledges the Broadcast Services of the Israeli Consulate for assistance in producing the film.

Yuval Ovadia

IDF veteran and Full Circle producer Yuval Ovadia

So far as this writer has been able to ascertain, the film has no listing at the Internet Movie Database, but the America-Israel Cultural Foundation website’s biography of one of its producers, Yuval Ovadia, gives information about a film titled Orphan of War which also seems to describe Full Circle:

Yuval Ovadia was born in Tel Aviv, Israel in October 31, 1965.

After serving 3 years in the Israeli army he flew to New York, planning to study filmmaking and acting in the best schools he could find.

In NY he studied at Lee Strasburg [sic] Institute, where he studied acting, singing and dancing. Later on he continued his studies at HB Studio, where he spent a long time under the late, famous Herbert Berghof and Bill Hickey. Then he studied all aspects of filmmaking at NYU Film School.

By the years 1996-1998 Yuval worked on a feature film called “Orphan Of War” – a 90 min, 35 mm Action/Drama, co-starring the legendary singer from Woodstock “Richie Havens” [who actually has only a tiny role]. In addition to co-producing this film, Yuval had starred in it, co-wrote the screenplay, edited, and came up with a music album called “Peaceful Circle” – based on songs from the film, which he produced together with Mr. Richie Havens.

[…] Yuval decided to go back to his roots and in 1999 he moved back from New York to Israel, were he got married and is having now 4 beautiful kids.

Full Circle, in short, seems to be as elusive as those notorious “Dancing Israelis” (creepily, Ovadia’s email address is listed as visual911911@gmail.com). The fact that the film is devoted to vilifying the Iraqi government, which would be overthrown by the Jew-puppeteered Bush administration in 2003 with September 11th utilized as the fraudulent pretext – in combination with the circumstance that the doomed Twin Towers make an appearance in the film along with a deck of tarot cards – adds up to Full Circle being a rather unsavory home theater experience. It may be worthwhile, however, for those with an interest in shitty action movies.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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The Ideological Content Analysis 30 Days Putsch:

30 Reviews in 30 Days

DAY TWENTY-FOUR

Pussy Riot

Daryl Hannah ought to be tarred and feathered for agreeing to narrate this piece of shit, positively one of the worst, most hideously ugly and unappealing documentaries of the decade. Perhaps best viewed as an inadvertent comedy, complete with Jewish handwringing about corruption and the need to uphold the Russian constitution, its robust aroma is made the more pungent by slapdash subtitles, bad acting, and tiresome samples of Pussy Riot’s monotonous, wailing “music”. During the course of this particolored cavalcade of tedium, the saints of Pussy Riot are likened to Elvis Presley, Joan Baez, John Lennon, Joan of Arc, and even Michelangelo – and without the slightest indication of irony.

The “evil man” Putin, on the other hand, is compared to Joseph Stalin, Tsar Nicholas I, and Francisco Franco, and repeatedly depicted as a “fascist”. “This is a country where people die from dissent,” charges Masha Gessen. Performance artist Oleg Kulik has the most sidesplitting lines of this circus, funnier for being delivered with the utmost earnestness: “We are in the heart of a Satan and the heart is beating. Black blood is pumping like oil. The girls have poked the devil’s eye and the devil screamed ‘I am God!’ And the girls say, ‘No, you’re not God. You’re the devil,’ so it’s an argument between them. Is he a devil, or is he a God? It is an existential argument.”

Another chuckle comes from the sight of young women in rainbow-colored terrorist ski masks accompanied by the assertion that a rising generation of young Russians has a “desire to live in a normal country.” “Thank you, Madonna! Thank you, Red Hot Chili Peppers!” the girls exclaim for the solidarity shown them by the American entertainment establishment. The group needs all the help it can get when faced with a dictator like Comrade Putin. One of the silliest statements in the film is the weepy telling of how the members of Pussy Riot “were arrested in a dark street in Moscow.” Imagine the shame of the thing! Arresting these world-famous artistes in a street that was not even properly lighted!

Pussy Riot: The Movement earns a star and a half for its unintentional humor. Ideological Content Analysis, meanwhile, indicates that this pile of Jew dookie is:

4. Pro-AIDS. Jewish faggot Masha Gessen, who has admitted that her advocacy of “gay marriage” has the purpose of destroying the institution of matrimony, is one of the wholesome voices of anti-authoritarian courage featured in the documentary. The Pussy Riot girls are also shown cavorting and howling about homosexual “rights”.

3. Anti-Christian. “Sexism, persecution, and torture” follow from church involvement in state affairs. The Russian Orthodox hierarchy is portrayed as corrupt, oppressive, and avaricious. The entire film celebrates the Pussy Riot sluts for their desecration of Christ the Savior Cathedral, which, one of the interviewees suggests, may come to be known to history as Pussy Riot Cathedral. Francis Carr Begbie of The Occidental Observer adds:

Pussy Riot is also supported — in a circuitous route — by the Soros-funded National Endowment for Democracy. Could it also be that support of groups like Pussy Riot is part of a parallel Jewish strategy of debasement and corruption of Christian morality? As Professor Nathan Abrams wrote, the very prominent Jewish involvement in porn was a result of the “atavistic hatred of Christian authority” and a desire to “weaken the dominant Christian culture.”  Is it so much of a stretch to view Jewish support of these groups as part of the same agenda?

2. Feminist/pro-slut, with Russia depicted as some sort of hell hole of sharia-style patriarchal totalitarianism where women are obligated to cover their heads in shame. “It’s an act of love among dead nature to show that there is at least something living in this country,” Kulik says of a public orgy in which one of the Pussy Rioters participated.

1. Zionist, smearing Putin and Russia in accordance with neoconservative aims. Pro-Israel Jew Senator Benjamin Cardin is spotlighted for his work in raising awareness about the gentile evil being perpetrated in Russia. The narration even tosses in a jab at Iran for alleged corruption. Interviewees, in addition to the disease-exuding Gessen, include Pussy Riot’s Jewish lawyer, Mark Feygin, and gallery owner Marat Guelman, who whimpers piteously: “Because now what we have, Stalin come back.” There is, too, an echo of “Holocaust” propaganda in Pussy Riot: The Movement’s characterization of Russian prisons as concentration camps where women are (so the story goes) fed stale bread and rotten potatoes, made to stand naked outside in the cold, and prevented from using a toilet. Jewish billionaire oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky is presented as a rival of Putin – perhaps the only politician who could lead Russia to freedom! – but those susceptible to such rubbish are advised to read what Ronald L. Ray of American Free Press has written about this parasite:

It is Russia’s President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, a former communist, who stands in the breach, while bankers and internationalists promote the likes of Mikhail Borisovich Khodorkovsky, a Russian Jewish oligarch with billions of dollars to use for the re-enslavement of the former Soviet Union. […]

Although convicted of tax evasion and moneylaundering—a conviction upheld by the European Court of Human Rights—Khodorkovsky has been portrayed by Western media and politicians as a “political prisoner” because he opposed Putin. He is the poster boy for the plutocratic fight against Russian nationalism and economic independence.

But according to a January 3 report in Germany’s National-Zeitung, even defenders of the 50-year-old multi-billionaire are forced to admit that his wealth is ill-gotten. In just 15 years, the young communist son of modest engineer parents amassed many billions of dollars under the aegis of former Russian President Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin. He was one of a handful of Jews who were given free rein by Yeltsin to enrich themselves by gaining control of much of Russia’s wealth and politics […]

As Yeltsin’s energy minister, Khodorkovsky used his now-bankrupt privately-owned Bank Menatep, for shady real estate dealings and to purchase a controlling interest in the defunct Yukos Oil Company at a fraction of its value. The Yukos production division in Russia sold the oil at minimal profit to the distribution division, located in a foreign tax haven, which then sold the oil to American and Jewish interests at market rates. Khodorkovsky and his partners profited immensely and paid little or no taxes. When a local Russian mayor spoke out about Yukos’s refusal to pay taxes, a Khodorkovsky partner was implicated in the contract murder of the official.

Khodorkovsky was accused of stealing 200 million metric tons of oil from Russia—half the Yukos production—via his business practices. Thus, it was natural that, under Putin’s efforts to break the international bankster grip on Russia and regain control of natural resources, Khodorkovsky would be investigated for selling those resources out of the country.

Not surprisingly, Pussy Riot: The Movement executive producer Marianna Yarovskaya – clearly a principled crusader for truth – is a former employee of Zio-globalist operations Greenpeace and Voice of America. She was also the head researcher for global warming scare film An Inconvenient Truth. Unsurprisingly, too, given the group’s Jewish and globalist NGO connections, Pussy Riot has most recently thrown the weight of its tawdry celebrity wholly behind the “refugee” invasion of Europe.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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Ready 2 Die

After robbing a Federal Reserve Bank branch and leading the LAPD on a televised freeway chase (“like O.J., Holmes”), four luckless desperadoes find themselves stranded without a car in East L.A., pursued both by the authorities and – after a “ghetto APB” and word of their loot gets out – their greedy fellow gangstas as well.

Writer-director John Azpilicueta stars as the bereaved Lucky, dismissed from a SEALs training camp for “emotional problems”; Jacob Martinez is Smiley, a chubby old thug who tried in vain to go straight, but whose financial troubles have thrust him back into a life of crime; and Pablo Hernandez is Psycho, a hitman who pretty much lives up to his name. The most interesting character, dishonorably discharged Ranger and Coolio haircut hood rat Sniper, is played by Bless May, who unfortunately receives the least screen time of the foursome.

Azpilicueta’s film, typical for an Asylum release, is shoddy and rough-hewn, with crap special effects, some substandard acting, too little coverage for action scenes, and overreliance on quick cuts and shaky-cam cinematography. A series of black-and-white flashbacks, intended to humanize the leads, only succeeds in stalling the action; but sleazebags attracted to a movie as underachievingly titled as Ready 2 Die will no doubt be entertained by its ready abundance of murder, profanity, rape, and pandemic nastiness.

3.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Ready 2 Die is:

7. Anti-Christian. More than one thug is adorned with a cross, either as a necklace or a tacky tattoo.

6. Anti-marriage. A mulatto wife is a lazy, unfaithful freeloader.

5. Miscegenation-ambivalent. The aforementioned wife is, however, depicted as quite the sexual trophy and gets the hiding heroes excited as they voyeuristically enjoy the sight of her in the act of adultery.

4. Anti-bankster. The fact that the crooks attack a Federal Reserve bank makes them, if not quite sympathetic, at least not as dastardly as if they had robbed a small business like a liquor store. Ready 2 Die conveys a generalized anger at the economic plight of the country; and, without articulating any particular argument, the movie seems to be suggesting blame by flashing the Federal Reserve Bank sign during the opening robbery. Sniper is unemployed, and the fact that Smiley is behind on his house payments reminds viewers of banks’ predatory lending tactics.

3. Anti-police. Ready 2 Die evinces either indifference toward the “fucking po-po” or, if anything, actual hostility, casting them as the pesky antagonists who pursue the central characters.

2. Anti-war. Sniper expresses the nihilism of war brought home when he says that shooting at police cars and helicopters is “just like Fallujah, baby – just different motherfuckers.”

1. Racist! Ready 2 Die demonstrates as well as a movie could why even minorities have reason to fear the eventuality of their neighborhoods going majority non-white. Gangs, drugs, and scary tattoos are the norm, with mothers living in fear that their children will be murdered not by white supremacist pigs, but by members of their own wretched raza. Furthermore, blacks appear in an almost uniformly unfavorable light in the film. Sniper is one of the movie’s most coldblooded killers. “Fuck that funny-lookin’ bitch,” he excuses himself for shooting a bank teller. “She was lookin’ at me all crazy and shit.” He robs and kills because he would rather do this than “flip some burgers”. A black cop lounges around his home milking “disability”, while his misbehaving son ludicrously claims to have been suspended from school just for being black.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

The Jar

The Jar (1984) ***

Paul (Gary Wallace) is a dull, bearded man who will spend most of The Jar wandering through nightmares and staring at his surroundings with irritable angst after experiencing a fateful auto accident. The other driver, a strange old man (Les Miller), is shaken and uncommunicative, so Paul takes him home with him to his apartment. The elderly gentleman soon disappears, but leaves behind him a jar wrapped in a paper sack. Inside the jar is a little blue demon, and before very long Paul is suffering visions of his bathtub filling with blood and his shower head emitting rays of otherworldly light that transport him into a dark, rocky pit. Crystal (Karin Sjoberg), a beautiful, bright-eyed brunette with a dimpled chin, for some reason takes an interest in Paul, wants to date him, and attempts to drag this drab, unfriendly nutcase out of his madness and increasing isolation.

An offbeat, minimalist horror obscurity that will try and annoy all but the most open-minded seekers after the arcane, The Jar is a film that flouts conventions, refusing to conform to the expectations of genre buffs. People who rented the video based on the cover image of what the box describes as “a repulsive, embryonic creature” and hoped for another Gremlins (1984) or Ghoulies (1985) must have been sorely disappointed, as the thing only appears onscreen for a second or two at a time and is almost totally inanimate, to boot. Unremittingly weird and yet frequently boring, The Jar‘s most unforgivable fault is that next to nothing happens for the duration of its draggy 85 minutes.

On the plus side, The Jar has quite a few eerie moments and shows how scuzzy production values and a cast of non-professional actors can sometimes evoke more menace and atmosphere than high-dollar horror. The Jar, in a Vietnam flashback scene, also contains the most maddening helicopter noise ever heard in a film, the electronic sound design doing much to sustain viewer interest for much of this rather frustrating movie. Unsurprisingly, this was writer George Bradley’s and director Bruce Toscano’s only film.

3 out of 5 stars.

 

Getting Lucky

Getting Lucky (1990) ****

Bill (Steven Cooke) is a nerdy, liberal weenie and recycling enthusiast being bullied by the jocks at school when he fortuitously finds a recovering alcoholic leprechaun (Garry Kluger) in a beer bottle. Granted three wishes, Bill naturally wants a shot at hot cheerleader Krissi (Lezlie Z. McCraw), which brings him into intensified conflict with sadistic stud Tony (Rick McDowell), who also wants to get his paws on her. The hit-and-miss Irish magic results in such memorable moments as Bill being turned into a cat, Tony’s tennis racket coming to life and giving him a whacking, and Bill shrinking to mite size, riding a naked vixen’s bar of soap as she lathers herself, and bouncing around in Krissi’s panties and holding on for dear life in the perilous jungle of her pubes. Throw in a few quaint soft rock songs, and Getting Lucky has the makings of an 80s classic.

Admittedly, Getting Lucky, sporting its 1990 copyright, is not technically an 80s movie, but it does demonstrate nicely how the early 90s were in many instances a holdover, a culmination, or a last gasp of the 80s – and so it narrowly squeezes in as an 80s Oddities Month pick. Something of a straggler within its genre, Getting Lucky is essentially a throwback to the early-to-mid-80s variety of teen raunch comedy, a genre which had lost steam over the course of the decade, with the charming likes of Screwballs (1983) and Hot Moves (1984) having given way to lamely tame youth fare like The Allnighter (1987) and How I Got into College (1989). At the same time, Getting Lucky‘s imaginative nastiness is tempered by a sweetness and innocence that at times recalls The Virgin Queen of St. Francis High (1987).

4 out of 5 stars. Recommended to fans of films of this type.

 

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Those attracted by top-billed Danny Trejo, who plays a priest named Father Connely [sic], will be disappointed to learn that the haggard actor dies in the opening scene of this oddball Christian horror film. Likewise, Eric Roberts, the other celebrity name in the cast, has only a smallish role as the sinister Father Tollman. Whether or not The Cloth offers any other inducements will be a matter mainly of the individual viewer’s interest in religion, exorcism, and copious low-grade CGI.

Following the deaths of his parents and his disillusionment at the acquittal of a murderous drunk driver, young Jason (Kyler Willett) would be content to spend his life in hedonistic abandon, clubbing, drinking, and bagging chicks; but Father Diekman (Lassiter Holmes) has other plans for the lad. Diekman belongs to a secret order of special ops clergy, The Cloth, that wages Hellboyish war on the unholy through exorcism and spiritualized gunplay. Jason, though reluctant to join at first, becomes a convert when confronted with demons firsthand. Soon, with the salutary example of sexy but modest Laurel (Perla Rodriguez) and gunsmith Helix (Cameron White) to guide him, Jason is utilizing a silly array of Christian weaponry like holy water grenades, armor forged from materials in the Ark of the Covenant, and corny CGI firepower to dispatch the Devil’s minions.

Kyler Willett is handsome and likable enough as smart aleck hero Jason, but Lassiter Holmes, true to his name, tends rather too much toward lassitude as the boring Father Diekman, an uninspiring mentor to say the least. Rodriguez gets a lot of mileage from coyly brushing the hair from her eyes, and White lends just the right mix of class and kitsch with his English accent and tacky Christian t-shirts that say things like, “Exorcise regularly.” The dialogue does sometimes leave these actors in the lurch, however, and never rises above the mildly amusing level of, “That’s holy water – bitch.”

More damaging than any shortcomings of casting, however, are the filmmakers’ insistence on bringing to the screen effects-reliant phantasmagorias that are simply beyond the means of such a limited budget. The action sequences, too, are sometimes overly abrupt and insufficiently covered. The Cloth, consequently, is about as scary as the cover of the Louvin Brothers’ album Satan Is Real. Those interested in studying or actualizing the cavernous blackness of the Catholic imagination would do better to turn to the philosophical horrors of William Peter Blatty, The Ninth Configuration and Exorcist III, which rely on depth of atmosphere and the weight of ideas rather than special effects to keep audiences alert and entertained.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Cloth is:

11. Anti-state. As an unjust court decision demonstrates, justice is to be had not through secular law, but through the arms of a militant Church.

10. Anti-capitalistic. A priest taking diabolical bribes is unwilling to assist a poor parishioner whose contribution is understandably small. This venal villain is repaid handsomely when coins pour from his mouth in a torrent.

9. Pro-life. Jason’s father, Diekman relates, resisted the counsel to “terminate” Laurel’s life when she was possessed and instead chose to see the potential for good in her.

8. Anti-drug. Drinking and driving means accidents. Jason, a drinker at the beginning of the film, later fills his hip flask with holy water. The Devil’s possessed snort lines of cocaine.

7. Multiculturalist. Anglos and Hispanics work together more than once. “The very basis of our beliefs stems from the arrival of the Apostles from such places as Jerusalem, Africa, and even Asia.” (cf. no. 3)

6. Pro-gun. One gun owner standing in the way of the Cloth’s mission brandishes his weapon threateningly, but firearms are for the most part represented positively as indispensable implements of the Lord’s work.

5. Miscegenation-ambivalent. Jason and white-enough Hispanic cutie Laurel walk away hand-in-hand at the end, but interracial pairings of spicier stuff are strictly the province of the Devil.

4. Anti-slut/anti-gay. Good girl Laurel represents sexual modesty charmingly. Laurel, initially rejecting Jason’s advances, tells him, “My beliefs come before my own personal desires.” Fornicators are more than once destroyed by demonic power or disfigured. Cohabitation is also discouraged, as Jason’s devilish ex-girlfriend leaves an odor of sulfur in his apartment. The Devil’s hos, naturally, are promiscuous lesbos. The Cloth would also appear to frown on tattoos.

3. Racist! Clearly self-loathing black writer-director Justin Price casts himself as the demon Kasdeyah, Satan’s emissary on Earth. Minorities are disproportionately represented among the possessed (cf. no. 7).

2. Traditionalist/pro-family. Jason, though he has long resented and misunderstood his father, comes to follow in his footsteps both professionally and spiritually.

1. Christian and specifically Catholic. Latin mumbo jumbo works! Laurel, explaining away the occasional bad apple in the clergy, claims, “There’s no such thing as corruption in the Church, Jason. The only Church that has ever existed lies within.”

Naturally, everyone prefers a pleasurable moviegoing experience to a sharply unpleasant one; and yet, as adventurous, seasoned, and discriminating cinephiles already know, there is something instructive and salutary in an occasional trip to cinema’s Dark Side and a philosophically minded sojourn in the Movie House of Pain.  This is the tenebrous, nightmarish place (think Hellraiser and picture hooks and chains slowly swaying and clinking in unfathomable darkness) where nothing worthwhile is ever projected, where filth alone adorns the screen, and where Boredom and Loathing wait like lewdly lip-licking Cenobites to bind and eviscerate the viewer.  These are the experiences, after all, which give good and great movies their significance, just as, without the darkness, light itself would be impossible.

A case in point is Betty and Coretta, a Canadian-made Lifetime Network movie about Betty Shabazz (Mary J. Blige) and Coretta Scott King (Angela Bassett), the respective widows of martyred rabble rousers Malcolm X and Martin King.  Superfluous beyond belief, this most recent hosanna out of the Martin King Cult is exactly the film one would expect it to be: a stoic, vapid, stylistically sterile, and self-congratulatory cardboard reenactment of highlights from the lives of two not particularly fascinating women as they bravely continue to live their lives whole decades after the touted events that made them even tangentially relevant to anyone other than themselves – much of it punctuated, of course, by a soundtrack of the obligatory soulful moaning.

Considering the inconsequential nature of the women’s stories following their husbands’ deaths, Betty and Coretta understandably suffers from a lack of interesting event or forward narrative momentum.  Follow Coretta Scott King as she boldly faces reporters who have the nerve to question her about the FBI recordings.  Follow Betty Shabazz as she bravely raises a daughter troubled by nightmares after her father’s murder. Follow Coretta Scott King as she graciously gives multiple inspiring speeches and lobbies to get a holiday named after her husband.  Follow Betty Shabazz as she boldly hosts her own radio talk show.  Follow Coretta Scott King and Betty Shabazz as they admirably persevere, eat lunch, exchange brave mothering insights, move on up, and boldly shop for shoes together.  Betty’s public accusation that Louis Farrakhan (Alex C. Askew) had a hand in Malcolm X’s murder is as confrontational as the movie ever gets, and even this subplot fails to engage.

Worse, screenwriters Ron Hutchinson and Shem[p?] Bitterman’s script is rock-hard stale bread all the way, with Coretta Scott King sounding every time she opens her mouth as if she suspects the pious stenographers of black historical destiny may be hiding behind a curtain and recording her every word, calling her husband a “vessel for greatness” and arguing that “we need to consecrate his legacy.”  Angela Bassett’s wooden performance perfectly mirrors the empty verbiage she recites, and Malik Yoba is just as boring as Great Doctor Junior Himself.  Mary J. Blige fares better in her role, coming across much more naturally, but the dialogue does the actress no favors.  Lindsay Owen Pierre is unworthy of note as Malcolm X, and Ruby Dee, who narrates the film as a pseudo-documentary interviewee, gives evidence of incipient senility as she delivers her lines in halting, awkward syllables and sometimes even appears to read from cue cards as her eyes dart unsettlingly from side to side.

A star and a half.  Ideological Content Analysis, after being stretchered out of the Movie House of Pain like a wounded and bloodied trooper, indicates that Betty and Coretta is:

8. Pro-bastard.  Betty’s daughter keeps it real and skips the marriage bit.

7. Anti-gun.  Betty’s daughter has nightmares about men with guns.

6. Anti-miscegenation.  Betty’s daughter’s white live-in guyfriend, as if wiping his nose before offering to shake hands with Betty is not bad news enough already, also turns out to be a dastardly spy for the FBI.

5. Selectively anti-state.  The FBI is an antagonist, as are the congressmen who oppose the creation of the national King holiday.  (All the FBI probably needs, though, is a quota system, for it to become a tool for progress.)

4. Egalitarian.  Coretta campaigns for “economic justice” and identifies poverty as one of the evils plaguing America.

3. Statist/pro-NWO.  “Can you believe it?” Betty says, exasperated.  “Another round of budget cuts.  When are taxpayers gonna learn?  Pay a little now or a whole lot later.”  The film opens with witness to history Ruby Dee gushing at the momentous dedication of a King statue by President B.O.  Coretta longs for “a new world [order], a just world, a world dedicated to fayuhness and equality for awl.”  The UN is referenced as a weapon for forcing social change in America.

2. Feminist/black uber alles.  “You don’t need a man to survive,” Betty tells a student.  “You just need some trainin’ so you can get a good job.”  Addressing herself to black women, Coretta defiantly intones, “Weeee awwww a powuhful fawss.”

1. Anti-racist (i.e., pro-yawn).  Imagine that.  And yet, in an unintentional irony, as soon as Betty has enough money, she gets “a nice home, away from the city [and her fellow blacks, presumably], where Betty could give her children the sheltered life she had dreamed of.”  Still, “Every time a neighbor see us, they think we gone blow somethin’ up.”  Bigots!

BettyPin2

Witchtrap

Witchtrap (1989) ****  Writer-director Kevin Tenney’s follow-up of sorts to his 1986 masterpiece Witchboard, this 1989 effort is, as a disclaimer on the back of the VHS box warns, nonetheless “not a sequel to WITCHBOARD.”  However, like its predecessor, it does concern the depredations of an evil spirit lingering in the world of the living and is concerned, as is Witchboard, with the existence or not of God and of the supernatural.  Similar plotwise to Puppet Master 2Witchtrap is the story of a team of paranormal investigators who move into a reputedly haunted house with high-tech equipment which, they hope, will document the spooky phenomena and help rid the place of its unsavory vibes.  Unfortunately, where Witchboard succeeds through fine-tuned tension, controlled atmosphere, and an air of pervading menace, Witchtrap is totally hokey and more liable to elicit laughs than to tingle spines; but the corniness and questionable acting do at least make Witchtrap a consistently enjoyable watch and an instant inductee into the glorious 80s camp classics pantheon of horror.

Kevin Tenney’s screenplay is full of fun, by turns quick with crude and hilarious one-liners and headscratchingly odd dialogue and events.  James Quinn, returning from Witchboard, has Witchtrap‘s best role as the sarcastic, wisecracking private dick brought in to provide reluctant security for the team of paranormal investigators.  Among the latter are Rob Zapple, who turns in a serviceably nerdy wimp performance as a medium, playing possession to zany and over-the-top perfection; two interesting-looking but frankly terrible actresses, Judy Tatum and Kathleen Bailey (who played a police detective to similarly underwhelming effect in the same year’s horror comedy Night Visitor); and – appearing long enough to please her fans and get undressed – Linnea Quigley, who so enlivened Tenney’s other masterpiece Night of the Demons.  Hal Havins, another Night of the Demons alumnus, contributes funny overweight villainy as the haunted house’s caretaker, and Tenney himself, in what is easily Witchtrap‘s worst, most deadpan performance, plays the owner who hopes to turn the place into a profitable bed and breakfast.  Not a very scary movie, but guaranteed to entertain the chintzy synth horror set.   4 out of 5 stars on the funk scale.

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