Archives for posts with tag: jungle

gorillas-in-the-mist

Forget Runaway Slave (2012) or Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party (2016). Gorillas in the Mist (1988), starring Sigourney Weaver as mountain gorilla specialist Dian Fossey, is the ultimate liberals-are-the-real-racists experience on film.

Fossey is a sixties feminist freakazoid whose work with handicapped children fails to satisfy her attraction to the dysfunctional and the grotesque. Instead, she travels to the African jungle to subsist all alone on a mountain with wild gorillas and nobody but mostly unfriendly blacks for miles around. One of the zanier heroines in eighties cinema, she is something of a thematic cousin to the protagonists of Werner Herzog’s Aguirre (1972) and Fitzcarraldo (1982).

Disregarding her mentor’s warnings, Fossey, after first being spooked by one of the rampaging apes, slowly gets close and personal with a particular group of gorillas. She crawls around on the ground with them, learns to imitate their grunts, and gets to know each one of them individually. In one of the movie’s breakthrough moments, she even holds hands with one of the things and practically swoons with schoolgirl languor.

Her interactions with the black natives are far less promising. A group of soldiers ransacks her belongings and scatters her scholarly papers. The local Batwa tribesmen offend her sensibilities with their traditional hunting techniques, prompting her to sabotage their traps. Fossey capitalizes on their superstitious conviction that she is a witch by encouraging them in this impression, making them afraid of her with devilish exhibitions of voodoo.

dian-fossey

Dian Fossey, gorilla supremacist feminist icon

Eventually, after a party of poachers cuts off the head of one her apes, Fossey loses her mind and practically goes Col. Kurtz on the “wogs”, as she calls them, setting fire to grass huts and even staging a mock-lynching (!) for one of the culprits.

Gorillas in the Mist, on its surface, may only be the story of one woman, Dian Fossey. On the subtextual level, however, what is at stake is race relations. The overly optimistic idea is that, if this miracle worker, Dian Fossey, can even tame the savage heart of a wild mountain gorilla, then surely, too, there is hope that whites can live in peace with primitive blacks someday.

There is, too, an implicit imperialism of the heart about Fossey’s presumptuous shouldering of the white woman’s burden to teach the ignorant Africans how to conserve their wildlife. Maurice Jarre, most famous for composing the score to Lawrence of Arabia, was tapped to create the soundtrack to Gorillas in the Mist. Just call her Fossey of Afro-Apia!

The film’s depiction of Fossey as a woman of mingled passion and bigoted misanthropy seems to have been rather on the mark. The L.A. Times, in its notice of Fossey’s unsolved murder in 1985, noted:

“What is important is that she was the first to ‘habituate’ gorillas” to the presence of humans, said Belgian ecologist Alain Monfort, an adviser to the Rwandan Park Service. “Before that, people thought gorillas were highly dangerous,” Monfort said.

But the naturalist’s sometimes-eccentric behavior irritated both the Rwandan government and the international wildlife community. […]

In an interview at her camp in May, one of the last she gave, Fossey defended her policy of encouraging the apes to fear black Africans because nearly all poachers were black. She conceded that the policy could be branded as “racist.”

The Wall Street Journal also says this:

Fossey, who was hacked to death with a machete in her bed 16 years ago – by whom, we still do not know, though it could have been poachers, a disgruntled Rwandan servant, or even an American colleague – saw herself as a benign earth-mother to the highland gorillas she helped protect. There can be no denying her path-breaking achievements, and had it not been for her, and for the attention she attracted to the cause of the mountain gorillas, it is possible that we might, today, have been talking of those animals in the past tense.

But Fossey was also a racist alcoholic who regarded “her” gorillas as better than the African people who lived around them. Her anthropomorphization of the apes was matched by her unceasing belittlement of the area’s natives. Arguably the world’s first eco-colonialist, she habitually referred to Rwandans as “wogs,” never in all her time recruited a single black African as a researcher and even burned the crops of neighboring peasants whom she suspected let their cattle graze in the reserve.

As extreme as Gorillas in the Mist makes Fossey’s obsessiveness appear, the film constitutes a positive sanitization of her activities if her fellow primatologists Bill Weber and Amy Vedder are to be believed when they claim that Fossey “pistol-whipped a man suspected of poaching on her reserve, and then supervised his prolonged torture at her camp, including the rubbing of stinging nettles on his penis and testicles.”

The feminist conservationist icon might have missed her calling shoveling Shlomos into the ovens in a Spielberg epic, sounds like. At least Madison Grant never messed wit muh dik.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Green Inferno

Eli Roth, the sadistically grinning embodiment of the distinctly Jewish torture porn horror subgenre that flourished under George W. Bush, has never been one of this writer’s favorite moviemakers; but Rainer Chlodwig von Kook is big enough to admit when one of his cultural adversaries knocks one out of the park – one severed head, that is. Cannibalism, as practiced in remote and exotic places, naturally lends itself to action and horror cinema; and the cannibal film, which has an affinity with the “Mondo” genre, flourished especially in Italy in the seventies and eighties, producing such classics of controversy as Cannibal Holocaust (1980) and Cannibal Ferox (1981). It makes perfect sense that unredeemed gorehound Roth would eventually turn his attention to the limitless potentials of the Amazon rainforest to generate compelling and grotesque stories. The Green Inferno is Roth’s homage to Ruggero Deodato and all of the other filmmakers who stalked the forest before him.

Lorenza Izzo plays Justine, a naïve university student who finds herself drawn to a messianic community organizer named Alejandro (Ariel Levy). Wanting to feel that she can give something of value back to the world, but also hoping to spend more time with Alejandro, Justine signs on to accompany a group of volunteers to the jungle to stop a construction project from destroying the indigenous way of life. Once the rag-tag team of idealists has scored its media coup, however, the group finds itself in a world of pain when the local gut-munchers mistake them for the developers they had come to oppose. Worse, the mysterious Alejandro might not be the saintly soul they imagined when they began their journey. Drenched in jungle colors and the epic production values that can only be found in the natural world, Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno is a literally eye-gobbling experience!

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Green Inferno is:

5. Anti-gun.These are our guns,” says Alejandro as he brandishes a cell phone. The idea is that citizen journalism renders armed self-defense unnecessary. Justine has learned a lesson at the end of the film and prevents a mercenary from shooting her by convincing him that she has him on camera.

4. Politically incorrect. “Honestly, I hope they starve to death,” says frivolous college girl Kaycee (Sky Ferreira) of fellow students enduring a hunger strike out of solidarity with the school’s benefit-bereft janitors. (The Green Inferno, though not released until 2015, was finished in 2013, and there is an Occupy Wall Street feel to the film’s Ché shirt milieu.) She also taunts one of the hunger strikers with a big bagel. “Activism is so fucking gay,” Kaycee declares. Roth, in his audio commentary, indicates that Kaycee is “the voice of realism” in The Green Inferno. Her cynicism prevents her from taking any interest in the jungle expedition from which so few of her peers will return. The primitives are literally redskins who paint themselves with a bright red pigment, so that their communal practices can be read as a skewering of communism as ideological cannibalism. (See the Charlton Heston western Arrowhead for another example of redskins as subtexual commies.) “Maybe we’d have a chance [against the natives] if we hadn’t blown up the bulldozers,” one of the activists laments. Despite the story essentially being one of liberals mugged by reality and confronted with the ignoble nature of the savages they adore, Justine maintains the lie after returning to civilization. “I never felt afraid when I was with them,” she says. Justine even claims the natives saved her. Lefties, the movie suggests, will stoop to feeding false information to the public so as to perpetuate the myth of turd world people’s saintliness.

3. Pro-drug. A bag of powerful weed comes in handy once the activists are prisoners. They stuff it down the throat of one of their dead comrades, so that, when the natives inevitably cook her, they all get high and mellow, allowing for an escape attempt. Unfortunately, the natives also get a giggly case of the cannibal munchies.

2. Cynical and conspiracist. Alejandro, a representative SJW, is revealed to be an unfeeling cad and unconcerned with the safety of his fellows. Confronted with one of The Green Inferno’s worst atrocities, he proceeds to masturbate in order to ensure that he can “think clearly”. The whole expedition on which he has led the group turns out to be a ruse. Instead of being motivated by the dignity of the rainforest or the rights of its indigenous peoples, Alejandro is actually in the employ of a rival developer looking to frustrate a competitor’s project. “Everything’s connected,” Alejandro explains. “The good guys and the bad guys. You think the U.S. government didn’t allow 9/11 to happen? You think the war on drugs is something real?” Understandably, given Roth’s racial background, he situates 9/11 in LIHOP Land and has nothing to say about Larry Silverstein, Dov Zakheim, Odigo, or the celebrants spotted at the Doric Apartments in Union City, New Jersey, on the morning of September 11, 2001. Oil, it is suggested elsewhere in the film, is what motivates U.S. foreign policy.

1. Judeo-obscurantist. “The only things those posers care about is looking like they care,” fumes Kaycee. “It’s just some weird demonstration to appease that fucking white stupid suburban Jewish guilt. Hi, I’m Jewish,” she quickly explains, displaying her Star of David pendant to a passerby. “I’m allowed to say that.” Roth would have viewers believe that Jews are “white” and that their “social justice” agitation is motivated by “Jewish guilt” rather than hatred of Europeans and conscious promotion of social chaos.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Cannibal Mercenary

Mercenary aka Cannibal Mercenary (1983) ****

This Thai film, titled to capitalize on the success of then-recent Italian gut-munching horrors Cannibal Holocaust (1980) and Cannibal Ferox (1981), finds a ragtag team of sleazy and mentally damaged mercenaries venturing into VC-infested territory to assassinate a drug kingpin who commands an army of “Draculas”, cannibal tribesmen sort of like Indochinese hillbillies.

Clearly inspired by Apocalypse Now (1979), Mercenary opens with post-traumatic battle flashbacks intermingled with a shot of a ceiling fan like the one that transfixes Martin Sheen. After a little hokey, English-dubbed melodrama to set the plot in motion, Mercenary gets down to business – and brutal, nasty business it is, with the outnumbered protagonists encountering the Viet Cong, quicksand, booby traps, and (speaking of booby traps) a treacherous, manipulative jungle bitch who threatens the cohesiveness of the group.

Idiosyncratically edited, Mercenary has scenes of high-stress, noisy, tension-ratcheting quick cuts that appear to be designed to strain the viewer’s nerves to the breaking point, such as when a henchman threatens to waste a whining kid and initiates a death countdown. Standout imagery includes a beheading, eye-gouging, maggot-eating, face-urinating, a skull being split open by a spike, and subsequent hungry brain-gobbling. Horror watchers will also enjoy the tacky, uncredited appropriation of Goblin’s music from Dawn of the Dead (1978). Recommended to cannibal movie videovores and other perverts, who, however, should not get their hopes up about seeing the pictured Aryan super soldier spring into battle, as no such figure appears in Mercenary, an all-Asian affair, alas.

4 out of 5 stars.

Devastator

The Devastator (1986) ****

Directed by low-budget action specialist Cirio H. Santiago, a master of what Joe Bob Briggs has termed the “exploding bamboo” subgenre, The Devastator is yet another generic 80s ‘Nam vet vigilante movie – or, in other words, a classic! Richard Hill, better known for playing the title part in Deathstalker (1983), stars as Deacon Porter, a vet who just wants to get on with his life, but finds himself thrust back into the fray when his old commanding officer is murdered. In the rural California community of King’s Ransom, drug lord Carey (Crofton Hardester) rules his roost with a hell-raising paramilitary force and even has the sheriff (Kaz Garas) on his payroll. When Deacon and a few of his ex-soldier buddies assemble in town, however, Carey’s days of 80s drug tyranny are numbered.

Not much in the way of plot, The Devastator is primarily wall-to-wall action – largely set to chintzy synthesizer music – with some truly impressive stunt work along the way. The most fun, however, is probably to be had from Deacon’s burly compatriot Ox (Jack Daniels!), a growling party animal who greets his old teammate by punching a hole through his door (!) and who clearly delights in over-the-top mayhem for the kicks. The villain has a healthy, thriving marijuana field, which, when Ox assaults it and sets it on fire, results in an even more humongous marijuana holocaust than the one in Up in Smoke (1978) – that, and a funny variation on Duvall’s famous line from Apocalypse Now (1979), with Ox taking big, deep breaths of the stuff and exulting like some victorious barbarian.

Rock-jawed Hill is only so-so in the charisma department, but with his muscular build the actor definitely has the look of the all-American action hero. Jack Daniels, as noted, is quite the hoot as Ox, while foxy item Katt Shea, who co-stars as Hill’s love interest, spunky gas pump attendant Audrey, would go on shortly after The Devastator to become a director of some note, creating stylish thrillers like Stripped to Kill (1987) and Streets (1990). The Devastator would make a perfect double feature with funky Gary Busey actioner Eye of the Tiger (1986), an entry to which this programmer bears a thematic resemblance. 

4 stars. Check it out!

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Better than might be expected for a low-budget science fiction adventure out of cut-rate genre studio The Asylum, director Thunder Levin’s AE: Apocalypse Earth is an entertaining and tolerably paced concoction that might best be described as Predator meets The Mysterious Island, with a dash of Star Trek added for flavor.  Adrian Paul, looking every bit as handsome and virile as when he starred in the Highlander television series, stars as the unfortunately named Frank Baum, a military man who leads a group of refugees from an outer space “ark” after Earth is overrun by alien “chameleons”. Also in the group is spaceship pilot Captain Crowe (Richard Grieco), camo-skinned jungle woman Lea (Bali Rodriguez), and a gaggle of nondescript space-fillers who tag along.

AE unsuccessfully attempts to conceal that the planet on which they have landed is Earth hundreds of years after invasion and climate change have caused its lifeforms to evolve in striking ways, so that the Planet of the Apes style revelation of the ending has been obvious all along, arguably given away even by the film’s title, and carries none of the intended impact.  Despite this shortcoming, AE succeeds as a decent afternoon’s home entertainment matinee if viewers are willing to be lenient with the abundantly unconvincing CGI creatures and spacecraft. The picturesque Costa Rica locations lend a great deal of production value, and the costume design, particularly for the sexy Lea and the albino cave-dwellers, enhances the look of the film as well.

3 out of 5 stars.  Ideological Content Analysis indicates that AE: Apocalypse Earth is:

7. Anti-drone.  Aliens use the things like hunting dogs.

6. Feminist.  Lea lives and hunts alone and is capable of taking care of herself.

5. Pro-military.  Soldiers are depicted as noble and selfless servants of humanity.

4. Pro-NWO.  In the future, America is protected by the “North American Joint Military.”

3. Anti-racist/anti-white/anti-Christian.  Representing WASPs are a tribe of bald (i.e., skinhead), bigoted, and generally unprogressive albino cave-dwellers who have cast out Lea because she was born different. Having reverted to primitive superstition in their isolation, they believe those unlike themselves to be demons.

2. Multiculturalist/pro-miscegenation.  Baum gets the hots for humanoid Lea, the most beautiful woman he has ever seen.  A multi-ethnic band of survivors works together against the invaders – but the old sacrificial Negro convention lives!

1. Green.  “Most of the water on Earth is polluted.”  A “runaway greenhouse effect” has covered the planet with jungle and mutated the flora and fauna.  And Lea, the next step in human evolution, has literally turned green!

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