Archives for posts with tag: Tom Savini

Machete Kills poster

Rodriguez’s most recent contribution to the Mexploitation subgenre, Machete Kills is exactly the movie one would expect it to be: a shallow, self-congratulatorily hip, and hyperviolent celebration of Mexican ethnic pride and muscle-flexing Reconquista. Danny Trejo reprises the role of the righteous butcher who in this sequel accepts a presidential offer of American citizenship in exchange for stopping a cataclysmic missile strike on Washington. Machete Kills is sufficiently fast-paced to ward off snores, but the cartoonish tone and the flippant approach to the violence keep it from generating any emotional interest or genuine suspense. One hopes for the sake of the future of film that this big-budget B-movie brand of Tarantinoid, winking, self-aware exploitation fetishism has almost run its course.

3 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Machete Kills is:

13. State-skeptical. “Justice and law aren’t always the same thing.”

12. Anti-military. Corrupt soldiers sell government-issue arms to a drug cartel.

11. Anti-family. A whore recounts how her father raped her. (see also no. 2)

10. Drug-ambivalent. Machete “don’t smoke”, but lights a bazooka like a bong. The drug cartels are his enemies.

9. Pro-miscegenation. Can anyone blame Miss San Antonio (Amber Heard) for being unable to resist Machete’s haggard, wrinkly, and humorless Aztec charms?

8. Anti-gun. Machete prefers blades. A campaign commercial associates Second Amendment advocacy with pork spending on military hardware. The principal villain, Voz (Mel Gibson), is a firearms manufacturer.

7. Globalist and war-ambivalent. “This isn’t about Mexico no more. It’s about the world.” Voz reveals he has installed puppet troublemakers in North Korea and Russia so as to pump government interest in his military wares. While there is truth in the notion that international bogeys are frequently manufactured as pretexts for war, Machete Kills endorses the neocon worldview to the extent that it accepts that Russia and North Korea are legitimately threatening to American national security. “Fuck world peace,” says Miss San Antonio.

6. Feminist. “Don’t call me sweetheart,” bristles Sartana (Jessica Alba) before gunning down a male chauvinist pig. Machete Kills milks the tired non-novelty of women acting tough and shooting their mouths and machine-guns, which here include weapons mounted on the bosom and crotch. Interestingly, the long tradition of sexual violence directed exclusively at the male genitalia finally seems to be coming home to haunt the feminists in the form of the sickening “pussy punch”. Only girls are allowed to play this dirty hand, however. (see also no. 2)

5. Anti-Christian. Voz looks forward to a day when “kingdom comes”. White supremacist Sheriff Doakes uses expressions like “Amen” and “Hallelujah”. Assassin the Chameleon (a shapeshifter portrayed at different points in the film by Walter Goggins, Cuba Gooding, Lady Gaga, and Antonio Banderas) drives a truck called the “Holy Roller”, with kitschy religious knickknacks on the dashboard. “Preach it, Sister,” says villainess Miss San Antonio.

4. Anti-white. Whites – surprise, surprise! – are the bad guys. Those who, like Sheriff Joe Arpaio, concern themselves with America’s sovereignty and security, are represented in Machete Kills by the likes of the dopey Minutemen-like “Freedom Force” and Sheriff Doakes (William Sadler), who calls Mexicans things like “taco” and “beaner”. Voz plans to abscond into outer space with a load of Mexicans to serve him as slave labor. Blonde beauty and secret agent Miss San Antonio lives up to her hair color and turns out to be a traitoress. The decision to cast Mel Gibson, with his off-screen baggage of accusations of anti-Semitism and bigotry, as supervillain Voz reinforces the anti-white/anti-racist theme.

3. Pro-amnesty. Machete is Mexico, observes President Rathcock (Charlie Sheen), who by offering citizenship to Machete is in effect endorsing the wholesale naturalization of everybody south of the border. “Even Jesus couldn’t get through that damn wall.” Sadly, many of the ignorant dupes who see this movie will probably be led to believe that there actually is a wall protecting the U.S. from turd world invasion.

2. Anti-human. The title says it all, with enough red splattering to paint a barn. In addition, Miss San Antonio in her pageant speech endorses “a woman’s right to choose.”

1. Razist. “You fucked with the wrong Mexican.”

Till Death Do We Scare

Till Death Do We Scare (1982) ****

Poor Irene (Olivia Cheng) – every man she marries dies as soon as they tie the knot! Fortunately (?), her three dead husbands, who loiter around the house as ghosts, want Irene to be happy, so they determine to locate another, hopefully more durable husband for her and pick incompetent radio horror show host Alan (Alan Tam). What follows is essentially a series of slapstick shenanigans as the ghosts, invisible to Irene and Alan, pull various stunts to bring the couple together. Complicating matters are the machinations of evil spirits who would prefer to see Alan dead. 

Till Death Do We Scare is typical fare for the Chinese ghost comedy genre, but with the odd, added attraction of stretchy Beetlejuice-style special effects by none other than Tom Savini. The best comic set piece in the movie is probably the haunted chair that refuses to let fat guy Eric Tsang sit in it; but other highlights include a deflatable ghost face, an animated pig’s head on buffet table, a decomposing princess with amorous intentions, and an unfortunate sucker who rolls down a hill and gets flattened by a steamroller. Till Death Do We Scare has the madcap energy viewers have come to expect of the Hong Kong film industry in the eighties, and should please devotees of the Chinese horror comedy.

4 out of 5 stars.

Breakfast

Vampire’s Breakfast (1987) ***1/2

Fat Piao (Kent Cheng) is a portly Hong Kong photojournalist investigating a series of what appear to be vampire murders, but police refuse to believe his stories, and only a sleazy thief (Keith Kwan) is willing to help him. Vampire’s Breakfast, like The Haunted Cop Shop (1987), is not a typical indigenous Chinese hopping vampire movie, but a horror hybrid featuring a rotten-looking blond Caucasian bloodsucker (Simon Willson) with the usual western susceptibilities to crucifixes and wooden stakes – or, as the subtitles would have it, a “mahogany nail”. Pretty, pouty Emily Chu, whom action enthusiasts may remember from John Woo’s classic A Better Tomorrow (1986), adds a deal of grace as Piao’s love interest, Angie, while Parkman Wong contributes irksome antagonism as skeptical Inspector Chen.

The movie drags a bit in the middle, but does feature a handful of suspenseful sequences, generally drenched in creepy blue moonlight and city shadows. A clandestine visit to a morgue makes for one of the more memorable scenes, while a spurting decapitation at the end should please gorehounds. One does wish, however, that the nastiness of one early scene in a strip club had been sustained throughout the film. Veteran viewers of Hong Kong horror will probably enjoy Vampire’s Breakfast, but prissier audiences accustomed to Criterion disc production standards are hereby warned that the subtitles on the Fortune Star DVD release are more than usually sloppy, resulting in lines of dialogue like, “Tow big eyes were ataring at me”.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

Vampire’s Breakfast trailer

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