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Robert I. Hedges
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The Hot Chick (Bilingual)
The Hot Chick (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Rob Schneider
Price: CDN$ 5.97
38 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Pole Dancing Transmogrification!, Jan. 21 2004
This review is from: The Hot Chick (Bilingual) (DVD)
This is another in the series of Rob Schneider movies in which he is placed in inappropriate or impossible situations, and reacts. Consider this to be the Devil's Spawn of the 'Freaky Friday' genre. Petty thief Rob changes places with 'Jessica', the prettiest girl in school via some magical earrings, and hilarity ensues. Well, that's the theory, anyhow. Truth be told, there are some amusing and a couple of quite funny moments in the film, but overall it's pretty formulaic.
I have two favorite subplots. My favorite involves Rob (well his body with Jessica inside) becoming a gardener for Jessica's father. In this ruse, he is transformed into 'Taquito', and sports a very bad Mexican accent. They go through some ritual male bonding exercises (talking about women, playing basketball, etc.) and eventually Rob is able to save his marriage by resisting having an affair with Jessica's mother, in which Rob has the best line in the entire film when he says, while brushing off her clumsy pass: "This is so wrong in at least five different ways." I don't know why, but that really did amuse me. In the end, Rob says the right things to both parents and their love life is reborn!
My other favorite subplot is a bit more base, but basically involves Jessica learn to use a male body. This comes to a peak when she (in Rob's body, of course) tries to learn to use a urinal with the help of an elderly bathroom assistant. It's a very visual piece of shtick, but it was funny, in a base, teenage sort of way.
In the end they get the two lead characters back together and the movie's only bout of special effects gives us the Jessica to Rob pole dancing transmogrification.
This movie is very much a cookie cutter formula comedy, but it actually has a few moments of amusement to be seen. On balance, it's an OK way to pass the time if you don't want any heavy thinking involved, and it's WAY better than 'Corky Romano'!

Astro-Zombies (Widescreen)
Astro-Zombies (Widescreen)
DVD ~ Wendell Corey
Price: CDN$ 18.99
28 used & new from CDN$ 7.10

3.0 out of 5 stars No! Not The Emotional Quotient Rectifier!, Jan. 20 2004
This review is from: Astro-Zombies (Widescreen) (DVD)
Oh, where to start? The movie, co-produced by Wayne Rogers (Trapper John from M*A*S*H) is a bit difficult to follow, which is not one little bit surprising seeing that it is the directorial brainchild of Ted V. Mikels. The plot is fairly typical B movie fare, but has a few subplots and distractors to keep the viewer on their toes. The movie shows off the ample talents of Tura Satana as much as possible in the lead role of ruthless Chinese spy. She and her two henchmen (one is a Hispanic man who may be supposed to be Cuban, all we know is that he likes to dance around with his switchblade a lot, the other is a cranky old coot who reminds me of Abe Vigoda with constipation) are trying to get the secrets of lunatic scientist John Carradine's Astro Zombie project. When John enters the film, the problems start.
Carradine and his conveniently mute French Igor character, 'Franchot", work in a lab in a huge mansion bringing back people from the dead. This is not a good situation. While Tura is pretty (as are the good lab assistant women we meet later), and the spies vs. the CIA subplot is kind of interesting, as soon as they show the lab I cringe because only one thing happens there: Carradine explains every painful little bit of his procedures to Franchot is pseudo-science technobabble like "We must feed this memory circuit through the emotional quotient rectifier!" This just never ends. Apparently Wayne Rogers picked up a physics textbook, flipped to the glossary and started writing. Man, the Carradine stuff is just painful. The only thing that is good about John's lab is his equipment. He has all the bubbling test tubes, of course, but when he is doing his dirty work he straps what looks for all the world like a colander to his victims head; no doubt it has something to do with the dekrelnification redundancy circuiting of the gauss plasma ion generator of the prefrontal cortex of the brain stem. (But I digress. Of course John will tell you what it's for; I must have dozed for a second during that monologue.)
Eventually, the cops get involved and start looking for the Astro Zombies, who are, of course, on a killing spree. There are many plot cul-de-sacs to be negotiated, including my favorite which involves the absolute lamest 'exotic' dance that I have ever seen in a movie; yes, even worse than in Mikels' much better "Girl In The Gold Boots", from 1969 (and notably starring the same male lead.) The three spies lug around a radio detector thing that makes the exact same sounds as Spock's panel on Star Trek, and locate Carradine's lab. The spies try to hijack the Astro Zombies, but Carradine sees the error of his ways, and the good guys show up. For some reason the head lawman (we aren't sure what agency they are from, but are led to infer the CIA) brings his girlfriend to the bust. It is a wild melee and justice is served. I particularly like the John Carradine/Tura Satana joint death scene and the zombie with a machete.
This movie has some fun spots for bad movie fans like me. It has some hilarious scenes, like when the zombie holds a flashlight to the photocells in his forehead to get recharged. It also has some classic day/night confusion a la Ed Wood, and this is compounded by the fact that some of the film is way too dark, especially when the spies and CIA guys are having a shootout in the apartment complex (I may be wrong, but that apartment complex looks to me to be the exact same one from Mikels' later film "The Corpse Grinders". Did Ted live there?) The wacky plot and all it's needless but fun twists are big pluses, but I just couldn't give it more than three stars for the huge chunk of John Carradine rambling on about infusing the memory proteins in the hydrogen recombiners, or something like that. Good luck!

The Corpse Grinders (Widescreen Special Edition)
The Corpse Grinders (Widescreen Special Edition)
DVD ~ Sean Kenney
Offered by OMydeals
Price: CDN$ 50.72
6 used & new from CDN$ 19.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ted V. Mikels Takes On The Pet Food Industry!, Jan. 19 2004
Wow. That's all I can say after watching this, one of the silliest (and conceptually grossest) of all of Mikels' films. I am a true fan of bad movies, but I have mixed feelings on this one. On the one hand the director's commentary is very interesting, even though it's disturbing what he finds funny (no surprise there, I suppose...), and it is a fun movie to mock in a kind of 'Plan 9' way (The 'sets' of the hospital are amazingly realistic! Not!), certainly the plot is silly and fun to riff on. In essence we have a corrupt, near-bankrupt cat food magnate running the Lotus Cat Food Company who decides to cut costs by grinding up corpses, cadavers, and later his own victims. (That's a plus: it certainly beats 'downsizing'; laying off all your employees in the States and exporting their jobs overseas, as is all the managerial rage today.) The only problem is that once the cats taste human flesh, they return to their wild roots and attack their owners, killing them in the most hilarious 'attack' sequences you have ever seen. It is wonderful watching the people holding onto the killer cats for dear life, trying to keep them from running away while making it look like a life or death struggle. Eventually a doctor and nurse couple finds out what's going on and confronts the evil cat food magnate in the climactic scene.
So much for the good part. The bad part is that while very unrealistic, the movie was still gross, in a disgusting, dirty way. The repeated scene of the meat coming out of the meat grinder was not really especially gory, but it was used about a thousand times and got pretty tiresome. I like these nutty, cult movies, but I think Mikels has done better, and way more amusing, movies, such as "Girl in the Gold Boots". If you have seen that movie as well, you will note that several key people are in both movies, and in fact they were filmed in the same year.
Overall, I decided on three stars for boring gore and general amateurishness, although I debated about giving it four stars which is probably what it would deserve for most grade Z movie fans. The deciding factor, interestingly, was an extra on the DVD. The DVD has several extras including the director's commentary track, a filmography, behind the scenes pictures (don't expect too much), and a video 'tribute' to the movie by Bentmen called 'Immaculate Contraption'. I found 'Immaculate Contraption' to be the five most painful minutes of cinema viewing in my life. It was badly produced (and not in a campy, fun way), the music was wretched, and it was generally putrid. That became the tiebreaker and earned the film three stars instead of the four I originally intended. Save yourself the pain. 'Immaculate Contraption' is neither immaculate or a contraption, but it positively is rubbish.

Lonely Planet London
Lonely Planet London
by Steve Fallon
Edition: Paperback
20 used & new from CDN$ 0.09

5.0 out of 5 stars Practical and Helpful Guide to London, Jan. 18 2004
This review is from: Lonely Planet London (Paperback)
I have always been a fan of the Lonely Planet books, having recently used the Lonely Planet Iceland and Greenland book to great effect. I like this London guide because it is a nice size (easy to carry) and is full of genuinely useful information.
I particularly like the very detailed maps in the back of the book (there are 16 color maps in addition to the tube map and a few other handy things back there). The maps make planning itineraries much easier than if they are spread throughout the book. One minor quibble about the maps, though: the maps are of excellent detail, but cover relatively small geographic areas. That's ideal for detail, except for the fact that there is very little orienting information about how the various maps fit together. It's not a huge deal, but is the only real room for improvement that I saw in the book.
As far as information goes, the hotel and restaurant stuff is pretty standard fare, but the information on sights and attractions is wonderful. I am especially fond of the "Highlights and Lowlights" sections which point out the things generally of highest import to a tourist. Of course, there is substantial information on other things, but this 'do not miss' feature is great. I was also especially pleased with the detailed public transport information including the tube, trains, taxis, buses, and all five airports (and how to get to and from them.)
In short, I am really impressed with this latest edition of the Lonely Planet London book, and will definitely be packing it when I go to England next.

Footprint Reykjavik
Footprint Reykjavik
by Laura Dixon
Edition: Paperback
26 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Maximum Fun in Reykjavik!, Jan. 18 2004
This review is from: Footprint Reykjavik (Paperback)
This is a great little book, and really tells you what you need to know before a stay in Reykjavik. It is a small book, and fits into most any pocket. It is divided into useful sections like 'Sleeping' (hotels, guesthouses, etc.), 'Festivals and Events' (from Independence Day to the Icelandic Jazz Festival), and many other handy sections.
It focuses on things that are fun, historical, and/or quirky. For instance, there is an interesting and helpful commentary on Pingvellir National Park, home of the world's first elected parliament and general assembly (930 AD), and the huge geysers ("Geysir" and "Strokkur", which are, in fact, very impressive.) If you are into art there are numerous small and large art galleries and museums around Reykjavik, and this book details all the ones you might want to see (my favorite is the ASI Art Museum ([...] if you are interested), and the much stranger (and vastly creepier, yet less funny than expected) Iceland Phallogical Museum which is stuck away on Laugavegur, a key street in the main city shopping and arts district. It is just too weird to believe, but while you're there, you really owe it to yourself to visit, preferably not immediately after eating a large Mexican lunch, like I did (trust me on this one.) If you are into nightclubs, there are reviews of all of the happening places in Reykjavik, such as Club NASA. All types of transportation and lodging options (from the beautiful grand 'Hotel Borg', where I most recently stayed, to the Salvation Army Hostel accommodations for sleeping bags) are presented, and will definitely assist you in finding a place to stay that is in your budget and to your tastes.
The point of all this is simple: if you are going to visit Reykjavik, especially for the first time, you need this book. It has information that will be useful to absolutely anyone, as well as commonly called numbers, and several small but useful maps. As an aside, order it when it is in stock, it sometimes is unavailable for long periods, so grab it while you can. Don't go to Reykjavik without it.

Dracula Vs Frankenstein [Import]
Dracula Vs Frankenstein [Import]
VHS

4.0 out of 5 stars Talk About a Piece of Stinky Gouda., Jan. 17 2004
This is one Grade A, cheesy stinkfest of a film, as anyone should reasonable expect from Al Adamson, King of Gouda, as it were. I find myself curiously unable to summarize the 'plot', which very well could stem from a veritable lack of coherent story, but that's half the fun of these Grade Z classics, anyway. I do want to spend a moment here to about the qualities that make this a true prize for fans of the truly horrible monster movie genre, of which I count myself at the forefront.
Adamson didn't have much money when he made this film (obviously) so his strategy was simple: get one star and the remainder of the cast could be relatives, friends, street people, etc. In this case, poor Lon Chaney gets the nod to play the extremely cliche mute (and dumb) lab assistant to J. Carrol Naish, a wheelchair bound, garden variety mad scientist, who severs people's heads off and tried to bring them back to life. He is befriended by the worst Dracula EVER (Zandor Vorkhov), who I think looks like Frank Zappa on uppers. Dracula just happens to have a business proposition for Naish involving bringing Frankenstein's Monster back from the dead because he just happens to have part of the original monster lying around his house. Of course they do this with wires and electricity, and what emerges is a monster truly worthy of this Dracula, in other words, laughable. He appears to be the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man with extremely bad acne, whose only real power is walking like Jimmy Cagney.
Into the mix come a few meddling kids, one of whom is on a search for her little sister (actually a prisoner of Naish) and a guy she brings along, who has the ugliest pants I have ever seen in my entire life. After showing us a gratuitous Nazi motorcycle gang rape scene thwarted by Lon's ax, and a wretched 'walk on the beach' scene with an unbelievably bad piece of music, none of which has any particular relevance to the rest of the film, we get back to the central story (as it were) by having the good guys (big sister and ugly pants guy) go to the freak show where Naish works. Eventually they confront Naish, who reveals the sister, and says a bunch of stuff about her making the exactly right kind of plasma (I'm actually a bit fuzzy on the science angle of all this, sorry.) A midget carnival barker enters the fray and drops Lon Chaney's puppy into the basement, which irritates Lon, so he falls onto an ax face first in one of the lamest 'special effects' I have ever seen. This is quickly followed by Naish getting a gun, but wheeling inadvertently into his own guillotine, where, of course, he gets his head chopped off. The movie then has people running around all over the place (kind of reminiscent of the laboratory scene in "The Wild, Wild World of Batwoman") and eventually Dracula ties the big sister to an oil refinery; ugly pants guy frees her by scaring off Frankenstein's monster with a sparkler; Dracula melts the ugly pants guy with a very bad special effect beam from his ring of evil; blonde girl, the monster and Dracula all run around in the woods a while, end up at an entirely new location where the monster and Dracula fight over the girl (at least that's what I believe was happening), the girl shrieks a lot, and Dracula runs through the woods some more to a church (?), where he collapses and is burned up by the sun. OK, any questions?
Yes, it is THAT kind of movie. I am sure that there are some subtle nuances that I didn't capture in the above summary, but you get the general idea. The movie was rated "GP", which was the direst precursor to "PG" (really), and doesn't really have what I would consider realistic gore, more like gruesome tastelessness. There is a very small bit of nudity (breast) on a 'patient' in the crazy doctor's lab, but that's really the only thing objectionable. Well, except for the plot, direction, production values, casting, and continuity, anyway.
If you like cheesy bad movies, it is hard to top Adamson, and this is one of his best (worst). I gave it four stars simply because of length. It is fairly long for this type of film (I didn't time it, but trust me, it is long, or at least feels that way) and drags in a few places, notably in the running around in the woods scenes. Also contributing to the loss of one star was the dreadful music video style beach walk montage sequence, which showed mostly waves and seagulls for about three years, I mean minutes, while excremental music was being played in the background.
If you like bad, and I mean really bad, movies, this is not to be missed.

Dracula Vs Frankenstein [Import]
Dracula Vs Frankenstein [Import]
VHS

4.0 out of 5 stars Talk About a Piece of Stinky Gouda., Jan. 16 2004
This is one Grade A, cheesy stinkfest of a film, as anyone should reasonable expect from Al Adamson, King of Gouda, as it were. I find myself curiously unable to summarize the 'plot', which very well could stem from a veritable lack of coherent story, but that's half the fun of these Grade Z classics, anyway. I do want to spend a moment here to about the qualities that make this a true prize for fans of the truly horrible monster movie genre, of which I count myself at the forefront.
Adamson didn't have much money when he made this film (obviously) so his strategy was simple: get one star and the remainder of the cast could be relatives, friends, street people, etc. In this case, poor Lon Chaney gets the nod to play the extremely cliche mute (and dumb) lab assistant to J. Carrol Naish, a wheelchair bound, garden variety mad scientist, who severs people's heads off and tried to bring them back to life. He is befriended by the worst Dracula EVER (Zandor Vorkhov), who I think looks like Frank Zappa on uppers. Dracula just happens to have a business proposition for Naish involving bringing Frankenstein's Monster back from the dead because he just happens to have part of the original monster lying around his house. Of course they do this with wires and electricity, and what emerges is a monster truly worthy of this Dracula, in other words, laughable. He appears to be the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man with extremely bad acne, whose only real power is walking like Jimmy Cagney.
Into the mix come a few meddling kids, one of whom is on a search for her little sister (actually a prisoner of Naish) and a guy she brings along, who has the ugliest pants I have ever seen in my entire life. After showing us a gratuitous Nazi motorcycle gang rape scene thwarted by Lon's ax, and a wretched 'walk on the beach' scene with an unbelievably bad piece of music, none of which has any particular relevance to the rest of the film, we get back to the central story (as it were) by having the good guys (big sister and ugly pants guy) go to the freak show where Naish works. Eventually they confront Naish, who reveals the sister, and says a bunch of stuff about her making the exactly right kind of plasma (I'm actually a bit fuzzy on the science angle of all this, sorry.) A midget carnival barker enters the fray and drops Lon Chaney's puppy into the basement, which irritates Lon, so he falls onto an ax face first in one of the lamest 'special effects' I have ever seen. This is quickly followed by Naish getting a gun, but wheeling inadvertently into his own guillotine, where, of course, he gets his head chopped off. The movie then has people running around all over the place (kind of reminiscent of the laboratory scene in "The Wild, Wild World of Batwoman") and eventually Dracula ties the big sister to an oil refinery; ugly pants guy frees her by scaring off Frankenstein's monster with a sparkler; Dracula melts the ugly pants guy with a very bad special effect beam from his ring of evil; blonde girl, the monster and Dracula all run around in the woods a while, end up at an entirely new location where the monster and Dracula fight over the girl (at least that's what I believe was happening), the girl shrieks a lot, and Dracula runs through the woods some more to a church (?), where he collapses and is burned up by the sun. OK, any questions?
Yes, it is THAT kind of movie. I am sure that there are some subtle nuances that I didn't capture in the above summary, but you get the general idea. The movie was rated "GP", which was the direst precursor to "PG" (really), and doesn't really have what I would consider realistic gore, more like gruesome tastelessness. There is a very small bit of nudity (breast) on a 'patient' in the crazy doctor's lab, but that's really the only thing objectionable. Well, except for the plot, direction, production values, casting, and continuity, anyway.
If you like cheesy bad movies, it is hard to top Adamson, and this is one of his best (worst). I gave it four stars simply because of length. It is fairly long for this type of film (I didn't time it, but trust me, it is long, or at least feels that way) and drags in a few places, notably in the running around in the woods scenes. Also contributing to the loss of one star was the dreadful music video style beach walk montage sequence, which showed mostly waves and seagulls for about three years, I mean minutes, while excremental music was being played in the background.
If you like bad, and I mean really bad, movies, this is not to be missed.

Lonely Planet London
Lonely Planet London
by Lonely Planet
Edition: Map
12 used & new from CDN$ 17.55

5.0 out of 5 stars Concise and Very Useful, Jan. 14 2004
This review is from: Lonely Planet London (Map)
This is an excellent map of London. Evidently some of the tube information is a bit out of date, but aside from that minor quibble, it is a very sturdy and utilitarian map. I like that it is an accordion fold laminated card format, as it is eminently durable and near waterproof. It would be very difficult to damage.
It is particularly good to gain a 'lay of the land', particularly in the planning stages of a trip. It is quite easy to visualize where you will want to stay, visit, walk and ride. I like that it has a nice 'London walking tour' outlined, and has all prominent landmarks and points of interest clearly labeled. There is also an excellent and complete index, map of West End theatres, an inset map of inner London, and an underground map.
Overall, for initial trip and route planning as well as navigating London's sights, this is an excellent map at a bargain price!

World of Sid & Marty Krofft
World of Sid & Marty Krofft
DVD ~ Various (TV)
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 160.48
4 used & new from CDN$ 60.12

4.0 out of 5 stars We Want Chaka, Jan. 11 2004
This review is from: World of Sid & Marty Krofft (DVD)
This is a set of one each of the Sid and Marty Krofft that populated Saturday morning TV in the seventies. The shows range in quality from funny and campy (H.R. Pufnstuf, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters), to the hallucinogenically bizarre (Lidsville), to the unwatchable (Bigfoot and Wildboy.) There is definitely something here for everyone to love and hate.
I like the idea of one package with representative shows from the Krofft genre; I just wish they had in some cases picked better examples of their works. In particular, I would have expected a 'Land of the Lost' with a large presence of Sleestak and Pakunis. I don't actually recall 'Bigfoot and Wildboy' from my childhood; I sure hope the example provided isn't representative. If it is, it is easily the worst Krofft show of all time (don't miss the worst bat puppet on a string in film history.)
I am not sure what the popularity of these shows said about our national culture of 30 years ago. I personally don't believe that it was a method of emotionally escaping from the horror of Vietnam, which some academics have (no kidding) suggested (come on we were kids, we had no clue about Vietnam.) I think the appeal of these shows was just strange and enchanting (for a child) little situations and stories that amused kids. Obviously when I watch these now as an adult their cheesiness entertains, but the plots are pretty tired. Nonetheless, as with any childhood relic, they are fun to revisit (in small doses) periodically.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Bilingual)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Graham Chapman
Offered by vidsale
Price: CDN$ 24.79
17 used & new from CDN$ 14.58

5.0 out of 5 stars Ni!, Jan. 11 2004
This new packaging of the Monty Python classic is to be cherished by Python fans as much (if not more) for the extras as for the film itself. I have always been a Python fan, and must confess that I actually prefer the series to the films, but the classic scenes in this film make it a must see.
The film was shot on a shoestring budget (funded largely by rock music celebrities) in horrible, wet weather by a small cast and crew, with direction from first time directors Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam. The net result is a quasi-historical, utterly warped film about King Arthur (Graham Chapman) and his knights in their search for the Holy Grail. Many entertaining diversions follow, including encounters with the 'Knights Who Say Ni' (my very favorite part of the entire film), a killer rabbit, plus a visit to the surprisingly appealing Castle Anthrax.
The extras are what make this version so desirable. Included on the two disc set are numerous diversions, including a couple of documentaries (one made in 1974 on location, and one made for this release.) One of the highlights of this package is the documentary "The Quest for the Holy Grail Locations!" in which Terry Jones and Michael Palin take us on visits to the locations where the film was shot. It is a very interesting and entertaining documentary with footage from the movie compared with how the areas look now; of particular interest are the interior views of the castles.
Also included is a collectible film cel made for this edition and a printed copy of the screenplay, so you can follow along, or clear up hard to decipher lines. This and many other little gems on the CD's (such as two scenes from the Japanese version, and a skit in which an older Michael Palin demonstrates uses for coconuts) make this a worthwhile addition to any video library.

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