Saturday, February 4, 2012

Dear God, No! (2011)

I guess we're stuck with these faux-grindhouse movies for a while- at least until someone figures out the formula for making a real exploitation movie that doesn't verge on homage/parody. I don't really know why it is, but these recent films never quite seem "real" to me. So far, Dear God No! is near the top of the heap- I enjoyed it quite a bit and almost as much as the (often unrecognized) originator of this sub-genre, Jim Van Bebber's The Manson Family. Exactly why I enjoyed it more than something like, say, Machete I couldn't say.

Basically, the film is about a biker gang that follows up the massacre of a bunch of nuns and a rival gang in a strip club with a home invasion that goes horribly wrong. It seems the homeowner is a mad scientist of some sort (former Nazi, of course) and has his horny, demonic wife locked up in the basement, whilst a bloodthirsty bigfoot is stalking the woods outside. One thing you've got to say about these faux-grindhousers: they tend to have great synopses!

One really nice thing about the film is that we can actually call it a film accurately; it was shot on 16 mm, which sure looks a hell of a lot more like a 70s movie than digital video. I also liked the There's also a refreshing lack of CGI and a nice healthy amount of nudity, which was weirdly lacking from the Tarantino/Rodriguez double feature; back in the 70s seemingly everyone did a nude scene in film. There's also a nice lack of winks at the audience and genre in-jokes; god, I couldn't take another homage where the characters have names like "Savini" and "Carpenter"! Finally, there's a sort of gonzo, let's-throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks tone that reminds me much more of old John Waters than Troma, which is a big advantage over Hobo with a Shotgun.

Oddly enough, Dear God, No! also works better because it's meaner than cat dirt. There's something really vicious and anti-social about the film, from its disemboweled nuns to its used tampon alcoholic drinks. The filmmakers want to make us squirm, which undercuts the pleasant nostalgia that usually comes with these flicks. Admittedly, I probably could have done without the extended rape scene or the set piece with the pregnant woman getting her fetus cut out; and, yeah, there is a sort of laziness to how often the "shocks" involve a random woman getting brutalized for no apparent reason.

But, again, there's something refreshing about how mean-spirited the film is. Most of these faux grindhouse flicks come off as polite young men having a few yuks at how "politically incorrect" the old 70s movies were. This one seems like it was actually made by dementoids, and that makes a big difference.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Delta Force (1986)

Conservatives who complain about “liberal Hollywood” and it’s “propaganda” tend to forget one big exception: every friggin action movie ever made takes a right wing position. It’s really hard to imagine Rambo fighting polluters or animal poachers or taking on sexism. Generally, the heroes are stymied by liberal politicians and finally get to solve problems the only way that works: blowing shit up.

The Delta Force is Golan-Globus’s contribution to the neoconservative cause from the Israeli point of view. Luckily, this doesn’t mean there are too many didactic speeches in the film. We’re here to see Chuck Norris kick ass and the Chucker doesn’t do big speeches.

Basically, it’s one of those airplane disaster movies from the 70s with 80s militarism. A plane flying from Greece and stocked with B-movie stars like George Kennedy and Shelley Winters gets hijacked by Beirut’s swarthiest terrorists, all of whom look like they came from the central casting for angry Arabs. At the head is scenery-chewer Robert Forster and the jist of their politics is that they really don’t like Jews. This leads to a fairly dramatic bit in which the German stewardess is forced to single out the Jewish passengers and Shelley Winters makes the message of the film clear by screaming that it’s the Holocaust all over again.

Won’t anybody do something to save them? Of course. The Delta Force is sent in to Beirut to get the hostages out. The leader of the squadron is the classic leader-of-the-squadron actor Lee Marvin and the real muscle of the group is the Chucker, who has come out of an early retirement caused by those damned politicians who screw everything up. Luckily, this time, they’re letting the heroes kick some ass and there are some great car chases, gun battles, and shit being blown up real good.

Unfortunately, the Delta Force is somewhat hamstrung by the plot necessities, which lead the first half to be the tense hostage-taking scenes that build up our resentment towards the terrorists. At least half the movie is a trouble-on-a-plane story and, while it’s all good and well, we’re here to see Chuck Norris and Lee Marvin kill people. The last hour, which involves a bunker siege and has some high-tech super motorcyles finally delivers the brainless goods, thank Chuck.