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  • Treasure Chest: Screwball 70’s Porn, Kung Fu Zombies, Monte Hellman and More

    By | December 1, 2014

    Treasure Chest is a new column from film pundit Chase Whale, exploring arthouse, underground, exploitation and cult cinema released on Blu-ray and DVD from some of the most cutting edge independent distributors around the U.S. 

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    PrettyPeaches

    Pretty Peaches (Distributor: Vinegar Syndrome)

    “’Sup? Can I call you back? I have to finish reviewing this porno” is a phrase I never thought I’d say, but this sticky situation happened when I signed up to cover the Blu-ray release of Alex deRenzy’s now-revered x-rated screwball comedy, Pretty Peaches.

    Pretty Peaches was created during the golden age of of pornography, a time when sexploitation was viewed as not just smut but a real film. Watch it for the plot, too, in other words. It released in 1978 and stars Desireé Cousteau as the titular (heh) character.

    After attending her pop’s wedding, Peaches wrecks her jeep, bumps her skull and gets a case of amnesia. She then goes on a series of wild and weird romps to cure her memory. Along her journey, she meets a peculiar bunch of men and women who bask in taking full advantage of her inability to remember who she is. Since this is porn and making sense doesn’t really matter, the only way to get her memory back is to fuck anything and everyone who crosses her path. She finally regains her memory when attending an orgy where her newlywed dad is a central player. (Yeah, it gets weird.)

    Vinegar Syndrome released Pretty Peaches in its full uncut glory, including the enema-to-cure-amnesia scene cut from the VHS release. Clearly not meant to be titillating at all, this scene braids the absurd with a score that sounds like circus music or something you’d hear while watching a cop try to capture a robber in an old black and white movie. The film continues to reenforce the campy elements through silly setups for each scene involving copulation. It appears that everyone in the movie was supposed to be in a Monty Python skit but walked on the wrong set. Woops! Cousteau, while coming off as a Betty Boop-esque — innocent, sexy and clueless — projects enough charm to appreciate the tongue-in-cheek (and tongue-in-orifices) quality of it all.

    Pretty Peaches is presented in a 2K restoration from 35mm elements, but don’t worry, the sound pops and fibers-on-film are all still there and it still has that film feel. For the rest of the juicy details on this release, head to Vinegar Syndrome.

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    XmasEvil

    Christmas Evil (Distributor: Vinegar Syndrome)

    Before Silent Night, Deadly Night, Santa stalked and murdered the naughty in Lewis Jackson’s 1980 splatterfest, Christmas Evil (also known as You Better Watch Out).

    Most folks discover Santa ain’t real by way of parents telling them so. In Christmas Evil, poor little Harry Stadling finds out by watching his father have his way with his mother while dressed up as the jolly fat man on Christmas Eve. This haunts him for life, and once he’s all grown up (as Brandon Maggart) and in full psychopath mode, he obsesses about the fictional hero, eventually dressing up as St. Nick and slaying people on his bad list.

    Christmas Evil never reached the success as SNDN because it’s pretty forgettable and ho-ho-horrible, but it’s a movie that can be an energetic riot with your best buds and lots of beer. There is one notable element about this film: the final shot, in which Harry (in his Santa gear) drives off a cliff Thelma and Louise-style. The way the scene was created gives the audience the illusion that he’s flying off into space with the moon as its backdrop, just like Santa Baby and his reindeer do one night a year. It’s glorious! 

    Christmas Evil is presented in a 4K restoration from 35mm elements — the sound pops and fibers-on-film are all still there and it still has that film feel.

    Since Santa is always watching, you’ll want to head over to Vinegar Syndrome to check out the extra features and/or purchase. (Getting on his naughty list is not recommended, so do this ASAP.)

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    RawForce

    Raw Force (Distributor: Vinegar Syndrome)

    If you ever wanted to watch a movie about karate dudes who fight cannibal monks, zombie ninjas and a Charlie Chan/Hitler hybrid, boy do I have just the movie for you. It’s called Raw Force (previously known as KungFu Cannibals), and is one of the most insane movies to come out of 1982. It’s full of over-the-top gore, gratuitous nudity and every batshit insane element it needs to keep up with the batshit insane plot. 

    Raw Force follows some karate bros who board a ship to a mysterious island where other, legendary karate bros have been buried. During their cruise, they visit a brothel, fight a bunch of other karate choppers, and come across the wackiest people you should hope to never meet during your stay on this planet.

    Raw Force is the most bonkers movie I’ve seen in a long time. The movie makes zero sense — gives zero shits —  but is so outrageous, I’m willing to forgive any continuity errors it contains (which is a lot). This movie is horrible and amazing, violent and hilarious, all at the same time.

    Raw Force is presented in a 2K restoration from the 35mm negative, but don’t worry, the sound pops and fibers-on-film are all still there and it still has that film feel. For special features specs and the Buy It Right Now button, head to Vinegar Syndrome.

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    Shooting/Rider

    The Shooting / Ride in the Whirlwind (Distributor: Criterion Collection)

    On July 12, 1929, God blessed this planet with Monte Hellman. Some decades later, he’d go on to make a career for himself in American cinema. His most prominent film is Two-Lane Blacktop — a film that understands muscle cars and big egos more than any other — but some of his earlier work has finally gotten the Blu-ray restoration treatment thanks to Criterion Collection. These two films pulled the mat right out from under the western genre and did whatever they hell they wanted — they are called The Shooting and Ride in the Whirlwind.

    The Shooting and Ride in the Whirlwind were shot back-to-back, feature almost the same cast and were produced by the multi-hyphenated busy man, Roger Corman. The Shooting stars the late, great Warren Oates (Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia) as one of two cowboys who tag along with a woman (Millie Perkins, also in Ride in the Whirlwind) for some kind of revenge scheme they don’t know much about. She belittles and talks down to them, but they just want to get paid once the dirty deed is done. Later on, Jack Nicholson pops in and complicates the whole shebang.

    Ride in the Whirlwind was written by and stars Nicholson as Wes, one of three cowboys accused of a crime they didn’t commit. On their tail is a gang full of trigger-happy bandits, hoping to catch them and collect the bounty on their heads.

    It took a while, but both of this films eventually gained the cult following they so rightfully deserved for their unconventional way of western storytelling. There are no heroes and the good guy doesn’t ride off into the sunset. Both The Shooting and Ride in the Whirlwind are every cowboy’s worst nightmare. As a viewing experience, these films are dynamite at the end of a lit wick — explosive!

    Both films are presented in 4K restorations, supervised by Hellman himself. The hisses, pops and hair scratches have been removed but both still look damn good. Head over to Criterion Collection to see the rest of the features and purchase. Yee-haw!

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    Topics: Film Reviews, News | 1 Comment »

    • Steven Gaydos

      Please fix that typo at the top of this review! It’s called “The Shooting” not “The Shooter!”