Machete Kills


Last week, in my review of Argento’s Dracula 3D, I wrote: “For me, there are 3 basic levels that I can enjoy a movie on.  The first level is how good it is.  The acting, story, cinematography, direction, and originality of it.  Is it clever?  Charming?  Interesting?  Does it have anything to say?  Some movies knock several of these out of the ball park, and those are great movies.
If it fails the first level, then we drop down to the second level- does it have at least one or two of the above things done well enough that it makes up for lacking in the others?  There’s a lot of fairly bad movies that can at least craft a good atmosphere, or have a clever twist, or good comic timing; something cool about it.
Failing the above two levels, the last one is if it’s at least entertaining in some way.  Is it fun?  Over the top?  Charismatic?  Does it pack a ton of crazy shit in it to  make up for the bad story and acting?  Or is it at least so bad it’s ridiculous, and therefore fun to laugh at?”.  
Machete Kills is totally a 100% perfect example of the third level.  It has everything (except subtlety and realism)- more beheadings and machete kills than any Friday the 13th, crazy, over the top violence and characters, tough ass chics, a wild sense of humor, disembowelments, death by helicopter blade, boob guns, a laser that when you’re shot by it turns you inside out, gratuitous everything, someone getting shot about every 45 seconds, and Tom Savini.  So tho it’s not exactly a well put together cinematic cultural treasure, it’s entertaining and fun.

It did T E R R I B L E at the box office, but I recommend it.  I saw it at a bargain matinee, and I didn’t feel like I wasted my money.  You just have to have a good sense of humor and be in the mood for an over-the-top fun goofy violent grindhouse movie.

The story is about Machete Cortez, who fights evil, corruption, and the Mexican drug cartels every chance he gets.  When a terrorist with a nuclear bomb aims it at the White House, the President (Charlie Sheen) calls him up to go kill the terrorists.  He runs into trouble when the terrorist turns out to have a split personality (one good and one bad personality) and wires the bomb into a heart monitor that will send it off to the White House if his heart rate stops.  They also have to deal with a gang of heavily armed angry prostitutes and am assassin named El Camelion who can change his appearance almost to a supernatural degree (played by Waltor Goggins (from Predators and Django Unchained), Cuba Gooding, Jr, and Lady Gaga), before they finally meet the nefarious mind who masterminded the whole thing.

You can’t take this movie seriously, of course.  It’s along the lines of absolutely awesome movies like The Toxic Avenger and Street Trash, only a lot cleaner (and with more money and cgi, so not as cool).  It’s unbelievable and over the top and funny, and I enjoyed it (I liked it better than the first Machete, or director Robert Rodriguez’s grindhouse tribute he did with Quentin Tarantino Grindhouse, which I liked ok (mostly for the stuff before and between the movies).  It could have used a little more substance, instead of blowing from one zany action piece to another (just a nice moment here and there for it to all sink in), and was a little preachy in a couple of places (but not too bad or unwarranted), but entertaining enough for the likes of me.


It’s too bad it did so bad at the box office with all the crap out there that should be doing worse, but you know what they say.  There’s no accounting for taste…

October Horror Reviewzine-A-Thon 1 (feat Psycho Video, City Morgue, & Lifestyles of the Bodily Dismembered)

What do people want to do in October?  Most people I know get ready for Halloween, in many different ways.  Personally, I like to watch more horror movies than usual, and listen to spooky music and look at Halloween areas in stores, post creepy art, stuff like that.  I believe most people agree on the watching horror movies bit, at least (more horror movies are released and consumed this time of year than any other).  But the question is, what movies do you want to watch?  For every good horror movie, there are tons of bad and mediocre ones.  Why go into it uninformed when so many people passionate about their horror (as well as gore/ sleaze/ trash/ exploitation films) love to tell about them?

The next question is  where do you want to read about them?  Who’s opinion do you trust?  There are hundreds of blogs and websites dedicated to reviewing and discussing these kinds of movies, but for real passion, you need to go back to the days of underground ‘zine publishing, when you had to really make an effort to find a good off-the-beaten-path movie.  Making a blog is easy- the people putting out these ‘zines had to take a lot of time and money to get their love of horror and exploitation movies out to a viewing public.  So to help you find some good movies to rent this Halloween, I’m going to present 3 old relics of the underground reviewzine publishing era.

At PMT, we usually focus on ‘zines that have more in them than just reviews (interviews and thoughtful articles, filmographys and things like that).  But there were also movie reviewzines around back then, that were 99% nothing but movie reviews without all the articles and claptrap to get in the way of telling you how much a movie ruled or sucked.  Movie reviewzines were incredibly prevalent in the late ’80s/ early ’90s, and I have a ton of them.  Most of them were pretty mediocre, without much style or knowledge put into them.  Most of them also reviewed all the same movies.  The best you could hope for was one that had at least a couple of reviews of movies you hadn’t seen or heard of and could seek out.
Some, however, worked hard to write interesting reviews and had writers and editors with colorful personalities who you enjoyed reading.  Usually these were also put out fairly often, and were smaller and cheaper (around a dollar each or even free).  Many of these went on to become well known in the underground film ‘zine scene, and transformed into more than mere reviewzines.  Titles such as Gore Gazette, Stink, and Psychotronic Video (all of which started out local in NYC, being given away free or cheap in the Times Square area, where they showed a lot of these movies) got their start as thin (sometimes one page) reviewzines.  You got to know the writers and it was more like a (possibly drunk) friend telling you their take on whatever movies were being reviewed that month.

This month, to help you guys choose your movies to watch for October, I’m going to pick a bunch of reviewzines of varying degrees of temperment and literary competency from my big box of them at random, and put them up on PMT so you, the reader, will have plenty of reviews from the bygone trashy era to peruse at your leisure.  I don’t know where these writers are now, but their reviews live on from beyond the trash heap to inform and inspire.

The first one we’re going to focus on is one of the better ones- Psycho Video vol. 1, #5.  Most of the reviews were long and involved, but still written from a non-academic (and non-pretentious sounding) angle.  The staff all had a great sense of humor (notice their reaction to getting slagged pretty hard in the great (and sorely missed) Film Threat magazine in this issue), and this ‘zine had a lot more reviews of movies I had not seen or heard of than most of the reviewzines out at the time (I still haven’t seen a lot of the movies reviewed in this issue).
Above average.  Here’s some pages:

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This next one is far more typical of your average reviewzine- Lifestyles of the Bodily Dismembered (nice name, tho).  The reviews are amateurishly written, and very little attempt at literacy or trivia dropping or even spelling and punctuation has been made.   The main difference between this one and other reviewzines are the band interviews.  The movies reviewed are fairly typical but there are a few lesser known ones in there.  I believe it was mostly distributed in the St Paul, Minn area.  It features several longer, more in depth reviews of movies they liked, and a whole bunch of short, blurb type reviews that don’t waste your time for movies they weren’t as impressed with.

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Lastly, we have City Morgue #5, a mean spirited and nasty little reviewzine from Michigan.  Most ‘zines I have more than one issue of, but I only have this one single issue of City Morgue, so I can’t comment on how it evolved.  I can say that the editor comes off as a bit of a sexist/ racist cretin (which is probably why I only got one issue), trying to sound gruff and anti-P.C. (aping people like Rick Sullivan and especially Nick the Yak (he even says Nick’s line he used to use all the time “It’s your money!”)) but coming off as pretty pathetic.  Most of the movies reviewed (with a couple of exceptions) are the same ones most everyone reviewed around that time.  Here’s a few pages for your perusal:

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Hopefully you read some reviews and found some new movies to watch (or avoid) for the Halloween season.  Or at the least, got to see some more exhibits in the history of post modern trashaeology preserved in all their harsh, misspelled, imperfect and borderline racist (at times) glory…


European Trash Cinema Vol. 2 #1

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European Trash Cinema was a pretty long running ‘zine put out by my neighbor Craig Ledbetter which focused on sleazy trashy action, horror, and erotica films (as well as other independent, low budget type films- westerns and even dramas and romances) from Europe (NO American films allowed).
It started off as a few photocopied pages, but by the time this issue came out, it was digest sized and professionally printed (it would later come out as comic book sized and in color).
It differed from other underground ‘zines in that it featured a lot of different reviewers and writers (instead of one or two people doing it all- this issue even included a review by Steve Bissette), and was mostly just reviews at this point (plus they’d feature an underground European director’s discography each issue- remember that at this time, there was no internet or internet movie database- we counted on resources like this to inform us on hard to find foreign directors and movies (lots of which were released under different names and pseudonyms) ), but they started doing bigger features and interviews later.

This issue was very Joe D’Amato (who editor Ledbetter calls a “hack”) centric (including several Emanuelle reviews and a filmography).

I planned on putting this up last week for a remembrance of Jess Franco’s death (yes I know Jess wasn’t featured in this issue, but he was covered in several issues of ETC, and is the exact example of the type of filmmaker they focused on), but for varuous reasons didn’t, so here it is now:

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Gore Gazette #100

Gore Gazette was a very long running (made it to 110 issues) horror/ gore/ exploitation/ grindhouse ‘zine.  Each issue was fairly short, but most o them were free.  Editor Rick Sullivan went to all the grindhouse movies in New Jersey and New York throughout the ’80s and early ’90s, and wrote about the movies he saw there in this ‘zine.  This was back before most every underground/ cult/ offbeat/ short run gore and exploitation film was easily available on dvd or written about online, and people would read through Gore Gazette then seek out the hard-to-find movies he wrote about.  He also wrote about more mainstream movies (really most any movie he went and saw), and the writing style was very down-to-earth and sleazy (and VERY anti-P.C..  You didn’t read Gore Gazette if you were easily offended).

The 100th issue featured the usual assortment of news, reviews, commentary, and insults plus a list of every horror movie that had been released in New York City from 1980 to 1990.   It was newspaper sized (4 pages) and printed on newsprint.


Stink ‘zine #65


Stink was a sick fixture in the sleaze/ gore/ exploitation flick ‘zine culture, and was produced quite regularly by it’s creator/ editor Nick the Yak.  The issues weren’t very big, but were packed full of tons of reviews and other content lovingly dedicated to all things violent and sleazy.

Nick’s reviews were unpretentious and to the point and written from the point of view of a regular slob who just wants to see entertaining movies with lots of violence and nudity (basically, most of us).  He later became a born again Christian and quit doing Stink, but I believe that didn’t last too long (the Christian thing- I don’t think he ever started Stink back up after that).

This was the ‘biggest issue ever’, and at 34 pages, possibly the biggest one they ever did. It features several pages of movie reviews, plus some music and ‘zine reviews; a report on their collection of sick shorts they were shooting/ compiling (I wonder if they ever got finished?); full page articles/ reviews of the movies Basket Case 2, Beverly Hills Girls, and Violent Shit; a report from that year’s ‘Fangoria Weekend of Horrors’ convention, a piece on that issue’s ‘Hellhoney’ Brinke Stevens (who I recently saw in a terrible newer straight-to-dvd quickie called Dead Clowns– don’t get it.  Boooooriiinnng!) and former Hellhoney Michelle Bauer (back by popular demand); part 2 of a sicko fictional tale; a comparison of Henry: Portrait of a Serial KillerNekromantik, and Violent Shit (“which is sicker?”); and a couple of pages of old school grindhouse ads.

I miss old ‘zines like Stink– we could use their candor and non-snobbish approach to reviewing movies and non-apologetic cinematic bottom feeding.  It’s fun and entertaining.  Now go watch something sleazy and so-bad-it’s-good entertaining for ole Nick the Yak.

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Trash Compactor ‘zine vol 2 #5

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Trash Compactor was a Canadian film ‘zine that came out in the late ’80s/ early ’90s, and unlike most other ‘zines every issue had a theme.  Some of the themes included ‘Obnoxious Hippy Movies’, ‘Gay Movies and Culture’ and ‘Made In Japan’.

This issue we’re focusing on centered around actor/ producer John Ashley (Apocalypse Now!How To Make a Monster2001: A Space OdysseyFrankenstein’s DaughterHell On WheelsThe Big Doll House, tons more), and includes several articles on him (including a biography and top 10 film reviews), filmography, and even a recent (at the time) interview.  On top of that, it also includes some art (contributed by readers?  It doesn’t really say), a few other movie reviews (besides the John Ashley ones), some ‘zine reviews (including my old ‘zine Chunk Blower), part 2 of an article about comic artist Basil Wolverton, and an article on Charles Schulz.  44 pages in all.

The writing in it is a little dry and academic, which isn’t my preference, but it was still a fairly nifty little ‘zine…

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