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Monday, February 9, 2015

Inga (1968): A Sexual Odyssey

Inga (1968) Theatrical Poster

Soon after her mother passes away, Inga (Marie Liljedahl) is sent to stay with her aunt, Greta (Monica Strömmerstedt). Greta is an attractive middle-aged woman who only seems to be focused on two things: money and her much younger boyfriend, Karl (Casten Lassen). Unfortunately, however, Greta is broke, and without money to feed his gold digging ways, Greta risks losing Karl, too. Worse yet, Karl begins to show some interest in the pretty and significantly younger Inga, something that incites a touch of jealousy in Greta. As a way to stay financially stable as well as keep Karl by her side, Greta selfishly uses Inga as collateral, setting her up with a wealthy older man named Einar (Thomas Ungewitter) in exchange for weekly payments. This arrangement is unknown to Einar, however, as his sister is the one who set up the deal with the hope of making her brother happy.

Written and directed by Joseph Sarno, 1968’s Inga is a Swedish sexploitation film that is, at its heart, about a young, beautiful girl growing into adulthood. More so, however, it’s about a girl who will come to find herself sexually.

Inga (1968) sarno

Inga is first introduced as she gently removes a sheer chiffon peignoir to reveal a modest nightgown. She then proceeds to make her way towards a set of shelves that are placed directly in front of the audience’s perspective. Located on the shelving are a number of children's wind-up toys, which Inga curiously inspects with a wide-eyed, almost childlike curiosity. As the music box style score adds to the playfulness of the scene, Inga spends a moment with each toy, smiling whimsically at the joy these simple items bring to her at this very moment.

After this introduction, the film cuts to a kinetic opening credit sequence that consists of numerous sexually charged teenagers dancing to some groovy psychedelic music. These free-spirited teenagers come in stark contrast to what we had seen from Inga only minutes before. In fact, this opening almost serves as the impetus for the journey ahead of Inga; a young, innocent and attractive 17-year-old girl who will see a major change in her life materialize throughout the course of an 82 minute film. This change will come in the form of a sexual awakening, as her childlike innocence at the beginning of the film will slowly shed to reveal a woman who is ready to embrace her sexuality, much like the dancing teenagers seen during the opening credits.  

Inga (1968)

Inga has been labeled as a softcore film – even receiving an X rating when originally released in the US (a re-release garnered an R) – but I place a big emphasis on the word soft. There is certainly a fair amount of nudity in Inga. There are even a number of highly sexualized situations. In fact, the entire tone of the film is driven by sex, which is essentially the point of a sexploitaiton film. With that said, this is 1968, and soft for 1968 is certainly tame by modern “soft” standards. You’ll definitely see a lot more “action” if you keep your channel tuned to Cinemax late at night.

Regardless of how tame it is compared to today’s standards, Inga is certainly an extremely erotic piece of cinema, and this is especially represented by a few key sequences. One of the more notable moments being a scene where Inga is standing in front of a mirror after a shower – examining her body in a way that would indicate she is beginning to acknowledge herself as a sexual being. Soon afterwards, Inga notices Karl peeping in her window from the street below. At this point, Inga does something quite out of character, as she begins to remove her clothing to reveal her nude body before putting on a lace nightgown – and she does so right in front of the window as Karl watches. This would be a turning point for Inga, as this event sets off a masturbatiry awakening of her sexual desires as Karl furiously revs the engine of his sports car before driving away in sexual frustration.

Inga (1968) movie

Something else worth noting is that Inga's curiosity for the playful toys in the film’s opening comes to be a clear echo of her curiosity for playful sexuality, and this theme carries on throughout the film in a number of fascinating ways. For example, early on there's a scene between Greta and Karl in which Greta picks up a wind-up toy drummer, turns its key a few times, and places it back down again. As the toy drummer begins rapidly playing his drum, Greta turns to Karl and the two begin passionately kissing. The furious drumming seemingly representing the rapid heartbeat of the two lovers as they are overtaken with sexual lust. Later on in the film, as Inga (who is accompanied by Einar) is about to go to sleep, she walks over to a wind-up toy marching band, picks it up and places it next to her bed before laying down. After Einar leaves her room so she can sleep – but not after the two share an innocent kiss – Inga winds up the toy marching band and captively watches as it walks off and towards the camera. It’s as if she is watching her innocence as a child walk away, leaving her adult self behind.

Despite being a sexploitation movie, Sarno shows a lot of respect for Inga and her sexuality. Never is Inga or her sexuality exploited in a mean or nasty fashion. In fact, as a film, Inga is more a celebration of womanhood as well as a celebration of a woman's growing sexual needs and desires. The liberating and artistic approach to Inga's erotic journey towards sexual adulthood is what makes Inga such an important sexploitation film, as Inga’s excursion is presented in a fascinating fashion that never compromises her innocence nor her independence.

 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Soulmate (2013): Suicide-Crossed Lovers

Soulmate DVD Art

After losing her husband and surviving a brutal suicide attempt, Audrey (Anna Walton) relocates to a remote cabin to take some time to heal from both her physical and mental wounds. While there, however, she discovers that her new abode is filled with a horrific past of its own when she begins to hear strange sounds. 

Writer director Axelle Carolyn’s Soulmate (2013) opens with the graphic image of Audrey attempting to take her own life. It’s a visual that leaves quite a visceral impact as well as nicely sets up the unstable mindset of Audrey, who is clearly not dealing with the death of her husband all too well. Surviving by the skin of her teeth, she’s a shattered woman who could fall back into a suicidal mindset at any second. Whether it be her current state of vulnerability, the dark nature of her recent past or a mixture of the two, Audrey is left wide open to the spirit that comes to haunt her. And it is this element of the film where its biggest strength lies. On the other hand, however, there is an inconsistent tone that hinders the film, and while there are certainly moments of horror, Soulmate is far from what one would consider a proper horror film.

Soulmate 2013 Anna Walton

Soulmate takes a classic approach to creating atmosphere, and the entirety of the film’s first act is effectively creepy as a result. With a dreary English countryside filled with howling winds painting the backdrop, Soulmate is simply saturated with dread. The slow and steady camerawork paired with endless silence and impressive sound design allows the viewer to be swept up into the mystery set up early in the film. Unfortunately, however, at the point when the ghostly apparition is revealed, things take an odd turn into near romantic drama territory, something that results in the film losing any sense of fear that was previously built.

The depiction of the ghostly apparition is specifically startling in how underwhelming it is, in that it’s simply a slightly translucent guy wearing some old fashioned clothing. The interactions between the apparition and Audrey are also a little silly, but that is nearly unavoidable when talking about a ghost and human having in-depth conversations about life, love and the failed pursuit of happiness that has led them both to the point in which their lives are now. Now, as a relationship-driven, character-based ghost film, these interactions work for what they are, but the fact that the film postures as a horror piece for the first act, they are tonally problematic.

Soulmate 2013 Anna Walton 1

While Soulmate is ultimately a bit of a failure, there is still much to glean from the final product in terms of filmmaking, atmosphere and a solid performance from Anna Walton. In the end, Soulmate feels very much like a very well-made lifetime movie. And that's not necessarily a dismissive statement as much as its simply the perfect way to describe the tone of the film. It should also be a good indicator as to whether or not the film is the right choice for you or not.

You can find Soulmate on Amazon and iTunes

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Paranormal Entity (2009) En-titties Abound

paranormal entity 2009

*Disclaimer!* I wrote a handful of articles for a now defunct e-zine called BthroughZ a number of years back, and when that site went belly up, so did the reviews I wrote for it. I didn’t want to lose the articles I worked so hard to write, so here I am, reposting them here, in all their imperfection, for your mild enjoyment.

With what The Asylum is known for as a film studio - which is to take something that is successful and make a cheap carbon copy of it - Paranormal Activity must have been like finding the Lost Ark for the infamous movie company. Here is a film that only cost around 15k to make, far less than many of the films that The Asylum have taken from previously, which are generally summer blockbusters with budgets higher than a pre-Iron Man Robert Downey Jr.

Paranormal Entity is The Asylum's answer to Paranormal Activity, but from what I gather the budget was quite a bit higher than the 2009 sleeper hit, though, still much lower than the usual Asylum fare. More money doesn't necessarily mean better quality, but it does result in enough cash to get the hot chick in the film to show her breasts more than a handful of times. Still, while being far from perfect, Paranormal Entity is a surprisingly passable and sometimes even effective entry into the Cinéma vérité horror genre.

paranormal entity samantha 2009

Paranormal Entity's focus is placed on the Finley’s, a family that is dealing with the recent lose of their father, something that has resulted in the widowed Ellen (Fia Perera) trying to communicate with her recently deceased husband. Surprisingly, Ellen gets a response, but it quickly becomes apparent that the spirit she is in contact with is not that of her late husband. What starts as a small haunting quickly becomes increasingly dangerous as each day passes, with much of the spirit's attention being placed  on Ellen's daughter, Samantha (Erin Marie Hogan).

As is the case with many films of this genre, a character feels the need to try to capture all of these unnatural occurrences on tape, and that someone would be the son of the family, Thomas. Thomas sets up cameras in all three of the bedrooms as well as one in the living room in the hopes of capturing some “paranormal activity.” From that point forward, Paranormal Entity delivers everything one would expect from a low level P.A. cash-in: crosses fall off walls, sheets are pulled off of a conveniently half naked Samantha, doors slam shut, lights flicker, and the Finley family becomes increasingly frightened for their physical safety as things escalate.

paranormal entity ending 2009

While there was more money invested into Paranormal Entity, the decision to keep things minimal was the right way to go as far as recreating a film similar to the one that came to influence it. There are only three thinly-written characters (with a fourth introduced in the final act), with one of them being played by the writer, producer and director of Paranormal Entity, Shane van Dyke. This is a movie that is made in the same 'spirit' (see what I did just there?) as Paranormal Activity, but the results are mixed, showing that what Peli did was one part achievable by anyone with a camera and a buck, while another part proves that those results aren't so easily attainable by just any average Joe filmmaker.

While Paranormal Entity cannot fully deliver what its more respected brethren have, there are a few moments worthy of a solid little jolt. There’s a fair amount of static camerawork on display, which forces an automatic sense of fear and curiosity as it’s hard not to watch every little detail of each room, just waiting for something spooky to happen. The haunting moments themselves are far from stellar and can easily be done by any old schmuck with a camera and a dream. Lights flickering and TVs turning on aren't difficult things to achieve, and neither is the before mentioned covers being pulled off of Samantha, which was hysterically achieved by a very obvious fishing line.

paranormal entity ending samantha 2009

One of the big issues with Paranormal Entity, and with many films of the genre, is it has some serious downtime when there aren't any 'happenings' happening. The characters aren't all too interesting, or even likable for that matter, and there are long moments where things go down the lonely path of boring. There is a portion of Paranormal Entity where Ellen and Samantha leave their home to stay at a hotel, far from the threat of the evil presence that is plaguing them. When they leave, Thomas proceeds to spend a good (well, not literally good) fifteen minutes setting up their house with camera equipment to see if the entity will make an appearance in the absence of his mother and sister. To say this scene is boring and overly drawn out would be like claiming genital warts are not a good look.

Paranormal Entity is pretty straightforward for much of the first half. However, as the runtime ran down, exploitational elements are slowly introduced. This aspect of the film mostly involves the Samantha character, who is clearly threatened in a sexual manner by this unseen menace. As those elements become more prevalent, it also became obvious that this is an Asylum movie. Which is fine, everything needs its place, and I don't mind that place being on my TV from time to time. Nevertheless, Paranormal Entity did, at times, have a good chance at being a contender. In the end, however, the true colors shined through and kept it from fully leaving the playground in which the rest of The Asylum movies normally play.

 

Friday, October 31, 2014

A Little Pumpkin of Our Own

First of all, I want to wish you all a happy Halloween! I hope that you are able to enjoy the day of darkness to its fullest, and I also hope that you have enjoyed all the Chucktober festivities that I have provided for you throughout the month. I know it’s been a blast for me, and I am quite sad to see it all come to an end.

In any event, while wishing you a happy Halloween is a high priority, there are more important matters to deal with, specifically the birth of HALLOWBABY!!

Halloween 2014

Clara Emily House (aka my daughter) was brought into the world by my incredible (and tough as nails) mail order bride on Saturday, October 25 at 5:16 AM. Naturally, the birth of my first child is overwhelmingly amazing, and it doesn’t hurt things that she came during my favorite time of the year. It only makes the Halloween season even more special to me, and I look forward to years of Halloween themed birthday parties.

Alright, I am completely exhausted, so I don’t have the energy to keep on babbling. Once again, I hope you all have a fantastic Halloween, and please feel free to send my daughter gifts. She loves Amazon gift cards.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Rocktober Blood (1984): Death By Falsetto

Rocktober Blood

After going on a killing spree that resulted in the death of “25 rock and rollers,” musician Billy “Eye” Harper (Tray Loren) is sentenced to death. Two years later, Billy is back to take revenge on the sole survivor of his murder spree and key witness in his sentencing, Lynn (Donna Scoggins), just as she is about to go on tour with the remaining members of Billy’s old band. 

Directed by Beverly Sebastian (who also co-wrote with husband Ferd Sebastian), Rocktober Blood is completely driven by its time period. Wood paneling, random acts of aerobics, Jacuzzis, and hanging plants abound, Rocktober Blood is about as ‘80s as one film can possibly get, especially when you mix in a heavy dose of blissful falsetto. And it is this falsetto that really kicks the film off on the right foot, as right off the bat we are subjected to a recording studio performance by Billy, wherein he knocks out a batch of falsetto so intense, I needed a towel dry afterwards.  

Rocktober Blood (1984) movie review

The majority of Rocktober Blood focuses on Lynn as she prepares to kick off her band’s big Rocktober Blood tour, which consists of her taking baths, “taking Jacuzzis” and being stalked by Billy, who is seemingly back from the dead. These sporadic run-ins with Billy are a great concern for Lynn, but seeing as Billy was executed years earlier, everyone just assumes that she is simply cracking under pressure. Regardless of Lynn’s sanity, or lack thereof, someone is indeed messing with her, and whether or not it’s actually Billy or someone posing as Billy, people are getting killed along the way.

As a slasher film, Rocktober Blood hits a number of stereotypical slasher notes, albeit in an enjoyably silly fashion. There’s plenty of nudity, most of which is relegated to Scoggins, who is quite attractive despite her shockingly white ass. She certainly brings her tan line A-game. There’s some stalking, some obscene phone calls and a handful of decent kills, one of my personal favorites being a hot iron-to-the-throat, which apparently results in immediate death. Of course, what B-grade ‘80s heavy metal slasher flick would be complete without some insanely bad/amazing dialogue?! As shown in the following examples, Rocktober Blood most certainly delivers in this department:

Rocktober Blood (1984) movie review 1

Lynn: "We're are you going?”

Billy: “I got a hot date tonight.”

Lynn: “At 4:30 in the morning?”

Billy: “What can I say, she wants my bod.”

The Killer: "I want your hot, steamy pussy blood all over my face."

Lynn: “I think I am going to go take a Jacuzzi.”

Like, seriously, who takes a Jacuzzi? I take an aspirin. I take a shit, but I don’t “take” a Jacuzzi.

In any event, where Rocktober Blood flows strongest is in the musical performances that bookend the film. Unfortunately, however, outside of the incredible Billy “Eye” falsetto opening and the film’s finale, there aren’t many, if any, musical performances, which is a little unfortunate.Thankfully, the finale makes up for this by being the clear highlight of the film, in that it features a Grand Guignolesque stage performance where the killer – hidden beneath a mask – sings his heart out as he slays scantily-clad female stage performers. Naturally, considering the overall horror theme of the stage show, the audience and even the band members believe this to all be a part of the show, when in all reality people are actually being murdered on stage.

Rocktober Blood (1984) movie review 3

While lacking the qualities necessary in making what one would consider a good movie, Rocktober Blood is a thoroughly enjoyable entry into the heavy metal horror sub-genre and certainly a must see for anyone who enjoys a little ‘80s cheese. At the very least, the awesome Sorcery soundtrack should give you something to chew on for a few days, as that’s about how long the song “Rainbow Eyes” will be bouncing around in your head.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Bad Trick or Treat Ideas: Candy Corn

bad trick or treat candy ideas

Candy Corn: that white, orange and yellow “treat” that makes an appearance every Halloween season has become the bane of numerous people across this great country. Year after year, Candy Corn shows up in countless homes, only to be discarded after sitting in a dusty glass dish three months after Halloween has passed.

Made up entirely of corn syrup and sugar, no other candy is associated with Halloween more than Candy Corn.

Wait a second... let’s break that fact down a bit:

  • “Made up entirely of corn syrup and sugar” - Corn syrup and sugar happen to be two ingredients that I love.

  • “No other candy is associated with Halloween more than Candy Corn.” - Hey, I love Halloween and everything about it!

Actually, you know what? I like candy corn. From it’s eye-appealing Fall colors to its sugary ingredients, Candy Corn is the candy manifestation of Halloween. Show some respect, ya filthy animal!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Ultimate Halloween Party Music MEGA-MIX!

Halloween is right around the corner, or should I say coroner, so I think it’s about time to get this party not only started right, but quickly as well! And what better way to kick off a party of the Halloween variety is by warming up your sexy parts and digging into this Ultimate Halloween Party Music MEGA-MIX that I put together last Halloween?! The answer is there is no other way. Well, unless you take ecstasy and dance through a field of bedazzled pumpkins to the sounds of Enya. That might be a tad better.

In any, I added some new videos as well as removed a few to make this playlist an even more enjoyable MEGA-MIX, so if you and your friends (or cats) are planning a super pajama jammy jam, then I implore you to get ready to rock the night away as the days count down to Halloween!   

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