The ISCFC vs. The Internet (part 2)

This is still what I think of the internet

 

This is the second in an ongoing series where we tell you about what our writers have been doing for other sites. Well, I recently moved to St Louis, and while there found out about the excellent site “We Are Movie Geeks”, a fount of knowledge about all things St Louis movie-related. Upcoming arthouse shows, reviews of new blockbusters, giveaways…and now stuff from me, starting with an overview of the movies of Andy Sidaris!

 

http://www.wearemoviegeeks.com/2017/03/girls-guns-g-strings-andy-sidaris-legend-cult-cinema/

 

Please go and read their site, it’s really good, and not just if you’re local like me. And if you do, you can expect more of these director overviews from me, with Len Kabasinski pencilled in as next month’s.

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Interview: Len Kabasinski

We are unashamed Len Kabasinski fans here at the ISCFC. With small budgets and whatever time he can grab, he’s made a series of extremely entertaining genre movies, from “Swamp Zombies” (which we loved) to “Fist Of The Vampire” to “Apocalypse Female Warriors” (brilliant), among many more. “Angel of Reckoning” is out now – not in the UK, sadly – and he’s currently shooting “Hellcat’s Revenge”, a sleazy-looking 70s-style biker-exploitation film.  His work ethic makes me feel even lazier than I am, and he’s agreed to answer a few of my questions.

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Hi Len! We’ve got an obligatory boring movie reviewer question first, but could you tell us a bit about what sort of films you grew up watching?

Hey Mark! thanks for having me. I grew up with martial arts in my life so it was only natural for me to gravate towards those types of films, back in the early to mid 80s the “straight to VHS/home video” boom hadn’t really happened yet. So, for alot of films I really loved early on i went to a friends house who had HBO and watched films like REVENGE OF THE NINJA, ENTER THE NINJA, SILENT RAGE, etc etc. I LOVED the tv show KUNG FU and was and is a huge David Carradine fan. i would race home from school as KUNG FU played on a local TV channel at that time. Once we got into the period from about 1987 to around 1994 this was my absolute favorite time period, especially for martial arts/action films….horror had a lot of good ones too but horror films have a rich history going waaaaaaay back in film whereas martial arts really didn’t. amoungst my favorite actors growing up were David Carradine, Michael Dudikoff, Loren Avedon, Don “the dragon” Wilson, Jeff Wincott, and more….so lots of movies from these actors, plus directors like Kurt Anderson, Sam Firstenberg, Ciro H Santiago, and of course a shit-ton of stuff coming out of Roger Corman’s companies, etc

Your most recent release is “Angel of Reckoning”. The IMDB description sounds awesome, and it’s already out in the US. Was it fun to make?

ANGEL OF RECKONING really marks as a big turn in my filmmaking, as it really had absolutely no horror elements to it at all and was more a straight action picture. As a whole the production went smooth, except for a few hiccups as we delt with soft boxes, gels, time consuming stuff….overall it’s a film I’m happy with but I really don’t watch my own works. But I learned alot during this film in many more ways than one. My Mother was dying as I was writing/developing the film and I decided (and I got to tell her these things before she passed) that I was going to make a vigilante style picture/revenge style picture ala films like DEATH WISH and she was happy I went for something like this. She would always tell me when I was bummed out about how one thing went or another…”Len you have nothing to prove anymore”….she is missed. but not only will I always feel I have something to prove, I’m about to put the gas pedal down on a film called BLOOD PRISM that I think people will be surprised with the direction. Just when people think they know the answer to my filmmaking? I change the question (wrestling reference, extra credit to who gets it).

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From your casting choices, it seems we share a love of pro wrestling. How did you go about getting “The Genius”, Lanny Poffo, to act for you, after so long out of the public eye? And are there any other pro wrestlers you’d like to work with?

Oh sure, there’s a ton. Lanny Poffo I worked with twice and hope to again. Super nice guy and great sense of humor. I really want to work with him again, as now I’m making better and better things, and have advanced my skills in alot of areas (imo). I’m not sure i have anyone in particular I’d like to work with….it would have been Roddy Piper (as I’m a big THEY LIVE fan), so that sucks he passed but yea….I dont know. I’d have to really think about it….it’d probably have to be someone I feel I could create a very unique character for, I could see CM Punk being successful in some kind of horror picture or maybe someone like Shawn Michaels in an action/martial arts picture….but hell….I’d work with anyone that comes in, treats my cast & crew well, isnt an asshole to people, and believes in what we’re trying to accomplish.

I loved the re-edited “Apocalypse Female Warriors”. Would this re-editing and recording commentary be something you’d like to do for any of your other movies?

Of course. I’d love to do new commentaries to some of my older films, especially CURSE OF THE WOLF which has a decent sized fan base. APOCALYPSE FEMALE WARRIORS special edition and new cut was done by Chris Young, who also served as my editor (amoung other duties like Lighting Coordinator) on ANGEL OF RECKONING. Super talented, incredibly film knowledgeable, and a really meticulous hard worker. He also understands to a T what I’m trying to accomplish with a given film and can speak the same “on-set language” that I do. Camera angles, lighting, editing cuts, etc…we’re on the same page an extremely high percentage of the time. He’s editing HELLCATS REVENGE and BLOOD PRISM and is really developing into a co-partner for me at KillerWolf Films….but that’s a development for another time. I highly recommend him to anyone trying to make better pictures, a better website, overall better production values, and more….he can do it all and at a high level. There is NO ONE I have met so far in 10 or 11 movies I’ve done that is more intelligent than him. www.cyoungmedia.com for more….you won’t regret it.

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Are there any films from other directors you’d like to remake? I can just see you as “Omega Cop”.

Oh shit, youve won my over for life with a Ron Marchini reference. WOW! I love KARATE COP and OMEGA COP specifically but love FORGOTTEN WARRIOR and JUNGLE WOLF as well. KARATE COP wold be high on my list as well as KING OF THE KICKBOXERS. if I had to pick a horror (ish) film I’d pick 1988’s DEAD HEAT with Joe Piscopo and Treat Williams (and an incredible all star cast…Key Luke, Vincent Price, etc etc). I of course would have to add AMERICAN NINJA and ENTER THE NINJA to that list along with a film I highly recomend starring the ALWAYS-awesome Cameron Mitchell called RAW FORCE. RAW FORCE would have HUGE potential in my opinion as a re-make. ( I hate remakes but I went along with your question here, 🙂 )

(ISCFC aside: seriously, “Raw Force” is amazing. Go and watch it immediately)

I think you’re a decent actor, and probably ought to headline one of your own movies. Any plans to do that in future? Or are you interested in acting for anyone else?

I would act for another project if I felt it was organized and worth my time (not trying to sound arrogant there at all). So sure, my door is always open to treat everything as a learning experience and grow in all phases of art and creativity. those who enjoy my acting for whatever reason will probably like the upcoming HELLCATS REVENGE, where I play the co-lead role of “Snake”, the leader of a criminal biker gang. So acting-wise, I’m in that film a lot. However, BLOOD PRISM, will be a lot like ANGEL OF RECKONING where I plan to stay behind the camera more and really try to show people improvements in my directorial skills, scripting improvements (I’m co-writing BLOOD PRISM and have taken the reins on producing the film as well). I didnt expect to film so soon after HELLCATS REVENGE but opportunities presented themselves and off we go. I was really fortunate for the people who kicked in on our gofundme campaign for HELLCATS REVENGE as it helped us aquire Lisa Neeld (great person and performer) amoungst othe production elements. Plus, I was very fortunate I had backing outside of Gofundme from a west coast producer who paid for my entire post-production (I’ve been working a long time to get to that point! It feels good!)

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Would you have any advice for someone who wants to do what you did and make independent cinema? Maybe a few pieces of advice you wish you’d been given when you started.

First off, never get discouraged by what other people may say about your work.  Do what your creative mind wants you to do or tells you to do. You dont need much of a budget to “get out there” (hell, I know this too well!). All my early films have been at Walmarts, Kmarts, Family Videos, Netflix, FYE, GoHastings….shit tons of places. but now? No-one cares if youre on a store shelf, its all about making money and doing your next picture. everything is VOD now. So, basically I look to push my films to VOD places as much as I can and don’t get caught up with pushing to video stores or retail chains anymore….because no one cares, lol. So be smart about things. Develop YOUR thing, YOUR plan, and go for it…truly. Story, lighting, acting will go further than any production aspect like shooting on a RED camera, or other super expensive equipment….fuck, use your phone if you have to lol. And lastly, and this goes back to how I started the answer to this question…fuck what other people say or think about you…be yourself no matter what and you know what? You can’t do anything wrong when you be yourself because people will love you for you.

I won’t be Spielberg, Ridley Scott, Kubrick etc…but you know what? They won’t be me either and I know more about MARTIAL OUTLAW, RETURN FIRE: JUNGLE WOLF II, ELVES, and FUTURE FORCE then they ever will….and I’d never want my life to be without films like these.

(ISCFC aside: I love this answer so much. If you’re not a fan of Len’s by the end of this interview, then me and you would never be friends)

Please let us know about “Hellcat’s Revenge”. How has filming gone so far?

HELLCATS REVENGE was being developed and script done, when I did a re-write just a few days before principal photography. The shoot was very smooth, if not my smoothest so far. It’s female bikers vs male bikers after a prominent member of the “Hellcats” is murdered….motorcycles, hot babes, strip clubs, fight scenes, so I hope it can keep people’s attention! But yeah, during production we had lot’s of break time for people in between huge scenes, lots of rest, finishing on time or early everyday but one, etc etc….alot of great things.  but yeah, in case you didnt know…HELLCATS REVENGE is done with filming and already in post-production now. Hopefully it can hit DVD in Summer 2017. Lots of action in it, and a lot of great chemistry between the characters imo. hopefully people will check it out when it’s time….til then check out www.facebook.com/hellcatsrevenge , www.facebook.com/len.kabasinski or www.cyoungmedia.com and of course the brand new www.killerwolffilms.com

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Thanks again, Len, and good luck with all your future projects!

Thanks for having me Mark! I hope everyone can check out ANGEL OF RECKONING which is out on VOD right now…Amazon Instant Video, itunes, Gravitas VOD, and more. the DVD for ANGEL OF RECKONING comes out 11/22 and is LOADED with cool special features if you’re into those things, some I have never seen before on other DVDs!

Charity request – I will review any movie for you!

Nothing to do with this article, I just wanted to use this photo again

Nothing to do with this article, I just wanted to use this photo again

I never do this (partly due to being lazy, partly due to thinking most charity is the equivalent of putting an ambulance at the bottom of a cliff rather than a fence at the top) but people I love and people whose words I read every day are rallying round a very worthwhile cause, and I decided to turn my one remotely useful skill (unless you count knowing how to concatenate in Excel) into more money for them.

https://www.justgiving.com/John-Underwood-Anthony-Nolan/

Unless you’re the world’s luckiest person, you’ll have been affected by cancer in some way, and this money will go towards improving and maintaining a register of donors willing to donate blood stem cells and people who need them. In other words, important stuff that could well save the life of someone you love.

For £10 (or more) I will review literally any movie you choose, at least a thousand words. I’ll use the trademark ISCFC unwillingness to learn character names, political digressions, references to obscure 80s T&A movies, and armchair-quarterbacking to illuminate and entertain. If you want me to watch a film in a language I don’t understand with no subtitles, I will – although that would, admittedly, be quite an unusual review. Literally whatever you like.

I appreciate times are tough for us all, but if you can afford it, and have always thought “hahaha I wish I could force that asshole Mark to review The Owls Of Gahoole”, now you can!

Alpha Big Dog

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The ISCFC love to feature DIY projects, and here is a funny YouTube comedy series written by Joe Benarick called ‘Alpha Big Dog’. Essentially the series recognizes what it the UK is known as Lad Culture, represented by the oiks on ‘Geordie Shore’ and swaggering Football fans who worship Tim Sherwood. In America, Lad Culture is all about douchebags and frat boys. Alpha males who pose and posture. The kind of meatheads who’ve devoured the complete works of Tucker Max and mastered the art of beer pong.

‘Alpha Big Dog’ is about Joey B, an obnoxious wannabe Reality TV star, who reminds me of a cross between Kenny Powers from ‘Eastbound & Down’ and The Situation from the much maligned ‘Jersey Shore’. The first episode provides several laugh out loud moments and hints at the kind of surrealness that punctuates another YouTube comedy series ‘Pound House’.

You can watch the first episode of ‘Alpha Big Dog’ right here, right now…

Visit:

http://asetofworks.com/enter/

Fright-Rags’ CHUCKY collection

Fright-Rags’ CHUCKY collection honors one of horror’s most iconic villains
Limited edition box set, shirts and posters up for pre-order: http://bit.ly/chuckyfr

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Wanna play with Chucky? The pint-sized killer has been terrifying and entertaining audiences for more than 25 years. Fright-Rags is excited to honor one of horror’s most iconic villains with the Chucky Collection.

The Chucky box set includes three Chucky shirts – one designed by Justin Osbourn, a second from Abrar Ajmal and a third tee exclusive to the set – as well as an exclusive 18×24 screeprinted poster by artist Matt Ryan Tobin, a prismatic sticker and a full-size Good Guys replica box. This killer set is limited to only 225.

Osbourn and Ajmal’s designs are also available separately, as are additional Chucky shirts from Coki Greenway and Christopher Lovell. Rounding out the Chucky collection is an 18×24 screenprinted poster by Kyle Crawford. Limited to 100, the print features a glow-in-the-dark layer that reveals Charles Lee Ray’s voodoo spell.

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The Chucky collection can be pre-ordered from Fright-Rags. Limited edition items may sell out during the pre-order period, so act fast if you want a friend ’til the end. Orders will ship in late March.

Fright-Rags other new releases include shirts inspired by Freddy Krueger, Castle Freak, Subspecies and Sleepwalkers. Find all these and more at Fright-Rags.com.

The ISCFC vs. Martial Arts franchises

The name value of a sequel seems higher in martial arts movies than it does in other genres, so luckily for us we get a lot more film series. Now, continuity isn’t important at all, so just about all of these movies could qualify for “unquel” status, but it’s best to ignore all that and just enjoy the punching, kicking and “acting”.

American Ninja

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Michael Dudikoff and David Bradley shoulder the starring work in this series, along with the late great Steve James as their perennial sidekick (because black people most definitely did not star in Cannon movies). Ninja-ism went from the most secret art in the world at the beginning to “literally everyone you meet will be a ninja” by the end.

American Ninja (1985)
American Ninja 2: The Confrontation (1987)
American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt (1989)
American Ninja 4: The Annihilation (1991)
American Ninja 5 (1993)

Bloodfist

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Don “The Dragon” Wilson stars in the first 8 movies of this series. Given that his characters are all different and there’s noting to really tie them together, you could have picked any 8 movies from his career, renamed them (as they indeed did with films 7 and 8) and the result would be the same. Part 9 followed nearly a decade later with a diffrerent, better, star.

Bloodfist (1989)
Bloodfist 2 (1990)
Bloodfist 3: Forced To Fight (1992)
Bloodfist 4: Die Trying (1992)
Bloodfist 5: Human Target (1994)
Bloodfist 6: Ground Zero (1995)
Bloodfist 7: Manhunt (1996)
Bloodfist 8: Hard Way Out (1996)
Bloodfist 2050 (2005)

Bloodsport

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Dreamed up off the top of his head by Frank Dux, a man whose autobiography is apparently a tissue of lies, the “kumite” (secret underground martial arts tournament) is the driving force behind most of these movies. Jean-Claude Van Damme abandoned this series after the first movie and the rest of them starred Daniel Bernhardt, a surprisingly competent choice.

Bloodsport (1988)
Bloodsport 2 (1996)
Bloodsport 3 (1996)
Bloodsport 4 (1999)

 

The Circuit

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Olivier Gruner, who deserved better than being paired with director / producer Jalal Merhi for three movies, is Dirk Longstreet, former underground fight league champion turned teacher, who just keeps getting involved with fight-to-the-death style operations wherever he goes.

The Circuit (2002)
The Circuit 2: The Final Punch (2002)
The Circuit 3: Street Monk (2006)
(also released under the title “The Circuit 3: Final Flight”, obviously no-one told Merhi what the word”final” meant).

 

Kickboxer

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Another franchise abandoned by Jean-Claude Van Damme (yes, there’s a third as well), these films are usually about evil people wanting to set up their own to-the-death martial arts tournaments, often featuring Thai super-badass Tong Po. The last one is probably the best, but part 1 is decent too.

Kickboxer (1989)
Kickboxer 2: The Road Back (1991)
Kickboxer 3: The Art Of War (1993)
Kickboxer 4: The Aggressor (1994)
Kickboxer 5: Redemption (1995)

No Retreat, No Surrender

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It took them several movies before they figured out that these were bad titles, given people retreated and surrendered all the damn time in them. No real reason for these to be a series – they have nothing in common with each other at all, and Loren Avedon (star of 2, 3 and 4) plays different characters in each. There’s also a weird bit of numbering at the end of the series. 2 is the best of the bunch, but 4 is fun too. This is the third of the franchises that JCVD ditched after the first installment.

No Retreat, No Surrender (1986)
No Retreat, No Surrender 2 (1987)
No Retreat, No Surrender 3: Blood Brothers (1990)
No Retreat, No Surrender 4 (aka King Of The Kickboxers) (1991)
No Retreat, No Surrender 5 (aka American Shaolin) (1991)
King Of The Kickboxers 2 (aka Fighting Spirit) (1992)

 

Tiger Claws

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Jalal Merhi paid for his own film so he could star in it (there’s a 1:1 correlation between “films he produces” and “films he stars in”). He’s a charisma-vacuum of a cop who has to learn the super-secret Tiger Claws technique. Cynthia Rothrock is along pretty much as a spectactor and Loren Avedon pops up as the villain in the last one. These films are garbage.

Tiger Claws (1991)
Tiger Claws 2 (1997)
Tiger Claws 3 (2000)

Movie Blind Spots: The Untouchables

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Up until last Saturday afternoon I had never seen ‘The Untouchables’. It was a significant absence from the gangster movies of the eighties and nineties that I’d seen, the Godfather trilogy, ‘Donnie Brasco’, ‘Scarface’,  ‘Carlito’s Way’, ‘Casino’ and ‘Goodfellas’. For a working class lad watching these films were rites of passage. Everybody had the black and white ‘Scarface’ poster on their bedroom walls, we all did Joe Pesci impressions and when out on the town we strutted around looking for Michelle Pfeiffer and that white gold.

One of the first things that grabbed my attention was how the violence in ‘The Untouchables’ seemed cartoonish and unreal compared to say what we’ve seen in recent years in HBO’s ‘Boardwalk Empire’. There was just something unreal about the way the bodies fell, particularly in the unintentionally cringey finale as Eliot Ness tries to stop a pram falling down a flight of stairs in the middle of a shootout.

I don’t know something else seemed amiss as the minutes ticked by, the performances seem out of sync, from what I’d heard about the movie De Niro is superb, but looking at his career as a whole just off his peak. What I saw was De Niro as fat and satisfied and not in the method sense of packing on pounds for dramatic effect. He presents Al Capone like Danny De Vito as The Penguin. He’s a villain in a superhero movie, grandiose, incompetent and over the top. Costner is a bit empty, De Palma seems in love with his face and Costner just doesn’t seem all that moved emotionally, even when his family are at risk from mob reprisals. Contrast this to the charismatic performances from Sean Connery as Jimmy Malone, the comedy of Charles Martin Smith and the electricity of Andy Garcia. The headliners bluff and blunder whilst the supporting cast are mind-blowing.

‘The Untouchables’ is comic book take on the myth of Eliot Ness. This is a film with hardly any grey areas during a time that was one giant grey area. Despite the law and justice system being corrupt and everything being morally ambiguous ‘The Untouchables’ basically boils down to goodies vs. baddies, Ness vs. Capone.

I don’t want to beat a classic movie down, because it’s a fun, engrossing watch, and the film looks great. The costumes, the locations (particularly the border scene) but the film’s biggest flaw is that it seems to add authentic grit. Costner’s Ness is a damp squib of a man, a square. He almost resembles Josh Brolin’s character in ‘Gangster Squad’, a pale descendent of ‘The Untouchables’. Is that the legacy of the movie, that it spawned such poor imitations? ‘The Untouchables’ perhaps hasn’t aged well, or maybe I’ve fallen out of love with the Gangster movie genre.

– RJW

The Cult Film Interviews: Episode 1 ‘Chainsaw Sally’

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In the first of an on-going series of interviews I am joined by Jimmyo and April Burril, the husband and wife team behind the decade strong cult horror franchise ‘Chainsaw Sally’. The couple talk about the origins and inspiration behind the character and so much more…

Click here >>> Listen to our interview with Jimmyo and April Burril