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Don Jackson on the set of Lingerie Kickb

One crazy holiday weekend

Three days, six Smithee-potential films (plus two that weren't). In order to protect your delicate sensibilities (and because I am feeling lazy), I will parcel them out piecemeal.

I will start with the two movies that I hated the most. One gave me no clips, and the other gave me a cover, and two clips which might not even make the show. Technically they are movies 13 and 17 for Year 18.

Y18#17 was White Slaves of Chinatown, and it had nothing. Nothing for my purposes, anyway (the imdb user who reviewed it seemed to get something from it). I found it to be pretty painful, in its weird little softcore bondage way. Perhaps if there had been a plot. Perhaps if there had been any natural sound. But probably not.

Here are my notes, if you're curious. In their entirety:

17'17" White Slaves of Chinatown

Olga's so powerful she gets CU & doesn't have to speak
"she was pregnant and could not support her narcotics habit"
Night on Bald Mountain
Since when does Chinese Water Torture involve a whip?

(notes end)

...I'm not 100% sure that it was "A Night on Bald Mountain," it might have been "Mars: The Bringer of War" instead

Olga mostly appeared in isolated close-ups where she flared her nostrils, widened her eyes slightly, and otherwise pretty much entirely failed to change her facial expression. Most of the movie was narrated by a random male narrator, although occasionally there was female voice-over narration which was supposed to be Olga (or as the narrator pronouned it, "Allguh"). But for most (60%+) of the film, the audio track was a band playing some sort of Chinese tune. And that might have been OK if it had been (a) a real Chinese tune, (b) longer than a couple of minutes, and (c) not constantly repeated throughout the film. It's not that all Chinese music sounds alike to me -- no, they just played the same tune over and over and over and over and....

Enough about Olga and her four sequel movies. She's welcome to them. She can have them. Now on to the movie that actually makes me angry.

Y18#13 was a movie that I got solely due to its title. If you recall, a few months ago I reviewed Evil Come Evil Go. Somewhere I saw that there was a movie called Evil Remains, and I had to get it. To watch it in the same year that I saw Evil Come Evil Go. Oh, the hubris.

Watching a movie solely because its title was similar to the title of another I'd seen ... was a tactical error. I will say that this movie never came nor went, but it does fester in my mind.

The plot wasn't too bad ... an annoying frat guy convinces a bunch of friends to come with him to a supposedly-haunted plantation in order to help him debunk the myth. Except instead of debunking the myth, the myth debunks them. In the process, you got the impression that there was a lot of unspoken backstory between the characters -- not that it mattered, because none of it ever came out to the audience. They just yelled at each other stuff like "This is all about dad, isn't it?" and then got killed. One character did have a brief intelligent moment ("Screw the equipment. I'm going to the car. I'll buy new stuff."), but then allowed himself to be talked into visiting the attic.

But that was the guys. They went into the house intentionally.

The girls stayed out of the house until they fell into a pit which connected up to the house's root cellar. Now, this was a particularly-bad turn of events because the movie'd been very physically dark up to this point. Dark as in "hard to see what was going on."

Dialogue like "Did you see that?" "I did, but I don't believe it" is particularly hard to swallow when the audience can't see whatever that was. It might have been okay if there was any indication that it was done on purpose for story reasons (to set a mood perhaps), but I think it just wasn't quite bright enough for the audience to see what the director was pointing out (a wall downstairs that was leaking blood, for instance). Even the scenes outdoors during the day seemed underlit.

It was also extremely red throughout the entire movie, but that's a side point.

The two girls argued, freaked out, found their way through the cellars to the basement, and so on, lit by a cigarette lighter. If you thought the movie was dark and hard to see before, this certainly didn't help matters any.

I haven't gone into the attempted artistic transitions which were nothing short of incredibly obnoxious. And if cross-cutting is ever outlawed in the future, this movie might well be exhibit #1. And I haven't begun to talk about how none of characters were sympathetic, or the pointless psychologist framing device, or the "dog-masked killer" and how there was never any attempt to make sense of the thing for the audience (not even "movie logic" sense). I could pull five minutes from any place in this movie, and there would be at least three different examples of "What Not To Do When Telling A Story With Film" -- and not always the same three things!

You'll have to excuse me, just thinking about this travesty makes me too angry to keep my focus enough to give it the roasting that it deserves. At least I got two minor clips from it, and a Worst Cover nomination (people on cover aren't in movie). A pox on you, James Merendino (writer/director/composer), and now I'm moving on with my life. You are dead to me now.

Bah! And also humbug. If I'd watched these back-to-back, they might have destroyed my faith in B-movie humanity.