Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

Ruggero Deodato

Robert Kerman - Professor Harold Monroe
Gabriel Yorke - Alan Yates
Francesca Ciardi - Faye Daniels
Perry Perkinan - Jack Danvers
Luca Barbareschi - Mark Williams
Salvatore Basile - Jacko

Genre - Horror/Cannibals/Found Footage

Running Time - 96 Minutes

I want to thank Tromeric for asking me to contribute to Extreme Week on his blog. I've always been a huge fan of Guts and Grog, so it's an honor for me to share something for his blog's awesome theme. When I read the word "Extreme" when it comes to cinema, only one film really stuck out for me. It's a film I've been wanting to discuss for a very long time, mainly because it's an oft-requested film for me personally from my readers. Plus, the film is so controversial and so well known that I honestly couldn't call Full Moon Reviews a horror blog if this movie was never discussed. It's a film I didn't want to watch again, but I did for this write up. It sickens me, while at the same time makes me think about the hidden social commentary underneath. It's one of those Video Nasties that really deserved the title and the reputation it gets within fans of the exploitation/horror genre. And that film is Ruggero Deodato's 1980 CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST.

There's a reason why I held off on CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST for this long - it's a film you can't really review like you could for any other film. CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST isn't a film made to entertain its audience. As a matter of fact, it'll most likely do the opposite. But I always considered CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST one of those films that really needs to be seen, even if I wouldn't recommend it for entertainment purposes only. There's so much going on in it, that the hype and buzz around it is totally justified. Hell, you wouldn't have THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT or any found footage film that was released right after it without CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST. It's historic for a reason - it's a film that truly deserves that tag line "Remember - it's only a movie".

CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST goes down like this:

A group of four filmmakers go missing in some South American jungles [known as the Green Inferno] while shooting a documentary on a local tribe there. An anthropologist named Harold Monroe (Robert Kerman) is hired to lead an expedition to locate the filmmakers. While paying respect and speaking with two cannibal tribes known as the Yakumo and the Yamami, Monroe learns of the corpses of his targets. However, he finds some canisters of film, believing it's lost footage of the tragedy.

Monroe heads back to New York City to host a television special about the fates of the filmmakers, the expedition he took to find them, and the revelation of the lost footage. This exposure comes about due to the media believing that the filmmakers were tragically murdered by barbaric cannibals. However, Monroe and the producers of the special watch the footage, realizing that the true barbarians were the filmmakers themselves. They watch them rape, torture, and even murder some of the tribespeople - just to film footage that would look authentic for their documentary - only for them to receive the same treatment in return.

CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST is a film that's the epitome of the word "extreme". It's notorious for a reason - this movie is made to shock its audience with graphic visuals of torture, murder, and even the rape of innocent women. Ruggero Deodato filmed the film in Colombia, wanting the footage to look as "real" as possible to make audiences believe they were really watching legit carnage in front of their eyes. For a 1980 film, it pushed the boundaries of what could be shown in cinema, and probably boundaries in what's considered good taste as well. Hell, CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST is still an uncomfortable watch in 2013! If there was any film that belonged on the "Video Nasty" list, this film was definitely it.

There isn't much of a "story" in CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, but there is a plot and a message behind that plot. While the expedition story with Monroe is pretty interesting in a culture shock sort of way, it's really the faux documentary with Alan Yates and his crew that really make CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST the film that it is. CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST is a film within a film - not only do we watch the action unfold in horror and disgust, but so do Monroe and the producers of the television special at the same time. We are witness to four filmmakers who, while supposedly representing civilization and culture, pretty much degenerate into savages who hurt their subjects just for their own selfish pleasure and ambition.

It's really unsettling what these filmmakers do just to create a compelling film. They rape women. They make fun of the members of the tribe, looking down on them. They cut a friend's leg with a machete on camera, capturing every graphic detail. We also get a penis getting chopped off [pretty graphically, I might add]! The worst stuff is probably the animal cruelty [the real deal], which still gets to me even to this day. Watching a musk rat get gutted while still breathing is pretty chilling. We see a snake get chopped apart from a hatchet. A pig gets shot in the head while it's tied up. And probably the moment that makes me sicker than anything - a turtle being cut open right on camera, as its organs spill out in plain view. The turtle scene may be the only time where I actually wanted to puke while watching a movie. I think what makes it worse is that the actors are actually smiling, and even look excited, about harming these animals and these people. I get the intent when it comes to these scenes [killing and eating like the tribespeople do], but sometimes I feel Deodato took this a step too far. I'm not a member of PETA or anything, but I still find these scenes very disturbing to watch.

I think there are two reasons why CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST still resonates today. For one, the idea of savage vs. civilized is a thought provoking one. Even with laws, both moral and societal, man and woman can still act like monsters. At the start, we're supposed to identify with the filmmakers because they come from a civilized world where they're aware of right and wrong, only to get murdered in a barbaric world by people who act on instinct without any sort of consequence. Of course the tribespeople are the villains! They're not like us! Different equals bad, right? That's what makes the actual events in the film more shocking and appalling. It's these "civilized" people who are acting like the savages, doing terrible things to these tribespeople in order to make a great documentary - and probably because of ego and this idea of feeling superior to these so-called "primitive people". It's easy to accept these tribespeople as cannibals because that's their way of life. But there's really no excuse for these filmmakers and their actions. You start asking yourself who are the real savages here - the tribespeople or the filmmakers? Like in any zombie film, the monsters may just be the supposed protagonists themselves.

Also, I like this idea of doing extreme things for the documentary to create a level of sensationalism that's believed to be what the audience wants to see. It's like what we see on TMZ and in tabloid magazines. The greater the scandal, the more the intended audience wants to know. It's as if CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST is trying to send a hidden message that filmmakers, or anyone who shoots things with a camera, are being exploitative. We film things not only to document them, but to manipulate the events in order to get some sort of reaction from our audience. Watching the footage, you can't help but notice the blurring of the lines of what's real and what's being manufactured. Are the filmmakers really like this, or are they just trying to make a shocking documentary? Are the filmmakers really this unaware of what they are getting themselves into, or are these events intentionally done to create some form of sick legacy? The moral dilemma is pretty thick here.

What helps everything is the fact that Deodato films the movie in a very gritty, dirty style. The scenes with Monroe are shot quite nicely and with more polish. But the found footage definitely has a documentary, low-budget, guerilla style that makes the events unfold in a way that you might actually believe what you're seeing if you didn't already know you were watching a film called CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST. In fact, Deodato had to be put on trial, due to belief that the events in the film were indeed real. Deodato had to prove that the footage was fabricated by presenting the actors in the film as proof that CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST wasn't some sick snuff film. How many other films can lay claim to something that extreme? Not many that I can recall.

Honestly, CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST is a film I don't want to recommend to those who haven't seen it due to its graphic nature. But I do think one should take the time out to check it out just once in order to understand the controversy behind it. While it's easy to focus on the extreme visuals of animal cruelty and the gore that put it on the Video Nasty list, there's something really intelligent about CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST. While I don't enjoy watching it, I do enjoy that it allows me to think about issues of morality and media sensationalism. CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST is definitely an extreme film and it was made to shock, but it's a lot deeper than that. And I believe that maybe it's worth investigating at least once in a lifetime to get the most out of the film.

4 Howls Outta 4


The Conjuring (2013)

James Wan

Vera Farmiga - Lorraine Warren
Patrick Wilson - Ed Warren
Lili Taylor - Carolyn Perron
Ron Livingston - Roger Perron
Shanley Caswell - Andrea
Hayley McFarland - Nancy
Joey King - Christine
Mackenzie Foy - Cindy
Kyla Deaver - April
Shannon Kook - Drew
John Brotherton - Brad

Genre - Horror/Supernatural/Demons/Haunted House

Running Time - 112 Minutes

Based on true events, THE CONJURING depicts one of the paranormal investigations conducted by Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga). This case, from 1971, involves Roger (Rob Livingston) and Carolyn Perron (Lili Taylor) - who move into a house they bought in Harrisville, Rhode Island with their five daughters. Even though they ignore warnings from their dog, who refuses to enter the house and would rather bark at it, the family soon realizes that their new home isn't exactly perfect. In fact, it's being haunted by some demonic entity that slams doors, create scary moments in the cellar, and even possesses people.

The Warrens, who are dealing with some issues of their own due to past investigations, decide to take the case and head to Harrisville to help. When they learn and confirm to the Perrons that the demonic entity is feeding off of their life force in order to possess the living [
it wants to recreate past events through new bodies], the Warrens do everything they can to stop this evil force and save the Perrons from more trauma.

+ I really loved the cast, especially the actors playing the two couples. I've always been a fan of Patrick Wilson and he's great here as Ed Warren. The beautiful Vera Farmiga is probably a bit better as the haunted Lorraine Warren. I thought Wilson and Farmiga had fantastic chemistry and hope they both return for the sequel. As for the Perrons, both Rob Livingston and especially Lili Taylor are great in their roles. It's nice to see Taylor in a haunted house film that doesn't suck for a change [THE HAUNTING remake can blow me]. Plus, Taylor had the most to work with and she performed all like a champ. The supporting actors, especially the actors playing the daughters, were very good. John Brotherton, as Officer Brad, had some nice comedic moments, as did Shannon Kook's Drew. I think the cast was really good here and came across as completely believable.

James Wan does it again when it comes to directing a great film. I thought THE CONJURING was a step above both DEAD SILENCE [probably my least favorite Wan film currently] and INSIDIOUS [can't wait for that sequel]. While there was a lot of INSIDIOUS touches in this film, I thought THE CONJURING was filmed with more subtlety that was greatly appreciated. I loved that Wan took a fairly predictable premise and still managed to make me jump at times. The 70s look of the film was groovy, and the sense of dread was thick. I loved the demonic moments where the hands came out of the closet, jumped off of the closet, and the "Hide 'n' Clap" moments that made me chuckle. The film also had a lot of cool angles that never wore out their welcome. I think this was Wan's strongest film so far as a director.

+ While the story was predictable and you can see things coming a mile away, at least it's executed really well. The characters were interesting, inviting, and very likeable. Each character had a role and they all enhance the story forward. I also thought the paranormal story actually made sense, keeping the audience involved through smart details rather than focusing on some stupid, unnecessary twist. Even elements from THE EXORCIST, THE AMITYVILLE HORROR [which was a case the Warrens actually investigated], and even POLTERGEIST didn't feel forced. In fact, I thought these cliche moments added to the story due to making them feel fresh within the context.

I do wish we gotten more time with the Warrens, as most of the story was focused on the Perron case itself. Their lives seem incredibly interesting, and their relationship was so well told that you wanted to see more of them. I'm not too down on the lack of Warrens here since I'm sure THE CONJURING will become a franchise of sorts, which will probably allow the series to explore the characters a bit more.

- I hear THE CONJURING received an "R" rating due to its scares. The funny thing is that I didn't find the film fear-inducing. Sure, it was creepy at times. And some moments made me jump just out of surprise. But I never felt scared or anything. And the audience I was with laughed at the scary moments rather than being frightened by them. This doesn't hurt the film in anyway [I had fun with THE CONJURING], but I still don't understand why the MPAA rated the film the way it did.

THE CONJURING continues a pretty good horror year so far in 2013. It's your typical haunted house/demon possession movie, but it works really well and will keep you entertained for two hours. The performances are solid, the story is well-told, and James Wan directs the film with a nice subtlety and detailed eye. I honestly don't have any complaints about this throwback to 70s haunted house movies [besides wishing it were a bit scarier]. Sure, it may be "unoriginal" to some. But it's not about the ingredients - it's about how you cook them.

3.5 Howls Outta 4


The WTF? Worst Films Extravaganza Presents - Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie (1997)

Shuki Levy
David Winning

Jason David Frank - Tommy
Catherine Sutherland - Kat
Nakia Burrise - Tanya
Blake Foster - Justin
Johnny Yong Bosch - Adam
Hilary Shepard Turner - Divatox
Jon Simanton - Lerigot
Amy Jo Johnson - Kimberly
Austin St. John - Jason
Jason Narvy - Skull
Paul Schrier - Bulk
Steve Cardenas - Rocky

Genre - Action/Adventure/Fantasy/Family

Running Time - 96 Minutes

Like I mentioned in my earlier review for MIGHTY MORPHIN' POWER RANGERS: THE MOVIE, I used to be a huge fan of this particular 90s fad. The stupidity and silliness of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers grabbed me when my two cousins showed me the first season's "Green With Evil" mini-series that introduced Tommy Oliver, probably the most popular Power Ranger ever. For four years [three seasons of MMPR, a short stint with Mighty Morphin' Alien Rangers, and Power Rangers: Zeo], I stuck by this franchise through its ups and downs. As long as I got my half hour of watching teenagers, who looked thirty, calling for giant robots [called Zords] to fight off giant monsters each weekday, I was pretty satisfied.

However, things changed for me in 1997. While Power Rangers: Zeo took a while to really get going [I think the last half of the show was pretty damn good with the Gold Ranger stuff], I still stuck with the franchise - even though the phenomenon that came with it had pretty much died and ratings were rapidly declining. Then TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE was released in theaters. Not really a sequel to the previous film and more of an introduction to the franchise's fifth season, the film replaced the quite powerful Zeo powers with powers that were car-related. Not only that, but one of the Rangers was replaced with an annoying 12-year-old kid. And to top it off, the villain had to be one of the most annoying big bads that has ever been on any show.

Let's just say that my time with Power Rangers, besides watching some episodes of Power Rangers In Space and Power Rangers: Dino Thunder, had come to an end. The film was pretty much an insult to not only the fans who stuck with the show, but to the franchise that made the film possible to begin with. Or maybe I just grew up and realized that Power Rangers just didn't capture my attention anymore. Either way, I moved on to bigger and better things after the film's release.

However, thanks to Netflix and 2013 being the franchise's 20th anniversary, I've been watching all the seasons again. And since I'm up to Power Rangers: Turbo [ugh], I figured I would rewatch TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE. I hadn't seen it since 1997, so I figured maybe time would be kinder to it than my memories of the film were. Unfortunately, the movie is still a crapfest of epic proportions and shows that the franchise was on life support by this point and time.

Some evil, melodramatic villain named Divatox (Hilary Shepard Turner) is the captain of a submarine filled with her minions. Wanting great power, Divatox wants to sacrifice people to some fire creature named Maligore - a creature Divatox wants to marry in order to rule the universe with him. The only way she can do this is to kidnap some wizard named Lerigot (Jon Simanton), who has a key that will unlock Maligore from his prison on an island called Maranthius. Divatox sends her minions after Lerigot, but they fail, allowing Lerigot to land on Earth and get the attention of the Power Rangers. Tommy (Jason David Frank) and Kat (Catherine Sutherland) save him and bring him back to the Command Center.

Before the Power Rangers can celebrate their victory, they learn that Divatox was one step ahead of them. Not only did she kidnap Lerigot's wife and child, but also two former Power Rangers - Jason (
Austin St. John) and Kimberly (Amy Jo Johnson) - who she plans to sacrifice to Maligore due to their good spirits. Divatox wants a trade - Jason and Kimberly for Lerigot.

Zordon (
Winston Richard) decides that the Zeo powers aren't enough for Divatox, for whatever reason. Instead, he has the Rangers "Shift Into Turbo" with their new Turbo powers and Zords in the form of cars. While driving towards and getting on a pirate ship called the Ghost Galleon, the Rangers learn that Rocky (Steve Cardenas) is no longer the Blue Ranger, as a 12-year-old named Justin (Blake Foster) has taken his place. The Turbo Power Rangers arrive on Maranthius, ready to stop Divatox from achieving her goal and hurting their friends.


I have three words for TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE:


TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE is a terrible film. Yeah, you may think I'm nuts criticizing a film that's based on a television show that many consider terrible to begin with. But Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers and Power Rangers: Zeo knew how to take the bad stuff and turn it into something so ridiculous, you couldn't help but enjoy yourself watching it happen. The Power Rangers franchise knew it was silly, which is why so many of us loved the franchise to begin with. But for every step forward, TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE takes three steps back. It's no surprise the main cast members would leave in the middle of Power Rangers: Turbo. It's no surprise this movie and the season that quickly followed almost ended the franchise for good. TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE is the point where the franchise truly "jumped the shark".

Before I get into the film itself, I should go into what TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE was originally intended to be. The movie was originally going to be three hours long. According to star Johnny Yong Bosch, the original script was supposed to be a logical lead-in into the fifth season [unlike MIGHTY MORPHIN' POWER RANGERS: THE MOVIE, this movie is canon with the television series]. There were supposed to be more supporting characters, a bit more character development, more action, and an explanation as to why the Rangers would switch from Zeo to Turbo power. Of course, the elimination of all these things is what makes TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE a failure.

While there was supposed to be a Mermaid character that Adam falls in love with, and a better explanation as to why Jason and Kimberly are even in this film [they were romantically involved to cause drama with Tommy and Kat], I don't really have issue that these plot elements were eliminated. I do, however, have issue with how matter-of-fact the switching of powers is. For those who don't know, the Rangers lost their Morphin' powers at the end of Season 3. Once Season 4 [Zeo] arrived, the Rangers received these crystals that would grow stronger in time, making these heroes more powerful than ever. Which is why I can't fathom why Zordon would want his heroes to GIVE UP their mega-powerful Zeo powers for quick driving lessons - I mean, the Turbo powers.

The original plan was for former Blue Ranger on the Mighty Morphin' team, Billy, to be the one who had created the Turbo powers as some sort of upgrade from their Zeo powers. During certain episodes of the Power Rangers: Zeo season, Billy would go away somewhere randomly without explaining what he was doing to the Rangers - therefore implying that he was busy creating these new Zords for them. However, actor David Yost had left Zeo [or was fired, depending on who you ask - long story]. So while Yost had filmed scenes for TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE [the film was made during the final episodes of Zeo], his scenes were cut out of the film, leaving no explanation as to the reasoning of the switch.

I also dislike the way the Rangers gain the powers as well. In previous power changes, the Rangers had to scratch and crawl to evolve as heroes. They had to go through a quest to gain their Ninja Powers. They had to find their roots as children to gain the Zeo Crystals. But here? Zordon makes them touch a game of Simon and they become Turbo Rangers. How fucking exciting.

As for the characters, there's no real character development at all. Not that one would expect that from a film called TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE. But what made the original team so popular was that each character was a stereotype that clicked when they all came together. Jason was the leader. Zack was the comic relief and dance man. Billy was the genius. Trini was the peacekeeper and Billy's translator. Kimberly was the hot Valley Girl. And Tommy was the evil-turned-good badass. This Turbo team has none of that at all. Tommy is past his prime at this point. Kat is a hot Australian and that's it. Tanya is her token black friend. Adam is the shy backbone of the team. And Justin - well, he's a 12-year-old kid! Not exactly characters anyone would be thrilled to see. It's no wonder the ratings for Turbo would slightly improve once this team [sans Justin] leave in the middle of the season. People were just bored by them.

And don't get me started on Divatox - the villain of this film and the rest of the season. She's definitely no Rita Repulsa or Lord Zedd. She's no King Mondo. And she's definitely no charismatic Ivan Ooze! This chick is whiny, annoying, and leading a bunch of morons to do her dirty work. Sure, she has great boobs [two of the few highlights of this film], but there's nothing about her that strikes me as threatening to anyone. Every hero is as great as their villain. And now I know why Power Rangers: Turbo failed big time.

You know what else doesn't work in this movie? The actual screenplay! My God, this has to be one of the most boring fantasy films I have ever seen. For a Power Rangers movie, there are barely any Power Rangers in it! We see them in costume once of twice within the first 40 minutes of the film, and then don't see them again in costume until the last 20 minutes! Instead, we have to watch Rocky injure himself in a really ridiculous way [who spin kicks out of a wrestling ring?]. We have to watch Zordon make a 12 year old kid into a Power Ranger because he figured out their secret [really Zordon?]. We have to watch the Power Rangers take a LONG boat ride towards their destination as they follow Divatox and her submarine [zzzzz...].

Speaking of which, why the fuck do the Power Rangers have powers based on LAND vehicles when their adversary is a WATER villain?????

*bangs head on desk multiple times*

God, this movie is terrible - even for Power Rangers.

The special effects for this film are pretty much in line with what the television show was doing. The Zords look like toys [CHA-CHING!], the monsters look like dudes in bad costumes, and Divatox has great breasts [did I mention that already?]. I do have to say that the battle at the end between the Turbo MegaZord and Maligore is pretty lame, as the Power Rangers take the guy out like nothing. So it makes the build up very pointless. Also, Lerigot looks absolutely ridiculous. The Muppets even laughed at how fake he looks. Honestly, I would have rather seen a guy dressed in a wizard costume than this...whatever it is. Sure, Lerigot is good for a laugh. But it doesn't really save the film at all. I dunno, guys - when I think of a Power Rangers movie, I would expect more out of it than what we usually see on television. That's why I liked MIGHTY MORPHIN' POWER RANGERS: THE MOVIE. Sure the CGI was pretty bad, but at least it was different for the series. The producers actually tried to present a movie that felt much bigger than anything that had come before it. TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE is been there, done that. There's nothing really special by how it all looks.

The direction by both Shuki Levy [co-founder of Saban Entertainment] and David Winning is what it is - made for television. There isn't much work done to really make the film feel more special. It looks like a 96-minute season premiere to Power Rangers: Turbo that would have been better condensed into maybe a three-part mini-series of some sort. The pacing is pretty bad, especially since much of the middle act is just the Rangers sailing on a ship, and Kimberly and Jason saving Bulk and Skull from drowning within Divatox's prison in her submarine. There's no effort into the visuals that make it stand apart from the actual series, which is unfortunate. The film probably would have sucked regardless, but at least some eye candy would have improved things done. Instead, it's just ho-hum.

The acting, again, isn't all that special. But there are some standouts. While I'm not a fan of Divatox, at least Hilary Shepard Turner seems to be enjoying herself in the role. She doesn't phone it in like the rest of her co-stars, which makes her somewhat tolerable and enjoyable. Also, huge mention must go to Amy Jo Johnson as Kimberly - especially when she turns evil. She was hot before, but DAMN! Something about those red eyes and that demonic voice turned me on. The acting was too terrible in this film. Pretty much on par with the actual show.


- Everyone but Justin sang "Row Row Your Boat" on a school bus. The mom from TROLL 2 probably would have had her husband teach this kid some hospitality.

- Rocky did a spin kick so bad, he flew out of the ring he was training inside of. Someone's trying a bit too hard to be on Botchamania.

- Bulk and Skull crashed into Norman's Bait Shop. Get it? Norman's Bait? I think this film is what really murdered Mother.

- Divatox enjoys eating flies. Looks like Jeff Goldblum may be getting lucky very soon.

- Divatox took Jason hostage and dressed him up like a Sith. Or maybe they wanted me to rearrange the letters in "Sith" to perfectly describe this movie. Whichever the case, the Force is definitely not with TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE.

- Being a sacrificial lamb, Kimberly was turned evil after being sacrificed to Maligore. She may not be a Power Ranger anymore, but she still manages to tickle me pink!

TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE is everything a Power Rangers film shouldn't be. It's not epic in scale enough. It's not action-packed enough. And the story doesn't really give anyone, including fans of this franchise, a reason to really care about the change in powers and the new characters that are introduced. Gekisou Sentai Carranger may have saved the Japanese franchise in Japan. But it almost killed the American franchise everywhere else. Just a really bad movie to support a really ridiculous season that has got to be one of the lowest points in the Power Rangers franchise. You'll definitely "Shift Into Turbo" with the help of the "fast forward" button.

0.5 Howls Outta 4


The WTF? Worst Films Extravaganza Presents: Tintorera (1977)

Rene Cardona, Jr.

Susan George - Gabriella
Hugo Stiglitz - Esteban/Steven
Andres Garcia - Miguel
Fiona Lewis - Patricia
Roberto 'Flaco' Guzman - Colonado

Genre - Horror/Drama/Romance/Bad Animals/Sharks

Running Time - 126 Minutes

Last year during Shark Summer, I pretty much reviewed the best of the killer shark films out there. Of course, I'm talking about films like JAWS and THE REEF. While some films were pretty average, nothing I watched involving sharks [besides that crappy Halle Berry film, DARK TIDE] were particularly bad. So I pretty much knew coming into Shark Summer II that I would be reviewing some really crappy killer shark movies out there that I avoided last year. And while SHARKNADO was a bad film, yet an awesome one at the same time, I wish I could say the same for the film I'm reviewing today - 1977's TINTORERA.

There were a lot of imitators that capitalized after the massive success of 1975's JAWS. Films like SHARK KILL, MAKO: JAWS OF DEATH, and THE LAST SHARK/GREAT WHITE managed to at least take aspects of Steven Spielberg's classic movie, making somewhat watchable films regardless of their quality. But TINTORERA manages to be the exact opposite of what JAWS is. I was expecting a killer shark film. Instead, I get a softcore porn movie that just happens to have sharks in it.

I honestly want my two hours back.

Some rich Mexican businessman named Esteban (Hugo Stiglitz) leaves the hospital after a mental breakdown, traveling in his yacht to Cancun for some relaxation. He meets some tourist named Patricia (Fiona Lewis), who doesn't think twice sleeping with the guy. While both have feelings for each other, Esteban is reluctant to reveal his true feelings which push Patricia away. While Esteban wishes he had told her how he really felt about Patricia, he's stunned when he sees her with a local playboy named Miguel (Andres Garcia). Patricia sleeps with Miguel, but disappears. Esteban and Miguel have animosity over the Patricia situation, but soon become great friends as they party with girls and sleep with them. Right away, both men decide to play a game of who can bed the most women, enjoying watching each other getting some action. Soon after, the two men meet a British woman named Gabriella (Susan George), who beds both of them at the same time and starts a threesome romance with both Esteban and Miguel.

Oh, there is also a killer tiger shark hunting people down, by the way. Blink and you might miss him!

I have three words for TINTORERA:


TINTORERA has to be one of the most boring "animals run amok" films I have ever seen. I was expecting some action involving a shark terrorizing people. Instead, I get a strange homoerotic romance angle involving two men, who happen to be shark hunters [and I'll get to that shortly], bedding women and walking around each other nude without much of an issue. I wanted a damn killer shark film. If I wanted to watch softcore porn, I'd watch Skinemax at night!

I honestly have no idea how to review this piece of crap. TINTOTERA plays out like a really terrible soap opera, just with nudity and bad disco music. The film just focuses on two men seducing female tourists, sleeping with them, drinking with them, dancing with them, etc. There's an obvious homoerotic aspect in the film. In fact, one scene pretty much gives it away without really going for the gold. Esteban explains to Miguel that he isn't bothered or jealous about their three-way with Gabriella. In fact, he's excited about it because he gets to share her with Miguel and enjoys watching them together. Then the editing has both men staring at each other, with smirks on their faces. Mr. Rene Cardona, Jr. wasn't subtle. But it's never explored onscreen, but it's implied that all three had sex with each other in every possible coupling within the relationship. Yes, this is the main plot in a film called TINTORERA, which is Spanish for "Tiger Shark". Really???

Does a shark even appear? Sure, but it's barely a plot point until the final act. In fact, this shark only kills four people within two hours, making this killer fish a true underachiever. The shark doesn't look all that threatening really, or give a thrilling chase for its victim. The shark just swims around randomly, attacking people for whatever reason. It's too bad because whenever the shark bites into a victim, we see blood and dismembered body parts sinking to the bottom of the ocean. While the gore isn't great or anything, at least it's not related to softcore fucking porn! So these moments were a highlight by default.

Speaking of sharks, this film has actual shark hunting portrayed here. Yes, sharks get harpooned by divers for whatever reason. They don't use the sharks for food. They don't pull the sharks out of the water to present them as some sort of trophy to show off. They just shoot the sharks and leave them in the ocean dead.


I don't understand why sharks had to be murdered for a film. I really don't. It actually reminded me of CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST and that film's cruel animal scenes. These scenes are only around in order to shock the audience. I get that both Esteban and Miguel are shark hunters and this is their profession. But it doesn't really add to the plot in any way. If the main shark had to "die" in order for the film to have a happy ending, fine. But why actually kill sharks that have nothing to do with the main story? I was really saddened while watching these scenes. I'm not a member of PETA or anything. In fact, I consider myself a carnivore. But the murder of these sharks that didn't harm anyone was pretty pointless, making these scenes truly messed up to watch. There was no reason for why these scenes had to be shot. Say that they're shark hunters and have them use fake dead sharks or something after the fact. I guess since they're fish, it's not a big deal. But it wasn't a highlight of the film for me, I can tell you that.

And the worst part about TINTORERA - it's dull as fuck. NOTHING HAPPENS IN THIS MOVIE. For most of two hours, I watched two men wear speedoes while romancing countless women because of competition, and because they seemed to enjoy watching each other get some action in a sexual sense. Even the shark moments are pretty lame, as there's no "oomph" to them. At least these moments are advertised, which I could say for more than 90 percent of the movie. I seriously had to watch this film in three sittings because I was falling asleep. I honestly wanted to turn this film off and just bash it. But as a reviewer, I had to deal with TINTORERA until the very end. I'm not sure if the much shorter [by 40 minutes] U.S. version is any better, but I don't even care to find out.

Rene Cardona, Jr. is not a great director. Sure, some of the shots look nice and colorful. I did think the underwater shots were quite beautiful. But there's no tension here - especially since the score of the film is really bad disco music, and a shark theme that's really underwhelming. The pacing is completely off, since the film doesn't have an identity. The editing is unintentionally funny at times. Honestly, the visuals for TINTORERA are pretty consistent with the screenplay - boring. Nothing about this film will stimulate you visually, unless it's both male and female nudity [and you get more male nudity than anything].

The acting is what it is. It's not good in any sense, but I didn't find it terrible either. Nobody really stands out. Maybe Andres Garcia does, since he brings a level of charm to a one-dimensional role as Miguel. He's very popular in the Latin American entertainment industry and it's easy to see why - he's a great looking guy who has charisma. Hugo Stiglitz of NIGHTMARE CITY comes across as pretty bland as Steven/Esteban. He's really the main character of TINTORERA, but he doesn't really add much to make him exciting to watch. Both Susan George and Fiona Lewis are nice to look at in their smaller roles. But honestly, the acting here is nothing of note to really discuss in detail.


Not since September 2012 have I reviewed a film for my WTF? Worst Films Extravaganza section of my blog. That is until now with this awful "killer shark" film that's anything but. Besides okay acting and some decent shots of underwater footage and the Mexican setting, there's nothing else I could really discuss positively. Plus, I don't appreciate watching real sharks getting harpooned for the sake of filming it.

If you're expecting JAWS, you'll be seriously disappointed. But if you're interested in seeing a 70s version of what Skinemax would have looked like, then be my guest. But when a film is called TINTORERA: KILLER SHARK, I'm expecting a film focused on a shark terrorizing people - not a romance drama about two men shagging a woman and possibly each other for two hours. Send TINTORERA back into the ocean and feed it to the real sharks as chum.

0.5 Howls Outta 4


The Watchtower of Justice: Batman Year One (2011) & Catwoman (2011)

By Mike Huntley

If you were to ask anyone who the two most iconic heroes in comics were, most likely Superman and Batman would be the top of the list.  While one hero was born on another planet and was sent to Earth where he was raised by a farmer to become the world's greatest savior and a bumbling reporter for The Daily Planet, the other was a psychologically traumatized billionaire who witnessed his beloved parents get shot and murdered right in front of him as a child causing him to thirst for stopping crime any way he could by intimidating criminals with his frightening alter ego under the cover of darkness.  Batman is a character who has endured it all. He has been a dark vigilante. He's been a funny guy running around with a wise cracking kid sidekick who just could not get rid of a bomb. He's been a member of the Justice League. He's fought alongside Superman. He's been old and retired only to become Batman again or mentor a teenage Batman. There's so much that can and has been done with The Dark Knight of Gotham City. Besides 1939 through the 1940s, Batman didn't really begin to gain back an even darker and grittier style and tone until the 1970s and '80s. In the mid '80s, comic book writer Frank Miller switched over to DC Comics after previously writing Daredevil comics for Marvel. Miller really brought together quite the number of different eras of Bruce Wayne's life. Of Miller's work on Batman, there are two graphic novels that are most popular among Batman fans. They are The Dark Knight Returns, which features a 55 year old Bruce Wayne who has been long retired from being Batman until Gotham is terrorized by a gang called The Mutants. And then Miller also brought us the tale that explored The Caped Crusader's first year in action with a definitive origin story for both Bruce Wayne/Batman and Jim Gordon titled Batman: Year One

When Gotham City is in desperate need of heroes, two men take action but on different sides of the law. Lt. Jim Gordon just transferred to Gotham City with his pregnant wife from Chicago. Upon arriving at the Gotham City Police Department, Gordon notices corruption everywhere. Shady cops from his sleazy partner, Detective Flass, all the way up to his boss Commissioner Loeb. All of which associate and protect Gotham's biggest crime lord Carmine Falcone and his men. Meanwhile, billionaire Bruce Wayne arrives back in Gotham after being away several years traveling around the world.  One night, Bruce decides to disguise himself as a bum and observe Gotham's underworld. He gets into a fight with a Pimp, which causes a brawl attracting the attention of a local prostitute named Selina Kyle. After fighting Selina, the cops show up to stop the commotion and one of them shoots Bruce for no reason. Bruce escapes the Police car and drives home with a bad bullet wound. While sitting in the dark corridor of Wayne Manor thinking of what he should do to make the criminals afraid of him, a bat crashes through his window and lands on a sculpted head of his father. Soon, Gotham's criminals are attacked by a mysterious figure dressed as a bat with the local papers calling him The Batman. Batman's first mission is to take down Carmine Falcone's mob family and just any sleazebag who happens to catch his bat-a-rang. While the mob and the Police both try to catch and kill Batman, Selina Kyle decides to quit her prostitution job and steal from the wealthy and powerful while dressed in a cat costume. 

Batman: Year One has got to be the most adult animated Batman feature so far. I'll just go ahead and say it, if you've read the graphic novel then you've basically seen this movie. But, even though it is basically a shot by shot adaptation of the Frank Miller Batman origin story, I still recommend checking this out. Why? Because it is fun to see this classic story come to life with a wonderful voice cast and great visuals. I know that people have complained that this movie was a frame by frame replica of the comic book for the most part, but you know what? They would really be bitching if the story had been changed drastically. This ain't like remaking a movie frame by frame. With that, yeah, it is a waste. But this is different. You are talking about classic Batman stories here. Now, I wouldn't adapt this story frame by frame into a live action movie because it would be way too short, but as an animated feature, it works fine as a 60 minute movie. Animated films are generally a quick watch anyway just like usually comic books are a quick read and Batman Year One wasn't a really long story to begin with. You could basically finish reading the complete story in about an hour tops. 

One constant complaint I hear is that Batman: Year One is more of a Jim Gordon story than a Batman story. Yes, Gordon is more the main character and we are seeing everything from his point of view with some scenes being told from Bruce's side of the story. Yes, this movie is more of a crime drama than an actual superhero flick. Don't get me wrong, I love the more fantastical/comic booky Batman, but I also love the more grim and semi-realistic take on the characters as well. After all, Batman is a Human character, which is one of many reasons why we love him and look up to him so much. He isn't Superman with superhuman abilities. The man has a high tech costume and high tech gadgets and high tech vehicles at his disposal. He's in the same boat as James Bond or Ethan Hunt except he wears a frightening costume and operates out of a cave underneath his mansion. 

   As for the movie, I loved it. Gotham is a really fucked up city in this story and film. We have corrupt cops at every angle. We have the mob who basically owns the town. We have titty bars at every block. We have prostitutes from as young as 12 years old. We have Pimps that need to get their asses kicked. Gotham is one city you don't want to live in except for possibly the titty bars part. I could live with that one. I loved how the display of Gotham City was a resemblance to the Gotham City we saw in Tim Burton's Batman from 1989.  Burton was probably influenced by the graphic novel since it came out before they made the movie.  

For a short running time of an hour, we get to see Gordon and Bruce Wayne's stories unfold at a decent pace. They are definitely the most developed characters of the bunch. Due to Gordon and Wayne being the main focus in such a short story, the other characters kinda get the shaft. But, at the same time, this is a frame by frame replica of the graphic novel, which is a classic story. You find out just enough about who everyone is. Falcone is the mob leader. Loeb and Flass are shady cops who are selling drugs for Falcone on the side. Gordon doesn't want to get with the program. The Department wants to black mail or try to kill Gordon. Bruce is trying to stop crime any way possible as Batman. The cops and the mob are hunting him down. You get what's going on. It's not hard to follow the story or get an idea of who everybody is. 

Jim Gordon is a character who I always felt was underappreciated by general audiences. I mean look at the Burton/Schumacher Batman movies when all Gordon did was turn on the Batsignal and congratuate Batman for saving the day! Thank God that Nolan did the character justice in Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises. He was also given a lot to do in the wonderful animated series. But here, Gordon is the star with Bruce Wayne. We are watching Gotham and Batman mostly through Gordon's eyes. Frank Miller said that he liked to call Gordon Captain in his stories because he felt that Gordon was working his ass off to fight corruption just as much as Batman was. The characterization of Jim Gordon is great here. In particular, the scene when he is sitting at the edge of his bed next to his pregnant wife, Barbara, and is rubbing her stomach while thinking to himself...

"What was I thinking? To bring an innocent child to life in a city without hope."

And then in the window far out on the rooftops, we see Batman jump down, which is the first time in this story that we see Bruce as Batman. Great and powerful moment there.  Oh yeah, there's also a hot female cop named Sarah Essen who comes to Gotham to help Gordon track down Batman. During a coffee break, they get "close" which puts a strain on his marriage. Again, Gordon is a much greater character than some people give him credit for. All they want to see is a cool villain and Batman using his toys to take em' down. Sure, I love that stuff too but I also love great stories and well developed main and supporting characters in my Batman universe than you. 

The characterization of Bruce Wayne/Batman is pretty similar to how he was portrayed in Batman Begins minus the raspy Batman voice. We see three sides to the character. The real Bruce Wayne who he acts like when alone or with Alfred. The spoiled and womanizing playboy that the public sees. And then of course him fighting crime as Batman. My favorite Bruce/Batman scenes are early on when he gets into a brawl dressed like a bum and the one when he first decides to become a bat. We also see a flashback of his parents getting shot and his mom's pearls breaking apart. I also really dug the scene when he crashes Falcone's dinner party. Reminded me of the opening to Punisher: War Zone a little bit but minus all the blood and gore. 

I find it funny how some people even claimed that this movie was a ripoff of Batman Begins when Begins was actually inspired by this very story.  There are similiarites between Year One and Begins. The most obvious ones are that Carmine Falcone was the mob boss in both movies, Batman uses a super sonic device to attract loads of bats so he can get away from the cops chasing him, and the ending is similar with Gordon waiting on the rooftop and a mention of The Joker. 
Selina Kyle's story while very short was still my favorite origin story of her besides the one used in Batman Returns. Here's a tough as nails woman who will kick your ass without even breaking a sweat. She starts as a prostitute and protects both herself and young Holly Robinson who is a 12 or 13 year old hooker. Yes, a child ho! What the fuck Gotham?! Selina basically plays the older sister role. I really dug how Selina evolves from prostitution to being a cat burlar to get money for herself and Holly. 
All of the supporting characters play their roles well even if some are more developed than others in such a short period of time. Alfred is in this briefly. I love the scene where Bruce pays a woman $500 to act like one of Wayne's party girls so that Gordon won't suspect him of being Batman. Bruce is sitting there looking like Hugh Hefner with his robe and a girl on his arm while drinking an alcoholic beverage. Great comical moment. The script by Tab Murphy was Frank Miller's writing, but altered a bit here or there. There's even inner dialogue with Gordon and Bruce where we get to hear what they are thinking, which happens a lot in comic books. Just read a Spider-Man comic and you'll see what I mean. I know that sorta thing could turn some folks off with a movie though, but it is the comic come to life so it worked for me. I did take some issues with the film though. The biggest one was a scene where Bruce actually round house kicks a tree in half. How the hell is that even possible? I know extreme martial artists can do some crazy stuff by breaking bricks or blocks of wood by karate chopping it in half with their hand, but a fucking tree with your foot? I know this is based on a comic book, but if you're going to have a more grim and more realistic tone, make what Bruce does as believable as possible. I could see Superman pulling that off, but not Batman. There's also a scene where Bruce is chasing a car out of costume and jumps off the roof of a building to land on the truck perfectly. I could see him doing this wearing the Batsuit because the cape would glide him down but he pulls an Ethan Hunt stunt here. The biggest one is when Gordon falls off a bridge to catch his infant son and Bruce jumps in front of him to grab the child. From that distance, it would have either killed them all or put them in the hospital with a lot of broken bones.  It just really bugged me. Would have worked better if Bruce was dressed like Batman because Gordon would have caught the baby and Batman would have caught Gordon and lifted them up with his grapple gun to safety. Also, Holly kinda annoyed me a little bit with constantly saying "Selina!" in almost every sentence.

"Selina! Things are blowing up!"

"Selina! It's Batman!"

"Selina! You punched Stan!"

The direction by Sam Liu and Lauren Montgomery was pretty well done for the most part. I loved how they included the month and date throughout the film. They really kept it in the same spirit as the graphic novel and I enjoyed that. The look of the characters and Gotham was great too. 

   One of the biggest highlights is the voice cast who brought these characters to life. Ben McKenzie from The OC gives a great performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman. I know McKenzie got a lot of flack from fanboys who wanted Kevin Conroy to yet again for the thousandth time reprise the role he made iconic back in 1992. Guys, while Conroy is a great Batman, I wouldn't want him to play the character all the damn time. We need more variety, which makes things interesting. Sure, some actors may play the role much better than others, but it is fun hearing different actors take on Batman both in live action and animation. I also think Conroy would be wrong in playing a Bruce Wayne who is in his late 20s. A Batman who's been around a good number of years? Definitely! But, we needed someone much younger and McKenzie did a great job. He pulled off Bruce Wayne, playboy Bruce, and Batman well. He's no Kevin Conroy or Michael Keaton, but he did his thing with the character. My favorite line is when he grabs a drug dealer and says...

"You can't hurt me! Nothing harms me! I know pain! I know pain! Sometimes I like to share it with someone like you!"

Or when he crashes Falcone's dinner party and says from the darkness...

"Ladies. Gentlemen. You've eaten well. You've eaten Gotham's wealth. It's spirit, but your feast is nearly over. From this moment on, none of you are safe."

     Bryan Cranston from television's Breaking Bad was marvelous as Gordon. Just when I thought that Bob Hastings (Batman: The Animated Series) and Gary Oldman (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises) were the only guys I could see playing Jim Gordon, Bryan Cranston knocks it out of the park. This guy should play Gordon in the next set of live action Batman movies. Not only does he have the perfect voice, but he also can pull off the look. Outstanding performance!

Whoever suggested Eliza Dushku to play Selina Kyle/Catwoman deserves a raise. Like, seriously! I can recall years ago saying that I would love to see her play this character either in animation or live action and my wish came true. Eliza Dushku, who many remember as rogue vampire slayer Faith on the hit television series Buffy The Vampire Slayer and briefly in its spinoff Angel, was fan-fucking-tastic as Catwoman! She's got the chops to really play the bad girl that Catwoman really is. She's sexy. She's fiesty! She's purrfect! While I liked Anne Hathaway as Catwoman in Chris Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises, I would love to see Miss Dushku play the role on the big or small screen.  She's up there with Michelle Pfeiffer and Adrienne Barbeau as far as I'm concerned! 

Everybody else was pretty good too. Katee Sackhoff, from Halloween Resurrection fame, was good as Detective Sarah Essen, the woman Gordon has a kissing affair with. Jon Polito was good as Commissioner Loeb.  Alex Rocco was great as Carmine Falcone. I like how the character looked like Marlon Brando in The Godfather. Jeff Bennett has a small role as Bruce Wayne's trusty butler Alfred and does it well. No Michael Caine, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., or Michael Gough but not bad at all. Robin Atkin Downes has a small role as pre District Attorney and Two-Face Harvey Dent. Fred Tatasciore played the douchebag corrupt cop and former football player role well as Flass. I can see why they turned Flass into a disgusting fat slob in Batman Begins because he was on the inside.  Lilianna Mumy was okay as Holly Robinson even though she kinda got a little annoying in a younger sibling kinda way. Grey DeLisle was alright as both Gordon's wife Barbara and Vicki Vale. All in all, great cast.
Overall, Batman: Year One is a good adult oriented animated Batman movie following The Dark Knight's first year in crime fighting and the beginning of his alliance with Jim Gordon. I definitely say check it out, especially if you love the graphic novel.

Ever since I saw Batman Returns at the age of four years old back in 1992, I and many other Batman fans have had a craving for Catwoman, one of Batman's most iconic villains besides The Joker of course, to get her own movie. Back in the early '90s, it looked like quite the possibility with Michelle Pfeiffer reprising the role she made so iconic and Tim Burton was in talks to direct. Sadly, things didn't go as planned for Warner Bros. wanted to go in a more family friendly direction due to the all mighty parents of the world complaining that Batman Returns was too dark, violent, and adult as it was merchandising Happy Meal toys at McDonald's. I actually still own some of mine just so you know. Anyway, this put a huge damper on a Catwoman movie happening. We did eventually get a Catwoman movie in 2004 starring Halle Berry who wasn't even Selina Kyle and the setting wasn't in Gotham City. It was just one big joke on us Batman fans. We probably still won't get a solo Catwoman film starring Selina Kyle going off on her own crime spreed adventure in the streets of Gotham. But, we did see the femme fatale back in Gotham City with The Dark Knight Rises. We also got treated last year to not only Buffy The Vampire Slayer star Eliza Dushku playing the iconic cat burglar in the animated Batman: Year One movie adapted straight from the classic Frank Miller graphic novel, but we also got an awesome extra feature on the two disc DVD and the Bluray where the next DC Showcase short animated film was a solo Catwoman story! Yay!!!! 

   One night while on the prowl around Gotham City, Catwoman discovers a stray cat who is running from a bunch of thugs who are trying to kill it. Catwoman hides the cat and retreives a necklace around the cat's neck with rubies embedded in it. The jewels belong to crime kingpin Rough Cut. Catwoman unleashes her fury on Rough Cut and his boys at a local strip joint where there's a shoot out and she chases them down without the help of The Batman. 
Like Batman: Year One, Catwoman is a very mature animated film. At 13 minutes, it is a pretty fun, sexy, and action packed animated short. The script was done by Batman: The Animated Series scribe Paul Dini who is known as the guy who created the popular character Harley Quinn and has written a lot of great Joker stories both in The Animated Series and with the Arkham Asylum video game. I dug the whole strip club scene where we see a hot blonde take off her bra and dance around that pole with her cartoon boobs flapping although I can only imagine they are flapping since we can't see them due to the PG-13 rating but we know they are flapping around like a bunch of racoons in a gooney sack trying to get out. We also get a very nice pole dance by the very vicious yet sexy as hell Selina Kyle before she wraps her trusty whip around Rough Cut's throat wanting to know why he wanted the necklace. 

The direction by Lauren Montgomery is pretty good too. I do wish that we actually got a feature animated Catwoman film that was 70-75 minutes instead of a 13 minute short, but it works for what it is. All the sex appeal, shoot outs, car chasing. Selina stealing some poor dude's motorcycle. Catwoman causing a truck to flip similar to The Dark Knight where Batman flipped the Joker's vehicle of choice. And we also get a small cameo of little Holly Robinson at the end. All in all good stuff. Eliza Dushku returns as Catwoman and does it purrfectly. Lilianna Mumy returns as Holly Robinson. John DiMaggio was good as Rough Cut. Kevin Michael Richardson was good as Moe. And Tara Strong who is best known as Batgirl in The New Batman Adventures era of The Animated Series as well as playing Tommy's little brother Dil on Rugrats was good as stripper Buttermilk Skye. All in all good cast. 

Overall, Catwoman is definitely one for the guys and the women who love the Catwoman character. Plenty of exotic and action fun to be had here! 


Related Posts with Thumbnails