Author Archives: Amos

“THE GORE GORE GIRLS”—Violent, Gory and Fun

 

“The Gore Gore Girls”

Violent, Gory and Fun

Amos Lassen

“The Gore Gore Girls” is perhaps Herschell Gordon’s his grisliest, most outrageous offering of all time! It is the story of a vicious killer with a twisted sense of humor that butchers the girls of a go-go dancing club. As the grim death toll mounts, young reporter Nancy Weston teams up with obnoxious but private investigator Abraham Gentry to try and crack the case. “Nipples are snipped, faces are fried and behinds are tenderized as “The Gore Gore Girls” hurtles towards its shocking (and hilarious) conclusion.”

It is set in the seedy world of strip clubs. When an exotic dancer is found murdered, newspaper reporter Nancy Weston (Amy Farrell) hires famed gentleman detective Abraham Gentry (Frank Kress) to solve the case, promising a handsome reward if he can do so. Gentry and Nancy begin to frequent the local clubs to watch the dancers and to see if they can find any clues or suspects. As the murders continue, despite the fact that Gentry is watching things closely, he decides that he will have to set a trap to catch the killer, and he’s going to use Nancy as bait.

The appeal here is presumably supposed to be the long and drawn out scenes of the strippers doing their routines. This is the epitome of an exploitation film, as the story grinds to a halt in order to show those women going through the motions.

Though typically sleazy and cheesy, as all of Lewis’ work is, there are actually several humorous moments in this courtesy of The Killer, whose ‘methods’ of wiping out the dancers keep getting progressively more creative: one has her face ironed, another has her head boiled (along with some French fries!), yet another has her buttocks literally tenderized and yet another (!) gets her nipples snipped with scissors … only to discover that one breast produces whole fat milk and the other, chocolate. When it isn’t being outrageous with smashing up makeup and prosthetics, however, it goes back to cornball humor and overacting and inane plot revelations. At least there are plenty of strippers to keep the audience distracted.

Bonus Materials include:

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Bonus Feature! 1971’s This Stuff’ll Kill Ya!
  • Introductions to the films by H.G. Lewis
  • Audio commentary on The Gore Gore Girls with H.G. Lewis
  • Audio commentary on This Stuff’ll Kill Ya! with camera operator and Lewis biographer Daniel Krogh
  • Author Stephen Thrower on The Gore Gore Girls
  • Regional Bloodshed – filmmakers Joe Swanberg and Spencer Parsons on Lewis’ legacy as a pioneer of regional indie filmmaking
  • Herschell Spills His Guts – H.G. Lewis discusses his career post-The Gore Gore Girls and his further adventures in the world of marketing
  • This Stuff’ll Kill Ya! Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by The Twins of Evil

“THE GUARD”— Who is Denny?

“The Guard”

Who is Denny?

Amos Lassen

Denny (Bryan Veronneau) is a young married guy about to celebrate the birth of his first child. He should be happy but for some reason, Denny is having a hard time handling it. He truly loves his wife, Emma (Erika Thormahlen),he does so very much but the thought of a family is setting Denny off some sleepless nights which is affecting his job as a security guard for a office complex.

His boss, can’t really help Denny who is starting to looking rather tired and strained. Once when he looked a bit a rough, Denny’s boss had to send him home.Denny seeks advice from his local priest confiding that he is having trouble eating and sleeping and the priest offers some thoughts and prayers and sends Denny along. Desperate to find some peace in order to come to grips with his fears and doubts, Denny heads to the woods and what he finds will change his life forever….“The Guard” is extremely intense and dark with too many questions and not enough answers as we try and figure out why Denny is so afraid of becoming a father and having a family.  Why didn’t he address these fears with Emma? Or least with another friend who has a family?

Instead we are left to watch Denny and don’t understand how he got to where he is. Suspense only works when you can’t understand a inkling of the reason why.Mark Battle co-wrote and directed the film andVeronneau and Thormahlen are excellent as the expectant parents. What’s missing is information about Denny and I hope that will come to light.

“MOLLY”— “In a Brutal Apocalyptic World, One Woman Fights for Survival”

“MOLLY”

“In a Brutal Apocalyptic World, One Woman Fights for Survival”

Amos Lassen

..she looks nothing like a superhero, and that makes it all the more special when you see her stumble, push, shoot, stab and stomp through scores of villains.”  — Screen Anarchy. 

The English-language first feature from co-directors Colinda Bongers and Thijs Meuwese, “Molly” stars   Julia Batelaan in her feature film debut as the newest addition to the pantheon of teens standing between evil and the end of the world.

 “Molly” is the story of a woman’s desire to stay alive in a world where she is not wanted. Molly lives in a place ravished by war. She is a young woman with super powers who a roams the violent post-apocalyptic landscape, with only with a bow and arrow, to confront the dangers around her. When a sadistic ringmaster who runs an underground fight club hears of her supernatural abilities, he sends his sociopathic soldiers to capture her and make her a star attraction in his cage fights.

Science fiction films are few and far between these days and this is an intriguing film. It is set some years after a terrible cataclysm and humans are sparse. Some diseased survivors have regressed into a feral zombie-like state. These are called “supplicants”, and gangs of humans capture these for sport. Fights are staged, where people can bet on their favorite supplicant.

When a gang-leader hears stories about Molly, a super-powered girl roaming the land, he starts hunting her with the purpose of infecting her with the supplicant’s disease and using her as the gang’s new star attraction. Molly has other plans of course, and teams up with a young orphan…

From the very beginning the film is nonstop brutality and we understand why the directors did this. With such a violent opening, the main reason we start to like Molly is that she’s the only one who acts normal; everyone that she meets is either a deranged zombie or a sociopath.

In this rural world, everything is created out of saved garbage. Interiors seem filmed in an abandoned laser game arena by a group of friends on a lazy afternoon. This is very obviously a low budget film but the surprise comes when it proceeds to see what level of awesomeness it can achieve with this.

At first, the film seems amateurish, but then the first clever scenes appear and “fights turn into gritty wrestling matches rather than kung-fu ballets, and realism gets combined with inventive camerawork.” Molly often wins through perseverance and stamina rather than skill, and her worst wounds are those that are self-inflicted through clumsiness.

When the film finally enters its “attack mode”, there is a quite a shot that is so ambitious and so accomplished in its execution, that we can’t help but wonder how it was done. Julia Batelaan makes is quite a charismatic lead. She looks nothing like a superhero, and that makes it all the more special when watch how she deals with villains.

“THE BORIS KARLOFF COLLECTION”— The Mexican Years

“THE BORIS KARLOFF COLLECTION”

The Mexican Years

Amos Lassen

 

“The Boris Karloff Collection” is a compilation of four rare films on 2 DVDs starring the master of horror.

“Dance of Death” (1968)

Relatives visit the mansion of a wealthy man who is near death. However, the wealthy man is convinced that one of his relatives has inherited an illness from a dead family member who went crazy and killed people by digging out their eyes. Sure enough, people start dying… This is not a great movie but it is

certainly less weirdly incoherent than the other three movies here. Not that it’s good; like the others, it’s quite bad. It works in very familiar territory; it’s a rehash of the “old dark house” movies where relatives gather for the reading of the will and are then picked off one by one. You won’t be watching this one too long before you realize this fact, but once you do, you will realize with horror that Boris Karloff (the only reason to watch this one) is playing the part of the man whose will is to be read, which means he’s going to die early in the proceedings. And, sure enough, he does. Naturally, this leaves you in a quandary; either the movie has just killed the goose that laid the golden eggs, or it’s setting up a twist that is so patently obvious that there will be no surprise when it happens. In a sense, it hardly matters; when he dies, you know it’s going to be a long stretch of time before we see Karloff again in the movie, if at all. In fact, there is precious little in the way of surprises at all in this movie.

“Torture Zone” (1968)

Karloff died of emphysema soon after shooting his scenes for this that is sometimes known as “Fear Chamber”. Some will find a certain amount of camp fun in the proceedings, laughing at the awful acting of the cast, save for Karloff, who while not giving a great performance, does manage to inject a degree of professionalism that is lacking otherwise. Most viewers won’t find much fun in the film for very long; it quickly grows tiresome, and the spectacle of a man like Karloff reduced to such an awful movie becomes painful. Those who really get off on terrible horror films may want to give it a go, but others should let it pass by.

“Alien Terror” (1971)

In order to prevent mankind from benefiting from a scientist’s new invention, aliens possess the bodies of human beings to discredit him.

Karloff gets a little more in the way of screen time, and given that he’s easily the best actor on the lot, that’s a good thing. Still, the story doesn’t really make much sense; in particular, I can’t quite figure out why the aliens would wish to possess a known serial killer when he’s really more trouble than he’s worth. The movie is technically terrible; keep your eyes open for some of the most blatant actor substitutions in the fight scenes, and be amazed at the fact that the actor who dubbed in a line for Karloff at one point not only doesn’t sound remotely like him, but doesn’t even appear to be trying to do so.

“Cult of the Dead” (1971)

A new captain of the police arrives on an island and tries to put an end to the voodoo rituals of the natives.

The film actually starts out quite well, with an intriguing opening sequence (though animal lovers may want to steer clear; I think they killed a real chicken for this) and a good exposition sequence to introduce the characters. However, the movie falls into a muddle after this; ideas are introduced and dropped, some scenes exist purely for exploitation purposes and as the movie progresses, it becomes clear that a coherent script was never really written for this. The most interesting thing I can find about this one is Karloff’s performance; it isn’t one of his best, but he does give it his all, and despite the fact that he was on his last legs, it doesn’t show in his performance.

“THE LAST SUIT”— One Last Voyage

“The Last Suit” (“El último traje”)

One Last Voyage

Amos Lassen

“The Last Suit” is Pablo Solarz’s tale of an elderly Jew trying to get back to the home in Poland he fled seven decades ago. Argentine actor Miguel Angel Sola plays Buenos Aires oldster Abraham Bursztein, who is surrounded by loving family members (and one greedy granddaughter that he has to bribe to take a picture with him) on an occasion that proves less happy than it appears: His daughters are selling his house and forcing their father into a retirement home. Abraham convinces his family to let him spend one more night alone as a goodbye to his home of so many decades — then sneaks off as soon as they’re gone, looking for an after-hours travel agent and telling her that he needs to fly to Poland now. He has to settle for a roundabout itinerary with an initial layover in Spain. We see him board that long flight and use some reverse-psychology to get a whole row of seats to himself.

This is one of the many scenes requiring in which he uses use and frailty to his advantage. Through occasional flashbacks, we see both the Jewish social world Abraham enjoyed as a child as well as the horrors that World War II inflicted: near starvation after his time in Nazi camps, going back to the house he grew up in and being turned away, getting help only from one young acquaintance. That acquaintance is the man Abraham hopes to see now, before he dies.

The closer we get to Lodz, though, the more the film reminds us why Abraham dreads this trip so much. Solarz’s script occasionally throws dramatic momentum aside to remind us of what happened historically. Some of the psychological difficulties the old man encounters on the trip are well dramatized; others are maudlin or condescending to the viewer. By its third act, it’s clear that this film fits into a familiar happy-goodbye format.

Quite basically, this is the story of a Polish-born Holocaust survivor who travels from Buenos Aires to Lodz to fulfill a promise he made nearly 70 years earlier. This is a late-life road movie with plenty of poignant and humorous moments. Abraham has a bad right leg that he nicknames “tzuris” because of the aggravation it gives him. He is a stubborn, 88-year-old retired tailor who still has plenty of fight and flair left in him. Unfortunately, his family refuses to recognize it. Bursztein has already foolishly divided his property among his daughters, and the two older ones decide to dispatch him to a nursing home. After all, they say, he will soon need more care because the day is coming when his leg will require amputation.

Bursztein isn’t ready to give up his independence just yet. He has a mission to accomplish back in the old country, a place that for years he has refused to name. When ordering his travel tickets, he still won’t let the word pass his lips and instead writes “Polonia” on a slip of paper. The director is not shy about assorted Jewish stereotypes. As Abraham flies to Madrid, he overnights in a hostel and makes his way overland; we see that haggling and bickering are a funny, necessary part of the process.

The screenplay is in German and Polish with English subtitles and it gives us a fresh take on the horrors of growing old, the indignities and humiliations of a body that keeps letting you down as well as the memories that we cannot shake. What makes “The Last Suit” a hopeful film that is basically sweet at its core is the universal humor of a cranky old man on this one last quest.

“CALL HER GANDA”— True Journalism

“CALL HER GANDA”

True Journalism

Amos Lassen

“Call Her Ganda” is a staggering and thought-provoking documentary on the epidemic of violence against LGBTQ people. Part-chronicle, part-tribute, the film is ushered by Three central female figures take on a seemingly never-ending and irremediable quest for justice in this part-tribute, part-chronicle powerful film.

Jennifer Laude was a twenty-six-year-old transgender woman from the Philippines who died at the hands of a US Marine. She was warm, caring and giving person who did not have, Jennifer did not have a normal childhood and grew up in a bigoted, oppressive environment where she always feared for her safety. As a young adult, she used most of the money she made to help her mother and make generous loans to her community. Julita, her mother, called her Ganda (the Tagalog word for “beauty”), as the little girl would always playfully talk about how pretty she was.

After she grew up, Jennifer became a sex worker. One night on the job, she was taken to a motel by Joseph Scott Pemberton, a nineteen-year-old American serviceman who brutally killed her by submerging her head in the toilet of the motel’s bathroom. After being apprehended, Pemberton received plenty of sympathy from media figures, law enforcement officers and the general public. In response, three brave women took it on themselves to help bring justice to Jennifer’s ghastly death. One of them was Meredith Talusan, a trans journalist who brought the case to the media’s spotlight by publishing articles. Another was Virgie Suarez, a devoted attorney who relentlessly fought for Laude’s attacker to receive legal punishment. The third was Jennifer’s mother who was the leading figure behind several political protests, ensuring that her voice is heard and that her daughter’s tragic death is not overlooked.

It was not the public at large, but a group of LGBTQ individuals and allies who openly mourned Jennifer’s loss and rioted and called for justice to be served. Only a handful of media-recognized figures stood up to this horrible death, but it was enough to spur a movement that managed to obtain a conviction. (It was a reduced, hard-fought and long overdue verdict with Pemberton eventually sentenced for homicide after years of trial).

This ruling represented a critical juncture for the trans community of the Philippines, as for over a century not a single United States soldier was ever convicted for reported harassment, murder and rape and this certainly far not the first care of abuse of trans Filipinas by American servicemen— these officers were consistently assigned immunity under the region’s Visiting Forces Agreement. This blatant favoritism is what sparked a genuine controversy on a political and social level in the aftermath of Jennifer’s death, drawing attention to institutional violence, colonialism and how transphobia still operates in the court of law. Director PJ Raval includes a relevant segment on the historical colonization of the Philippines taking a critical look regarding the United States’ political influence and its residual effects in the country. The documentary does not only showcase the search for justice, but also the prejudice, hatred and undertones of bigotry that prevent it from coming to an end.

This is an important and fascinating watch. It’s also an upsetting, eye-opening film layered with themes of oppression, inhumanity, and discrimination. We immediately know why Jennifer was murdered—that alone is an unfortunate truth we have had to come to terms with. But how she was murdered and just what happens afterward is nothing we might have expected.

“TAINTED SOULS”— Life in the Working Class Suburbs of Rome

“Tainted Souls” (“Il Contagio”)

Lives in the Working-Class Suburbs of Rome

Amos Lassen

Directors Matteo Botrugno and Daniele Coluccini bring us the fates of two men from the working-class suburbs, separated by the different choices they make. Their film is set in the Roman outskirts that are plagued by small-time and big-time criminals but the focus is on the humanity of those who live there. The film is based the novel of the same name by Walter Siti and it can be seen as a love story (or several love stories), as the tale of a tragic friendship, as a patchwork of lives in the working-class suburbs, or even as the portrait of an underworld of ruthless wheeler-dealers who take advantage of those working-class people to make money and reach the upper classes. It is also the story of a choice: to stay and be one of the last remaining residents, or to get out and sell one’s soul to the devil. In the first part of the movie, we find ourselves in a working-class block of flats that is teeming with people with different accents and stories. We are introduced to two couples, Mauro and Simona (Maurizio Tesei and Giulia Bevilacqua), and Marcello and Chiara (Vinicio Marchioni and Anna Foglietta); and there is also an author, Walter (Vincenzo Salemme), who is Marcello’s secret lover and provides him with financial support, as well as being the narrator of the film. Life goes by, with all its rumors, small-time drug dealing and football matches but also with the settling of scores, armed robberies and betrayals. It’s a colorful array of ordinary people getting by as best they can, and trying to love each other.

Halfway through the film, another story begins. We skip forward three years and the plot zeroes in on Mauro, who has made his fortune by making the leap from being a small-time dealer to getting involved in the “business” of cooperatives that help immigrants by appropriating public funds. We follow him during his descent into the underworld, residing in his impressive apartment in central Rome, his face disfigured from cocaine abuse and with a past that has come knocking on his door (Marcello, who, frantic and overwhelmed by debt, has come to ask him for help). The warm colors of the suburbs give way to the cold lights of the city, middle-class vices gain the upper hand over love and friendship, and a dizzying sequence shot accompanies Mauro along his path of damnation. He disowns his roots and gives in to false ideals and cuts his family ties for the sake of money.

Set against the backdrop of a depressingly modern Rome, where corruption is like a disease that taints the soul that Italian cinema continues to depict with conviction. This is a seemingly high-minded stab at socially-relevant drama but it stumbles slowly and mysteriously from one marginal character to another, without establishing who or what “Tainted Souls” is actually about, leaving us to care for no one at all. Marcello is broke but he refuses to get a job, so it’s tough empathize with him. His wife is ill but he cheats on her. Attilio is amoral and selfish. Bruno is a wife-beater. Mauro is the only one with the brains to be a better man but gives up his humanity in exchange for promises of riches, and he presumably does this because he grew up poor. Drug use is rife and so is criminality. It’s a surprise when a narrator tries to persuade us at the end that one of the biggest liars in the movie is a great guy.

The film is about the tragic lives led by marginalized, working-class people who keep making terrible decisions over and over.  A woman is married to her childhood friend, frustrated by the fact that he’s gay and unemployed. Innocents are defrauded by a high-level drug dealer using a charity to steal millions. Jobless men go into hock to violent drug-dealers. They are beaten by the dealers. One man is stoned to death by them. A woman commits suicide by turning up the gas on her stove. Frequent cocaine use is shown as is pot smoking, drinking, and cigarette smoking. No sex is shown but heterosexual couples are seen kissing and a gay couple is seen touching each other’s faces. A woman finds someone’s vibrator. A narrator talks about “penetration” with his gay lover. “Gang-bangs” and orgies are mentioned. We hear gay and Asian slurs and other curse words as we get a look at life that is not pretty.

“DRAGNET”: COLLECTOR’S EDITION— This is the City…

“DRAGNET”: COLLECTOR’S EDITION

This is the City…

Amos Lassen

 The Shout! Select Blu-Ray of “Dragnet” features a new 4K HD scan, and new bonus features including a new interview with co-star Alexandra Paul and audio commentary. Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks try to save the city in “DRAGNET”, a hilarious box-office blockbuster that pays homage to the famed original police dramas of the ’50s and ’60s. This is a contemporary and very funny update of one of the best-known police shows of all time and now available on a special edition Blu-ray loaded with bonus features.

 Aykroyd is nephew of Detective Sgt. Joe Friday (originally played by Joe Webb). Like his no-nonsense uncle, he’s a blue-suited, by-the-rules Los Angeles cop who’s forced to reluctantly team up with the footloose, wisecracking Pep Streebek (Hanks). They are ordered to investigate a seemingly unrelated series of bizarre ritual killings and robberies; they eventually uncover a plot by an underground pagan group to undermine all authority in Los Angeles. Harry Morgan (“M.A.S.H.”) reprises his original TV series role as Bill Gannon; co-stars adding to the hijinks and hilarity include Dabney Coleman, Christopher Plummer and Alexandra Paul.

Directed by Tom Mankiewicz, the film suffers a bit from a plodding feel that’s compounded by a continuing emphasis on the central characters’ tedious investigation yet Aykroyd and Hanks raise the pervasively dull atmosphere. The lack of momentum ensures that the film wears out its welcome long before arriving at its finish.“Dragnet” is a case of a very funny sketch comedy idea dragged out beyond its ability to truly entertain in a feature film.  It’s funny in spots, but not enough to keep it all together the entire way. The first case that the two work on together sees them trying to crack a slew of recent murders in Los Angeles, ostensibly done by a mysterious cult known simply as P.A.G.A.N., (People Against Goodness and Normalcy) as the calling cars they leave behind at the scenes of their crimes suggest.  Signs begin to point in the direction of a smarmy TV evangelist named Rev. Jonathan Whirley (Plummer) and a smarmy smut merchant named Jerry Caesar (Coleman).  Friday and Streebeck rescue a sacrificial virgin, Connie Swail (Paul), at one of the P.A.G.A.N. gatherings, and for the first time in his life, Sgt. Friday has found someone wholesome enough to consider as his girlfriend, though he has now become too involved to think clearly — or play things by the book when the heart is involved.

Aykroyd delivers one of his best comic portrayals that at first seems like a superficial impression, but we begin to appreciate the subtle ways that Aykroyd manages to get in laughs through such a deadpan delivery.  He manages to convey something more inside Friday’s head than just an adherence to the law, and the result is quite funny.

Tom Hanks gives us a geniality and modernity to counter Friday.  He’s a little miscast, as Hanks has always seemed rather clean cut himself as an actor, and even if our first impression of him is of a slob, it’s not easy to see him in the role but he’s gracious enough to let Aykroyd hog the spotlight, as he plays the setup man for Friday’s increasing digressions into silliness. “Dragnet” is at its best when Joe Friday speaks, whether with his partner, questioning a witness, interrogating a suspect, or briefing his boss, Captain Gannon. It loses most of its appeal when Friday is off of the screen, or when the film devolves into extended chase/action sequences.  

Shout! Factory has created a line-up of bonus features including a brand new interview with co-star Alexandra Paul entitled “A Quiet Evening in the Company of Connie Swail” and new audio commentary from pop culture historian Russell Dyball. Additionally, consumers can order the collector’s edition directly from shoutfactory.com ; the Collector’s Edition will ship two weeks early and, while supplies last, will include a free 18×24 rolled poster featuring brand new artwork.

Special Features:

 NEW “A Quiet Evening in the Company of Connie Swail”: An Interview With Co-Star Alexandra Paul

NEW Audio Commentary with Pop Culture Historian Russell Dyball

“Just the Facts!”: A Promotional Look at Dragnet with Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks

Original Theatrical Trailers & Promos

Photo Gallery

“A Politically Incorrect Feminist: Creating a Movement With Bitches, Lunatics, Dykes, Prodigies, Warriors, and Wonder Women” by Phyllis Chesler— A Memoir About the Pioneers of Modern Day Feminism

Chesler, Phyllis. “A Politically Incorrect Feminist: Creating a Movement With Bitches, Lunatics, Dykes, Prodigies, Warriors, and Wonder Women”, St. Martin’s Press, 2018.

A Memoir About the Pioneers of Modern-Day Feminism

Amos Lassen

Phyllis Chesler was a pioneer of Second Wave Feminism. Between 1972-1975, feminists integrated the want ads, brought class action lawsuits on behalf of economic discrimination, opened rape crisis lines and shelters for battered women, held marches and sit-ins for abortion and equal rights, famously took over offices and buildings, and pioneered high profile Speak-outs. Likewise, they began the first-ever national and international public conversations about birth control and abortion, sexual harassment, violence against women, female orgasm, and a woman’s right to kill in self-defense.

Like any movement, the feminist movement has changed over the years. Chesler knew some of its first pioneers, including Gloria Steinem, Kate Millett, Flo Kennedy, and Andrea Dworkin and these women were forces of nature and action heroes in real life. They were changing the world and becoming major players in history. Chesler tells us about them.

This is a survey of the Women’s Movement from the viewpoint of one feminist who was involved in the Movement from its beginning and, after the publication of her groundbreaking “Women and Madness,” participated in women’s actions across the country and the world. She takes us inside the and shares what was happening in a movement that started as scattershot grassroots, with small groups of women forming with no contact yet finding one another. We read of the arguments, the infighting, and backstabbing, some of which perhaps she contributed to, but she also shows us the sense of commitment and the passion to see justice done for women.

She knows those feminists whose contributions are generally unrecognized but without whom there would have been no Movement and she has included them all. Chesler is a revolutionary poet, a social scientist, a radical feminist, and a controversial warrior and an excellent writer.

The Feminist Movement has changed American culture profoundly especially when it re-emerged in the 1970’s. This is the most extensive, richly-detailed and well-written account of that historic movement and is a personal life-trajectory of one of the central early leaders of feminism, an analysis of many of the key concepts of the movement, and an inside look at its major conferences and events. It is also an honest and informative celebration of the hundreds of women who created the movement. Chesler names some 600 women and they are both the well known and the unknown.

Through Phyllis Chesler’s eyes, we get the history and the experiences that were part of the movement. She recounts her involvement with almost every aspect of the struggle, and gives an intimate introduction to the many players, sharing their strengths and weaknesses, idiosyncrasies and yes, madness.

The book shows that indeed, “the movement was created by “bitches, lunatics, prodigies and warriors,” as the book subtitle describes. Yet, overall, they were Wonder Women, because they lurched our society forward into the changes of the late 20th century and early 21st century—and to what we are now experiencing as the “third-wave feminism.”

“AT THE END OF THE DAY”— The Homophobic Intolerance of Conservative Christians

“At The End Of The Day”

The Homophobic Intolerance of Conservative Christians

Amos Lassen

Kevin O’Brien’s directorial debut deals with a subject close to him – the homophobic intolerance of conservative Christians, those who ignore the Bible’s teachings of love and acceptance in favor of a few sentences that they think label same-sex love a sin. O’Brien was raised in a Conservative Christian home, and worked at a church for ten years, so he understands the prejudices of this community and he brings a story to the screen about confronting and overcoming them.

Dave Hopper (Stephen Shane Martin) has just been hired as a professor at a Conservative Christian college after being removed from his local church after his wife left him for another woman. His mild mannered nature hides a bitter homophobia, with his new boss decides to exploit by using him to infiltrate a local LGBT group who are planning on opening a homeless youth shelter that the college wishes to shut down. Upon meeting the group, Hopper tries to sabotage their efforts to raise funds to open a shelter but this plan goes awry when he begins to question whether he’s doing the Christian thing of ruining the good deeds of people helping those in need.

“At the End of the Day” wears its religious themes very lightly on its sleeve and it obviously aimed at an audience with religious leanings in the hope of challenging their pre-conceptions of the LGBT community (but not to the extent that it becomes alienating for viewers outside of this mindset). O’Brien’s screenplay manages to balance its philosophical musings with humor and as a result, it feels down to earth and believable, despite the very heightened nature of the subject matter. You never feel that you’re watching anything as exaggerated as a dramatization of the ongoing societal clash between religious conservatism and LGBT acceptance. O’Brien’s characters are not the narrow minded caricatures they paint each other as.

Martin has quite a job trying to make a character with such closed-minded views somewhat redeemable. He plays his role with a shyness that suggests confusion over the conflicts between the nature of “sin” and the preaching of acceptance in the bible. He n manages to make a seemingly unlikeable character feel merely flawed – somebody who hasn’t take the time to truly examine the effects of his prejudices, and whether or not they are backed up by his Christian beliefs. O’Brien pokes fun at his many contradictions with every chance he gets, yet he never dilutes the serious impact of the anti-gay preaching.

.Dave’s resentment of gay people becomes personal when his wife leaves him for a woman. All the same, he’s aware that he doesn’t really know any gay people, and this inspires a degree of curiosity which blends with his ideological motives in inspiring him to infiltrate a local LGBT support group. There, he’s surprised by how nice everybody seems, and his convictions begin to falter. As his boss pressures him to stick to his guns, he finds himself falling for a straight woman (Danielle Sagona) who works with the group, but it’s his encounters with a troubled teenager from his class that really cause him to know that eventually the truth will win.

It’s clear from the start that Dave is aware of the hypocrisy inherent in his actions, but his genuine openness to loving the sinner allows us to cut him some slack. There’s an emotional honesty about him as he struggles to take responsibility for his actions, and it’s on this that the core of the narrative rests.

Dave’s journey is further complicated by the fact that he’s living with his elderly aunt, a flamboyant woman who makes no secret of her active sex life yet humors him with such gentleness that he struggles to work out what she actually believes. Her presence complicates myths about American tradition and reminds us that this is a country that has always been built upon a diversity of cultural narratives. She’s also one of several characters who complicate the notion that its current ‘Culture War’ has two neatly divided sides with everybody on one or the other.

Everything here is beautifully photographed and great costume design helps the cast bring depth and complexity to their characters. A visit to a shelter for young people rejected by their families provides a glimpse of just how many different kinds of people struggle to find a place within a rigidly heterosexual, binary gendered society, and there’s even an intersex character, rare as hen’s teeth. Yet although the film is passionate about showing us what people like this go through, it doesn’t feel preachy – its power comes from what it shows rather than what it tells. Dave’s internal struggle (which also neatly upends the myth that homophobia is all about internalised repression of sexuality) parallels wider currents of social change. There is no suggestion that atonement is easy or forgiveness always deserved – simply that they are worthwhile for their own sake.