Monthly Archives: March 2021

“BOY MEETS BOY”— Opening Up

“BOY MEETS BOY”

Opening Up

Amos Lassen

Junior doctor Harry (Matthew James Morrison) is in Berlin for a weekend break and meets Johannes (Alexis Koutsoulis), just as his weekend of dancing and casual sexual encounters is coming to an end. With hours left before his flight home, Johannes agrees to show Harry the sights of Berlin as the two men open up to each other about their lives, loves and relationships.

“Boy Meets Boy” chronicles the potential lovers as they take in the atmosphere of the city and debate about everything from the benefits of finding sex on Grindr and Tinder and whether Eurovision is “gay revenge for the World Cup”. The two build a real connection that neither is used to. Harry has been looking for his calling in life and used to finding happiness through casual sex. He has prepared himself for not wanting to have sex with the same person more than once. Johannes believes in the power of forming a bond with another in a traditional relationship.

The topics that the two men talk about are both insignificant and important and this leads them to better understand each other while at the same time deciding if their connection could lead to  something more than their short time together allows. Directed and co-written (along with Hannah Renton) by Daniel Sanchez Lopez, we see  two, often opposing, viewpoints of the young men, their cynicism and prejudices laid as they reveal how they both think they should be finding their ways in terms of modern queer relationships. Both actors are excellent in their roles and have great chemistry with each other.

The film doesn’t ignore the harsh realities of modern love, sex and relationships and is  frank and often emotionally raw film..

When Harry realizes that he has been partying for 48 hours and has just 15 hours left until his flight home to London and he still hasn’t seen Berlin. Johannes who is both carefree and careless offers to show him the city and help him print his boarding pass. They spend the day together wandering through the city and talking about their lives, values and truths. They make a deep in just 15 hours.

The script is filled with wit and wisdom. What begins as a fleeting romance becomes intellectual and challenges the changing concepts of relationships in modern society. Romance is modernized making the film relevant.

“DEATH HAS BLUE EYES”— A Paranormal Thriller


“DEATH HAS BLUE EYES”

A Paranormal Thriller

Amos Lassen

When local gigolo Chess (Chris Nomikos) greets his vacationing friend Bob Kovalski (Peter Winter) at Athens airport, the two set out on a series of scams and erotic dalliances that will take them to an elegant wealthy woman, Geraldine Steinwetz (Jessica Dublin), and her daughter Christine (Maria Aliferi).

Geraldine blackmails the two men into acting as bodyguards for Christine who possesses telepathic abilities. After fleeing from a series of assassination attempts, it soon becomes clear that Geraldine herself might not be quite who she seems and the two men become caught up in a political conspiracy of international consequences.

Filmmaker Nico Mastorakis gives non-stop car, bike and helicopter chases, beautiful girls with guns, softcore sex scenes, psychic thrills and Cold War political intrigue all set against the landscapes of 1970s Greece. The film, for the first time, comes to us in a new HD master in both widescreen and full-frame versions.

Bob and Ches are both con men and they spend most of their days pulling off petty scams and/or trying to get with hot women. One of their favorite scams is to dine in fancy hotel restaurants and pass themselves off as hotel guests and charge the bill to a random room. One day this con job goes wrong when the room they tell the waiter to charge the bill to is revealed to belong to the two women sitting at the table next to them— Geraldine Steinwetz and her sexy, blonde daughter Christine (Maria Aliferi). Geraldine and Christine seem amused rather than angry and don’t care to report the incident, but Bob gets a bit freaked when Christine reveals that she knows his name and his way of operating. He gets the distinct impression that she can read his mind. It is here that the story starts.

There are many wacky highlights and especially two stand-out sequences. The first one comes when the constantly horny Bob tries to hook up with a voluptuous blonde stripper named Debra, who invites him to come to her club to watch her “dance”, but once he gets there he finds the place deserted. Debra suddenly appears behind him – wearing a tight blouse shirt that is barely able to hold her breasts and she pulls a gun on him. A strip tease ensues. The other scene also involves Bob. He hooks up with a sexy race car driver (Marie Elise Eugene) and as the two of them are getting hot and heavy, Christine uses her psychic abilities to connect to Bob’s mind to see what he’s up to, and for whatever reason Bob is unable to continue with the lovemaking. He then picks a flower from a bouquet on the table and places it in his disappointed lover’s rear before sitting down in a corner to sulk.

The film has beautiful cinematography and stylish camera angles and good car stunts and plot twists in the final third. This is a really strange film that seems to be more intriguing than it is.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS

  Brand new restoration from the original camera negative approved by the director

  High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation

  Two versions of the film: the widescreen 1.85:1 version and the full-frame 1.33:1 version

  Original mono audio

  Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing

  Exclusive new interview featurette with Nico Mastorakis

  Exclusive new interview with actress Maria Aliferi

  Dancing with Death: tracks from the Death Has Blue Eyes original soundtrack

  Original theatrical trailers

  Image gallery

  Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collectors’ booklet featuring new writing by Julian Grainger

“SWITCHBLADE SISTERS” — A Wild Girl Gang

“SWITCHBLADE SISTERS”

A Wild Girl Gang

Amos Lassen

Jack Hill’s Switchblade Sisters is a bad film about a group of bad girls doing some really bad things. A film like this can no longer be made in the politically correct world we live in. 

The  story is simple and utterly unbelievable. Maggie (Joanne Nail) proves herself in a fight and becomes a member of the Dagger Debs. Soon after, she is raped by Dominic (Asher Bauner), the leader of the Silver Daggers, who convinces himself that she is the girl of his dreams. This creates plenty of tension between Maggie and Lace (Robbie Lee), the leader of the Dagger Debs, who has been dating Dominic. Meanwhile, another girl, Patch (Monica Gayle), who dislikes Maggie, realizes that the drama could be a great opportunity for her to get rid of the gang’s newest and unusually popular member and its leader. 


The film is broken into multiple episodes in which the girls  are frequently angry. There is plenty of macho talk and quite a few fights but the exchanges are quite simple. This is probablythe reason why the film has a huge fan base. The talk is rough and the acting quite bad, but the static in the air feels real. There are plenty of scenes where the girls basically go into overdrive mode and get pretty wild.  The guys are either horny or stupid. The girls easily take care of them but only because the story needs them to.

“Switchblade Sisters” is a little movie, full of all the lurid teases, off-the-cuff production values, and relevance that make exploitation movies cultural time capsules. These high-school gang girls are an urban lot who confront their beloved male counterparts in the Silver Daggers, the sadistic and predatory lesbian prison matron, the rival gang who’s moving into their school territory, and the black female revolutionary who quotes Chairman Mao and has stored firearms in an abandoned police station. It moves along at a fast clip that staves off any concerns about the plot’s sillier aspects and uneven performances.

Filled with sharp, clever dialogue and tongue in cheek humor, this is a grindhouse classic!

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS

  High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation

  Original uncompressed mono audio

  Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing

  Brand new audio commentary by historians/critics Samm Deighan & Kat Ellinger

  We Are The Jezebels, an archival documentary featuring director Jack Hill, producer John Prizer, casting director Geno Havans, production designer B.B. Neel, stunt coordinator Bob Minor, and stars Joanne Nail, Asher Brauner, and Chase Newhart

  Gangland: The locations of Switchblade Sisters, an archival documentary in which Jack Hill and filmmaker Elijah Drenner revisit the shooting locations of Switchblade Sisters

  Jack Hill and Joanne Nail at the Grindhouse Film Festival, a 2007 archival interview with the director and actor

  Interview with Jack Hill, Robbie Lee, Joanne Nail, an archival 1990 s interview with the director and stars in conversation with Johnny Legend

  Galleries of behind the scenes stills, international posters, video covers, and lobby cards

  Theatrical trailers

  Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by The Twins of Evil

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collectors’ booklet featuring new writing by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Heather Drain

“A GHOST WAITS”— No One is Alone

“A GHOST WAITS”

No One is Alone

Amos Lassen

In “A Ghost Waits”,  a family are driven from an isolated, affordable house by a spectral presence. We meet handyman Jack (MacLeod Andrews), who fixes up vacated properties for the next tenants. He is something of a phantom himself who is forced out of his own apartment while his building is being fumigated and is homeless. He begins a kind of marginal existence, caring for places where he has no emotional or financial investment. He’s disconnected from humanity.

Muriel (Natalie Walker) is a pale-faced ghost who looks and haunts Jack with objects that move when he’s looking away, strange sounds in the night, disturbing dreams. She is happy when he’s driven from the house, but softens when he comes back because he literally has nowhere else to go and they start talking.

Director Adam Stovall, who also co-wrote the screenplay with star Andrews and Matt Taylor gives nods to classic ghost films but “A Ghost Wait has its own personality. Shot in chilly monochrome, it stresses pale whites rather than stark shadows that creates a limbo-like atmosphere for a relationship between living and dead specters.

Muriel, like Jack, has a remote boss who doesn’t feel obliged to explain the point of the job she’s doing in the house. The acting is exceptional as Jack is intrigued by Muriel and asks the questions that anyone would ask of a ghost.

Jack has not had a great deal of luck when it comes to romance. He travels from place to place to deep clean houses in preparation for sale but it could be that he’s just never met the right woman. The house he’s been assigned to clean now as apparently never met the right owner since several families have left it quickly probably because  it’s haunted by a hardworking, proud ghost who is determined to maintain her record. However, Jack’s reaction to her is not what she’s used to.

 “A Ghost Waits is a meditation on the futility of existence. Muriel, the ghost, becomes increasingly frustrated by Jack’s failure to notice her poltergeist activity and what Stovall’s film does is slowly transform into the story of a man discovering meaning somewhere he never expected to. Before long, Muriel has given up on subtlety and starts confronting him directly, but he’s just not scared and it soon becomes clear that love is in the air. There’s just one problem – Muriel’s boss.

This a wonderful example of what’s possible on a small budget with just a little imagination.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS

  High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation

  Original uncompressed stereo audio

  Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing

  Audio commentary by writer/director Adam Stovall

  Audio commentary by Adam Stovall and MacLeod Andrews

  Audio commentary by the cast and crew

  Humanity and the Afterlife in ‘A Ghost Waits’, a new video essay by Isabel Custodio exploring the film’s themes and cinematic forebears

  Eight interviews with cast and crew moderated by critic and programmer tt stern-enzi

  Interview and post-film Q&A with Adam Stovall moderated by Alan Jones at Frightfest Glasgow 2020

  Outtakes

  Easter eggs

  Theatrical trailer

  Image gallery

  Reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by Sister Hyde and original artwork by Julie Hill

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collectors’ booklet featuring new writing by Craig Ian Mann

“NIGHTBEAST”— Gore and Nudity

 


“NIGHTBEAST”

Gore and Nudity

Amos Lassen

An alien has crash-landed in rural Maryland with a monster  aboard who has no interest in peace. Armed with weaponry and claws, it takes on all comers and becomes a major problem for local law enforcement and politicians.

County Sheriff Cinder (Tom Griffith), Deputy Sheriff Lisa Kent (Karin Kardian), and some men go out to investigate the monster. The alien goes on a rampage, blasting people with its disintegrator ray and ripping guts out. The sheriff tries to convince Mayor Bert Wicker (Richard Dyszel) to evacuate the town, but he refuses because a party is scheduled. As the alien creature continues its rampage, local delinquent Drago (Don Leifert) is on the run after killing his girlfriend. Cinder and Lisa begin to fall in love, but this is interrupted as the body count continues to rise.

I love this low budget sci-fi alien attack romp. It is well made and has some solid gore effects even though the design of the alien is really strange. There is a lot of use of fog and this adds to the atmosphere. We get right into the action from the beginning with the alien attacking people.

The acting is pretty bad and there are too many filler scenes but the the cheesy acting adds to the film’s charm.

“HONOR KILLING”— Honor The Family

“HONOR KILLING”

Honor The Family

Amos Lassen

“Honor Killing” is a 2018 action exploitation film from actress, director, and model Mercedes. The film follows a young woman who loves to learn but her strictly religious father does not want this since in their culture women are not educated. He wants her to submit to her religion and follow the traditional norms for women. One day on her way home from the library she is raped but manages to survive. Her rape brings great shame to her family so her father decides to kill her. She survives but loses an eye. Her father flees to hide by staying with his brother because he was ashamed of his daughter’s rape. She begins a journey to find him and kill him.

“Honor Killing” has a strong message. Mercedes both directs and carries the film as well. Her performance has its own ups and downs. Some of the scenes are fantastic while others are very tame. The supporting cast is solid with some delivering a little better performances than others.  This is a Muslim centered story that is a thriller and it is both bloody and fun. 

“BOMBSHELL” — bDating in Los Angeles

“BOMBSHELL”

Dating in Los Angeles

Amos Lassen

“Bombshell” is a seven-episode comedy series about Jay, a queer transman finding his way on the gay dating scene in Los Angeles.  He’s young, single, looking for fun, but he soon learns that in the bedroom, sex becomes an activity for cis men and the questions they have. Jay’s chosen family is made up of Selena, his Angeleno best friend, Darlene, the Bostonian Hairdresser, and Penis Mascot, a cartoon caped penis personifying his id. When Jay meets Joe, a kind, authentic guy who’s really into him, he doesn’t know how to act and has to learn self-respect if he wants this to work.

The comedy is very purposefully crafted. It makes fun of non-trans people’s misconceptions about the trans experience thus giving us a very true and emotional look at what it’s really like to be trans.

S1, Ep1

Jay uses a hook up app called Gruff to meet some cisgender guys only to end up on an unsafe bender with his faithful friend Penis Mascot. 

S1, Ep2

Jay is visited by a ghost from hook ups past. 

S1, Ep3

Jay searches for what to do with his life in LA. Along the way, he meets a sweet cis hottie named Joe. 

S1, Ep4

Jay avoids Joe and his own feelings. Darlene builds Jay’s confidence by teaching him to dance. 

S1, Ep5

Jay tries to be honest with Joe and himself. 

S1, Ep6

Jay goes out with Selena, Susan, Holly, and Sam, and ends up somewhere unexpected. 

S1, Ep7

Jay gets a surprise visitor to LA and discovers the importance of friendship in a hook up culture.

“NEON BOYS”— To Be a Dad

“NEON BOYS”

To Be a Dad

Amos Lassen

It is not easy to be a father since it means making difficult decisions. Shawn, is a father who has a rough time finding a job, especially because he has been in prison. He finally takes a job as an erotic dancer in order to support his daughter and he falls in love with a man for the first time. Directed by AJ Mattioli and co-director/star Jonathan Salazar, this is a film full of heart.

Ricky (Jonathan Salazar) works as an erotic dancer at a gay nightclub in New York and has been working there for a while. One day Ricky comes into work and meets a new colleague, Shawn (Matty Glitterati Kinkel). Shawn has just come out of prison, and is trying hard get his life back on track. This is the only job that Shawn could find. He feels that he must succeed because he wants to get back into his young daughter’s life. His ex, Rebecca (Kelsey Denae), is does not want to let Shawn see their child. As soon as Ricky meets Shawn, he finds himself attracted to him and even though Shawn has never dated a man before, sparks begin to fly between the two men.

The romance becomes intimate but the heartbreak the two eventually feel is heart-breaking. When Ricky meets Shawn, he’s bashful and suddenly feels insecure. We see moments when emotions shows us the romance between Shawn and Ricky.

“THE DOSE” (“La Dosis”) — In a Private Clinic

“THE DOSE” (“La Dosis”)

In a Private Clinic

Amos Lassen

Marcos (Carlos Portaluppi) is a hardworking, long serving nurse on a palliative care ward where he supports people who have little hope of remaining alive. He’s diligent about his work and follows his own code of ethics yet every now and again, when he considers a patient to be beyond hope, he gives an overdose to speed them on their way. It’s a simple life until newcomer Gabriel (Ignacio Rogers) takes a job on the ward and everything changes.

Gabriel is the opposite of Marcos. He is young and confident and soon he becomes a favorite and may even challenge Marcos to promotion. However, something feels wrong. This is supposedly his first nursing job, yet he is familiar with all the tasks. He volunteers to do extra work and  Marcos discovers that Gabriel, too, is killing patients but not because he feels for them but because he enjoys doing so.  

Director Martin Kraut doesn’t settle for a simple blackmail plot but also questions whether Marcos’ motives are really what he thinks they are. As the relationship between the two men develops, the older nurse is forced to question himself in multiple ways. His clear resentment and jealousy of Gabriel increasingly seems bound up with sexual attraction, but that’s the last thing he wants to feel. Gabriel, who has already gone to some lengths to befriend him is intrigued by his holdout against his charm and flirts back, making Marcos still more uncomfortable.

A lot of the film is spent developing this and it is seen by the slow pace of life on the ward. Portaluppi is fully invested in Marco but this long, slow stretch is tougher for Gabriel, who is a less intense character. There are moments of black comedy as Marcus attempts to confess what he has done and no-one seems to listen.

In between these is a more conventional thriller. We see a cold, lonely world where beeping monitors count down the seconds of fading lives. Nurses offer comfort where they can but are constantly busy. Death seems like a minor element in a much larger tragedy that extends far beyond the film’s two protagonists

It begins with a comatose patient entering cardiac arrest; the doctors give in after three attempts to restart her heart. Marcos seems to sense she is not gone yet, and applies the paddles himself. She is revived, but still unconscious, and the hospital does not want to spend more resources on this old woman who is apparently without family and this brings  Marcos to steal something from the supply closet and inject her with it. Meanwhile, there’s Gabriel, a new nurse in the ICU’s rotation who begins to befriend Marcos. 

We see that Clinica Nagal has a ICU that is dark and dingy. The doctors and nurses are professional, dedicated caregivers but we  see how it’s a place with thin resources. We have an exciting climax  which almost seems anticlimactic but there’s something to that, especially combined with a brief epilogue. The film seems to suggest that you can’t defeat evil with a single coup de grace and that you’ve got to build and remember to show kindness whenever you can. This is not the usual kind of ending for a thriller but it is honest in how it resolves the situation.

“FIREBIRD”— Gay in the Military

“FIREBIRD”

Gay in the Military

Amos Lassen

Until recently, being openly gay in the military was a criminal offence in many countries. When that changed, there’s often a reluctance to ‘come out’ for fear of bullying, harassment and discrimination. In less tolerant and usually only vaguely democratic countries, it’s still illegal. Society’s lapse into bigotry, conservatism and religious intolerance has ruined countless lives and this is what we see in “Firebird.”

Set during the Cold War, Sergey (Tom Prior) is Undertaking his military service on a Russian base. So is his childhood friend Luisa (Diana Pozharskaya) and their friends suspect that the two of them will eventually get together. Sergey counts the days and minutes until he can leave the military but when Roman, an ace pilot (Oleg Zagorodnii), arrives, he becomes interested in him. The men strike up a friendship and eventually start a relationship, but since homosexuality is illegal in the Soviet Air Force they can never be together.Peeter Rebane’s film is a love story seen through the prism of three people who are inexorably drawn together. The film is intelligent, thoughtful, moving and an involving true gay love story set against the repressive background of a Soviet Air Force Base in the era of the Cold War. The two men are soon threatened by an escalating KGB investigation, and then a love triangle forms between them and the base commander’s secretary.

Tom Prior co-wrote the script about a friendship across the ranks that soon becomes an amorous escapade involving all three comrades in arms, highlighting the risks of love affairs in the time of war, punishable by five years in a hard labor camp.

The most remarkable thing about “Firebird” is its narrative and temporal sweep; the film charts Sergey and Roman’s difficult relationship path, and the characters who become involved in it, as well as the looming threat of conflict between East and West. Rebane’s direction co-ordinates the movie’s different elements into a satisfying drama. We see and feel the threat of danger inherent in the soldiers’ relationship.