Friday, April 8, 2016

That's Sexploitation! Review

I got this in the mail yesterday and screened it last night. This is a VERY important documentary. It tells the story of a totally ephemeral branch of film making, the exploitation film. The documentary is very entertaining and well organized to show the ups and downs of the business, with hundreds of incredible clips, each one identified, so you can dig deeper and seek out a copy of the entire film if you are interested. Something Weird Video founder, Mike Vraney produces, Frank Henenlotter hosts and he interviews David Friedman, one of the "Forty Thieves" that were behind most of the exploitation films and their distribution. His comments are amazing, putting the whole thing into context in a way that only someone who had been there could. Lots and lots of great jump blues and swinging music in the soundtrack. Henenlotter really knows how to have fun with this stuff.

This blu-ray is only marginally HD. The new interview footage is 1080i but it appears that all the clips might be upscales from 480i. It really doesn't matter though, because these films weren't exactly shot like 2001, and the prints that remain are in a range of conditions from beat up to pretty clean. Henenlotter does a great job of editing out the very best from each film, so the condition of the elements is never really an issue. The film itself takes up almost 30 gigs of the BD50 disk. Well into the range of overkill, but it's a long film so the more the merrier I guess.

I haven't had the chance to check it out yet, but the supplements consist of over 3 hours (20 gigs!) of classic exploitation shorts dating from the 1920s up to the 1970s in 480i. Fans of Henenlotter's Something Weird Video label will recognize a lot of them, but it's great to have them all organized on one disk. That's Sexploitation was released in a three DVD version, and if you have that, there probably isn't any reason to upgrade to the blu-ray, except perhaps if you really care about the bitrate. The blu-ray has twice the file size as the DVD.

Folks who want to show off their systems won't find much in this disk. The image quality is essentially DVD quality, and the sound is variable, depending on the source. But HOLY COW! what a great party disk! Just pop on the supplements in the background and rack up some hot music and you could be living the life of a swinging bachelor in the golden age of sleaze.

This is just one of a group of blu-rays that pack in ephemeral shorts like this... 42nd Street Forever, Kung Fu Trailers of Fury, Trailer War... All of these exploit the large capacity of the blu-ray format to deliver super long running times and shovel in a crapload of ultra rare trailers and shorts you could never see anywhere else. That's Sexploitation is like an encyclopedia of sleaze... better than any book on the subject because instead of talking about films, it shows them to you. Frank Henenlotter is a hero.

Monday, April 4, 2016

04-03-16 An Afternoon Atop Mt Wilson

JoJo and I decided to take a ride up Angeles Crest to Mt Wilson this weekend. We had a lot of fun and I got a couple of good pictures.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

KrampusFest 2015

KrampusFest 2015! Very difficult to shoot! Densely packed crowd, absolutely no lighting whatsoever, stuff happening very fast. The Fuji wasn't quite up to it as well as my Nikon would be, but I got a couple of nice shots. Krampus Krampus Krampus Krampus Krampus Krampus Krampus Krampus Krampus

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Hong Kong Ghost Stories (2011)

Hong Kong Ghost Stories (2011)

It's been a while since Hong Kong horror has been a mainstream genre in Chinese film making, but that seems to be changing. This film is a pair of unrelated ghost stories bridged by linking material... Kind of like the old Hammer and Amacus "trilogy" films. I've always liked this format because it compacts the interest and scares because of the shorter amount of time. It works really well within the Hong Kong school of horror.

The first story involves a young teacher taking on a job at a school and facing an unruly class of students. Slowly she begins to realize that the job wasn't exactly the one she was hired for. The ghostly elements aren't really anything new, but they are well done and when it involves a lot of pretty young actresses, who can complain? The second story is a lot more interesting, even though it starts out with over the top buffoonery. But pretty soon there are grisly murders and horrible retribution from the spirit world to make up for the silliness.

Image quality and sound are top notch. The surround content in particular is very good. Subtitles are mostly grammatically correct, but sometimes the dialogue goes so fast, it's hard to keep up.

The time gap between when movies like Mr Vampire were made and today is huge. Hong Kong in 1985 was a lot different than in 2011. It's interesting to see ghostly stuff inhabiting cell phones, and caricatured performances that resemble the Chinese equivalent of Valley Girls. The contrast between old ideas and new ones are stark, and it makes this a very interesting movie for Westerners. I'd recommend this one.

Link to order this blu-ray at

Thursday, October 29, 2015