Views & Reviews From Writer Steve Miller
Formerly Reviews and Stuff at Rotten Tomatoes, 2005 - 2009.

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Friday, April 30, 2010

Hitler's End
(according to Russ Heath and Atlas Comics)

History records that on April 30, 1945, Adolf Hilter chose to take the coward's way out and committed suicide as the Russian forces invaded Berlin. Many of his psychotic followers did the same, even going so far as murdering their entire families in the process.

However, if you click on this link to Pappy's Golden Age Comics Blogzine you can see a story that one wishes might be true. Especially if you're a German whose parents or grandparents were one-time proud Nazis.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

'SS Girls' defies genre classification

Every once in a while, I come across a movie that leaves me absolutely baffled as to what the director was trying to accomplish. One such film has made it into the line up for the "Nazis Quit Mini-Blogathon."

SS Girls (aka "Private House of the SS") (1977)
Starring: Gabriele Carrara, Marina Daunia, Macha Magall and Ivano Staccioli
Director: Bruno Mattei
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

This a film that defies classification beyond "Nazi softcore porn," because I can't figure out whether it's an ineptly made spoof or a VERY ineptly made drama. The only thing I know for sure is that it's ineptly made.

As the tide of WW2 turns against Germany, crazed SS officer and former church organist Hans Schellenberg (Carrara) is charged with creating a brothel where, while in the throes of passion, high-ranking military officers will be tricked revealing whether they are traitors to the Third Reich. To this end, a dozen or so young women are trained to be the ultimate weapons of sexual destruction by Hans' sadistic second-in-command (Daunia) and an expert prostitute (Magall).

Allowing for the bizarre premise--that anyone will be stupid enough to reveal they are planning high treason against a murderous dictator to a prostitute in a brothel run by loyal servants of said murderous dictator--the movie starts out logically enough, if goofy. The training sequences where the girls are trained as sexual soldiers (especially the bits where they are fencing in toga-like outfits) are unintentionally hilarious).

In fact, the first half hour of the film plays like a slightly inept spoof of the "classic" Nazi brothel movie "Salon Kitty" (an influence the director acknowledges in an interview included on the DVD). The intense and creepy Nazi commander from "Salon Kitty" is replaced with Gabriele Carrara's Hans character, who starts out with a strange set-up (the greatest church organist ever, yet sexually perverse enough to count a brothel madame and a dominatrix among his close associates... not to mention the fact that he appears to in love with Hitler and Nazism that all he needs is a picture of The Fuhrer and a free hand to get satisfaction. But Hans is all the more rediculous due to the over-the-top performance delivered by both Carrara and the anonymous voice actor who performed the English-language dub for the picture. It's so bad that it becomes good as he mugs and minces his way through the movie, a performance so ludicrously extreme that I'm amazed that he didn't have a long and successful career as a comic actor starting with this movie. (I suspect it might have a little to do with the fact that he probably wasn't trying to be funny, although it's just as likely that he was a stage actor.)

Carrara's performance is so bizarre that I actually found myself liking Hans as the film unfolded, despite the fact he's absolutely repulsive in every way. Of course, my empathy for the character could arise from the fact that Carrara is the only one of two actors who give anything close to a performance beyond "Hi, I'm here for a small paycheck, and I'm putting forth a comparable effort." (The other noteworthy performance comes from Ivano Staccioli, who, as Hans' commanding officer General Berger, seems like he wandered over from a more serious-minded WW2 drama and isn't aware of the inane nature of the film he's in.)

Carrara and his character are at the most extreme and become fully ensconced as the film's bizarre comedic center when he puts a group of Nazi generals on trial for treason--his "girls" successfully loosening their tongues--while dressed like this:

Hans' "NAzi Pope" outfit is a great bit of mockery of the put-on pomp and circumstance of Hitler's Third Reich and so nonsensical that it would have been more at home in a film like "Airplane" than here.

Unfortunately, Hans' trial is both a comedic highpoint and the moment at which the film stops making any sense. With the generals out of the way, Hans' brothel gets used as a way to execute three extremely brutal officers (which begged the question wny they just weren't taken out and shot) and ultimately Hans himself. Hans' demise, and that of all the characters, take place on the very day Hitler commits suicide, and the closing scenes of the film are as strange as everything that led up to it, but are undermined by a out-of-the-blue conversion of Hans from Nazi worshipper to self-loathing Nazi hater, and a truly out-of-place speech by General Berger that seems designed to evoke the sentiment that "Nazis are people too, and the horrors of war are horrors of war, even for Nazis who are exterminating Jews in concentration camps and specially trained sex soldiers in brothels."

To top off an already bizarre experience, the film ends in the most literally incomprehensible way: The final few lines in the version I screeened were hadn't been dubbed into English but were spoken in Italian.

I've said very little about the sex part of this movie, which, obstensibly is its main selling point. This is because I think only the loneliest and horniest fans of these kinds of Nazi boob-fests will find what this film has to offer engaging. There is nudity throughout and there are plenty of naughty bits during the "sex boot camp" montage early in the picture, but it's mostly badly staged, indifferently filmed, and just plain boring. (Except for the scene where Hans almost gets it on with two ladies in a room lined with Nazi flags and busts of Hitler... but it's once again Gabriele Carrara's extreme over-acting that saves the scene rather than its supposed erotic content.)

In the end, despite my love for Gabriele Carrara in this, his only starring role, I can't recommend this movie.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

May 20th is first annual
Everybody Draw Mohammad Day
(well... not really)

In 2005, the Danish newspaper Jylland's Posten undertook a project to support our cherished right of freedom of speech and expression by printing a series of cartoons that depicted not only the idol of Muslims everywhere--the Prophet Mohammed (may peas be upon him)--but also commented on the Muslim obsession with censorship and violence. The response was predictable, and Muslim crazies are STILL trying to murder cartoonist Kurt Westergaard.

In 2010, Seattle-based cartoonist Molly Norris drew THIS cartoon and posted it to her website:

She sent it around to several members of the media, she did radio interviews this past Friday, and she inspired others to contemplate the notion of a Draw Mohammad Day.A Facebook group was created. A Blogger blog was created. Despite the fact that Everybody Draw Mohammad Day was still three weeks away, people started submitting cartoons.

And somewhere, Muslim Maniacs started sharpening their knives.

Norris heard the sound of metal on grindstone and she saw the sparks flying. She swiftly came out and said, "I was only kidding! It was just a cartoon for gosh's sake!" (click here to visit her site), something the fact her "group" was named CACAH ("ca-ca") was a tip-off for. She even made a revised version of her cartoon in an attempt to stem the spread of the idea that May 20 is "Everybody Draw Mohammad Day":

It's not because people are gullible that they believed Norris was serious about her "event." It's because, like me, they are sick and tired of watching Western commentators, entertainers and media outlets cower in the face of savage lunatics.

Norris has disavowed any involvement in "Everybody Draw Mohammad Day." The Facebook page has been disavowed by its creator. There's still a Blogger blog (here,but I predict it will soon fade).

However, the idea is now out there. Will there be someone with real clout that will take on "Everybody Draw Mohammad Day" and make a reality? It sure would be nice, especially if the cartoons selected are of the intelligent and creative stripe like the original ones in Jylland's Posten, or even the so-heavily censored commentary on last week's "South Park."

For a consise history of the life and death of "Everybody Draw Mohammad Day," click here.

Tectonic Tuesdays: Edwige Fenech

Continuing the series that demonstrates the scientific truth behind the divinely-inspired genius of Iranian holy man Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi who on April 16, 2010 uttered the following words: "Many women who do not dress modestly [...] spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes."

Case Study Two: Edwige Fenech

Italian actress Edwige Fenech spent the late 1960s and the 1970s disrobing in the pages of magazines and in a variety of European sex comedies, thrillers, and horror films. From 1968 through 1981, she was in 65 movies. After that, she turned mostly to television (and, for the most part) kept her clothes on.

In 1968, Fenech appeared in three films, including "Sexy Susan Sins Again", causing Illinois to be rocked by an earthquake. She was in nine films in 1969, and Spain, Morocco, Portugal and Kamchatka were all hit by severe earthquakes. She appeared topless or nude in anywhere from three to six movies every year throughout the 1970s, bringing about the 1972 earthquakes in Nicaragua and Australia; an earthquake and tsunami in the Hawaiian Islands in 1975; and the 1978 Santa Barbara quake that claimed 65 lives in California.

All because of the immodesty of Edwige Fenech.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Springtime for Hitler!

I'm starting the fourth week of the "Nazis Quit Mini-Blogathon" with music!

Whether you prefer the original 1968 Mel Brooks-directed "The Producers" or the 2005 remake, one of the definate highlights of either version is the opening night performance of "Springtime for Hitler." (The movie is about a pair of scammers who set out to stage the worst Broadway musical in history so they can bilk investors.)

Here are YouTube clips of both versions.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Nazis Quit Mini-Blogathon: Week Three

Continuing the observation of the end of Nazi Germany 65 years ago with a third week of movies and graphic novels that give Hitler and his psychotic followers (and those who enabled them) exactly the level of respect they deserve.

Graphic Novel Reviews
The Haunted Tank, Vol. 1: 500+ Pages of Quirky Batttle Action

Movie Reviews
Cataclysm: Immortal Nazis Add to Confusion

The Great Dictator: Charlie Chaplin Mocks Fascism and Bucks the Hollywood Mainstream

Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS: The Most Feared Nazi of Them All

Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror: The Great Detective vs. the Master Race

For lots more (and year-round) respect for Hitler and the Third Reich, check out the Hitler Getting Punched blog by clicking here.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

'Prophet Muhammad' now a dirty word

They can say "ass" on television these days, but they can't say "Prophet Muhammad" (peas be upon him). Last night, on "South Park," every utterance of "Prophet Muhammad" (piss be upon him) was bleeped out, just like the words "fuck" and "shit."

Click here for the latest example of disgusting cowardice by the American media in the face of maniac terrorists.

As of this writing, the show still isn't up on the South Park website for those who might want to watch a comprensible version of the show, just to see exactly how stupid the Lions of Islam are.

Once again, the American media cowers in the face of psychotic Muslims, even the retarded ones who issue death threats over a cartoon show IN WHICH THEIR IMAGINARY FRIEND MUHAMMAD DIDN'T EVEN APPEAR! (He wasn't even in the damn bear costume in Part One of the episode, as was revealed last night.)

While I agree that "the Prophet Muhammad" in the same category as "fuck" and "shit" and "piss"--words that should never be uttered in civilized company--I hate the fact that yet another bunch of Muslim mental cases are getting their way. Will SOMEONE in the media with a real platform PLEASE tell these Islamic assholes to go fuck themselves?!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April is Muslim Maniac Month?

I don't intend to turn this blog into the Muslim Fruits & Nuts of the Day, but it seems like there's been more Islamic Idiocy in the news these past few days than there has been in a while.

And I remain steadfast in my position there can't be enough mockery heaped on these idiots when they start to carry on.

The latest comes from another dimwit of the al-Amrikee variety, who is posting veiled threats (well, not so veiled really... if the threats were a burka, the woman wearing it in downtown Mecca would have been stoned to death) against Trey Parker and Matt Stone for a "South Park" episode that depicted the Prophet Muhammad (peas be upon him) in a bear suit. Here's a sample of the offensive scene:

You can read all about it in an article on Fox News titled "South Park' Creators Could Face Retribution for Depicting Muhammad, Website Warns". It's even got quotes from the Lion of Islam who got his panties all in a bunch over a cartoon show.

And, as is my habit when the Muslim Maniacs start threatening to kill people over free expression and cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad (peat be upon him), here are some more cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad (pleats be upon him).

Click on the images for larger versions. Or, better yet, click here to see the full episode that has set off the latest Toonphobia incident in a Muslim Maniac.
(It's Part One of Two, and it's a round-up of a decade or so worth of South Park jokes, even featuring the return of Tom Cruise, Mecha-Streisand, and the mystery of Cartman's father!)

The Complete Adventures of Agent 00

Here are two of the oddest film to ever be exported from the Phillipines, "For Your Height Only" and "The Impossible Kid." They chronicle the daring exploits of the shortest spy to ever menace the Forces of Evil, Weng Weng, and they are worthy candidates for any Bad Movie Night line-up (or any film festival organized to spotlight Greatest Movies Starring Midgets).

For Your Height Only (aka "For Y'ur Height Only") (1980)
Starring: Weng Weng and Beth Sandoval
Director: Eddie Nicart
Rating: Five of Ten Stars

When the odds of success appear insurmountable, the Phillipine Secret Agency calls upon their smallest operative--Weng Weng, a three-foot-tall midget codenamed Agent 00 (Weng). But can even Agent 00 rescue an American scientist before the mysterious criminal mastermind Mister Giant forces a kidnapped American scientist to build him a deadly N-bomb? And, more importantly, will the swingin' Weng Weng nail his beautiful collegue, Irma (Sandoval).

"For Your Height Only" is a bizarre, low-budget James Bond spoof that features a tiny midget as the superspy... and he's every bit the lover and fighter that James Bond or Derek Flint are. While that in-and-of-itself is pretty funny, the movie is made all the more hilarious by the obvious budget constraints that result in Mister Giant's enforcers driving around in a VW Bug and Weng Weng's spy gadgets looking like they were made in someone's garage. (The gadgets themselves are hilarious as well, particularly the flying, remote controlled hat with the metal brim.)

Much humor also arises from the way Weng Weng's fantastic track record with the women. His lines may need work, but he's got some sort of magic, because chicks seem to fall into bed with him with very little effort on his part. Maybe, as Irma says at one point, it's because he's "petite, like a potato."

And the potato line is a prime example of another part of this film's hilarity. There is literally not a scene that goes by where a character doesn't utter a nonsense line like that, or some bizarre nonsequitor that will have you wondering if you heard right. (Believe me, you will have heard right.)

As this movie is dubbed from Tagalong into English, I don't know if the dialogue was as crazy in the original version, but it sure is wonderously wacky here. The voice actors are also extremely funny... the Phillipine gangsters have a variety of New York accents, and one sounds like Humphrey Bogard imitating James Cagney doing a spoof of a stereotypical 1920s gangboss. While part of the hilarity of that character comes from the dialogue, most of it comes from the irratic Humphry Bogard impersonation.

The many fight scenes in this film are also hilarious, partly due to their inept staging, but primarly due to do Weng Weng's signature move. He always leads with a cockpunch or a kick to the groin of his foes... and sometimes he stomps on the balls of an already defeated bad guy just for good measure. (And from the "I'm laughing but I shouldn't" department, he often utters a maniacal giggle after killing an enemy, especially if death was initiated with a cockpunch. He's a twisted little freak that Weng Weng.)

Aside from the fact that it features a midget superspy who gets laid more than John Shaft, "For Your Height Only" is remarkable for its soundtrack. I have no idea what the Tagalong theme song is about, but the incidental music echoes both the "James Bond Theme" and the theme song from "For Your Eyes Only" with great effect.

On the downside, this film offers too much of a good thing. Weng Weng's cockpunching gets a bit tiresome after his third run-in with Mister Giant's generic thugs (although things do start to pick up again when he invades the house where everyone is waving swords around for some reason), and as funny as the music is, it too gets old because it seems like only 5-10 minutes of it was written, so we hear the same tune over and over again as the film unfolds.

Still, despite its weaknesses, for "Your Height Only" will enliven any Bad Move Night. In fact, the merrifment that this movie will cause among the viewers might be so extreme that the repetitious parts won't even be noticed, because you will all be too busy trying to catch your breath and wiping tears of laughter from your eyes.

The Impossible Kid (1982)
Starring: Weng Weng, Romy Diaz, Tony Carreon, Ben Johnson, and Lili Vasquez
Director: Eddie Nicaz
Steve's Rating: Six of Ten Stars

When an international terrorist group targets leading Phillipineo industrialists for blackmail and murder, Interpol's smallest operative--the three-foot tall Agent 00 (Weng)--takes on his biggest case.

"The Impossible Kid" is the sequel to "For Your Height Only," a James Bond spoof where the midget actor Weng Weng took on the role of superspy. Here, he is more of a pint-sized action hero, and the film is played in a far more straight fashion. The story is more coherent (even if it features a villain who stole his hood from a Grand Kleegel in the KKK and who communicates with the world via self-destructing TV sets), the fight scenes more varied and better staged--Weng Weng actually seems to be doing Kung Fu instead of just cockpunching bad guys--and Weng Weng's stunts are more impressive. And there's the miniature motorbike he zooms around!

Although I say this fillm is played straight that doesn't mean there are fewer laughs in it than the original. The martial arts scenes are a scream, and Weng Weng outsmarting, beating senseless, or simply killing the various gangsters chasing is equal parts amusing and thrilling at times. The way women continue to want to get get it on with Weng Weng is also hilarious, although he seemed committed to one woman in this film and he is therefore seen to run away from an entire whorehouse compliment of hookers who are lusting for him! (And watch for the "special effect" during the film's climax... it should go down as one of the greatest unintentional hilarious moments in cinematic history,

And then there's the soundtrack music. Weng Weng has his own theme song with lyrics that Shaft would envy, and the recurring action theme within the film echoes the" James Bond Theme", the "Pink Panther Theme", and the "Mission: Impossible Theme" with great and hilarious effect. Never has a composer done so much with so little originality as

Except for that whorehouse scene, and a couple of scenes in bars featuring exotic dancers, this would be a film I think little kids would love. As it stands, it's worth look by adults in search of something weird in the acton movie line, and it's definately a top candidate for a Bad Movie Night line-up.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tectonic Tuesdays: Britney Spears

To honor the most wise Iranian holy man Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, who revealed the true cause of earthquakes, I am instituting a new series of posts: Tectonic Tuesdays!

Imam Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi revealed to us the following: "Many women who do not dress modestly [...] spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes."

These posts will provide scientific proof for his Allah-inspired (or maybe crystal meth-inspired, but wisdom is wisdom, right?) vision.

First Case Study: Britney Spears

Between the years of 1998 and 2001, Britney Spears left behind her wholesome Mouseketeer Image in favor of super-stardom as a barely clad teenaged pop-music sensation. She was the best-selling female musical artist of the time.

The American city of San Francisco and the island nation of Japan were rocked by massive quakes in 1998, the first year Britney Spears disrobed in public. In 1999, Turkey and Taiwan suffered massive earthquakes. In 2000, the Indonesian island of Sumatra was rocked by a 7.9 earthquake. 2001 saw both coasts of the United States of America hit by large earthquakes, while India suffered the Buhj quake and numerous aftershocks.

All because of Britney Spears' immodesty!

Come back next week for more evidence of Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi's great wisdom, as I present another woman who might make the earth move beneath your feet.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The cause of earthquakes revealed by
Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, Imam of Imams!

For decades--literally, since the Mad Mullahs and Idiot Imams issued death fatwas against Salman Rushdie, and the government of Iran backed them with a bounty--I've been writing and saying that Islam is a force for evil and repression in the world.

However, I have to eat my words. One of Islam's great thinkers and holy men has found a way to stop the very forces of nature itself, to prevent earthquakes! Read his words of wisdom and gasp in awe over the glory and insight that Islam and Allah can bring to us puny mortals!

'Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes,' Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi was quoted as saying by Iranian media.

Ah, the wisdom and insight of a Muslim cleric! Is there anything so glorious (save for the wisdom and insight of a senile American born-again Christian tele-evangelist)? You can read more about the words for the ages from the brilliant Hojatoleslam by clicking here, or you can continue to gaze upon images of the cause of earthquakes since the dawn of time.

You can click on the pictures to see more detail of these earth-shaking creatures. You can also click on the "Saturday Scream Queens" picture to the right for similar image. But remember to cover and lock up your daughters... because they cause the earth to move if you don't!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Nazis Quit Mini-Blogathon: Week Two

The observance of the Nazi defeat 65 years ago continues across my review blogs. Here's what was offered during the week just gone by.

Graphic Novel Reviews, Week Two
Desert Peach Beginnings: War Can be a Queer Thing

Movie Reviews, Week Two
Ghosts on the Loose: East Side Kids vs Fifth Column Propagandists

Kelly's Heroes: Going for the Gold

Miss V From Moscow: The Fairer Sex Plays the Dirtiest Game

To Be Or Not To Be: Polish Hams vs. German Ubermenchen

In the week to come, Sherlock Holmes takes on the Nazis, and big-breasted Nazis take on torturing prisoners.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Now they want to ban historical war games

A board game has been designed around the a 17th century conflict between Indian tribes and English settlers. Called "King Philip's War" and slated to be released by a game company co-owned by fantasy author Bob Salvatore and former baseball player Curt Schilling, it's a war simulation game based on a bloody and violent clash of the same name between colonists in New England.

Not surprising, community activists with chips on their shoulders and a desire to rewrite history so their side are innocent vicitms who did nothing all day but frolick in the forests before the Evil White Man happened along want the game stopped because they consider it offensive.

Click here to read about this outrage.

When you're done there, click here for another possible outrage.

(What's next? "Axis and Allies" or "War in the Pacific" needs to be banned because it's offensive to neo-Nazis and the Japanese?)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Happy Tax Day!

I don't quite know when April 15th became a day for Americans to observe/celebrate--beyond the need for procratinators to send in their income tax forms--but Starbucks is giving away free coffee and Taco Del Mar is giving away free fish tacos. Maybe THIS is all that Hope and Change that was supposed to kick in with Obama getting elected? Free coffee and fish tacos for all!

But, always one to jump on a slow-moving band wagon, I am adding to the celebration with a review of the only movie I can think of that features an IRS agent as its main chararcter.

Stranger Than Fiction (2006)
Starring: Will Ferrell, Dustin Hoffmann, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Emma Thompson
Director: Marc Forster
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

IRS Agent Harold Crick (Ferrell) starts hearing a voice that narrates his every action. In attempting to figure out what's going on, he discovers that he is the main character in a novel being written by an author famous for killing off her characters (Thompson). As Harold tries to figure out a way to prevent his fate, his entire life starts to change.

"Stranger Than Fiction" is a comedy that is quirky in the extreme. It's a comedic fantasy film set in a perfectly mundane world where where, somehow, a novelist's book as come to life. The premise is very intersting, if a bit sappy in its execution, and the film's witty script is presented briskly by a cast of actors who all give execellent performances. (Will Ferrell is particularly remarkable, as his lowkey performance as Harold Crick is funny, touching, and unlike anything else I've seen him do on-screen.)

This is a film that should appeal equally to lovers of romantic comedies and lovers of offbeat films with an "artsy" flavor to them.

Click here for an observance of Tax Day at Shades of Gray.

Tale of Two Directors, Part Two:
Leftist Hollywood Doesn’t Give a Damn About Human Rights in Iran

Earlier this week, I posted a link to Part One of John T. Simpson's feiry op-ed on the difference between the Hollywood celebretards' reactions to the just arrest of convicted child rapist and fugitive from justice director Roman Polanski, and the unjust and baseless imprisonment of director Jafar Panahi. Here's Part Two.

Tale of Two Directors, Part Two: Leftist Hollywood Doesn't Give a Damn About Human Rights in Iran

It's been interesting to read some of the reaction to Simpson's column on other blogs (to which I'm not going to bother to link because I'm lazy). But, generally speaking, the attitude of Simpson's detractors irritate me the way all apologists for Polanski irritate me. The fact that he drugged and raped a child isn't a big deal to them because he is a Great Artist and/or a money-maker for film studios and actors.

Polanski is a rapist and a coward. Panahi is a political activist and a brave man who stands up for his convictions. One is a scumbag who should be in a deep, dark hole. The other should be helming film productions.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tale of Two Directors Part One:
Hollywood Supports Child Rapist,
Ignores Imprisoned Iranian Filmmaker

It was less than a day after the well-justifed arrest of fugitive from justice and child rapist Roman Polanski that dozens upon dozens of celebretards were calling for the release of the Great Artist. To them, it didn't matter that he drugged and raped a young girl, some of them even going so far as to saying that it wasn't rape at all.

But they seem to care little about an Iranian filmmaker that has been arrested by the Mad Mullahs for no reason other than apparently attending a memorial service.

Why does anything think the opinons of these morally bankrupt perverts should have any bearing on what the rest of us do or think?

Tale of Two Directors Part One: Hollywood Supports Child Rapist Roman Polanski, Ignores Imprisoned Iranian Filmmaker Jafar Panahi

Monday, April 12, 2010

Polish Hams vs. the German Ubermenchen

Contiuing my observance of the 65th anniversary of the Nazis being crushed like the bugs that they were, I offer a review of one of the smartest movies Mel Brooks ever appeared in.

To Be or Not to Be (1983)
Starring: Mel Brooks, Anne Bancroft, Tim Matheson, Charles Durning, Jose Ferrer and Christopher Lloyd
Director: Alan Johnson
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

During the Nazi occupation of Poland, the Bronski Theatre Company, led by First-class Hams Dr. and Mrs. Bronski (Brooks and Bancroft), become involved with a desperate attempt to thwart a Nazi double-agent (Ferrer) from revealing the names of resistance fighters to the Gestapo.

"To Be or Not to Be" is probably one of the smartest movies that Mel Brooks has ever been part of. Although a remake of a classic comedy from the 1940s, this is a great movie in its own right, with stellar performances from all the films principals.

Anne Bancroft is particularly wonderful as Anna Bronski, an aging stage diva whose welcoming of amorous attention from a young admirer starts the series of escalating events that places her husband in the position of being the man to save the Polish underground.

Mel Brooks is hilarious as always--his "Highlights from Hamlet" are a hoot, as are his confrontations with the Nazis and observations about their literacy--and Charles Durning and Christopher Lloyd play Nazi SS officers with just the right mix of bufoonery and danger to create the perfect caricature of the self-important, dimwitted psychopaths that filled the middle ranks of the Third Reich.

Although a remake, the new material the film brings to this version is some of the best Mel Brooks has ever been responsible for. I don't think any other film comments as effectively on the destructiveness that Nazis and those like them (such as hardcore Communist and Islamic governments) to the creativity and free spirit and humanity of those who suffer under their boot heels. The final scenes at the Bronski Theatre, where the company and half a dozen Jews that they've been hiding enact an elaborate plan to escape Nazi clutches even as Hitler himself is watching from one of the boxes, in particular bring home the cruelty and lack of soul and compassion in a way that no other artistically themed film has other than "Cabaret". That scene, and the whole undercurrent of how the Nazis kill or pervert artistic expression that runs through the film, is something unique in the Mel Brooks' canon... and it's something that makes this movie a must-see.

For all the great stuff in this movie, there is one major misstep. For whatever reason, the writers, director and probably even Brooks himself felt obligated to include some of the third-wall wackiness that we expect from Brooks--the sort of stuff that was all over "Blazing Saddles" and "High Anxiety" at the very beginning of the movie. But that material is out of place and inappropriate for the comedic tone of the rest of the film. It's funny, but it still shouldn't have been included.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Uwe Boll's best movie so far?

"Postal" may be the best movie so far from Uwe Boll, the reputed cinematic weapon of mass-destruction himself. (Although, to be honest, I am of the opinion that Boll's reputation is inflated by critics and movie-goers who need to watch more films before they start throwing labels like "worst movie ever" and "worst filmmaker ever." That still doesn't mean that he hasn't dropped some real stink bombs onto the market over the past 10-15 years.)

Postal (2008)
Starring: Zack Ward, Dave Foley, Chris Coppola, Jackie Tohn, Larry Thomas and Vern Troyer
Director: Uwe Boll
Rating: Five of Ten Stars

An unemployed factory worker (Ward) teams up with his con-artist uncle (Dave Foley) to steal a shipment of highly collectible dolls and make their fortune selling them. Unfortunately, Osama bin Laden (Larry Thomas) wants to steal the same dolls for far more nefarious purposes.

Of course, any movie that mocks Osama bin Laden and the homicidal idiots who find him an inspiring figure is one that I automatically have a favorable disposition toward. The world needs works of art that disrespects them in every way possible. Mockery of the Lions of Islam were the highlights of "American Dreamz" (2006) and "An American Carol" (2008)--the only good part of the latter film, actually--and it's a definite highlight of this film. (The funniest joke in the whole film involves Taliban terrorists, an SUV, and the celebratory firing of automatic weapons.)

However, Osama and his fellow psychotic murderers are not the only target in this dark farce that is loosely based on a first-person shooter computer game. The trashier side of American culture and consumerism, the more vicious side of American corporate culture, and the capacity of human beings to buy into the most ridiculous notions if they are presented in a cloak of religious authority. (Although, amusingly, it is a couple of the Muslim criminals who are the prime target of ridicule in the film who come to their senses regarding the lies their leaders feed them.)

As much as much as this movie amused me, I also feel it went too far on too many occasions. Too many of the jokes are simple gross-out gags or taken so far that they cross the line from funny into intentionally and heavy-handedly offensive, while writer/director Uwe Boll tries to cram too much into the film. Basically, almost like the was trying to make a film in the classic Abrams/Zucker mold but failed to understand that those comedies had relatively simple storylines jammed with weird puns and sight gags, while Boll jammed his film with plots and subplots until nothing got the proper amount of time.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Nazis Quit Mini Blogathon: Week One

Sixty-five years ago this week, the Allied forces gave Nazi Germany the pounding that nation led by rabid beasts so richly deserved. Sixty-five years ago this week, Soviet troops broke the Nazi hold on Vienna and the U.S. 89th Infantry Division Liberates Ohrdruf, the First Sub-Camp of Buchenwald Concentration Camp Complex. It had become a priority of the Americans after General Patton's command received a message that the SS was rushing to exterminate the prisoners before Allied troops could liberate them. Sixty-five years ago this week, Hitler and the rest of the scum from the diseased part of the gene pool in Berlin kidded themselves that their insane fantasies of empire could still become reality.

I am celebrating the destruction of their Nazi Germany with reviews of movies and graphic novels, some dating from when the Nazis were still on the loose, some more recent. Here's a round-up of the reviews for this week, reviews of books and movies that give the Nazis the level of respect and recognition they are due.

Nazis Quit Blogathon Movie Reviews, Week One

Hard Rock Zombies: Even Death and Hitler Can't Stop Rock 'n' Roll

Oasis of the Zombies: Even Zombies are Ashamed of This One

Outpost: As Seen by Carl at I Like Horror Movies

Puppet Master III: Watch Nazis Get Creamed by Tiny Puppets

Where Eagles Dare: A Great Thriller

Zombie Lake: Beware Nazi Zombies When Skinny Dipping

Nazis Quit Mini-Blogathon Graphic Novel Reviews, Week One

The Shazam Family Archives, Vol. 1: Great WW2 Comics in a High-Quality Format

Showcase Presents Sgt. Rock, Vol 1: Kicking Nazi Butt, One Nazi at a Time

Come back for Week Two for the queerest Nazi on record, a sexy Russian spy in German occupied France, and Bela Lugosi at the head of the most incompetent gang of Fifth Columnists you're ever likely to encounter. And much, much more!

Another Shade of Gray

If you're coming here, you're probably aware of the Shades of Gray, my blog focused black-and-white movies, comics and artwork. (And you aren't, please visit it! You'll like it, I promise!)

However, I recently discovered an equally cool OTHER Shades of Gray, a picture blog focusing on the art of illustrator Gray Morrow.

Here's a sample of the illos you can find there.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Coolest recycling idea I've seen in a while

A very interesting inventor/business owner came into my office today. He turns records into handbags! Each bag is one-of-a-kind, dated and signed. They even do custom orders where you can send them an album and they will convert it.

This has got to be one of the most interesting recycling ideas I've ever come across. And given that vinyl takes about 2,000 years to bio-degrade in landfills, all of you of an environmental mindset should definitely consider this the next time you are looking to get a handbag for yourself or a special someone who loves music.

Click here to visit the Le'Album website.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Nazis Quit Mini-Blogathon Participants

Carl at I Love Horror Movies has posted a review of "Outpost" as part of the celebration of Nazi defeat 65 years ago. Click here to read it.

If you post a review that I should link to as part of this mini-blogathon, send me the link at

Monday, April 5, 2010

Nazis Quit: A Mini-Blogathon

It's the 65th anniversary since the Nazi dream of a 1,000 year Reich was rendered as dead as the sick and twisted genocidal maniacs who formulated it. Men who, ultimately, took the coward's way out, with one of them murdering his own children as his final monstrous act before heading to Hell.

From today and through May 7 (which happens to be my birthday, as well as the day the German military signed an unconditional surrender), I will be conducting a mini-blogathon to celebrate tne occassion. Reviews of movies and graphic novels will be appearing across all the blogs that make up the Cinema Steve multi-plex, reviews for films and movies that probably aren't quite the monument that Hitler and his madmen had hoped for.

If you want to join in the celebration, send me the links to posts you make, and I'll feature them here in round-up posts like this one. (There will be at least one every Friday.) Send me links at

Meanwhile, here's a one-panel cartoon featuring writer/artist Donna Barr's legendary "Desert Peach", Rommel's gay younger brother. Two "Desert Peach" graphic novels will be reviewed during the Nazis Quit! blogathon at the Shades of Gray blog. (Click on the illo to see a version large enough to read.)

Great WW2 comics in high-quality format

It's 65 years since the Allies swept Nazi Germany from the face of the Earth into the dustbin of history. To mark the anniversary, I'm holding the Nazis Quit Mini-
Blogathon across my review blogs from April 5 until May 7.

The Shazam Family Archives, Vol. 1 (DC Comics, 2006)
Writers: Ed Herron, Otto Binder, William Woolfolk, and unknown writers
Artists: Mac Raboy, Al Carreno, and Marc Swayze
Rating: Nine of Tem Stars

In 1941, American went to war--all of America. Including the comic book characters. One of the very best examples of wartime propaganda were the adventures of teenaged superhero, who was orphaned, crippled and almost killed by the nefarious Captain Nazi. Fortunately, Captain Marvel had rescued the lad, taken him to his patron--the wizard Shazam--and asked that he be saved. Shazam was unable to fully heal the boy, but he granted him powers similar to those of Captain Marvel, so the boy could turn into a teenaged, Nazi-fighting, Jap-bashing, fascist-crushing superpowered dynamo of of magical energy known as Captain Marvel, Jr.

"The Shazam Family Archives, Vol 1" presents some of earliest and very best stories featuring Captain Marvel, Jr. Although the book is rounded out by the origin tale of Marvel Marvel (the girl counterpart of Captain Marvel Jr., and twin sister of Captain Marvel himself), the real attraction of this book are the Mac Raboy-illustrated Captain Marvel Jr. stories and covers.

The stories by Mac Raboy are among some of the most gorgeous comic book tales created in the 1940s. His realistic, highly detailed, art-nouveau style is one that still stands comparable to modern comic book artists. The gorgeous covers he drew for the issues of "Master Comics" that are also represented in this volume are worthy pieces of art in their own right, and some should even be considered among the great pieces of WW2 propaganda artwork. Rayboy's art on the ten of the 16 stories in this volume is so excellent that the otherwise passable work of Carreno and Swayze (which was at the high end of average quality-wise for the time) looks positive ameuterish in comparison. In fact, it wasn't until Don Newton illustrated Captain Marvel Jr. and other members of the Shazam Family in "World's Finest Comics" in the early 1980s that we'd have an artist that came close to matching the beauty and grace in Raboy's art.

Aside from the remarkable artwork, the villains that Captain Marvel Jr. faces are also ruthless, violent, and crazy enough to satisfy readers who worship at the feet of Garth Ennis and/or Steve Dillon.

"The Shazam Family Archives, Vol. 1" is a handsome, high-quality collection of some of the finest comics produced during the 1940s... or ever for that matter. It's a book that is a worthy addition to any lover of comics' bookshelf.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

B-movie makers spoof themselves

Hollywood Boulevard (1976)
Starring: Candice Rialson, Dick Miller, Paul Bartel, Mary Woronov, and Rita George
Directors: Joe Dante and Allan Arkush
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

When Candy (Rialson) arrives in Hollywood with dreams of being an actress, she falls in with the crazy low-budget filmmakers at Miracle Studios. It soon turns out that one is more crazy than the rest, and Miracle Pictures' starlets keep getting murdered. Will Candy die before she achieves stardom?

"Hollywood Boulevard" is a messy picture that, by the admission of the directors themselves, was cobbled together, rushed and generally made up as they went along. In other words, this Roger Corman-funded tribute/send-up of Roger Corman filmmaking techniques was produced exactly like many of the films it was poking fun at. (And the cast and crew of this picture were all employees of Corman's company, or friends of him and people who were.)

This film is fun to watch, despite its flaws, because it is such a send-up of itself. It also helps that every actor is putting on fun and energetic performances, and the way that everyone seems to be enjoying themselves is infecteous. In many ways, this movie feels like a backyard produciton, but pretty much everyone appearing in major parts were seasoned professionals with dozens of B-movies behind them.

"Hollywood Boulevard" isn't a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but it is fun to watch. Miller's performance as a bottom-run talent agent, the sci-fi production and the Mario Bava send-up portions of the film are particularly funny. It's not something to go out of your way for (in fact, it barely makes it to the Six Tomato mark), but if you enjoy movies about making movies--and if you enjoy the type of movies being made fun of in this film--I think you'll have fun watching it.

For reviews of the kind of movies this film spoofs, visit The Charles Band Collection, Terror Titans and Movies to Die Before Seeing.