Tag Archives: Martin Kove

Review of The Last House On The Left (1972)

3 Dec

The Last House On The Left (1972) is an exploitation/revenge thriller/horror film, inspired by The Virgin Spring, a Swedish film, directed by Ingrid Bergman.

Directed by Wes Craven (The Hills Have Eyes (1977), Swamp Thing (1982)). This film is his directorial debut, which led to his highly succesful career as a horror filmmaker.

Written by Wes Craven (My Soul to Take (2010), The People Under the Stairs (1991)). He is one of those directors, who, more often than not, write their own movies.

Starring: Sandra Peabody, David Hess, Fred J. Lincoln, Jeramie Rain, Marc Sheffler, Richard Towers, Cynthia Carr and others.

This is a fairly typical exploitation film, not really crossing borders too much. It is graphic at times, but mostly it’s not that explicit. Although if it had an NC-17 rating it wouldn’t surprise me and I don’t really understand why they tried to get the R rating, because it is obvious they wouldn’t get it in 1972.

The start of the movie is the worst part. It shows all the worst acting the actors are able to do and the worst writing Craven can do. Wes Craven shows his deep insight into both the hippie culture and female psychology. He shows us that there is no greater purpose in the life of a young hippie woman than to be amazed how her breasts have grown. They have grown big enough for her to stop wearing bras and go around saying “tits”. Also important is their enjoyment of ice-cream and trying to buy drugs. At this point the movie takes a dark turn.

Well, at least half of the movie does. The two hippie girls walk into an apartment, where a bunch of criminals are hanging out. So now they are screwed and can’t leave. But then there’s the other part of the movie that takes place at the same time, but at our protagonists house. There we see her parents messing around with a cake, while some silly music is playing. And then we cut back to the criminal apartment where one of the girls gets punched in the gut and Sandra Peabody gives an awful mess of unsure acting, which left me wondering, what emotions were she trying to express.

Further on, I don’t want to get into spoilers, but since it is a revenge thriller, you can guess that something bad happens and then the revenge happens.

Also all the scenes, that don’t have the criminals anywhere near is in one way or another comedic. I really don’t get this decision on Craven’s part. The cops are two idiots, one of them is almost unrecognisably young Martin Kove. They run into different shenanigans, at one point having to sit on a roof of a truck full of chickens, that’s driven by a crazy, old, 4-toothed black woman. Again, there is wacky music in the background, that really seems inappropriate. Most of the music is cool, especially the part when the criminals have done their worst, a slow ballad starts playing. That’s the only part where the good, but out of the place music works.

The acting is not that great for the most part. David Hess is pretty awesome, with his robust, yet handsome facial features, adding to his intimidating performance. Also Fred J. Lincoln is perfect as a despicable, sleazy asshole. No wonder he went on to do porn movies.

They managed to make the fake blood’s color uncommonly realistic for the time.

Overall, I liked the movie. It isn’t great and if I have to recommend, there’s other, both exploitation and revenge, films I’d recommend over this, but this is a decent one too.

And for some reason he's acted in only two movies.

Review of Bare Knuckles (2010)

8 Nov

Bare Knuckles (2010) is a straight-to-DVD sports/drama/action film.

Directed by Eric Etebari (Expulsion (2011 Short)), who is better known as an actor, as this is his feature-length directorial debut.

Written by Robert Redlin (McCinsey’s Island (1998), After Dark, My Sweet (1990)).

Starring: Jeanette Roxborough, Martin Kove, Bridgett Riley, Louis Mandylor and others.

I didn’t start watching this with high expectations, but considering my love for the Rocky franchise, there’s certainly some things I do expect from boxing movies. It’s weird to say, but I wished they would’ve copied Rocky‘s formula a bit more, the film could only benefit from that.

In this narrow sub-genre being cliché is almost unavoidable, so the premise of the story isn’t all that bad. My understanding is that the film was highly influenced by Jeanette Roxborough’s actual life, being a stunt-woman and a mother of a handicapped child. That is a unique angle to add to the story, but somehow they fail to insert the intensity of the real-life drama and while it spends enough time on exploring these issues, it seems to have inserted Roxborough’s handicapped daughter as some sort of MacGuffin, just to move the story along.

As I mentioned Jeanette Roxborough is a professional stunt-woman, which shows in her acting a bit, but not too badly. On the other hand she makes up for what she lacks in acting skills by her convincing physical performance. Martin Kove is unsurprisingly the best actor in the movie and gives a solid performance. The other actors aren’t necessarily bad, but the fact that they play these cheesy caricatures really doesn’t help.

The whole “training with the bodybuilder tranny” sequence is really creepy and then it goes on in to this idiotic scene, where they discuss the other fighters in a manner that is the movie equal of a fighting video game’s character screen.

The fights themselves are pretty bad, using slow motion seemingly at random, most fights aren’t “bare-knuckle” at all, since the fighters are wearing gloves and performs various wrestling moves. Also it might be more realistic, but looks terribly uncinematic, when most fights last about 30 seconds and those are the full fights, not montages of highlights.

It is shot in HD video, which makes the fights look more like the ones we’d see on TV, but overall, combined with the movie’s cheesiness makes it seem like it’s made about a decade ago.

The script is the worst part of the whole thing. I kept thinking that it could have been easily improved by just a rewrite by someone (more) competent.

Overall, it isn’t totally awful and unwatchable, but it throws so much stupidity at you that there really isn’t anything to recommend it for.

"I'm acting... with my fists!"

 

Review of Death Race 2000 (1975)

2 Oct

Death Race 2000 (1975) – is a sci-fi/action/dark comedy film,  based on the short story The Racer by Ib Melchior.

Directed by Paul Bartel (Eating Raoul (1982), Cannonball! (1976)), a moderately successful low-budget director.

Written by Robert Thom (Wild in the Streets (1968), Bloody Mama (1970)) and Charles B. Griffith (The Little Shop of Horrors (1960), The Wild Angels (1966)).

Starring: David Carradine, Sylvester Stallone, Simone Griffeth, Martin Kove, Mary Woronov, John Landis and others.

Essentially the movie is just about this racing event that takes place in a dystopian future (well, not now, because it is set in the year 2000) America, where it is just about the greatest form of entertainment there is and the society has degraded and have so little regard for human life that they watch an event, where contestants are awarded points if they run over people, the more vulnerable the target the better, so you should watch out for people in wheelchairs, they’re the bullseye.

This is basically The Running Man of the 70’s, so yeah, it’s over-the-top and cheesy, but in the good way. It has B-movie cult classic written all over it. It comments on the similar themes about entertainment, the game-show culture, the violence on TV, but it also attacks one specific group of people – the NASCAR fans. I think it’s no secret that a lot of people who watch it, really expect the cars to crash at some point, that has become in some ways  more interesting than the winner of the race, but it’s just human nature, even if we acknowledge it intellectually, there’s something emotionally that wants the thrill of it. It is questionable how surely the movie walks the line of satire without falling into condoning the characters.

Most fun was watching Sylvester Stallone playing a constantly spitting and screaming asshole. He overacts so ridiculously it becomes very entertaining. And then he also ass-rapes a construction worker with a huge sword mounted on his car. And he punches a woman and then strangles a woman and then has his ass handed to him by David Carradine, who despite his comical S&M gimp outfit is still pretty cool. It briefly features a young Martin Kove.

The movie’s low budget is rather apparent, the cars look really cheap and cheesy, there’s almost no attempt to make anything look even slightly futuristic or just not  70’s, TV reporters have microphones, that strongly resemble sex toys, not even slightly realistic matte paintings and so on, but that just adds to the reasons why people enjoy movies like this.

I must give credit to the racing scenes. Those Fast And Furious guys could learn a thing or two about car racing movies, because I was a lot more excited in this than in any of those movies, where Paul Walker refuses to act.

Overall, I found it quite enjoyable. Recommended for B-movie genre fans or if you want to see Sly’s early work as long as you don’t take it seriously, because the filmmakers clearly didn’t.

Sly will tommygun the shit out of you (if you don’t get sword-raped in the ass instead)