Before The Gold Rush

I’m going on yelp and giving this new flu a bad review.

The last couple of weeks have been a delirious fever dream, as I pretty much lived on Dayquil and sugar-free cough drops. I punked out of work when I could, but most of the time I couldn’t. The most amazing bit, to me, was when my church asked for my voice at two Easter services and if I felt too bad I didn’t have to do it but could I please also do a rehearsal on Saturday morning, too? After the rehearsal, one musician reportedly said, “Darth Vader just opened our service.” Yeah, I sounded profoundly sepulchral. No problem hitting those low notes. I radiated gravitas. And phlegm.

caught fluSo after Easter weekend – when I did the Show, and the services, and made homemade chicken soup because I was the mobile one in Plague Central – I took Monday off, and then a surprising thing happened. Exhaustion took its toll and I actually slept through Monday night, awakening only occasionally to cough up a piece of lung. I felt good enough to go into work, pound that week’s story into shape and submit it before the deadline, go home, nap, go do audio support for that evening’s Economic Development Corporation meeting (honestly, I have watched un-subtitled Mandarin movies that were more comprehensible to me), slept again, and felt almost human Wednesday. Which is good, because I had a traveling show at a refinery in Deer Park (and it’s always good before a show to receive that little lecture about what to do if there were some sort of catastrophic accident while we were there), then run home, change clothes, and do a remote broadcast that evening.

I felt good enough that I won’t even mention that the remote was for a Candidate Debate between folks running for School Board and City Council positions. No, what I’m actually not going to mention is that one of the Council candidates was sick, so we had a Candidate Debate with one participant. That was good TV.

death1Oh, yeah, I watched some movies while I was sick, too.

First up was Death Promise, an odd little homegrown kung fu revenge flick from 1977. This was nowhere near as bad as I was told, and I found it pretty entertaining. Okay, admittedly the boom mike should have gotten a credit. Indications are we’re going to devote a Daily Grindhouse Podcast to it, so I’ll leave my blithering to that, and leave you with this truly remarkable fight scene, including a bad guy whose ki-ya sounds like an asthmatic cat who’s smoked too many cigars:

And oh yeah, ignore them. Buy this fine movie at

Speaking of the podcast, one of the best things it turned me onto was the delightfully insane, inept-in-all-the-right-ways movie Raw Force, aka Kung Fu Cannibals. This was the first of two movies directed by Edward D. Murphy. We were all curious about his second, and last directorial effort, Heated Vengeance, but I was apparently the only one who cared enough to do something about it.

In other words, I took a bullet for the team.

heated-vengeance-movie-poster-1985-1020693907In the three years between Raw Force and Heated Vengeance, Murphy learned a few things, and got a better budget together. This is obvious from the very first scene, which depicts a Viet Cong attack on an American firebase in Laos. Richard Hatch is there as our heroic commanding officer, Joe Hoffman, who gets wounded and choppered away from his native translator lady love Michelle (Jolina Mitchell-Collins). Hoffman gets sent back to the States and his wife, and years later he returns to Thailand, newly divorced and looking for Michelle, now a doctor, and what could be his son. Too bad he runs into Larry Bingo (Ron Max), a guy in his command who was getting sent up the river for raping a native girl, but escaped during that expensive Cong attack we keep flashing back to. Bingo kidnaps Hoffman, takes him to his drug production base (set up in Hoffman’s abandoned army camp), intending to wreak some heated vengeance. Hoffman escapes, and goddammit, we’re watching The Most Dangerous Game again.

There is surprisingly little action in this action movie; there’s a lot of talk, though. Murphy still likes his villains kind of colorful, and Bingo leaves no scenery unchewed. Among his henchmen are Michael J. Pollard, being very Michael J. Pollard-y, and Robert Walker Jr., an unfortunate actor who Hollywood just never figured out what to so with. Things don’t start getting really weird until about the last twenty minutes or so when the wounded Hoffman is taken in by some Laotian natives, and Michelle and his son track him down with the help of a friendly traveling toilet salesman (a pretty welcome Dennis Patrick). By this time, Bingo is down to a flamethrower and Michael J. Pollard, and there is an explosive finale which Murphy could not have possible been able to afford, but he goes ahead and tries to do it anyway, which was the Edward D. Murphy I had been looking for all along.


“Wha? Heated? Vengeance? That’s a thing?”

It is a very good vehicle for Richard Hatch, though: he does the everyman with his back against the wall bit pretty well. But honestly, I spent a lot of time in this flick checking how many minutes it had left, and that is never a good thing.

So how do I recover from the disappointment of not finding another Raw Force? I watch Boardinghouse, because I’m an idiot.

I was pretty much unaware that Boardinghouse  even existed before noted sociopath Joe Cosby forced me to watch Things for Daily Grindhouse Podcast Mark I, and evidence showed that Things was inspired by Boardinghouse, at the time the most successful made-for-video Canadian movie evar. The video was apparently even transferred to 35mm for a theatrical release.


boarding-house-movie-poster-1982-1020230391After an opening where we find out the titular house has a history of violent deaths (one involves an incredibly effective garbage disposal), most of which can seemingly be traced to a telekinetic sibling who’s committed to a mental hospital for life. The house eventually devolves to Jim Royce, who opens it as an all-female boardinghouse, with him as live-in landlord, figuring that this will be the ticket to a “bachelor’s paradise”. This means that he will soon be banging each and every one of his tenants, when he’s not meditating on his desk in his underpants, honing his telekinetic skills.

That’s right, there are two telekinetics in this movie, soon to be three when Jim teaches Debbie (Lyndsay Freeman) his methods. Good thing, too, because the original TK escapes from the hospital after forcing a woman to hang herself and a man’s intestines to jump outside his body.

vlcsnap-2012-07-07-23h03m57s59The women in the Boardinghouse are about as well written as your typical frat house movie, which is to say they are not written at all, and they appear to have little inclination or ability to be anything more than casually catty and evil to each other. There is an Asian girl who mysteriously vanishes after her sex scene – and it’s not like when another girl vanishes and it’s part of the plot, no, she just ceases to be. There is also a black girl, but we only see her when she’s going to work (and she’s the only one who appears to do so, so I guess that should be counted as a positive character trait). Well. she does show up at the big party scene at the end just in time to get killed, but – groundbreaker! – the black character isn’t the first one to get killed! Admittedly, it’s because she hasn’t been around for most of the movie, but still…

Maybe these two ladies have expanded roles in the Director’s Cut, which is  apparently a full hour longer, but I don’t care. I JUST DON’T CARE.

I will give it this: Boardinghouse tries to outdo Rock N’ Roll Nightmare in the bizarre, terminally-silly-ending-that-is-supposed-to-be-terrifying department, and it certainly gives Jon Mikl Thor a run for his money. This amazingly dark trailer should give you an idea of the visual splendor of the movie:

Folks, video equipment doesn’t do well in low light environments, unless you know what you’re doing, and even then... And oh, yes, “Horror Vision”. When you hear a sound and see a black glove, you’re supposed to close your eyes. It’s like Chamber of Horrors‘ Horror Horn and Fear Flasher, except the makers of Boardinghouse get tired of the gimmick about 45 minutes in and forget about it. Maybe it shows up in the last few minutes, but you know… care. Did not.

Folks, I watch a lot of crap like this. No dilettante I, I have seen shit that would turn you white. After a while, it gets to you, it really does. This is why I take off May and watch movies on my Wall of Shame, movies I should have watched years ago, almost all taken from Roger Ebert’s Great Movies List. At a low ebb, I kicked this off early and knocked one of those bricks off the wall: I watched Charlie Chaplin’s The Gold Rush.

I hear many of you screeching about the whiplash injuries incurred by that sudden turnaround in quality. Fine. We’ll leave that for next time.