Movie Reviews That'll Put Yer Eye Out, Kid!

The Pinky Violence Collection Continues!

Pinky Violence fans rejoice!

As mentioned last year, a second set of films were set to be released as part of The Pinky Violence Collection by the now defunct boutique label Panik House. However, as with this month's much-anticipated release of Teruo Ishii's Horrors of Malformed Men and Nobuo Nakagawa's Snake Woman's Curse, Synapse Films has thankfully stepped in to release the next installment of The Pinky Violence Collection.

The first three films will be released on November 13th as the Legends of the Poisonous Seductress series. Here are the DVD covers as well as brief descriptions of each film.

The stunning Junko Miyazono stars in the first entry of the LEGENDS OF THE POISONOUS SEDUCTRESS series as Ohyaku, an innocent actress wrongly sent to prison and pushed by her tormentors to the point of no return. With a demon tattoo across her back and a sword in her hand, she embarks on a crusade of vengeance against all those who have wronged her, laying waste to man and woman alike in her quest for bloody retribution. More than just a swordplay classic, FEMALE DEMON OHYAKUs relentless cruelty, scenes of graphic torture, and unique mix of sex and sadism mark it as the first true Pinky Violence film, and highly influential on later sexy action series from Toei Studios throughout the 70s, such as the Sukeban and Female Convict Scorpion movies. Co-starring the legendary Tomisaburo Wakayama (LONE WOLF AND CUB).

Junko Miyazono returns as QUICK-DRAW OKATSU, the daughter of a swordmaster who takes on a power-hungry magistrate, in the second entry of the LEGENDS OF THE POISONOUS SEDUCTRESS series, directed by master filmmaker Nobuo Nakagawa (Jigoku, Snake Woman s Curse). Joined this time by Rui (Reiko Oshida), a wild young swordswoman, the two sexy avengers embark on a blood-soaked quest for revenge after Okatsu is raped and her father slaughtered by one of his assistants. Okatsu and Rui slash their way through dozens of evil men in order to settle the score with those who wronged them in this swordplay classic which features some of the best fight scenes of the series. Mixing a standard revenge plot with a healthy dose of modern-day sex and violence, the film proved to be a primary inspiration for some of the best female revenge sagas of the 1970s, including the Female Convict Scorpion and Lady Snowblood series. Co-starring the legendary Tomisaburo Wakayama (LONE WOLF AND CUB).

In the final episode of the LEGENDS OF THE POISONOUS SEDUCTRESS series, Junko Miyazono appears one final time as beautiful swordswoman Okatsu the Avenger, but this time seeking Judayu, a corrupt merchant responsible for the death of her parents. Betrayed by her fiancé, Okatsu finds herself aided in her quest by a handsome stranger (yakuza film star Tatsuo Umemiya) who happens to be as handy with a sword as she is! What is the reason for his kindness, and will Okatsu be able to prevail against Judayu, now a powerful businessman with scores of allies in high places? Whatever the end may be, the restless spirits of her murdered parents drive OKATSU THE FUGITIVE along her crimson-colored road of vengeance. Master filmmaker Nobuo Nakagawa (Jigoku, Snake Woman s Curse) brings audiences the stunning end of the trilogy that inspired countless imitators among Toei s Pinky Violence films of the 1970s.

In addition to these DVDs, sometime next spring Synapse will release the Wandering Ginza Butterfly films - Gincho wataridori (1971) and Gincho nagaremono aka Wandering Ginza She-Cat Gambler (1972) - starring Meiko Kaji and directed by Kazuhiko Yamaguchi (Delinquent Girl Boss: Worthless to Confess).

Without a doubt, fans of Japanese cult cinema have a lot to look forward to!

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Movies of the Week!

Here at the Walnut we’re going to dust things off a bit by introducing a new “movie of the week” feature. Essentially I’ll be posting my selections for the two best movies I’ve seen over the past week – one on DVD and another theatrically.

Today we’ll kickoff with my favorite DVD from the past week, Ace in the Hole (1951).

Recently released to DVD by the Criterion Collection, Ace in the Hole was directed by Billy Wilder just after the success of his classic, Sunset Boulevard. However, unlike Sunset Boulevard, Ace in the Hole was a critical and box-office flop. It’s a tough, unflinching film that holds an unwavering mirror up to media sensationalism and our morbidly curious society’s penchant for rubbernecking at personal tragedy.

Kirk Douglas gives an excellent tough-as-nails performance as a has-been reporter who is willing to risk everything, even another man’s life, for the chance to write a big news story. It’s a truly excellent film that is given the top-notch DVD release it deserves by the Criterion Collection.

Here's a scene from the film.

My favorite movie of the past week, currently in theatres, is 2 Days in Paris.

Directed by actress Julie Delpy, the story involves Marion (played by Delpy) and her boyfriend Jack (portrayed by the funny and under-used Adam Goldberg) as they spend the last part of their European vacation with Marion’s parents in Paris. Things between Jack and Marion begin to get a little shaky, and really funny, when the couple run into a succession of Marion’s ex-boyfriends while touring Paris.

The film has a loose style, both narratively and visually, in some ways recalling Linklater’s Before Sunrise and Before Sunset - both of which starred and were co-written by Delpy. Also like those films, 2 Days in Paris is more interested in characters than narrative, and both Delpy and Goldberg do fine work in their respective roles. That being said, Adam Goldberg really stands out as Jack, a role that showcases his impeccable comic timing.

2 Days in Paris is a funny and thoughtful movie that I hope more people will get a chance to see.

2 Days In Paris - Trailer

See ya next week!

The Brute and the Beast a.k.a. Massacre Time (Tempo di massacro)

The Brute and the Beast (1966)

Preceding his string of celebrated, gore-drenched horror films by roughly a decade, director Lucio Fulci first delved into the western genre right as the Italian variation on this predominantly American cinematic tradition was beginning to draw attention, both from film critics and filmgoers. Armed with visual audacity, a formidable cast of rough-and-tumble characters, ironic humor, a heap of cynicism and no shortage of violence - Spaghetti Westerns were both a tip of the hat to their American forerunners as well as a significant act of cinematic revisionism.

Lucio Fulci's The Brute and the Beast is an ideal example of the paradoxical fusion of unorthodox traditionalism displayed by many Italian Westerns. At the center of the film is Tom Corbett, played by the charismatic Franco Nero arriving fresh off the success of Sergio Corbucci's influential and highly-entertaining, Django. We are first introduced to Nero's character as he pans for gold, an occupation immediately identifiable with the old west, which in turn posits Tom Corbett as a passive, archetypal western figure. While The Brute and the Beast is, like other Italian westerns, filled with an abundance of western motifs, as the film progresses it becomes clear that Nero's Tom Corbett is out of step with the ruthless world of this particular western, and seemingly out of touch and incompatible with the majority of the characters in the film. Furthermore, once Tom Corbett is thrust into a frontier colored by malice and ultra-violence, both the film, and the conventional introduction to the character, begin to take on their true significance.

That being said, one of the more difficult aspects to The Brute and the Beast is the way in which the film's protagonist, Tom Corbett, conducts himself. He has a traditional sense of honor and wants to play by the rules, however, unbeknownst to himself he's become embroiled in a realm ruled by the dishonorable and unruly. Because of this, he is wholly ineffectual throughout much of the story, and there are times when, at a glance, the protagonist's futile attempts become a bit exasperating. Nevertheless, Tom's drunkard, violence-prone brother Jeff, excellently played by George Hilton, serves as a type of intermediary between the world of Tom's antiquated values (that seem a holdover from classic westerns) and the recently vicious, ultra-violent world that permeates the film. Indeed, it's only after his unscrupulous brother agrees to help that Tom achieves any sort of success. To be certain, like many of Fulci's films, nihilism suffuses The Brute and the Beast - yet by film's end the overriding pessimism and sense of anarchy give way to a gesture of order and (albeit blunted) optimism.

There are other characters in this western that, like Tom Corbett, also might be seen as traditional, or classic western archetypes. However, they are also similarly incompatible with the chaotically violent world of the film and usually meet with a bad end. For example, Mr. Scott, played by Giuseppe Addobbati, is perceived to be the tough guy in charge of the film's primary locale, Laramie Town. Yet, the viewer ultimately learns that Mr. Scott merely functions as a figurehead while his maniacal son, Jason Scott, is in fact the one controlling the region with his volatile brand of bloodthirsty injustice. Mr. Scott appears disturbed by the mindless violence committed by his son, but his traditional notions of authority and lawfulness are at odds with the madness and brutality that reign freely. In short, Mr. Scott shares a kinship, both literally and figuratively, to Tom Corbett - a typical western character caught in an atypically brutal landscape in which he appears to be ineffectual and helpless.

In addition to the parallel that exists between Tom Corbett and Mr. Scott, Jeff Corbett and Mr. Scott's son, Jason, are also characters that mirror each other. Both are impulsive, eccentric and pretty unhinged and, to a large degree, characterize the bulk of the film. Whereas Tom and Mr. Scott (and a few other minor characters) seem out of their element, the violent, unruly behavior of Jason Scott and Jeff Corbett are completely in tune with the film's proceedings; they are the titular Brute and Beast. Additionally, they are arguably the film's most entertaining characters, and classic examples of the traditionally unorthodox personas that embellish and personify the spaghetti western.

The screenplay, by the great Italian director Fernando Di Leo, is an exceptional interweaving of classic western motifs with the imaginative and violent extravagance that would distinguish the Italian western. Working with cinematographer Riccardo Palottini, Lucio Fulci's The Brute and the Beast is a visually elaborate film that beautifully complements the story, and deserves and rewards close attention. Claims that it lacks the visual prowess or inventiveness of Fulci's later films are erroneous, if not completely beside the point (the visual approach to a horror film, a western, or any genre of film being completely dissimilar). The Brute and the Beast is a thematically and truly visually sophisticated film that questions the genre even as it advances it.

Lucio Fulci was proud of this film, it's one of his finest, and if you haven't seen it I highly recommend searching it out.

This DVD can be purchased from

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