Death Race 2000 (1975) – Movie Review by Max Coulson

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9/10

So, I spent a good chunk of last night watching Roger Corman interviews, and it got me thinking about how many movies he’s produced that I just fucking loved when I was a kid, and this one pretty much tops the list.

This was one of those movies I watched all the time when I was younger, and may be the only VHS tape I came close to wearing out as much as Road House.  The weird thing is, though, I think the last time I watched it before now was when I was about 14.

So, the big question is: Does it hold up?  Fucking yeah, it does!  It may actually be funnier, watching as an adult.  I always laughed at the scene near the beginning, where Frankenstein runs over the group of nurses, after they put all the old people in the middle of the road to die  –  but what actually made me laugh more, this time around, was Frankenstein casually referring to it as “Euthanasia Day at the geriatrics hospital.”

The actual racing scenes also hold up really well.  Yeah, it’s obvious that a lot of the footage has been sped up – but the scenes are shot well and are edited with a certain energy that really added a lot to those scenes.  I also appreciated that, when the actors were exchanging dialogue while driving – they were actually in moving vehicles, for the most part.  At no point do we see them in front of a projector screen.

This is just a really fun, schlock-fest of a movie, with some pretty good political satire, some great action sequences, people having their heads ran over, and topless women because, hey, it was the 70’s!

Actually, with that last part in mind, I’d just like to take the time to note how refreshing it is to watch an exploitation movie made in the 70’s, where none of the female characters get violently raped.  That’s…  that’s just great.

So yeah, see this movie – it’s fun!

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The Greasy Strangler (2016) – Review by Max Coulson

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10/10

This movie is awesome and you should see it, right now.

Imagine a John Waters film…  No, not Hairspray…  Or Cry Baby….  Imagine a John Waters film between 1969 and 1974.  Okay, think of that.  Now imagine Waters decided to throw in a bunch of Troma-esque gore, and even more disgust-inducing visuals.

Imagine all that, and you have *drum-roll* Kurt Dirt’s Life is Cheap!

Now, imagine that movie had an actual budget – and you have the Greasy Strangler!

Okay, that’s not strictly fair.  Life is Cheap and The Greasy Strangler are very similar in a lot of ways – but their are some pretty fundamental differences.

With Life is Cheap, I felt like Kurt was going for all-out disgust.  Like if GG Allin became a movie director instead of a musician.  The film tried, and succeeded, at being a perfect gross-out fest.

The Greasy Strangler, while it certainly does assault the audience with disgusting visuals, is also far more conventional in its approach…  To a point.

This is a film that manages to merge a fairly traditional narrative with absurdism and totally gets away with it, against all the odds.  And, yes, I’m aware I just said that a film about a greased-up elderly man strangling people until their eyes pop out had a traditional narrative.

The real story of the film is that of a sordid love triangle between Big Ronnie (AKA the Greasy Strangler), his son Brayden, and Janet – who they meet while doing their Disco-walk tour.

The three main characters are all disgusting and bizarre in their own ways, but also have distinct and understandable personalities.

Aside from being a psychotic, greased-up murderer, Big Ronnie is reprehensible in less obvious ways.  He constantly lies about his past adventures, his knowledge of disco, and even convinces his friend that his son shits the bed, for no real reason.

Brayden is a pathetic, possibly developmentally challenged, man-child, who seems unable to escape his father’s shadow.  All he seems to want is a genuinely meaningful relationship with Janet.

Janet is, in some ways, the most reprehensible character of the bunch.  Clearly not a psychopath on the level of Big Ronnie, but almost as callous.  Janet seems happy to not only cheat on Brayden with his father, but even goes as far as to openly mock him after the two of them sleep together.

While these three characters actually have an interesting dynamic that goes deeper than a film like this really needs them to, the peripheral characters are where the film really gets its absurdist fix.

From Oinker, a character with a pig snout covering a bloody hole where his nose should be, to the three foreign tourists who will probably cause a very strangely pronounced version of the word “potato” to burn itself into your brain for several weeks after watching the film, the world this film inhabits is one full of weird and illogical people.

Then there’s the ending.  I won’t get into spoilers territory, but this film ends with what can only really be described as pure insanity.

Well-crafted, fun, absurd yet thought out…  this movie is awesome, and you should see it!

Just be prepared to hear the phrase “bullshit artist” a lot.  Because you will.