tHE r H i z z o n E

Hey y'all. I'm posting this to (hopefully) get some discussion going on third world/developing cinemas as they arrange themselves against or in sync with The Hollywood Machine. Ideologically Correct cinema in the mode of social realism is all well and good, but I think that the so-called "rip off" films of Turkey/Indochina/etc. are smarter than western "cult film" audiences care to understand.

Happy Films For to Make Fun and Profit in the Global Market

“For, in the developing continents, where the colonialist heritage has left a vast majority still illiterate, even the smallest child gets the message contained in the blood and thunder stories emanating from California . . . Here, truly, is the ideological under-belly of those political murders which so often use local people as their instruments.”
-- Kwame Nkrumah, Neo-Colonialism, The Last Stage of Imperialism (1)

The primary mode for resistance to cultural imperialism through cinema is not the art film, or the propaganda film, but the genre film. For it is the American genre films that have conquered the world: the Western and the War film, the Sci-Fi and the Horror Show. Such are their power that none other than Kim Jong-il, otherwise the stalwart steward of social realism and unitary production in North Korean film, arranged the kidnapping of South Korean director Shin Sang-ok in 1978 in order to build a genre base. Without Shin’s outsider expertise to kick start their industry, Kim was worried that:

"If we don’t catch up, frankly speaking, in an international perspective, because our movies are so backwards, we might rank number one among the most backward films. Ah, I’m saying that we might be the last among lagging films."(2)

To this end, Kim had Shin direct and advise at least half a dozen films during his stay in North Korea, among them Pulgasari (1985), a Japanese-style monster movie based on a Korean folktale and utilizing the (voluntary) special effects talents of Toho Company technicians, veterans of the Godzilla series.(3) But it was not to be: after Pulgasari’s very public and successful Japanese premiere, North Korea retreated from the global film market. The flourishing of genre film requires some level of business and artistic freedom. It requires a market. For more precise placement, the genre film may be understood as analogous to the category of Trivial Literature. As outlined by Stanislaw Lem:

"The status of trivial literature can be recognized by several typical attributes.
First: its works are read only once, just like the cheapest mass products, which are also intended for but a single use. Most of them become obsolete in the same way as mass products do . . . the dogma of continual change of models becomes a law of the market . . . Second: I must remark that a reader of trivial literature behaves just like the consumer of mass products. Surely it does not occur to the producer of brooms, cars, or toilet paper to complain of the absence of correspondence, fraught with outpourings of the soul, that strikes a connection between him and the consumer of his products . . . Third: the market of trivial literature knows only one index of quality: the measure of the sales figures of the books."
(4)

Genre films are made for profit above all else. The actual artistic and entertainment value of each film is valuable only so far as it furthers the brand recognition of the director/studio/producer. One strength of the genre film is in this total amorality, this mercenary creativity in which “plot and acting become subordinate to elements that can be promoted.”(5) Another strength is the web of references which builds as a genre ages, the collection of signifiers which allow for ready decoding by a mass audience. The lightsaber from Star Wars (1977) is taken as a signifier for Star Wars and the type of sci-fi that it represents. There is a mystical/fantastic quality to its use. However, after overuse in subsequent imitations, the lightsaber becomes a floating signifier: it becomes vague and general to the point of incoherence. What does it matter that David Hasselhoff wields a lightsaber in Starcrash (1979)? The only reason it is still notable is because we remember its specific previous use from Star Wars, not because it maintains any referential meaning. It becomes kitsch. This process may be inherent in the genre model, but it becomes especially noticeable when carried out through rip-off cinema, where the filters of place, politics, and budget draw a stark border between the original American film and its foreign offspring.

In the East Asian national cinemas and the cinema market, there are the original, indigenous genres such as the Hong Kong kung fu film and the Japanese tokusatsu (special effects) film. There is also the bleed through that occurs between cultures, as influences cross over and new forms are built, such as the Hong Kong action films of the ‘80s. And there are the rip-offs, the knockoffs, and the imitations, the films that take a successful formula and copy it. Such imitation and repetition is inevitable in a studio system, where films are large investments that must be made very conservatively. After Star Wars from 20th Century Fox, mythical sci-fi was a sure thing – so follows Battlestar Galactica (1978), the TV series from Universal Studios, and The Black Hole (1979), from Disney. Such imitation and repetition is also inevitable in a fractured, developing, or open film market, wherein every agent/actor, small and large, must fight tooth and nail for the audience’s attention. Thus we also have Battle Beyond the Stars (1980) from Roger Corman’s independent American company New World Pictures, and Starcrash from Italian director Luigi Cozzi, produced in Italy and given an American release through New World, as well as The Man Who Saves the World (aka Turkish Star Wars, 1982), which takes advantage of Turkey’s lax copyright laws by recycling footage from Star Wars for its own special effects sequences, otherwise out of reach of Turkish film capital. The technical competence of these films, their adherence to source materials, and their attitudes towards the original American blockbusters depended on their geopolitical origins. While, for example, the Italian rip-off genre c.1975-1990 was a primal scream from a dying and degraded first world national art, a cynical and fatalistic jig danced by the doomed bourgeois artists, the similar and concurrent boom of East Asian imitation films was far more messy and compromising, with cheap, nakedly mercenary efforts made by shrewd businessmen on foreign demand standing alongside equally cheap but far more inspired films that undertook a retaking of cultural space from an ever-present American film hegemony. Lest there be remaining doubts about the power of genre, consider the fate of the Italian film industry.

Spaghetti Nightmares

“One thing’s for sure, it wasn’t a floating chainsaw.”
-- Vic Morrow, The Last Shark (1981)

What happened to the Italian film industry? By the early ‘90s, Romano Scavolini damned it as a “blinkered”(6) system, and Umberto Lenzi simply said, “it’s the end of the line.”(7) These are Italian filmmakers talking about their own national cinema, and they freely admit to contributing to the dire results. This clique of filmmakers went through each successive genre/rip-off cycle of the ‘70s and ‘80s and milked them for all they were worth. Yet Ruggero Deodata, director of Last Cannibal World (1977) and Cannibal Holocaust (1980) among others, said in 1993, “if the Italian cinema shows a little courage, it will make it.”(8) “Courage” in his perspective meaning a turn away from genre frameworks and fealty to the international market, a turn away from the very films that made him and others successful. But apparently, if the Italian cinema can’t stop chasing the American dream, it can’t survive, dignity intact. The so-called Spaghetti Westerns and the giallo thrillers took hold of the Italian industry c.1960-1975 and throttled it, until it seemed like there wasn’t a movie being made in Italy that didn’t feature a steely eyed masochist gunman or a black gloved misogynist killer, and either way the title would be some kind of declarative sentence. These two genres accounted for so much cinema product, hundreds of titles each, that it seemed the cinemas were drowning in it, and as the years progressed you were as well off seeing one random film as the other, as they were undoubtedly identical aside from performers and whatever third act twist could be mustered as a surprise – the essence of genre. The real effect over time was each body of work taken as a whole, as new stylistic modes of cinema. Even as the Spaghetti Westerns and giallos faded away in the ‘70s, their makers moved on to new genre styles, like converts moving from religion to religion.

Genre is self-replicating. To quote Luigi Cozzi, “I’m a real fan, making a science fiction film was a bit like having an old dream come true.”(9) Cozzi’s own Starcrash was a love letter to Golden Age science fiction, with tacked-on Star Wars accoutrements including an opening flyover by a massive star cruiser. Cozzi’s nostalgic replication mirrors the rise of the New Hollywood filmmakers, among them Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, and their blockbuster updates of ’30-‘40s adventure serials. Thus, in the space of just over a generation certain genres moved from profitable (owing to small budgets), yet marginal (being children’s entertainment and subservient to the attached feature), to profitable (owing to large investment) and mainstream (now being seen by adults who grew up on the serials and a new generation of children). Thus, it seems that genre’s growth and dominance over other film modes is inevitable. With this as a given, the artists and workers within each respective film industry must come to terms with the dominance of genre, and so the end result often is very sophisticated people working on very unsophisticated films. This is the Italian experience of rip-off cinema.

Italian films such as The Last Shark, Exterminators of the Year 3000 (1983), and Shocking Dark (aka Terminator II, aka Alienators, 1990), are nakedly derived from their American progenitors’ storylines and content. The Last Shark, for example, features Vic Morrow in the Quint mold, matching wits against the implacable killer shark. Many of the Italian rip-offs placed American actors as stars or guest stars, to increase International appeal. Other times, Italian actors and filmmakers were given Americanized names – director Luigi Cozzi, for example, became Lewis Coates for Starcrash and Alien Contamination (1980). These films hold a cheese ball appeal to general cinema fans because of their blatant copying and their poverty-induced flights of fancy – the creaky Italian industry couldn’t hold a candle to Hollywood’s commitment to technical “realism” and it often shows, poorly. Faced with a dearth of resources, Italian filmmakers opted for stylistic verve and sheer brute determination, as had been the norm in the now-moribund Spaghetti Western and giallo genres. Each mechanistic, “realistic” American film was brutally co-opted into a fantastic exercise in unbridled genre. See the near-climax of The Last Shark, featuring a battle between the titular fish and a toy helicopter. 2019: After the Fall of New York (1982) is an Escape From New York (1981) clone featuring Michael Sopkiw as a Kurt Russell-style renegade named Parsifal, who must rescue the last fertile woman on earth from a bombed-out NYC occupied by the Continental devils of the Eurak Monarchy. The film is a great deal livelier than Carpenter’s drab original, and balances a gritty aesthetic with some garish futuristic designs and an unrelenting cynicism. The New Barbarians (aka Warriors of the Wasteland, 1982), another Road Warrior manqué, features the aggressively homosexual Templars riding through the patchy post-nuke Italian wastes on shiny white motorbikes, wearing giant shoulder pads and punk-couture hair-dos, a glam rock answer to the Lord Humongous’ down and dirty homoerotic biker horde. At one point, our hero Scorpion is captured by the Templars: he is tied to a cross frame, stripped, and then raped by the Templar’s psychotic leader One, as the rest of the gang looks on! The scene is lurid and phantasmagoric, a far cry from the bleak Outback blacktop that inspired it. In the end, One is impaled on Scorpion’s car drill, tit for tat. 2019 ends with a similarly outré finale, with a blastoff to outer space aimed at colonizing Alpha Centauri. This then, is the visceral appeal of the Italian rip-off films – seeing familiar tropes and clichés spun into hallucinogenic phantasms, watching our bubblegum pop-culture blown into myth.

Connected to the rip-off cycles were the Italian gore films and the genre films which hit upon original concepts and inspired their own copies. The gore films had their genesis in three classic and profitable films: Mario Bava’s Twitch of the Death Nerve (1971), Lucio Fulci’s Zombi (1979), and Ruggero Deodata’s Cannibal Holocaust (1980). In contrast to what Stephen Thrower called the “over-determined” design of American studio horror films, which reached their technical (and clinical) peak during the ‘80s,(10) the Italian gore films were of looser design, technically proficient but ragged and rough around the edges. The more original genre films made in Italy in the ’70-‘80s came out of the great genre web, where ideas and attitudes mixed and matched in a kind of collective consciousness. What is surprising about these few films is how they reverse the American-Italian exchange of signifiers and concepts. Lucio Fulci’s The New Gladiators (1984) was a precursor to The Running Man (1986), loosely modeled on Blade Runner (1982) in its aesthetics but closer to Schwarzenegger’s vehicle in content, as a wrongfully accused man fights for his life in a futuristic televised death match. Hollywood co-opted the explicit violence of the Italian gore films and the creativity of the emerging genre films, and threw its capital into more and more exacting verisimilitude. The result was the slow starvation of the Italian gore and rip-off films, as they were squeezed out of the global and national markets by flashier fare.(11) This leaves the developed nations' film industries in Hollywood’s sphere of influence, and then by definition the developing nations as well, through neocolonialism and cultural imperialism. The options for global filmmakers are limited: take a conscious stand against the Hollywood imports, or beat them at their own game.

“Joseph Lai Crap Anime”

When I was walking down the street/
I saw a man, he was metal/
I say what are you/
Some say, I’m a supercop
-- Gamadelic

While the Italians were stereotyped as cranking out an endless stream of rickety cash-ins of Hollywood blockbusters (which as established were more complex than they appeared), the various national cinemas of East Asia were aligned on a spectrum of derivation ranging from original genres such as Hong Kong kung-fu films and Indonesian folklore horror shows, to middling action genres feeding on foreign demand, such as Filipino women-in-prison flicks and the cycle of Filipino Road Warrior imitators, to rock-bottom assembly line filmmaking focused entirely on making a fast foreign profit. One impresario of the third school was Hong Kong producer/director Joseph Lai. Here’s a basic, if spirited, summary of Lai and his partners, taken from Keith Allison’s review of Lai’s Space Thunder Kids at Teleport-City:

"The movies they used were almost always dirt cheap nonsense, though from time to time I have seen one of their ninja movies and recognized at least one of the films that served as the source. Aside from splicing films together, dashing off a new script, and inserting random scenes of white guys in shiny metallic purple or red and yellow ninja outfits into the proceedings (and all movies could benefit from such insertions), they’d also steal music cues from whatever movie happened to be popular — which, to be fair, was hardly unique to the poverty row Lai/Tang/Ho operation, as even big budget films from Hong Kong during the 80s were known to lift cues and entire musical scores from other films. But while some films, say John Woo’s The Killer or Hard Boiled, lifted scores people might not recognize (save for the ten people in the world who rushed out to buy the Red Heat soundtrack), the cheaper films usually just used Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Mix all these ingredients together, and you literally have a nearly endless reservoir of movies than can be made, quite literally, in a few days. And so the world is blessed with titles like Ninja Phantom Heroes, Ninja in the Claws of the CIA, Ninja Diamond Force, and countless others. You could probably write a thousand-page tome by doing nothing but reviewing these ninja films, for their numbers are so great.
That Lai saw fit, for a brief spell, to turn his attentions to anime, or at least to animation, isn’t really surprising, given what I have to assume was a keen sense of how to make a fast buck. The results also aren’t surprising. From what I can tell, Lai basically made one or two movies, cheaply and sloppily animated by a bunch of Koreans chained to their desks, and then cut and recut those movies into eight or nine separate movies. All of the films rely on the popularity of giant robot animation from the late 1970s and early 1980s, though they hardly restrict themselves to it. And like the ninja films, it seems that these movies were produced largely for a foreign — as in Western — market, to be dumped cheaply onto home video or to fill late-night television programming holes."
(12)

Allison’s writing is notable for its tongue-in-cheek attitude, its flirtation with deconstruction and analysis balanced by an ironic distancing. Those first world consumers who catalog and fetishize knockoff products, such as Allison, are grappling with their identities as passive consumers and with the fundamental injustices and waste inherit in the modern system of global capital.(13) Much in the same way that modern businesses create needs among consumers and then stimulate and escalate those needs, Lai’s films exist only as a means to themselves, a self-perpetuating consumer cycle. The “Joseph Lai Crap Anime” genre, as it is categorized at Teleport-City, resembles the stereotyped Cheap Chinese Junk Export – whether Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, the effect is the same – a closed system of economy, with constant poaching, recycling, and infringement. Just as molds and packaging are recycled ad nauseum to churn out a never-ending stream of inbred plastic progeny, so are Lai’s films assembled from a junkyard of spare parts. Americans may laugh, but the joke’s on us. Lai’s Space Thunder Kids is a typical animated effort, if any can be said to be “typical.” The story is basic and shared by most of the films: kids and their giant robots against alien invaders. The style is what is notable, as they are all patchwork films, STK especially:

"It never makes any sense at all. Ever. And although it relies on the same basic plot as the other cartoons, it hardly matters since it gets buried beneath so much totally random weirdness. Not only do things like uniform and skin and hair color change from frame to frame — sometimes the entire cast changes from frame to frame. One minute, we’re looking at five people in blue uniforms inside a giant robot. We cut to a shot outside, probably of the robot swinging a giant chain while flying through space, and then when we cut back to the crew, there’s three of them and they’re in completely different uniforms. Plot points are introduced out of nowhere and vanish immediately. Entire armies are set on the march, and we never hear from them again. Characters come out of nowhere and then transform into other characters. Space Thunder Kids represents that point in the space-time continuum where every single law of logic, coherency, and physics — not to mention the simple, basic concept of competent animation and film making — are rendered meaningless."(14)

Here Allison is also toying with the notion of bourgeois realism, and the film’s violation of Lem’s Empirical Fantasy.(15) The film fails to treat its content with the gravitas and empirical continuity necessary for realism. By choosing such an obvious failure of a film to analyze, Allison maintains the necessary distance should he overstep in critique.

The films violate numerous trademarks, stealing character models from countless Japanese cartoons, including Captain Harlock, Mazinger, and the Transformers. Not only is the animation recycled, it is poorly done at a low frame rate, with minimal motion onscreen, and much repetition. Once STK is established as our “transcendental” baseline, we can move on to other disparate efforts: Space Transformers takes the outer space giant robot battle footage and places it inside the body of a teenage girl, who must be saved from an invisible invasion by microscopic evildoers.(16) As the heroes take their fantastic voyage through young Ivy’s body, they come across whole microworlds that have been enslaved by the invaders, populated by medieval knights and dwarvish types, designs taken from some forgotten fantasy cartoon. Solar Adventure adds live action bookends, as Korean schoolchildren stumble across intergalactic intrigue right in their own backyard, and then awake to find it was all a dream . . . or was it?(17) Further Lai animation titles utilizing the same footage include Raiders of Galaxy, Protectors of Universe, Defenders of Space, and Savior of the Earth. As Allison says, these films were meant for export, as an easy buck for Australian TV markets always hungry for “new” programming.(18) Although composed of the same parts, each of these incestuous productions have a unique “hook” – a fantastic voyage, live action, etc. – for marketing purposes.

Despite these hooks, when taken as a whole Lai’s ninja and animation output bleeds into a single amorphous body, wherein individual identification becomes, if not outright impossible, at least actively discouraged. Whereas the Italian rip-offs build off each other and create a web of inter-reference and mythos, Lai’s films mostly blend together into a swirling plastic mess. They are white noise in a global market, and they fit right in.

Silver Machine is Worth More Than You’re Worth: Robo Vampire and Lady Terminator

“I want you to turn Tom’s body into an android type robot.”
-- Tom’s commando friend, Robo Vampire

“We’ve seen more dead bodies than you’ve eaten hot dogs. So shut up and eat.”
-- Max McNeil, cop commando, Lady Terminator

In contrast to the decadent Italian productions – operatic pastiches – and the shameless East Asian hack jobs put out for nothing more than a fast buck, other East Asian filmmakers, from the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea, and Hong Kong, undertook a collective hostile takeover of the film market with their own rip-off cinema. Rather than follow the waves of American product crashing into their markets, they struck back with a vengeance and piled a mountain of breakers against the tide, countless films that seized upon an idea – the Terminator, the Robocop, the Road Warrior – and ran with it as far as they could. The signifiers of American film culture were appropriated and remolded into localized translations. The Austrian Oak’s cybernetic murder machine became a black leather beauty queen in Lady Terminator (1988) from Indonesia. Verhoeven’s .50 caliber Christ figure was replaced by a wan doppelganger wearing lumpy pillowcases and sporting a robo-mullet in Joseph Lai’s Robo Vampire (1988). And Mel Gibson’s long suffering sadomasochistic survivor found himself upstaged by an ensemble of swarthy roughnecks hell bent for studded leather, in the Filipino post-nuke epics Stryker (1983), Wheels of Fire (1985), Warriors of the Apocalypse (1985), and Equalizer 2000 (1986), among others.

Lai’s Robo Vampire is an atypical effort from him, boasting a higher percentage of original footage and a coherent, if unbelievable, story that combines a spectral revenge arc with a robotic resurrection tale and a Golden Triangle shoot-’em-up. The drug smuggling action portions of the film are from an earlier production, more serious and westernized, possibly of Thai making, with the horror and sci-fi elements filmed on the cheap and inserted to make a new film that capitalizes and localizes on the blockbuster Robocop (1987). In Robocop, the hero’s pathos and Christ-like character are established through Verhoeven’s utility as a filmmaker, and Robo Vampire’s thematic character comes entirely through poaching of Verhoeven’s hard work. The death and resurrection of Peter Weller’s Murphy is a mechanistic passion play where the personal is superseded by the technological. Tom’s own rising consists of the quoted dialogue, and a two-minute montage of power tools strapping hardware and spray-painted throw cushions onto poor Tom’s body. The end result is, in a word, goofy. Whereas Robocop was a tightly crafted satire with a laser focus, Robo Vampire, befitting its East Asian provenance, is a loose soup of horror, action, science fiction, and broad comedy. Bumbling sidekicks battle hopping vampires, drug smugglers gun down villagers, and Tom, as the Robo Warrior, marches implacably across the landscape, making little sproing noises with every step. But Verhoeven has already laid the important thematic elements. Lai is content to borrow this foundation and build something completely different on top of it. In the same way that multinational corporations harvest resources from the developing world, Lai strip mines the First World zeitgeist for everything it’s worth, producing a faster meaner leaner local product. As a bootleg ninja warrior may become a Power Ranger with a fresh paintjob, Lai gives old product a facelift for new markets. His motivations are no more nobler in this case, but the end result transcends his rip-off morass and joins the vanguard of resisting film.

Lady Terminator meshes Indonesian folklore with The Terminator (1984). The result is dreamlike, as poetic imagery interweaves with gruesome violence and titillation. An anthropology student is possessed by the spirit of the South Seas Queen, and goes on a bloody rampage for filial revenge. Standing in her way is one Max McNeil and a very ragtag team of commandos. What does it mean, when an ancient Indonesian goddess revives herself as a female avatar of Teutonic masculinity? What does it mean that the Lady Terminator brandishes assault rifles and rocket launchers, yet also dismembers penises, in the traditional South Seas Queen way? This is a hostile takeover, not only of the colonizer by the colonized, but by the feminized over the masculinized. Indonesia’s mythology, resplendent with female characters awesome and terrible, offers an aggressive alternative to the norm of female passivity and exploitation in the Western-style action genre. All of this is delivered in an entertaining genre package, a night out for friends or a night in, shooting the shit, getting drunk on Bintang.

Endgame

“In the 21st century, prime time TV is a battlefield!”
-- tagline, The New Gladiators

“For an Endgame champion in the year 2025, there’s only one way to live: dangerously.”
-- tagline, Endgame (1983)

Compare Robo Vampire to Bruno Mattei’s anemic Predator (1987) imitation, Robowar (1990). Robowar was a listless late entry in the Italian rip-off cycle, from the writer/director team of Claudio Fragasso and Bruno Mattei, also responsible for Zombi 3 (1988), another dire Italian gore/rip-off. The film went through its paces without much zest, revealing the filmmakers’ own knowledge that what they were doing was finished. At this late point, the bones of the genre had been picked clean, there was nothing left to say. Postmodernism did not make an appearance in the genre, so it died quietly sometime around 1994. Even Lai’s prodigious output slackened during the ‘90s, as his penny pinching ways left him with an ever-shrinking stable of stock footage. Ninjas were on the out with audiences, who now wanted hardboiled cops in the John Woo vein.

This is the end game: adapt to the market or die, like the North Korean film industry, crippled by ideology. Take a stand against the market, or be subsumed, like the Italian industry, consigned to fatalism.

referenences
1 Kwame Nkrumah, Neo-Colonialism, The Last Stage of Imperialism, International Publishers Co., Inc., New York, 1966. Text accessed at: http://www.marxists.org/subject/africa/nkrumah/neo-colonialism/ch01.htm
2 Bradley K Martin, Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty, Thomas Dunne Books, New York, 2006. 334.
3 Martin’s otherwise thorough summary of the Shin Sang-ok affair leaves out any specific details on the films Shin made in captivity, though the Pulgasari story is popular among online cult fans.
4 Stanislaw Lem, Microworlds, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., San Diego, 1984. Pages 50-53 excerpted.
5 Herschell Gordon Lewis quoted in: Stephen Thrower, Nightmare USA: The Untold Story of the Exploitation Independents, FAB Press, Surrey, 2007. 47.
6 Luca M. Palmerini and Gaetano Mistretta, Spaghetti Nightmares, Fantasma Books, 1996. 145.
7 Ibid. 71.
8 Ibid. 44.
9 Ibid. 36.
10 Stephen Thrower. 409.
11 Ibid. 45-48, for an account of the same fate befalling independent American horror films.
12 http://teleport-city.com/wordpress/?p=803. I recommend Teleport-City as a resource, for it contains a broad spectrum of “cult” filmmaking, crossing many decades, modes, and borders.
13 A discussion and picture thread by said connoisseurs, at:
http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3356687
and a product review by one “Victor Costa,” of two of Lai’s animations available at Amazon.com, quoted verbatim:
“These anime movies are very trippy and colorful. Space Robot Defense is a bit like fantastic voyage as in the crew of a flying robot must be shrunk and injected into a dying girl's body to save her. However, the inside of her body is not filled with such things as red blood cells and veins etc., rather it's a whole other universe! There's a cool black giant octopus too. Raiders of Galaxy is also trippy and involves an attck by a mysterious flying saucer that turns into an evil robot, in an effort to take over Earth. But the people of earth have a giant robot too, Super Mazinga 3. Then, of course, a space battle ensues. Of course the good guys win. If you like odd anime or shear campy cheese you'll like these.”
Accessed at: http://www.amazon.com/Space-Robot-Defense-Raiders-Galaxy/dp/B002WD99A0/ref=sr_1_6?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1293510396&sr=1-6
14 Review: Space Thunder Kids. http://teleport-city.com/wordpress/?p=803
15 Stanislaw Lem, 34. Summarized, fantasy that treats its fantastic elements as empirical phenomena, as opposed to metaphorical or metaphysical phenomena. As Lem illustrates, Heinlein vs Kafka.
16 Review: Space Transformers. http://teleport-city.com/wordpress/?p=831
17 Review: Solar Adventure. http://teleport-city.com/wordpress/?p=804
18 Review: Space Thunder Kids. http://teleport-city.com/wordpress/?p=803

Too often the reaction from western viewers runs along the lines of "those third worlders, they're so dumb/naive/shameless they ripped off FILM X," while the thought should really go "they're smart, so what are they doing with this?"

#1


babyfinland
cool i'll read this in a few

I watched Kurtlar Vadisi Filistin the other night and it owned bones

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#2


germanjoey
this is awesome, 110% pro read. thank you so much for posting it!

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#3


germanjoey
Are you familiar with the slew of horrible Disney/Pixar ripoffs that Brazil has been pumping out like clockwork over the last few years? Here's a few examples:





And there's maybe a dozen more. I've never seen anything else like them. Quite a few are on Youtube in their entirety...

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#4


jettojagga

thank you so much for posting it!

Thank you for reading!

I love the Brazil Pixar rip offs, "The Little Cars" in particular. I think in the sequel the cars have Easter or Christmas and they pray to Jesus?

There's also Dingo Pictures from Germany. Their website has a bunch of trailers for their totally original product, including the famous Animal Soccer World.

Whereas the Pixar rip offs are 100% original animation, Dingo Pictures recycles animation and character models at a rate that would shame '70s era Toho - note the two ducks that show up in Animal Soccer World, the Aladdin film, and the Lion King knockoff. It's like they're harnessing entropy in order to nudge the universe into bringing more of these films into being.

South Korean anime also apparently stole Japanese designs quite flagrantly, on account of a domestic ban on Japanese animation - Teleport City has a whole series of reviews that cover the cultural and capitalist angles of SK anime, in particular the overtly ripped off stuff from Joseph Lai. Also worth mentioning is Solar Adventure, the Lai animation with live action bookends, in which our heroes are SK schoolchildren who defend against a North Korean invasion. The crown jewel is still Space Thunder Kids, though, the movie made almost 100% out of stock footage from previous Lai films.

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#5


babyfinland
hey buddy edit your OP to allow front page publishing and find a picture

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#6


jettojagga
Ok, done and done, though I checked the box like a scrub before adding a picture so here's The Indonesian Lady Terminator/South Seas Queen.

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#7


babyfinland
cool thanks

have you seen any of the kurtlar vadisi movies or TV show and do you have any comments on it

or just any comments on contemporary turkish media generally

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#8


jettojagga
Sadly no, the only Turkish stuff I've seen are the '80s knock offs, Turkish Star Wars and the like. While those are fun, it definitely betrays my origins as a bourgie "cult film fan" that I haven't seen anything else. Valley of the Wolves looks sharp as hell judging by the trailer on youtube. Am I right that it's a more of an action film about I/P than an "issues" film? Because if so, once again we see the power of genre over art/propaganda.

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#9


babyfinland
yes its definitely a genre movie

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#10


Casaubon
has anyone seen any S.E Asian horror films featuring krasue/arp/leyak (female spirits which are essentially 'organs without bodies'...heh...)

there are dozens of these and one was the first local film production in cambodia after years of imported socialist realism under the khmer rouge. i gather the more recent films are using cgi for their effects but the directors understand you don't need to show too much of the spirit, just the concept of it is viscerally frightening.

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#11


jettojagga
Cool poster! What does the title translate as? (edit: awesome choice for the article picture mr mod!)

just the concept of it is viscerally frightening.


I remember some older films ('80s, don't know what country) which used silly dummy heads pulled around on a string, with some rubbery organs hanging down. I don't recall much about the films (very early in my ~film watching career~ {read: I was like 12}) but even with the goofy FX on display the basic wrongness of the monster made it unsettling, and the imagery stuck with me.

I'd love to check out that subgenre, if you have any titles you'd recommend.

I also dig the Chinese Hopping Vampires, they're really more like voodoo zombies or cursed ghosts. One shows up in Fantasy Mission Force, a Jackie Chan joint that has to be seen to be disbelieved - though Chan is only a minor character, really.

I wonder if either of those monsters will be the subject of the next Hollywood foreign remake wave?

Edited by jettojagga (Sept. 21, 2011 19:18:37)

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#12


jettojagga

babyfinland posted:
yes its definitely a genre movie



So with the $$$ success of the film can we expect a reversal on the Golan Globus '80s Empire and the specter of the Bad Arab*? It'd be interesting to see a slick action genre develop abroad wherein Israel took the role of Bad Guys or stock villains. Seems like there'd be an audience for it.

*Turks/muslims/etc

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#13


Makeshift_Swahili
Excellent thread! Very interesting. The one leyak film I've seen is Mystics In Bali which is pretty amazing. I've had Lady Terminator sitting on my harddrive for a while too which I definitely need to watch.

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#14


jettojagga
Mystics in Bali +++++++
Lady Terminator +++++++
Lady Terminator is not quite as balls out crazy as Mystics in Bali, but it's fierce. Cannibal Mercenary (Thailand) is another great "wtf" film, it's a war story filtered through the horror genre.

I know I glossed over Spaghetti Westerns in the OP, but there are a few political entries I should mention. The Price of Power (1969) is a take on the JFK assassination, with conspiracy elements at work in Reconstruction era Texas. It's very much a suspense film, so I don't want to go into detail, besides to say it does not pull its punches. THE PRESIDENT IS WANTED - FOR TREASON!

Long trailer on youtube.

The lead actor is way too generic/pretty though. Run Man Run (1968) thankfully doesn't have that problem, because it stars Tomas Milan, a pretty cool dude with ~political opinions~ and a smoldering sex appeal. He plays it a little broader here, as a thief named Cuchillo ("the little knife") who falls into money being fought over by the Mexican govt., bandits, and revolutionaries. There's some surrealist imagery and goofy comedy balanced with peasant massacres and class strife. True to his name, Milan wields a knife instead of a gun, and isn't above running away to save his life.

Long trailer on youtube.

These are both blended genre titles, maintaining their action/western frameworks while advancing their political arguments/presentations. You could go to the theater for a matinee and catch one of these and maybe a totally apolitical piece like one of the Sartana movies too, and not know what hit you.

There's also Leone's Duck, You Sucker, which opens on a quote from Mao - "The revolution is an act of violence."

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#15


babyfinland
how about red westerns

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#16


jettojagga
I should watch some red westerns. I know the Germans had a craze for cowboys pre-WWII, plus the whole revisionist thing sounds great. And shooting in Mongolia/Kazakhstan! The Soviet Union had so many beautiful locations to pick from. Plus the awful broken down places like in Stalker.

And now post-USSR Romania is a frequent location for American DTV productions. Full Moon shot a lot of their crappy '90s stuff there, though I think it's petered off.

Here's something I just found, "Uganda first action movie from Ramon film productions" - Who Killed Captain Alex

edit: full film is on youtube here!

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#17


jettojagga
Sometimes I feel bad about my film habits, because I just watched Extraterrestrial Visitors for the second time, and I was thinking, what am I doing, I could be watching something good right now, like some of the movies mentioned here.

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#18


jettojagga
Got something I'm teasing out here, please let me know what you think of it:

(edit: spoilers ahead for Phenomena, 1985)

European Anti Semitism and the Giallo Films~ a brief notation

In the Italian giallo, the discovery of the body is a pregnant moment, not only giving birth to possible plot twists and an ever-heightening emotional frenzy that will explode into brutal violence by the climax, but reaching back to a blood stained history, echoing the beginnings of a thousand different medieval slanders against the Jews, and therefore poisoning the otherwise righteous burst of energy that stems from setting the stage for the unravelling of the identity of the killer.

For one simple story: http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/antisemitic.html#pforzheim

A few days later little Margaret reached her little hand above the streaming water. A number of people, including the Margrave himself soon assembled. Some boatmen succeeded in pulling the child out of the water. She was still alive, but as soon as she had called for vengeance against her murderers, she died.

Many giallos develop with the corpses of young girls discovered in bodies of water, sometimes natural glens (Phenomena 1985), sometimes urban canals (Enigma Rosso 1978). When a body is discovered by the police and whatever eccentric hangers on (reporter, fashion model, scientist), there are two channels of suspense: the basic fear stemming from the criminal's act, and another fear, stemming from the main characters' future actions and possible mistakes. The fear of mistaken identity, mistaken action. Red herrings not only confuse the investigation, they reflect on the morality of the protagonists. Is it acceptable to place suspicion on a strange recluse, a mysterious loner? Our eccentric amateur detectives have to face the reality of their own strangeness, their own tics and neurosis, while dancing on the razor's edge of their investigation. Frequently, the perpetrator will be someone who has thus far successfully hid their strangeness, an otherwise buttoned down character whose idiosyncracy is the urge to kill. When found out, they will drop all pretense of normality, drop their social camouflage, and degrade to an animalistic fury. This new outburst of violence differs from the previous cool and collected killings of victims - for the final showdown, the black gloved butcher will become an animal, a demon. In medieval thinking, a Jew.

In Phenomena the killer is the Head Mistress of the girl's school, played by Daria Nicolodi. She has hidden her ferocity under her professional demeanor and her conservative morality, until Jennifer Connelly forces her hand. An unstated battle of wits unwinds in Nicolodi's domecile, until Jennifer escapes to the dungeons below the home. Now, with the evidence of her perfidy out, Nicolodi drops all condescending pretense and goes for the throat. The most extreme horror comes from Jennifer's discovery of Nicolodi's mutant son, her literal monstrous side chained in the dungeons. Nicolodi sics her hidden corruption on Jennifer, who is only saved by her own dark secret, her psychic link with the insect kingdom. With her alter ego dead, Nicolodi lashes out one final time against Jennifer, killing a police officer, before she is fatally mauled by a chimpanzee wielding a razor blade. The chimpanzee is avenging the death of her owner/father, Donald Pleasance, a wheelchair bound entomologist who also played a role model to Jennifer. Thus, these harmless/righteous strains of strangeness come together to purge the truly evil, in a dual rewrite/apology for the historical passion play.

Edited by jettojagga (Sept. 25, 2011 16:48:04)

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#19


Crow

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