Friday, April 30, 2010


Real-life Australian stunt man Grant Page moves to Hollywood, hangs out with his cousin's real-life metal band, Sorcery; after an hour-and-a-half of stunt montages, they mount an unforgettable stage fusion of STUNTS AND ROCK.


STUNTS. And ROCK. Together at last, in a movie to which Michael Bay might totally spank it morning, noon, and night.

STUNT ROCK's appeal is pure, unfettered by story: the cliff-diving...the ziplining...the human torching...the human torch ziplining off a cliff. The squibs, the rappelling, the motocross, the upside-down biplane commandeering, the jumping from the roof of one high-speed Cadillac into the backseat of another, the martial art of soda bottle-breaking, the man-to-tiger combat, the explosion after explosion after explosion - all in fearless double and triple split-screens to maximize said purity of appeal.

This movie relies heavily on clips from Grant Page's actual career - I'm guessing most of the budget went to clearance rights. One such clip - from MAD DOG MORGAN (1976) - features Page as part of Dennis Hopper's (onscreen) nightmares. You're probably thinking that the nightmares of Dennis Hopper must be pretty cinematic, and you are so right about that: Page emerges from a lake completely aflame, flies vertically through the air up a cliff and jumps into Hopper's face, scaring the bejeesus out of him and making our viewing party gasp-clutch-pearls screaming "OMG IT'S DENNIS HOPPER!!!!!" It was obviously cliff-jumping-on-fire footage run backwards, and it was equally obviously AWESOME.

While most of the stunts do involve 1970s style cliff jumps, fire, and cliff jumps on fire, there is also some indescribably shredtastic footage of stunts from the 1920s - highwires over New York City, headstands on skyscraper cornices, dudes jumping from rooftop to rooftop over thin air. All in black-and-white, all from back in the day when there was no such thing as greenscreen, when these sorts of activities were that much more dangerous. So just think about that for a moment.

While Page is busy jumping off the Paramount watertower (oh yeah, a plot point, but just the one - he moves to Hollywood to stunt-double on a show called "Undercover Girl"*), Sorcery is tearing up the studio and the stage with their King Of The Wizards Vs. Prince Of Darkness show. Have you ever seen a wizard on fire? Look no further. Sorcery, for real, opened for Van Halen's very first show, opened for Black Sabbath after that, and offers fat, deep early metal grooves that will rock off socks that you don't even wear, like before you even think about how cold your feet are and wouldn't it be nice to...IT'S SORCERY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The stage shows - all three nights of them - are full of magic illusions conducted with somewhat undersized props. Also, fire. Did I mention that there is a lot of fire in this film? One could almost call it symbolic of...itself. In the third show's finale, Page successfully helps Sorcery unite STUNTS and ROCK 4-ever by getting tied to a thing onstage and set on fire (again), then disappearing!, only to somehow sneak to the back of the house and zipline over the crowd in a STUNT to rejoin, onstage, the ROCK. And, happy ending. Especially for Michael Bay.

PS Grant Page is still tearing it up. DOUBLE DEVIL HORNS = TOO MUCH METAL FOR ONE HAND.

*unfortunately not about asskicking private investigator female-identified drag kings but at least it does involve skintight gold lame jumpsuits.

Special thanks to John and Amanda for hosting, specialer thanks to John for letting me wear his spare STUNT ROCK teeshirt, and specialest thanks to Brian for mentioning this movie in the first place. At El Cholo. In the booth where Monte Hellman wrote TWO-LANE BLACKTOP.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

MEGA PIRANHA (2010) - part one-point-five of two

Curses! Due to a TiVo crisis*, further analysis of killer fish is on hold. We watched JURASSIC PARK III instead, and, well, beyond the ALL SUBTEXT ALL THE TIME dialogue, what can you say about a nicely-structured nonstop action movie with good effects where Allesandro Nivola looks buff and flexes conspicuously? Shoutout to William H. Macy's moustache. Seriously it looks like a small mammal took up residence on his upper lip. I so hope he grew it himself.


Anyway, please enjoy this MEGA PIRANHA consolation prize interview with Tiffany.

*Is it possible to overstuff a TiVo until older picks drop out? All of a sudden it was filled with a certain housemate's people-yelling-loudly-about-politics shows, with last week's Syfy selections nowhere to be found.

Special thanks to Julie for hosting, and to Quincy for technical support.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

MEGA PIRANHA (2010) - part one of two

Oversized deadly fish chomp their way up the Amazon, destroying everything and everyone in their path.


Good-hearted ichthyologist Tiffany - Tiffany "I Think We're Alone Now" Tiffany, no last name required, yo - has been genetically modifying Venezuelan piranhas to make them a bigger and therefore more bountiful food source for the people. Unfortunately, she hasn't just made their bodies bigger...she's made their teeth bigger, too.

These piranhas have METAL TEETH. DEATH METAL TEETH. F YES THEY DO. Turn off that Hall & Oates and crank some Carcass, because that's what's about to go down onscreen.

First 10 minutes shred count includes:

- locals
- tourists
- girls in skimpy neon bikinis
- the US Ambassador
- a boat

And these biters double in size every 36 hours! Extrapolate this algorithm: If there's nothing to stop them from growing, how long will it take until the earth's surface is destroyed with nothing left to sustain them but each other's flesh? How big will the last fish standing be, and would its mass create a pull too strong to sustain the physical balance of the universe? COULD THERE BE A SEQUEL EXPLORING THESE ISSUES PLEASE.

Anyway, back to the lab, where Tiffany feels awful. So does Greg Brady, who plays Government Dude In DC Trying To Get Things Done By Yelling Into A Cell Phone. (Greg Brady's character is named Bob Grady, maybe to make it easier for Greg to remember his own name? Everyone has days like that.) Someone throws a dead piranha on the Venezuelan Colonel's desk to prove a point ("this is bad!") and he is most displeased. How will he get the smell out of his paperwork???

And then there is fish-kicking: Paul Logan on his back at the water's edge, bicycling away the piranhas like an aerobics champ, right before a fellow scientist declaims something like "They won't get away with it this time!" and then gets chomped by an enormous piranha. As for Tiffany, well, she hates it! Really! Hates hates hates! And wants to kill them all!

What happens next is a bit of a mystery because my viewing companions and I ate seconds on pasta before snuggling down into the couches with the dogs and consequently, somewhere post fish-kicking we were all zzzzzzzzz. So please tune in shortly for reportage on a conclusion sure to involve MAYHEM and PULVERIZED FISH BITS.

Special thanks to Julie and Quincy for hosting.