Saturday, November 25, 2017

AFGANISTAN - THE LAST WAR BUS (Italy 1989)

Ex-rental VHS / Norway / English dub / Norwegian subs / cut status?
Hi res scan courtesy of VHS Wasteland

aka WARBUS 2 / WARBUS II / THE LAST WARBUS / WAR BUS COMMANDO / AFGHANISTAN CONNECTION 

Directed by: Pierluigi Ciriaci (as Frank Valenti)
Note: the Danish VHS cover clearly lists "Ted Kaplan" (aka Ferdinando Baldi) as the director on the front of the cover but this is clearly not right.

Cast (from the print): Mark Gregory, John Vernon, Svina Gersak, Antony Freeman, Bobby Rhodes, Branko Djuric





Yesterday, Don Gordon Bell commented on my post about the original film WAR BUS that Ferdinando Baldi directed (as "Ted Kaplan") in the Philippines in '85 and that Don starred in. WAR BUS is good fun and very entertaining. I knew I'd had a Danish sell-thru VHS tape of a film that the cover calls "Warbus 2" sitting on my shelf for a really long time. And since I'm going to update my 9 year old post about the original film anyway, I figured it was as good a time as any to watch this sequel. Or rather the film that my Danish video tape sold off as a sequel to Baldi's original film anyway. Hell, the blogs I checked out before watching the film also refer to it as somewhat of a sequel, either in retitle or as an unofficial follow-up. After having watched the film I think I can tell you with 100% ... no, change that to 300% ... certainty that this is a sequel in distribution retitle only! Haha.


The good people over at Blood Brothers Reviews blog state in their review that the film was released in Italy as "Warbus 2". But I've checked various Italian web sites and it seems the film was actually released in Italy under the English language title of AFGANISTAN - THE LAST WAR BUS. The onscreen title on my VHS also carries this title (notice it does spell Afganistan without a H). However, the Italian sites also include "L'ultimo bus di guerra" in brackets after the title. I reckon this is just a translation by the Italian sites (and maybe even provided the film studio) to explain to non English speaking Italians what the title means. The fact that the IMDb also includes this Italian translated title as though it's part of the title doesn't mean much to me. It's just a translation of the title, not actually part of the title. I think most of you have figured out by now that the bloody IMDb is as reliable as a wet piece of spaghetti for bungee jumping. They also call it an Italian/American coproduction for crying out loud, simply because there's an American (John Vernon) in the film.

Mark Gregory plays Johnny Hondo, a Green Beret who's sent to outskirt places to rescue American prisoners of what ever local conflict they've gotten themselves into. He's just returned to the US after one such mission (that kicked off the film so we had something to look at while the intro credits ran). Upon his arrival home he's told his dad is in hospital. On his death bed Johnny's father, a high ranking US soldier, tells his son that soon he'll be asked to go on a mission and that it's an impossible mission. In other words, Papa Hondo tells his son to commit suicide just in order to save Hondo Senior's reputation. Great dad, huh!

Anyhoo, Johnny hooks up with the army guy who's played by John Vernon and he informs Johnny that 9 years earlier his father was in Afghanistan when the Russians invaded the country and things began to heat up. Hondo Sr. got hold of some mucho importanto papers that the American government would like to get their hands on. But he had to leave them behind, hidden in ... a school bus. Now it's Hondo Jnr.'s job to go in, get the papers, and get out again.

The rest of the film is said trip to downtown war torn Afghanistan. Somewhere along the line Johnny Hondo befriends a local teenager and saves two American POW's. They find the school bus and although it's a slow moving motherfucker they decide to use it to transport them back to civilisation. And nothing can stop this old heap of junk; not Russian army helicopters, tanks, machine guns, bazookas, fire, hand-grenades, foul language, nothing!!! One of the two POW's is played by Bobby Rhodes who you'll recognised if you're into horror films; he was the black pimp in Lamberto Bava's DEMONS!


AFGANISTAN - THE LAST WAR BUS is written off by most blogs as pretty shitty. The three reviews on IMDb all write it off as drek as well. And no, it's not great by anybody's standards but I must admit I was entertained (but then again I'm entertained by poking sleeping dogs with a stick). Most of the problem is basically ... Mark Gregory. He's got as much personality as the tin of chopped tomatoes that I'm going to use for my dinner tonight. He would have been perfect as cyborg in Italian post-apocalypse movies. Mark Gregory makes Steven Seagal look like Robert de Niro. But even so, he's actually been in quite a few cool Italian genre flicks; 1990: THE BRONX WARRIORS, ESCAPE FROM THE BRONX, THUNDER 1-3 (aka Thunder Warrior 1-3), JUST A DAMNED SOLDIER, DELTA FORCE COMMANDO, TEN ZAN - ULTIMATE MISSION.

Also, another problem is they dubbed John Vernon. Vernon has that there special voice of his - and they fucking dubbed him. What were they thinking! The best actor in the film is actually Bobby Rhodes. In addition to DEMONS and DEMONS 2 he has been in heaps of Italian genre movies and he's still working in the business.

The plot was most likely written on the back of a matchstick box and they couldn't read half of it cos the box caught fire. This film isn't gonna be on anybody's favourite film list anywhere in the world. Even some kid who's only got this one tape in his collection and who lives on a deserted island isn't gonna hold it as his fave film. I'm not exaggerating. Earlier I talked about how it's not a sequel but if you must count it as a sequel to WAR BUS it actually becomes even worse because the first film is a masterpiece in comparison. The reviewer on Blood Brothers Review blog pointed out that AFGANISTAN - THE LAST WAR BUS was one of the very last Italian "Macaroni Combat" films and yeah you can sorta see how this RAMBO rip-off genre had run its course by the end of the 80s. It had a good run though. Unfortunately, the only place Warbus 2 is going to be remembered as a classic is in Bizarro World.



Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Torpedo 1936 ... 36 years later!!!


Woah!!! I mean ... WOAH!!! I would never ... as in never ... have thought Sanchez Abuli would bring back Luca Torelli and Torpedo 1936. But he just did. Except ... he placed his Italian-American hitman 36 years into the future - making it 1972!!! 

The thought of this is beyond awesome. Although I'm not a member of any Luca Torelli fan club or get newsletters I must admit I've been a big fan of the series ever since it was first published on these shores that I squat on - that was back in 1983! I even had Luca Torelli on the cover of my flick fanzine in the early 2000s.

The new album (or "graphic novel" if you must use the American term) has just been released in Spain and there's Italian, German and Danish releases scheduled. No word on an English translated edition as of yet as far as I know. The German edition will be out in October. I haven't got release dates for the other two.

The few full pages that I've seen (check this link to an awesome Torpedo 1936 blog) look good but unfortunately Torpedo is no longer drawn by Jordi Bernet (apparently due to a court case but I don't know too much about this as the wee bits of info that I've been able to dig out via Google translate come out nonsensical).

Oh, and if you're in Denmark you might like to know the complete 700+ page intégrale edition of the original 1936 version that came out in Spain is gonna get a translated release on these shores as well. No release date yet. From Faraos Cigarer publishing. Info here (in Dutch or whatever it is they speak here)


Torpedo 1936 on the cover of my zine STAY SICK! in 2003


Monday, July 10, 2017

THE SNAKE QUEEN - composite print on ultra limited DVD

I've just finished watching my new THE SNAKE QUEEN dvd. It's limited to 20 copies!!! (pressed, not dvd-r). I own the Greek vhs version but this one is pretty cool; it's a fan composite that mixes the Greek vhs and the Indonesian versions (off an Indonesian Betamax tape and an Indonesian VCD). Both Indo versions contain alternative edits of the film. We all thought the Greek tape was uncut but, nope, it's missing quite a few scenes. No violence or gore, but still. The Indo bits are subbed in English.
The film is awesome. Made in Indonesia in 1982 and stars Suzzanna, Barry Prima, George Rudy and some more familiar faces. Needless to say, like 99% of all old Indo flicks it's never been released on dvd. You can read about it in Pete Tombs' "Mondo Macabro" book.





Friday, June 2, 2017

An undiscovered lolly

Woah!!! I was just flicking thru my copy of John Walter Szpunar's excellent tome on horror/exploitation film fanzines, XEROX FEROX, when I discovered I'd totally missed reading the chapter on Ant Timpson (of Kiwi zine "Violent Leisure"). Yay! Like finding a lolly at the bottom of a lolly bag that you thought was empty!

I love the part where he talks about how his dad rang him and said, "the cops are coming over!", hahaha.

My copy of the book is starting to look pretty beat up by now.





NB: the book is out on Headpress in the UK and it's still available from the publisher's website. I have the paperback (cos I prefer paperbacks) but you can also still order the hardback (only available from the website). Go here.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

IT CAME FROM KUCHAR (Jennifer Kroot, USA 2009)

I've just finished watching IT CAME FROM KUCHAR about the Kuchar brothers. They were underground film makers for 50+ years going back to the early 60s (or maybe even late 50s, I'm not quite sure - I watched the film, I'm not a bloody expert on 'em).

I've known about the Kuchars for a good number of years despite the fact that I've never seen any of their movies (or hadn't until this arvo). But the thing is John Waters always brings them up in half of his interviews (and as I'm sure you know they are aplenty - his interviews that is). The doc is well done and kept me interested all the way thru till the finishing line (it runs for about 90 min). There's even 40 minutes of deleted interview bits and pieces, and the whole movie has a commentary track by the brothers and the director.

Great stuff and I'd like to watch a heap of their movies now. Unfortunately, I don't think a lot of them have been released officially on home video media. Fortunately, there seems to be quite a few of them on the olde YouTube. My DVD is a reg. 1 release and it's quite expensive on Amazon UK (I just checked and the cheapest copy is 35 quid!). I've had my own copy collecting dust for three years. I was fortunate to find a scratched second hand copy (altho not so scratched that is doesn't play) on Amazon at £7. One of the brothers worked with Curt Mcdowell on THUNDERCRACK and the new(ish) bluray release of that film has the full doc as a bonus feature (I have no idea if it has the extra 40 minutes or the commentary track).


Highly recommended.

PS: Oh, and by the way, Jack Stevenson is in there, too, talking about the bros. Jack wrote a book about Waters and the Kuchars. He lives in Denmark these days and runs a grindhouse cinema in Copenhagen. And he also runs an exploitation film festival entitled "Faces in the Dark" once a year. I've been a regular there for a few years now and if you're in Denmark or Sweden I highly recommend that you go too, it's a great festival. Everything is on 35 or 16 mm.

Monday, February 27, 2017

ZUMA 2: HELL SERPENT (rare English dubbed print!!!) - full film


 In 2011 I posted a clip from a very rare English dubbed version of the Filipino film ZUMA 2 - HELL SERPENT (aka Anak Ni Zuma). The film was available on an un-English friendly VCD out of the Philippines but nobody seemed to have the English dubbed print.

However, somebody has not only found a print but has found a print and uploaded it to YouTube! In all its VHS glory! My guess is it comes off a Malaysian or Indonesian VHS tape. The two sets of subs look Malaysian and Chinese to me. I'll embed the film here and hopefully it'll stay on YouTube but you never know how long these things get to stay so I'd recommend you save a copy for yourself.



Thanks to Ira Brooker and someone on Facebook whose name escapes me now for letting me know about the upload. Cheers mates!

THE DAY THEY ROBBED AMERICA (Philippines 1985) [REVIEW]

Original Filipino English title: The Sangley Point Robbery
aka American High Commando


VHS / Greece / fullscreen / English dub / Greek subs / uncut afaik
300 dpi hi-res scan


Dir: Manuel 'Fyke' Cinco

I'm not even sure if I should post this review on my When the Vietnam War Raged... in the Philippines blog or on my Backyard Asia blog! Hell, maybe I'll do both!

The thing is, the latter is a blog about wild and crazy Asian films and the first is dedicated to Vietnam War flicks made in the Philippines. And Manuel "Fyke" Cinco's THE DAY THEY ROBBED AMERICA is part Vietnam War flick - kinda without actually being a Vietnam War flick - and part wild and crazy Asian movie!

Most of these Filipino Vietnam War films are filmed in the Philippines but they're set in the Vietnam War which took place in, well, Vietnam, obviously. But this film, while it does take place during the Vietnam War, and while it does star an soldier who's just been fighting in the Viet Cong, the film is actually set in the Philippines! And lots of wild and crazy stuff take place! But, hey, it's been a long while since I wrote my last review of a Filipino Vietnam War movie and I'm stalling. Grab your beer and let's get going with the plot.

1971. An American soldier in Vietnam is captured and tortured by the Viet Cong. The soldier is played by a gwilo called James Acheson that I've never seen in any  other film but who, according to the bloody IMDb, was also in the  Vietnam War movie P.O.W. THE ESCAPE from 1986. The Viet Cong's got his girlfriend and they're going, "If you don't tell us what we want to know we're gonna off yer girlfriend". The soldier knows bloody well he's out of luck so he goes, "Fuck you and fuck the horse you rode in on". Fortunately, his mates arrive just in time to save him and kill the Viet Cong. Unfortunately, they've already off'ed his gf. After this he's a mental wreck and the army send him to a US base in the Philippines.





In the Philippines Rudy Fernandez plays a cop who kills a bad dude in the line of duty and decides to the force as a result. The bad dude's brother is obviously pissed off and asks one of his henchmen to off the cop but the henchman dude misses his mark and shoots the cop's dad instead. The cop, who's really a good law-abiding feller, then decides to participate in a bank robbery in order to pay for his dad's operation. He's got a wife and a girlfriend and neither of them are happy about the situation (!).

The ex cop and his posse of misfits plan to hit the American bank at the army base (!!) and needless to say it all goes terribly wrong. In the middle of the robbery a ton of American soldiers start shooting at them (what did they expect!), and the American solder who returned from Nam, his gf works at the bank and the ex cop and his gang kidnap her to use as a shield. They let her go soon enough but it still leaves her completely traumatised (quite funny actually, earlier on in the film she said to the soldier, who had experienced heinous things in Vietnam and had seen his ex girlfriend get killed in front of him, "you gotta leave all this behind and move on". Well, obviously she didn't handle being kidnapped for half an hour too well as she ends up traumatised in a wheelchair!). The ex Nam soldier decides to go on a revenge spree and starts to hunt down the cop and his mates one by one.





This is a quick run down of the plot and there's a lot that I'm omitting. THE DAY THEY ROBBED AMERICA is a wild and obscure film - but also slow in places and talkative. Obscure because the film doesn't stay in just one genre. It's part Vietnam War movie, part cop flick, part vigilante film, and it's part ... crazy Asian. It's not least obscure because we've actually got two main characters, the ex Vietnam soldier turned vigilante - and the ex cop turned bank robber. Neither of them are bad and as a viewer we feel for both of them. It's a dilemma and makes for a different and captivating storytelling in a genre that, despite being entertaining, is often more straight forward than straight forward.

In addition to  Rudy Fernandez I also noticed a few other well known faces, Nick Nicholson, David Light, and a few more. You can check the complete credits list on Andrew Leavold's blog.

Highly recommended.


VERSION REVIEWED: Greek ex-rental VHS. Fullscreen, English dub, Greeke subtitles, good picture quality.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Jack J's '70s: Udvandrerne/Nybyggerne

...skip to 42 years later and I'm finally re-watching UDVANDRERNE / NYBYGGERNE (The Emigrants/The New Land)!!! Directed by Jan Troell and starring Liv Ullmann & Max von Sydow. It's hard to fathom that Sydow played the old guy in THE EXORCIST 3 years later.
When I watched the films in '74 they were broadcast as an 8 part tv series and I've decided to split the two films into 4 parts (the two films run for 6+ hours). I hated the films as a kid, now I love 'em. Oh, and needless to say, to re-create the atmos from 1974 ... I'm watching the films in black & white!