Thursday, 30 June 2016

ExorSister 2 (1994)

Also known as Chō-yōma densetsu Uratsuki-dōji: Hakui jigoku-hen, this is the second in a series of four horror-comedy-porn movies, starring the multi-talented darling of 90s american anime fandom Ippongi Bang as the eponymous Exorsister, a half-demon demon hunter named Sister Crow. In case you're wondering, she doesn't have any sex scenes. Anyway, ExorSister 2's plot involves an influx of immigrant vampires coming into Japan after the fall of the USSR, and a mafia plot to exploit them by selling cheap knock-off synthetic blood.

It's a very rare movie, and as far as I know, has never had a DVD release anywhere in the world. The copy I have is a .avi rip of a french VHS release from 1996, with french hardsubs and english softsubs super-imposed on top. I think watching a seedy old piece of crap like this in such a way adds something to the experience. Please understand, though, that I use the term "seedy piece of crap" as one of endearment, as I did enjoy this movie. It really seems like it was made as a labour of love for no money, and it honestly is pretty funny. It's so cheap that, along with a joke ad for an electric shaver aimed at the werewolf market, there's also a trailer for the first ExorSister movie partway through it. (The first movie seems to feature sukebans and a vampire with a penis for a nose, by the way.)

A lot of the movie revolves around very lowbrow comedy: slapstick, terrible special effects, dirty jokes, breaking the fourth wall, and so on. I think we can say that it actually breaks the second and third walls, too, as the plot wraps up via Sister Crow chasing another character, the Neon Medusa Fairy, across the set, coincidentally landing them right next to the nurse who'd been blackmailed into supplying the cheap knock-off blood. The Neon Medusa Fairy is a great character, by the way. She's a fairy with multcoloured hair that flies around in a skimpy dress, wrapped in christmas tree lights who jumps on men's backs and brainwashes them into sleeping with prostitutes. She's also a greedy backstabbing jerk and a coward, making her a great enemy/sidekick/comedy foil to Sister Crow. Plus, she stars in the only remotely entertaining one of the three sex scenes in the movie!

Yeah, there's three sex scenes, making up about a quarter of the film's length in total. Two of them are both boring and incredibly unpleasant, being demon-on-human rape scenes (one with wiggly tentacles, one without). The third is The Neon Medusa Fairy having a fun ol' time with a naked salaryman in a bathroom. It's not particularly sexy, but it's a lot better (and easier to watch) than the other two (which i actually skipped, so unappetising were they). To be honest, this would be a much better movie if it stuck to innuendo and boob/butt-flashing, eschewing the actual sex scenes and just being a particularly blue comedy.

So yeah, mostly, I liked this movie, and if you like the sound of it, look it up if you can. I think there are rips going about the internet of the first ExorSister, and possibly the fourth one too? But I don't think either of them have English subs.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

What If Volume 1, Issues 13 and 43

Back in the 70s and 80s, when Marvel did licensed comics, they sometimes worked the licensed properties into the marvel universe. The most famous example of this is probably the Marvel UK Transformers comics. With Conan the Barbarian, they decided that Hyperborea was a place in the distant past of Earth-616, meaning that there could be occasional crossovers, thanks to time travel and other magical shenanigans. Conan appeared in a few issues of the first volume of What If, usually having face Marvel characters with similar temperaments, like THor and Wolverine, but my favourite of the Conan What Ifs are these two: What If Conan the Barbarian Walked the Earth Today? and What If Conan the Barbarian Were Stranded in the 20th Century?

The first one feels a lot like a straight-to-VHS movie, and starts in the Hyborean era, with lots of exposition telling unfamiliar readers who Conan is and where he's from, and then into a slightly too long scene showing how he ends up in the 20th century. An evil wizard has found a mysterious "well in time", and when he throws things into it, objects from the future come out of it, and Conan is his latest planned sacrifice. Rather than death, what awaits Conan in the well is th dirty, hot, violent world of New York in the summer of 1977.

From this point on is where it begins to feel like a family movie, despite the grittiness inherent in anything set in 70s New York: Conan doesn't speak English, gets mistaken for both Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger (this being printed a few years before Arnie actually played Conan, so it's coincidence rather than reference), puts an old lady in a bin, and meets, befriends and seduces a pretty young taxi driver. While she shows him photos from around the world to find out where he's from, Conn freaks out at a picture of the Guggenheim museum, since it looks like the wizard's lair, but upside down.

So they go to the Guggenheim in the dead of night, to discover that it's being burgled. The taxi driver gets shot by the burglars, enraging Conan, who swiftly deipathes them. Eventually the cops show up, and Conan climbs to the top of the museum, where he gets struck by lightning, which returns him home. It's a really fun story, and the art in particular is excellent, managng to be both dark and colourful. And I've never been to New York at all, never mind how it was a decade before I was born, but it really captures the feel of the place I've gotten from watching TV shows and movies from that era.

The second issue is a lot grittier, starting with a change to the ending of the previous story: Conan reaches the roof of the Guggenheim a few minutes before lightning strikes, and is arrested, rather than getting sent back in time. He escapes from court and runs away to seek his fortune. He slowly stars a career as a mugger, eventually moving up to druglord as he gets the hang of English.

Eventually, he gains the loyalty of a bunch of bodybuilders/criminals who become his gang, the Barbarians, who go about seeking excitement and riches while wearing a mix of 70s New York street fashion, along with swords, horned helmets and loincloths. Along the way, Conan goes to visit the girl who helped him when he was new to the modern era, but unfortunately, he does so wearing a white suit and walking a leopard on a chain, making her think he's become a pimp, and she wants no part of what he's offering.

After a while, the Barbarians' crime spree attracts the attention of no less than Captain America, who tries to apprehend them, single-handed, as they rob an exhibit of Hyborean Gold and artifacts. It doesn't go well for Cap, as he finds Conan a formidable opponent, and takes a sword to the shoulder. The two do develop a respect for each other's code of honour, though, and Conan sets up a duel between the two.

The duel is ambushed by a small army of heavily-armed cops, however, and in the affray, Conan's second-in-command gets killed. Conan manages to get away, though not before Cap offers him a place on the Avengers and a chance to do good. Annoyingly, the story ends with a sequel tease, as Conan considers the offer, but there was never a third episode of this series, and since Marvel haven't had the license for years, there probably never will be.

All in all, these two issues are two of my favourite What Ifs (and it's a series I've always liked), and definitely the best of the first volume, which had a lot of lacklustre stories, especially compared to later incarnations of the series. I definitely recommend seeking them out.