Hustlers (2019) – The Hustle Is Deep

Released: 10th October
Seen: 11th October

You’d think that there’d be a lot more films about exotic dancers. After all, it’s a job that can contain the three things that people love more than anything. Sex, drugs, and dancing to remixes of Britney Spears songs. Still, it feels like there aren’t that many major hit films about exotic dancers. There’s the infamous Showgirls, maybe some people remember the 1996 film Striptease and there are, of course, the two recent Magic Mike movies (the second one is better, I will not be accepting arguments on this), I know of Zombie Strippers and Full Monty but that’s about all I could name off the top of my head. There are others but not many that are giant mainstream hits and certainly none that would really get any kind of buzz as being more than just a fun movie to enjoy on a night out with friends… well, then Hustlers came along and said “Fine, I guess we’ll have to give you everything you ever wanted” and just ran away with every bit of my heart.

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Violence Voyager (2019) – Say, Its Only A Paper Movie

Released: 21st October (Advance Copy provided by Tricoast Worldwide)
Seen: 7th October

Every film, on some level, has a gimmick attached to it. Joker’s gimmick is that it’s a Scorsese film wearing a Supervillain costume, Searching’s gimmick was that it took place entirely on a computer screen and I Spit On Your Grave: Deja Vu’s gimmick is that it’s the first film actually made by a piece of shit. Hell, even sound and colour were originally considered merely gimmicks back when film was first beginning. Finding strange new ways to make a film can lead to some genuinely fascinating pieces of art that might not be mainstream but are certainly interesting experiences to go through. So, let’s talk about a horror film made entirely out of paper cut-outs because that’s a thing that actually exists in this reality and I kind of love it, despite its flaws.

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Good Boys (2019) – What Ya Gonna Do?

Released: 19th September
Seen: 8th October

There’s this weird phenomenon in media where someone will take a known intellectual property and remake it with baby versions of the characters. This is a huge thing in animation with major shows like Muppet Babies, The Flintstone Kids and Tom And Jerry Kids all showing the infant or pre-school versions of the famous property. Well, now we’re seeing this idea slowly moving from the world of animation to live action. We’ve had the TV series Young Sheldon, before that we had things like Young Indiana Jones and Young Sherlock Holmes. Calling things Young *Marketable Brand Name* is seemingly good business. Hell, there is even (I swear this is real) a version of the John Waters movie Pink Flamingos that was rewritten and performed with children called Kiddie Flamingos. Versions of famous properties with children in the leads is apparently a thing we’re doing now. So, it was only a matter of time before someone said “What if we remade Superbad, but with 12 year olds?” and now that we have it, it’s kind of impressive how well it works.

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UglyDolls (2019) – It’s Not Much Of A Life

Released: 19th September
Seen: 30th September

In 1986, the British TV station ITV began airing a cartoon called The Raggy Dolls. For 9 seasons, children were shown the adventures of Sad Sack, Dotty, Hi-Fi, Lucy, Back-To-Front, Claude, and Princess. For almost a decade people would tune in to watch as the gaggle of rejected toys with various malfunctions went on adventures together and taught the audience to treat those who are different with kindness. It also had the absolute best theme tune of any 80s cartoon (I WILL fight you on this) that was sung by Neil Innes (of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band) and is a glorious ode to treating people well no matter their differences. It’s legitimately one of the sweetest little cartoons that I remember watching as a kid and a must watch for anyone who wants to get their kids to learn the lesson that people who look different are just as valuable as everyone else… it’s certainly better than this movie was, because I remember the music from Raggy Dolls but good luck with remembering anything from Uglydolls… which I will now force myself to remember in order to explain why it’s forgettable.

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Abominable (2019) – I Want To Peti The Yeti

Released: 19th September
Seen: 29th September

One of the most enduring pieces of folklore is that of the Yeti, an ape like creature said to live in the Himalayan mountains. It’s a creature that goes by many names, like Abominable Snowman or Meh-Teh, and stories about it have been around for hundreds of years. Many people claim to have proof of its existence, mostly strange large footprints or even scalps that are allegedly from the creature. To this day there is no actual confirmation that the Yeti exists, but if one did I highly doubt it’d be as adorable as the Yeti presented in this film.

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Porno (2019) – (CENSORED)

Seen at the Sydney Underground Film Festival

Sometimes you hear a concept that just screams “This is going to be fun”. Concepts like “a killer tyre” or “a musical zombie movie” or “Ron Jeremy’s penis is sentient and wants to kill people” are pretty wild. As long as the people making the movie with those concept are willing to take it as far as they can then the movie’s going to be something fun. When I heard that the concept behind this movie was “Haunted porno film” I was on board right away because that sounds like it could be hilarious, a version of the film Demons but with a porno film? Sign me up, give me this insane silly horror comedy goodness… yeah, the key part of these films that works is when they actually take the concept to its logical extreme, sadly this one doesn’t do that.

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Greener Grass (2019) – It’s Not Easy

Seen at the Sydney Underground Film Festival

Sometimes a film will ease you into its weirdness, it’ll start normal but be off the rails before the end of act two. Sometimes, a film just throws you into weirdness within 10 minutes and expects you to catch on. Then some movies start at “What the actual fuck is this?” and go from there. Greener Grass is the last kind of movie, a movie so profoundly strange that explaining it is a fool’s errand. I mean, I could try and describe the plot to you in some organized fashion like something resembling a professional but instead I feel like the best way to explain just how weird this film is would be for me to bullet point the top 5 weird things that happen in this film that, somehow, feel perfectly normal in context (context I won’t be providing because… well, you’ll see).

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Tone-Deaf (2019) – Make Allegory Great Again

Seen at the Sydney Underground Film Festival

This year I had the distinct pleasure of going to the Sydney Underground Film Festival, not as press but purely for fun because I genuinely love a film festival that’s dedicated to the weirder side of cinema. This is the stuff that probably would never see a mainstream theatrical release unless we were having a particularly slow period of releases and cinemas got desperate. During this festival I saw 11 films over 3 days and so, between mainstream movie reviews, I’ll be dropping these for a while to share my views on films you might want to track down if you can find them… because dammit, I watched all of them, you’re damn right I’m getting the most that I possibly can out of the experience. Let’s start with the first film I saw at the festival, Tone-Deaf.

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Serial Mom (1994) – Mommy Dearest

We live in a time where crime re-enactment shows are back and bigger than ever. With hit TV series like American Crime Story, films like Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile or even hit podcasts like Serial, we can’t get enough of stories about murderers and the crimes they committed. This obsession has been around for years but it really hit the big time in the 90s when the O.J. Simpson murder trial became must-see-TV and effectively took the True Crime genre into the stratosphere. Of course, whenever there’s a genre this popular it will inevitably get a few people parodying it. We’ve all seen a thousand various parodies of Making a Murderer, Netflix ended up just making an official parody of their own hit series with American Vandal. It’s an easy genre to make fun of but there was one movie that beat them all to the punch, possibly one of the earliest to parody this genre right before its big O.J. related explosion… the cult comedy Serial Mom

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The Banana Splits Movie (2019) – Five Nights At Fleegle’s

Released: 4th September
Seen: 6th September

One of the great things about the horror genre is its ability to take something innocent and, with minimal alterations, turn it into an icon of terror. Santa Claus was never a scary creation but put an axe in his hand and you have the poster for Silent Night, Deadly Night. No one used to associate hockey masks with horror until one unlucky day when a boy named Jason put one on before heading out to Camp Crystal Lake. That’s the power of horror; innocent images can be given malevolent meaning just by a change in context. So, if this idea works for well-known images like Santa or the hockey mask, the question is if it can work for a bunch of iconic animal costumes from a 60s variety show. The answer is yes, but only as a novelty.

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