By: Heather Seebach
On Sunday, May 5th, Exhumed Films hosted their third eX-Fest at the International House of Philadelphia. Typically, eX-Fest is a 12-hour horror movie marathon but this year's was dedicated to exploitation/grindhouse films. I was fortunate enough to attend this magical event and have brought you my re-cap! Here is a rundown of the films that played and my quick thoughts on each:
Sunday in the Country (1974)
aka Vengeance is Mine
aka Vengeance is Mine
This surprising thriller comes from the by-gone days of film when old men were total badasses. Ernest Borgnine plays a kindly old farmer living with his grand-daughter who is forced to defend his home from intruders. One of those intruders is Michael J. Pollard who gives a hilariously over-the-top villain performance. It was pretty odd and amusing watching Herman from Scrooged try to rape bitches.
Radioactive Dreams (1985)
In this post-apocalyptic 80s gem, Michael Dudikoff and John Stockwell star as private detective-wannabes fittingly named Phillip and Marlow (get it?!). Stuck in a fallout shelter since childhood, they emerge in the distant future of 2010 (ha) and become mixed up with dangerous villains. Think Sam Raimi's Crimewave meets Max Max. It is full of 80s music, cheese, and an impressive giant mechanical rat.
Witch Who Came from the Sea (1976)
Molly is a devoted aunt and barmaid, but also a batshit crazy killer of men in her free time. Her sailor daddy fucked her up pretty badly as a kid, and now she imagines the handsome men on TV look like her father and then proceeds to murder them. And for some reason she is obsessed with shaving them. Its a corny old movie but has some hilariously bizarre moments, like this creepy tattoo artist.
Robert Forster and Fred Williamson star in this revenge thriller from William Lustig. Their town is overrun by criminals and the police force is useless. When Forster's character loses a family member to violence, he takes the law into his own hands. Probably the best film shown at eX-Fest (though not the most entertaining), Vigilante also has appearances from Woody Strode and the Maniac himself, Joe Spinell.
Lightning Swords of Death (1972)
aka Shogun Assassin 2 aka Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades
This is the third installment in the Lone Wolf and Cub series, but technically the second Shogun Assassin. Confused yet? Doesn't matter because Lightning Swords of Death is more of Ogami Itto kicking ass and taking heads. I'm not a huge fan of martial arts movies unless they're completely insane, so this one moved a bit slowly for my tastes, but when the arterial blood started spraying, I was so there. It's easy to see where Tarantino pulled some of his inspiration for Kill Bill.
Get Down and Boogie (1975)
aka Darktown Strutters
By far, this was the most batshit bonkers entry of the fest (though the final feature is a close second). This wild blaxploitation comedy is about motorcycle-riding gang of black ladies who, while searching for a member's missing mother, uncover a bizarre conspiracy with a local Colonel Sanders-type entrepreneur. Parts of this movie made me feel like I was legitimately going insane (like in the bad guy's house). I can't even describe this movie any further, just watch it. Seriously. One of the weirdest, funniest things you'll ever see.
Pick-Up Summer (1980)
aka Pinball Summer
This Canadian sex romp was my least favorite of the marathon. Maybe that's because I'm just not a fan of sex comedies in general (I can see boobs anytime I want, sorry), or maybe it's because it was the second-to-last movie and I needed sleep. Whatever the case, if you like 80s sex comedies - or just T&A - you'll probably dig this.
When Exhumed Films said their final feature would be a "ridiculous, explicit sexploitation spoof of a 1970s movie blockbuster" my immediate guess was Flesh Gordon, but seeing as that's not nearly as fucked-up as they hyped (or based on a 70s blockbuster), my second guess went to Gums. And I nailed it, woo! Gums was on my 10 Outrageous Horror Porn-Parodies list from Valentine's Day. It's really twisted, really funny, really graphic, and really awkward to watch in a packed movie theater. See it!
Overall, I loved my first experience with eX-Fest! A little more horror would have been nice, but the variety was still fantastic (revenge, blaxploitation, martial arts, sexploitation, etc) and I cannot wait for the next one!