MAGIC CRYSTAL (aka Mo fei cui)
dir. Jing Wong, 1986
95 min, Hong Kong
In Chinese with English subtitles
FRIDAY, JANUARY 5 – MIDNIGHT
SATURDAY, JANUARY 27 – MIDNIGHT
A breakout hit at a recent FIST CHURCH screening, we’re pleased as punch to bring this uhhhh “loving homage” to films like E.T. and Indiana Jones but with 5000% more Cynthia Rothrock beatdowns.
Andy (Andy Lau), Pancho, and Pin Pin (an actual child named Bin Bin in real life) jet off to Greece to find Andys friend Shen after receiving an urgent message that his life is in danger. After a lengthy montage of them having A LOT of fun in Greece the come to find that sure enough the KGB and Interpol are chasing down Shen after learning of his discovery of an ancient artifact in the ruins. Pin Pin accidentally ends up with it and finds out that this is no ordinary hunk of jade but that it houses an alien who communicates via brain-waves. Pin Pin promises not to tell and the crystal grows a finger so they can pinky swear. Andy pairs up with Cindy (the inimitable Cynthia Rothrock) to track down the evil Karaov (Richard Norton star of GYMKATA which we have definitely never shown) who has vowed to do anything to get his hands on the treasure. Everyone ends up back in Greece for a showdown beneath the ruins as they navigate traps and tricks to return the crystal back to its rightful place – and…owner?
No exaggeration when we say that this film owes much to the work of Spielberg et al but these fight scenes are downright jaw-dropping. Fast, ferocious, and wonderfully filmed. If you missed this at FIST CHUCH now’s your chance to redeem yourself. Not to be missed!
THE SEVENTH CURSE (aka: Yuan Zhen-Xia yu Wei Si-Li)
dir. Ngai Choi Lam, 1986
78 min, Hong Kong
SATURDAY, JANUARY 6 – MIDNIGHT
SATURDAY, JANUARY 20 – MIDNIGHT
For Dr. Yuan adventure has become a way of life – though not one he asked for. On a routine mission to pick up some of the herb that cures AIDS the good doctor stumbles across a tribe deep in the countryside of Thailand. Unfortunately for them, the evil priest of this “Worm Tribe” is in the middle of resurrecting Old Ancestor with a ghastly human sacrifice! Furious that his ritual as been interrupted the priest puts a blood curse on Dr. Yuan and he narrowly escapes with his life.
Now a year later he must travel back to Thailand with his pipe-smoking professor friend (Chow-Yun Fat in the ‘Wisely’ role – something of Hong Kong’s Indiana Jones) must travel back to reverse the curse before his seventh vein bursts in his heart and kills him. To do this they must use an artifact called Buddha’s Eye. Along the way (with intrepid reporter Maggie at their side) they’ll fight monks, walking skeletons, monsters, rolling boulders, and the film’s true star – a small ghost that flies into people and then makes them explode.
A smash hit from a recent FIST CHURCH screening (every other Sunday at 3PM) that had the audience stumbling around in the dark, using their phones as flashlights, trying to find their jaws on the floor. From the director of THE STORY OF RICKY this film truly has it all. Though very much a CATIII Indian Jones film it owes a debt of gratitude to a bouquet of other influences including 1979’s ALIEN. If you’ve never been to FIST CHURCH this is the type of high quality mystery entertainment you’ve been missing.
dir. Fritz Lang, 1945.
USA, 102 min.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 12 – MIDNIGHT
“How can a man be so dumb?”
The noir and the femme fatale will forever be bound together, merrily going to Hell, dragging all suckers, chumps, marks, rubes and shills into an endless abyss of suffering and death. As well they should! Noir, at its black heart, is about tearing a (seemingly) ordinary Joe to *nothing* while the audience howls for more. We’ll find that here, on SCARLET STREET, but with a director like Fritz Lang there’s more than one twist on the way to the noose. Based on Georges de La Fouchardière’s novel and play La Chienne (also the basis for the equally great Jean Renoir film by the same name), SCARLET STREET is, quite simply, one of the essential film noirs.
The great Edward G. Robinson plays Christopher Cross, the sap in question, at the end of a sad quarter-century of working as a cashier, enduring his wife and putting what little light still shines in him towards his painting hobby. Like most saps, Chris wants little more than to be some damsel’s white knight, and that chance actually arrives when he gets between va-va-va-voom Kitty (Joan Bennett, who was in everything from BULLDOG DRUMMOND to SUSPIRIA) and cheap hood Johnny (Dan Duryea of WINCHESTER ’73). Through a series of scams, lies, forgeries and tragedies, Chris and Kitty begin one of the darkest descents the screen has brought us, with Lang constantly, methodically twisting the knife, masterfully ratcheting up the tension all the way to the end. Fans of Lang’s earlier, more directly Expressionistic work like SPIES and the MABUSE films will find lots to love here, Robinson truly plays one of cinema’s great sad sacks, Joan Bennett is the embodiment of weaponized seduction, all combining to make a film absolutely perfect for a hot summer night when you can’t sleep and your soul cries for something, *anything* but the dreary monotony of our pointless lives. Great date film, too!
Kent Bateman, 1971
78 min, USA
SATURDAY, JANUARY 13 – MIDNIGHT
You know how it is for starving artists, right? I mean, look at your clothes. Anyway, it used to be even harder! So hard that some of them turned to a life of crime. This is especially true in the case of Arthur Malcolm. Down on his luck, Arthur is caught robbing an apartment and loses his eye in the process. Once he’s healed he’s out on the streets and, brother, he is HEATED. Arthur sets about on a mad killing spree, gouging out the eyes of his victims with a spoon. He collects the eyes for his artwork, you see. This continues for some time with mixed results.
This film was directed by Kent Bateman, father of Jason and Justine, in the streets of a now long gone version of NYC. According to this film, it was a time when a hooker would approach a man covered in blood in the middle of the day in order to turn a trick. The good old days. In addition to this movie being totally batshit insane with a FIERCE mutant soundtrack, it’s a veritable snapshot of a city as nasty as they come. The performances are hammy and intense, like Easter dinner in a mental institution.
dir. Bret Piper, 1986
95 min, USA
In German w/ English subtitles
FRIDAY, JANUARY 19 – MIDNIGHT
“I am the king, I am the king
One dead marine through the hatch
Scratch and scrape this heavenly body
Every inch of winning skin
There’s garbage in honeys sack again”
– The Birthday Party, “Junkyard”
In GALAXY DESTROYER, veteran character actor Matt Mitler (THE MUTILATOR, BASKET CASE 2) plays Harry Trent – a role he would reprise two years later in Piper’s MUTANT WAR – a spy who steals a spaceship. While attempting to return to Earth, Harry finds the controls are malfunctioning and is unable to land… After a grueling five years in orbit, Harry comes back around and manages to descend to the planet’s fertile surface. But upon his return, Harry finds his beloved homeworld has been taken over… And while hailed as a hero and savior, he’s tasked with saving the way of life he once held so dear – if only he can figure out how.
A jack of all trades, director Brett Piper (A NYMPHOID BARBARIAN IN DINOSAUR HELL) cut his teeth in the early Eighties, and continues doing so to this day. Piper’s work truly shines when he’s able to showcase his love of practical effects; in GALAXY DESTROYER alone crab monsters, spaceships, and melting faces abound.
Dir. Simon Linscheid, Shay Casserley, 1998.
Ireland. 76 min.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 26 – MIDNIGHT
This was originally screened the weekend of Saint Patrick’s 2017, when we happily dragged Irish pride into the gutter. FATAL DEVIATION is back and it is still Ireland’s first (and only) feature-length martial arts film. Written, produced, cinematographed, cast by, stunt-coordinated, and starring James Bennett, the film tells the story of Jimmy Bennett (unrelated), a young man returning home after a long absence, his future uncertain, his father gone. After witnessing Jimmy’s takedown of local drug gang The Drug Lords Gang (featuring Mikey Graham, member of Ireland’s lone boy band BOYZONE), a monk belonging to the local church’s secret underground kung fu sect approaches with an offer to train Jimmy for the upcoming no-holds barred Bealtaine tournament.
As Jimmy learns the monk’s secret techniques of cutoff shorts tai-chi and kicking near small fires, The Drug Lords Gang increasingly pressures Jimmy to join them. When he refuses, the Drug Lords call ace fighter Seagull back from Hong Kong to take Jimmy out in the tournament. Jimmy’s only hope is mastering the FATAL DEVIATION, as taught by a man strongly resembling a drunk Led Zeppelin Hermit.
Filmed in the verdant backwater of Trim and featuring exactly one (completely unintentional) stunt, this is a film best witnessed in the safety of a group. Perhaps lacking in Irish wit and charm, FATAL DEVIATION can be enjoyed for what it is any night of the year.