Lady Iron Monkey (C, ) AKA The Ape Girl
It's the greatest Teletubbies episode ever! This strange kung-fu comedy/fantasy is really uncanny. It opens with a weirdo, hairy monkey girl (who looks more like a refugee from Cats than she does a monkey) and some "monkeys" (childrens? midgets?) who look just like Teletubbies. They throw fruit at a fat guy and a dwarf with Ed Grimley hair, and these two guys sound just like Teletubbies! Their teacher catches the girl and trains her in kung fu - monkey style, of course - but Fatty and Shorty upset her by calling her ugly. Then she goes to town and engages in lots of completely ridiculous mischief and laughs and smiles a lot at the broad-humored mayhem that results. Her fighting skills get her a job as a palace guard. Lo Lieh and Chen Sing (who must've done something to tick off their studio since guys of their credentials are in a movie where they're upstaged by a monkey girl) take advantage of her gullibility. Chen Sing even pretends to be in love with her, but she overhears him making fun of her, so she goes to a woman who helps her get rid of all her body hair and become pretty... but she still has a tail. But that's okay, because an old master teaches her to use it like a whip. Pretty strange overall, with plenty of wire effects (the weirdest of which has her floating in the air and lynching a guy with her tail). -zwolf

Lady Whirlwind Against the Rangers (C, 1974) AKA The Vigilantes
The Rangers are a group of bandits who rob shipments of salt, which was very valuable in China at the time. Lady Whirlwind is Polly Kuan, whose dad is a local sheriff whom the bandits frame as a salt smuggler. Trying to clear his name, Polly goes and kicks ass on the bandits and does pretty well, but their leader is tough and brute force isn't enough, so she comes up with another plan; she puts on a short wig, poses as an unconvincing man, and her little brother disguises himself as a girl! In these guises, they infiltrate a rival bandit gang and set them against the gang that framed her father, hoping for a conflict that will destroy both gangs. She gets in plenty of fights (decent but not spectacular) and doesn't manage to keep her secret for long; a guy finds out and tries to black mail her for sex, but doesn't get too far because he has a crush on her and is awkward. There's a little too much comedy, usually obnoxious (jokes about peeing, people getting shot with slingshots, and a big strong dumb guy named Stu Pid (get it?)), but it remains passably serious. Still, other than the gender-bender novelty, it's a pretty average kung fu flick. -zwolf

Last House On The Left (C, 1972)
This movie (like I Spit On Your Grave) owes most of its reputation to the fact that Siskel and Ebert railed against it as reprehensible. It also set Wes Craven up as a major horror director, and the same goes for producer Sean Cunningham. It's also famous due to what's not in it - there were legendary (and probably mythical) scenes of cannibalism, dismemberment, etc. cut out... if they existed at all. Two silly hippie girls set out to see rock group Bloodlust and want to score some pot. This hooks them up with four degenerate criminals on the run for jailbreak, rape, drug abuse, murder, kicking a dog to death, and just about any other unsavory thing you can think of. They kidnap the girls, take them out in the woods, and humiliate and torture them - forcing them to wet their pants and make out with each other before raping them, carving their names on them, and finally killing them by shooting and (if you get the uncut tape) a clumsy and hard-to-see disembowelment. The worst part of the whole thing is how goofy the whole thing is played - it's almost slapstick, because the murderers are cartoonish even though they're menacing. They even have a happy theme-song fer Christsake! Also disturbing is how ugly-looking and porno-quality the filmmaking is - there is no cinematography. The gore is nothing - just the ideas are sick. After the killings, the psychos stay over at the house of one of the girl's parents, who figure out what happened and get revenge, using stupid boobytraps (admit it - your parents know how to rig mines in the house, don't they?) and a chainsaw, etc. It's a good thing the parents are so adept at guerilla warfare, because the local cops are Barney Fife doofuses. Vastly overrated, un-scary, and the goofiness almost even kills the sickness... this one is really riding heavily on the hype from its reputation. It's a cartoon. The only real shock in the whole sleazy mess is a dream about getting some teeth knocked out - now that part'll bother ya. The movie is crap, but you've still got to see it just to say you have. Notice that the main bad guy's name is "Krug" and later Wes Craven would invent the icon, Freddy Krueger. Paying homage to himself? David Hess, who played Krug, is pretty scary - something he used to better advantage in a scarier sicko flick, The House On The Edge Of The Park. Regardless of the title, there is no sequel - some people retitled Mario Bava's completely unrelated (and in all ways better) Bay of Blood as Last House On The Left Part 2. This was supposedly based on Bergman's The Virgin Spring. Aim high, shoot low, miss completely. -zwolf

Last Man Standing (C, 1996)
Dashiel Hammett's Red Harvest has reaped quite a sizeable cinematic harvest of its own - first Akira Kurosawa's amazing classic Yojimbo, then Sergio Leone's great Fistful of Dollars, and now Walter Hill's Last Man Standing. This may never be regarded as the classic the other two are, but personally I love the hell out of it. Bruce Willis is "John Smith," a guy on the run from the law who ends up in Jericho, Texas, a dusty one-horse (and it's dead) town that's serving as a battleground for two low-rent bootlegger mobs. Smith decides he can make some cash by playing both sides against each other, and he rides it for all he can until it catches up to him and all he can do is shoot his way out... which he's fully capable of doing. Willis acts stony and narrates and delivers his lines in a soft whisper, but he speaks loudly with his hands - two .45's going off rapid-fire in a page lifted directly from John Woo's book. It's weird seeing that kind of Japanese-style mayhem in a 1920's setting, but it works. Christopher Walken sticks fast to his typecasting and plays an evil psychotic named Hickey, but as always, he's good at it. Bruce Dern is the corrupt sheriff and William Sanderson is a crazy bartender. The rest of the supporting cast is also good - i.e., they die well. The plot's pretty complicated but it's worth the attention it takes to keep up with. The film looks a little odd - everything's so dusty and the color stays somewhat sepia-toned, to capture that old, gritty feel. It's also remarkably un-bloody for a film with so much violence - Hill seems to be paying homage to film noir as a whole with this, which definitely fits the genre to a T. Not everyone is a big fan of this one, but I am. -zwolf

Last Woman on Earth (C, 1960)
Two guys and a girl have the good luck to be scuba diving when some mysterious calamity sucks all the oxygen away from Earth temporarily, asphyxiating everyone else on the planet. They are an unscrupulous rich guy, his wife, and his lawyer. The wife starts liking the lawyer better than the husband, so soon the last people on Earth are fighting. Only three people and there's still an overpopulation problem! Moves too fast and is too short to get boring, even if they don't really do much with the situation. They could have worked out another plain ol' love-triangle story without snuffing everybody on the planet, y'know. A desert island would've worked just as well. The cheap DVD of this is just barely in color... but that sort of adds to the atmosphere. -zwolf

Legend of Boggy Creek
(C, 1972)
I don't know about the Fouke Monster, but this movie was a legend when I was a kid. Some other kids saw it (their parents frequented the drive-in, before it went all-porno), and embellished it heavily until the rest of us got scared just hearing about it. In reality, it's a cheap, leisurely-paced docu-drama about a Bigfoot-like monster that people had been sighting in the area of Fouke, Arkansas for decades. It never did much harm, other than kill a pig or two and scare the bejesus out of people by uttering lonely screams. Even though the monster-suit creature is filmed from far enough away in the re-enactments to look pretty spooky, far scarier are the ignorant hicks whose first response is to shoot it. There's lots of extremely atmospheric footage of swampland (weird as this may seem, I like lots of shots of tree limbs) and a couple of truly awful songs. The funniest bit is when one guy's scared when the things comes to the window while he's on the toilet - it's a good thing the monster stopped him, 'cuz the durn fool was apparently about to crap in his long johns, since he sat down without pulling them down. Really, I'm not sure why I like this so much - it's pretty simple, and those songs really are terrible - but if I've seen it a dozen times, I'd say you should at least check it out. Do it late, late at night, just before dawn, though, okay? It works best then. Did huge box office in the South. -zwolf

The Legend Of Bruce Lee (C, 1980) AKA Chinese Chieh Chuan Kung Fu
This, o' course, has nothing to do with Bruce Lee except a meaningless prologue. Bruce Le does all kinds of things on his quest for vengeance against somebody or other, including catching knives from the air and getting a cobra drunk on saki (he's pretty soused himself at the time). Highly entertaining kung fu-lishness. -zwolf

The Leg Fighters (C, 1980) AKA The Incredible Kung Fu Legs, Invincible Kung Fu Legs, Incredible Death Kick Master, Nan bei tui wang
There are so many reasons to watch this excellent kung fu flick, but chief among them for me is Hsia Kuang Li; she's a tall, gorgeous woman who can use those long, long legs to take your head off with astounding grace and precision. She goes around getting into fights, beating up most guys with her hands behind her back - literally. But her new teacher (Delon Tam) is even better than she is, which bugs her to no end, since she hates him. Her goofy comedy-relief sidekick tries to help her, but the new teacher's too smart for them both. She's stubborn but finally has to admit that she could still learn something from him, so she becomes his student. Just in time, too, because the white-haired killer who wasted her original teacher is headed there to kill the new one. Completely great kung fu flick with the most amazing kicking you're likely to find, and inspired direction from the always-reliable Lee Tso Nam. Essential! -zwolf

Life Returns (B&W, 1935)
Obscure, unique film oddity built around a few minutes of actual footage of an experiment where a dead dog was brought back to life. A recent med school graduate tries to uncover a method of raising the recently dead. He has a hard time getting funding for his "impractical" and "non-commercial" idea - fat-free salad dressing and hair-restoring brushes are more financially viable, so they dismiss him as a kook. He becomes too depressed by his inability to continue his experiments to keep his regular doctor job, and, since he has no visible means of support, the county wants to take his son to a foster home when the doctor's wife dies. The boy runs away and hangs out with a gang of kids (a few of which are recognizable as extras from The Little Rascals. Also, an old lady he meets was "Grandma" in the one about the bonds tied to the kite tail... remember that one?) His dad is destitute and still obsessed with his experiments until finally the boy's dog is caught by the dog catcher and gassed... and the dad brings it back to life, via the actual footage from the real University of California experiment. It's pretty talky but livens up with the subplot about the kids, and the subject matter's pretty interesting, and it only runs a little under an hour to begin with. It is kind of strange that Scooter the dog was male and all black, but suddenly turns into a female German Shepherd on the operating table, though... -zwolf

Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels (C, 1998) AKA Two Smoking Barrels
Post-Tarantino Cockney crime caper comedy brimming with great dialogue that you can almost understand (they have some odd slang) and a plot so convoluted that you're almost sure to get lost, but what the hell. Four streetwise con men / gamblers / all-around criminal types find 'emselves in deep shite, now don't they, when one of them gets in debt to a high roller for 'alf a million pounds, payable in a week or fingers start coming off. So they work out a scheme to rip off some dope dealers but things go wrong - and right, and wrong... Funny, cool-ass, violent, and packed with inventive camerawork and a soundtrack that includes everything from James Brown to Iggy and the Stooges. From the people who later brought you Snatch. Excellent stuff with in-jokes for film buffs, my favorite being the music from the watch in For a Few Dollars More being used in a face-off scene. You might want to turn the closed captioning on to give you a little help with some of the accents. 'Bout as badass as comedies get. Written and directed by former next-big-thing (before his wife Madonna turned him on to Kabbalah cult religion stuff that turned his brain to mush) Guy Ritchie. -zwolf

Lock Up (C, 1989)
Frank Leone (Sylvester Stallone) is transferred from a country-club jail to a brutal hellhole prison to serve real hard time because the warden there (Donald Sutherland) has a grudge against him for breaking out of his former prison. Sutherland promises to make life hell for Sly, but for a lot of the screen time he's playing grab-ass and making friends with everybody, who likes him instantly because he's... tough...but fair. Actually, he's too much of a nice guy; he was jailed in the first place for beating up some hoods who hurt an old man, and the reason he broke out of prison the first time was to visit a relative on his deathbed, and he's very patient with everybody, even befriending "First Base," a hot-headed goombah who's unwittingly setting himself up to become everybody's punk, when any real convict - or guy on the street for that matter - would split this jackass's skull open. The fun's over for Sly after a while, though, when the warden trashes the car he and his friends were building (did you know if you get sent to jail you'll get to restore vintage Mustangs? It's true!), sends him to the hole, deprives him of sleep, and has him beaten half to death. But that goes by pretty quickly, and soon he's back in population again, being everybody's pal with only a couple weeks to go 'til parole. Since Sly's trying hard to do clean time and get out, Sutherland works harder to provoke him, even killing "First Base" and shanking Sly and threatening to rape his wife. This pushes Sly too far and it's revenge time. Like a lot of Stallone flicks, this is kinda dumb and you'll roll your eyes a lot at the all-good hero and the all-bad villain, but also like most Stallone flicks, it's not boring and it'll entertain you if you just roll with it. And anything with Tom Sizemore in it can't be all bad. -zwolf

Lone Shaolin Avenger (C, 1980 or 1977) AKA Bruce Against the Odds
A young boy's mother is killed and he's raised by a flute-playing teacher, who trains him in such good kung fu that he grows up to be Cassanova Wong! The teacher warns him that his kung fu is not nearly good enough to get the vengeance he's seeking, but Cassanova insists on trying, so he the teacher gives him half a medallion (the girl who has the other half will be his wife) and lets him go. He promptly gets captured and nearly killed. A girl (you can guess who she'll end up being) gets in a lot of gimmicky fights while rescuing him and dragging him across the countryside. She gets him back to his teacher, and Cassanova agrees to listen this time and do more studying. Apparently he does, even though they don't really show him doing much but sitting there meditating and fetching water, because within minutes he's gained all kinds of new skills and does weird, wire-aided feats like spinning in the air, pulling people's teeth, hammering them into the ground, catching knives, and throwing people around three at a time. Despite this he still gets beaten up a lot, and all the oh-so-very special effects get in the way of letting him showcase what brought him to the dance in the firstplace - those crazy whirlwind kicking skills. They do get used - including the famous kick-three-guys-before-hitting-the-ground kick - but you just wish they'd relied on the real skills more than the cartoony stuff. Plus, Cassanova spends too much of the movie getting beaten up and looking wimpy, which is just strange. The editing is pretty bad (people get cut off in mid-sentence on a regular basis) and it's all pretty stagey - likely an early Taiwanese or Korean film. Awkward, badly flawed, and often confusing in the first half, but it's not boring. The Saturn DVD has a very sharp fullscreen picture and can be had for around five bucks, so for a five-buck DVD it's not bad, being an opportunity to see the elusive Cassanova. -zwolf

Long Arm of the Godfather (C, 1972) AKA Mano lunga del padrino
A young hoodlum named Vincenzo (first rule of Italian-made Mafia flicks: there's always somebody named Vincenzo) hijacks a truck full of guns from the mob and plans to run off with his prostitute girlfriend Erica Blanc. She doesn't like the idea, though, because she knows that trying to get away with robbing from the Mafia is playing some very long odds. But finally she decides to go away with him (mob goons putting cigarettes out on her didn't give her much choice), and the mob follows, closing in. Vincenzo has to stay smart enough and tough enough to make a deal for the guns and escape with the money, Erica, and his life. Solid little Italian crime drama with a fair share of brutal violence and narrow escapes. This very-obscure film used to come on the Caribbean Super Station, and that was the only place I ever saw it until a nice letterboxed print made it to DVD as part of the super-cheap Brentwood Crime Lords box set. -zwolf

Long Hair of Death (B&W, 1964) AKA I Lunghi capelli della morte
Barbara Steele's mother is burned alive by the Inquisition, even though she's not guilty of witchcraft. Barbara is vowed to revenge, but a corrupt official pushes her off a precipice, leaving only her younger sister. The little sister grows up and is the unlucky wife of the creep who framed her mom. Meanwhile, the plague the "witch" cursed everyone with is ravaging the land, and Barbara un-decomposes during a thunderstorm and rises from the grave. The little sister's husband falls in lust with Barbara, and they entomb the sister alive. They take her back out later when they think she's dead, but the body disappears... and the unfaithful husband is driven nearly mad and led to a nightmarish fate. Great, atmospheric Italian horror directed by Antonio Margheriti, who also direced Barbara in the classic Castle of Blood. Like all of Barbara's black and white Italian films, this is a must. -zwolf

The Long Riders (C, 1980)
Underrated director Walter Hill had a novel idea in this Western about the James/Younger gang - he cast real brothers (James and Stacy Keach) as Frank and Jesse James, and real brothers (David, Keith, and Robert Carradine) as the Youngers. Randy and Dennis Quaid play the Miller Brothers, and Christopher and Nicholas Guest are the Fords. The gang pulls off multiple robberies until one bloody Wild Bunch-homage bank job goes horribly wrong, complete with slow-motion bullet hits and that ominous sound right before somebody catches one. Top-notch Western with lots of gunfights. -zwolf

Long Step Mantis (C, ???)
Ground Zero apparently managed - after what I'm sure must have been an exhaustive international search - to find the worst VHS tape in existence from which to master this kung fu movie. It's blurry, the colors are muddy, and there are constant drop-out streaks. This would be passable as part of their ultra-cheap double-features, but this cost some bucks and there's no other movie with it. At least the movie itself is good. While an assassin is going around murdering people, a guy named Fatal Stick challenges White Hair, the mantis fist master, to a duel. He loses and becomes White Hair's pupil. Once he's trained (instantly and off-screen!) he sets out to achieve two missions: (a) to find the guy who raped and killed his wife, and (b) to recover a stolen mantis-fist manual. Meanwhile, a couple of bumbling oafs gamble their way to enough money for kung fu lessons, get cheated, then try to treat a wounded man who has the mantis-fist manual. Bot the assassin and Fatal Stick are looking for it, and that's how the subplots intersect. One of the bumblers studies the manual and becomes expert, but then the assassin and another killer waste his dad and steal the book, and he has to get revenge, and the mantis master gets involved, and things get really busy. Plenty of solid action; too bad the DVD is so weak. Ground Zero's cost themselves a lot of sales with stuff like this, because I used to pick up everything they put out: something I'm not doing lately... -zwolf

The Lost Battalion (C, 2001)
World War I gets the Private Ryan treatment (staccato editing, bleached colors, CGI grit in the air, graphic gore) in this made-for-A&E production based on true events. Rick Schroder leads his men on an ill-advised, unsupported mission into the Argonne Forest to fight zee Germans. They achieve their objective but are promptly cut off deep in enemy territory with little communication (except for carrier pigeons), food, water, or ammo, and they are repeatedly attacked by the Germans, as well as accidentally shelled by their own artillery. But they hold out for five days, taking heavy casualties but not surrendering or losing the position. There are far too few WWI films, but hopefully a great one like this can do something to change that. -zwolf

The Lost Kung Fu Secret (C, 1982)
This is generally a not-very-well-liked film, maybe because the plot is so convoluted. A warlord uses Christianity to control the masses he wants to oppress (hey, at least the movie's got a basis in reality!) but highly-skilled fighter David Chiang tries to expose the warlord's real schemes of coup d'etat. There's a lot of sneaking around, with Chiang infiltrating the enemy camp, and there are some missed opportunities for action scenes - the massacre takeover of the camp, for instance, takes place offscreen in favor of showing Chiang pacing around. It seems like the director had pretensions of making an espionage epic and thought minimizing the actual onscreen fights would somehow make it classier. Other fights happen in the dark so it's hard to see everything, and still others are rather stagey and somehow not very involving. Everybody being in elaborate costumes doesn't help, and a lot of what was probably intended as tension-building comes across as padding. Anyway, Chiang and a princess have to go on the run, traveling across the country and being very paranoid. Things pick up in the last half hour, with some good fights and rockslides and flaming catapults and Chiang taking on a guy wearing crazy Ultra-Man reject armor. Overall it's not worthless, but you can do better. American audiences miss some of the appeal, supposedly, because there was a lot of star power between Chiang and the princess when this played in Taiwan. Listening to the DVD's commentary track will improve things for you. -zwolf

The Lost Weekend (B&W, 1945) Ray Milland stars in this detailed account of an alcoholic downward spiral, which won the Best Picture Oscar of 1945. Ray is a wanna-be writer who puts himself through hell to get one more drink and one more after that and then another and another. It's pretty melodramatic but Billy Wilder's expert direction makes up for any shortcomings. A sense of desperation clings to this, and it almost plays like a horror film, with alcohol serving as the monster. The scene where Milland gets the D.T.'s and sees a bat eating a mouse seems to be what sticks in everyone's mind. Billy Wilder bought the novel during a cross-country train trip and read it twice in one night, knowing right away the movie would win Oscars, even though it definitely wasn't the kind of thing Hollywood was turning out at the time. Well-done classic. -zwolf

The Lost World (B&W, 1925)
Silent film warm-up to King Kong, based on an Arthur Conan Doyle novel. A supposedly-crackpot Professor Challenger leads an expedition to a plateau where dinosaurs still live. They're stop-motion by Willis O'Brien, and they're great. After plenty of cliffhangers and battles between the big lizards and a fight with an ape-man, the professor manages to catch a brontosaurus and brings it back to London, where it breaks loose and wrecks the place. Entertaining, with impressive effects work for such an ancient film. -zwolf

The Love Cult (B&W, 1966)
Eric the Great, a nothin'-happenin' TV hypnotist with a lame act and no audience, decides to go for bigger money by starting a love cult (inspired by a TV preacher). A narrator pops in to explain some of this and fill in the dead spots. Eric changes his name to Brother Eros and gathers the horny to put on robes and conduct orgies and, of course, shell out lots of money. And he gets a little on the side, too, even though about as close as the movie gets to showing you anything is a bare boob now and then. Things soon turn ugly when some of the congregation starts saying "no" (a clumsy oaf named Leo manages to stop tripping over furniture long enough to rape one of the acolytes). A rich woman gives the cult the use of one of her mansions as their church, and more violence erupts... so Eros preaches in bandages. Like all these old sexploitation movies, this is tedious and stultifyingly dull for the most part, and is mainly interesting for the sleazy time-capsule curio nature of it. The black and white photography is suprisingly good for such a cheap little drive-in flick, though. -zwolf

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