It snuck up on me this year but it is time again for another DVD Talk April Exploitation/B-Movie/Drive-In Challenge. Just like the October horror challenge that I participate in over at DVD Talk and branch out to over here to discuss the movies I watch I do the same with the April exploitation challenge. You know the drill, I've done it before and I'm back again. If you want to participate head on over the DVD Talk and sign up and have fun talking about the various types of movies this challenge celebrates.
The challenge technically started at dusk on 3/31 so I was able to start my challenge before bed...
WHITE CANNIBAL QUEEN was first, one of the Italian jungle horror films that has eluded me until now. The opening credits deserve mention as they open with "A Film by Franco Prosperi" and closed with "Directed by Jess Franco". Yes it is co-directed by the pair but I don't think I've ever seen the names split up like that. It made me chuckle. As for the film itself it isn't great. It has all the classic tropes of the genre but without the skill, art or sleaze that makes the better entries special. It seemed like Prosperi and Franco were satisfied to be average in every way with this one. Jungle horror fans should seek it out and I did enjoy it enough but there are plenty of better examples to seek out first. 5/10
The challenge started out with another film that is an exceedingly middle of the road example fo the genre. CJAMANGO is one of the lesser known spaghetti westerns that caught my attention in my early days of discovering the genre several years ago. This has everything to do with the title, which is an obvious play on Django (it was one of the dozens of films that would receive an alternate "Django" title). CJAMANGO wins some stolen gold in a card game, the gold is stolen back and so begins the problems. Filled with plenty of shoot outs, double crossing and even the spaghetti western's own version of Short Round (yes, I realize this film was 20 years before Short Round) and you have CJAMANGO. It isn't bad but it does nothing to separate itself from the masses. 5/10
The first star of the challenge is another film I've been interested in checking out for some time. The Kung-Fu genre is one I enjoy greatly. Hell, Celluloid Terror's first image on Facebook was a picture from 5 Deadly Venoms. The thing is, I've been very slow and/or patient in digging deeper into the genre. THE 8 DIAGRAM POLE FIGHTER is a title I've heard great things about forever. I always heard that it was up to par with The 36th Chamber Of Shaolin or the aforementioned 5 Deadly Venoms. Well fate and timing shone down upon me as I found a copy of the DVD for $5 just a couple days ago. I instantly grabbed it and tonight I popped it in hoping that my high expectations wouldn't overshadow my enjoyment. They did not. I don't think I could have expectations so high that this film wouldn't live up to them. If the top tier of Kung-Fu films is 5 or 6 movies then there has to be room for THE 8 DIAGRAM POLE FIGHTER on that tier. From the moody and atmospheric opening battle that sets the stage for this tale of revenge to the final 10 minute climactic battle scene that left me hooting and hollering at the screen, (or as wrestling fans would know it - I marked out, hard.) The final fight scene might be the best and my personal favorite fight scene of any film. Only time will tell but it certainly will be among my favorites. 9/10