Day 13: 80s Comedy!
Reform School Girls (1986)
The prompt for Day 13 is ’80s Comedy’, there are countless films that fit into low budget 80s comedy and we are going with one that isn’t exactly within the comedy genre but the results are more comedic and exploitative than what it is billed as (crime/drama/thriller) with Reform School Girls (1986). Perhaps the film feels more like a black comedy or satire, perhaps this was the original intention or changed after it was made, it is insanely over the top with some brutal characters.
The film follows new girls as they enter into Pridemore Juvenile Facility, where they must fend for themselves against every one from other girls (who look a little too mature to be considered juvenile) to head of the ward Edna (Pat Ast) who appears to want to murder each and every one of them of who don’t do what she wants. Eventually a riot breaks out and the state of the facility soon comes under question as does the leaderships of Edna and Warden Sutten (Sybil Danning).
Whatever the intention of this film was it is a very strange mess, whether it was intended to be a satire or not isn’t overly clear through the whole film. Yes there is a lot of nudity, shower scenes and women in their underwear with sexual tones and fights along the way. However there are moments of pure seriousness and brutal treatment of the girls that make it seem like they are out of a different film entirely. Pat Ast as Edna is pure insanity, never a quiet moment with Edna and how is anyone expected to take her seriously, the woman steps on a kitten to kill it in a hateful scene and her reaction is like she’s won the lottery. It doesn’t work, it isn’t entertaining, it is a chore to sit through this character on screen. Wendy O. Williams as Charlie head of the bullies and in Edna’s pocket is perhaps just as hateful as Edna herself, the character has no redeming qualities and is painful to watch. Some of the other girls fair a bit better, but most of the characters were not likable in the least and honestly it needed more Sybil Danning.
Reform School Girls is some what watchable at times, there is some decent cinematography work in there and does have a fairly steady pacing to it. At the end of the day this film was not for this writer, not something I would really recommend either, it just doesn’t work as a whole and really couldn’t work out what it wanted to be.
Day 14: Kung Fu!
Five Fingers Of Death (1972)
The most logical place to go for Day 14 with ‘Kung Fu’ is one of the films that started and helped the martial arts/kung fu films popularity in western countries like the US with Five Fingers Of Death (1972) aka King Boxer. This film was a huge inspiration for a lot of what we see and hear in Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol.’s 1 and 2 amongst other films, which is easy to see why because this is a fun film with some top notch action.
The film tells the story of a young martial arts student Chih-Hao (Lieh Lo), he gets sent off to train under a new master after some thugs attack his old master couldn’t fend them off. He prepares for a tournament where he will fight the leader of the group of thugs and get the hand of his love Yin-Yin (Ping Wang). The secret to his success will be a special technique called ‘Iron Fist’, a mostly deadly weapon.
Five Fingers Of Death holds its strength in its fight sequences, they are extremely well choreographed and the sound design helps every move hit with an impact. Chih-Hao is a noble lead for the film, played in a strong performance by Lieh Lo, he has quite the screen presence throughout the film. The film’s story can be a little too difficult to follow, the quieter scenes only make the action missed, not because it is bad but perhaps not quite as engaging as it should have been.
Watching the dubbed version provides for some truly funny moments, it adds to the experience of Junesploitation as serious scenes come off overly comical because of the voice performances. This is though a must see for fans of the genre, get some insight to one of the most influential kung fu films of the 70s.
Reviews written by Marcella Papandrea
Please check out FThisMovie.net, with many thanks to the crew for the concept of Junesploitation and some excellent prompts for 2021!