Instant Gratification Quick Takes: August 5, 2011

Highlighting odd and off-beat new releases to watch instantly on Netflix

New for August 5, 2011

Fire and Ice (1983), directed by Ralph Bakshi, with Randy Norton, Cynthia Leake and Steve Sandor – Animated yarn in which a farm boy and a mysterious ax-wielding stranger journey to stop an evil ice queen from taking over the world. Essentially, Fire and Ice is Ralph Bakshi doing a “PG” version of Conan the Barbarian, revisiting the fantasy setting he first explored in Lord of the Rings and Wizards. Notable for being the director’s last fully-animated feature film. Pretty lackluster. I was careful to put “PG” in quotation marks, because with all the violence and partial nudity, it would be safe to bet this might qualify for an R-rating today. The world of Fire and Ice is a world where everyone — men, women and orc alike — wears thong underwear. If you choose to watch this, prepare yourself for plenty of ass cheek. (Available until August 2, 2012) [Links: IMDbTrailer]

Hatchet (2006), directed by Adam Green, with Joel Moore, Deon Richmond and Kane Hodder – Deformed killer stalks a group of young people in the Louisiana bayou. Hatchet doesn’t break any new ground and its numerous cameos by horror’s heavies seems almost like pandering, but if your a fan of slashers, you could do much worse. (Available until August 1, 2012) [Links: IMDb, Trailer]

Maniac (1980), directed by William Lustig, with Joe Spinell – A disturbed killer stalks, kills and scalps women in New York City. A notorious slasher/splatter film which might be nothing special except for the insane gore effects of special effects wizard Tom Savini and a completely unhinged performance by Spinell as the killer (Spinell also helped to write the films screenplay.) Maniac, which no doubt inspired similar films like Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and a host of less-noteworthy imitators, is not much more than a series of ultra violent murder scenes connected by the killer Spinell’s disturbed ramblings. But what Maniac lacks in plot, it makes up for in sheer visceral punch. Gene Siskel was so disgusted by Maniac that he walked out 30 minutes in, never to speak of it again. Now there’s a selling point. A must-see film for grindhouse and horror movie fans alike. (Available until August 2, 2012) [Links: IMDb, GCDB, Trailer]

Uncle Sam (1996), directed by William Lustig, with David Fralick, Robert Forster, Timothy Bottoms, Isaac Hayes, Morgan Paull, Bo Hopkin and P.J. Soles – Sam Harper, a soldier in the U.S. Army during Operation Desert Storm, is killed in a friendly fire incident in Kuwait. Although the fallen soldier is returned to the United States in a casket, “Uncle” Sam, has no intention of staying dead and soon comes back in zombie form to wreak havoc on the unpatriotic residents of his hometown. Uncle Sam is one of those movies most people probably rented from their local video shack in the mid-1990s on its premise, box cover and tagline alone (“I want you … DEAD!”). I know I did. I was also curious. How do you even pull off an “Uncle Sam” movie? I understood how a killer Santa, killer Leprechaun or even killer Easter Bunny movie could work. All have an extensive and familiar mythology to exploit. But what was Uncle Sam more than a symbol on a wartime propaganda poster? In this respect, Uncle Sam does a good job by creating a good back story in making “Uncle Sam” a zombie soldier  who just happens to be someone’s real-life Uncle Sam. When Uncle Sam offs a stilted “Uncle Sam” getting ready to march in a Fourth of July parade and steals his beard and top hat costume, Uncle Sam becomes the identifiable “Uncle Sam”. That being said, while Uncle Sam has a pretty well-thought out premise, it falls flat on execution save one or two interesting kill scenes. Ultimately, Uncle Sam tows the line between “so bad it’s good” and “so bad it’s bad”, making it a movie that’s a lot more fun to name check than to actually sit through. (Available until August 2, 2012) [Links: IMDb, Trailer]

Vigilante (1983), directed by William Lustig, with Robert Forster, Fred Williamson and Richard Bright – (Available until August 1, 2012) [Links: IMDb, Trailer]

13 Assassins (2010), directed by Takashi Miike, with Koji Yakusho, Takayuki Yamada and Yusuke Iseya – Thirteen assassins band together on a seemingly suicide mission to take out a tyrannical warlord. Directed by Takashi Miike, many people (myself included) need only hear these four words — “A Takashi Miike Film” — before deciding to give this a go; however, even those unfamiliar (or even put off) by Miike’s earlier gorefests should know that critically, 13 Assassins has been lauded, even competing for the Golden Lion at the 67th Venice International Film Festival. (Available until August 5, 2014) [Links: IMDb, Trailer]

Hobo With a Shotgun (2011), directed by Jason Eisener, with Rutger Hauer, Pasha Ebrahimi and Rob Wells –  (Available until August 5, 2014) A hobo played by Rutger Hauer returns to his hometown to find it’s been taken over by The Drake, a ruthless dictator, and his two sadistic sons. After The Drake and his cronies beat and leave the hobo for dead, he embarks on a campaign to take back his old stomping grounds — with shotgun in tow. Hobo With a Shotgun delivers on what it promises — a hobo, a shotgun and plenty of over-the-top carnage. It’s iultra-violent and gory to the point that it could easily be confused with any one of Troma’s gorier splatter fests. Much like when I watch a Troma movie, I couldn’t help but think at points that Eisener is trying to hard. Still, it’s entertaining as hell. All in all, it’s as good as expected — whatever that means. [Links: IMDb, Trailer]

Hey! Follow Matt on Twitter at @CM_MattDunn!

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