The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at] I'd love to check out what you got.



Hi everyone, it's been a while since I checked the page, and I wanted to make a few announcements.

First and foremost, it appears a dubious site has claimed the old url, meaning any link in any review that goes to the old mattmovieguy url is corrupt. I'm in the process of trying to remove them all, but it's a lot! It's best not to click on any link without hovering over it first to make sure it doesn't have mattmovieguy in the url.

Second, it appears since my last trip to the blog, Photobucket has decided to charge for third party hosting, meaning none of my images are appearing anymore. That's simply an aesthetic issue, but still annoying.

Thank you all for your patience, and again, hopefully this will all be fixed soon.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Cobra Verde (1987)

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In reviewing this film for the DTVC, I'm taking a slight departure from the usual fare. This definitely was a film that was overlooked when Klaus Kinski and Werner Hezrog collaborated to make it back in 1987, so it's not like I'm covering a huge foreign classic like La Strada or Seven Samurai. On the other hand, this isn't just a bad movie, but a fairly sophisticated film told within the constructs of the West African Slave trade in the mid-19th century.

Cobra Verde is about a man, Klaus Kinski in the eponymous lead, who loses his farm living in Brazil, and is forced to become a bandit, terrorizing the local countryside in order to make ends meet. He's hired by a plantation owner, and quickly he impregnates the man's young daughters. In an effort to rid himself of Kinski, he ships him over to West Africa to oversee his slave trade. There, Kinski is imprisoned by the local king, rescued by the king's brother, leads an army of women against the king, and establishes a successful trade in African slaves. When Brazil joins the rest of the world in outlawing slavery, things fall apart quickly for our hero. The movie ends in an amazing death scene where Kinski struggles to pull his beached boat into the water.

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This movie is fantastic. It deals with slavery in a very different connotation, where instead of the film being about slavery, it's told within the constructs of a world with that as it's reality. For me, I think that makes horror that was the African slave trade even starker than a film that's centered around it as its main subject. It's a very risky way to make a movie, because it doesn't come right out and say slavery is bad, which may offend some; but I feel it's pretty obvious from the lines of men marched in appalling conditions or women in pits waiting to be used for sex that there was nothing advocating or attempting to diminish the inhumanity of slavery in Herzog telling of the story.

If the solid storytelling doesn't grab you, then you've got Kinski, who's at his crazy best in this. For me it's one of his best performances. When he flips out as the king's men take him into custody, it's beyond fantastic. Even better, when he's taken away, his captors fill a gourd with water and stick one of his feet in it. So as he's carried into the king's court, he's got this gourd dangling from his foot. It's a testament to his ability as an actor that Kinski can pull that off.

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Kinski's death scene was amazing. For those who find him ridiculous and love to laugh at him, there was plenty there as he wallowed in the surf allowing the waves to engulf him. For those who find him fascinating and love the method in his madness, it was sheer brilliance to watch his futile attempt to pull this over-sized boat from the beach into the water. For me, I'm one who likes both aspects of Kinski, so the scene had it all. In addition to the amazing Kinski-ness, Herzog included in the background a man he met who was stricken with polio. His legs have severely atrophied, and he's forced to walk on his hands.

There were other great tidbits in this, too. The king's brother constantly gives Kinski the Runaway Bride stare. Every time he was on screen, he elicited laughs from me and my friends. Seeing Kinski in the sailor's outfit, complete with the hat, was beautiful too. Earlier he walks around with no shoes, and a woman asks him why he's barefoot. He tells her he doesn't trust shoes. That's one of the best lines ever in cinema.

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If you have the time and you're watching this on DVD, catch some of the audio commentary with Werner Herzog. I didn't get a chance to see all of it, but what I did see, especially in regards to Kinski, was entertaining. In one instance, the moderator asks him why a section of dialog was somebody other than Kinski's voice. Herzog tells him that Kinski wanted $5 million dollars to go back and loop the audio parts where his voice was off. That wasn't a joke. Most surprising to me was at the end, when Herzog tells the moderator that Kinski overdid his acting, and he gave the character an element of mania that Herzog didn't intend.

If you're a bad movie watcher, I'd give this a shot, even if it isn't exactly a bad movie. There's plenty to joke about, especially with Kinski being Kinski. It is in German with English subtitles, which I know turns some people off. I'm as huge a foreign film guy as I am a bad movie guy, so I never notice it, but I figured I'd put out the warning for those that don't like to read while watching a movie (or put the warning out for those that are illegally downloading it that you'll need a subtitle file).

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