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]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Announcement

Announcement

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.

--Matt

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death (1989)

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The title should be enough. I first saw this on Comedy Central, I think. It's now considered a cult classic. I scooped it on Netflix because it had been too long since I'd seen it. Some of my friends were put off by the name, thinking maybe it was a bit too much. I'm not sure it's ever too much.

Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death is a take on Conrad's Heart of Darkness set against the backdrop of Southern California and the late 80s feminist movement. There's a hoard of amazon women that have taken over the vast Avocado Jungle inland from California's southern coast. They kill any man who tries to harvest too deep. The US Government is not happy with that, and they send feminist ethnographer Shannon Tweed in to negotiate, and to try to convince them to move to condos in Malibu. Her guide is a chauvinist Bill Maher. Inside, she finds academic rival Professor Kurtz, played by Adrienne Barbeau, who has installed herself as the cannibal women's leader. She and Tweed fight it out to with the fate of feminism in the balance.

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This is a pretty decent film. As an anth major, it's interesting to watch the movie now and understand better the issues the film makers were discussing. I was surprised that some of my friends didn't understand that the movie was purely metaphorical. They were asking where the Avocado Jungle is in California, trying to make fun of the movie. This really isn't a movie that calls for mocking, despite the silly title. It's an attempt to discuss the roles of men and women entering the 90s in the United States in a comical and satirical manner. I think it worked.

Shannon Tweed plays the role of leading cultural anthropologist without a bit of irony, despite the fact that the irony is implicit. That's a good thing. Too often actors and actresses take these parts and try too much to give us the wink-wink nudge-nudge. Tweed let the movie work on its own, and we were better for it. This might be one of her best acting jobs ever (is that saying a lot considering the other work she's done!)

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This is the second Bill Maher film I've reviewed here, the other being 1991's the Pizza Man. Looking at his imdb bio, he hasn't been in that many movies, which is kind of surprising considering how famous he is in Hollywood. He's hilarious as the chauvinist, though not as good as he was in The Pizza Man. Maybe it was the role: here he was playing a goofball that didn't know how uncool he was; while in The Pizza Man, he was the hero, trying to get paid for his extra anchovies pizza. I'm not saying The Pizza Man was a better movie, just that I liked Maher better in it.

As a white man in the United States, I feel it isn't really my place to comment on the feminist movement. In my mind, the success of Sex in the City signaled the end of the feminist movement, but who am I to say? As far as I can tell, The Hills is my generation's Mary Tyler Moore... okay, have I gone too far? Maybe. Probably. I'm totally not soapboxing it here, just comparing feminism in 1989 to 2008. Very different picture, and I think that makes Cannibal Women all the more interesting when watching it with 2008 eyes. It makes for an interesting question: have the Cannibal Women finally bought condos in Malibu? Let's hope not.

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This is not the kind of hecklefest its title implies. Sure, it's silly enough, but under the silliness are some real concerns about both feminism in America, and the ever-changing relationship between men and women in society. The film is smart, funny, and insightful, and well worth a look if you're into that kind of thing. If not, there's always plenty of Dolph out there.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094834/

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