Sunday, June 28, 2009

Richard Harrison Tells it Like it is!

Courtesy of Joshkazid, who confesses he "doesn't know w
hy", but has clearly found the best use for mashed-up, spewn out Richard Harrison footage since the glory days of Godfrey Ho, Joesph Lai and IFD:

For the uninitiated Poptique presents a pocket-sized introduction to Richard Harrison - the nation-straddling mustachioed former beefcake who's fast becoming a YouTube favourite!

Harrison knocked about in Utah in his formative years, making his merry way to Hollywood in the late 50s, appearing as a background artiste and hunk for hire until bagging a three picture deal with B-grade studio AIP. They swiftly which sent him packing to Europe, which is where Harrison set up shop for the rest of the decade after his debut star role in (and as) the Invincible Gladiator.

Stealthily slotting into the muscle-bound ex-pat positions held by the like of Steve Reeves, Harrison spent the 60s flitting between sweaty Sword & Sandal Peplum roles and sixgun-totting Spaghetti Westerns. It was in the latter category that he gained his first footnote in film history, turning down Sergio Leone's Fistful of Dollars and recommending chum Clint Eastwood in his stead; sending him off to eventual super-stardom.

Harrison was never so lucky in terms of lead roles again, but continued to carve out a healthy niche nonetheless. If you like Spaghettis, Sandals or Spy movies you're in luck - he made an absolute shit-load.

The 70s ushered in the second phase of his career, as well as his now legendary face-fuzz. The newly 'tached Harrison began globe-trotting with a vengeance, popping up in Egyptian exploitation, Turkish rip-offs, and even Shaw Brothers epics, whilst maintaining his Italian leads in more war, westerns and crime movies. But by the end of the decade Harrison had begun to feel the pinch, as he seemingly became stuck as a bargain basement Chuck Norris in a spiral of micro-budgeted oriental movies.

Just witness the sort of sexy shiz h
e got up to below!

Whilst Harrison may have hit a high note in the late 70s as a low-rent, la
dy-draped Bond wannabe in the dubbylicious 007 meets Bruceploitation classic Challenge of the Tiger, a few short years later he somehow found his way to offices of Joseph Lai's IFD films, and eternal infamy followed...

Lai and his director-in-crime Godfrey Ho put the chop in chop-sockey, taking their ready-made Asian productions and splicing in barely related scenes featuring non-acting westerners to supposedly appeal to international audiences. Depending on what you read, or believe, Harrison signed to appear in a handful of productions but subsequently found the footage turning up in release after release.

Suddenly Harrison was the unwitting whiteman poster boy for cut and paste Hosploitation, and 20 years of hardworking film experience and leading roles evaporated in a cloud of ninja dust.

Despite a long and prolific career poor-old Harrison is almost universally recognised these days for a few weeks work stretched out over the space of nearly a dozen z-grade ninja knock-offs, with titles like Ninja Terminator, Ninja Commandments, Ninja Thunderbolt and Scorpion Thunderbolt.

It may not be far from the legacy he may have wanted, but bless him, it's the one he's ended up with. Hat's off to Harrison!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Whippywatch continues!

Another scorcher in our nation's capital has brought even more woeful whippy artwork out into the streets, with fleets of flake-flinging ice-cream vans covered in craptastic cartooning caught lolly-gagging around London this weekend.
"Super Soft Ice" offered up a disturbingly pencil-necked Mickey plus a wild-eyed one-legged Ludwig Van Drake, whilst the another "often licked, never beaten" Super Soft Ice offered a parade of depressing deformity, featuring a decidedly dead-eyed Goofy alongside an embarrased lumpen Mickey.

Snow Shite says - "Stop me and buy one!".

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Whippywatch 2009

Summer has hit London with a vengeance in recent weeks, with record temperatures making commuters wilt and tube taking travel a last ditch option. Such luverly weather brings one welcome site to our nation's capital - that of Ice Cream Vans of the Mr Whippy variety, adorned in a slapdash manner with grotesque, copyright thumb-nosing images of famous animated stars!

I can't get enough flipping 99 Flake dealing Whippies covered in ill-shaped illustrations - they take me back to a childhood free of
corporate control, where even officially licensed annuals, comic books and food-products featured freakishly deformed versions of your favourite cartoon heroes.

Oddly out-of-proportion, sugar-crazed characters are the order of the day - Disney stars being a favourite, no doubt due to their ease of cack-handed copy-ability. Other studio's cartoon celebrities appear less often - but when they do it's a joy to behold.

A recent personal favourite was a spotted slopped aside a "Soft Whip" van - with a particularly jobby Jerry going serial-killer crazy over an ice-cream brandished by animated adversary Tom.

Rest assured Poptique will be keeping a beady eye out for more manky Mickeys and tatty Tweetys as the summer months march on!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Beatles bloody Rock Band

Rhythm games are one of the best things the next-gen console has given us. I can't imagine finding much fun plonking or plucking along to a series of beeps from a Spectrum or hammering a SNES joypad to circuit-board facsimiles of familiar songs. But once I caught sight (and heard tell) of Pa Rappa the Rappa I let loose on the PSone, knowing I'd encountered a new & resoundingly silly way of play.

Essentially a musical game of Simon Says, the initial rhythm games were the simple stuff of listen, then repeat by whacking buttons in time to a tune. Because of this admittedly basic structure the best of the games left the creators free to go frenzied with the visuals, piling on as much insanity as that generation of super-consoles could take.

Bonifide classics included the aforementioned Pa Rappa, it's sequel Um Jammer Lammy and Vib Ribbon from the same brilliantly misshapen mind. The long-legged, Jackson-loving Space Channel Five games were good, plus Bust A Groove & Dance Dance Revolution added jigging about on some arrows to the mix.

Things took a turn to more on hand playing with Guitarfreaks - an arcade series which gave the player their own plastic plucker to pummel & pose with, spawning console spin-offs and a stick-driven off shoot, DrumMania.

With the latest line of ultra-consoles and their mania for plastic-molded add-ons came the titles which took the rhythm game to the masses - Guitar Hero and Rock Band. The extra-techy bits and bobs inside the consoles allowed the designs to pop in karaoke singalongs too. Now there was all manner of ways to embarras or entertain the poor souls stuck in the room with you.

Since every air-guitarist had the ability to hammer and
holler along with their favourite bands, it wasn't long until someone handed over a whole game over to just one band act. This bright idea is about to get it's biggest blockbuster yet as the ultimate musical behemoths - The Beatles - bring out a bangalong trip through their back catalog.

Considering my affection for
rhythm games it was awhile before I shelled out for a Wii Guitar Hero and plastic peripheral to strum (or at least press), but I've taken quite a fancy to the idea. A Beatles game looks like a capital concept, although I must admit it's a shame the game itself looks pretty bloomin' dull in comparison to the dashing designs of this UK produced promo, via Passion Pictures and some of the peeps behind the Gorillaz.