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Archive for June, 2010

Canker upon canker upon one million tiny punctures

What starts out as a wonderful sister’s holiday, ends with a hotel held hostage to a sex manic pyschokiller!

Or something.

Because there is clearly maybe a ghost story, a double cross drug plot, and  a romantic love triangle/story! All subplots that, ultimately, go no where. But the seaside hotel it all happens at provides some wonderful outdoor shots, especially when the wind kicks up and all the actors start to shiver.

THE SISTER OF URSULA is more soft core skin flix than a giallo gore. The killer, who disembowels the victims through their vaginas after she has paid to watch them all have various kinds of sex. Or skulked in the corners, voyeuristically shadow draped, with only the ominous giallo eyes revealed! The killer’s identity is never in question, really, and there are some rather laughable sex scenes – like the diddling with the gold chain – but then some other rather implied hardcore moves. The religious icon as murder weapon is not credible, considering the damage it was supposed to have inflicted.

This is some particularly horrible dialogue as the two sisters quibble over a dead father and absent mother, made all the more absurd by the nudity of D’Amario as they are arguing. Magnolfi plays the proto-goth with all the bed sheet grabbing angst of a spoiled loony. The scene in the stone side chapel where she caresses the carved Christ before fainting dead away must be seen to be believed. It is beyond campy. And do not get me started on the silver shimmer of a nightclub act, the dubbing of which made it look like a sketch from SCTV. Love it.

Still, the great locations, a drug narc subplot, and a lot nude females kinda make this clunker a watchable dud. Not to mention the fact that Stefania D’Amario, the titular Ursula, goes on to star in Fulci’s ZOMBI! As Barbara Magnolfi, with her dangerous puppy dog eyes, makes a fated appearance in Argento’s SUSPERIA.

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I just want to make love.

This is a filthy little movie. Part naked lady soft core Eurotrash porno and part inexplicable giallo. The movie really reveals in the Freudian “hysterics of overly sexed ladies.” In fact, its whole conceit is based on it.

The movie begins after naked Mararet Lee is wracked in sex spasms of sleep, watched by the creepy shadow killer. Clearly, she has problems! Then we are cut to a frantic car ride where a blonde woman suddenly loses control of herself and attempt to steer the car into a terrible crash. Wanting to kill her husband is understandable, according to the dialogue, but killing herself, this does not make any sense. Thus the necessity of her going to treatment at the titular Hotel! Her psychopathic desires manifest so quickly, as she attempts to smack a doctor with a two by four. Great stuff.

By the time we are introduced to the other patients at the asylum, it is obvious that all of them are going to spend a lot of the movie scantily clad. There is the nymphomaniac played by Rosalba Neri, there are the lesbians (a morose Jane Garet and her nursey massage lover Monica Strabel), the wealthy heiress kept against her will, and the brilliantly posed Klaus Kinski, as some sort of revolutionary psychologist.

His methods are strange. They involve cold showers, getting high, nightly cocktail parties, chain smoking, seducing the patients, and croquet. And a lot of nudity. Oh so much nudity.

There is a lesbian massage and bath scene which culminates in the silliest dance scene this side of THE WICKER MAN. There is a lot of rolling around on beds with suggestions of masturbation.  And there is at least one sex scene in a green house, no gardener can resist the nudity of Neri!

The killer sulking around is rather stupid and almost inept. His heavy breathing prefigures Jason and the giallo dark mask and black gloves are in full plumage. Though, I suppose, it is rather apparent why the killer chose this asylum to  undertake his spree, the whole place is rife with medieval weaponry – even a working iron maiden!  There is a cross bow through the neck, there are stabbings, beheadings, broad swords, hatchets, and scythes.

The ending feels tacked on, as if when the production realized they ordered too much ketchup for the catering, someone came up with a bloodbath rampage. The unmasked killer rampages through the nurses dorm stabbing and hacking at a group of poor ladies huddled in the corner. Silly and surprisingly out of place.

Ultimately, this is a great Kinski piece of acting. His whole persona is a slightly fey brush of his hair as he smokes and poses in every scene. Basically, collecting a paycheck for his name and his reputation as a bad guy to throw a red herring into the mix. Because, he is not the killer. Unfortunately.

My idea of psychotherapy!

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guuuuuurgle.

This is a strange movie, unstuck in time, really. It should have been a late 1960s/early 1970s production. The story is borrowed from the Jules Verniverse – there is a shipwreck, nefarious goings on, the rich and paranoid horse galloping gentry, the locked room loony, and more voodoo secrets than any fantastist would dare shake a stick at!

The story is basically very, very silly. The fishmen are eugenic experiments of a mad scientist, held hostage by a greedy and murderous moustachio baddie who is using the army of genetic fishmen to bring up the gold treasures of a sunken civilization, that the fishmen are supposed to have been the original inhabitants of, even though Joseph Cotton is making them as he goes? Who knows. There is Barbara Bach feeding the sea emerging fishmen a soupy milk that is meant to be highly sexual, but comes off as highly dubious. There is a native priestess who might save the day as she makes the island erupt in revenge. Maybe?

Aside form all that, the dubbing in this one is excellent. The baddie snarls and curls around every syllable. The fishmen, themselves, are pretty effectively done. At least they could pass for pre-reboot Dr. Who villains, and navigate in the water pretty well. Its not as clunky as it could have been, but then is was 1979, so yeah, on second thought it should have been better. But the whole movie has a Hammer House feel to it, Mysterious Island of Dr. Monroe sorta vibe. Still by the time Joseph Cotton falls out, things really get moving. And by moving I just mean toward the burning model volcano thing…

Overall, I was really surprised by the conventionalism of this movie, considering it directly followed Martino’s MOUNTAIN OF THE CANNIBAL GOD.

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They got me!

Whoa. This one plays fast a loose with things like plot, continuity, and sense. It is in fact, horrible with no schlocky irony intended. It is just baaaaaad. Almost a waste of time, but not unwatchable. Which, I guess, means something. Because there are truly unwatchable movies, that even I have turned off in disgust or frustration.

There is some back story about a voodoo priest performing a silly ritual in the basement with a dancing over-bite drooling dead woman, a cancer research team that shoots the place up, then flees into the jungle. A little girl somehow escapes with the help of some talisman her mother gives her.

Then something else happens. A team of idiots venture into a jungle cave that is clearly a set of demonic activity, candles flicker on by themselves. Etc. They, of course, find book that emits a green light when it is opened. Clearly, this means that the book should be read aloud. A hole to hell appears and everyone gets munched. Which is fine, those three were highly annoying.

A boat filled with squishy muscle and toothless mercenaries zooms down a river. The blonde woman who is with them, clearly, is the little girl who somehow survived. She knows somethings for some reason – such as a room full of candles needs to stay lit, which it doesn’t.

Then the zombies are everywhere. Mostly flying through the air and dropping out of the rafters. The mercenaries last longer than they should really, being a bunch of terrible losers. There is something about zombies shooting guns at one point, maybe, too? I can’t remember.

The ending is silly and ultimately everyone gets eaten. Which is something of a relief considering how annoying and bad all the actors were in this movie. Its really bottom of the barrel zombie movie making here. In fact, the majority of the zombies do not even have to have makeup or masks on since they are covered in funeral scarves. Convenient for a no budget z-grade movie.

AVOID!

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OY VEY!

I had to ask myself, since no one else would even think to, how a movie with Antonio Sabata and Marissa Mell under the direction of Umberto Lenzi could not be a sleazefest of great things?

Unfortunately, I answered that question by watching GANG WAR IN MILAN. Instead of a great piece of fantastic revolting-ness, well, we get a snoozefest full of wide lapels and silly macho posturing instead of a full fledged gang war!

Drugs. the future of gangsterland commerce destroy another honest to god pimp in this predictable, triple-cross flick. The plot is pushed along by the silly idea that the pimp, Toto, wants a bigger percentage of the French’s drug pushing cartel. They have a little war – which is probably too realistic for modern post-scarface shoot em up sensibilities (ie boring). Some goons are offed, some tires shot out, and if you don’t see the double cross Marisa Mell coming from the first scene, then you got meatballs where your brains should be!

The final twist, only works if you accept that the police would let a known pimp, just arrested with massive amounts of heroin out of jail, on his own reconnaissance. Again, if you did not see the triple cross coming, well, then you probably dozed off during the scene where Billy Barone was introduced.

Can I recommend this one? No. Not really. Its pretty high camp at this point in cinematic history. Though seeing the “vintage” outfits and roaring 70s behavior is fantastic in its own right!

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Iron Man is one of the more problematic Marvel superheroes. First, the character was intentionally designed, in the 1960s, as a character to challenge the young, liberal readership of Marvel comics. Conceived as a wealthy capitalist, brilliant womanizer, and linchpin in the military-industrial complex, Iron Man was meant to embody ‘The Establishment.’ Second, the character’s origin story, gives pause, since it reads more like one of a bad guy, a villain, turned insane by the wiles and pitfalls of his own genius. How many tropes in the villain-verse are convoluted contrapassos designed to expose and punish the dark heart of the impure and improper? Iron Man falling prey to his own genius and weaponry fits this Marvel cliché like a well worn glove.

READ THE REST!

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Don't ask me why I buried my horn or why I dug it up.

This movie.

Having nothing in common with the Sacher-Masoch novel, other than the title, I was slightly disappointed in the lack of depravity. This is a convoluted tale of revenge haunting.

Maybe.

I think that Wanda is a ghost. I think she was murdered by perverts. And I think she returns to kill them all with sex. I think.

As near as I can tell the three perverts are as follows – a sadist, a lesbian, and a guy who likes feet and cunnilingus. After a night of wanton free love, Wanda ends up dead. Trumpter, and Wanda lover (?), finds her washed up on the shore. Only after he finds his horn. Which he buried on the beach. Because he is a loser of some sort. The movie veers through time and space like a drunk eurotrash hipster in a seedy disco. Mainly, because everything is so pretty to look at and vapid to listen to…

Then years later, dead Wanda starts cock blocking Barbara McNair. Is she a ghost? Is she a succubus? It would have been awesome, and a real giallo tweest, if she had been trumpet boy dressed up on a killing spree. But no, there is a lot of slow motion and wavy special effects for dreamlike scenes. There are some great shots of Wanda in a wig and garters posing about on a bed. But her methods of killing are stupid. She provides one last night of pleasure before the men have heart attacks and the lesbo slices up her wrists in the bath. Horrible melodramatic soundtrack and stupid manferd man theme song round out this sometimes painful display of kinky sleaze.

There are a couple outstanding images. Mainly centered around Klaus Kinski in a turban. But there is, also, the last red room scene where all the victims are brought together, low in their best dinner party tuxes, to watch Wanda expire, over and over again.Its a striking image ripped out of the Sartre’s NO EXIT or the end of BLAIR WITCH I. Still the movie was soooooo slow and draining of life at points, even the nudity and pretty Maria Rohm – keeping her arm over her bosoms.

Barbara McNair, though, WOWZERS!

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