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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!

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!

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.

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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!

Amando de Ossorio, the director of the wonderful BLIND DEAD series, is a director out of his element, cut from a cloth that long went out of fashion, an artist born too late. Filmed twenty years eariler, his schlocky horror films would be iconic classics today. As it stands, made in the 1970s instead of the 50s, his films are laughably bad. Especially, this one.

HEEEEEY Girl, love your top!

Basically, the story of a haunted jungle curse. So many different elements collide, that it becomes impossible to figure out what sort of horror or monsters or horror monsters, we are dealing with. There is a voodoo ceremony. There is a kidnapped white lady who is sacrificed to some leopard spirit. There is the murder of the natives which creates their haunting grounds, I guess. There are the leopard bikini clad vampire ladies who may not be vampires at all.  There is even a native gypsy woman (named Tunika!) who gets to make it with her white hero in the river!

Also, there is the group of moderns who venture into the jungle to explore or photograph or otherwise act like dummies the whole time. The women trudge through the dense brush in white go-go boots and knotted little tops. While the men carry more photo equipment than a local camera shop. Its absurd and hilarious!

So all of de Ossorio’s obsessions are on full display – there are topless women tied up and their clothes whipped off and beheaded in order to grow fangs and get a leopard bikini;  there are zombies that might not be zombies but demonic vampires who do not need blood but need to make more vampires to stay alive;  and there are half naked black actors jumping around in funny masks and other thatched underwears in some pathetic re-enactment of National Geographic photostories. All this rears its ugly head, in this cheapo Universal Monster’s ripoff.

The vampire leopard women bounce through the sandy forest, that passes for darkest Africa, in slow motion while a whirlwind of organ and creature sounds explode on the soundtrack. The leopard vampires are stupid, whispering dullards that have none of the cachet of the Blind Dead. Then there are the black people, proving that not all tribes in Africa got rhythm – seriously, worst native frenzy dance ever. So by the time the gotcha ending pops up, I didn’t care anymore. Disappointing really. Mainly, because the stupidity was overwhelming and I found myself fast forwarding through the slow motion bouncing as the leopard women chased their prey. So sad.

Whoa. Check out this cool comix!

Not creepy at all.

I have to admit that it is very difficult to keep this movie straight from THE BLOOD STAINED SHADOW. The plots are strikingly similar – a priest is the killer, there is a cast of miscreants who are offed in very contrapaosso ways, and the main characters are kinda jerks.

WHO SAW HER DIE? is a mean little movie that leers, judgmentally, at a cast of sleazy characters in such a way that their desperation and loss is seen as unrepentant self-interest. The movie wanders around in a complex labyrinth of guilt, perverts, deviants, cheaters, fake priests, and child murderers.

The movie opens is a particularly nasty set piece of a child killed in the snowy woods after having wandered away from her nanny. The opening is powerful and frightening. The rest of the movie pales in the comparison. The gore is non-existent, the plot convoluted and filled with red herrings, and the reveal sturdily predictable.

George Lazenby (a one film James Bond) plays a sleazeball with tremendous relish. His daughter arrives for a visit from his estranged wife’s, he spends a good day entertaining her before leaving her to play outside while he makes it with his mistress. A mistress who could have easily complicated the plot in a very uncomfortable and interesting way after the murder, if she had not simply disappeared from the movie after the sex scene.

Instead, the movie veers off trying to up the emotional ante by having the estranged couple – Lazenby and Anita Strindberg! – reunite over the death of their child. Which is pretty boring, actually, even if the acting is pretty alright.

As Lazenby becomes more obsessed with unmasking the killer, he enters into the decadent and wild underbelly of upper crust Venice. There is a suspected pedophile, stabbed in his walk-in bird cage. There is a sexy secretary strangled in the cinema.   Not to mention the wharf chase scene, where the suspence is built upon misdirection and a lot of tomfoolery. Great stuff. Lado is a real director, mostly.