Friday, December 31, 2010
James Spader (who some hetero’s I know, would go gay for) is a medical student working for a local help centre. But there’s trouble in an already troubled neighbourhood – a serial killer is running around copying the murders of Jack the Ripper! Our hero starts to suspect one of his co-workers, but everything is turned upside down when… ah, I won’t tell you!
Listen to me, before you watch Jack’s Back and you haven’t seen it before – don’t look at IMDB, don’t read to much about it (there won’t be any spoilers in my text), just find it and watch it. This movie has a couple of surprises that is much more effective if you don’t know them. I didn’t know, and it was a blast watching the twists coming from every corner. You just have to look at the credit list at IMDB to get one major spoiler, so don’t.
This is a nice mix between Hitchcock and De Palma (which always hangs together), with that typical and cool eighties feeling. It’s colourful and almost arty, because this was a time when commercial thrillers was allowed to be a bit arty, a bit odd. The ensemble of actors is fine, especially James Spader and Robert Picardo. I know it’s a tired thing to write, but Spader’s quest to find the killer and Picardo’s psychiatrist could both be characters from some neo-noir… maybe this is a noir, but masked to look like a serial killer thriller from 1988?
Don’t expect any gore, but it’s a quite violent movie with some wonderful fist fights and a lot of tension. But watch it for the script, which is such a beautiful creation of red herrings and well-written characters that some modern directors and writers should be ashamed of themselves for even thinking about doing movies (no names here, I want to be a bit polite).
The UK DVD is fullscreen, probably open matte because in one sequence a detail is spoiled because it probably should be out of frame (but it just don’t matter) and looks quite soft, but still very acceptable and worth purchasing for you that would like to own this awesome little movie.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Mr Cooper is Vince Raven, “the world’s hottest rock ‘n’ roll star” who goes together with his crew and entourage to his old hometown to shoot a new, cool music video. Of course strange things starts to happen at once, for example the pack of wild dogs running around terrorizing the villagers. We also learn that Vince’s father was killed by the rednecks, mistaken for being a werewolf! Talk about kinder trauma! Nothing really happens, except some dream-sequences, some kills and a long shoot-out with the rednecks until we understand that someone we know very well is a… WEREWOLF (or Monster Dog as the title suggests)!
The movie starts with a very silly music video, and from there it just gets better and better. Everything is unclear, people are doing unnatural stuff, has amazing dialogues about nothing and in-between is some quite good tracks by Cooper. It’s very eighties with smoke machine, strong colours and even more colourful characters. The old man of warning showing up all the time is crazier than ever and getting more and more bloody for each time.
After more than half of the movie a gang of rednecks show up to lynch Vincent and his crew, and suddenly it becomes more of a western movie than anything else, and ends in a nice and cheap gore-scene when one of the baddies is getting the top of his head shot off in graphic fashion! Most of the other gore is just the aftermath after kills, and nothing else. Maybe it’s cut, I have no idea. I own the UK DVD which is fullscreen, VHS-quality – but the head-shot are there and is obviously uncut. Maybe someone can enlighten me about the gore-status in Monster Dog? Amazingly enough this was also broadcasted in HD on some US channel, in very good quality too. I need to download that version to see how it looks, because I would love a DVD or blu-ray in better quality.
Be also prepared for a very crappy transformation-scene. But at least they tried, which is half the idea with a movie like this. And by the way, who is Lou, the named mentioned on the poster?
Monster Dog is absurdly cheesy, and another of Claudio Fragassos eternal classics. Get it, or Vince Raven will eat you! (Oops, was that a spoiler?)
Directed by Italian cinematic shapeshifter Hugo Grimaldi and financed and distributed by the legendary Woolner Brothers Pictures, the movie is way more ambitious than it probably could afford to be. We’re treated to some of the worst wobbling spaceships I’ve seen, a ridicoulous spacestation-miniature that looks like it was made in ten minutes and the usual flat sets with old office chairs transformed to space-chairs. But what saves this movie is intelligent and imaginative direction by Grimaldi, who uses the whole screen to tell the story and often makes everything much more fun to look at with a nice camera-move and the use of depth. I can’t really complain about the actors either. They do what they’re told to do and do it fine, with out sleepwalking thru their parts.
The whole scientific mumbo-jumbo talk sounds (and is) silly, but I’ve learned to love that with many of these movies. It’s not as absurd like Ed Woods work, but with a little less work it could have been. Now it sounds like I don’t like Mutiny in Space, but I do. It’s a nice little sci-fi with lots of entertainment, but the biggest disappointment is that they focus more on the talking and less on the “funging”. It should have been more fungus-attacks, more fungus-infected people, more fungus crawling around trying to kill people. I guess the obviously very low budget played its part here, but come one! Give me fungus! If it had more fungus it should have been called Space Fungus instead by the way.
I own the German DVD from X-Rated. It’s a nice version with quite good quality. It’s a bit soft, and is probably taken from a very good mastertape – so it’s not from the original negatives. It also includes the German version of the movie, shorter and with German language and the 20 minute short Super-8 version! The cover is awsome and it has a proud place in my collection.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
An alien gets aboard a spaceship, starts killing of the crew members one by one, uses the ventilation shaft to move around and in then end gets sucked out through the airlock! That’s the storyline in Ridley Scott’s Alien, but also in Edward L. Cahn’s 1958-classic, It! The Terror from Beyond Space! It! is a very simple movie, which also is the strength of it. Its set, 98 %, in a spaceship and the four or five floors (obviously the same set, just with different light and furniture) it’s built around.
Directed with a lot of imagination by legendary b-movie maker Cahn, this is a very competent movie with some extremely smart set-pieces. One of the best is when we see the monster for the first time, the whole monster and not a hand or something like that. He’s crawling out from a ventilation shaft and the further he crawls the more smoke appears around him, with almost perfect timing. Just to not let us see him to clearly this first time. Brilliant. But of course, like all good “b-movies”, the rest of the movie is monster-galore with full shots of the monster, in his rubbery glory.
One fresh take on this movie is how the crew works together to stop the monster, because this isn’t the first time the monster killed. One in the crew, Carruthers (Marshall Thompson), is actually a prisoner because he’s suspected to have killed his other crew – but its the monster who killed them, but no one believes him. So when the monster starts its rampage again, all of Carruthers team mates instantly believes him and there’s no boring story of them suspecting him again for new murders or something like that. That would slow down the movie, and would have destroyed the excellent frantic pace.
The kills is of course not graphic at all, except for one shot of a bloody foot, but it’s still very violent and quite brutal, but only shown with shadows and editing. You can almost imagine the close-ups of those big monster-claws ripping off some human flesh!
Not much more to write about this wonderful monster-classic, except I can recommend it to everyone that loves sci-fi movies from the fifties and aggressive rubbermonsters!
Chuck Connors is a bitter and crazy man, William Dorn, who just started to take revenge on society with dynamite! His daughter died of a drug overdose and now he blames EVERYONE for what happen to her! One night he sneaks into her old hospital to place a bomb, but accidentally disturbs a notorious serial rapist, George Fromley (Neville Brand), who sees him. When the police understand that the rapist and bomber is not the same person, they need to catch Fromley and make him identify the bomber… In the meantime, Dorn is blowing up everyone that irritates him!
Yes, this version of The Mad Bomber is a helluva lot more powerful story than the earlier version I’ve seen. The atmosphere is grittier, dirtier and way more cynic. Chuck Connors makes a great performance as Dorn, and is physically very threatening with his tall body, wide shoulders and staring small eyes – behind a couple of corny glasses. Both him and Neville Brand do wonderful jobs with their baddies, which can be rare in smaller exploitation movies. Up against them is Lieutenant Geronimo Minneli, played by Vince Edwards – an actor I don’t have much memory off, but he also do a darn fine job as a tough cop.
Like all movies directed by Bert I. Gordon this one is also very visual, with some cool special effects. The explosions look very dangerous and big, and we’re treated to some nice stunts. In this version there’s also some gory aftermath to the explosions too, and it becomes really gory in the final shot! But the sleaze is the biggest difference, with a lot of nudity and sexual situations. Even Neville Brand gets a chance to spank his monkey in front of a nudie movie he made with his wife, which ends in a different explosion than he probably imagined.
The only way to watch The Police Connection is to find some old tape, bootleg or download it. A damn pity, because I would LOVE to see a restored version on DVD. This could be a title for Code Red, they would do wonders with it.
Bert I. Gordon never mention it in his book, but it would be interesting too hear/read his thought about directing actors. Usually in his movies the performances are very good, or at least very enthusiastic. In The Mad Bomber we’re talking both great acting and great bombing!
Eric Porter is Captain Lansen, a man in deep economical problems. He decides to make one final trip with his boat, but with the cargo filled with very expensive explosives. He’s planning to sell it once he gets to his destination and then retire. On the ships is also some civilians, among them Eva Peters (Hildegard Knef), the ex-wife of a dictator who’s both stolen 22 million dollars from him and now is on her way to meet up with her young son. Suzanna Leigh is Unity, who travels with her nasty father, Doctor Webster (Nigel Stock) – who just wants the money her mother left for her… and so on. The typical collection of characters…(and the awesome brilliant Tony Beckley is one of them!) Anyway, after a while a disaster happens and they have to abandon the boat – and arrive to a strange island, filled with man-eating sea-weed and inbred inhabitants!
Based on a book by Dennis Wheatley, Uncharted Seas, one of several Hammer-movies that is based on his work. Hammer is of course mostly known for their horror-movies, but they made tons of thrillers, adventures, yes – even sci-fi. The Lost Continent is part good old adventure-at-sea movie, part monster movie and part horror. The horror stuff is quite strong, but can look silly for those who can’t appreciate a nice rubber monster. Some blood, some sexual innuendoes and a quite high body count makes this a lot more mature than a lot of other adventure movies from the same time, and this version I saw is probably – but I’m not sure – the shorter version with less of the adult stuff. The monsters look like a lot of other monsters from UK-productions like Dr Who, Quatermass, Beasts, Day of the Triffids – very rubbery and cartoonish. But they way they use them makes them disturbing. Every monster in this movie has a certain degree of nastiness compared to American counterparts, especially the Sarlacc-style creature living under the boat. The crab-esque monster with a slimly mouth is awesome too!
I guess everything is shot in studio, which give the movie that perfect Sunday-matinee look with a fake sky in the background, rubber-stones and plastic plants. But it’s the dark subjects of the movie that makes it unique and a lot more interesting than I guess most of us could imagine. Every character is very well-written and has several layers, no shallow stuff here mate! My favourite is Unity’s obsession with finding a man on the boat and that she’s trying to lure Tony Beckley into his alcoholism again, what a slut! If she was in an American movie she would die directly, but not here.
Once again I’m surprised of the quality the UK filmmakers always deliver us. It don’t matter what the subject is, they always brings us something a little bit extra. What a dream it must have been to be an actor during this time. You can do a horror or a monster movie, and still get a character so well-written even Ingmar Bergman would be jealous.
(...and I want to own one of those balloon-thingies..)
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Yes, it is actually. It’s not perfect, but still a lot of fun.
Some tough mercenaries is called to a distant planet where something has happen deep down in an underground base. When they arrive the whole base is filled with something that I from now on will call zombsters (a combination betwee zombies and monsters) and a few scared survivors. Now they have to get from one of the lower floors up to the freedom outside… but is it possible with monster around every friggin’ corner!
The bad thing is the acting. Not that any of the actors are mega-bad, but a couple of them just have deep, deep problems talking… well, just being in front of a camera. They chew dialouge like Charlton Heston on LSD and roll their eyes like they’re in a Colin Nutley-movie. I’m not sure of they’re trying another accent or not, but it just don’t sound right.
BUT… you get used to this after ten-fifteen minutes. I promise you. Why? Because the story are so filled with action, gore and monsters (zombsters) that it’s very easy to forget the shortcomings of the film. It starts with a violence shoot-out, zombster-attack and then it’s one fleshy, juicy chase from the first minute to the last one. One after one our heroes is killed off or infected by what the darn it is that’s spreading in the base.
First we have the zombsters, mutated people with faces like raw meat and nasty little buggers for teeth. Like the Nightmare City-mutants gone wild. Nice stuff! But the most awesome thing is the Alien-monster running around (I’m not sure if it’s one or two), which is a fantastic creation, a throwback to the Corman-movies of the eighties but much more advanced and slimy.
Obviously made on a fairly low budget, The Dark Lurking also looks great. Sometimes the metal doors vobbles like cardboard, but that’s just for whiny bitches to complain about. The sets, monsters and acting is from an eighties movies, but it has a more modern and edgy visual style when it comes to directing and camera work – nothing bad with that, because this is made for an audience in 2010.
Njuta Films in Sweden will release this in January, and it’s a must for monster-geeks and gore-freaks!
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Lee Marvin is Sheriff Track Bascomb, a member of the KKK, but still pro enough to do his work as a cop without letting his membership in this awful racist organisation show his way to much. Up on a mountain sits Breck (Richard Burton), a quite liberal recluse who lets afro-americans live on his mountain for free, safe from the bastards down in town. One night the wife of one of the Klan-members, Linda Evans by the way, gets raped by a black man and this starts a furious attempt from the KKK to find the guilty one. They find one and kill him – but it’s of course the wrong dude and now hell has broken loose!
Now, I guess most people – including me – would say that The Klansman is a sleazy exploitation movie with violence, rapes, nudity and excellent drunk acting from especially Richard Burton (who looks like a zombie most of the time, Lee Marvin looks healthier)… and there’s not much else to say about it. How Paramount could be afraid of the original script and demanded rewrites that led to this movie is insane! This is probably even more offensive, in all kinds of ways – but still makes it one helluva fantastic exploitation-movie with a big, stylish look and great directing and action-scenes from Terence Young.
O.J. Simpson is young and hot, Lola Falana is damn cool as the communist trying to make peace in the small town, Cameron Mitchell is insanely evil as vice sheriff Butt Cutt Cates! It’s clearly one of the best roles Mitchell ever made during the seventies. The dialogue is shock-filled with the N-word… and worse, and the language makes even me a bit embarrassed! The best line is when Linda Evans, raped the night before, enters the church and makes one old woman stand up and cry out: "I can smell nigger on her! Truly smell nigger on her!”.
The Klansman is of course trash, but great and good-looking trash. It’s out on a very nice DVD in Scandinavia. Fullscreen, but quite clear and crisp quality and uncut with all the squibs and sleazy nude-scenes. A classic in it’s on perverted way, and one of those movies that never fail to bore me!
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Brion James plays an albino in white clothes and sunglasses that together with his team with soldiers from the secret organisation APE (yes) unleashes a poison in the water of a small town. Like all small towns, George Kennedy is the sheriff, Wings Hauser is the wacky big town guy and Bo Hopkins is the redneck with a gun. When shit hits the fan, that trio of manly manliness joins forces to shot and kill as many crazy town people as possible and also try to figure out what the hell is going on! That’s it.
And fuck yeah, what a great movie. This is pure, simple, brilliant popcorn-entertainment. Nothing more. No deeper meaning or shit like this, this is explosions, squibs, stunts, fights and more explosions in a candy store of cartoon violence. The action reminds me of PM Entertainment Group (lots of fire, slow-mo and a lot of it!), the actors have fun and Mastoraki’s shows off his fantastic eye for big budget-camera work on a low budget.
Everything end with a very out-of-the-blue helicopter chase (with explosions) and a western-themed final with Bo Hopkins facing Brion James with guns in the desert. This is stylish and just very, very charming. This was before George Kennedy became the funny old man, so he still show that he’s an excellent character actor and tough guy in the same league like Wings (who is always brilliant) and Bo Hopkins.
The version I own is the Hollywood DVD release, a cheapo company that released a fuckload of movies in the nineties in the UK. A lot of good titles, but with uneven quality. Their series of Mastorakis-titles is very good though: sharp picture, anamorphic widescreen and (I guess) uncut. Mastorakis also released a 2003-version of Nightmare at Noon. What differs from this version I have no idea, but probably some editing choices that he didn’t like with the first version and maybe better graphics for the pre-credits. But that’s just a guess.
Great fun anyway, and recommended to everyone!
Saturday, December 18, 2010
I already forgot the story, but the IMDB plot is probably more or less correct: “A young man, armed with a magical bow and arrows, embarks on a mystical journey through a mystical land to rid it of all evil and joins forces with an outlaw to take down an evil witch bent on claiming the magic bow for evil.” – or? I have no idea, but the young man is there (pretty boy Andrea Occhipinti, nowadays a respected arthouse-producer) and Jorge is of course Mace, as stated above. And there’s something I guess is an evil witch and her henchman, a guy with a metal mask covering his face.
First of all, Conquest is always getting a lot of crap because of its visual style. I can agree to a certain point, maybe the cinematographer did overdo the filters, because the footage is often very soft. But on a good TV, for example a HD TV, this looks a lot better than an ordinary machine and the movie feels more beautiful than ever. Because the visuals is filled with either smoke, filters or just plain darkness, it’s a movie that will scare of the normal mainstream crowd, but I would say it’s a great looking flick with wonderful direction by Fulci. Some shots here and there feels a bit sloppy, but most importantly – the movie has one distinct style all the way thru. It never becomes Ator or Thor, where everything seems like it was thrown together in the last moment with the stuff they found in the studio’s prop storage. The monsters, the clothes, gore, music – everything fits together.
Yeah, the gore. It’s also one of the things that sets this movie in it’s own league compared to many of the more PG-friendly offerings from the same period. I can’t say it is a splatter-orgy, but it’s bloody, graphic and everything in between. Lovely.
One of the highlights in the movie is the excellent electronic score by Claudio Simonetti. It was probably tossed together in an afternoon, but it fits the movie perfectly. One of the best tracks is not released on the CD, which is a pity – but maybe it was some stock music and not owned my Simonetti? I have no idea, but I want it!
Conquest is a cool, awesome and gory fantasy-romp with monsters and mayhem and is recommended to all of you who wants to look further than Zombie Flesh Eaters and The Beyond.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
It's always hard to wake up to such terrible news. Jean Rollin is dead. RIP. He's left us. I'm sure he would tell us that it was his time and that he finally would step into that unknown realm that so many of his character has lived. But when a real poet die, when a real master of storytelling leaves us alone... it's just hard to accept.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Terence Stamp is Magnus Martel, a reclusive billionaire who is obsessed with ancient art and legends. His son (James D’Arcy), a cryptology genius, who just comes out from prison is recruited directly to help his father solve old codes together with a lot of other experts in history and language. One of them is an alchemist, Mira (Natasha Wightman), and of course a mutual interested between them quickly evolves. But a secret organisation, maybe with connection to a very hot place, is after the secret… After a massacre at the research center the son and Mira have to escape and solve the puzzle before Udo Kier!
I watched Revelation on VHS around ten years ago, and I thought it was a decent movie. Not a masterpiece, but filled with all the silly stuff that I enjoy so much: Rennes-le-Château, secret codes and an overload of conspiracies. Sometimes it’s even hard to understand ever lead that our heroes uncover, but everything lead to a satisfying ending which don’t explains everything. One little twist is directly copied on Dan Browns bestseller, which was kinda fun. Yeah, I guess that Revelation in the end is a lot of bullshit stacked on top of each other, but it entertains me and leaves me with a taste of more thrillers in the same vein.
If you can live with lack of logic and have an open mind for religious stupidity, I guess this movie can be a lot of fun. It was a lot of fun for me at least, if that means something. If you don’t like the movie, just watch it for Liam Cunningham (Argento’s The Card Player), Derek Jacobi and the master of supporting roles, Vernon Dobtcheff, in quite small roles. And of course Udo Kier and Terence Stamp!
I can’t write so much more interesting about Revelation, except I think you should give a try. It’s cheap on DVD at least.
Monday, December 13, 2010
Brian Thompson, the bad guy from tons of movies, is Frank Ryan – the hero! He’s a mercenary, and the best there is. One day a shady government guy, Thomas (George Kennedy) contacts him with a new mission: to free (or kill) an imprisoned rebel leader, just to create a revolution in the little republic of Cypra. The president of this banana republic is Michael Bartos (the one and only Oliver Reed), a guy with a big moustache and an even bigger appétit for women! Which fits great into the plan, because Frank Ryan is going under-cover as a gay fashion designer and his team is five female mercenaries – ready to kill… and look sexy in that disgusting early nineties way!
Now, this is a fun movie. I can’t say it has enough action – because it lacks explosions and gunfights during the first hour. But complains is for retards. It’s still fun and charming and it’s even more fun to see Brian Thompson play a good guy for once. He resembles Arnold in some scenes, but with better acting of course. Mastorakis delivers a very stylish and slick production which has great cinematography by Andreas Bellis, which captures explosions on the sunny island perfectly. When the action finally sets in, it is great b-action with lots of slow-mo, explosions and a high body count (with a generous amount of bloody squibs). Brian Thompson is wonderful with weapons and kills with charm and talent. Why didn’t they make a sequel to this one?
The last half hour is the best, with all it’s action and mayhem – but after that, I would say Oliver Reed – who only looks slightly drunk – is a pleasure to see as the obese dictator. In one of the more famous scenes in the movie Frank Ryan need to prove to the dictator that he’s gay… and delivers a long, juicy… ah, you can see it down there:
And with that I’ll finish this review!
P.S. The old UK release from Hollywood DVD is excellent, in anamorphic widescreen and with a sharp and nice picture.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
This movie actually looks so good and has such cool shots and angles that it’s hard to believe that it’s Brescia behind the camera, dictating what to do. But why not? The budget seem slightly higher, or at least there must have been more time to shoot the movie because it never seem sloppy. The script is a mix between Star Wars (but this is not son and father, but brother and brother against each other), the two first Indiana Jones-movies (copying two very central and famous scenes from both of them) and Superman (when you see it you will understand).
But the main idea with Ator the Iron Warrior must to have to set up über-stylish shots of handsome people posing in cool positions – and long slow-motion takes which makes the action seem even more dramatic than it probably was in the beginning. One scene is actually quite cool, when Ator and the princess are being chased by huge rolling stones (just like in the first Indy-movie), which shows some excellent rapid editing and cool sets (which I guess is a real ruin on Malta).
Miles O’Keeffe look weird as possible, like a cat on steroids – but I’ve been a fan of him a long time and he’s a great action actor, always doing his best in ridiculous movies. One of my favourite Mattei-movies is Double Target, which is one big excuse to show big explosions and gun fights. He’s also brilliant in Relentless 2, one of the best DTV sequels ever made.
The Italian DVD from Stormovie looks quite good, in anamorphic widescreen and with English language. I wish the other three Ator-movies could come out in versions this good. None of them are masterpieces, but a lot of cheesy fun for the whole fucked-up family.
Friday, December 10, 2010
We all know the story (house, zombies, dead people) and everyone focuses on Peter Bark, the weird-looking, kinda freaky actor playing Michael, the horny teenage son. And yes, I agree. He’s strange, he looks odd and he behaves odd. But very few (if none!) bring up the fact that he’s more than a decent actor, probably the most talented in the whole movie. Check his reactions, his way of interacting with his colleagues – he’s doing a great job play a confused teenage boy, probably dominated by his very sexual active mother. After he kisses her and starts fondle her breast, she hits him and the expression in his face looks real. I guess Mr Bark didn’t have anything to loose. It was probably his only big part so far and he wanted to make his mark on movie history. The other actors had done it before, and did it again and just took the small paycheck and left. I’m serious, the guy is good!
It’s easy to accuse Burial Ground to be a sloppy mess. In parts I have to agree on that, but it’s also hard to avoid noticing the very naturalistic and beautiful cinematography and a lot of carefully arranged shots. Andrea Bianchi almost treats this movie with an arthouse sensibility. The colour schemes seem to be very planned to, from the saturated outdoor look to the colourful, but still not too much, interiors and clothes of the actors. It’s just a visually very handsome movie, broken only by some clumsy shots here and there, grainy (but fantastic) inserts of exploding pot-heads in slow-motion and one of the worst editing in history when the bulbs starts to explode and the butler and the maid stars as chaos erupts around them.
We also have to mention the fantastic score that’s credited to two persons, Elsio Mancuso and Berto Pisano. The movie has two different kinds of music, one very electronic and experimental kind and one more traditional jazzy style. I guess the last one could be stock music, bought from some company, but the electronic stuff is unique and actually damn good. The first track, when the zombies first appear to kill dear big-bearded Professor Ayres, is pure brilliance.
Burial Ground has recently been released in Scandinavia by Njuta Films and Another World Entertainment (under the title, Zombie – The Nights of Terror), and I have the Njuta-version from Sweden. The print looks great, at least compared to the old Italian Shock disc I own. This is also, for me, the first time I’ve seen it with Italian language instead of the classic English dub. I’m not sure it makes any difference, but it was interesting to hear Italian for once in this movie.
A trashy and unique classic.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Peter Steen is Niels Winther, a controversial journalist that one night, in a TV-debate, says that it could be necessary to use force to stop storage of nuclear waste in Denmark. These words get stuck in the head of one man (Jens Okking) who decides to make reality of this. He first shoots some warning shots, but when he no one notices this he takes down a dog… but when he still don’t get any attention he goes even further… At the same times he sends tapes with messages to Winther, who of course gives these tapes to the police, who starts to interfere with his and his wife’s life in more ways than they could wish.
I would say that Skytten (English title is The Marksman) is very different from Mannen på Taket. The visuals looks fantastic, the camera work is perfection – but less gritty and experimental compared to Bo Widerberg’s classic from the year before. It’s also harder to understand Jens Okking’s reason for doing what he does, but I guess he’s just mad – or very, very naive. It’s also not clear which side the movie stands on, when it comes to the political message about nuclear waste in Denmark. For me that’s a bad thing, because I think a movie like this need to make a standpoint – or at least be a bit stronger showing each sides reasons. The ending is both bleak and powerful, with several questions left unanswered – which I love.
But fuck the comparison with the Swedish masterpiece, because Skytten is still a great thriller! It’s one of those edge-of-the-seat thrillers with some truly shocking moments. When they first victim was shot I literary jumped out of the sofa! Skytten never stays away from showing some stuff that a normal Hollywood-movie never would do. The blood flowing over beautiful summer-Copenhagen is violent and in-your-face.
The highlight of the movie is Jens Okking as the marksman. He’s an excellent actor, one of those that feel completely natural on screen. He never shows any emotions here, no silly faces or stupid dialogues to show what kind of person he is. It’s in the eyes, just in the eyes. I want to watch Lars Von Trier’s Riget again just to be able to watch Okking once again roam the corridors of Rigshospitalet.
The Danish DVD is of brilliant quality, the movie looks like it was shot yesterday. Just Danish subtitles, which is a pity for you who’s not familiar with the Scandinavian languages. I hope it will come a English-friendly DVD or Blu-Ray some day…
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Liten uppdatering angående kostnaden:
"Om ni vill beställa tidningen så kostar den inklusive frakt 52 kr. Vi har tyvärr smällt 100 grams gränsen och måste därför betala mer i porto."
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Anyway, this is the story about David, a weird man who runs his hotel without much disturbance. He sits in his office, painting toys and hopes that a nice woman will check in – which they do, and most of the times it ends up with them being dead at the end of the night. A person in a black coat, gasmask and a huge knife is killing them one by one… One day a woman comes by, she’s looking for her sister, and this could be her last night too…
I guess the obvious Psycho-references is a part of the plan, because much of the time it feels like a remake of Psycho, but with a couple of more twists and a slightly different killer of course. David (played by an excellent Lars Bethke) echoes Anthony Perkins a lot, and the story about the sister and the nearby lake is also very similar to Psycho. In a small part there’s also a copy which reminds me of Dr Loomis in Halloween, and the killer himself feels like the baddie from My Bloody Valentine! But this has always been a part of the Anders Jacobsson-legacy, some nods here and there to famous horror movies and I’ll accept that!
Gore and blood? Yes, it’s a gory show. Maybe not as graphic as I thought it would be, but we’re treated to some nasty splatter scenes (a crushed head, a nice knife thru head and a fun ripped off jaw is the highlights). Everything is very well done and fits the tone of the movie. Shot digital, this is a stylish and handsome production. It feels very Swedish, very IKEA. Simple and stripped sets and locations, not so much details. The important stuff is in the foreground.
Insane is a very ambitious slasher/horror movie (it’s shot in English by the way, but without the awkward accents) which in a way feels a bit too generic for my taste, but still holds my attention with some good chase scenes, impressive camera work and graphic violence. But I still can recommend it to 100 %. I will watch it again, and I hope for a sequel (please, can I play a victim?).
”Are you drunk again?”. The SMS flew back at me directly from Jocke at Rubbermonsterfetishism when I wrote to him about the weirdest news that day: a company called Midnight Legacy is releasing Alien 2: On Earth on blu-ray. I quickly sent them an email asking if this was a joke or not, and a slightly worried Bill Knight replied with “Yes it is true. How did you find out? We are not launching our website until this Friday (15 October) so please keep this to yourself until then”.
I’ll have to confess that I was sceptical until the last seconds, before my PS3 swallowed the disc and showed me the glory of perfect high definition…The story of Alien 2 isn’t especially complicated. After nearly 27 minutes of very grainy stock footage, talking and not less than two cryptic scenes at a nice beach, our heroes climbs down in a cave system and gets brutally killed one by one by a hungry alien entity! Yeah, that’s about it – but what a magnificent trashy “it”. Directed by Cirio Ippolito and starring Belinda Mayne and Michele Soavi (who are the best actors in the whole movie, the rest is just meat) this is one stripped down movie. An awesome excuse to show gore and an über-cool cave-system (it’s shot in Grotte di Castellana, outside Bari in Italy and the exteriors in and around San Diego). It’s such a simple story that the time flies like a ripped off head, and when you least expect it the movie is over and you just want to watch it again directly.
But first the stuff that some people whine about: the stock footage. This is very grainy, third-fourth generation stock footage of some military ships and something that looks like a space landing out to sea. They also dubbed some poor guy so he know is an actor in this movie, just like Bruno Mattei did with some footage in Hell of the Living Dead. This looks like shit even on blu-ray, because that’s how it looks – nothing to do about it. But it belongs there, it’s one important part of the Alien 2-legacy. Like Hugo Stiglitz in Nightmare City and the papier maché heads getting chopped off in Atlantis Interceptors. It’s there, so love it or be a coward. After that we’re treated to some talky scenes with the main characters – in one scene she stands on the beach, a man with a beard arrives in a little boat, talk to her and then walks away. And I love it.
But when they finally enter the cave it becomes the immortal classic it deserves to be. It’s actually not a bad movie from here on becomes it’s a very competent and atmospheric horror movie which delivers some cool gore-scenes (with a lot of blood!) and a location that makes the production value raise a lot more higher. The effect work is competent, but of course not up to the standard of a boring Hollywood-movie, but its creative work and it’s first and most important very spectacular.
I’m not a believer of diagrams, fancy-talk about bitrates and shoddy screenshots. If I can see something with my own eyes that looks good, it’s good. The thing here is that it looks stunning. I expected something good, but this was so over-the-top in quality that I couldn’t believe my eyes. Even my partner, G, raised his head from his new HTC Desire and asked me “How can they make such an old crappy movie look so fucking great?” (Crappy is his opinion, not mine). This is crystal clear, it looks like it was shot yesterday to use an old cliché. The only thing that says it’s an old movie is the fashion and stuff like that. I noticed one small print damage and when the last frame comes it’s a bit grainy – which is because the negative is processed with a text flying in on top of the footage. The rest is perfection, true perfection.
The 11 minutes of outtakes is good, for me as a Alien 2-fan it’s very good even. I watched this on my Sony Bravia 40 inch LED TV, for those who want to know. I have no opportunity to take screenshots, but I recommend this review for that – even if it’s such a difference compared with the real thing.
Alien 2: On Earth could be my favourite release this year (and it’s been a fantastic year for DVD and blu-ray) and I can’t wait for the next masterpiece to come out from Midnight Legacy (and let me just say the following words: Atlantis Interceptors, Blazing Magnum, Spider Labyrinth and Night of the Devils, please?).
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Ray Lovelock is Dick Butler, and he’s traveling around with his girlfriend Ingrid Sjöman (Ornella Muti) in Italy on vacation. Well, with a little perverted income on the side: selling pornographic photographs of her to horny Italians. After some problem with the local police they hurry out on the countryside and decide to seek shelter somehow. They find a big modern villa where a lonely woman, Barbara Slater (Irene Papas) waits for her husband to come home. At first Dick and Ingrid thinks the house is empty and uses their garage to steal some gasoline, but after a furious Barbara discovers them they decide to leave… until Barbara suddenly changes her mind and invites them for food and bed. An evening that slowly turns out to be stranger and stranger, and with Barbara still waiting for her husband to come home…
Umberto Lenzi has an amazing eye for details, and this movie is filled with fantastic shots, cool faces, rapid editing and excellent acting. The story itself is not that complicated, but has a few twists and turns. But in the end it’s a chamber play with three characters in collision with each other. Irene Papas just rules every damn frame shes’s in, and together with Lovelock and Muti this is one fine cast of actors. It feels like a mix between the free-form movies of the sixties, and the more controlled thrillers of the seventies, so of course there will be both a murder and psychedelic disco scenes.
I also love the idea of such a complex line-up of intrigues, which might not be that commercial. First of all we have something that’s almost a morality tale of how the youth behaves, uncontrolled and rude – but at the same time, Lenzi clearly stands on their side. But then our point of view is moved to the Irene Papas-character, which seem frail and weak – but suddenly changes and we understand that this generation can be as shitty as the last one. It’s all about sex and greed anyway, no matter in what age you are.
Shameless DVD isn’t that good at all, BUT that is, what I understand, the best way to see this movie. We have the longest cut ever, it’s in the original ratio and it has most of the time good VHS quality (some parts is a lot better than that I must add) and this is nothing that could stop you all to enjoy this excellent, underrated thriller from Umberto Lenzi.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Naschy is Gotho, a hunchback working at the local hospital. He’s really a quite charming man, more then you are led to believe anyway – and of course more romantic than most other men. He falls in love with one of the patients, but she’s deadly ill and soon she dies, just seconds before he arrives with some fresh flowers. Stricken by sorrow he kills two of the staff and brings her body down in the catacombs under the hospital. His only real friend, one of the doctors, sees a brilliant opportunity to make his own dream come true and constructs a lab down there, trying to create new life from just the flesh of humans…
I’ve heard about Hunchback of the Morgue for many years, mostly because it’s one of the most legendary x-rentals ever released in Sweden (under the title Bårhusassistenten if I remember it correctly). But I never got around too watch the movie until now, but mostly because Naschy is one awesome actor. What strikes me the most with Hunchback is how big it is. We’re not talking about an epic here, but Javier Aguirre really uses the village, the city, to maximum. All the sets and locations look great and have a lot of atmosphere. The catacombs, a mix between real locations and carefully build sets is especially good.
This is also one of the goriest Naschy-movies I’ve seen, with some really nasty and graphic moments – from decapitations to belly’s ripped open. It’s never realistic of course, but that’s not important – as long as the blood flows. The infamous burning rats are a bad thing, but what’s done is done and what can we do now? Just close our eyes or pretend that they are advanced mechanical rats being sent to their destiny.
But it’s Paul Naschy who’s the best thing with the movie, with a quite complex character and very little of that cool overacting that he sometime can divulge himself in. I would say he’s sympathetic and well-written in the same characters that we once saw in the old Universal movies.
Hunchback of the Morgue lives up to its legendary hype, which is nice to experience for once. I great part of my little Naschy-collection.
Friday, November 19, 2010
“What else brings whites to Harlem but business?” With those words Yaphet Kotto’s character Lt. Pope, opens a new relationship with his new partner, the old grumpy racist Captain Mattelli (Anthony Quinn). The place is Harlem, across the 110th street. On the other side rules the Italian mob, but here there’s other kings.
Three robbers massacre a couple of accountants, belonging to the mafia, and some of their own people from Harlem, and flee with 300000 dollars. Outside a couple of cops die and now they have to hide both from the mafia, the Harlem gangsters and Mattelli and Pope. The latter is a new cop, with new ideas and with a more human way to deal with criminals. Mattelli prefers to beat the shit out of them, innocent or not. He has a problem with black people, but accepts a bribe from them every month in order to finance his gambling problems, or so he say. Maybe it’s just greed?
Executive produced by Anthony Quinn, this is probably one of the best and most powerful parts the old fart did during his career. It’s an honest and very realistic view into the head of a bitter, old idiot that have problem accepting the new generation of cops.
Across 110th Street is a very brutal movie, with a fantastic documentary-feeling. Everything seems to be shot on location, and that gives the movie an aura of authenticity. The squibs are bloody and the hits are hard, this is one helluva movie in the gritty tradition of American seventies cinema.
Now, let’s talk about Yaphet Kotto. The man is a powerhouse of acting, a remarkable performer which probably is one of the best actors of his generation. He was hardly a beginner in 1972, with around twenty movie- and TV productions behind him and probably a lot of theatre. Here he steals every scene he’s in, maybe not from Quinn – because they’re charging each other with some amazing performances. As the cliché say, its electricity in the air when these to get together on screen.
Both Kotto and Quinn plays versions of stereotypes, but their characters is so well written and with them in the leads it can’t go wrong. You never know where you have Kotto, and the scene where he suddenly lets Quinn beat up a bad guy – even if it’s something he don’t like – is a fantastic touch of that buddy-feeling that people have been trying to copy ever since.
Across 110th Street could be my favourite cop-movie from the seventies, loaded with the batteries of two magnificent actors provoking each other to something seldom seen. A true classic, one of the best.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Tales of the Dead consists of four short movies (five if I count the surrounding story, binding all together) and first out is Less is More, which for me also was the best of the bunch. Caroline Nash is May Walker, a woman who “suffers” from Body integrity identity disorder, she wants to have parts of her body removed. Her marriage with Steve (Gary Halliday) is strained, and soon she decides to help herself to the perfect body…
First of all, Caroline Nash and Gary Halliday is brilliant as the couple. Nash makes a top-notch performance as a woman who just wants to be happy, but in her only little way. Yildrim’s direction is excellent and together with Impley’s camera work, this is a great and moody little piece of relationship/body-horror.
Next is Wolf Cry, about a young man (a good Nadeem Choudhry) who obvious can’t separate fact from fiction anymore. His life is movies, movies, movies and the relationship with his mother is getting worse and worse. He starts to get hallucinations and soon he’s more into horror stories than in real life.
I like the idea with this movie, and some parts of it looks great and has the perfect atmosphere. The realistic drama in between the horror-sequences don’t work as good as with Less is More and the visual style is all over the place. The actors is fine though. It’s getting better with Penance, a giallo-style serial killer story with a big dose of S&M. A gory killing, a depressed alcoholic cop and some stylish set-pieces makes this a decent and fun episode.
Last, but not least, is the Blair Witch-style Cromwell’s Curse where a cursed street has the lead. It’s the classic found footage, and here I would have loved some more horror, some more twists – but it’s a concept that works and it’s something that could work as a feature length movie too.
Less is More is the highlight of a good, but slightly uneven anthology-movie. Kemal Yildrim is clearly a great talent, and I would love to see a slow moving disturbing drama with horror elements, like the first short movie, as a feature. Watch out for Alex Bakshaev in a cameo, which always is a pleasure!
The sequel to Mission Hunter was released on a nice looking DVD in the US as Battle Warrior, with Tony Jaa’s face all over the cover. That’s not a bad b-movie, Jaa has a small part and it has some excellent jungle-action. At first I was suspicious about the first movie. No one seemed to have seen it and I had that strange feeling that it would be a much weaker movie – and the second part is quite weak to be honest…
After forty minutes I almost gave up. A lot of people talking, joking (in Thai, with no subtitles of course), some very minor action-related scenes, all in the city. Gathering a team of experts or something, including this huge German guy with an impressive moustache and Panna Rittikrai with a mullet from hell. Then they go in the jungle and the German guy show his dick to one of the Thai guys, one of the female members seem to take a shit in front of her team mates and similar high standard comedy.
So… what was there to expect? Well, 45 minutes of mega-action!!! Yes, it’s true. After meeting some terrorists or something in the jungle, our heroes gets involved in a fuckload of action. Shootings, explosions, fighting… and then they arrive to the jungle camp, and it goes totally over-the-top. I’d never seen so many huts being blown to pieces, lots of stunts, gory and bloody squibs, some crazy fighting and much more. This is low budget, but it’s so damn spectacular in that low budget way that only Asians can do it.
It’s always fun to see older movie with Rittikrai because he and his team always tries out a lot of stunts and gags that later is made with perfection in the new movies. The truck-gag in the beginning of Born to Fight is in one of the earlier movies, so the chase-scene that Tony Jaa did in Ong Bak (in the streets, jumping over and under dangerous objects) You will recognize a lot of stuff here, but a bit rougher – and sometimes crazier.
I have no idea what the story really was in this movie, but I know that the last half was brilliant! Something for everyone that enjoys Backyard Asia-style movies!
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Unflinching Eye - Alien
Raculfright 13's Blogo Trasho - Truck Turner
Tuesday Nov. 16th
Lost Video Archive - Raid on Entebbe
Manchester Morgue - Friday Foster
Wednesday Nov. 17th
Booksteve's Library - Live and Let Die
Horror Section - Warning Sign
Thursday Nov. 18th
Mondo 70 - Drum
B Movies and Beyond - The Monkey Hu$tle
Cinema Gonzo - Report to the Commissioner
Friday Nov. 19th
Illogical Contraption - Eye of the Tiger
Ninja Dixon - Across 110th St.
Lines That Make Things - The A Team (TV episode)
Things That Don't Suck - Blue Collar
Breakfast In the Ruins - Bone
Lost Video Archive - The Park Is Mine
100% fresh Yaphet Kotto all week long.
Monday, November 15, 2010
I have no idea really, but this movie, Sing Wing Lu, could be from the very early nineties or very late eighties. It’s one of the VCD’s I got from Thailand recently and what I can make out Ron Rittichai plays a good cop, a chick plays another good cop and Panna Rittikrai plays their violent good cop- colleague. The story is something about a terrorist/sect leader who orders his crew to kill people, take hostage and other creative things. Maybe he’s a khmer or something like that. Anyway, our trio of heroes follow him and everything end with a long fight.
No, it’s not a brilliant movie in anyway, but who cares? It has one mayor problem: it delivers only in the end. There’s action all over the movie, but very little and never creative or particularly well-filmed. Every time a fight start, they suddenly add crappy in editing-generated slow-mo which looks like shit and takes away the power from the fights. Panne Rittikrai has little to do and is wasted on boring stunts…
…until that grand finale! After over one hour of weak, but kinda entertaining, action they finally arrives to the terrorist’s camp. It’s just a couple of tables, something that resembles a fence and some chairs – and suddenly we’re treated to one fantastic, awesome, über-violent stunt-orgy! Sure, I’ve seen more spectacular one’s on other movies Panna Rittikrai has been involved in, but here you’ll see stuff you never seen before. As usual, a lot of real hits and kicks to body and head, hard contact in clear view. In two shots Rittikrai uses both his legs – and only them – to kick someone in the head. It’s hard to describe, but it looks almost unreal, and if those guys didn’t get hurt, slap me around and call me Susan!
Like most of these early Pechpanna Productions-films, they give you that big juicy, wet, kick-orgasm in the end. The rest is just to entertain the folks drinking moonshine during late nights in northern Thailand. Some laughs, some romance and then a big fucking fight in the end.
I can recommend this movie just because of that end fight, so if you have the chance, pick up the VCD and give it a try!
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Things do not get better with the naked woman walking around in the house, someone who woke up in bed together with Leif… Then the day starts, first with a stubborn insurance salesman trying to sell them a new house insurance, which just reveals more about their relationship then he can handle. A series of flashbacks tells us their story, both together and in their own adventures. At the same time they’re trying to refurnish the house, drink a lot of alcohol and blame the airplanes above them for making the house a hell to live in…
Once again Klubb Super 8 delivers a fantastic package. Baksmälla is actually a quite serious movie, a smart relationship-drama with some nice black comedy, some nudity and a lot of truth. Jörn Donner, the Swedish-Finnish actor, director, producer was controversial from the beginning of his career, and still continues to stir up controversy when he feels for it. What people tend to forget is that he’s a good actor and an even better director (among the movies he directed is the 1978 feminist drama, Manrape. Great flick!). Diana Kjær is even better as Lena, the bored wife who looks back at her adventures in Spain. The acting is very naturalistic, and much of the dialogue has a feeling of ad-libbing.
This is hardly a glamorous movie, but an excellent example of the Scandinavian drama-sensibility that has been lost over the years and now only is over-worked, contrived orgies in self-indulgence.
The print used by Klubb Super 8 has some minor damage, but it’s still a beautiful and stunning print. It shows the Swedish (and Finnish) greyness in a great way. For those who want more exploitation, the UK version from 1978 is included to. I just fast-forwarded a bit, and it seems quite different with a lot added nudie-footage and much of the relationship-drama cut. That print is taken from VHS, but still looks acceptable.
I need to mention the awesome score by Claes Af Geijerstam too. I wish this was released somewhere. Some tracks is ironically over-the-top, but mixed with low-key piano-based songs which fits wonderful to dirty snow of Sweden.
Another fine release from KS8, and of course I would recommend everyone to buy it, watch it and realize that there are other relationship-dramas from Sweden than dear old Bergman.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
I’ve been a movie collector for quite a lot of years right now, and there’s always been three titles that someone seen on television and want to see again: Sekmisja, Månguden and Det Spökar i TV-huset. All three was shown on Swedish television and forever imprinted in the minds of Swedish kids. The first one is of course a famous Polish sci-fi comedy, the second one was long gone, but released on DVD in Sweden in 2010. The last one, Draugasaga, a TV-movie from Iceland by Viðar Víkingsson has been a holy grail for some people, including me. I saw it as a kid, and maybe 15 years ago I saw a shoddy bootleg-VHS at a friends place and then it was gone again. Until now.
Everything is set in the TV-house, the public service television of Iceland. A new kid is hired to be a night watchman. The old watchman is going to quit, and is very afraid of the ghost that haunts the place, a red-haired woman who is very dangerous, especially if she have a big sledgehammer in her hands… Our hero is getting more and more obsessed by the ghost-legend, and his relationship with his girlfriend – who works at the TV-house – is getting more strained. At the same time, a red-haired ghost is getting more active with her sledge hammer…
Most of them who saw the movie when it first aired on Swedish television probably only remember the more visual part, the woman with the hair in front of her face, the sledge hammer outside the elevator, the attack outside on the street. Strong visuals, eerie atmosphere and something that was new to most of us. Draugasaga is much more than so, a weird relation-drama, maybe a form of satire over television, a dream-like story about the past meeting the future. I appreciate all of this, but especially when it mixed with some excellent and creepy horror images.
It clearly has a TV-feeling, that special quality that you will recognize from BBC or Scandinavian TV from the same time. This seems to be shot on film though, and has some very nice cinematography and slow but effective editing. The pace is slow, but there is not one boring second in the movie. One bizarre thing leads to something other weird, and goes to horror and then some kitchen-sink drama. A very unique approach to a ghost-movie I would say.
Viðar Víkingsson has crafted a pearl of a movie, something that will grow on the viewer. For some of us it created nightmares for years after, it became a legend – and well deserved so. But does it still hold up? Yes, it does. Very well indeed, and if you are used to TV-productions from the seventies and eighties this is the movie for you – if you can find it of course...