Friday, December 31, 2010

Jack's Back (1988)

I have a fondness for thrillers from the eighties, and it’s weird that I’ve never seen Jack’s Back until now. The title is silly and takes away some of the seriousness of the movie, but if you manage to look beyond the goofy title this is one helluva fine movie with lots of excellent actors, twists and turns.

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

Monster Dog (1984)

If you want to have some fine cheese, go to your local delicatessen and get your fix. I you want some OK cheese, just relax and let Monster Dog do the work for you. I have no idea who popular Alice Cooper was in 1984, but somehow he felt he just needed to star in a movie directed and written by the legendary shlockmeister Claudio Fragasso, and even put some of his songs in it. For conservative horror- and Alice Cooper-fans this is probably a terrible thing, but for us who appreciates a good slice of Italian camp-o-rama, this is a highlight!

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?)

Mutiny in Outer Space (1965)

Mutiny in Outer Space is an interesting movie, made in the sixties but feels to 100% like something from the late fifties. This is of course a good thing, even if it lacked the fungus-action I expected. Because this is a story about a space station attacked by a fast-spreading fungus! Originated from an ice cave on some planet and brought back to the station by some brave wide-cheeked astronauts! When they discover the fungus on one of the astronauts legs they quickly quarantine him – but it’s too late and soon the fungus is growing everywhere, especially on the outside of the space station. Slowly drifting to earth, someone has to stop it from entering the earth’s atmosphere and spread the fungus all over the world!

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

It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958)

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!

The Mad Bomber (1973)

Bert I. Gordon, one of the best monster-makers ever, turned around his career around to something grittier and maybe more serious during the seventies, and one of the first movies to show this was The Mad Bomber. It was released in two versions, one very tame TV-style movie with very little exploitation. The version I’ve just seen is called The Police Connection (but I will call it The Mad Bomber) and is very different from the earlier version when it comes to violence and sleaze. This is very for from The Magic Sword!

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!

The Lost Continent (1968)

The Lost Continent seem to be one of those movies that been having a renaissance the last couple of years. From reading a lot of negative opinions about it, I’ve found it’s slowly getting a new generation of fans who appreciate it for the excellent movie it is. Sure, it’s not perfect in the sense that its way to short – give me thirty minutes more of monsters and adventures and it would have been one of the ultimate lost world-movies ever made. But what can we do about it today? So I won’t whine about it!

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.

Superb entertainment!

(...and I want to own one of those balloon-thingies..)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Signs of the End of Time

I love when an Italian genre production ends with a sign, a message of some kind. It can be some obscure quote, a "profecy", a declaration of friendship, a warning... or just something that makes you sure that no cats where harmed - physical or psychological during the production. Do you have any more examples, please let me know and I will try to add them in this post.

Can you name them all?

(...and remember, you can be next!)

Alien vs. Zombie : The Dark Lurking (2010)

Gregory Connors The Dark Lurking, or Alien vs. Zombie as it’s know as in Germany and Sweden, is probably this years funniest DTV-movie. From Australia, the land of ancient Egyptian pyramids and Aztec tempels (just kidding there…), comes a movie with so much energy I almost could consider it hyperactive. A mix between everything from Aliens to Even Horizon (well, there’s not that much in between actually!) and tons and tons of action and monsters, could this be something other than perfect?

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

The Klansman (1974)

Wattya think about this story: William Alexander, the producer, found five million dollars (which was the most expensive movie for an afro-american producer of that time), hired Samuel Fuller to write and direct a movie with Lee Marvin and Richard Burton about racism in a small redneck town. Distributor Paramount got nervous, because of the controversial subject, demanded so much rewrites that Fuller walked of the project and good old hired gun Terence Young stepped in to direct instead. Marvin and Burton both had deep problems with alcohol at this time which contributed to the – at least with Burton – interesting acting style of the movie. Yes, this is The Klansman – probably the best klansploitation ever made!

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

Nightmare at Noon (1988)

It’s Nico Mastorakis-time again! Which is very fitting: it’s Christmas-time and every Mastorakis-movie is like Christmas eve, filled with surprises, unhealthy candy and your drunk uncle embarrassing himself again. Nightmare at Noon is rumoured to be some very loose remake of John “Bud” Cardo’s Mutant. I’m not sure I can agree on that, because the only thing they have in common is a small town, some aggressive town folks, Wings Hauser and Bo Hopkins. Which might seem very similar, but they’re both very far from each other in every department.

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

Conquest (1983)

Forget Conan. Set Ator aside for a moment. Mace is the man! Jorge Rivero plays the hero, a muscular long-haired swordsman ready for adventure and cave-sex. Yes, this is Lucio Fulci’s Conquest, a movie I’ve read so much shit about I could build me a shit-castle and rent it to Glenn Beck. Of course every negative word about Conquest is just lies, lies and more lies – because this is probably one of the more unique, gory and fun fantasy-flicks from Italy.

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

One of the greatest has left us, RIP Jean Rollin...

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.

The first movie I saw of Jean Rollin was The Living Dead Girl, and it's still my personal favorite together with Grapes of Death. I always loved with he spiced up his graveyard stories with some extreme gore - but it never became tasteless or silly, just as poetic as the rest of the movie.

I think we all can agree that he was one of the most important genre directors in Europe, one of the finest ever from France. He surely will be missed...

But you know, for all us fans over the world, he still will be The Living Dead Director - for his art lives on and I'm sure it will find new fans for years to come.

Thanks Jean, for all the poetry...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Revelation (2001)

Here’s a forgotten supernatural thriller which actually predates The Da Vinci Code (the book came out in 2003, but Angels and Demons came of course out in year 2000 – but I doubt that book inspired Revelation in anyway) in more than one way, but still stands on it’s own legs. Even if it don’t have the mega-budget like The Da Vinci Code-movie had, it’s still above average mumbo jumbo-movie with conspiracies, religious humbug, secret codes and Udo Kier as the bad guy.

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

Hired to Kill (1990)

Nico Mastorakis, a name almost everyone connects to the infamous Island of Death from 1977. Which is a pity, because Mastorakis had a long career after that with fine exploitation movies – often filled with action, nudity and better production values than anyone could expect with the budgets he worked with. The last movie he made was the interesting and extremely stylish .com for murder (2002), but today I’m gonna tell you a little about Hired to Kill!

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

Ator the Iron Warrior (1987)

I’m desperately trying to find words for Ator the Iron Warrior, the official third part in the Italian franchise – until Ator 3: The Hobgoblin came. So I guess this is Ator 2,5 – like some damn sequel to The Naked Gun. This time Alfonso Brescia is behind the camera, under his classic alias Al Bradley. I was prepared to not like this movie, but even of the story was non-existent and puzzled together from a couple of other flicks, this was really a fun and gorgeous-looking movie. Like a ninety minute long eighties music video, but with Miles O’Keeffe flexing his muscles instead of Huey Lewis flexing his… hair.

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

Burial Ground (1981)

I know, Burial Ground (or Nights of Terror as it’s also know as), is one of the most loved and respected zombie-flicks ever made. It’s up there with Hell of the Living Dead and of course Steve Miners criminally underrated Day of the Dead (and of course, because I’m conservative, I don’t count Nightmare City as a zombie movie). This is pure saturated madness, so pure from silly messages or any for of deeper meaning. This is sleazy, bizarre entertainment of the best kind!

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

Skytten (1977)

In 1976 Mannen på Taket was released in Sweden, and it’s still considered one of the best Swedish movies ever made – and it’s my favourite so far. A gritty, raw, political and tension-filled cop-movie about a man taking revenge on society for the death of his wife and the loss of his child. I have no idea if that movie inspired the Danes to make Skytten, but there is some similarities – but still very different movies in style and message.

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

Gory-Glory nr 4!

Just det, jag vill tipsa om att nya numret är ute nu. Riktigt bra matat med intressanta artiklar, bland annat en lång artikel i fyra delar skriven av mig om King Kong-filmer genom åren (dvs både riktiga och rip-offs), intervju med Kit Gavin och Silvia Collatina (båda på engelska också) och en hel del mer. Det finns information på den här sidan hur man kan köpa den.

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

Blood Tracks finally on DVD!

Yes and yes again! Blood Tracks is on DVD in France, I have no idea if it's a bootleg or not - but it's dubbed in French and the quality is terrible. It seem to be cut also. I know for quite a long time that Studio S has been after this extremely cheesy and silly Swedish slasher from 1985, and now it's finally happening. I have no idea when it will be released, but I'm quite sure the quality will be a lot better than the French version.

Blood Tracks was directed by Mats Helge Olsson (the director of The Ninja Mission) and was marketed in the US as "From the makers of A Nightmare on Elm Street", only because New Line handled the distribution if I don't remember it wrong.

To celebrate this, here's the infamous sequence from the movie where real life rock band Easy Action show their talent... I think ;)