Saturday, May 29, 2010

Kadin Düsmani (1967)

In 1936 Agatha Christie published one of her most famous books, The A.B.C. Murders, where the killer murdered women with the same letter in the beginning of the name as the city they lived it. Between 1971 and 1973 the Alphabet Killer murdered three girls the same way. And in between, in 1967, Turkey released this impressive little giallo-esque thriller who could have been both a rip-off on the Christie-novel and a blueprint for the future real murders. Kadin Düsmani, or Woman Despiser, is a weird because it feels somehow like it's very inspired by the giallos that came years after, but this was before the big giallo-boom. Sure, it could also has been inspired by the Christie-novel or the Edgar Wallace-movies from Germany, but it's also a fact that this one stands on it's own legs and has it's own chilling story to tell.

Ekrem Bora plays a tough police who's handling the investigation of a series of brutal murders with necrophiliac tendencies. He falls in loves with the sister of one of the suspects, but will have more problem because of her mother - a psychotic controlling bitch, and his own - who fakes a handicap to be able to control her family even more. But more and more murders occur, and the suspects are falling down like apples from a tree. No one seem to be able to stop the killer, who dresses in goofy horror-masks and rubber-hands as gloves... 

This is a very typical slasher/giallo-style thriller, which manages to be really good. As usual the budget are low and some of the horror effects might be a bit silly, but Ilhan Engin tells the story with a helluva lot of style and gives us many great set-pieces with brutal murders and a lot of sleazy and perverted hints of what goes one after the murders. Engin uses a lot of shadows and light, and creates a feeling of both German expressionism and American noir, with the big difference that the story is more simple and a great excuse to thrill it's audience with out to much exposition. Even if the print is not in perfect shape (but far from bad), it can't hide the fact that the cinematography looks stunning.

I also like the characters, which are similar but it's still easy to tell them apart. The suspects is a bunch of young men around the same age, but all has different personalities and styles. The female characters are both strong, victims and psychopats, and it feels like this was a great movie to star in if you was a female character actor during this time. The female victims are mostly cute, and at least one of them a terrible, terrible actress. But it's all made with a lot of talent and imagination.

I know it's wrong to call it a giallo, because a giallo must be Italian. But I'm sure that everyone that enjoys a good murder mystery in the eurocult-genre would love this movie. It was a long time since I saw so many red herrings and suspects in one movie, and it brings a lot of joy to us, the viewers, because it's never boring and it's well made as hell!

The disc from Onar Films is as usual above average! The print they found for this one is in good shape, but of course there's a lot of scratches and problems with it to - but this is the best way to watch the movie and it will never, believe me, never look better than this. For lovers of eurocult and giallos, Turkish cult-cinema and a good thriller with out putting a lable on it, this is something for your. Get it at Onar Films before it goes OOP.

Friday, May 28, 2010

3 Dev Adam (1973)

Ya know, sometimes I have periods when I find it very hard to write about movies, yes even watch movies. Since my last review I've only watched too movies (both Hollywood stuff) and just didn't give a fuck about all those hundreds of movies I really should watch. But today 3 Dev Adam arrived from Onar Films in Greece, just a couple of days after I ordered it - and what a relief. I'm not sure about the story, but I think IMDB says it quite good: "Istanbul is being terrorized by a crime wave, and the police call in American superhero Captain America and Mexican wrestler Santo to put a stop to it.". But this little resume leaves out that the bad guys is Spiderman! Well, he's called The Spider or Green Maniac in the movie, but he's basically a pot-belly version of Spiderman - but with huge eyebrows and slightly different colors on his tight, all to revealing, Spiderman-dress. 

We're not talking high art here, but when it comes to pure craziness, a wacky superhero-sillython - this and Tarkan vs The Vikings is the movies you should see if you have all braincells left. You might loose some when watching this fascinating story about Spiderman stealing statues, killing a lot of people and Santos and Captain America getting into a lot of funny fights. For me, as a fight-fetischist, this is a dream come true. All those classic Turk-moves are here, wild stunts and weird acrobatics. It's colorful and violent, a bit bloody and very silly inbetween. One of the strangest scenes is when Santos, in his human form of course, is taking a shower alone - wearing his underwears on! I can understand if the actor don't want to show his thingie to the crew - but why don't just film in from the waist up? He also glances into the camera directly after coming out from the shower, so what we have here is a shy Santos. Very shy.

Like Tarkan vs The Vikings there's a lot of red theatrical blood running over the screen. Not much, but a woman is getting her face/head chopped of with a boat propeller (off screen, but with blood spraying on the legs of the evil girlfriend of Spiderman), a man getting his eyes eaten by a guinea pig, a violent stabbing in a shower - complete with a close-up of the blood running down the drain. The actors are actually quite good and brings a lot of energy and some kinda seriousness to the characters. The two heroes, Aytekin Akkaya and Yavuz Selekman, is in great shape and makes a great job in the action scenes. Another favorite, Altan Günbay, shows up as a baddie too!

Onar Films brings us 3 Dev Adam in the best shape it's ever been in. Not perfect of course, because the movie is so damn obscure and no negatives probably left. But the quality is good and the colors strong. As usual the menu and cover is fantastic, and fits the movie perfectly - but the highlight (except the movie itself of course) is three amazing interviews. This is a stellar DVD release and it seem like Onar Films has a couple of copies left - so get it NOW.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Just go to Onar Films and buy a dvd... or two... or three... or...

Sorry for the silence here. I'm quite tired of writing and I haven't been watching any movies too. Just don't feel for it and I think writing about something you love should come naturally and not being forced. But don't worry, don't feel to alone. I'll be back as soon as possible - maybe tomorrow, maybe next week. I'll see.

But in the meantime, go to Onar Films and buy one of this fantastic, amazing, cool releases! This is stuff that you probably don't own, but should own! I've been reviewing some of his releases, and read and feel inspired:

Altin Cocuk 

The Dead Don't Talk

Kilink vs Superman

Thirsty of love, sex and murder

These are just a few of his fantastic line of übercool Turkish movies on DVD. We're talking rare stuff here, very rare stuff! Right now he has some cool prices to, which could be could for you who are scared about new stuff and don't want to pay to much. These are amazing prices, and whatever they cost, they're worth every penny! For example:




Ah, what the heck! Just go to his page, check out his releases and buy, buy and buy. You won't regret it. EVERYTHING is worth buying. Not kidding here.

And another thing, spread the word about Onar Films. Link to his site, review his releases, buy his movies. 

Today I made an order myself actually, on Kadin Dusmani (Woman Despiser), a Turkish "giallo" and of course the movie everybody should own: 3 Dev Adam! Awesome stuff!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Man of the Week: James Franciscus

I think we all can agree that James Franciscus is one mega-hunk! Alright, not that he looks the best on the half-naked photo here, but still... that face, that charisma. Perfect teeth, even more perfect hair cut (oh, me and my hair cuts - I should have been a hairdresser instead). A typical classic movie star.

The most important thing with Franciscus is that he was a very good actor, but he never became that superstar he deserved to be, which is a pity. He's also one of the few actors (together with Kinski for example) that I can watch a movie because he's in it.

The latest posters!

These are four COOL posters I'm waiting for right now. And yes, the Hell of the Living Dead-poster is signed by Bruno Mattei! Not dedicated to me though, but I can live with that. It's also signed with his other name, "Vincent Dawn", which makes it even cooler.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Phantom of the Opera (1998)

Over to one of the most hated Argento-productions EVER: Phantom of the Opera, the 1998-movie with Asia Argento as Christine and Julian Sands as the notorious Phantom. I can agree that there's a lot of stuff that don't work (and to be fair, Argento did the same story excellent in Opera) but few critics brings up the parts that actually work fantastic. I know it's difficult to understand the very weak and unconvincing attraction between both Christine and the Phantom and Christine and her fiancé Jerome De Chagny (Leonardo Treviglio). There's no spark at all. I think Asia is quite good here and she makes the best of the character, but the love scenes between her and the Phantom is just silly (he clearly is more interested in having sex with a rat later on anyway!) and the kisses between her and Treviglio is like to rocks touching each other.

I probably don't have to mention the Fellini-esque nude-scenes with fat naked ladies, the infamous turkish bath, the little girls dancing in front of mirrors and the extremely cheesy sequence when the Phantom is on top of the roof watching very, very, very unconvincing visions of both Asia and a bunch of ugly people trapped in mousetrap. The acting from most of the other actors are quite crappy, but I'm sure a lot of that is because of them being Hungarian actors dubbed to English, and directed by a mad Italian. We get to see a lot of very colorful over-acting, which fits better on a local variety show than in a version of Phantom of the Opera. The screenplay is a bit to episodic and has a lot of comedy-scenes involving (among others) some rat catchers that clearly don't work at all.

Now, what's good with this movie is - and I know I've been saying the opposite for many years - Ronnie Taylors cinematography. When I first watched the movie on tape many years ago I felt his work to be static, boring, cold and very flat. Now when watch the movie we new eyes, it's not at all that way. I guess this first feeling was because of the tape-transfer, which actually can take away a lot of the quality. On DVD, especially the Scandinavian disc, the movie looks vibrant, warm and brings forth the color of blood perfectly! It also has a lot of Argento's visual flair, and the direction is more alive and well than for example in the superior Trauma. Even if the script lacked quality, Argento clearly wanted this movie to be something special.

What people also tend to forget is that this is a damn gory movie. I always forget how much blood and body parts Argento treats us. There's stabbings, impalings, decapitations, crushed head and a lot more. It's the most violent of the Phantom-movies and the pratical effects is well done and convincing. The scene when a big lamps falls down on the audience is badly edited, but delivers a lot of creative deaths - so watch out when that scene comes! I like the atmosphere of the movie, Asia Argento, the gore and the amazing locations and visual style - but it lacks in story and characterization - which is a pity, because Argento had something going here.

If his Dracula 3D movie will be reality, I guess we're gonna see more lavish sets, castles and good ol' Italian melodrama!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Trauma (1993)

It's a pity Piper Laurie (who's fantastic here) and Frederic Forrest (who's worse than ever) never bothered to see Dario Argento's Trauma, because it's a very fine piece of giallo-cinema. I would say it's even underrated (it's a dangerous word, I know). It might be a little bit colder and calculated than some of Argento's earlier movies, but still has his trademarks: fluent camera, wicked characters and brutal killings.

The Headhunter is terrorizing the city. He or she is sawing the heads of innocent (yeah, sure!) victims all around the city and taking them as souvenirs. Christopher Rydell plays a cartoonist (is that a real word?) at a TV-station and one day he saves a young woman (Asia Argento) from killing herself. Soon it's clear that she's somehow connected to the headhunter, and after her parents being brutally killed our hero tries to figure out why this is happening and how she is involved in this...

Oh, that was a very simple retelling of the story. It's actually quite complex and involves many characters and a damn fine storyline that people seem to forget. It's probably one of Argento's best stories since... Deep Red, and has several nods in that direction too. Christopher Rydell, a fine actors, is a bit pale in the lead and we never gets under his skin like the other male heroes in Argento's movies, but Asia's characters works better. Piper Laurie is the best, a classic mother-character from Argento's universe, while Frederic Forrest seem to treat his role as a joke and seem to want to destroy every take he's in. Very childish. In a smaller role we also have Brad Dourif, and he's good as usual, even if his part hardly is especially meaty for an actor of his range. 

I want to talk more about the story. The script is brilliant, but more mainstream and laid-back. The dialogue comes of a bit stiff (like in all his movies), but everything leads to something and there is not much unnecessary stuff to watch. People do what they expect to do, and the murder-set-pieces is wonderful, but not so gory or graphic. It's said a lot was left on the cutting room floor. I also love the main "thing" with the movie, that small detail that so easily can reveal the killer - like in Deep Red and Bird with the Crystal Plumage, but works good because of the editing and lightning. It surprised me the first time I saw the movie, and was a perfect red herring away from who the real killer is.

What don't work is Tom Savini's terrible, terrible effects. I will dream nightmares about those plastic, ugly, unrealistic heads. Like something from a Troma-movie. Not that he's the best effects-guy out there (I'm only impressed by four movies he worked on: Friday 1 and 4, The Prowler and Day of the Dead - the rest is more or less mediocre) and probably got is reputation as a master from being involved in some very graphic horror movies. What Trauma needs is a Stivaletti or De Rossi!

Trauma is a fine and intelligent giallo that suffers from bad effects by Tom Savini and that awful idea to put a fucking reggae-band in the end credits (the fuck came up with that idea? I hope it wasn't Dario himself, but one of the producers - because it takes away the power of the ending). But if you forget those things, it's one of Argento's best work during the later part of his career.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cat o' Nine Tails (1971)

I think Cat o' Nine Tails is one of those Argento-movies I've seen the least times. Mainly because I've only owned the quite crappy UK DVD. So now when I finally found the old Anchor Bay release I felt it was time to revisit this much debated giallo. Among fans it seem to be the least favorite in his animal-trilogy, and though I liked it a lot I can understand why some might dislike it. I won't bother with the story, it's the usual stuff - but with a fun twist. Even if James Franciscus is the official hero (and I love that guy!), it's a blind man and his niece that is the main concept in this movies. Karl Malden plays an ex-journalist, blind and living alone with his niece Lori. He's hobby is to solve puzzles and with the help of Lori he watches the surroundings. 

This is a wonderful idea, and gives us a lot of great scenes. Malden makes a believable character and his niece isn't that annoying that she could have been in some other production. They way the work together, without it getting to cute and silly, is a stamp of quality on the screenplay. When James Franciscus hot-shot journalist is introduced he's joining their team - it's not them joining his, but still he has respect for what they do and we see nothing of that tiresome disbelieve from that would be so easy to add to the script. Argento is his usually stylish himself and gives us a couple of fantastic murder-scenes, while not so gory, they are violent and sadistic. The direction is thought out with perfection, and even the weaker parts of the movie is easily forgiven when Argento shows us how to tell a story.

Argento has always been fascinated by gay characters, and in most his movies there's at least one gay or bisexual character. Sometimes strong and funny (like in Four Flies on Grey Velvet) and sometimes weak and cowardly (Deep Red). Here we have not one, but two gay characters. In once scene Franciscus is entering a gay club which is a very stereotypical club with trannies, older men in costumes and younger feminine men. But still, what makes this better than average, is that Franciscus character don't make a fuzz about it. He's even flattered when one characters tells him he has beautiful eyes. The gay characters are allowed to he humans and is far from stereotypes in their emotions.

My main problem is actually the script, or rather more the mystery itself. It works to a certain level, but after around half the movie the character of Lori is almost forgtten until she's involved again in the end, and Malden and Franciscus is wandering around in circles way to long. The story works itself up to a great final with a cool killing-of-the-baddie-scene, but to be honest, the motive never works. It's a longshot, and even if the killers worries had been true (I don't think the killer had to worry at all), I guess it could be worked out somehow with the help of good friends and colleagues. For me, that's the weakest part of the movie, but of course I can live with that and enjoy another fine giallo from Maestro Argento.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

To All a Good Night (1980)

Somewhere I read that after Halloween and Friday the 13th there was at least one thousand slasher movies made all around the world. Big and small, bad and good. I can understand it. It's a good way to make a cheap movie. What you need is one or two nice locations, a couple of over-aged teenagers and some blood and latex. Personally I love this genre. It's not especially complicated, like candy for the brain. Often no complicated message or to advanced character developments, just attractive people getting killed my either a known lone maniac or a lone unknown killer that's unmasked in the end.

To All a Good Night is no exception from the rules. This is just a movie where a bunch of horny school kids want to do some extra partying in a big house and a killer-Santa shows up, killing them one by one with axes, knifes, big stones, airplanes and other things that happens to be around. Everything is set up with a frantic pace, with the "two years earlier"-scene over and done in a couple of minutes and after that there's hardly any establishing of the characters. This might sound a bit negative, but I actually is quite fond of this early Christmas-slasher. It has a huge bodycount over a short period, some impressive gore and the actors are absolutely not bad. What hurts the movie is the way to generic screenplay and that it's to dark most of the time. That last thing can have to do with the transfer to video, because I think that beneath that video-version there's a very atmospheric and well-shot movie. I've never seen this movie in widescreen either, which probably would help a lot.

For a slasher this is a good movie, competent told even without a strong script. And who's the director? No one other than David Hess, yes the famous composer and actor David Hess. How he became a director for this movie I have no idea, but it's a pity he never directed another one - but I guess it's not to late. There's a sense of a black comedy through out the movie, which I think was something Mr Hess came brought to the movie. Though the transfer is a bit to dark, we're treated to some gory shots of mayhem too! A graphic throat slit, stabbings and impalings - and everything is very well done. They're all done by Mark Shostrom, who went on to have a successful career in the fx-business, and just two years after this one we could see his excellent makeup-effects in Albert Pyuns The Sword and the Sorcerer. 

Even if it's far from perfect, David Hess own Santa-slasher is a nice addition to the genre. I can't understand why it's not out on DVD yet? And by the way, isn't it David Hess himself in the beginning of the movie? He's not listed as an actor in the credits, but I'm sure it's him. And every time I see this movie I'm almost convinced that it's Harry Reems playing the pilot. It sounds like him and the mustache fits - but it's way to dark to see him clearly and the actor is listed as one Michael George anyway...

The Sender (1982)

One of my fondest cinema-memories was when Battlefield Earth (you know that huge flop starring John Travolta?) was released in Sweden. Me and my pal Joel had heard so much bad stuff about it that we just needed to see it in cinema. When we came to the theater and was ready to pay for the tickets, the manager was behind the counter to talking to one of his staff. He looked at us with pity in his eyes, nodded to the ticket seller and said "Let them go in for free". Yes, the rest of the staff behind the counter seemed to agree with this and thats the story how we didn't help Roger Christian to be a little bit closer to a hit. 

Roger Christian isn't a good director. Everything I've seen by him up to now has be shit. Shallow, empty crap directly from the sewers of Hollywood. So you can imagine my surprise when I started to watch his debut, The Sender, and realize that this was a damn good little movie. It won't win any originality-awards, but it's still a smart and incredibly good-looking horror from the early eighties.

Zeljko Ivanek plays a young man (he looks a bit like Giovanni Lombarde Radice by the way) who wakes up by the side of the road with a memory loss. He decides to go to the nearest beach, fill his pockets with stone and drown himself. He's saved and brought to a state mental hospital where he quickly befriends one of the female doctors, Dr. Gail Farmer (Kathryn Harrold). She discovers that John Doe 83, as they call him, has the power to create hallucinations both to himself and to others - and a mysterious woman, who claims she's his mother, shows up and acts strange. The longer he stays in the hospital, the more freaky the hallucinations get and the good doctor is getting more and more convinced that he's someone powerful, maybe Jesus himself...

Don't worry about the last sentence there, this is no movie that preaches christianity or some other religion. This is a fullblow, smart and somewhat brutal supernatural thriller and I must say I'm really impressed. Now, the script is very tight and the characters well-written, so what Roger Christian had to do is to shoot it in his usual very stylish and visual way, and he shows here that he actually had talent once. Even if everything is in the characters heads (this is not a spoiler), it's truly a lot of cool and shocking moments we're treated. A man getting his head ripped of, rats coming out from the mouth, a fantastic slow-motion scene where a couple of characters is tossed around like dolls in a room during electric shock therapy and much more. It's power and very well-made scenes, and adds to the greatness of this movie.

Zeljko Ivanek is damn brilliant as John Doe 83, and he's still around doing evil character roles in a lot of movies - you will recognize him as older if you Google-search him. Paul Freeman is another favorite of mine playing one of the doctors and he and Kathryn Harrold is excellent. But every little part is great and it's strange that this movie isn't more acknovledged among horror-fans. Maybe the name of Roger Christian scares them away? In normal cases that would be a good thing to do, to run as fast as possible from this director, but here I just want to encourage you to stay and watch his debut movie, because it's worth it!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Phase IV (1974)

What can you write about a movie thats actually perfect? Perfect for what it is, a movie about killer-ants. But Phase IV is far from something that Irwin Allen would make, even further from what maestro Bert I. Gordon would produce. This is the only movie Saul Bass, the famous title designer of many classic movies, directed. Shot on location in some desert somewhere, and in Pinewood Studios, UK, this is probably the most underrated movie I've seen. Why is it so underrated? Well, I have the answer to that: Mystery Science Theater 3000. But more on that later.

Michael Murphy and Nigel Davenport plays two scientists, Lesko and Hubbs, working outside in the desert in a special lab, built to study the strange behavior of the ants in the area. The ants are ruining farm after farm, eating the crops and even starts making some kind of crop circles in the fields. They have also built five-six strange towers of earth and dust, who seem to be a command center. The scientists is getting prisoners in their own lab, while the ants are testing them, trying to figure out a way to torture them by sunlight and with psychological warfare. But the question is if it's worth fighting back, or are they already in phase 4?

I will be honest and say I've never seen the famous episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 where they trash this movie. And I never will. Because how the fuck could they even joke about a movie like this? Strange as it sounds, the story is intelligent and realistic, the visuals of it is stunning. Saul Bass direction is minimalistic and very competent, every camera angle, every movement by ant or man feels planned. It's low budget, but has ambitions like few other movies. There's nothing to joke about. And if they found any jokes they had to be very low, like... "hehe, she has nice tits" or "hehe, look... he has a huge beard". Ya know? Believe me, I can't find anything funny with it.

The movie is probably most famous for it's fantastic macro-footage of ants. And honestly, I have no idea how they shot it or directed those darn insects. It's like watching something animated, because theres no chance in hell that the could get those ants to do this stuff. Or? Yeah, obviously they did, and it's very impressive. The further the movie goes, the more existential it gets. Lesko is communication with them through radio waves and lines drawn on paper, Hubbs is getting more and more mad and sick from a ant-bite and between them two is the young girl, played by Lynne Frededrick, who confused are trapped with them in the lab after watching her grandparents get killed by the ants.

It gets better and better, weirder and weirder... and the ending, phase IV is far out, man. Really far out. And I love how it ended. It's both absurd, and very clever.

Phase IV is the 2001: A Space Odyssey of Ant-movies. There, I said it. And so it will be.

Man of the Week: Klaus Kinski

After David's friday-tradition, I think it's time to see some men on the blogs too!

Klaus Kinski might be a weird choice, but I actually think he was a damn handsome man during his younger years. His face got weirder and weirder over the years, but still couldn't take away his fantastic charisma.

I'm not sure when he started his transition from hunk to weirdo, but it was probably during the late seventies. I kinda like his long-haired look he had for a while too, but he was the most dashing during the late sixites!

I found this cute photo to, weird because his face started to become twisted and older, but still everything is so... calm and loving.

Witchery (1988)

In collaboration with a selection of the finest film blogs the internet has to offer The Manchester Morgue is proud to contribute to Blair Week, a six day extravaganza expounding on the virtues of Linda Blair and her legacy of quality motion pictures. Here you have... Witchery!

At the end of the eighties Linda Blair was far down in the cinematic food chain. After showing up in the beginning and the end of "Savage Island", just to make that movie sell in the US (and make a quick buck I guess), and Italian action-flicks like "Bersaglio sull'autostrada", it probably was destiny to finally work for legendary sleaze-producer Joe D'Amato in one of his US-shot production, Witchery (or La Casa 4 aka Witchcraft). She wasn't alone in this one. David Hasselhoff shows his hairy chest and German legendary film star (who looks a bit... alcoholic) Hildegard Knef plays the the main baddie!

Once upon a time an excentric movie star (Hildegard Knef) bought an island and the big house on it. Her last movie was also shot there, but she bought the rights to it and saw that it would never be shown in public. Many years after her death, the house is for sale and this gathers a bunch of victims... uh, sorry, people. David Hasselhoff is there with his virgin-girlfriend (who also happens to be interested in witchery) to investigate "The Witch Light", a strange light that people have seen on the island for years. An old rich couple, (Annie Ross and Robert Champagne) are also there with the nymphomatic real estate agent and her collegue, their pregnant daughter (a very pink Linda Blair) and little son (or maybe it's Linda's son, I don't know). 

Of course there's an evil plan with all this. The witch, or ghost... something, wants three sacrifices to open the portal to the dark side, and starts to kill the guests one by one, often by luring them into a trap and torturing them in what other dimension she's in. One gets the lips sew together and burned, another one is crucified, a third one gets a very bloody bladder-effect massive demise... and finally she possesses Linda Blair (who else?) and attacks the others with all the powers that she has!

No, Witchery is far from a masterpiece and lacks that infamous atmosphere that a lot of the D'Amato-produced productions from this time had. The location is nice, but with boring lighting and a bit to generic story it never lift itself up from the trash-movie basement. What I like about it is the actors. Linda Blair probably just got her paycheck and did her normal possessed-routine, but injects some fun into the character. And I always admire an actress who gives it all when pretending to be sucked down a bathtub without any special effects at all. In the end she's back from the Excorcist with pointy hair and shaky facial expressions, fun fun fun.

Hildegard Knef seem to have a lot of fun with her witch and Hasselhoff, who I actually like when ever he’s not in something Bay Watch-related, makes a good hero. When I think about it though, Knef and Hasselhoff are the only ones in the cast together with Annie Ross and Robert Champagne that have a lot of fun. But overall, everyone makes their best.

But the highlight is the gore. Yes, it’s not the goriest Italian-produced horror movie ever, but it’s way bloodier than I remember from seeing it the first time. Theres a juicy and detailed sewing the lips together, some splashes of blood during the crucifiction, a woman being burned alive, a scene where the arteries of a man explodes in gush of über-red blood. It’s just enough for me, and it adds spice to an ok but very generic horror movie. 

Watch it for the cast and the gore, but just don’t expect anything out of the ordinary.......


Our colleagues are bringing fresh Linda related content all week long:

Monday May 10:
Lost Video Archive - Savage Streets
Satan's Hope Chest - Chained Heat and Savage Island
Camp Movie Camp - Grotesque
The Horror Section - Hell Night
Full Moon Reviews - Bailout
Illogical Contraption gets Repossessed
Lines That Makes Things drops original Linda inspired artwork
Breakfast In the Ruins - Exorcist II
B Movies and Beyond - Summer of Fear
Camp Movie Camp - Nightforce
The Manchester Morgue - Rollerboogie
Happy Otter - The Chilling
Ninja Dixon - The Witchery
Lost Video Archive - Born Innocent
Unflinching Eye wraps it up with a look at Linda's fall from grace.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Kinski Paganini (1989)

Klaus Kinski is said to believed he was some kind of reincarnation of the great violinist Paganini, and Kinski Paganini (though the title only is "Paganini" on the title card) certinally tries to prove that. Written, directed and edited by Klaus Kinsi, starring his wife at the moment - as his wife, and his son Nikolai as his son in the movie, this is probably the closest we're ever gonna get to a movie of Kinski's life.

There's no point telling what's it about, because it's more of a ninty minute long montage than anything else. Kinski has hardly any dialogue and everything is told by intensive cinematography, voice over's from other characters and lots and lots of slow-motion and quite graphic sex-scenes! So don't expect a normal movie by any means, this is a dive into the psyche of Kinski and it's a very unique experience. The script jumps back and forth, shocking symbolism edited into other scenes and Kinski is in almost every frame of the movie. Kinski throws out punches to everyone possible, from the church and politicians, to other artists and the hypocrisy in the society. The movie actually begins with a priest (or higher religious figure) coming to the dying Paganini to try to convert him to a good christian, but are beaten by his son and chased out from the mansion. 

Characters are talking about Paganini as they talked about Kinski, a whore mongler, monster, sexual deviant, psychopath and so on, and Kinski obviously was aware of the names people was giving him, and this almost feels like a way to also show that he wasn't that. His love for his son (and in real life his son was very important to him) and the love to his mother, someone he looks back to over and over again in the movie. It takes time to watch Kinski Paganini, but you'll be rewarded I think. The ending is powerful, a mad and sick Paganini playing the last time on his violin, in a more absurd and manic frenzy for every frame.

This also became Kinski's last movie. He more or less retired after this, tired with the industry and movie making. Though it was universally loathed when it was released, and still is among some people, this is a fantastic movie. It's a production I admire a lot, and the scenes of a werewolf-like Kinski standing in the darkness of the theater hearing the ovations from the audience of sexually aroused females, is pure poetry. Darkness yeah, this is shot in natural lighting and nothing looks artificial. It's dark, moody, and with a lot of hand-camera. It's both the essence of European arthouse cinema and a "fuck you" at the same to that kinda of important cinema that would loath the techniques he used to made this movie. 

I have the original VHS that was released some years ago, but not the DVD. Both are since long OOP and this is a movie that really deserves a good old remastering and a fat special edition!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre (2009)

You know, I really wanted to say that Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre was a movie I could recommend with whole my heart. But no, I can't. Watch it or buy it (cheap), but there's really something that's missing. Storywise it's nothing to brag about, though it has a couple of funny ideas. Here we have a bunch of tourists (which is a good excuse for making a big part of the movie English language) going out on a whale watching safari on Iceland. Gunnar "Leatherface" Hansen is their captain, but of course there's danger ahead. An inbred family of ex-whale hunters, surviving by selling home-made whale-souvenirs wants to take revenge on all of those that prefer watching whales than killing them. When an accident happens aboard the whale watching ship, the family takes their chance and starts killing the tourists off, one after one!

So, this sounds quite fun. And it's quite fun. Not amazingly fun. Or crazy wild fun. It's quite fun.The main problem is of course that even if the filmmakers try to make the movie as local and exotic as possible, the story behind everything is so generic that you almost predict everything thats happening. Movies like the crappy Rovdyr is worse, much worse, but if this one didn't have some fun characters and good actors it would almost be in the same league. The family is great. Sleazy and wacky characters that somehow comes out as real, and all of them are sadists of the worst kind. The tourists are very uneven, but the most boring characters are being killed off quite early and we're left with the excellent Terence Anderson as Leon (a character that has traces of Ben in Night of the Living Dead) and Japanese actress Nae as the cold-hearted and slightly disturbed Endo. Both do their best, and are both great actors. These are the two characters where the screenwriter seem to have invested some time, because the rest of the tourists are just meat.

Talking about meat, the gore... Well, I rather see a bad gore effect than nothing at all (if it's not an Andreas Schnaas-movie, because a badly shot gore-effect it worse than nothing at all) and here the director seemed to thing that this is a SERIOUS SCARY movie, and decided to just shoot most of the deaths off screen. Not all, but often we just see the aftermath or some blood spurting on peoples faces. This is of course not a serious or scary movie, it's a cheesy movie that took most of the story from one thousand other movies, but just gave it the Iceland-twist... so, it really needed some more gore. Oh, it's not completely goreless. There's a quite fun decapitation, some stabbings and a cool fire-stunt. But feels quite dry, even if we see a lot of blood on the walls and floors.

I would say, watch the movie for Terence Anderson and Nae, and the fun twists their characters do. Gunnar Hansen is also great, but has way to little to do. It also has great locations and fine cinematography. And a marvelous title. But that's it really. What a pity.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Jail: The Women's Hell (2006)

It's been three years since Bruno Mattei left us to go to that hell of the living dead where we all long to be after death. And yes, I miss him and if you don't, I will force you to miss him. There was a lot of love for him today at Facebook-discussion, and here's some the things written about him: "Whatever crap the writers gave him, he still shot it like a professional", "He did anything they threw at him and never was ashamed of it", "Regarding Mattei, he makes fun, silly, and entertaining movies. I'll take that over some dogcrap like JUNO any day of the week", "He was the last of the mohicans! He was like a punk who wouldn't accept it when everyone told him the movement was over" and so on...So what suits this evening better than write a few words about The Jail: The Women's Hell?

Yvette Yzon plays some chick being imprisoned in women's jail out in the jungle. It's run by an evil lesbian and her small army of rape-happy male guards and also a bunch of sadistic hose-waving female guards. The usual staff ya know. Yvette gets to know how the prison is run, and decided to escape together with some of her newfound friends there. But what they don't know is that the prison director has planned something very special for them...

There's really not much to tell about the story. It has a lot of sleaze and nudity, rape and corny dialogue. Like all WIP-movies. We get to know characters that dies terrible deaths, and also some very juicy and fleshy flashbacks from a nightclub. So from that point of view it's a quite crappy movie - BUT, remember. This is Mattei directing and he does it with such excellence that you soon forget the retared screenplay. It's shot with digital cameras, and I was afraid it would look like porn - but it don't. The photography looks very good, and the atmospheric locations helps a lot. Mattei keeps up the energy through the whole movie and never forgets that a movie like this never becomes worth watching if it's not entertaining. That's why there's something happening all the time, from rapes and torture, to gore and shoot-outs. And in between entertaining dialogue and (actually) some nice performances.

Yvette Yzon works fine as the hero and has the charisma to carry a movie. Around her is a couple of nice performances, especially the older woman that becomes her friend in the prison and b-movie veterans like Jim Gaines, Mike Monty (in a wonderful cameo) and David Brass makes their characters fun and interesting. It's just a darn good modern exploitation movie that is proud over it's heritage and is not ashamed of being sleazy, violent and crazy.

Violent? Yes, because Mattei and his crew gives us a finale which has some very brutal gore effects. Maybe a bit primitive, but old-school and damn gory. Cut off breast, knife up the... yeah, you know, big bloody squibs, stabbings, decapitation and other blood-spurting surprises. It's the cherry on the cake, one final chance to give the genre-audience value for it's money. And sure, Mattei knows his work and gives us one of his most solid movies in many, many years.

Mattei seemed to get busier and busier for each year. Maybe he felt that his time was running out and he wanted to film and film and film and film, just to leave even more classics behind him. I'm very grateful for this productivity, because now I have tons of movies to find and watch, and everything will feel like the golden exploitation era of Italy and the Philippines! Life can't get better than that!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Next week is Blair Week!

Yes, that's true. A whole week of Linda Blair! Here's the schedule and links:

Monday May 10:
Lost Video Archive - Savage Streets
Satan's Hope Chest - Chained Heat and Savage Island
Camp Movie Camp - Grotesque
The Horror Section - Hell Night
Full Moon Reviews - Bailout
Illogical Contraption gets Repossessed
Lines That Makes Things drops original Linda inspired artwork
Breakfast In the Ruins - Exorcist II
B Movies and Beyond - Summer of Fear
Camp Movie Camp - Nightforce
The Manchester Morgue - Rollerboogie
Happy Otter - The Chilling
Ninja Dixon - The Witchery
Lost Video Archive - Born Innocent
Unflinching Eye wraps it up with a look at Linda's fall from grace.

War of Devils (199?)

According to IMDB, Tony S. Suvat wrote two movies around 1990: The Lost Idol (with Erik Estrada and Sorapong Chatree) and In Gold We Trust (with Jan-Michael Vincent and Sam J. Jones, got good reviews in Variety in 1992)), both directed by one "Philip Chalong". If Tony is just a writing-alias for Philip Chalong I have no idea, but Tony S. Suvat (or maybe his name is Buncherd Dhawee?) is credited as the director and writer of this little known movie, War of Devils. The only place I've seen something that resembles a review say it's from 2007, but that's not correct. It look more like early nineties.

Inspired my American horror-movies, it starts of with a couple of teenagers (but I guess they are well above 25, going with the tradition of slasher-movies) in a Scooby Doo-van, looks like something right from the seventies with the famous peace-mark embedded in a a very trippy paint-job.They are rocking to the max while listening to a, probably, unlicensed Highway Star with Deep Purple! After a few hours on their trip they are far out in Reckneckistan and stops by a little store - where some hillbillys, here represented by local gerillas or something, starts bugging them. Soon they are out in the jungle and meet an old (floating in the air) man that warns them about going further, but they don't listen to him.

Not long after this the rednecks is catching up and wants to have little fun with the girls, and maybe kill their boyfriends, but they are stopped in the last minute by a forest ghost, a flying woman with a manic laughter and with the power to transform herself to a rotting corpse - still flying, waving her arms like a bird! The rednecks wants to take revenge for her stopping the fun, and finally manages to kill one of the kids - and this starts a war! Finally one of the bad guys uses his black magic to invoke a couple of monsters: a vampire dwarf, a rotting zombie, a Thai-warrior with two faces and a bat/ape-esque demon from Hell!

The kids takes shelter in a house and has to defend themselves against the monsters outside!

The inspiration from the US slasher movies obviously stops with them leaving the rednecks at the store, because after that it's traditional weirdo Thai-territory! War of Devils is a good-looking little movie who are more ambitious than a lot of the other movies set in jungle thats been produced in Thailand. The direction is inspired and way better than usual, and it also looks damn good. The first half is a bit slow, with too much talking, but it builds up to the Night of the Living Dead-style finale and delivers a lot of fun during the time. The special effects are good, sometimes very good. The flying woman and demon from hell works very good and looks cool and convincing. They also added some animated sparkles to the woman, which actually works fine. The rotting zombie is disgusting, the vampire dwarf is cooler than you would think and the Thai warrior is a bit scary with his huge deadly sword.

It also delivers some gore, though not in any big amounts. There's a nice chopped of arm, some impalings by sword and other pointy things, a quite dark scene of the zombie ripping out the intestines from a character, some squibs and a little bit more. But the best thing is just the monsters attacking the house in different ways, the black magic vs the white magic. It's a bit childish, but with a mean-spirited feeling of sadism.

I have the Thai VCD, and the cover don't look that exciting. But it's a fun movie (and the picture quality is ok) that belongs to the old style of Thai-filmmaking, still low budget and quite obscure. I was afraid that the generic (but competent) beginning would set the course for the rest of the movie, but it takes a wonderful quirky turn and shows us that the Thai's always know how twist our expectations a little bit extra.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Hong Kong Godfather (1985)

I can say, with out a doubt, that Hong Kong Godfather is the most violent and bloody Shaw Brothers-production I've seen so far. I've seen the screenshots in review, but nothing could prepare me for the amount of violence and blood that was delivered by director Lung Wei Wang and his team. But it's not only blood and gore, this is a classic gangster-story that actually holds up even today (the fashion might be the exception!) and I recommend everyone that has the slightest interest in Hong Kong-movies to get this movie.

Kien Shih plays a friendly and nice mafia-boss, Szetu Han, in Hong Kong. He don't like drug dealing and take care of his people. Three of his "sons" are a cop, a former criminal nicknamed Mad Dog and a charming womanizer named "Playboy Lung". They are of course all three decent people, but when someone is trying to take over the power in Hong Kong, the sleazy Lan, they are forced to stand by their boss side again. After Han refuses to work together with Lan a series of attacks happens, people die and get hurt and everything end in the massacre of Han and his family. Now the three men are left on their own, and they want revenge! A fucking bloody revenge!

The story is a classic, nothing new, but is also timeless and works fine even in 2010. This is very much the eighties, so the fashion is colorful (and quite tasteless, I think) and there's a lot of neon and city lights. But it feels just like a Shaw Brothers, even if it's not set in a historical environment and had modern, and very brutal, fighting instead of the old school-styles. Kien Shih, a brilliant actor and fighter, actually do a little old school-routine and is matched by his grandchild with some modern stuff. It's a wonderful little scene and it feels like Shih is handing over the torch to a new generation of action-heroes. Almost everyone is making a great performance, except the poor guy that's playing the boyfriend to Mad Dogs daughter. I'm not sure what he's trying to do actually, but whatever it is, it don't work.

Hong Kong Godfather has been hyped since I first heard of it, and for once - and I'm happy to say this - it lives up to it's hype. It starts of strong with a bloody massacre, and then slows down for maybe thirty minutes - which I don't mind. It's not slow or boring, it's just building up tension for the last half of the movie that delivers so much action that I was just laughing out loud here alone in the living room. The fighting is hard and brutal, not any fancy stuff exactly, and it always ends with blood splattering all over the walls. In one memorable scene a bad guy takes up a little boy, breaks his back over his knee and throws him out through the window! 

And it's getting even more fun. For every action-scene it's bloodier, gorier, more fighting and has wilder stunts. Because most of the fights are with big knifes, machetes and saws! So except a bloodbath in between the back- and neck-breaking fights! I can honestly say that you won't be disappointed by this flick. Really. Every fucking hand on the bible. 

The new US DVD looks stunning and is very uncut, which you will notice a mile away. This is so far one of my favorite releases this year. Amazing movie, amazing action and over-the-top violence for all of us Shaw Brothers-pervs!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Operation Bangkok (1967)

Operation Bangkok is an awesome Thai/Hong Kong co-production from 1967. Starring the only and only, Mitr Chaibancha and leading ladies Regina Pai Ping and (of course) Petchara Chaowarath, this a action-packed, fun and visually strong action movie with enough kitch for everyone. No subtitles of course, but Chaibancha's character seem to go undercover (as usual) in some crime organization and gets in to a lot of fistfights, always with a perfect hair cut. Yes, except a slower half-hour during the last hour of the movie (it's almost two hours long), this is a damn effective and good-looking piece of action cinema. There's more the one fistfight, often violent and with excellent editing. Shoot-outs, car-chase with helicopter, a fight on a speeding boat and even more fistfights!

Shot on what looks like 35 mm, it look less cramped than some of Chaibancha's 16 mm-movies from the same era, and the co-production with Hong Kong probably brought a lot more money into the production than usual. It's also shot in Hong Kong, some parts at least, and boats a big cast of cool actors. The production is slick and looks like a much bigger movie than it probably was, and the only thing that makes this film suffer is the very scratcy master - but still, it's probably the only version left and this is as good as it ever will look nowadays.

Chaibancha is as usual an excellent leading actor, and this time he's also paired with another guy who I don't know the name of, but he has a great face and has a lot of chemistry together with Mitr. One of the fights in the end, where both of them are fighting each other in some old warehouse is one of the action-highlights of this charmer of a movie. Another wonderful thing is the cool music numbers. Because this movie is set in couple of different nightclubs, so there's always a new Thai-pop/beat group playing on stage, probably real groups doing cameos. Most of the time we're allowed to see the whole numbers too, so it's a great way of watching kitchy Thai-versions of western pop/rock/beat!

I have a lot of good things to say about Operation Bangkok, because it deserves it. Even with out subtitles and with a constant rain of scratches, this is one of the best and coolest Chaibancha-movie I've seen so far.

Is this Uwe Boll and Brigitte Lahaie?

No, it isn't. It's Lars Liljedahl and Saila Quicklund, care managers at Bräcke municipality. It's from this article, and I just can't stop staring at them. The Lahaie-lookalike looks uncanny here, and the Boll-lookalike looks like Uwe's younger goofy brother.

So isn't it weird that two persons that are similar to Brigitte and Uwe are working together in the shithole known as Bräcke (probably the most boring town I've ever been in)? I wonder who's the janitors, Jack Taylor and Til Schweiger?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Jing Jork Phee Sing (1985)

Look at the cover, hype or what? The eighties in Thailand, at least the first half, was a dream for drive-in cinemas. They took the print and traveled from village to village, showing the latest Sorapong Chatree-movie and sold moonshine and food at the same time. Those where the days! So there was an enormous production of junk-cinema released all the time, mostly action with Chatree pointing a big gun at the audience from the colorful posters. Jing Jork Phee Sing has no gun on the poster, but Chatree gets a chance to kick som ass and transform into the silliest werewolf in a long time.

As usual I had no subtitles when watching this classic, but the story seem to be about a gang of polices (or something like that) and they are hunting a gang of bad guys in the jungle. They could also be a gang of people hunting a dangerous dog and are running into a bunch of baddies all the time. Anyway, a witch (with a huge chin!) and a magician (with a blonde wig!) is also involved and they have camp out in the jungle with a small army of henchmen. Our heroes (they could be two different groups actually...) hide in a cave, and wake up a couple of gory looking zombies that are wiped away with some of Chatree's magic. After some mindless action and long scenes of people walking in the forest (and also skinny dipping and not less than two attempted rapes) a black dogs comes to the meditating Chatree and with red lasers from it's eyes transforms him to a werewolf. But more zombies are ahead...

I usually has no problem understand the storylines in these old Thai movies, but here it was confusing. The quality of the VCD was also crappy. so it's easy to mix up the characters after a while. It's a quite typical lowbudget movie from Thailand, a lot of running around in the countryside, to many storylines and cheap and funny effects. Sorapong Chatree is a very good actor who obviously never said no to a movie. One day he could star in masterpieces like Gunman, and sometimes it was movies like this. He's a competent hero and shows up some good fighting skills in the end, which was a nice touch to the final. The last half hour is also the funniest, with a good zombie-attack, fighting, action and a strange happy ending where everyone become friends!

The zombies look silly and gory, and one of them suddenly has long rubber-arms (you can kinda see it at one of the screenshots down below), but there's not much graphic munching I'm sorry to say. The infamous werewolf is a sight to behold. This black dog comes up to Sorapong, shoots some red lasers on him and we're treated with a very, very, very, very primitive transformation-effect where pieces of fur shows up on Sorapongs face one by one like a very bad stop-motion effect. They he suddenly is a beefed up version of Paddington the Bear, walks out of frame... and that's more or less it. He's not even transform into a werewolf in the end-fight!

Jing Jork Phee Sing is retared, silly fun. I'm not sure I can recommend it to any other than fans of really obscure asian movies!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Perjanjian Dimalam Keramat (1991)

I've actually spent a lot of time watching great movies (even masterpieces) the last couple of days. Wonderful stuff, maybe movies that changes lifes. So I have idea why I need to force you to spend some time with Perjanjian Dimalam Keramat (I had to copy that titel, because it's impossible to remember the spelling) instead of, for example, Village of the Eight Gravestones. But this is a special movie. It's Indonesian, it starts the great fantastic and amazing Suzzanna... and is a rip-off on the worst Elm Street-movie ever, Renny Harlin's snooze-fest part A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master! But hang on, because this is a lot of fun... and I can say without any shame that this is a much more entertaining movie!

Suzzanna and a guy that looks very androgynous is a happy family with two cute kids and a big nice house. One night a couple of bad guys enters the house and massacres the whole family and their staff, bloody of course! Why? I have no idea, but there's a guy with glasses that obviously wants to take revenge for something, or steal their ground or take over some company. But beware! The spirit of Suzzanna is taken over by another spirit, a dead prisoner with a Freddy Krueger-glove - and now Suzzanna has the glove and starts her gory revenge on the killers, one by one...

Okey, this is actually the only movie you need to watch this week. Really. I'm not kidding you. Not that it's forgotten masterpiece or anything, but it's so damn entertaining that I wish it could have a proper widescreen special edition with commentary track by Suzzanna's ghost! What don't work is the part after the massacre, which is maybe... 25 minutes of talking, something that probably is a lot funnier with subtitles. But the rest, yeah, that's fun! Suzzanna - all dressed in pink, with bullet holes sprayed all over her, and a Freddy Krueger-glove goes on a rampage in a very funny wicked way. She seem to enjoy the part a lot, and do it totally over-the-top - and it works so well. All the kill-scenes (I guess, it was a while since I watched Renny Harlin's movie) is copied here, and is cheaper and not on a dream, which makes them very strange. It's not overly gory, but there's couple of very bloody scenes (the scene when a person is transformed to an insect is here, but this time it's a crab!) and always a lot fun visual solutions to the sequences.

More scenes that you will recognize is the beach-stuff when the gloves comes up on the beach like shark underneath the sand and a much cheaper version of the Freddy-in-motorcycle sequence. To my delight the martial arts in the end is quite good, though it's quite visible that it's two male stuntmen in female clothes that do the fighting.

Perjanjian Dimalam Keramat is a very charming and fun rip-off, has some gore and a Suzzanna in top-form. This is a must for lover of Indonesian exploitation and you weirdos that need a new twist on the Elm Street-saga!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Movie within movie: Co-Ed Frenzy

Brian De Palma, a director I admire a lot, also seem to admire "b-movies", sleaze and exploitation like no one else. His movies are often like big-budget stylish b-movies, and in at least two productions he also used the old Movie Within Movie-concept.

In Blow Out, the excellent thriler with John Travolta, our hero is a sound editor for a very sleazy slasher titled "Co-Ed Frenzy". Some critics make this to be some reference to John Carpenter's Halloween, but we who have seen more than one slasher can see how it makes fun of/celebrates all the rip-offs that came afterwards. "Co-Ed Frenzy" has a lot of nudity, a killer that looks like a mix between Stephen King and a random janitor and a sleazy feeling that actually beats a lot of the real movies out there.

Every time I see it, I wish that it existed for real and that Code Red would release a newly remastered version of it with commentary track and funny anecdotes by the guy playing the killer, John Coppolino Jr.