Wednesday, August 31, 2011

7 Saal Baad (1987)

It’s easy to collect weird movies from all over the world, but it’s a different ball game to actually watch them – and sometimes even appreciate the hidden art from countries like India, Thailand, Indonesia etc. While the market is “flooded” (a huge exaggeration of course) with superhero-rip offs it’s always interesting to watch something that might be less commercial. No silly spandex, no capes and cheap back-projection effects. For example, earlier I’ve been watching Seytan, the Turkish take on The Exorcist and Srigala, the Indonesian Friday the 13th. Now the time has come to Bollywood’s verson of the beloved Friday the 13th series, 7 Saal Baad. Made when the genre was dying, but that’s never been an issue for the proud filmmakers of India. Like Srigala this uses the basis of Sean Cunningham’s classic, but adds a lot of new stuff in-between what we’ve seen before.

Flashback! A gang of teenagers is partying in the woods. Two of them sneaks away to have wild sex, but before they can get on with it they are brutally hacked to death by a machete-wielding maniac! Cue “today”, a young couple (I think, it’s hard to keep track of the couples in this movie) has opened a hotel out in the wilderness and the first guests are of course horny young couples spending their days having fun, dancing and listening to eighties electronica. Soon someone with a machete is starting to kill of the guests, one by one until there’s only one girl left…

You know the story! It’s basically Friday the 13th but with a hotel instead of a camp and guests instead of youth leaders (and a little supernatural twist) Between the very familiar beginning and the even more familiar ending the story is more free-spirited and sees every opportunity to add ridiculous but entertaining dance-numbers, many of them based on the trends of the time. One of the actors must have been some famous dancer, because he always starts break dancing, doing the robot dance, moonwalking and everything else you can imagine. All in terrible eighties fashion.

But is it any good? Well, according to me there’s no bad movies, only boring movies. This is not a boring movie, so I guess it’s possible to call it good – or at least entertaining. It’s just over two hours, so compared to other Bollywood movies it’s quite short and manages to keep up the energy for most of the time. There’s one fight scene, which is a must in every Indian movie with self-respect and the long dialogue scenes flies by mostly because of the “enthusiastic” acting by the participants. Don’t expect any gore, just a few splashes of blood here and there. No nudity of course, only the traditional sexual innuendos and a couple of lips-on-lips kisses!

The entire final is copied directly from the original Friday the 13th, including the boat at the end. More karate-kicks in the end fight, which is a plus! The character of Crazy Ralph is in the movie also, but looks more like a soft-spoken vagabond with a Chaplin-outfit than the Ralph we got used to over the years.

Out on a terrible DVD in India with the worst interlacing-problems I ever seen. Without subs of course, but if you know the story and twist from the original movie it’s no problem following the storyline.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Jaani Dushman: Ek Anokhi Kahani (2002)

Sometimes I wish I had words to explain how silly movie really is. With Jaani Dushman it’s hard, because it’s a movie that should be experienced in the company of alcohol and friends. That can explain why it took me more than a month to actually watch the whole movie – not because it was bad, but because it was hard to watch it without someone to share the experience with. And regarding “bad”, I guess that is in the eye of the beholder, because I’m sure the majority would find this production the crappiest of all crap – but they are of course wrong, as usual.

The slightly convoluted story is about a group of elderly “young” students being chased by a Matrix-style demon who wants to take revenge on his wife who killed herself in modern time (she was reborn) after being raped by two of the male students. They fool her that everyone is involved, and she demands that her past demon-husband should kill them all! This plus a series of complicated relationships between the students make a VERY confusing flick. But wait, it’s not only confusing like hell, it’s also packed with ridiculous action scenes copied from every Hollywood action extravaganza from the same time! Only cheaper, very much cheaper!

This is, if I understand it correctly, a remake-remix of two of director Rajkumar Kohli old classics, Nagin (1976) and Jaani Dushman (1979), but spiced-up with tons and tons of absurd action and long fights in slow-motion and Hong Kong-esque scenes when people flies into every kind of furniture available! This is cheap shit, but a lot of fun for people who don’t care about z-grade CGI, sets almost falling apart when people bumps into them and illogical decisions the defies the laws of normal intelligence.

When you sit down and watch Jaani Duschman: Ek Anokhi Kahani you’ll more Matrix-rip offs than you can handle, the beach-final of Mission Impossible 2 but with it ends with one man running after a boat ON the water, like friggin’ Jesus motherf**king Christ. There’s countless long fights which effectively breaks every piece of wood and glass inside the rooms, car-stunts, explosions, more morphs than in that Michael Jackson video that made it popular, you’ll get black and white magic, colourful song- and dance numbers and probably the worst skeleton ever EVER show on the screen. It’s hard to describe, so I hope my photos directly from the TV will give you a clue what’s happening.

I can promise you that you won’t get bored here, especially with friends who have a sense of humour. It’s impossible to take this movie seriously, but at the same time: it’s so filled of energy, enthusiasm and pure insanity that it’s hard to say it’s a bad movie. It’s just silly, stupid and just wonderful in every way possible.

Ah, and don’t forget that that it also copies A Nightmare on Elm Street and the whole final of Terminator 2, but with a Indian guy in stone washed jeans against a Keanu Reeves-wannabe demon in black leather. I’ll buy that for a dollar!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ghosthouse (1988)

Say what you want about Vipco, but they released a great box with four of Lenzi’s and Fulci’s TV-movies and also a single release of the criminally underrated corny masterpiece Ghosthouse. The latter one also known as La Casa 3 (Evil Dead 3), but has very little with that franchise to do except some supernatural stuff happening in a house. Ghosthouse is a very fine release, sharp picture and uncut and it’s one of my favourite Lenzi-movies from the crazy, wacky eighties. Not that original, but who cares!

The wonderfully stiff couple Martha and Paul (played with the enthusiasm of a couple of wax dolls by Laura Wendel and Greg Scott) picks up a mysterious message at their radio…thingie (I’m to lazy to check the English expression for what they’re doing). Paul suspects it’s a murder and together they manage to find the source… and meet another couple with radio-thingie as a hobby. It’s their voices they heard (and recorded), but they’re still alive! They’re based at a strange old house, and soon something kills them off one by one!

Ah, the story. My sincere apologies, but even if I love the film the story is so damn boring to write down like this. I hope you understand me. Like I wrote above, Ghosthouse is hardly an original story by any means, but it has a very nice thick atmosphere which reminds me of EC Comics and more or less all eighties horror movies mixed together. The best of everything! Just with a TV-budget and very stiff acting. But still, we have the always wonderful Donal O’Brien, playing one of those creepy fucks he always was cast as during the golden years of his career. He alone is worth the time watching the movie.

What’s excellent with Ghosthouse is that it’s a TV-movie but Lenzi hasn’t forgot what he came there for, and gives us a couple of well-lit kill-scenes, some very creative camera work and a disgusting scene when a character falls through the floor and nearly drowns in something that looks like boiling… semen? I have no idea what it’s supposed to be, but it’s a very effective and gross sequence. Overall, the interiors (maybe shot in Italy? A lot of the furniture, walls and other details is very familiar) have charming cozy TV-feeling over them and the wonderful exteriors is of course the same house Fulci shot House by the Cemetery at, Ellis Estate House - 709 Country Way, Scituate, Massachusetts, USA (according to the IMDB).

Ghosthouse as blood and simple gore (Lenzi’s trademark, the axe in the back of the head is there to!) cheese and a fun score by Claudio Simonetti. And hell, that ending – is it only me that feels like it was ripped off by the Final Destination-series?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Dying God (2008)

I rarely waste time writing about movies I don’t like. I just don’t see the point doing that. I rather spend some time hyping production I think deserves a bigger audience. When it comes to Dying God, an Argentine production from 2008, I really hesitated to even finish watching it because what I saw was so worthless it would just be depressing telling you all about it. So why the hell does I do this? Why the hell do I waste your time? Take my hand and I will show you…

In an unnamed city, probably in Argentina, someone – or something – is killing of the prostitutes in the most brutal ways. Alcoholic and general bastard cop Sean Fallon (James Horan, TV and voice-actor star) takes the case because he knows the brutal life on the streets the best. At the same time the leaders of the gangs, including Lance Henriksen in a wheelchair, tries to stop the killer themselves, but what can they do against a mythological creature, ready to impregnate every woman it sees?

Yeah, what could they do? Probably just burn it or throw a hand-grenade at it, but no one think that far. It’s not a supernatural creature, just a monster/animal that bleeds – and if it bleeds, it can die. The first hour is so boring, and the photo is flat and uninspired. It does not help that the HK DVD is of such crappy quality that it looks like the film is shot with a vintage VHS camera.

The worst crime the filmmakers are guilty of here is the lack of entertainment. You have a monster with a huge cock raping and killing women, and what we get is like a zero-budget episode of CSI (not that I’ve seen any episode of that show…) with unlikable characters doing uninteresting stuff. I like the locations, gritty and realistic, and it could have been much better if they just threw away the arty-farty crappy pretentious drama-bullshit and went for an all-out monster-movie. For example, James Horan isn’t a bad actor – but the character he’s playing is so damn uninteresting. The first scenes with Lance Henriksen sets him up like another wasted cameo, but he actually gets more to do during the last half-hour and manages to feel a bit inspired rolling around in his wheelchair.

So what’s the reason for watching this piece of shit? Three words: Man in suit. The monster, a very eighties creation, looks quite good (but cheap) and works fine in the scenes where we get a glimpse of it. It reminded me of something from Bill Malone’s monster movies from the eighties, just a bit nastier with a big slimy penis (only in one shot). With a better director those scenes could have saved the whole movie being crappy to just crap.

What about the gore? Not much, but the stuff visible is cheap and OK. An exploding head, a pregnant woman getting her child ripped out from her belly, a few stabbings and a bashed head against a wall. It looks OK, but hardly something to remember.

Dying God is a bad movie, but even worse: a boring movie. Avoid if you’re not very much into cheap monsters and even cheaper gore.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Genocide (1968)

I bought this movie under the title War of the Insects, but that’s such a ridiculous title that I’ll stick to the other official US title instead, Genocide, which is a more proper representation of the story and concept of the production. Directed by Kazui Nihonmatsu, the man behind The X from Outer Space and written by Susumu Takaku, who also wrote Goku, Body Snatcher from Hell, this is probably the oddest Japanese production I’ve seen in a while. I guess it must have been a nightmare for foreign distributors to market this movie, because it’s absolutely not what it first seems to be.

An American airplane crashes outside a small Japanese island. The crew manages to escape with parachutes, and takes shelter in a cave. Then something goes wrong. Only one of them comes out alive from that cave, but he’s in deep shock, almost a coma, and when he finally wakes up he’s first very confused… and then very violent! A local man is accused of killing the two other men, but a brave scientist knows that the man is innocent and tries to prove that it’s insects that killed them. Soon a more sinister plan is revealed, a plan that could mean the end of humanity…

So first of all: there are no giant insects or disaster scenes in Genocide. There are no epic attacks by bees on humans and there’s hardly any action. Actually, it’s has very little of what the spectacular posters promises, and if you know this, if you’re prepared to be demonsterfied, you’re in for a treat.

If we ignore that Cinematic Titanic raped this movie, Genocide is an off-beat freaky little drama-thriller with an interesting premise and execution in the same typical classy Japanese way. The acting is good, and the script – which is lacking action – has a lot of twists and turns, but stays low-key and adds one or two nasty details to an already dark and downbeat story. The characters are unsympathetic and cold towards each other, for example, one person that we could call a hero is cheating on his wife and this is never revealed to her, it’s just a fact in the background, nothing else. The US soldiers and officers are borderline psychos, the cause of the killer-insects is highly controversial and still feels like an odd choice – but good, original and very dark. There’s no nice people here, beware.

The whole story is set on the island and the characters are few. The bee-attacks are very effective and show us a couple of spectacular macro-shots of them biting with their jaws into something that look like human skin and flesh. One miniature house is blown to pieces, and that’s about it when it comes to killer animal-mayhem.

But Genocide is a damn fine movie. It keeps up the pace the whole show with only dialogue and twists. The characters are multi-layered and interesting, even if we hate them. I love the fact that everything is doomed already from the beginning. The sense of dread in this tropical paradise is evident and the ending, very down-beat, fits perfect to the story… and must have left a weird atmosphere in the drive-in cinema afterwards.

The DVD from Sinister Cinema looks ok. Taken from a movie print, in widescreen and with good colours, this is better than I expected. The sharpness is not the best and the resolution is a bit low, but that’s something you might notice only in the wide shots.

I think most of you would like this weird little flick, because I did and I see no reason for you to read my blog if you dislike the movies I like. So that’s why I wrote a few words about it. You WILL like it!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Seytan (1974)

Rip-offs are among the best inside the proud exploitation-tradition we have in the art of film. They special thing with Seytan is that I would hesitate to call it a rip-off, it’s more of a pure and simple scene-for-scene remake of William Friedkin’s The Exorcist. Actually to that degree that it becomes a quite effective little shocker on it’s own, just cheaper and cruder. Director Metin Erksan was one of the more respected and serious drama-directors of his generations, one of the first to treat moving pictures as art and not just entertainment. He didn’t work many more years after this one, and the lack of artistic integrity and originality here could be one explanation. But it’s wrong to dismiss Seytan as a cheap knock-off…

The story is exactly like The Exorcist, so I will skip that part of my review. What I find very interesting is that instead of Christianity, Islam is the main religion here. This is of course a very logical detail, Turkey is mainly a Muslim country (over 90 % of the population is said to be Muslims), but it could have been easy to just go with the exact same story and make it even more “Hollywood”. I don’t have enough knowledge of Islamic traditions and beliefs to say what’s different here, but one great detail is the holy water being used by the exorcist in the end. Here it’s water from the Zamzam well, a holy well which was created by god himself a couple of thousand of years ago. It’s one of the holiest places in the Islamic religion and the water itself is sold all over the world and countless pilgrims are going there every year. This is one of many details, but the lack of good subtitles (more on that later) make a lot of it disappear in translation.

Seytan looks a lot cheaper than The Exorcist, with more primitive lighting and cramped sets, but Erksan and his team has made remarkable job to copy the original movie scene for scene, and even making the location look very similar – sometimes to the brink of getting me confused (which always happen when I watch Geoffrey Rush as Peter Sellers in that TV-movie…). It’s just too similar sometime, and it’s like watching alternate takes directed by the bastard evil twin of Friedkin during in-between the ordinary takes of the original movie. It’s still quite well-made and all the effects sequences are gross and disturbing. The girl playing Regan…sorry, “Gul” (Canan Perver) is doing a decent job and gives everything she got in the horror scenes. She have that innocent, annoying look, and lacks the weird sexual aura that Blair has, but she stabs herself in the crotch, vomits green goo and being a fucked-up little girl with the same energy as Linda Blair!

Substance, the bootleg-company, has released Seytan on a subtitled OK-looking DVD in the US. It’s sourced from a VHS, and is blurry and shabby – but I’ve seen a lot worse and I think it works fine watching it. No headache for me, something that always happens when I watch VHS-quality nowadays. The subtitles is alright, but the idiotic fuck who did them felt like writing small personal comments (he tells us too Google the Zamzam water for example) together with smiley’s and worthless notes that he/she don’t understand everything the actors are saying. The “The End” sign comes with the text “Finally!”, like the whole movie had been a pain watching and now it’s finally over and we can watch Transformers 3 instead.

But I’ll recommend the bootleg, at least until there’s an official version out with hopefully a better-looking mastertape. It’s a good “rip-off”, for what it’s worth.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bloodstalkers (1978)

I couldn’t stop myself, so I bought Robert W. Morgan’s home-made DVD-R (signed and with a small booklet) of his classic Bloodstalkers, just because I felt that filmmakers like this deserves a lot more respect than they usually get. Many years back I got my hands on the same movie on an old VHS-tape (can’t remember if it was a Swedish x-rental or from one of the other Scandinavian members). I kinda liked it, but never watched it again and my memories of it became more and more foggy the older I got. So I guess it was time now, to watch it again…

Four city slickers, Mike, Daniel (played by I Was a Teenage Werewolf’s Kenny Miller), Kim and Jeri travels to the backwoods of America where Mike has inherited an old house. No one has been there for eight years and the place is dusty and in a terrible shape, but with some fixing up it could be a nice vacation house. But the local rednecks aren’t happy at all! They warn then for the “bloodstalkers” running around in the woods, which is connected to an old Indian legend about hairy, man-eating spirits roaming the wilderness. Kinda like Bigfoot. Not long after they arrive something is getting closer to the house, something hairy and angry…and merciless!

You can say a lot about Bloodstalkers, but one thing is for sure: the filmmakers clearly had ambitions with, maybe mostly, the story and characters. In parts it’s almost more of a drama with especially the two men being very complicated persons. Daniel is an overworked singer/entertainer and Mike a Vietnam veteran, with the first one always on the brink of having panic-attacks. If I will look beyond the very low budget and the shakey editing, it’s not a bad production. The actors are mostly doing fine and the script has a few entertaining twists which works if you feel for it, or just be disappointing if you’re in that mood.

Robert W. Morgan has balls enough to not show us what would probably have been the most violent scene, but instead gives us a man running for a long time in slow-mo. Alright, I want my gore, but the concept works good and the result is that we as an audience is even more perplexed of what the hell actually happen in the scene we didn’t see. The final twist is good, and reminds me of Rolling Thunder – but compressed to ten minutes instead of ninety!

Anther odd scene that goes on to long is when one of the characters has escaped from the house and trying to find help. Here we see him try to get help from various characters, one after another – and it never ends. The last one is in a church, and the staring contest between the hero and the person in the church goes on so long it’s absurd. The over-use of dramatic music makes a couple of the scenes annoying, even if the music itself is good.

Blood and gore? Not much. A chopped of hand and a lot of fake-blood is all we get, but better than nothing. Bloodstalkers is an interesting movie and the DVD-R that Robert W. Morgan released is well worth buying for collectors and fans of the obscure.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dark Echo (1977)

Hey, wattya say about this: an underwater-zombie film no one talks about! A co-production between Yugoslavia and Austria and starring Karin Dor! Yeah, Dark Echo might have a reason for not being talked about so much, but it’s still a quite well-paced movie with gorgeous locations and a nice monster. Another reviewer wrote that this could have been a fitting double feature together with Loreley’s Grasp, and I guess that’s true. The atmosphere is similar and the gore is cheap but effective. Not that John Carpenter’s The Fog has the most original story, but Dark Echo kinda resembles Carpenter’s classic in more than one way. Let’s take a look at the story…

100 years ago a ship sank in the big lake by the little town of Hochberg in Austria. 86 people died and now the captain of the boat comes back to take revenge on those that caused him and his passengers to die! From the dark waters of the lake, with a rotten body and a nice captain’s hat, he’s brutally kills the relatives of the guilty ones!

Yeah. That’s it I guess. Sure, there’s a hero, a heroine, a brave inspector, some teens – the usual gang of meatheads running around in this kinda flick. What I like about it is that it has a good pace. It’s not so much happening really, but time flies and you never get bored. Maybe check the updates on Facebook a bit to many times, thoughts starts to wander away, but then that darn moisty zombie turns up again and kills someone. So, is it gory? Not really, everything is quite bloodless and off screen until the last half-hour when they suddenly chops the top of the head of a character in gory, graphic fashion and then shows us the brain falling out in slow-mo! I could buy this movie only for that scene!

So the money-shot is there, how’s about the zombie himself? Yeah, he’s a nice creation with a couple of fun underwater-scenes and a lot of full-zombie make-up on screen, nothing hides in the shadows. He’s not hungry, but strangles a poor woman, drowns some people, throws another fucker of an old tower and uses the axe (as mentioned above) at one point. Can’t complain about that, but Dark Echo could have used a lot more gore.

Another very good thing with the film, except the stunning locations, is the awesome electronic score by Slobodan Markovic and Sanja Ilic. This is so good and so fitting to the beautiful locations. One thing that makes me confused is that everywhere 1977 is the production year, but during the end credits it’s copyrighted in 1986. I know it could have been re-copyrighted that year, but the fashion and the music seem much newer than 1977. Well, who knows and who cares?

If you get the chance, take it and watch Dark Echo. Far from any masterpiece, but the zombie and that head-chopping scene made it worth watching!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Taint (2010)

The Taint. I haven’t seen so many cocks since high school. The Taint is a lot about cocks, mostly exploding cocks and bigger than normal cocks. Very few dicks here, not even penises. This is Cocks with a big C. The makers of the movie, Drew Bolduc and Dan Nelson, claims there was no intention of making a movie with a serious message, but somehow, in-between all the gore and nudity there’s still something that could be called a statement. I think it’s very hard (no pun intended) to make a movie that complete lacks thought. The Taint is a very smart movie, it’s filled with love and it’s filled with everything disgusting you can think about. Let’s take a look at the story.

Somewhere, in the basement of an ordinary house, two young men are creating Cocktazium, which make the cocks grows and the sperm-production increases to enormous quantities. It also transforms the men to raving misogynic monsters, armed with boulders and with their cocks hanging out of their pants. But this not really about them, it’s about Phil (Drew Bolduc). A slightly over-aged schoolboy who wakes up in the forest after 12 days and finds out that the world has come to its end and all water is tainted with this horrible poison. He hooks up with Misandra (Colleen Walsh), a violent squirrel-killing woman with a big gun. Together they try to reach un-tainted water and avoid getting killed and raped by the misogynic men!

Now I almost make this sound like a serious movie, but no. Don’t worry. How to explain this? Sometime you’re forced to watch crappy home-made horror movies were all the characters are played by boy between 20-25 years of age. This feels a lot like one of those movies, but with so fucking high quality and so much talent I should be ashamed of doing that comparison! Sorry. Never again, never again. The Taint is a 77 minute long cock-exploding masterpiece. This one packs so much gore, crushed heads, ripped of cocks, squibs, sperm and blood that I never seen anything like it. The editing and directing is flawless, the actors clearly knows what they’re doing. It won’t get any Oscar-nominations, but it’s of course a lot better than most of the shit getting the golden statue.

It’s so damn fun. Just when it starts to slow down, they find a new angle, a new twist, and it’s on the move again. The music is a strong part of the story, and makes it almost poetic in its over-the-top violence and crude pre-teen comedy. Phil, on his skateboard, draped in an American flag stained with sperm a blood, driving down the neighbourhood is a much stronger iconic image than I think they could ever imagine themselves.

The Taint is about freedom, it’s about the US, it’s about misogyny – but mostly, it’s about loads of gore, exploding cocks, nudity and more sex Markus Bachman could take. One of the best new films I’ve seen in a very long time. A must buy, go to their homepage now and get yourself a copy!

När mörkret faller (1960)

Arne Mattsson (1919-1995) was one of more interesting directors to come from Sweden, even of he got manipulated out from the big league by Ingmar Bergman (who was no stranger to pull strings to blacklist former colleagues from the Swedish movie community) and stuck with being the laughingstock by the Swedish movie critics. Why? It’s a bit absurd to read the reviews now, so many years after, because most of his movies are among the best every produced in Sweden. It’s important to realize that Mattsson was a big fan of thrillers and detective stories and that was something he wanted to do, so he wasn’t forced to make more commercial movies like some sell-out, he really loved a good murder mystery and stayed with the genre for his whole career.

När Mörkret Faller (aka When Darkness Falls) is based on story by Maria Lang, THE female thriller writer for many years. Her work is often very uneven, but like Mattsson films, filled with sexual innuendos and an interesting look at class and generation in Sweden. This is not her best story and not Mattsson’s best movie, but that just means it’s still very competent and skilfully produced slice of detective melodrama. It’s set in small village over Christmas and New Year. On Christmas Eve the local shop owner Arne Sandell (George Fant) is brutally hacked to death with an axe and soon everyone is a suspect. An army of suspects. Police inspector Christer Wijk (Karl-Arne Holmsten) arrives and takes charge of the investigation, but soon the killer strikes again…

This is a very traditional murder mystery, shot in atmospheric black & white by master cinematographer Hilding Bladh. It’s almost a bit too generic to be Mattsson, who always found a way to include some kind of story gimmick to catch the audience attention. It’s both a blessing and boring that most of the story is set inside one house, with a few studio-bound shots outside the church. It makes the story very claustrophobic and gives us an interesting chamber play, but Mattsson has always been a visual director and he would probably have done even better if he had more to work with. Not for lack of trying, because When Darkness Falls is filled with his trademark dolly tracks, scenes shot with mirrors reflecting other parts of the room, long scenes without cuts with a lot of details and red herrings. Mattsson was a master of using the whole room, the whole frame, and here’s an excellent movie to see that. Sometimes there is three-four layers of intrigue, from one of the suspects close to the camera listening with moving at all to next layer were a dialogue is happening and to the last one were a silhouette is listening in the background.

While the story is far from the best, the film is packed with the best of Swedish actors. One fo the leading characters, vicar Tord Ekstedt is played by the former Hollywood star Nils Asther, who was forced to go back to Sweden during his golden years when jobs started to dry up in the US and he did some bad affairs which affected his reputation in the biz. He hit it big as a silent movie star, but his accent prevented him to continue rise even higher as a star and he played mostly foreigners and bad guys. He shot two movies with Mattsson, this one and the excellent Vita Frun (aka Lady in White), which show so clearly what a magnificent actor he was. I can recommend both just because of him. Karl-Arne Holmsten is Inspector Wijk, and he was one of the more popular and charming leading men during the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, but retired from the screen at the end of the sixties with a few sporadic acting gigs after that. The supporting cast is nothing less than spectacular, with George Fant, Sif Ruud (the leading nice old lady of Swedish cinema), Hjördis Pettersson (the leading evil old lady of Swedish cinema), Adolf Jahr, Sigge Fürst and the “angry young man”, my favourite, Bengt Brunskog. Elsa Prawitz, Arne Mattsson’s wife, do a great job as the wife of the first murder victim also. Almost everyone is a veteran or future veteran of Mattsson’s movies. He always used the same actors and gave them wonderful and original parts.

Rarely seen and I’m not sure it’s been released on home video, it was shown a couple of days ago in TV. Far from classics like Mattsson’s predecessor to Mario Bava’s Blood and Black Lace, Mannekäng i Rött (1958) and The Lady in Black from the same year, but still a very nice murder mystery, perfect for a dark winter night.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Papi Gudia (1996)

Sometime rip-off can be a blessing, a cool twist on an old story. Sometime it can be a bore. With Papi Guida it’s a little bit of both, because I watched the whole movie without any problems or dividing the viewing-experience over a couple days. Directed by Lawrence D'Souza, Papi Guida is part the typical Indian trashy horror story and part just very uninspired. Let’s take a look at the story…

Shakti Kapoor is Charandas, a psychopatic criminal who escapes the police into a toy story. He gets shot down, but before he dies he moves his soul to a doll, Chucky… eh, Channi! The doll is later sold by a street salesman to a boy and his mother and everyone is happy, except Chucky… Channi, because he wants to find himself a new fresh body to live in! After killing the boys babysitter by throwing her from the fifth floor he… wtf, this is a god damn exact copy of Tom Holland’s immortal 1988 horror classic Child’s Play! Just with more singing and dancing!

Papi Guida is very silly movie and it becomes even sillier with Channi, the killer doll. A cheap doll with no movements or special effects added to it. Just someone holding the doll outside the frame, wiggling it back and forth. In two scenes they put clothes and a wig on a child who’s suppose to be the doll, but that’s about it. The doll looks extremely stupid, like an eighties girl-doll with a cap on the head. A transgender-doll with a knife! Anyway… whats more fun is the black magic conducted in the beginning and end of the movie, very colorful and fun. The fights are also quite brutal and filled with slow-motion stunts of people flying through the air and landing into furniture. Not much blood and the stiffness of the doll make the attack scenes very boring.

But the best part of Papi Gudia is the many instances of unintentional comedy, like the absurd montage of the talent show early in the film. It’s to describe, but I was almost on the floor laughing that the “talents” of the kids performing. It’s also such short clips of their acts to the whole thing feels even more absurd. In the middle of the movie is a musical number which starts in black & white and with zombies crawling up from a graveyard, but soon transforms into a hilarous dance number with a bloke that reminds me of Indian comedian Johnny Lever, but still not, and he’s wearing the ugliest clothes every seen on the screen.

No, Papi Gudia isn’t a good movie at all, but I suspect it would be a blast to watch together with friends and a bucket or two with home-made booze! Your brain will never be the same after the Bollywood version of Child’s Play…

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cat and Mouse (1974)

I love a good TV movie, especially the stuff made in the US during the seventies. The quality was often very high the lack of budget and graphic violence often lead to creative scripts to be able to surprise the audiences. Kirk Douglas, one of my favourite actors, had a very interesting career during this decade with a lot radical and controversial movies, like he wanted, even more than he did before, to change the view of him as an actor and artist. In Cat and Mouse (aka Mousey) he makes one of his best performances, and it’s a shame so few remember this classic.

Kirk is George “Mousey” Anderson, a grey and quiet teacher who has been married with the younger Laura (Jean Seberg) for many years. This marriage was arranged, no explanation why, and now Laura has broken free with her young son. George has started to see the boy as his own son and can’t accept that their whole marriage has been a lie. Laura has met a new man, the good David (John Vernon) and wants to start a new life for her and the boy. George, in a sudden rage, suddenly quits his job and decides to take revenge on Laura. Armed with a razor he follows them to the big city…

Until Micke at the legendary Stockholmian video store Monkey Beach gave me a copy of this I never heard about it before! This is a darn shame, because Cat and Mouse is a fantastic piece of thriller. Very simple in it’s execution with a straightforward script and not much of fancy camera work, this is so good that I just couldn’t stop watch it. Even of every actor is good, this is still Kirk Douglas movie. He’s in 95 % of every frame, dominating the screen with a disturbing performance of a man who goes from being a cry-baby to a serial killer like a god damn yoyo – and makes a convincing character all the way.

Directed by experienced TV-director Daniel Petrie, this very much feels like a low-key thriller for cinema. It also had a cinema release in the UK, which is understandable – this is good stuff, without a doubt. Petrie also never shy’s away from violence. Ok, we’re not talking anything graphic here, but it has a few scenes of quite rough and brutal violence when Kirk is waving with his razor and removing people that try to stop him.

The ending, which is a great exercise in tension, has an interesting plot-twist that actually was ripped of in another more famous thriller from the same year, and I wonder if they just stole it from this one – because it’s a good twist!

Not out on DVD what I know, which is a pity. But if you get a chance to see it, take that chance. Please.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Water (1981)

I collect disaster movies from all over the world, and finally I found myself one from Turkey! The Water is a very patriotic slice of propaganda starring the one and only Cüneyt Arkin, the leading hero-actor in Turkey for many years. I usually stay away from most disaster movies involving water, mostly because they aren’t entertaining enough (not counting huge tsunamis of course), but this could be fun – and it was, but not really for the disaster itself…

Arkin is Murat, an honest engineer – the man behind the biggest dam in Turkey. After loosing his wife and one his sons in the water he goes crazy and more or less becomes the village idiot, talking to himself and raving about how dangerous it is to use the water for the purpose of luring tourists to the area. And that’s what his greedy brother Orhan wants to do, to with explosives make the valley bigger and transform the place to a tourist paradise with a gigantic lake, hotels and… you know the rest! Yes, the explosions will make the dam collapse! The villains in disaster movies are always evil capitalists who want to make many in every way possible, even risking their own life! Murat want to stop him, but his brother uses his henchmen to try to stop him… will they succeed? Will the place be a paradise on earth with cheap drinks and dance clubs? Guess again…

The Water is a VERY cheap disaster movie, probably the cheapest I’ve seen – but not with out merits. The best and probably the only thing I really can recommend it for is the presence of Cüneyt Arkin who gets involved in a couple of excellent fights, mixing classic fistfights with more acrobatic martial arts. In one of them he fights with big pieces of wood attached to his arms, much like Tony Jaa in Tom Yum Gong (but Tony has of course elephant-bones instead). In another sequence he’s hanged with ropes attached to his arms from a bridge, which is a very impressive stunt – and it looks like he does it himself, at lease from a few of the angles – it’s a very high bridge!).

Most of the movie is almost a one man drama. Murat walking around talking and thinking, sometimes directly to the camera, with a scene or two here with him verbally fighting with his evil brother or taking care of his old mother and surviving son in their village below the dam. Much is said about using electricity wisely and not on unnecessary things like entertainment, and several references is given to the great leader in Turkey at the moment. The movie actually ends with a filmed signed encouraging people to work hard for their country.

Directed by legendary Çetin Inanç (Turkish Jaws, Turkish Star Wars, Death Warrior and hundreds of probably better but less talked about films) with a raw energy and creative use of the very low budget. The fights and acting are mostly very good, but when the disaster finally hits the lack of money is seen very clearly. Except a very ugly miniature of the dam (who looks very different from the real dam) there are hardly any special effects. Most of the disaster is spent in rivers where the water runs fast and furious, and makes a good stand-in for dry ground. The rest is a lot of scenes when they’re spraying the extras with fire truck hoses and throwing papier-maché rocks at them! How do I know there is fire trucks involved? Well, in one scene you actually see the fire truck standing by the side of the road waiting for the next water-scene, while people running in panic from it. On the good side, the disaster takes up a big part of the ending and those takes when they obviously just pouring a bucket of water in front of the camera can’t stop it from being entertaining.

Worth watching for the spectacular fights and for a lot of shots of Cüneyt Arkin just standing up looking handsome and cool – or for those that desperately need every disaster movie ever made!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cellat (1975)

Just a year after Michael Winner unleashed Charles Bronson’s vigilante architect came Turkey with their own version, Cellat, here with Serdar Gökhan as the unlucky architect. Sometimes these rip-offs can be both boring and under-written, but Cellat is one of those rare imitators who clearly want to add something to the story, to the message. It might have only fragment of the Death Wish-budget and probably half the shooting-time, but succeeds in giving both the audience and the vigilante genre something very special.

Gökhan is a very happy man. He and his wife have been married for ten years and still acts like they’re just fallen in love. His sister has a happy relationship and they’re just having a blast. Life is great, Gökhan saves a dog and they’re out on long romantic walks. One day his wife and sister are alone in the house and three criminals invade the place, raping them brutally. The wife dies and the sister falls into a deep state of shock. Gökhan, himself is in some kind of shock, gets back to work quickly but when a client gives him a gun as a gift something awakes inside him: revenge. He begins his search for the guilty criminals, but before he can get to them there’s a lot of trash on the street that needs to be wiped away…

Bronson and Gökhan do the same character, but so different. What’s interesting here is that the Turkish architect goes so far, he’s getting obsessed in a way that Bronson didn’t get until Death Wish 2 in 1982, like a serial killer stalking the streets after new victims to sadistically shoot down. Gökhan transforms much faster to a serial killer than Bronson, why? I think he is, because of the death of his father, realizes the trauma that guns can create. He goes back in the past, sees himself more like the son that never go the time to grief when his father died in a shooting-accident. Twice the pain creates twice the anger, and there’s absolutely nothing stopping him from getting what he wants. In a lot of way Cellat predates Death Wish 2 a lot more than the first Death Wish movie did.

Everything escalates in the way only Turks can do it, more victims for each scene and in the end three very sadistic killings worthy being a part of the crazy Death Wish 5! Here it’s not only revenge, here it’s sadism for the sake of sadism. Cellat has an open ending, compared to the original movie, which feels even more appropriate because of the cynicism and violence that we have witnessed during the last 90 minutes. Istanbul must be the most dangerous place in the world, because in every corner someone is getting robbed or being raped – so it’s easy nights for Gökhan, at least until the cops are getting closer!

Cellat is a very violent movie, with a lot of bloody squibs and beatings. It’s easily a lot more violent than anything Michael Winner did at that time, but never romanticizes the violence. Gökhan transform himself even more into a sadistic villain the longer the movie goes. The atmospheric soundtrack and good acting from everyone involved also adds to the quality. The bad guys are a bit over-the-top, but works because it’s a Turkish movie and bad guys are supposed to be bad and heroes good – the last thing is firmly stated in the beginning with Gökhan saves a dog (and remember that Tarkan took a terrible revenge on those who killed his dog in Tarkan vs The Vikings!).

The release from Onar Films looks nice and probably the best it will ever look. This is something you must own and buy it before it’s gone, because it’s only a few copies left of this limited release now!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Commando (1988)

”We are the freaks”, sings Freddie Wadling, Cortex, in the beginning of the eighties. I feel like a freak for loving Commando so much, because I guess every scientific investigation prove that Commando, starring Mithun Chakraborty, is pure shallow crap. But what had the world come to if we listen to what the scientists told us every time? The earth would still be flat and we would fear the people that live above the clouds. Starring Bengali superstar (aren’t they all?) Mithun Chakraborty with his faithful sidekick, Hemant Birje and the story, yes the story… what can I say? It has to be seen to be believed!

Similar to Ankhen, this is also by a big organization that plans and executes terrorist attacks around India, trying to get Hindus and Muslims against each other. But first we start in 1988, judging by the fashion were we meet young Chander who is thought by his patriotic father to do silly gymnastics, in identical clothes as him, to give his life for motherland India. And that’s what happens: his father dies a bloody death protecting Indira Gandhi. Jump forward, to 1988 (judging by the fashion) and Chander is now a young slightly over-aged young man who wants to take revenge on those who killed his father. He starts working at a weapon factory and discovers that one of the bosses sells guns to the terrorists, the SAME terrorist who killed his father! But he’s gonna get a hard time, because the villain has the deadliest of deadly weapon: Ninjas!

I really wish you could have watched this movie together with me, because the Insanity knows no boundaries! The whole movie starts with a rip-off of the beginning scene in Mark L. Lesters Commando, you know that father-kid stuff. Then it becomes something that could be described as a very cheap Golan/Globus production, complete with Godfrey Ho ninjas and lots of slow-mo and kung fu. And stunts. And an accordion cover of Opus Life is Life plus a healthy dose of Star Wars music (and this is the first time I think John Williams terrible score is used properly and entertaining). We’re treated to three bigger ninja-scenes, first the typical ninja-playground were all ninjas train and jumps on trampolines. Fun! Then a nice fight inside a warehouse were Chander himself takes down a gang of ninjas! The master ninja himself is named Ninja and is played by one of the coolest Indian actors ever, the awesome Danny Denzongpa! Seriously, he’s the most evil-looking character actor the world has seen (the last big movie you could see him in was in Robot… as the bad guy!).

A lot of shoot-outs and a couple of the silliest song- and dance number’s so far, the last one being slightly homo-erotic. But it could be the alcohol the characters drinking in that scene. Without any warning a half-naked man only wearing a tie and shorts jumps on Mac Mohan and kisses him, and it looks very awkward in the shit and the only thing left of it is like a couple of frames.

So, after all these ninjas and shoot-outs, didn’t we all expect a similar final? Yes, but hey… this is India and if there’s a good movie to be copied… yeah, the whole final is a shot-for-shot version of Where Eagles Dare! All the way with the bus in the snowy landscape to the airplane, and with at least as much action but with less money! The miniatures are extremely primitive, toy-cars falling of cliffs and not so realistic houses exploding. But that’s ok, as long as it’s not boring!

Ah, I forgot to mention that scene in the middle were our hero and the girl meets a chubby guy over in enemy land, dances with him and then takes a ride with his flying car. But I’ll let you discover that yourself. Commando is a fun ride, a crazy motherf**ker of Indian movies. A fun cast, lots of action and a familiar score makes this something you need to own. And don’t forget that the evil mastermind, the villain, is played by Amrish Puri – for famous for his part as Mola Ram in 1984’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom! Maybe it’s trash for most people, but for me it’s just love.

Ankhen (1968)

Time has come to one of the most iconic Indian spy-stories, Ankhen, another movies taking a lot of inspiration from James Bond, but maybe mostly succeeds to be a patriotic mishmash of drama, action and songs. I guess Ankhen is one of those movies that might be better in memory than in real life, because one of the few things that survived from its initial release is the action scenes and the gorgeous sixties cinematography. The rest is very uneven, to a degree it took me three days to watch the whole movie. Is it so bad? Absolutely not, it’s just the pacing that could have been better – and shorter songs.

Terrorist attacks kills a lot of people in India and soon we get to know that a terrorist group is responsible for making every demonstration, every radical movement even worse with planting bombs and attacking the Indian government pretending to be Indian. A concerned group of private citizens take upon them to defend the borders of India, but also do some spying in Beirut, Lebanon. When one of them is killed – or is he? – master-spy Sunil (Dharmendra) travels to Beirut to try to uncover who the killers are and what they want. The evil mastermind this time is Doctor X, complete with a monocle and an endless hate for the proud Indian people! He has built a secret underground base outside one of the big cities, and there preparing all the terrorist attacks! Will Sunil and his friends stop him, or are they all… doomed?

I can start with some whining. Ankhen is way to long for the story it tries to tell. Or let me correct myself directly, it has way to few twists, turns and action scenes for it’s nearly three hour running time. Compared with Shaan or Bond 303, its quiet slow and focuses mostly on Sunil walking around looking cool (nothing wrong with that really), some bad comedy and scenes of happy families doing stuff together. The songs are also way to long and all except the night club act is badly executed and very stiff and slow.

The story kinda picks ups when the little son of the sister of Sunil gets kidnapped by Doctor X and his cohorts and is placed in a room with moving spiked walls, always threatening to crush him! That’s poetry!

What’s more fun is the action, as usual. There’s a couple of very Jackie Chan-esque stunts when people are falling down and probably hurting themselves quite badly, a couple of fun and quite acrobatic fist fights and no less than three nice miniature sets getting blown to pieces in true Godzilla-style. The acting from the bad guys is over-the-top, and a lot more fun than the stiff hero-cast. Jeevan, who plays Doctor X, is in full scene-chewing mode and have a lot of fun with a character that is boring written. But best of them all is Indias wicked stepmother number 1, legendary Lalita Pawar, who plays the evil doctors henchwoman. The first half of the movie she’s a zombie-like psychopath, but goes into fantastic performance when she’s pretending to be an aunt of one of the good guys (they have never seen each other before, therefore he don’t recognize her as an imposter) and she completely transform herself into a hysterical, Krishna-mumbling old psycho-lady. Pure brilliance! She started her career as a nine year old in 1928 and died in 1998, what a career!

Ankhen is far from the best Indian movie I’ve seen, but it still worth watching for the action and great sets – and because of dear old Lalita of course. I have the DVD from Shanti Enterprises, and it’s a good looking fullscreen version with fully working English subtitles.