Thursday, June 7, 2012

"The Wind"(1987)d/Nico Mastorakis

When last we examined one of Greek filmmaker Nico Mastorakis' movies nearly five hundred reviews ago(the very first post on Wopsploitation, some useless trivia for you there) back in ought-seven, naturally, it was his wildly controversial, widely banned 1975 pioneer effort, Island of Death that we scrutinized.Some five years later, we find another Mastorakis film to focus upon, this time, one of his low-budget American productions from the mid to late eighties, a direct-to-video cat n' mouse pot boiler set in Greece and starring a surprisingly good cast that includes Meg Foster, Robert Morley, Steve Railsback, David McCallum, and none other than Wings Hauser as the unhinged American psychopath.Sure, I just named the killer in the opening paragraph, but you're probably not gonna cast an apex antagonist like Hauser in your film as anything else but, really, are you.Besides, apart from a few moments of enveloping paranoia, Mastorakis, who wrote, produced, and directed here(as he often does), plays the whole thing decidedly straightforward and un-giallo, despite some mounting comparison of this particular work to Argento's over the years, crafting methodical suspense out of the isolation of his main character, and anthropomorphising the island's foreboding, seasonal night winds, instead.Despite the film's mostly lethargic pace and seeming aversion to the plot twists, gore, or nudity required of a slasher or giallo, Wind manages to weave some real tension and atmosphere around the lush cinematography and solid performances from it's two leads throughout.
"Would you mind terribly if I pulverized my poultry in the lavvy briefly?"
Sian Anderson(Meg Foster) is an American mystery novelist vacationing for several weeks in the remote Greek villa of Monemvassia, as rented to her by elderly-but-opinionated British chatterbox, Elias Appleby(Robert Morley), who tells her:"When I first saw this place, I nearly had an orgasm!", before warning her not to venture out in the brutal night winds, reminding her that she isn't in Chicago.While her overprotective beau, John(David McCallum), worries poolside(with a plexiglas window, no less) in America, the seasonal isolation allows for her to get to work on her latest novel, as she fleshes out an imagined argument between Appleby and his hired help, a gum-chewing American ne'er-do-well named Phil(Wings Hauser) who seems to appear and disappear with the sudden wind gusts, and who helpfully offers:"If you need to know about death, I'm right next door..."(!).Mighty neighborly of you, Phil.That night, she thinks she sees him burying a body out back, and after investigating further, discovers that the partially unearthed hand contains Elias' signature ring.While she struggles to determine whether the threat is real or imagined, and unable to maintain a phone connection long enough to relate her dilemma to her stateside lover(who can't get through to the Greek authorities on his end, either), she calls Elias' Greek wife with her suspicions, and when the woman comes looking for her husband in the blustery night, Phil feeds her sickle-fueled death, throwing her lifeless corpse into a pantry next to Elias, whose body he's moved to further complicate things.
Nevermind those limpid blue pools of hers, get a look at that delicious cigarette.
It isn't long before the peninsula's brutal winds usher in a prolonged game of cat and mouse between the homicidal handyman and the isolated writer, who barricades herself in, alternately pouring a pot of steaming hot water into his mush, stabbing his shoulder with a butcher knife, and repeatedly firing off a tactical shotgun in his general direction.John eventually gets through to the police, who send a landlocked sailor named Kesner(Steve Railsback) to check on Sian, but after much skepticism and precious little investigation, he's impaled through a door by Phil's sickle.Unwavered by his mounting injuries, Phil cracks a few poppers and harrasses the author with nursery rhymes and Humphrey Bogart impersonations over the phone, adding, matter-of-factly:"Do me a favor. Don't die quietly, okay. Talk to me." Sian boobytraps the door with some rope, and when Phil tries to break in, the door slams his sickle into his midsection, apparently killing him.As the writer tries desperately to flag down a couple of indecisive newlyweds outside the castle, Phil pops up again, chasing the hysterical girl to a lofty ledge, where he takes one of the more memorable slo-mo missteps in cinema history, and plummets, screaming, several thousand feet to the jagged rocks below, or at least an unreasonable dummy facsimile does.Roll credits.
"I don't usually terrorize women vacationing in Greece with a sickle, but when I do, I make sure I'm hopped up on Amyl Nitrite first." 
Ironically, the cover art depicted above would find itself on a Turkish poster for Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning(!), with Robert Morley's familiar face painted over with a goalie mask, but Wings Hauser chasing Meg Foster down the length of the sickle inexplicably remains.Turks are fucking weird, aren't they?
Hauser would again appear in front of Mastorakis' lens the following year in 'Nightmare at Noon', most recently scoring a credit in Rubber(2010).Foster is a Reading, Pa. native who's appeared in everything from Welcome to Arrow Beach/ aka Tender Flesh(1974), and They Live(1988), to Leviathan(1989) and 1994's Shrunken Heads, and will be appearing in Rob Zombie's latest effort, Lords of Salem.With those glow-in-the-dark blue eyes, I can't hold it against her.During his long career, McCallum has scored genre credits in television shows like Outer Limits, Twilight Zone and Night Gallery, while you'll most likely remember Morley as the rotund theater critic forced to eat his poodles by Vincent Price in 1973's Theater of Blood.After giving a critically acclaimed performance as Charlie Manson in 1976 tele-pic Helter Skelter, Steve Railsback has turned up in everything from Lifeforce(1985) to Ed Gein(2000), and even Rob Zombie's The Devil's Rejects(2005).On the scale, Wind merits a solid two Wops, and is well worth a look.
Now that's what I call: κολύμπι στο ποτάμι του λάσπη νέον σε Έλληνες πουλόβερ, or 'Swimming in the river of Neon Slime in a Greek sweater'.

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