Monday, April 30, 2012

"The Possession of Joel Delaney"(1972)d/Waris Hussein

I hadn't seen this one since the days when staying up 'til eleven to catch the end of a horror movie on a school night was an effective bargaining chip towards my behavior for an entire afternoon, if the mood struck me, and apart from the dumb title and Shirley MacLaine, one of the hotter redheads of her day, for sure, I'd remembered practically nothing from it.Never a good omen when revisiting movies like these I've come to find out.Directed by Waris Hussein, who'd helmed the original Dr. Who serial in '63(I'm a Tom Baker/Jon Pertwee guy myself), oddly enough, and predating The Exorcist by a year, Delaney showcases the lush New York exteriors of yesteryear, some tame, phony gore, an outrageous Mex-orcism with flaming feet, cigars, and whiskey, and Perry "Riptide" King in his first role, as a rich white hippie who somehow manages to get himself possessed by a murderous piped-in hispanic stereotype that causes him to cut the heads off of the women in his life.King says the role, where he forces his own niece's face into dog food and nephew to dance around in his birthday suit, was the best he's ever gotten.Don't expect the usual projectile vomiting, appearance of stigmata, levitation, or readable welts in this take, instead,  look for a leather jacket, slicked-back hair, and a stiletto as signs that gringo Delaney has undergone la posesión, in one of the hokiest Indio portrayals on film since West Side Story.I was half-expecting Perry to appear in an oversized sombrero and droopy moustache for the finale, leaning against Port Authority, too siesta-ed out to terrorize much of any-Juan, errr, anyone, sorry.Two Mules for Sister Sara(1970), it ain't.
You know it was a real ballbuster of a party last night, when...
A party full of well-to-do Manhattan snobs is attended by recent divorcee Norah Benson(Shirley MacLaine) and her younger brother, Joel Delaney(Perry King), a Bohemian from the East Village who's just returned from Tangiers.The parvenus mistake Joel for Nora's new lover, and judging by the looks she fires at Joel's ex, Sherry(Barbara Trentham), they might not be that far off with their assumptions.Days later, after he fails to attend a dinner she's planned for him and a phone call to his Spanish Harlem apartment nets her only strange music and choking sounds, she pays him a visit, only to arrive just in time to see him being led from his stoop in cuffs, having just made an attempt on his landlord's life.After learning that her brother is being evaluated in Bellvue's psych ward from her ex-husband, a prominent surgeon, she enters Joel's pad, finding symbolism used in Santeria painted on the wall, and...a switchblade(insert 50's sci-fi theremin here).At the squirrel farm, she tells her sibling, who remembers nothing of the incident that led to his incarceration, to admit to having been on drugs so he can be released into her care.Dr. Lorenz(Lovelady Powell), Joel's former shrink, asks him why someone of such affluence would want to live where he does, to which, he explains his shared wavelength with the locals and his friendship to one Tonio Pérez.Back at Norah's, the siblings' creepy repoire degenerates into sex questions before Joel can escape out a window to the discotheque, where he spots a pissed up Sherry, being chatted up by a host of male admirers.He gives it to her, hard style, afterwards at her high rise flat.At the juvenile birthday party Norah holds for him, he leads Sherry on a Peter Pan-styled wild goosechase for a missing earring, which he attaches to a helium balloon and sets into the atmosphere, before nearly setting her hair on fire with the cake candles as a dubbed voice insults her en Espanol.When Norah stops in on Sherry the next morning, she finds her decapitated body next to her blatantly phony head, which is suspended from a houseplant by the hair.A detective asks her if Joel has any Puerto Rican friends...dun dun DUN!It turns out there were three unsolved low profile murders of Puerto Rican girls last summer believed to have been committed by Tonio Pérez, who has since gone missing himself.
!!Matando Gueros!! Machete en mano y sangre india caliente!
After her maid up and quits, she sends Norah to Don Pedro (Edmundo Rivera Alvarez), a strange little guy who runs a witchcraft general store and arranges a crazy Santerian Mex-orcism with Norah and Tonio's mother in attendance.The woman admits that her son committed the murders, but that her husband had killed him for it shortly afterwards.Pedro explains that Tonio's evil soul now possesses Joel, and to remove it requires his dramatic barefooted prancing around with a sash tied around his head, spitting liquor, shouting, and smoking cigars.Of course, Tonio isn't interested in relinquishing power over Delaney, as evidenced by Joel's barricading himself in at home and shouting in Spanish, which leads Norah to snatch up the kids and take them to the family beach house far from the whole, troubling, supernatural enchilada.After a night of much needed rest, she awakens to find Lorenz's muy phony disembodied domepiece among the canned goods above the fridge, and even more troublingly, Joel, decked out in a leather jacket, with his hair slicked back, wielding a switchblade, and not looking or sounding the least bit hispanic, in her very midst.Ah, but this isn't Joel holding his niece and nephew at knifepoint as cops surround the property, aggressively gutting the fish they'd just caught, insulting them in Spanish, before forcing the girl's face into a bowl o' dog food, and ordering the boy to strip naked and dance.This is Tonio, pendejos, or what Perry King imagines such a homicidal hispanic would be like, anyway.When the kids run out of the house, Joel follows suit, and is abruptly plugged in the breadbasket by one of the officers.Norah cradles his dying body in her arms, puts on a "This place could use a StickUp!" face(this is what's known as 'conveying a soul transference' in the acting community, apparently), takes the stiletto from her brother's lifeless hand and turns upwards towards an attending cop nearby, now possessed herself.Freeze frame.Roll credits.
"Let's see...we've got some purple stuff, Sunny D, or your Uncle Joel's therapist's head??"
Hussein would feature prominently as one of the BBC's top directors over the next several decades.MacLaine has authored several books during her prolific acting career, while her real life brother, Warren Beatty, is nothing like her cinematic one, I would think.Ironically, she would be the basis for the Chris O'Neill character in The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty, which would be released as a film a year later.King would go on to appear in tv-movie Deadly Visitor the following year, and score roles in Mandingo(1975), Lipstick(1976), and Bad(1977) before the decade was through.Veronica, Norah's maid, is played by Miriam Colon, who you'll remember as Tony Montana's mother in Scarface(1983).She looks pretty damned good here, too, if I might say so myself.Apparently, the dvd spares us the full sequence of the fully nude thirteen year old boy that's present in the theatrical cut and VHS release of the film.I dunno, what's left in was disturbing enough to me and I mean that in the least flattering way possible.Who shot this, Ulli Lommel? For most discerning horror fans, this thing gets long-winded in a hurry, with precious little action to keep them from D.T.F.O.-ing(dozing the fuck off) in the recliner, the sexy MacLaine, notwithstanding.Final Tally:No scares, no atmosphere, very little red stuff, and only One of these:
A stiletto, Shirley? How Latino of you...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

"Midnight"(1982)d/John Russo

I'm willing to forgive NOTLD co-writer John Russo for the folly of much of his cinematic output since his famous collaboration with George A., with special emphasis on his mordacious handling of the so-called 30th Anniversary recut, rescored, (retarded) re-imagining of the b&w Romero zombie classic.Instead, tonight we'll take a look the 1982 film version of his novel, first published in 1980, a mostly uncoordinated, slow moving, minor effort, with occasional moments of eerie backwoods atmosphere and amateur splatter.Working with a skeleton crew, light-damaged cheapo film stock, and mostly unreliable amateur actors, while the cut-happy MPAA censors neutered his horrific theological vision, Russo still manages to insert some quality unease into his directorial debut, sort of a TCM meets Deranged vibe going on here.Until the advent of dvds, most of Midnight's juicy bits ended up on the cutting room floor, with the craptastic Vidmark VHS release from the early eighties still stale on my mind, though Arrow's transfer looks to be an equally murky dub from weathered video source materials(as evidenced by the time coding at the top of some of my screenshots, eh).Apart from Lawrence Tierney and John Amplas, the cast, garbed in what looks like a  J.C. Penny's sidewalk sale run on 1978 backstocked polyester and denim, is mostly forgettable, though antagonists David Marchick, Greg Besnak, and Robin Walsh run the gamut from gleefully sadistic to stiltedly comical as the family of hayseed Satanists.Melanie Verlin as the female lead is neither effective nor particularly swell to look at, for that matter.The headache-inducing AM Gold-esque synth score that perfectly accentuates the disco wear and shag carpeted van interiors within, if you see where I'm goin' here. Russo delights in padding out already snore-worthy driving and walking sequences throughout the movie, still, there's that foreboding dread, sporadic as it may be, that rises out of his frame that's rare for slashers of the era.You could do a lot worse than a movie like this on a Wednesday night, I guess.
Five words no girl ever wants to hear: "Come to Lawrence Tierney, baby..."
We see what looks to be Jimmy Peterson's little sister screaming her fool head off while snagged in an animal trap, before Momma(Jackie Nicoll)  can convince her brood that the terrified girl is really a demon in disguise, and in desperate need of a hearty clobberin' with an axe handle.Back at the farmhouse, we see the girl sacrificed to the dark lord and master with a single plunge of a sizeable dagger, as wielded by Cynthia(Debra Smith) .Over the credits, it gets even more diabolical, as Nancy Johnson(Melanie Verlin) gives a juicy confession(she's committed sins o' th' flaish with her boyfriend...wait, chicks that looked like the leisure version of Prince Valiant got laid in the early eighties? It can't be.) and is told she oughta be burning in Hell for sharing her cunt before marriage the way she's done, by cracky!At home, it might even be worse for the old looking teen, who's drunkenly ogled and groped by her own stepdad(Lawrence Tierney) before braining him with a transistor radio(!) and thumbing her way outta town before he comes to, and she has to hear him say, "Why don't ya just relax and let Daddy make ya feel good?" again.To strains of easy listening AM radio'd be too embarrassed to play, Nancy hops in a shagged out delivery van on it's way to Fla, as piloted by a checkered pair of squares, Tom and Hank, and together, they embark on a corny driving montage complete with racial tensions in a saloon, and a black preacher at a gas station who's barely able to spit out some exposition about missing locals, gas cans, and anti-black sentiment in the area before a yokel can bark at him.The priest gets knifed up in a nearby graveyard and his daughter gets C.T.F.O.ed in the tub by a snickering mountain of a good ol' boy while our heroes steal groceries, netting them anti-climactic cop chase that lands them directly in the center of fucking nowhere.Meanwhile, back home, Nancy's stepdad breaks it to Mom that she's been showing off her little body to him whenever she gets the chance, and he's kept it from her out of love.Larry Tierney a sex magnet?Now I've seen it all...
If you give tonsilectomies with a rusty machete in a rundown farmhouse, you might be a redneck.
Our gang awakens from their camping overnighter with gun barrels in their faces the next morning, courtesy of Abraham(John Amplas) and Luke(Greg Besnak), dressed as cops.Hank, cuffed, makes a break for it, and pays with a point blank execution headshot from Abe, who later plugs Tom in the heart, savin' taxpayers money an' all.The trigger-happy badges chase Nancy through the woods to a farmhouse where Cynthia(Robin Walsh) deals Solitaire while her brother Cyrus(David Marchick) gigglingly saws off a victim's head with a machete.Why, these are the same evil brats from the pre-credit sequence, all grown up and twice as psychotic.I see what you did there.The siblings squabble about having three sacrifices to Satan for Easter(I was unaware Satan even celebrated beyond your obligatory basket full of chocolate bunnies and eggs like the rest of us) while Nancy gets cozy in a dog cage, next to Gwen, another kenneled up cutie for the festivities.The boys burn the burgeoning pile of bodies and snatch another shapely young victim while Luke shanks up her husband in a nearby woodpile, following up on the promise he'd made earlier to his mother's mummified corpse in the attic.The first girl gets herself an extra mouth during the pentagram-heavy ceremony,  her blood caught in a chalice and fed to the siblings' mother's rotting cadaver while Nancy quietly gives an act of contrition from her cage.While the boys make Tom's van disappear, they're spotted by Burt, Nancy's stepdad, who's on the case like Kojak, if Kojak was an uglier, heavier drunk who fancied molesting his own stepdaughter, that is.Burt flashlights the shit outta Luke's domepiece and holds Cyrus and Abe at gunpoint, demanding they return his blow up do-uhhh, daughter, to him.In the melee, Cynthia jabs Burt with her dagger, Burt shoots Cyrus in the head, Nancy scythes Cynthia's throat, and later sets a resurrected Luke ablaze with a gas can and a match in the barn.Abe is dead somewhere too, I think.Cue that rotten title track one last time, thankfully, and let's recoup our losses already.
With her hair and makeup done, Mama was finally ready for the family photo at Sears.
Russo would follow tonight's review up with things like Midnight 2: Sex, Death and Videotape(1993), the direct-to-video sequel, Scream Queens' Naked Christmas(1996), and Santa Claws(1996), while chisel-faced Brooklyn tough guy Lawrence Tierney would  appear in genre offerings like 1987's The Offspring, The Prowler(1981), Chris Gore's Red(1992), The Horror Show(1989), and even that Tarantino cat's own debut, Reservoir Dogs(1992), as Joe 'Mr. Big' Cabot.Juicy.Real juicy, Junior.John Amplas, an always likable  Romero regular and favorite of mine, starred in Martin(1976), got shot off a rooftop in Dawn of the Dead(1978), played a mime in Knightriders(1981), rose from the grave in Creepshow(1982), and donned a lab coat in Day of the Dead(1985).While we're on the subject, Verlin would turn up in Romero's Monkey Shines(1988).Savini would stay busy throughout the decade, lending his effects wizardry to productions like Friday the 13th:The Final Chapter(1984), Creepshow 2(1987), and the 1990 Argento/Romero film, Due occhi diabolici, while appearing in direct-to-video titles like United's The Ripper(1985), which we'll be taking a gander at in the days to come.Despite Savini's credit for providing makeups and effects for tonight's feature, in the Arrow dvd featurette, "“Midnight at your Door: The Shocking Sacrifices of John A. Russo”, we hear the writer/director admit to fabricating much of the film's stabbing/slashing effects himself, even taking a potshot at Savini for his work on the mummified corpse in the finale.Also noteworthy, is Bill Hinzman, NOTLD's legendary 'Cemetery Zombie', who provided still photography for the movie.A technical dud, but worth a look, regardless.One Wop.
Nancy(Melanie Verlin)'s refusal to go on the paper lands her in the 'Punishment Kennel'.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

R.I.P Jonathan Frid


December 2, 1924 - April 13, 2012

"Jason Goes to Hell:The Final Friday"(1993)d/Adam Marcus

After covering the eight previous films in the Friday the 13th series, tonight, we hit rock bottom like Paul of KISS's immortalized chick, who knows she oughta treat him good, yet never treats him like she should.Only a lot farther down than that.With the mushroom cloud of total fucking failure, as deposited into the atmosphere by Jason Takes Manhattan(1989) still hanging off the air five years later like a soggy Bukwas on a tanning bed of spent mushroom compost, New Line Cinema's supernatural re-imagining of Paramount's slasher king for yet another 'final' movie; a ham-fisted, boring segue into the horror nerd's nocturnal emission come true that would come from the studio a decade later in the form of Freddy vs. Jason, that won't really appeal to hardcore Jason fanatics(the iconic goalie-masked zombie is mostly unaccounted for here, even delivering a breviloquent bit o'uncharacteristic Jason dialogue, too, and the film is woefully deficient in empty-headed, sex-starved teenaged camp counselors, as well... what gives, Cunningham), and despite some skillful murders provided by the ever-stellar KNB troupe, doesn't offer much entertainment to the average genrephile either.I'm not knocking the producers for trying to steer the whole enervated mess into an overdue new direction, I'm questioning why nobody involved blew the whistle along the way, and said, out loud, "Dudes, this seriously sucks, everyone's gonna hate the fuck out of it.Let's start over...". Rivalling 'Manhattan' in suck-itude should be no easy task, but Marcus and Co. make it look effortless here, even serving up an embarrassing moment of hellish denouement geared towards eight year old wrasslin' fans involving that other iconic horror character with the bad complexion, corny wisecracks, foppish hat, and ugly sweater.
"Jumpin' Jeezus!This is some mellow hickory smoked BBQ sauce, I'll tell you THAT, Jack!"
After Jason Voorhees(Kane Hodder) unwittingly walks into an undercover F.B.I. sting in Crystal Lake where he's pumped full o' lead, then grenaded into pulpy smithereens(I guess the wire tap wasn't working, fellas?), his disembodied, black heart hypnotizes a black morgue attendant(Richard Gant) into taking a big nasty bite out of it, and thus, transferring Jason's evil essence into the soul brother, who takes it upon himself to murder his assistant(after he foolishly refers to Jason's pieces on the morgue table as “a faggoty, blown-up fuck.”) and two F.B.I. agents(one of which is Kane Hodder, in a cameo, minus the prosthetic retard-zombie head and hockey mask), before embarking on a journey to Crystal Lake, where he adds Alexis, Deborah, and Luke(they came camping here with the sole intent to fuck and do drugs "now that Jason's dead"...He's not dead, you fools, he's just gone black these days.) to his burgeoning list of victims with a scalpel, and, more spectacularly, shanking Debbie in the labonza with a tent spike, then ripping her in half, mid-tent sex, and stomping her boyfriend's head in, for good measure.Then, after smashing Josh's(Andrew Bloch) partner's dome in a car door, he kidnaps the deputy, straps him bare-assed to a living room table, lathers him up with shaving cream, shaves him down, then plants a passionate one on the helpless lawman's yap, earling some oily black slug down his throat for his troubles.I was already feeling queasy, having to watch the man-on-man shaving action, but thanks anyway, guys.Now, according to national tv celeb/bounty hunter/black cowboy, Creighton Duke(Steven Williams), Jason can only be truly killed by a blood relative, and it just so happens that his never-before mentioned half-sister Diana(Erin Gray, wtf are you doing here...), her daughter, Jessica(Kari Keegan), and her infant daughter, are all within walking distance of shaved cop-Jason, who can also be reborn into his original form through the same blood relative.What the fuck's with all this hocus pocus shit anyway?
This F.B.I. agent is through being Kane-n fodder for the system.
Eh, no matter.Josh/Jason hasn't been paying attention to it, either, or else he'd have possessed Diana instead of killing her and pinning it on her daughter Jessica's ex, Steven(John D. LeMay), who gets the skinny on the Jason mythos via some broken digits while jailed next to Duke.Diana's current beau, Robert(Steven Culp), is a smarmtastic reporter for American Casefiles, a show that happens to be exploiting the current Jason sitch for ratings, and he's surprised by an escaped Steven at the Voorhees house, as he's mapping out his latest exploitation stunt with Diana's stolen cadaver, an episode called "Secrets of the Voorhees House Revealed"(I'd tell you that the Necronomicon from the 'Evil Dead' series makes a cameo here, but you'll be snoring too loudly by this point in the film to notice, trust me).Josh/Jason breaks in and puckers up to Robert, his previous incarnation melting into a blecch-puddle afterwards, then attempts to transfer into Jessica, only to be thwarted at the last second by her persistent ex.The former couple rush to the diner where Jessica's friend, Vicki(Allison Smith), has been tending to the baby for her, but Robert/Jason makes the scene, whacking the gun-toting owners and BBQ skewering Vicki while he's at it.Meanwhile, Duke has Jessica's baby and an enchanted dagger, plus two vs. immortal homicidal mongoloids, waiting at the Voorhees' digs, where all sorts of The Hidden(1986)-inspired body switching takes place before Jason's heart becomes an embryonic demon that crawls up Diana's corpse's asshole(!), allowing Kane Hodder to finally clock six more quality minutes in his classic Jason getup, as he's reborn for the finale.Jessica manages to sink the magical dagger into Voorhees' chest, unleashing the souls of all the desperate actors who took Friday the 13th gigs to keep their electricity turned on, as some demonic prop-hands explode out of the earth to methodically pull the hulking fiend down to H-E-double hockey sticks.Walking off into the sunset, Steven, Jessica, and baby make three, but a dog shows up to dig Jason's goalie mask out of the dirt, only to have Freddy Krueger's razor-gloved hand appear and snatch it up, pulling it down into the abyss amidst his trademark corny laughter...
Sadly, reaching for that last white Power Ranger off of the Wal-Mart shelf on Christmas eve was the last mistake he ever made.
"Ayyyy-yo, Cunningham, conference in my office!", as that jukebox-beating rascal, Fonzie, used to say: Jason doesn't go to Hell, he sends the audience there, instead, ninety-one minutes' worth, by my calculations.It's not even the 'Final Friday' either, as the title also suggests, as that day probably won't arrive until people finally decide to stop spending dough at the theaters for this paint-by-numbers shit or somebody pops a cap in Ice Cube, one or the other.Jason X(2001) would follow, enraging many of the braindead mooks who were intent on seeing Freddy and Jason square off in their gimmicky 2003 feature, complete with Vegas pre-fight weigh-ins and press conferences.You'll have to stay tuned to see how either of those movies rate with me.I'll get around to them eventually, I'm sure.As for this particular turd...fucking GOOSE EGGS, baby.
"Pffffffffffffftttttt...", went the Cheez-Whiz can, finally empty at last.

Monday, April 16, 2012

"Texas Chainsaw Massacre:The Beginning"(2006)d/Jonathan Liebesman

This movie has earned nearly forty million dollars at U.S. box offices.I just wanted to get that out of the way early, so you can keep it in mind throughout the following review of Jonathan Liebesman's 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre:The Beginning', a prequel to the 2003 remake of the original 1974 Tobe Hooper film.We all remember the original, don't we?For those of you that somehow don't, fret not.Tonight's entry covers all the exact same bases, albeit ineffectually, with a lazy script that caters to R. Lee Ermey's sudden injection into the murderous Hewitt clan geneology.I'm not sure what a slightly more psychotic Gny. Sgt. Hartman adds to the Chainsaw mythos, but producers Hooper and Kim Henkel must've dug the shit out of the idea.We're also treated to Leatherface's back story for some reason, as if a lumbering cannibalistic retard-hulk wearing a human skin mask and wielding a chainsaw wasn't self-explanatory enough.Liebesman, who's also directed 2003's Darkness Falls(liked a lot) and 2011's Battle:Los Angeles(fell asleep in the theater), doesn't seem too concerned with selling the prequel's 1969 aesthetic besides a bandanna here, and some Vietnam chatter there, handling the potential for horror and tension like a true fucking butterfingers, focusing his lens on ugly characters and uninspiring cookie cutter gore instead.So why did they bother with this one in the first place, if it had little chance of adding much to the popular horror series, which was pretty much past the exhausted point after the first sequel in 1986? For a definitive answer to that question, simply re-read the first line of this review out loud to yourself.Fortunately, my own Happy Talk cash never contributed to the film's gaudy theatrical run, which saw it finish second(!) to Scorsese's The Departed(2006)(!!) in it's opening weekend.I merely pulled four singles out of my wallet and flopped 'em down in the Wal-mart cashier's mitts, and in hindsight, may have overpayed by two or three of those.Towards...
That rotten rutabaga has a funny shape to it, huh.
After being bloodily shat out by a rotund meat processing plant worker, who abruptly croaks on the floor in a blecchy puddle in the melee, and rescued from being garbage-chucked, by Luda Mae(Allison Marich), who takes the deformed little bastard home as one of her own, we see a credit montage of a grown up Tommy Hewitt(Andrew Bryniarski) doing odd things to animals and their skins, in particular, as a newspaper headline tells us the town is going belly up, leading to lay-offs at the meat packing plant, where the repugnant-pussed Leatherface-to-be has great difficulty comprehending he's suddenly out of a job, despite the best insults of his employers.Next, we see Eric(Matthew Bomer) pirating around in a motel pool with a knife in his yap, before driving off to re-enlist for Vietnam with his younger brother, Dean(Taylor Handley), who's just been drafted, but secretly plans on ducking out on his responsibility to his country, to Mexico, somewhere along the ride.Meanwhile, back at the plant, Tommy pulverizes the boss' legbones with a sledgehammer before laying a serious Wile E. Coyote headshot on the whimpering floored coot, the same no good feller whut threw Ugly Tommy in th' traish, all them yurrs ago.When Sheriff Winston(Lew Temple) comes to the Hewitt's door with an arrest warrant, Charlie(R. Lee Ermey) tags along for the ride, later blowing the sheriff away and adopting his blood-speckled uniform and badge, and declaring the family's struggles over as they all sit down to eat Winston's remains.After a classic exploitative run in with bikers leaves one exploded cow and their Jeep totalled, Dean, Eric, and their respective arm decorations, Chrissie and Bailey(Jordana Brewster, Diora Baird), find themselves at the mercy of the faux-sheriff, who blows away a female biker and, after glimpsing Dean's partially burned draft card, orders the three wreck-battered youths into his cruiser, while Chrissie watches helplessly from the cover of some nearby tall grass.She stows away in Monty's(Terrence Evans) tow truck, while Charlie and his adoptive brother, Tommy see to their new house guests...
"Okay! Okay! Tell Gallagher II he'll get his money!!"
At the Hewitt's place, Eric and Dean find themselves strung up in the barn, while Charlie gleefully mocks and berates them, partially smothering Eric with a plastic sheet, and billyclubbing the fuck out of conscientious objector, Dean, as he tries to accomplish some freedom-based push ups(as if he was reprising some drill sargeant character he previously portrayed in some other movie, I dunno).There's an attempted escape that nets Bailey a meathook in the tit-shelf, Dean, a bear-trapped foot, and Eric gets K.T.F.O.ed with a shotgun, while Chrissie has enlisted the help of Holden, the biker who's unknowingly looking for his dead old lady, and the unlikely pair pay the Hewitts a social call that night.Chrissie finds Eric strapped to a table with a few bits missing as Holden straddles Tommy's buzzsaw to a minced up end.With Chrissie hiding under the table, Tommy does Eric proper with his soon-to-be trademark implement, spraying her with his lifestuff before removing the boy's fac-piece and wearing it like a mask.Charlie remarks that he likes Tommy's new toy and new grill, before ordering him to hack off both of Monty's legs when they look uneven after an impromptu single leg chainsaw amputation.Chrissie gets herself caught, and finds herself the centerpiece of an insane dinner(oh, sweet originality) complete with human entrées, throats slashed with scissors, busted fronts, and a chainsaw impaling, before the desperate girl can escape the carnage in a car that's parked out front.As she's coming up on a state trooper and a citation he's pulled over, Leatherface inexplicably pops up in the rearview mirror, running Chrissie through at the labonza with his chainsaw from the backseat, you know, the one she apparently didn't hear him revving up back there, causing her to plough into the traffic on the roadside in a brutal crash, from which he emerges unscathed, to walk along down the scorching Texas highway with chainsaw in tow, as we hear the narrator(John "Night Court" Larroquette, again, nice touch) attribute some thirty murders to the Hewitts(Weren't they the Sawyers?), and utter the titular line in describing them.
"This is for Archie Bunker, ya draft dodgin' pinko!", sez Leatherpuss.
Of course, a new Chainsaw pic is in the works, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D, scheduled for release in January of '13, from a screenplay written by Adam Marcus, who you might remember as the director of Jason Goes to Hell:The Final Friday(1993), though I'm sure most choose to try and forget(good thing we'll be covering it next here at the Wop, huh, kiddies...), and featuring John "Grandpa" Dugan and Bill "Choptop" Moseley, as well as cameos by Gunnar Hansen and Marilyn Burns.As unnecessary as it undoubtedly is, it'll probably do well at the box office, and I'll eventually see it, too, no matter how much I might piss and moan about it along the way.As exhausted as the whole premise is by now, I still don't mind seeing it from time to time, whether by revisiting the original, one of my all-time faves, or by enduring the latest overhyped sludgefest bearing the TCM stamp and hoping it's not a total scareless waste of time, you know, kinda like Beginning ended up being.I've written entirely enough about it, already.One Wop.
S'alright 'face(Andrew Bryniarski), my attention walked out about ten minutes in.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

"La Noche del terror ciego"(1971)d/Amando de Ossorio

When George Romero breathed reanimated life into the zombie sub-genre in the late sixties, he paved the way for directors like Spaniard Amando de Ossorio, who put his own personal flair into 1971's 'La Noche del terror ciego', or 'Tombs of the Blind Dead' as it was known internationally, the first of a popular horror quadrilogy centered around a fictional hooded vampiric mummified version of the Knights Templar, a real life Western Christian military order active during the crusades that was disbanded by Pope Clement V in 1312(On a side note, Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay was arrested among his French Templar brothers on Friday the 13th in 1307, and formally charged with witchcraft, homosexuality, financial corruption, among other things, giving rise for some, to the date's long-standing superstitious status, though the eyeless blood-drinking immortal-thing was strictly de Ossorio.).Tonight's review is a slow-building gothic romp, moody and well-constructed for the most part, effectively utilizing mechanical puppet-props and costumed actors in bringing the vengeful ghouls to life to wreak havok on the silver screen.The director chooses to focus his lens here on said zombies and the opulent atmosphere of the monasterial ruins of Berzano, with a tease of latin womanflesh thrown in for good exploitative measure, rather than to clutter up his effort with an abundance of unnecessary dialogue, and the result stands as an excellent example of the finest Spanish genre cinema of the decade, and entirely worthwhile viewing.And let's not forget that far out ending-that-I'll-be-unable-to-help-myself-from-spoiling-for-you-in-the-synopsis.Forwards!
"A good Radiesse injection'll clear that nasal blemish of yours in no time..."
While poolside on a getaway in Portugal, Betty(Lone Fleming) reunites with old school chum/sapphic tryst, Virginia(María Elena Arpón), whose wet pal, Roger(Cesar Burner), spontaneously invites her along for the scenic train ride the duo had planned for the following day, mesmerized by the girl's floral print bikini and bouncy ass.After some hard-sell flirting with Betty in their compartment causes Virginia to trot off to the caboose and pout, we're treated to a smoky wisp of a lesbo-flashback where the women, dressed like schoolgirls, pantomime a marriage and roll onto the bed together for some awkward 70's Euro-flavored sexual experimentation.So thaaaaat's what she's pouting about.While the suddenly unwanted Roger comes to grips with his mortally wounded Spanish machismo, Virginia hops off the train near the abandoned ruins of a monastery in Berzano, preferring to have her blood sucked out by reanimated slo-mo Templar knights that rise from their misty tombs that evening than play 'third wheel' with Roger and Betty on the train ride(but not before she manages to half-smoke a few cigarettes, strip naked in front of a roaring bonfire she whips up using a fistful of dead branches, and tune in some happenin' pop music on her transistor radio).While detectives grill Roger and Betty about their newly dead friend after their daylight search of the ruins proves fruitless when the horses they've rented get spooked and trot off, she comes back to life in the morgue and bites the attendant on the neck as he's preoccupied with torturing a live frog in a fishbowl with surgical forceps, before shambling to the Bava-lit mannekin warehouse that Betty works at, only to get incinerated by Nina(Verónica Llimera), Betty's assistant who's working late, putting some finishing gold flake touches on statues of the Egyptian Mother of the Veil of Darkness for H.G. Lewis or something, I dunno.
He just couldn't seem to forget her, her Wind Song stayed on his mind.
Meanwhile at the library, Professor Candal(Francisco Sanz) relates the Templars' haematic history via flashback where most of the order stand around and look at each other emptily while knights on horseback repeatedly hack a bound-n-screaming maiden's bra-fillers with their swords, before drinking the flowing blood, thus, gaining immortality through the wicked ceremony.The fuzz make the scene, blaming Virginia's murder on Candal's smuggler son(a librarian and a smuggler, this family rules), Pedro(José Thelman), but offer zero follow up, causing Roger and Betty to join forces with the sweaty pit-stained criminal and his ready-for-action girlfriend in spending the night amidst the haunted monastery ruins.What the foursome is out to prove is anybody's guess, but it's not long before Pedro's arm candy tries to seduce Roger, arguing that Betty is out exploring with Pedro, and only a naive fool couldn't guess where that's gonna lead.Why, rape amidst the grave markers, of course.The absurdity of Betty's seeming post-sex attack consent(or it might be the midnight bells, who knows for sure) draws the hooded fiends from their tombs, and they set upon Pedro in slow motion, as Roger frantically bangs on the barricaded door while Betty and Pedro's gal pick the most inopportune time to have a knock down, drag out cat fight, earning their male associate a sword-amputated arm, which he soon dies from.The smuggler's girlfriend alerts the ghouls to her whereabouts by screaming her fool head off, and they reward her by biting her to death.Betty manages to limp into the coutryside with a sprained ankle, ahead of the galloping knights somehow, and is spotted by the passing train, which reluctantly stops to rescue her, only succeeding in letting all the Templars aboard(!), killing all the passengers; one screaming child is doused in her own mother's blood(!!), while shock-ridden Betty slumps undetected into the train's coal supply.When the train is forced to stop at the next juncture, harrowing screams soon fill the air...
These Spanish broads know how to party.
de Ossorio would revisit the Templars with El Ritorno de los Muertos Sin Ojos(1973), El Buque Maldito(1974), and La Noche de los Gaviotas(1975)(all of which we'll get around to examining right here, I promise you), as well as other genre efforts like Malenka(1969), Las Garras de Lorelei(1974), La endemoniada(1975), and Serpiente de mar(1984), before passing away at the age of 82 in 2001.Lone Fleming would score genre credits in the '73 sequel, Una vela para el diablo(1973), Malocchio(1975), and de Ossorio's own La endemoniada.María Elena Arpón also appeared in 1969's The House That Screamed and opposite Paul Naschy in El jorobado de la Morgue(1973).Interestingly, a '90s NYC-based Oi band would dub itself 'The Templars', and though some of their shows I've been to may have erupted in tasty bits o' violence, I can't recall any blood-drinking going on.At least, not out in the open, anyway.On the scale Noche earns three solid Wops, with it's effectively creepy score, gothic scares, and optimum locales, a worthy Euro-shocker that's packed full of atmosphere.Hunt down a copy and check it out yourselves.
"Favor perdóname, Vermudo, sus lesiones son apenas perceptibles..."

Saturday, April 7, 2012

"Quella villa accanto al cimitero"(1981)d/Lucio Fulci

Tonight, in examining the coda of grue guru Lucio Fulci's unofficial "Gates of Hell" trilogy, 'Quella villa accanto al cimitero', an opprobrious video nasty known internationally as 'House by the Cemetery' that has been alternately banned/censored pretty heavily in the U.K. over the years, we'll find an eerily atmospheric-if-discordant effort with enough gothic punch and inventive kills seasoned with bucketloads of trademark De Rossi red stuff to rightfully vault it into the favorites lists of many enthusiasts worldwide.Though the story, written in part by Dardano Sacchetti, is somewhat disjointed and sluggish in areas, it's aided by the able lens of legendary Sergio Salvati and a baroque Rizatti score in creating an effectively genuine prescience of dread throughout the brisk eighty-seven minute running time.Catriona MacColl, who previously lent her vigorous tonsils to Fulci's Paura nella città dei morti viventi(1980), again proves an adept screamer here, backed by genre regs Paolo Malco, Dagmar Lassander, and Italy's 'coppia di ragazzi dall'aspetto strano' of the eighties, Silvia Collatina and Giovanni Frezza, whose woefully mismatched female-ish ADR voice blows the needle off the creep-o-meter here.Though Fulci, who cameos as a professor, had indeed mastered many diverse genres of film over his career spanning thirty-plus years, his extraordinary grasp on supernatural horror is clearly perceptible during the four year period in which he directed Zombi 2(1979) through to Lo squartatore di New York(1982) without the financial, emotional, and health setbacks that would blemish his work later in the decade.As for tonight's offering, it's a non-linear tale of children and monsters with a dream-like quality amidst the graphic violence that few directors could hope to pull off.But then, that's one more tribute to Fulci and his legacy.Onwards...
For Daniela Doria, it's the end of the story-ah.
After watching a young girl(Daniela Doria), impaled through the back of her head by a knife that juts out of her open mouth, then lifelessly dragged into a cellar after finding her boyfriend's disemboweled body in an abandoned house, we meet Dr. Norman and Lucy Boyle(Catriona MacColl, Paolo Malco) as they relocate from New York to New England with their young, shrill-voiced moptopped offspring, Bob(Giovanni Frezza), into the home of Norman's former colleague, Dr. Petersen, who had mysteriously murdered his lover then hanged himself, while researching old homes.While Lucy packs for the move, Bob is warned by a girl in a photo of just such a home to stay away, and while his parents collect the keys to the Freudstein House, errr... 'Oak Mansion' from Mrs. Gittelson(Dagmar Lassander), who vows to find the couple a babysitter, she appears across the street, telepathically warning him again.The Boyles find Oak Mansion in a state of disrepair, with obligatory creepy babysitter, Anna(Ania Pieroni), taking the time to unblock the foreboding cellar door during the night.The next day, Norman scrutinizes Petersen's findings at the library, where the assistant librarian(Giampaolo Saccarola) informs him that his late colleague's study of area disappearances was private, and creepier still, that he and the other New Whitby inhabitants somehow recognize Norman from a previous visit that he's never made.Meanwhile, little Mae(Silvia Collatina) shows Bob Mary Freudstein's tombstone on the grounds, remarking that she's not really dead, while his mother subsequently discovers the tombstone of Jacob Tess Freudstein...embedded in the floor inside their home.Upon his return, Norman reassures his wife that some old houses contain indoor tombs due to the area's impenetrable ground during the winter season(!).
Questo è Fulci! Dov'è il tappeto rosso, bastardi!
When Norman is attacked by a real blood-bomber of a bat after investgating the cellar, the unnerved family drives to the real estate office and demands to be put up in a slightly less haunted house, but are told the switch will take several days to complete...dah dah dummmm.While the doctor is being treated for his bat attack at the hospital, Mrs. Gittelson lets herself into their place with news of a potential new property, where Freudstein's tombstone crumbles into pieces and trapping her ankle in the process.A shadowy fiend emerges from the darkness, shivving her in the throat with a fireplace poker, then dragging her down into the cellar.The next morning, Lucy finds Anne cleaning up a conspicuous bloodstain on the floor that the babysitter deftly skirts around answering any questions concerning.Norman begins to relate the mad tale of Dr. Freudstein(Giovanni De Nava), the Victorian era surgeon that he must travel back to New York to further research, to his wife.At the library, Boyle finds a cassette of Petersen that tells of Freudstein's family's brutal murder at the patriarch's evil hands.Meanwhile, Anne, who's in the cellar looking for Bob, gets decapitated by Freudstein.The boy sees the disembodied head and runs out screaming, his mother in disbelief at her son's bizarre story.That night, Bob sneaks back into the cellar to look for Anne, when his mother hears his eardrum-piercing screams from behind the heavy door that she's unable to pry open herself.Norman makes the scene, laying into the door with an axe as the rotting hands of Freudstein subdue the (still)screaming boy until his father manages to lop one of them off, forcing the surgeon-turned-monster to retreat into the darkness of his grue-splashed laboratory full of instruments and eviscerated cadavers, still holding the boy with his one good(?) hand.After Norman gets his throat ripped out and Lucy gets her dome slammed hard into the concrete floor, Bob struggles to escape up a ladder that leads to the tombstone as Freudstein closes in.The boy is suddenly pulled upwards through the crack to find Mae and her mother, reborn into a dreary, grey undead realm, into which they walk off.A (most likely) false Henry James quote("No one will ever know whether children are monsters or monsters are children.")leaves us to ponder further as the end credits roll...
Pulverized, you say? Clearly, the girl's been contriturated.
Giovanni De Nava, who plays the monstrous Freudstein here, also appeared in Fulci's Murder Rock(1984) as a hotel receptionist, and more memorably, as L'Aldila(1979)'s ill-fated plumber, Joe.Doria was one of Fulci's personal favorite vics, having been colorfully offed in Paura nella città dei morti viventi(1980), Lo squartatore di New York(1982), and Il gatto nero(1981), and even appearing in Di Leo's Avere vent'anni(1978) along the way.All of these friggin' least you can use them to fathom a guess as to which Fulci we'll end up tackling next, eh?Sacchetti and Fulci would stop collaborating in 1983, culminating in accusations of plagiarism and theft over a story idea for a sequel to The Postman Always Rings Twice.Regardless of which camp you believe, it's undeniable that the men worked best together, and their output suffered greatly after the split. As is the case with so many Italian genre entries of the period, one needs to leave his logic in the foyer and focus primarily on the glorious visuals and lush atmosphere instead, to truly appreciate tonight's review in it's full deliriously horrific glory.I've seen some venom online directed at Fulci recently, and this movie, specifically, from a few sassy, against-the-grain hipster-pukes, and besides the ignorance of their inattentiveness disturbing me greatly, it's an opinion I could never share.On the rating scale, three big ones for Cimitero, another cult classic from Lucio, and required viewing for any fans of the genre.Recommended.
"See if this grabs ya, Bob...", says the decomposing-yet-imposing Freudstein(Giovanni De Nava).

"La terza madre"(2007)d/Dario Argento

It's horribly trendy these days to begrudgingly dismiss the post-Opera(1987) films of Dario Argento, and, sadly, in many instances I wouldn't argue against it, as the maestro of the genre, the 'Italian Hitchcock' himself, who has seen the highest highs the medium can reach while achieving legendary status, hit a streak of mediocrity for the first time in his career with lackluster offerings like Trauma(1993), Phantom of the Opera(1998), and Il cartaio(2004).Rest assured, folks, Dario's coda in the 'three mothers' trilogy, some twenty years in the making and multiple re-writes later, does not qualify as one of those.Instead, watching 'Madre' had the opposite effect on me, much like running into an old flame after decades have passed, and though she might not look or feel the same, you still experience fleeting moments of bliss the same way you used to way back when, making the brief liason worth your while.Dario's lens moves as fluidly as ever, like a living entity, in framing some of the most vulgar imagery he's endeavored to visualize yet(as gleefully fabricated by FX wiz Sergio Stivaletti); on-screen infanticides, asphyxiation with one's own entrails, and butcher cleaver face-hackings all outlandishly transpire in the oft-delirious, witch-laden narrative.His provocatively beautiful daughter, Asia purveys strength and weakness as a lead who suddenly finds herself orbited by primordial evil, supported, in part, by genre icons like Udo Kier, Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni, and Daria Nicolodi, as well as the less-familiar faces of Israeli actress Moran Atias, as Mater Lachrymarum, and late Japanese director, Jun Ichikawa, in a cameo.The visuals are suitably complimented by an effectively bombastic score from Claudio Simonetti, of Goblin/Daemonia fame, laced with familiarly spooky yesteryear riffs juxtaposed against an evolving, progressive staff.It's safe to venture that the maestro's disdain for three-line reviews could never extend to my realm.Forwards into the spoiler-ridden synopsis, I say.
Coralina deve sempre soffrire molto.Sfortunata ragazza!
After unearthing the coffin of a 19th century church official and uncovering a mysterious ornately decorated urn, padlocked and chained shut with metal crosses in the process, the clergy quickly ship the urn off to the Museum of Ancient Art in Rome, with growing fear that it may contain the effects of Mater Lachrymarum(Moran Atias), or 'The Mother of Tears', the last surviving member of an ancient trio of legendarily diabolical witches known as 'The Three Mothers'.Giselle(Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni), the assistant curator, soon finds that it does, indeed, whereupon breaking the wax seal and removing effigies of the witches and a ceremonial garb from the vessel, she's immediately set upon by the powerful witch's shadowy demonic cohorts, who punch her fronts out, and disembowel her, strangling her with her own innards(!), to the disbelief and horror of Sarah Mandy(Asia Argento), an American student studying art restoration that's been seeing the curator, Michael(Adam James).The terrified girl is ultimately aided in escaping from Lachrymarum's patrolling baboon familiar by a disembodied female voice that unlocks the exits to the darkened building.Once the artifacts are in the witch's possession, her negative influence affects all in her wake as witches from all over the world flamboyantly gather for a coming celebration, with random people suddenly compelled to beat, rape, and murder each other in the streets.While Michael's subsequent investigation gets his son kidnapped by the cultists, who remind the curator about the ancient 'silentium' vow taken by the architect who constructed the three witches' domains in separate locations, by writing the Latin warning in the boy's blood on the headboard of his bed.Meanwhile, Sarah has dodged inquisitive detectives and spying spellcasters in befriending Marta(Valeria Cavalli), a white witch who was friends with the girl's mother, Elisa(Daria Nicolodi), a powerful white witch herself, killed with her husband in a car crash caused by Mater Suspiriorum years earlier, who's been materializing before her daughter to help her realize her own powers in this dire hour for all of humanity, a new age of magic.
"Accccckkk!!Zumwahn hass sliced open my ssssroat and now ze blutt is cumming aut!"
Lachrymarum erupts in a hateful blast of violence as the two women pool their psychic abilities to hone in on the frequently naked witch's Achilles heel, using sway over one of Padre Johannes'(Udo Kier) assistants to cause her to suddenly hack his face into shredded wheat with a meat cleaver then bissecting her own throat with the same bladed deathdealer, before the exorcist can give the women a tome explaining the witch's backstory.Her horned goons then bust in at Marta's, slaying the host and her sapphic roommate in particularly brutal and horrid fashion, sending Sarah into the waiting arms of Michael, who's been rendered a zombified puppet for the witch's black-hearted gain.This earns him a full-body dousal with kerosene and subsequent immolation-by-fire at the hands of his former lover, getting dragged off of this plane of existence, kicking and screaming, by Elisa, in a final act of assistance towards her daughter.Sarah seeks out and finds succor in Guglielmo De Witt(Philippe Leroy), a cautious old alchemist who unexpectedly paralyzes the girl to determine her magical alignment(at ease, you MMORPG dorks) before giving her a copy of 'The Three Mothers' to ascertain the whereabouts of Lachrymarum's secret lair: a voluminous dilapidated mansion that she descends upon with one of the detectives who'd been hunting her since her door slammed-head kill of one the final Mater's disciples on a train, earlier on.Inside one of the catacombs, the badge gets captured and chained up right next to De Witt and his assistant, both also hostage to the witch, who manages to capture Sarah, for good measure, as the alchemist's assistant turns his toes up after having had his arm lopped off.Lachrymarum orders her cannibalistic followers to eat the young woman(!), but she manages to snag the ancient witch's tunic on a spear, chucking it into a nearby fire, leaving the spellcaster, naked and screaming, to be impaled on a stalactite chunk in the ensuing earthquake that swallows the witch and her minions.Sarah and the detective trod through corpse-filled water to the surface, where they're both overcome by laughter at the horror they've both endured.
Asia, sei davvero una festa per i miei occhi.
I've watched the movie four times to date, making sure I was staunch in my feelings about it, which have fluctuated a bit from viewing to viewing, to be honest with you.The first time you experience the campy over-the-top finale, it probably won't sit well with you, until you've had the opportunity to drink it all in a few times, which the film does easily stand up to.I wouldn't be at all surprised to hear that it becomes regarded as one of Argento's minor classics in years to come, and certainly one of the better recent offerings from Italy I've seen.I can now look forward to his upcoming take on Bram Stoker's Dracula in 3D with deserved excitement.Dario's unexpectedly chaotic vision may not be the destination you'd envisioned for the trilogy, but it's a wild and enjoyably welcome one, none-the-less, full of brutal gore, artistic flair, tumultuous turns, and campy performances from long-time favorites.On more than one occasion I found myself enveloped by vapors of deja vu that emanated from the screen and transported me back to the eighties and memories of glorious art-splatter from one of my all-time favorites, a true master artist.Three Wops.Bello vederti di nuovo, Dario.
Cherry street Friday nights, you couldn't beat 'em.

Friday, April 6, 2012

"La settima donna"(1978)d/Franco Prosperi

We'll continue not being very nice to women tonight, with a Last House on the Left clone from Franco Prosperi, but not the Prosperi that's known as half of the Italian dynamic documentary duo responsible for mondo hits like Mondo Cane(1964), Africa addio(1966), and Addio Zio Tom(1976), to be sure.To flesh out this Mediterranean rape/revenge rip-off, known outside of Italy as 'Last House on the Beach', Prosperi dresses center stage with able Euro-genre vets Ray Lovelock, who also croons "Place for the Landing" on the Roberto Pregadio soundtrack and provides his own English dub, and Flavia, her heretical self, Florinda Bolkan, revisiting a nun's habit here for some admittedly pretty sleazy goings-on, though most of today's jaded genre crowd will probably find 'Beach' too deficient in the blood, sex, and nudity categories to enjoy it very much.With those desensitized rascals out of earshot, I can promulgate the director's choice, instead, to focus his lens on the horrified expressions of the victims' faces rather than the potential grue, unlike so many of his countrymen of the day in the trade, but with mixed effectiveness; one rape victim looks less violated than dumbfounded during her ordeal, and even the most brutal, humiliating act in the film plays out like a Looney Tune on Phencyclidine.Much of the distress of the deplorable deeds that transpire in this one is rendered flaccid by the anonymity of many of the young girls' characters, who deliver no real dialogue, have no discernible idiosyncracies, and huddle defenselessly waiting for the next atrocity to happen to them.Still, there's enough of what makes exploitation flicks from the boot so damned enjoyable present here to merit a look-see, with shots of lush outdoor scenery juxtaposed with obligatory seventies soundtrack of happenin' porno-esque disco music and expectedly humorous ADR dubbing on the English track(“Why, you dirty bitch! You think we’re just kidding?!”, "This one's a 100 percent virgin!" etc., etc.).The film, long unavailable in North America, has since been presented uncut on disc by those fine folks at Severin.
We'll return to "When Reiki Gets Serious" right after these words from our sponsors...
A gang of three faceless Italian goons show a propensity for senseless violence during a bank robbery, when one of the men ices a teller for the hell of it before their getaway Citroen forces them to detour their escape to a large villa on a desolate beach that's occupied by a young nun named Sister Cristina(Florinda Bolkan), who just happens to be chaperoning five religious schoolgirls as they rehearse A Midsummer Night's Dream for an upcoming Shakespeare festival, decked out in fanciful papier mâché animal head masks.Ignoring all standard guest protocol, Walter(Flavio Andreini) proceeds to bash the villa maid's dome in with a household iron(!) while Nino(Stefano Cedrati) attacks Eliza(Sherry Buchanan) and gets shanked in the thigh with a sharp comb, for his inappropriate carnality.Forced to occupy the cottage until Nino's leg heals appropriately, the boy band-esque outlaws turn to the occupants of the fairer sex(who don't let criminal pervert kidnappers stop them from breaking a bobbler out at any juncture, mind you) for their misogynistic amusement.First, they force the girls to sunbathe topless at gunpoint with groping and ogling thrown in, free of charge, then making them watch a girl shake her groove thang around while naked on television.After some spirited verbal humiliation, the robbers discover Cristina's religious background, forcing her to strip down("You'd never guess you have such nice curves under those rags!"), before dressing her in a traditional habit, which naturally serves as a catalyst for much emotional malaise and physical manhandling at knifepoint, to the seeming dismay of good samaritan-slash-criminal, Aldo(Ray Lovelock).Why, he's not nearly as awful a sociopathic rapist as his two accomplices, is he...
Tramp buys the farm in the deleted "I bet I could slash fifty throats" scene from Cool Hand Luke(1967).
Though Aldo isn't willing to punctuate what seems to be a mere job to him with rape-tastic extracurriculars, nor defend the helpess women to any major degree against his fellow captors, he does develop an unlikely repoire with Margaret(Luisa Maneri), explaining that he never entered the bank during the robbery, waiting in the getaway car all along, though, through flashbacks it's revealed that he's a big fat liar, instead, having actually fired on the teller's desks and killing the hostage himself during the standoff with security.Eventually, the thugs divulge the embarrassing secret to her girls that Cristina isn't as pure as she makes herself out to be, causing the girls to lose much of their trust in her, and when Nino and Walter double-team Lucia(Laura Trotter) while Aldo forces the young nun to bear witness, it's slo-mo, disco themed, gang rape gold, with numerous mugging facial close ups.After much sunbathing, lounging around, drinking wine, Nino reading Faulkner's Sanctuary(get it?), and many cartoonish backhanders later(this one's ripe with 'em), Walter responds to one of the girl's failed escape attempts by forcibly fingering her(!) then murdering her by repeatedly shoving a bulky walking stick into her gravy boat(!!).In the finale, Cristina is forced to choose between the cross of her religious beliefs, or the bloody vigilante justice necessary to protect the lives of her remaining students.Spoiler:She gives a begging Nino a lethal injection after his wound goes badly infected, shoots Walter, and after one of the girls buckshots up Aldo's labonza and he stubbornly clings to life, all the girls clobber him to death with sticks(!!!).
"Raised by MASTODONS?!!! Why I'll...", growled Bamm-Bamm Rubble.
This Prosperi, also known as Frank Shannon, has a considerably less impressive filmography than his more famous namesake-in-film, helming movies like Mondo cannibale(1980) aka/White Cannibal Queen, on which he shared the director's chair with none other then Jess Franco, sword n' sandal epic Ercole al centro della terra(1961), which he co-directed with Mario Bava himself, Tecnica di un omicidio(1966), and 1976's Pronto ad uccidere, another collaborative effort with Lovelock, who provides an excellent half hour interview on the Severin disc, shedding light on Italy's hipness with exotic, foreign-sounding names at the time, his experiences working with the director, and how perception over the film's gratuitous violence and overall mean-spiritedness has changed over the years.Bolkan made a name for herself in Italo-fare like 1970's Indagine su un cittadino al di sopra di ogni sospetto, Fulci's Una lucertola con la pelle di donna(1971) and Non si sevizia un paperino(1972), as well as La caduta degli dei(1969) for Luchino Visconti.Among the young victims here, are Sherry Buchanan, who appeared in things like Tentacoli(1977), and Zombi Holocaust(1980), and Laura Trotter, of Incubo sulla città contaminata(1980) fame.Two Wops on the scale for this mostly standard slice of sleazy Italian cash-in fare that you'll likely be disappointed by, if you're expecting something along the lines of L'ultimo treno della notte(1978) or La casa sperduta nel parco(1980).Hell, Tarantino himself must've really liked it, judging by the...ahem, 'homage' ending of Deathproof(2004).Subject yourselves to it, I tell you.
Rimuovere il mio bastone da passeggio fuori della tua fica, per favore.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"Vice Squad"(1982)d/Gary Sherman

"Bang! Bang! Shoot 'em up, talkin' about crime! Somebody just bought it in a neon sliiiiiime!!!" From the instant your ears wrap themselves around lead antagonist Wings Hauser's uneven voice, cracking, as it dramatically belts out the obvious lyrics of the title tune from tonight's review, you should already know you've got a minor eighties exploitation classic on your hands, and one that features one of the great deranged cinematic performances of the era.Nevermind that it was helmed by director Gary Sherman, of Raw Meat(1972) fame, or '70s supporting actress extraordinaire, Season Hubley, in the female lead, or even the appearances within by pioneer MTV vee-jay, Nina Blackwood, Fred "Rerun" Berry of "What's Happening", and a nondescript cameo by a nearly unrecognizable Cheryl "Rainbeaux" Smith.It's Wings Hauser you're gonna wanna get a load of in this one, trust me.After toiling on television crime dramas like Baretta and Magnum, P.I. for several years, his breakthrough role came in tonight's entry, in the form of a scumbag named Ramrod, who looks like he might be the illegitimate father of record breaking Detroit Lions' franchise quarterback, Matthew Stafford, if he was a coked-out psycho pimp that wore a turquoise cowboy shirt, drove a personalized monster truck, and terrorized his stable of money bitches with an unpredictable steak of debilitating sexual violence, that is.Hauser's Sunset Strip sociopathic slut-slinger effectively takes the cartoon stereotypical movie pimp with his ostentatious polyester evening wear and catty pimp slaps and sends him scurrying for the nearest street lamp to hide behind.Because of him, Squad is sleazy, tension-packed exploitative gold that'll leave you on the edge of your seat.Onwards...
Sorry, Nina, but the pimpstick didn't wanna see "I Ran", by A Flock of Seagulls twice last hour...
After seeing a lengthy title montage of the colorful pond life that made Sunset Boulevard after hours the sideshow it was famous for being at the outset of the eighties(no big deal these days, as any 3 am trip into WalMart will illustrate, really), we're introduced to "Princess"(Season Hubley), a single mother forced to send her tearful, young daughter off to stay with a relative while she overapplies her makeup and wears a lotta purple, pissing on strangers and getting her toes shrimped for cash as a Sunset Strip outlaw(def: sans pimp) streetwalker.She receives a distressing phone call from fellow hooker, Ginger(Nina Blackwood), who's bolted on her sugar daddy, a sociopathic hillbilly named Ramrod(Wings Hauser), who gleefully takes it upon himself to mutilate her money-making mound with a folded up wire hanger for jacking his ends (and not being as adorable as Martha Quinn), resulting in her premature death at the local hospital.Walsh(Gary Swanson), a vice cop, coerces Princess to partake in a sting operation to snare her friend's killer(by repeatedly shoving her face into Ginger's lifeless cadaver on a gurney), but Ramrod is no easy collar, headbutting the arresting officers with the whore's forehead, and generally making a nuisance of himself before being hauled off in an unmarked cruiser, where he cowboy boots one officer in the face and slaps a submission choke on the driver from the back seat with his legs(!), escaping into the night from the accident scene, unbeknownst to Princess, the target of his suicidal vengeance.Meanwhile, it's sex trade business as usual on the streets, and after wolfing down a friendly hot dog with Walsh, Princess is back at it, herself, turning tricks for amputees, attending mock funerals for rich old pervs, getting her piggies tooted on by wallflower foot fetishists, and robbed by finicky overweight convention attendee/johns, oblivious to the fact that Ramrod is on the loose, getting his handcuffs sawed off, and scoring the weapons that he plans to use in paying her back a thousand fold, from tattooed fetishistic perverts.
"Does Wings Hauser have to foot rest a bitch's head in, in front of the King, to get his point across?!! Well, DOES HE?!!!?"
From here on in, it's a race to Princess, with Walsh, laden with guilt over allowing the psycho-pimp to escape, filling the strip with a rainbow platoon vice unit to find her as she makes her nightly rounds, while Ramrod beats the snot out of one of her Asian colleagues, Coco(Lydia Lei), dumping her in the street like a bag full of discarded Burger King wrappers, and even removing her former sugar pimp's(Fred Berry) jewels with a switchblade in zeroing in on her whereabouts(I always wanted to see somebody do that to Rerun, unimpressed by his jiggly poppin' n' lockin' for laughs and silly beret on What's Happening, for the record.).There's a crowded precinct sequence, for those who expect that sort of thing in movies like this, complete with brazen white prostitutes(Cheryl Smith), sassmouthed teen smack-veins(Stacy Everly) handcuffed to benches, and giant negroid cops inquiring about the whereabouts of their missing paper clips.Then Ramrod snatches Princess up into his stolen vehicle and the film races towards it's commodious climax where Ramrod blindly fixates on laying the pimpstick treatment to the cash-for-gash thorn in his side, nonchalant to the vice cops that have him hemmed in on all sides.Will Walsh save his flat-chested new gal-pal before the monster mack can add her to the growing list of uppity bitches he's brutally iced just for kicks?How much abuse can Ramrod's turquoise cowboy shirt endure during his mad dash to final judgment before he decides to put something else on?Most importantly, once it's all been said and done, will we be graced with a reprise of Hauser belting out "Neon Slime" over the end credits?I'll leave the experience to you, the readers, this time around.Give it a look yourselves, would you, ferchrissakes...
Pimpin' Hint #117: Neuter Rerun with a stiletto to show bitches you mean business.
The gritty script was co-written by Robert Vincent O'Neill, the writer-director of the first two "Angel" movies(Angel(1984), and Avenging Angel(1985), respectively), interestingly enough.Most of you will remember Season Hubley as the Chock Full'O Nuts girl who gets pulled through the floor by the cannibalistic 'Crazies' in front of then-husband Kurt Russell's eyes in Escape From New York(1981), though she's also appeared in Hardcore(1979), the Humanoids From the Deep remake(1996), and various cash-in horror franchise sequels like Children of the Corn V:Fields of Terror(1996), and Stepfather III(1992).Wings, who supplies one of my favorite on-screen villains of all-time here, a long-time television staple, also showed up post-neon slime in John Bud Cardos' Mutant(1984), direct-to-video sleaze Bedroom Eyes II(1990) with Linda Blair, and recent horror-comedy, Rubber(2010).Sherman also directed 1981's Dead and Buried, Poltergeist III(1988), and even an episode of the Poltergeist:The Legacy tv series.For me, this one goes back to the cable box days, where I must have watched it twenty times if I saw it once.On the scale, Vice plays the lamp post three Wops worth, a ballsy effort, full of the realistic grit that fans of exploitation flicks crave.Recommended.
Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboy/psycho pimps that swim in the neon slime, like Ramrod(Wings Hauser).
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