Thursday, November 21, 2013

"Death Scenes 2" (1992) d/ Nick Bougas

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Just to let you know, rather than really exploring the depraved depths of my usual brand of black humor, I took the highest possible road where the screenshots are concerned for tonight's review, as is usually the case with every "real death" documentary there's plenty of opportunity for hardcore bleeeech, and director Nick Bougas' follow-up to his 1989 epic direct-to-home-video release takes full advantage of every single friggin' one here, lovingly serving up notorious famous death footage not just once, or even twice in slow-mo, but  frame by brutal frame detail of the carnage in one particular case... I can still remember the night they stocked this one on the shelves at one of my local video haunts on 'the Ave', I snagged it, and when I returned it, I ordered an original copy for myself straight away, having been much more of a serial killer/real death/shockumentary completist kinda guy back then, as unsettling as that probably sounds to some of you. I say 'some', because Death Scenes remains one of the top ten most viewed reviews of all-time here at the Wop. Go figure...

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Show me all the horrible footage and pictures you want, just don't let Anton sing 'Golden Earrings' again...
After a gruesome recap of the first video for those that missed it, it isn't long before the screen is engulfed with the horrors of war, and WWII is well represented, as usual, with photographs of battle-maimed soldiers and footage of smoldering corpses hanging out of tanks as the norm. Next, the focus is 1950s-era death, with teenage hot rodders, drunk drivers, and road hogs meeting fiery ends in several graphic high school driver's ed films of the day. Death doesn't bypass Tinsel Town either, as we soon find out, and the deaths of Hollywood stars like Tyrone Power, Bela Lugosi, Marilyn Monroe, Lenny Bruce, and Elvis Presley are touched upon, usually accompanied by grim morgue table, crime scene, and/or casket photographs. Dying naked on a bathroom floor with a syringe still in your arm hardly constitutes "glamorous" in my book... During the segment on the tumultuously groovy decade that followed, after some Vietnam footage and race riots, we're introduced to the crimes of Albert DeSalvo, Richard Speck, and the Manson family, with crime scene photos and autopsy slab shots of all of the Tate-LaBianca victims included.

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"B.W. is my favorite movie reviewer on the internet, and my favorite candy is barbiturates."- Marilyn Monroe 
While the focus remains on serial killers, John Wayne Gacy is discussed, and even the sickening contents of Milwaukee cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer's bathtub and refrigerator are shown briefly. Then it's back to Hollywood where actor Vic Morrow and two Asian child actors tragically lost their lives on the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie during the night filming of one of director John Landis' segments, when a helicopter loses control due to misfired pyrotechnics, and spirals down, killing all three instantly. If the horrible accident was difficult to make out from the initial camera angle, rest easy, there's two more to choose from, including a close up that's slowed down to frame by frame analysis. We close with a well upsetting montage of gore from the video era that includes suicide jumpers, mass bombings, Pa State Treasurer R. Budd Dwyer's televised .357 suicide in it's entirety, gory color Mexican newspaper photos and footage, and even a late-term abortion. Stay classy, Death Scenes 2...

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Get those kids to safety, Vic, in case that helicopter is forced to make an emergency Landis...errr, landing. Sorry.
As nauseating as this series can be (and usually is), tonight's review in particular, they've been long since surpassed by internet access, where you can sate the most morbid of your curiosities, and watch mankind outdo itself in terms of brutality and violence, worldwide, on a daily basis, if that's your bag. It certainly isn't everybody's, and those who are easily affected by such imagery and subject matter should obviously steer as clear of this one as possible. On the other hand, it stands as a frank reminder of how unchanged we remain as a species, despite our self-awareness and general belief that we occupy a higher rung of the scala naturae than the other life forms on the planet. If you share in that particular belief, watching Death Scenes 2 just might force you to reconsider your position. Four Wops.

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"For my next trick, I'm going to put an embezzler's brain to sleep..."
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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

"Frankenstein's Army" (2013) d/ Richard Raaphorst

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Just a glance at the admittedly very tits poster art for this indie riff on the Frankenstein mythos, the pioneer full-length feature from director Richard Raaphorst, and my mind was delirious with the potential for chaotic, full-on gore-goods as sadistically served up by shambling swastika-emblazoned freaks-of-nature, negatively charged for battle in the hidden laboratory of a mad genius under oath to the axis war machine (even the most knee-jerk liberal could appreciate the novelty of such a premise, even if only to themselves, I'd wager). After all, this is/was the guy responsible for the incredible trailer for Woensdag Gehaktdag aka/ Worst Case Scenario(2008), that utilizes a few of the memorable creature designs one will encounter in this film. So, does Army live up to my nosebleed-inducing expectations in the end? Pull up ein sessel, throw some Wagner on your stereo, and read on to find out...Mach schnell!
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"Nobody squashes an accordion like I do! You heah me?? No-freakin'-buddy!"
As a small recon unit of Russkie grunts slip into East Germany's countryside (much like they slip in and out of accent) towards a final Allied victory near the end of World War II, with a soldier named Sergei (Joshua Sasse) given the undaunted task of documenting their historic march on camera for the greater glory of Mother Russia, all made possible by the handy hi-def video camera with integrated microphone-provided sync sound that they'd been developing since the Tsarist Revolution of 1917 or so (Nadia Comaneci couldn't make this kind of stretch in her disco-era prime, just sayin'...), at least until they receive a distress signal from some of their comrades and follow it up...What's the worst that could happen? It's not like they're gonna stumble across a top secret nazi laboratory fulla mechanized zombie soldiers or anything. Right?

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"Whattaya mean I looked different in my profile picture..."
Eventually, the soldiers start encountering some odd-looking sieg heilers along the way, that look to be a mash up of mechanical parts and enemy troops, and when they infiltrate a large warehouse nearby, they discover the horrible truth: Viktor Frankenstein (Karel Roden) himself is under the employment of the Reich, commissioned by the Fuhrer to resurrect his dead soldiers and rescue the Fatherland from the imminent jaws of defeat. That Adolf 's new shock troops are corpses haphazardly stitched together and equipped with knife-fingers, drill-faces, Stuka propeller-heads, and various other diabolical weapons of gore-spurting destruction, is, of course, an added bonus for Germany. Frankenstein's lurid experiments don't even stop there, folks, as he proudly shows off a 'half nazi / half communist' brain he's been tinkering on. What the fuck's next? Dr.Jekyll's Trompeter-reiten (Trumpet Riders) ??

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""Make a small tin box", you said. "Shop class is easy", you said..."
Raaphorst himself designed the unique steampunk-esque "zombots" on display, and each new mad creation is more impressive and intricately insane than the last, and the film's splatter-flow is reminiscent of Brian Yuzna on a Re-Animator-y tear through a haunted house ride at a state fair, ironically enough, since Raaphorst cut his teeth as a conceptual artist for Yuzna and Stuart Gordon on films like Dagon (2001) and Beyond Re-Animator (2003). Overall, it's a pretty good time to be had, despite momentary lapses in CG and an overworked Deodato-style "found footage" framework that's more annoying than anything, by now. A straightforward approach (sans that shaky hand-held camerawork that just gives my bitter, middle-aged ass a bacon double cheeseburger of a headache...I thought "Whopper" would have been too obvious there, don't you?) would have netted this a three spot (had they'd rolled with the original 'Worst Case Scenario' idea, it would have been four), but an impressive debut just the same, from a director whose name we'll be hearing a lot more from in the future, I predict. On the scale, Army stitches together and shocks a pair of Wops 'fulla voltage. Give it a look.

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"If I can just remoof zis baseball uuund ze funny bone, my zister vill stop calling me 'Butterfingers'!"
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Thursday, November 14, 2013

"Naked Massacre" (1976) d/ Denis Heroux

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Richard Speck, notorious for more than being name dropped as one of Divine's celebrity blow jobs in Female Trouble (1974), was also a U.S. merchant marine-turned-mass murderer when he slipped into a dormitory for nurses in Chicago on a July night in 1966, and spent the evening torturing, raping, and murdering eight young student nurses ("It just wasn't their night," he'd later chuckle) while on an alcohol and drug fueled bender, leading to a famous electric chair death sentence, eventually reduced to a twelve hundred year bed at Stateville Prison, where the unrepentant killer grew breasts, often boasted of his crimes, and spent his days blowing coke and fellow inmates until his black heart finally quit at age forty-nine. Tonight's review is just one of several cinematic dramatizations of this legendary scar-faced creep (Your humble narrator is a scar-faced goon, know the diff, Cliff), this one from French-Canadian director Denis Heroux, who'd give us the killer cat anthology, The Uncanny, the following year, chose the war-torn streets of Belfast at the height of it's political unrest as the backdrop for this rarely-seen exploitation dittie.

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"No Brady has ever planted a car bomb, Marcia, and you can be darn sure that no Brady ever will. Pardon my language, Alice..."
We see an awful lot of Richard Sp...uhh, Cain Adamson (Matthieu Carriere), a Vietnam Vet drifting his way back home to the States, aimlessly wandering the streets of Belfast amid spray-painted I.R.A. slogans and patrols of British soldiers, where the psychological burden of an abusive upbringing, the horrors of war, an unfaithful wife, lack of funds, etc, etc, take an irreparable toll on the man's fragile grip on sanity, finally leading him to break into a nearby building rented out to some student nurses with intent to burgle, or so he'd lead the terrified young women to believe, just before he convinces them to tie themselves up in one of the bedrooms, from which he calmly leads them, one by one, to a fate of degradation, sexual assault, and violent death. Just like he promised he wasn't gonna do! Joke's on you, girls. You showed kindness and trust to a transient sociopathic Robert Reed lookalike with a "Born for Hell" tattoo and an inborn hatred for women. That's never a smart move in a movie like this...

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Not to detract from the horrific murder or anything, but check out that woolly lap-mammoth.
As predicted, things rapidly go Andy Milligan for our heroines. One aspiring care-giver gets the wind choked out of her, and another gets stabbed, while a third takes the knife from Adamson and fatally shanks herself in front of his eyes, rather than submit to his imposed sexual fancy, which doesn't happen to exclude outing a pair of closeted lesbians in a forced horizontal pair-up that ends in...anybody? If  you quick-witted readers at home said "violent, humiliating death", give yourselves... one of those puffy re-released Ugly Stickers (not "Charlie" though, he's my fave, and you'll have to work a lot harder to snag him, I don't mind tellin' ya), I dunno. Believing he's exhausted himself of potential rape/murder victims, and having confessed his incestuous relationship with his sister along the way, along with various other little-known personal tidbits that I'm sure these chicks appreciated hearing about just before being brutally murdered, and famously forgetting "the one under the bed", our reverse-feminist opens his wrist in the end, only to be denied closure by the authorities.

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"...but I haaaaate salmon without a couscous side."
Among the unlucky nurses are Carol Laure, who you'll recall from the wild Sweet Movie, and Ely Galleani, an Italian actress who's worked with everyone from Fulci to D'Amato.I scored the C & F Services bare bones disc for a couple of bucks used at an FYE a while back, and it seems like a pretty fair trade to my best assessment, as I don't foresee any sudden mad collector urges to upgrade to a hardbox or mediabook release ever happening. If you're looking for a cheap fix of grainy ( bordering on downright murky in spots) blood, tits (thankfully not Dickie's),  woofin' seventies-tastic bush, and enough uncomfortable-looking misogynist torture and rape to make Krug Stilo step away for a momentary reflective stoagie of penance, then this one might just whet your appetite, briefly. On the scale, Naked scores a deuce, as the closest portrayal I've personally seen to the actual crimes themselves. Worth a look.

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"Pour some crimson in me, Jimson."
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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

"House on Straw Hill" (1976) d/ James Kenelm Clarke

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Tonight, we'll take a look at the only British film to be found among the original seventy-two (and even the revised thirty-nine, for that matter) on the notorious "Video Nasties" list that inspired gestapo-style police raids on video shops back in the eighties in the name of "decency". Looking back, the sheltered and stuffy  film censors only really managed to succeed in bringing masses of violent film lovers together, the world over. Hell, even cobwebbed-up Damned frontman Dave Vanian caught, caught the proverbial Horror Taxi and fell in love with 'em. This effort, from the director who brought you a World War II-based musical sex comedy in 1978's Let's Get Laid, is an engaging little psychological thriller that stars cult icon, Udo Kier, as well as popular seventies British sex star, Fiona Richmond, and sexy genre staple, Linda Hayden.

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"I am goink to zlip away to ze country zo I can start writing sings again..."
Paul (Kier) is a troubled novelist who rents an isolated estate in the British countryside, so that he might focus on writing the eagerly anticipated follow up to his first effort, with a secretary named Linda (Hayden) hired on from a temp agency by his agent, to accelerate the creative process for deadline's sake. Paul's lingering case of writer's block doesn't seem to discourage Linda at all, as she's packed away a handy dildo in her luggage, and plans to masturbate furiously over the coming weeks, sometimes in the middle of a nearby corn field in broad daylight, drawing the attention of two yokels on bikes, who stop to rape her at gunpoint... only she invitingly caresses the shotgun barrel, mid-violation, as a harbinger of where this chick's head is really at.Afterwards, she turns the duo's firearm on them, raping them of their miserable lives, and strolls back to the cottage as though nothing ever happened...

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And the award for Least Masculine-looking Death Pose for 1976 goes to...
Meanwhile, the wide-eyed (and laughingly-overdubbed) Paul is so overstimulated that he's forced to wear latex gloves when making love to his girlfriend Suzanne (Richmond), who initially dislikes his new homicidal typist, who, in turn, adds the housekeeper to the meager body count along the way, but later warms up enough to her to wear a Joan Crawford-style lez-beanie with the young murderer while Paul is busy losing control of the vehicle on the winding country road back to the house, a victim of secretarial sabotage, no doubt. In the end, Linda turns out to be the vengeful widow of a suicidal author whose work Paul had plagiarized in bringing his first book to life, and a bloody, knock-down, drag-out finale, complete with a shock or two that I'll leave for you to discover for yourselves, is what follows...

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"How'd you guess I was from Bristol?"
Hayden, who'd later voice regret concerning her participation here, could be found in memorable genre films throughout the seventies, in things like Hammer's Taste the Blood of Dracula(1970), Tigon's Blood on Satan's Claw(1971), Night Watch(1973), Madhouse(1974), and even Queen Kong (1976), while Richmond would appear in lighter fare like 1971's Not Tonight, Darling, and reunite with director Clarke on Hardcore aka/ Fiona(1977) and the aforementioned Let's Get Laid, the following year. As for tonight's review, which was originally released as Expose', and alternately as Trauma, it's a worthwhile watch for fans of Udo, Linda, and/or Fiona, and Video Nasty completists alike, and as such, I'm gonna drop the deuce upon it, so to speak. Check out the Blu-Ray-dvd combo, available from the fine folks at Severin.

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"I vos practissink zhooting  jam jars off of ze garden wall...."
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Friday, November 8, 2013

"Maniac"(2013) d/Franck Khalfoun

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As somebody who actually saw the Lustig original in the theaters back in 1980 (go ahead, rupture my stones and call me a dusty old relic, let's see what you blouses look like at forty-four), it'd be effortless for me to portray the role of Pist Pisstofferson, for whom fun, time, and joy have all long since passed by, and spiritedly slag off this latest remake from the New Wave of French Horror's dynamic duo of Franck Khalfoun and Alexandre Aja as another unnecessary and unoriginal one in a pungent, growing heap, but I'll reserve such harsh judgment for more deserving movies. This particular remake is kind of a hoot. People seem surprised that an actor like Elijah Wood is as convincing and effective as a mentally unhinged psychopath as he is here, but I've been in his corner since Green Street Hooligans (cinematic thuggery wins me over every time), and though he isn't nearly as overweight as Joe Spinell was in the original, he manages to look every bit as sweaty and unwashed. That's impressive.

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"May I photograph your stiff?", queries the innocent Anna (Nora Arnezeder).
Frank (Wood) has some serious issues, thanks in major part to a psychologically destructive upbringing from a nymphomaniac called Mom (America Olivo)( who's more concerned about scoring her next 80's style-flashback double penetration than her son's mental well-being), not the least of which being constant crippling migraine headaches accompanied by vivid hallucinations that force him to abuse his prescribed anti-psychotic meds, as he tries to carve out a living for himself in the family business, antiquing and restoring vintage department store mannequins. Being a slight, unthreatening creep unhampered by girlfriends does allow for the pursuit of hobbies, as we see Frank enjoys a number, himself, like stalking and murdering random women, scalping them, and nailing the pulpy trophies to the foreheads of his favorite dummies in his secret hideaway. I collect first editions of books, but everybody's got their own bag, man.

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"I warned you not to sing 'Frodo of the Nine Fingers' within earshot of me again, tonight!"
After Frank blows through several victims like an e-date, a young clubber, and a gallerist, in the same way yours cruelly goes through a pack of cool mentholated doogs on any given evening, he meets a beautiful young artist named Anna (Arnezeder), who's seemingly the only girl in the city who's able to see past Frank's awkward, lonely exterior and free the beauty and art that's trapped within as they get to know each other. Actually, rather than the dimepiece she portrays, to score Frankie-boy's dummies for her upcoming art exhibit, she turns out to be just another dime a dozen, self-serving egotist chick with a jerk off boy friend, that you find yourself cheering on to get the next close haircut. In the end, his fragile grip on reality slips away, and he's forced to face physical manifestations of his broken subconscious, with similar results to the original's conclusion...

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"Owwwwww! Awful touchy about that tv movie 'Day-O' you did, aren't you?"
For every thing I wasn't stoked about seeing (the CG gore comes off clunky and artificial in a few spots, as per usual these days) here, I found two that I enjoyed (the first person perspective was effectively executed, allowing for some inventive shot selection throughout, and French newcomer Nora Arnezeder is an acceptably cute replacement for legendary Hammer vixen Caroline Munro, as the film's main eye candy on display), but I still can't avoid the inevitable comparisons to the original film, whose downer vibes and groundbreaking gore still have people talking about it over thirty years later. Though this is decent enough in it's own right, nobody's gonna be talking about it thirty days later. On the scale, the Khalfoun remake peels back a bloody chunk of scalp to reveal a respectable deuce. Check it out, and let me know what you think.

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"That's the last time I smoke bath salts in Gandalf's dressing room..."
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Thursday, October 31, 2013

"Non ho sonno"(2001)d/Dario Argento

If you're not currently preoccupied with the manner in which that horny mummy in the corner is drinking in the seam lines in your girlfriend's bodacious Harley Quinn costume, then what better way to wrap up a solid spine-chilling and satisfying Italo-ween season this year, than to cover one from the undisputed platinum standard in gialli, the 'Italian Hitchcock' himself, Dario Argento, in the form of his recent, glorious return to sadistically violent form, 2001's Non ho sonno aka/ Sleepless, after having mostly floundered in unfamiliar waters of mediocrity with Trauma (1993), The Stendahl Syndrome (1996), and 1998's Phantom of the Opera, in the years following his blood-splashed magnum opus, Opera (1987). Phew...and Gabriel March Grandos thought his sentence was lengthy.

"Esplodere barattoli di marmellata??!! Chi e' il ragazzo saggio!"
Moretti (Von Sydow) is the police detective assigned to the brutal 'Dwarf Murders' (you hear that, Skittles?) investigation in Turin, promising a young motherless boy justice, after the wee lad sees the woman being force fed her own wind instrument, mind you. Moretti follows a trail of  paper animal cutouts left at the gore-splattered crime scenes to a nursery rhyme by a local reclusive author of children's books known as 'The Dwarf' ( the rhyme itself was actually written by Dario's rather fetching daughter, Asia, who we all should be well familiar with, by now) who's driven to commit suicide by the allegations, effectively closing the case when the slayings cease afterwards, or so it would seem...

Heyyyy, I found a clarinet in the meat sauce...
Only, seventeen years later, a woman is horrifically snuffed on a train in an identical manner to the past slayings, leading Giacomo (Stefano Dionisi) , who's now grown up enough to face his childhood demons and return to the old neighborhood in Turin from Rome on the suggestion of an old school buddy named Lorenzo (Roberto Zibetti), to seek the assistance of the retired sleuth in solving the latest crimes that include an agonizing wall-smashed facepiece and a beheaded ballerina(!), which have the former detective wondering if his deceased dwarfish adversary was responsible for the original murders in the first place. I'll leave the mind-boggling finale for you to experience for yourselves.

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"...we'll return to 'Maroon 5: Behind the Music' after these messages..."
Though Sleepless doesn't quite measure up (most of Von Sydow's supporting cast, and some artificial-looking CG effects come immediately to mind) against the vintage Argento gialli forever carved into the memory of genre lovers worldwide, like Profondo Rosso(1975), it's far and away his best effort in ages, a Halloween treat bucket that's overflowing with enough confectionery goodies like black-gloved psychopath hijinks, genre-friendly red herrings deftly woven around some (seriously) exotic murder set pieces by Stivaletti, the usual bang up score from Goblin perfectly complimenting the maestro's signature lush visuals, to bring the viewer back to those glorious eighties, when stuff like this wore the crown over everything. Three wops....oh, and, uh......Happy Hallowe'en.

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Ha portato un coltello per una sparatoria...
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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"Nosferatu a Venezia" (1988) d/ Augusto Caminito

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More Kinski?? Despite burning through directors (Maurizio Lucidi, Pasquale Squitieri, Mario Caiano, producer Caminito, who ended up finishing the movie with some help from Luigi Cozzi, and reportedly Kinski himself, along the line) like Bette Davis through a pack of Lucky Strikes, tonight's review is an evocative, sometimes surreal follow up to Werner Herzog's 1979 remake of the silent 1922 F.W. Murnau classic.With the elegant beauty of Venice as a backdrop, the historically intolerable Kinski reprises his vampire role,  famously refusing to sit in the make up chair for the ugly, pitiful Max Shreck-esque look of the original, and even attacking a few of his female co-stars on the set. Also on board are no less than Christopher Plummer, Donald Pleasance, Barbara De Rossi, and the natural beauty, Anne Knecht, in her only film appearance to date.

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"Vould you direkt me? I vould direkt me...zo zo hardt."
Professor Catalano (Plummer), who's dedicated his entire life to researching and hunting down the legendary vampire, Nosferatu (Kinski), arrives in plague-ridden Venice on account of a letter from a woman named Helietta (De Rossi) who claims that a coffin in her family crypt houses the very same apex blood drinker (that may or may not just be a slight extension of Kinski's Paganini with fangs here, but who can tell for sure, anyway?) that he's been after. Catalano's skepticism drives Mrs.Canins to hire a psychic to attempt to contact the monster, and although he hasn't been kipping in Helietta's cellar as she had thought, the medium's seance awakens him from a centuries-long slumber among a caravan of gypsies, suddenly feeling compelled to return to Venice and endlessly cruise the city's waterways in his gondola when he isn't clacking through the shadows in his buckled high heel shoes, in search of those foolish mortals who would dare to disturb his silent peace...

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"I'll do ze fanks....zumtimes. But not ze balt het."
Don Alvise (Pleasance) delivers some memorably rambling speeches about God and evil, then disappears entirely, and when finally faced with his nemesis and life's obsession for the very first time, Catalano naturally offs himself. Wait...what? Nosferatu lustily paws at the local beauties and wills poor old grannies to throw themselves onto spikes, though his old angst-belching soul has but one true desire; the finality of death that can only come at the hand of a virgin whose love for him is throughly unconditional, and ironically, when he's later tracked down by some vampire hunters, they can only manage to mortally wound Maria (Anne Knecht), robbing him of the one girl who can grant him what he needs. He mournfully carries her nude body through the swirling morning mist...

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"Fangs for that orgasm, baby..." coos Maria (Anne Knecht).
Some consider the late actor to be little more than a waxy-lipped bundle of Germanic hormones or worse. Don't count me among those folks, as his participation in a film only boosts it's stock for me; sometimes only just slightly, but in instances like tonight's review, he's an insane spectacle that demands the viewer's attention for every frame he passes through, as though the actor's very ego itself was the vampire in question, hypnotically commanding the audience to note his presence like an eager virgin might await the kiss of blood in her bed, once the sun has gone down. As for the film on the whole, it's a bold and visual one, tasting surprisingly coherent despite it's multiple chefs, nearly matching the atmospheric perfection of Herzog's film, and scoring an impressive three Wops on the rating scale. If you can snag a copy, by all means, do so with all speed. Highly recommended.

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"Time has no meaning in a life that never ends...", hisses Nosferatu (Kinski).
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Monday, October 28, 2013

"Le orme"(1975)d/Luigi Bazzoni

Four years removed from his first giallo, Giornata nera per l'ariete aka/ The Fifth Cord (1971), director Luigi Bazzoni serves up a visually interesting if not entirely engaging psychological thriller/mystery that lacks just about every identifying giallo characteristic; there's no black gloved killers, no beautiful model types being violently killed off with exotic weapons, and not much sci-fi to wrap your mind around here, either, despite the alternate "Footprints on the Moon" title. What there is, is some nice, atmospheric cinematography from Vittorio Storano, who also worked with Argento on L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo aka/ The Bird With the Crystal Plumage (1970), and a solid performance from lead actress, Florinda Balkan, with supporting appearances by Italian 70's ginger-kid extraordinaire, Nicoletta Elmi, and, of course, Klaus Kinski, misleadingly billed as a lead here.

"...all of this fucking cheese belongs to me now."
Alice (Balkan), a Portuguese translator,  has no recollection of the past three days and a recurring nightmare vision about astronauts bouncing about on the surface of the moon that she attributes to an old movie (with the same title as the one the audience is currently watching, mind you) that she must have missed the ending to. A discarded photograph of a hotel on the isle of Gama compels her to pay the holiday hot spot a visit in attempt to piece it all back together. To further complicate matters, several of the island's residents seem to already know her from the previous week, only as Nicole, a red head who sought refuge from some sort of imminent danger there, despite having no memories of ever having been there, at least, as Alice, anyway...

"...e il mio capelli rossi fastidioso per voi?" asks Paola (Nicoletta Elmi).
More sleepless nights filled with images of helpless men in space suits left behind on the moon (I dunno, that's gotta be pretty high on anybody's list of unsexy things that could happen to a person, huh? Still, you can't hear the Dave Matthews Band from space, so that's a plus...) and an abrasive scientist named Blackman (Kinski), who briefly bickers with some off-screen colleagues about his mind control experiments, the results of which have stranded some poor bastard on the moon's surface, to test his mental resolve. The bad karma finds it's way into Alice's dreams from space, and thus, aligns her as the logical choice to be Blackman's next lunar guinea pig. In the end, we see her being dragged off, screaming, by astronauts, no less...

Dicono che alle mie palpebre, Klaus.
Bazzoni would only direct a series of documentaries on Rome during the nineties, never returning to feature films, which leaves the genre fan to much speculation on where he could have gone with the medium, had he chosen to continue. Sadly, he passed away in 2012. As for Footprints, it's a little too long-winded for me to recommend to anyone but hardcore Kinski completists and fanatics of visual style, though it remains ambitious enough an effort to avoid being totally boring, and for that, it earns a single Wop score. I prefer Fifth Cord, as space isn't really my bag, maaaaan.

Smettere di resistere...Pianeta Earth è blu, non c'è niente che puoi fare.

Monday, October 21, 2013

"Macchie solari" (1975) d/Armando Crispino

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Tonight's movie, whose title translates to "Sun Spots" ( misleadingly released as Autopsy here in the States two years later), stands as an odd entry in the gialli sweepstakes, missing the trademark black gloved killer so prevalent in other films of the genre, but what it lacks in convention it more than makes up for with heaping dollops of sleazy sex, hallucinatory nightmare sequences, and the usual stellar evocative soundtrack from Ennio Morricone, not to mention one of the more delirious premises you're ever gonna find in movies like this. Director Crispino handles the frantic workload with lurid zeal, as though he himself had been affected by the magnetic activity on the star's surface, with an able cast that's headed by usual genre suspects, Mimsy Farmer and Ray Lovelock.

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"Let go of my hand already, hippie, my nipples are getting fenceburn."
After opening with a disturbing montage of a sudden rash of suicides attributed to the titular solar phenomena, we head to the Roman morgue, where Simona ( Farmer) hallucinates the reanimation of a chunky female stabbing victim while other corpses come to life and copulate amid the limp come-on's of her assistant Ivo (Ernesto Colli), before her boyfriend Edgar (Lovelock) surprises her on a slab. Later, the body of a leggy redhead (Gaby Wagner) turns up on one of the young pathologist's gurneys just a day after meeting her, the victim of an apparent gun-inflicted suicide on the beach, with Ivo lustily squeezing her dead boobs like a package of ass paper on a supermarket shelf, and just as Simona is laboriously working on her thesis paper on real and staged suicides, what luck. While dining out with her playboy father, Lello (Carlo Cattaneo), she has a sun-induced migraine that tunes her into a clue about the deceased ginger, leading her back to the morgue, where she meets Father Lenox (Barry Primus), the dead girl's brother and a race car driver-turned-priest(!), who believes his sister's death was no suicide...

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Empty a bottle of limoncello at the morgue, and this is what happens.
Lenox pummels the superintendent's face in the stairwell with his holy mitts, using the same reckless abandon in investigating his sister's death that forced him to prematurely retire from the racing circuit. As Simona gets closer to the truth at the criminal museum, a booby trap nearly erases her from the equation. Edgar walks away from his accident at the speedway, and shows  Simona a vintage pornography slide show that ends in tears and a non-bj (the worst kind, I tell you). Lello does a high window flopper that leaves him mute and paralyzed while his daughter, who never bought a blouse with buttons, parries an attempted morgue-rape by Ivo with a fork. Finally, she goes in for some nudie prod games with Edgar, only realizing mid-coitus that she's in love with Father Lenox. Lello flatlines in the middle of answering a question about his attempted suicide, and in the end, surprise... it's Edgar, who's the right homicidal bastard, scheming with Lenox's sister to rob Simona's father of his fortune. After narrowly escaping a staged double suicide, the priest and doctor rush to the square for a high scaffolding intervention that naturally goes badly. Cue: stock footage of solar flares and Morricone.

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...because"Wet Mimsy" doesn't need a witty punchline, at all, really.
Crispino's other directorial efforts include his first attempt at giallo, 1972's L'etrusco uccide ancora aka/ The Dead Are Alive, John il bastardo aka/ John the Bastard (1967), a western, and 1968's Commandos, a war movie starring Lee Van Cleef. The Chicago-born Farmer was no stranger to gialli, herself, appearing in no less than Argento's 4 mosche di velluto grigio aka/ Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971) and 1974's Il profumo della signora in nero aka/ The Perfume of the Lady in Black (1974). Lovelock, always a favorite, regularly worked with directors like Fulci, Deodato, Grau, Di Leo, and Gariazzo throughout the sixties and seventies. On the scale, Autopsy garners a solid three wops, and comes recommended for anybody with a taste for the lurid side of genre film from the boot. Check it out!

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...looks like another case of "Irish Sunglasses".
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