Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Hallo-wang dang, sweet poontang.

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"Argento's Dracula 3D" (2012) d/ Dario Argento

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Whether you call it Woptober or Italo-ween (we transcend all petty labels here), it looks as though we're wrapping up another successful one tonight with an Argento review, and his three dimensional take on the most infamous vampire of all, in Dracula 3-D, his 2012 effort. I shouldn't have to tell you by now that you won't be enjoying Suspiria or Tenebre level Argento when you sit down to watch this one, and expecting as much from it is naivete' on the viewer's part, and I'd like to think the vast majority of my subscribers are above such "fresh out of the package" thought processes. Though nobody with functional eyes will mistake it for top shelf Dario, the fact remains: even his shlockiest mediocrity is still heads and tails over seventy-five percent of the scareless copycat dreck that pollutes today's horror scene.

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Here's a majestic pair of real D's you wanna see in RealD 3D.
After an ill-advised fling on Walpurgis Night, at the foot of the Carpathians, next to a village called Passo Borgo (Borgo Pass? Carpathian mountains? Walpurgis Night? Why not just have sex in Crystal Lake on Friday the 13th, ferchrissakes, you idiotic peasants), busty Tania (Miriam Giovanelli) is dispatched by an animate shadow in the night. Meanwhile, a librarian named Jonathan Harker (Unax Ugalde) arrives in the village on business dealings with a resident nobleman named Count Dracula (Thomas Kretschmann) after briefly visiting Lucy (Asia Argento), the mayor's daughter and best friend to his wife, Mina (Marta Gastini). At the castle, he's greeted by Tania (aren't you dead?), who unsuccessfully tries to seduce him into a quick bite, but Drac rolls in like ants at a picnic and steals the vampiric vixen's vital fluids out from under her pretty little undead nose. Jonathan survives the fanging, if only long enough to attempt an escape, which might have worked if the Count couldn't metamorphosize into a fucking wolf. Just sayin'.

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"Arrrgh! You Tom and Jerry-ed me!!!"
Of course, while Mina is in the village visiting Lucy, her best friend falls prey to the ancient blood-sipper, leading the concerned wife to pay a call to Dracula's stony digs to inquire about her husband. At the castle, she finds herself under the influence of the vampire, who has orchestrated the eerie events thus far, just to get close to Mina, who's a dead ringer for a centuries old flame he's never forgotten. Around this time, Van Helsing (Rutger fucking Hauer!) makes the scene, familiar with the tell-tale signs of rampant blood drinkery, and preparing to go knuckle up with his pale nemesis once and for all. While he's putting an end to Tania at Drac's pad, the Count pays the villagers a visit, paying them all back with violent death for renegging on the pact they had struck with him. I'm pretty sure you've got an idea how this story wraps up, more or less, and even if you don't, you're still gonna have to score a copy to find out for yourselves. Happy Halloween!

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I'm familiar with Northern and Southern Mantis styles, but Transylvanian Mantis?
Like most of his modern era efforts, at least as far back as Opera (1987), Argento's work is uneven here in delivering the vampiric goods; slowly paced, handicapped by embarrassing cgi effects, and a pedestrian script that's mostly unfaithful to Bram Stoker's famous novel, though his obvious visual tributes to previous genre masters like Bava and Margheriti (and more so, Hammer movies of the fifties and sixties as evidenced by the costumes, locations, beautiful women, bountiful breasts, and fake blood),  are not wasted on your humble critic-at-large. It still pains me to a certain degree to declare a movie by the "Italian Hitchcock" a middling interpretation of the immortal horror classic, having been such a huge fan of his work most of my life. In Draculean measurement, it falls somewhere around the Frank Langella and Jack Palance versions, well behind Christopher Lee, Bela Lugosi, and Klaus Kinski, but miles above Gary Oldman's take, in my honest opinion. It still boggles my mind how anybody digs that one, I left the theater well pissed afterwards. As for this one, give it a look for yourselves...

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This is Dracula's polite way of telling you that your head sucks.
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Friday, October 30, 2015

"L'uomo, la donna e la bestia - Spell (Dolce Mattataio)" (1977) d / Alberto Cavallone

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From the man responsible for projector fodder like Blue Movie (1978) and Blow Job (1980) comes tonight's review, Alberto Cavallone's bizarre exercise in arthouse sleaze known alternately as Man Woman and Beast (1977). The director's visuals on this effort reminds me of something like a leisurely l.s.d.-soaked cruise down Jodorowsky Boulevard with the John Waters gag reflex pedal to the floor, and that's only when they succeed! For when they fail, and that's more often,  o woprophiles, they're more like an Amazonian psychedelic snuff powder that transports the user's mind into a terrible Deep Web clip that continued viewing will bring spiritual damage unto their soul. But one label no one has ever labelled this movie with, as far as I can tell, is "boring". I'd also wager that I'm probably the only guy in my personal circle that has ever seen it, and I've never recommended it on a movie night, either, unless it was a crowd of people I didn't like very much, in which case, combined with Thierry Zeno's Wedding Trough as a "Wouldn't you rather go home, instead?" double bill would effectively do the trick...

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L'aqua potabile wc...come frugale di te!
At the outset, we're introduced to a small rural Italian community,  immersed in preparation for an upcoming feast in the name of their patron saint, and its cast of colorful characters. There's a jaded communist artist who clings to party icons like pictures of Lenin and red flags (blech!), despite an growing uncertainty as to whether any of it still holds relevance or truth in his life, spent tending to a spouse who's lost all her fucking marbles while degenerating into an increasingly violent beast, indeed,  as evidenced by her propensity to drink out of the toilet and attempt to snip her nurse's nipples off with a pair of scissors. While the younger kids work the streets, pimping drawings of the saint for cash, the teens take advantage of the social atmosphere to enjoy each other's drunken carnality, there's the lonely butcher who peep tom's the young girls' budding breast and ass display until he's so horny that he wanders off and fucks a swinging slab of beef in the cooler. Oh yeah, this one's a beaut.

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...fottuto un lato di carne bovina...come romantico di voi!
One of the teenage girls is dealing with an especially unwanted pregnancy, seeing as the father is her father. Then there's a mysterious adolescent outsider who's met with Christ-like adoration from nearly every one in the village, who rescues a younger lad who's gotten himself lumped up in a fight, taking him to the villa of Che' Picasso and his gonzo nympho bimbo for assistance, probably not the smartest decision the kid ever made, when it ends with a poo-face, after cuckolding the creepy collage-pasting commie with some ill-advised analingus, gone about as wrong as things of that nature can go. There's also a cow's eye masturbation scene. Keep an upchuck bucket nearby, if you sit through this one, there's a good chance you're gonna need it, and probably more than once. Wash your eyes out with liberal doses of Christina Lindberg following any potential viewings to avoid losing your mind. That's all I got. Try and behave yourselves on Mischief Night tonight.

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"No, really, sweetheart, karaoke sounds much better through a pink microphone..."
I'm gonna go ahead and assume that any of the actors involved in this film would probably rather not be reminded of their participation, so I'm not gonna draw further attention to them here. I ended up giving Spell two Wops for showing me things I'd never seen in a movie up to that point in tackling three classic Italian subjects : sex, politics, and religion from new angles, unfortunately, most of those things were also on my "Never wanted to see" list, and not much makes either of those lists at this point, now that I'm sufficiently old as dirt and with a long history of cinema behind me. With those facts in mind, I can't in good faith suggest tonight's review to anyone save for the hardcore Italian genre completists out there, and even then, those individuals will most likely wretch at the sight of it. When that inevitably does come to pass, I only ask that you remember that I did, indeed, tell you so, and feel zero empathy towards your spiritual low state.

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"Mom, I'd like you to meet my new girlfriend..."
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Thursday, October 29, 2015

"La casa dalle finestre che ridono" (1976) d/ Pupi Avati

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Tonight, you get a real treat with Halloween hard on our heels, one of my favorites, an odd, cerebral giallo of the highest order from Bolognese writer/director Pupi Avati, the man who helped script Pier Paolo Pasolini's notorious Salo; o le 120 giornate di Sodoma (1975)  and later brought you Zeder aka/ Revenge of the Dead (1983). What the film lacks in the conventions of the sub-genre, black-gloved killers or the usual laundry list of gorgeous victims, it makes up for with deliciously subtle moments of genuine terror, an unsettling rural community vibe of Wicker Man or Don't Look Now (1973) proportions, and effective marriage of photography and score with convincing performances from an able cast, headed by Lino Capolicchio, of Antonio Bido's Solamente nero (1978) and Avati's later effort, La strelle nel fosso (1979). This one is a cult gem of rare luster, brilliance, and fire that begs immediate viewing, if not permanent residence on your shelves.

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"...what a brutal painting, they even shivved him in the tits ."
In a rural northern Italian community, an artist named Stefano (Lino Capolicchio) receives commission from their half-mayor (he looks to be a squashed hunchback dwarf of some kind) to restore an aging, creepy fresco on the local church wall, depicting two grinning dames sadistically stabbing Saint Sebastian in the stomach (alliteration, anyone?). As it would seem, the disturbing depiction was realized by a right unstable loon named Legnani, who famously pulled pain and suffering from his palate of colors the way Epstein pulled ABC to victory at that fateful Battle of the Network Stars tug o' war so many years ago. It would also seem that this artist of aggression had a pair of sisters so unhinged that they made, in comparison. Slowly, Stefano begins to uncover the villa's villainous secrets and rumors; had Legnani's siblings slain sacrificial citizens for their brother's crimson canvases? As fate would have it, Stefano finds room and board in an eldritch estate at the edge of town, empty but for a bedridden biddy (Pina Borione) and a young mental midget from the church who performs odd jobs , while his friend Antonio, who happened to be investigating Legnani's life at the time, allegedly decides life no longer holds the excitement it once did, and swan dives out a window.
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"We can't watch The Waltons and Welcome Back, Kotter, they're in the same time slot."
After scoring a choice one nighter with the local nympho-teacher whose bags are packed, Stefano also manages to stumble inside her successive substitute in a chick named Francesca (Francesca Marciano), and it isn't long before they're sharing his living arrangements at Secretive Shanty, and it's even shorter before they're both experiencing the place's evil ambience. Stefano's investigation leads him to a mysterious dictograph tape of a man's voice reading pernicious poetry, a journal dating back to the thirties, and ultimately upon the cruel artist's life residence itself, a weird little house with grinning mouths painted over all the windows, located well off the beaten path. He receives anonymous threatening phone calls imploring him to quit his job at the church, and when his restoration is later mysteriously damaged by acid, he decides to gather up Francesca and vacate the villainous village for good, except that the town's resident sot has decided to reveal to him the titular house's darkest secret, which leads to a far out finale that twists harder than Chubby Checker's sacrum that I couldn't, in good conscience, reveal to you here. See for yourselves.

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"Maybe you should check out Buvat's work on idiopathic male sexual insufficiency...there's a great listlessness in your slacks."
For the more attention deficient horror fiends out there (from the current generation of you of the fedora, neckbeard, and skinny pants-wearing clan, no doubt...  not mine, I can assure you that I was already a fully attentive ten year old for the entire run time of Dawn of the Dead in the theater), the deliberately paced suspense might seem a little long winded towards the middle, but for those fanatics whose genre appreciation extends further than a wisecracking Freddy Krueger with a rubbery prop head skewered on his glove-knives, this one will rapidly catapult into your favorites list, or near enough to it for repeated viewings hereafter. Naturally, it merits Wopsploitation's highest rating, four Wops; a mature and intelligent horror-giallo hybrid that'll effect many of you profoundly the first time you screen it. The Euroshock Collection print from Image suits me nicely, though there may indeed be a BD out by now, your call. Recommended.

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"That's the best-ah tomato fight I've had-ah in years! Still-ah the fahking-ah champ-ah!"
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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Making it to the end...with B.W.

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As the kiddies come a'knocking in their most ghoulish attire, with an abundance of sugary treats in mind, with fresh pumpkin pie cooling on the windowsill, and Jack O'Lanterns lighting up porches and sidewalks, as would-be pirates compete underwater with vampires for bobbing apples in a bucket, I've come to find myself pondering the possibilities of my own survival crate needs, should I find myself in the celluloid confines of a horror flick, thanks to an unexpected seasonal muse in the fine folks over at Man Crates, your perfect one stop shop for the men in your lives (FYI, ladies, we love to receive gifts too, and especially when they're cool), masculine gifts that arrive in crates that you gotta open with a claw hammer or a prybar, like you were Darren McGavin and his major award in A Christmas Story. How fuckin' cool is that? Before we fill any crates, though, we've got to set the stage with...

                             The Players:

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                          El Woppo
What a rugged protagonist (?). He's equal parts Eastwood, Bronson, Johnny Wang, and Johnny Wadd. Whatever horrifying situation arises, he's read every book on the subject. He's sat through it in theaters and drive-ins, VHS and Beta, DVD and Blu-Ray, and probably multiple times over, unless we're talking Andy Milligan movies, a guy can only stand so much. He's got protection and safety in mind while he deduces the logical solution, easing the tension of the eerie events with witticisms and dead balls celebrity voices at inopportune moments. He may or may not throw on a Mil Mascaras luchador mask later in the movie, just for kicks. Naturally, he's making it to the end.

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                  Passenger Seat Candy
If you're co-starring in my horror flick, then this would be you, the petite brunette heroine who doesn't necessarily dig her male lead all that much at first, but the calming peace that he manages to maintain around her, and the safety she comes to know eventually wins her over, but by then he'll be playing hard to get for audience laughs, after which, she'll prove her mettle by impossibly saving his ass from eminent death, earning herself the first big horny cinematic kiss, yahzick ways being right ways now, little devotchka.

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           My trusty sidekick, Suzuki
The Doctor's on board, oh yeah. He'll be steerin' our wheels while me and the dame go horizontal in the back to preserve our species,  knowing full well that if he dings the getaway whip, I'll be breaking his balls for days about it. He'll also lead us into danger while checking out an abandoned comic shop as we're stalked by nerd zombies in bloody Nexus t-shirts, and I'll inevitably make a wisecrack about minimal xp gain after briskly and viscerally dispatching them. Anybody else, apart from some side story action for this guy, is body count bait.
                Survival Crate Contents:
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My UK12 Doc Marten steelies. No crate needed for these as I'll already be wearing them, the last line of defense. If grounded zombies like their domes kicked to a pulp with these beauties, the upright variety is sure to love getting them spinning wheel kicked off by 'em.

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                                Spikesville Slugger
Whether you're a prowling C.H.U.D., or a Humanoid from the Deep, you're definitely subject to get kissed upside your cranium (Ox Baker, Escape from New York-style) with this little number.

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                             Ingram Mac-10 (M-10)
Two of these'll suit me fine. Even the most supernatural of serial killers are slower to the prey once they've been rendered legless by twenty-two hundred rounds a minute. Any religious artifacts, rifles, shotguns, handguns, chainsaws, etc. necessary to thwart evil can be picked up on the road later...

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64GB of tunes, from heavy psych to hardcore, classical to classic country, and especially metal, which we all learned sounds heavenly in those times of panic, as proven by Dario Argento and Lamberto Bava back in the eighties. That's almost Detroit Lions colored, too. Nuge.

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There's a weekend cooler full of this stuff in the crate. There'd have to be, as it is the caffeinated, appley, sugar syrup of champions, and we're gonna need that.

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The entire car trunk is filled with these, no joke. You can have a couple, here and there, but if I think you're putting a strain on my supply, I'm cutting my losses and feeding you to Shub-Niggurath.

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                                   Gas Mask Bong
In the midst of the monkey virus apocalypse? I'm wearing this thing permanently, like a psychedelic Bane making road head jokes to Passenger Seat Candy, while I'm shooting, driving, and inhaling, with the sadistic cult in hot pursuit on a winding country road during an evening rainstorm in a flurry of slow motion raindrops and bullets to strains of Buck Owens' Second Fiddle. Go ahead and let your mind draw that picture, man.

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                                        The Coug'
If you thought I was driving a super reinforced tactical bus full of mook survivors or something, you're bananas, and more importantly, you're on your own, as it's the most luxurious street whip of 1970, The Mercury Cougar XR-7 for this guy, with comfortable room for four, should the Doctor decide to pick up a survivor dip for himself, and the 351 V8 Cleveland under the hood for road-chewing getaways that'd leave Phantasm Reg's Hemicuda all totes jeal-atinous. Hard top model, to keep those pesky desert gargoyles at bay, of course.
           If I go any further with this, I'll have written another script, so we'll draw the brakes right here, for now. What'd make it into your horror movie survival crate and why? I'd love to hear your ideas, either in the comment section or via e-mail, and while you're at it, why not check out the infinitely cool stuff over at the Man Crates website, where you're sure to find a gift crate order with your credit card number all over it, and don't forget to tell 'em that B.W. sent ya!

Monday, October 26, 2015

"Le foto di Gioia" (1987) d/ Lamberto Bava

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I can't believe we've never covered this one over the last eight years. I must have had it laid out and unfairly collecting archival dust for two or three, at least. It's a weird giallo, original and visually striking if moderately bloodless in it's delivery of wanton nudity and sleaze, instead of the usual red stuff. You give me a pack of butts, a phatty nug for my Lions helmet-bowl, and a sleazy giallo, and I'm one or two petite brunettes with a platter full of grapes away from an enchanting evening, for sure.Make that a sleazy giallo featuring the Italian Dolly Parton herself, Serena Grandi, supported here by the likes of Daria Nicolodi, the Grim Reaper himself, Luigi Montefiore aka/ George Eastman,  David Brandon, and Capucine, with a soundtrack by Simon Boswell, like tonight's review, and it's one for the ages, more often than not.

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"You're not still pissed about that time I pulled your uterus out and ate it, are you?", asks Alex (George Eastman).
How's this for a stretch...Gioia (Serena Grandi), a retired...model, ahem...focuses on the successful new men's publication called "Pussycat" she heads with the help of assistant Evelyn (Daria Nicolodi) and her photographer brother, Tony (Vanni Corbellini), until one of her models dies photographically on of her memorable former sets, something one would naturally assume is going to occur more than once in a picture like this. It does, and often in a surreal, red-filtered fashion, with the cover models/victims' heads metamorphosizing into giant veiny eyeballs, and the anonymous killer artistically propping the fresh corpses against a sofa in front of blown up, titular photos of Gioia, sending the morbid photographic compositions to the chesty heroine. 

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You ask what it'd take for this guy to judge on American Idol? Well, for starters...
There's the dirty prank calls Gioia receives from an adolescent crippled perv next door neighbor named Mark who displays frustration and bitterness at the loss of his girlfriend in the car crash that has left him an obsessive invalid. As the bodies start to pile up, Gioia becomes convinced she'll be the next victim on the list, though towards the middle, the film bogs down with a mostly unnecessary (much cozier than their work together in D'Amato's Anthropophagus) love angle involving Gioia and Alex (George Eastman), that seemingly puts a freeze on the strange murders and Inspector Corsi's (Lino Salemme of "Demoni" (1985) and "Demoni 2" (1986) fame) ongoing investigation, but Alex doesn't stick around for long. Eventually, after having discovered another new cadaver in a huge multi-level clothing outlet, Gioia encounters the cackling, shadowy murderer for herself, leading to a wild, twist-filled finale that should satisfy you, once you've secured yourselves a copy, which I suggest you do.

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Spoiler: Stellar costume design like this guarantees at least two wops.
I could give you the usual genre pedigree of some of the cast and crew as you'd expect, or I could go on at some length about Ms. Grandi's abundant, fleshy assets. My inner demons have advised me to inform you that masculinity has again won the day, so Serena's thick, pillowy,  physical beauty of larger-than-life pin up proportions, it is. Her massive milkwagons, on full display here, are truly awe-inspiring to a bobbler-backer from way back, like myself, perfectly complimenting the luxuriant curves of her body, which would not be out of place, represented in marble in the Roman garden of a high-ranking official of the halcyon days of the empire. Insert two banger cigarette break right here. Check out her work with Ass-man extraordinaire, Tinto Brass, and exploitative pornographer supreme, Aristide Massaccesi aka/ Joe D'Amato for depth, ahem...anatomical study. Two Wops on the scale, and certainly worth a peek.

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"Get closer to the microscope, I still can't see Ms. Grandi's wardrobe..."
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"5 Bambole per la luna d'agosto" (1970) d/ Mario Bava

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From Fulci, we turn to the great Mario Bava, in one of his few mortal moments,  directing an obscure, mostly bloodless giallo that he'd call the worst of his career, methodically churning out what stands in actuality as a quirky, humorous, Christie-inspired,  lounge-soaked lampoon of what audiences had to come to expect from gialli at that point in time, at least prior to Argento's reinvention of the genre. As such, it's not difficult to enjoy Bava's stylish lens in a succulent beach locale, and easier still when it's focus happens to be upon Eurosleaze queen and Maltese-Italian sexpot, Edwige Fenech, and familiar genre faces like Ira von Furstenberg, who you may recall from Giornata nera per l'ariete aka/ The Fifth Cord (1971), and William "Django" Berger, of Mio caro assassino aka/ My Dear Killer (1972) fame, as well. The swinging score was provided by none other than Piero "Mahna Mahna" Umiliani, also responsible for the scores of one hundred fifty other films, covering every imaginable genre, in total. Let's get into it...

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"Why won't Jane Wiedlin stop sending me paintings of herself?"
When an industrialist named George Stark (Teodoro Corra') invites five of his opulent business pals to his ultramod beach digs on a Mediterranean island getaway to coerce the formula for a new, industrial resin out of  one Professor Farrell (William Berger), using a scheme of ludicrous leisurewear and  groovy sexy-parties to break down the young chemist's hesitance to sell, the planned decadent weekend doesn't take long to become a kooky murder mystery. This sexy-party method proves fruitless, though it should be noted that Farell's wife Trudy (Ira von Furstenberg) sometimes gets it on with Stark's wife, Jill (Edith Meloni), and swinging tycoon Nick (Maurice Poli) also has a wife named Marie (Edwige Fenech) whose catting about sometimes advances her husband's career, while Jack (Howard Ross) and his girl, Peggy, might have the lone non-problematic relationship of the lot, or one could be lead to think...

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Between Edwige Fenech in a bikini and cigarettes, I'm gonna go ahead and call this flawless composition.
It just so happens that Jill discovers the houseboy has turned up, iced on the beach and smothered with sand crabs, and with the motor launch having been sent away to prevent Farrell from leaving before selling the formula and exit for anyone made impossible, the group is forced to wrap his corpse in plastic and hang it in the refrigerated meat locker until the lone phone is fixed (wouldn't ya know it...), and they can alert the proper authorities. Things are destined to heat up when an anonymous killer starts erasing the remaining players, one by one, leaving the survivors to sleuth which of the group, morally bankrupt enough to begin with, has added systematic homicide to their sizable sin sheet. Will the killer or killers succeed in snuffing the competition and securing the formula for their own greedy end? Or will the would be victims be otherwise occupied destroying themselves and each other in the panic? All of this and more will become known to you when you screen this one for yourselves...

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"That's some heavy beat poetry you're laying on that reel-to-reel...if you'd make me an eight track cartridge of it, that'd be outta sight."
If you're one of the other Italian directors wondering why your lesser works don't score three Wop reviews, a trip to the mirror should clarify for you, once and for all, really, if you don't see Mario Bava in the reflection. The elder Bava stands along with Argento, Fulci, Soavi, and Deodato at the top of a list of personal favorites, and that he could make such an enjoyable experience for the viewer out of a less than enjoyable shoot such as this one, is just one more tribute to his greatness. So yeah, chalk it up to bloody favoritism. When you've been watching movies as long as I have, you're bound to have quite a few of them, and these have been my favorites for many years, and thus, the reason I pass them unto you with hope that you'll enjoy them as much as I do. I've also been blogging long enough to realize that those of you who've stuck it out with me here over the past eight years through the veritable ocean of trials and tribulations (that have veered me off course on occasion during that time), you're pretty much on the same wavelength as I am, entertainment-wise, and there's still more than a few of us out here to celebrate our fascination with these films.So, let's keep doing it until we can't anymore, huh? Check this one out.

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Not concerned with breaking it, Marie (Edwige Fenech) shakes it in gold lame' bells, no less.
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Saturday, October 24, 2015

"Una sull'altra" (1969) d/ Lucio Fulci

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One of the main reasons I decided to keep with the Italian genre motif from last October for the site's return (besides my discreetly extreme favorable prejudice towards it!), was the volume of lesser known, underrated gems I'd lined up for you before my latest computer crash, and I just couldn't ignore some of these for another twelve months or the next gimmicky month I happen to dream up between then. Granted, I've been trudging you through some oddities of little renown and even less concern this month, but tonight, your patience has been rewarded with the first Fulci review I've got on tap.  
A Lucio-verture of lush cinematography, beautiful women in various states of undress, and epic treachery is what you'll be treated to, and just what you'd expect from a film proponent of Fulci's level of mastery while he was at his very best. Helping him to realize his vision are Jean Sorel, familiar to genre fans from his turns in  A Lizard in a Woman's Skin  and The Short Night of Glass Dolls (both 1971), as well as 1973's Day of the Jackal, and Marisa Mell, who'd previously worked with no less than Mario Bava himself on Danger: Diabolik a year earlier, later appearing in giallo fave, Seven Bloodstained Orchids (1972). The excellent score was famously provided by the iconic Riz Ortolani. Let's get on top of this one, shall we?

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I see what you did there, Lucio.
It seems there's this doctor in San Francisco named Dumerrier (Jean Sorel), who's anchored to a money pit clinic that he runs with his brother (Alberto de Mendoza) and  prior marriage vows to his sickly, asthmatic wife, Susan (Marisa Mell), which are keeping him from running off for good with his healthier paramour, Jane (Elsa Martinelli). Of course, he's not all conscience, this one, as he's left his wheezing burden in the charge of a nurse named Betty as he leaves on a trip to secure some crucial financial backing for the clinic. Just kidding, he's off galavanting at the casino with his fidanzata, Jane, when news of his wife's sudden death is delivered to him, along with some insurance policy mumbojumbo about a two million dollar policy that he's the sole heir of. Something about sedatives mistaken for asthma medication... Of all the lucky breaks a guy can would think.

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Guardate! Eccolo.
Soon afterwards, George excuses himself from dinner with Jane to receive an anonymous call, suggesting he check out the headliner at the local strip club, where the good doctor is taken by a certain female sex performer named Monica, who just so happens to be identical to his late wife, save for eye and hair color. Che coincidenza! Such a coincidence, in fact, that George gets slapped into a jail cell, while Monica is taken in for questioning, herself. As you might have imagined, there are several dizzying directions the mysterious narrative can veer off on from here, and Fulci masterfully explores all possibilities before revealing the true course of the film's script, which he also co-wrote, The formula is successful, and the resulting genre staple twists and turns, which I will leave for you to discover on your own when you score yourselves a copy from the fine folks who've made it available over at Severin, bring it all to a very satisfying climax, thanks to another spoiler-free wrap up here from your pal, Wop.
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Fulci crea una Godiva moderna. C'e' spazio su di esso per un uomo come tutti gli uomini e nessun uomo? 
I feel like the maestro was at the top of his game during the period in which this film was made, and along with Beatrice Cenci (1969), Una lucertola con la pelle di donna aka/ A Lizard in a Woman's Skin (1971), and Non si sevizia un paperino aka/ Don't Torture a Duckling (1972), representing the director's strongest work; a perfect introduction to film buffs that might otherwise ignore his vast artistic merits on the notoriety that his later, more exploitative efforts would be met with, outside of the gore crowd. There are touches of that Lucio here to behold, as well, a mere hint of the floodgates of violence he would help to open later in the decade. I'd suggest that One on Top of the Other, Perversion Story, whatever title you choose to refer to it by, is a must-see for anybody interested in catching some top shelf cinema, regardless of what that person's personal cinematic preference might be. On the scale, the four Wops of perfection have again been bestowed upon the genius that is Lucio Fulci. Recommended.

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Holy smokes! Jessica Lange could use a V8.
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Friday, October 23, 2015

"La battaglia dei mods" (1966) d/ Franco Montemurro

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When seeking out historically accurate films centered around the British sixties youth subculture of "mods" you'd naturally look to Franc Roddam's 1979 offering, Quadrophenia, or perhaps Barney Platt-Mills' Bronco Bullfrog (1969), but the last place you'd turn is the Italians, or more specifically, a Neapolitan adventure director like Franco Montemurro. While we're on the subject of worst case scenarios, the last actor you'd probably want to cast as lead mod would be Lebanese/Egyptian bubble gum popster of the early sixties, Ricky Shayne. Of course, we're reviewing that very movie here tonight at the Wop, as a testament to the Italians innate inability to avoid clumsily tapping into a popular fad, exploiting it for the silver screen, and producing an end result that's fucking ridiculously laughable. This isn't Vespa scooters, Northern soul, wartime parkas, Fred Perry polos, or violent seaside clashes with rival "rockers". In fact, I'm not even sure what the hell I just watched... 

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"Haaaalp! I've just been fatally shivved in the back with the largest stiletto ever committed to celluloid!"
Ricky (Ricky Shayne) burns the midnight oils pretending to strum an acoustic guitar in a Liverpool bar, while lip syncing terrible pop non-hits for his mod buddies, that is, until a handful of rockers roll up on their motorcycles to crash the party, causing a judo chop-heavy, chair busting fracas in the club that'd leave Captain Kirk totes jealy, and managing to shank his girlfriend in the back with a Maglite-sized stiletto, in the process, those fucking grease monkeys. Though nobody seems particularly shocked or appalled about the death, Ricky splits Liverpool for the greener pastures of Rome where he can touch base with his wealthy businessman father (Joachim Fuchsburger), stopping off in France and Genoa along the way, to befriend and defend the locals from bullies, and cash in on his piped in musical talent. Like Gru (Enzo Cerusico), a friendly gimp who entrusts several thousand lira with the crazily-coiffed crooner, only for him to get lumped up by a prostitute's back alley muscle, and robbed blind. Nothing to dwell upon, Ricky, here's my father's heirloom guitar, tuned by Spanish anarchy, use it well in your travels!

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"Sooooomething, sooooomething, mooooods, sooooomething, somethiiiiiiiiiing..."
In Rome, Ricky does more of the same, connecting with the local scene, who sit around on public steps until they're chased by the authorities (less "mod" than "hippie", if you ask me), while alienating his dad's wealthy ways and avoiding the thinly veiled come on's of his father's fiesty young fiance, Sonia (Elga Andersen),  in favor of her younger sister, Martine (Eleonora Brown). Of course, Martine barges in to catch Sonia begging for kisses from the pouty loner, and splits brokenhearted. Rick's pop cuts freaky Sonia loose and tries to patch things up with his son, while he's in a seventy-five hour jam session for long duckats at a local bar. For those keeping score at home, that's over three days straight of pretending to play songs that consist of "yeah, yeah, yeah!" and "No! No! No!". Martine ruins his musical marathon when she stops in with her crew of opulent snobs, but when their sumptuous striptease party back at the house demands a bobbler sacrifice, a jealous Ricky makes the scene, with ample judo chops and breakable chairs for the lot of them. Could marriage be on the mind of the antisocial idealist? Like anybody cares...

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After pretending to play guitar and sing for 75 hours straight, Ricky (Ricky Shayne) regains focus after spotting a familiar posh bird in the crowd.
It should be noted that Psychedelic Scotsman, Donovan Leitch has a cameo in this mess somewhere. Shayne is guilty here of some of the most obvious non-performing ever to be seen in a movie, rivaling Jack Nicholson's Mumblin' Jim un-gig in Psych-Out two years later. A fittingly obscure, washed out VHS print (I couldn't even tell whether any of the chicks were hot, dammit) was all I've ever been able to dig up where this film is concerned, and I'm satisfied enough with the results that I'll probably never seek a quality upgrade, nor will I ever sit through this again, I can add, with full confidence.About as modern as a rotary telephone. One wop.

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"Your mates will have no choice but to find you a crashing bore if you shan't get your bristols out, like a good bird, then."
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