Saturday, 22 November 2014

Euro - Horror Vaction: Four Flies on Grey Velvet (aka 4 Mosche Di Velluto Grigio)(1971)

Four Flies on Grey Velvet (aka 4 Mosche Di Velluto Grigio)(1971)
Director: Dario Argento
Starring: Michael Brandon, Mimsy Farmer, and Jean-Pierre Marielle
Running Time: 104 min

  I love old school Argento films and this the last on the list of his 70's horror work that I have to see.  This was the final film in his "Animal Trilogy" which included "Bird with the Crystal Plumage" and "Cat O'Nine Tails", both terrific films, and he then returned to making Giallo films in 1975 with one of his masterpieces "Deep Red".  So this should be an interesting ride.

  Studio drummer Roberto Tobias has noticed that a man has been following him for over a week and when he tries to confront him about it, the man runs away and Roberto takes chase after him.  They end up in an abandoned theatre and the man denies the fact that he has been following him.  He then pulls out knife and tells Roberto to leave him alone.  There is a scuffle and Roberto accidentally stabs the man in the gut with the knife.  Unfortunately, someone in the rafters turns a spotlight on them and snaps a few pictures.  Stunned Roberto lets the dying man fall into the orchestra pit and then takes off from the scene of the crime.
  The next day, Roberto reads in the paper that the man he killed has been discovered by the police.  This makes Roberto uneasy, knowing he just killed somebody but also because he starts receiving strange phone calls in the day, as well as a letter with the passport of the dead man in it and even during a party with his friends, he discovers some pictures of him killing the man under a stack of records.  That night he tells his wife, Nina what is happening but she doesn't believe him and when he tries to show her the letters and pictures, they are gone.  She tells him to go to the police but he can't because then he will be arrested for murder.  Neither of them can understand why this person is not blackmailing him but trying to torment him in such a peculiar way.  So the next day, he goes down to the outskirts of town to see his homeless friends and hires them to keep an eye on his place, which they are happy to do.  Probably for a sandwich.
  However the night that all the stuff went missing, Roberto's maid saw the person who is tormenting him, then calls them on the phone and demands to be paid for her silence.  They set up a time to meet in the park but when they do, they maid is murdered!  After the maid dies, then Roberto is sent a letter saying that he is next to die.   Will Roberto ever find out who his mysterious tormentor is or will his stalker do away with him the same way they did away with the maid?


  This wasn't as gory as I was expecting but it was still an enjoyable watch.  What I like about early Dario Argento (Opera, Deep Red) films is the fascinating camera work that he uses.  In this, he uses high speed camera equipment to film an unforgettable car crash, which could produce a triple digit number of frames per seconds and twelve cars were used to get this effect.  For the time, this was pretty cutting edge and it looks very cool in the scene.
  Also he does an excellent job with the whodunnit element of the story and introduces a variety of characters that are capable or have the motive and ability to be the tormentor, which keeps you guessing right until the end.
  Most interesting thing though about the film is that Argento has a number of amusing characters that play up more of a comedic role, which is a lot different than most of his other films.  He has an idiotic mailman, who is battered and bruised during the film from constantly delivering the wrong mail to people and is just starting to fight back.  Also, a gay detective that Roberto has hired that has never solved a case but feels that this one might be the one to break his lucky streak.  These are interesting and fun secondary characters that break up the tension and sometimes the duller parts of the film.  It adds some real colour and life into the film.


   Although the story was alright, there are still issues with the storyline.  There were opportunities that the characters who were being murdered could have easily revealed to other people.  For instance, the maid was talking to people on the other side of the wall right before she died.  She could have shouted the name of the killer.  Also the detective could have let Roberto know over the phone, or warn him about who is was investigating and where things were going but then I guess it wouldn't be much of a mystery and the movie would be over a lot quicker.  There are some other weird twists that don't jive   **SPOILER** Like the man Roberto was suppose to have murdered, isn't dead but the newspaper and police report he is. That is some seriously bad police work, if you don't know the difference between dead and alive.  Also there is a scene with Nina's cousin, Dalia where she hears the killer's thoughts or memories.  I think this be a tip of the hand but it just doesn't make sense to me and doesn't work.  **ENDSPOILER**
  Also the tormentor had this weird mask, which kind of makes sense in the end, but it isn't consistent in the film and he/she only uses it about half away through and then it disappears.  It's unfortunate because it was pretty creepy and I would have liked to have seen more of it, when the killer was attacking his victims.


 This wasn't my favourite Argento film but there are definitely some very enjoyable elements in it.  Again, it's not as gory as some of his other films but he does weave an excellent story of murder together, along with some unexpected humour and some interesting cinematography.  This is a great film to catch for any Giallo fan and anyone who loves Italian horror films.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Euro - Horror Vaction: The Beast (aka La Bete) (1975)

The Beast (aka La Bete) (1975)
Director: Walerian Borowczyk
Starring: Sirpa Lane, Lisbeth Hummel, and Elisabeth Kaza
Running Time: 93 min

  I found this near the top of a list of french horror movies.  I've never heard of it or of the director but this isn't the first time, I've seen a film without having any idea what it's about or who's in it.  Looks like a werewolf flick, but we'll see.

  Obvious horse breeder & down on his luck aristocrat, Pierre de l'esperance has one last chance to sustain his lifestyle and his social standing.  His wealthy friend, Philip Broadhurst has died and has decreed in his will that his daughter Lucy must marry Pierre's son, Mathurin.  However, the ceremony must be performed Cardinal Joseph De Balto, the brother of his uncle, Duc Rammendelo De Balo, who is crippled and also lives in the chateau with them.
  Seeing that he has only six months to do this, he decides to do it right away and contacts Lucy and invites her and her Aunt over right away.  Also, Mathurin has never been baptized for some mysterious reason, so Pierre gets on the horn and calls for the local priest to come over and do it right away.  He blackmails his uncle Rammendelo with the murder of his wife into calling his brother and asking him to come over and officiate the ceremony, but Rammendelo tries to tell Pierre that it will be impossible because the Cardinal is not on speaking terms with the family.  Pierre reminds him again about the blackmail and Rammendelo continues to try.  Pierre, then calls for Mathurin in from the horses to let him know what is going on.
  The dim Mathurin is excited for the wedding but feels Lucy may find him too grotesque to love, but Pierre reassures him that he's not that ugly.  The Priest arrives with his two teenage choirboys and is ready to perform the baptismal ceremony.  However, Pierre insists on baptizing Mathurin and he wants the Priest just wait outside the room.  He bribes the priest into this with a promise of a hefty donation to the church and a new church bell, if he says that he baptized Mathurin and of course the priest agrees to the terms.
  Meanwhile, Lucy Broadhurst and her Aunt have arrived at the chateau and Lucy like everyone else in this movie seems fascinated with the horses having sex.  She takes some Polaroids and goes into the house.  They are told by Rammendelo that Pierre is bathing Mathurin, which throws some red flags up for the Aunt but Lucy seems to be okay with it and suggests to her Aunt that they should do the same.  Lucy asks about the stories about the chateau being haunted and Rammendelo explains that there was an ancestor, Romilda de l'esperance, who was attacked by something in the woods a long time ago and all they found left of her was her torn corset.  He then shows her a book with some pictures of "beasts" having sex with ladies.  Eventually, Pierre joins them and they are brought to their rooms.  Lucy rests on the bed, pulls out her horse pictures and starts to pleasure herself until she is interrupted by a knock on the door.  She answers the door and receives an invitation to supper by Mathurin in note form.  They have supper and everything seems to be working out great and then it's off to bed.  However, Lucy starts to dream  about being chased in the woods by a werewolf/beast creature, who wanted to have sex with her.  Will there be any point to this erotic tale of terror or is it just one depraved scene after another?


  WTF did I just watch! I didn't realize that this was an erotic fantasy horror film and it had an X rating.  Like most erotic films with an X rating the plot is weak and it seems to come secondary to the sex scenes. There are times that Borowczyk takes a knock at the lazy rich and affluent and touches on taboos with a pedophile priest and the ability on how easily it can be to buy the church but these themes are short lived and are pushed a little too far at times.  This film doesn't have any real direction and I think the sole purpose of it was to show a werewolf creature having sex with woman.
  The werewolf creature does look great, by the way and the make-up team really must have a hell of a him with it.  Also, they must have had vats of that fake semen because at the end there is enough of that shit to repopulate France if needed.


  My biggest problem with this film, outside of the fact that it's pretty dull and doesn't really go anywhere, is that there are scenes with children and young adults.  There aren't any kids having sex but they're in the vicinity.  Like when Pierre's daughter, Clarisse gets two children to be in the wedding party, she has them locked in the closet, while she the butler have sex.  That's kind of gross.  Also, the teenagers playing the choirboys are kissed and touched by the priest and these scenes leaves you with an uncomfortable feeling at the end.
  Also, the scenes from the beginning was like watching a porno for horses.  Way too much information about horse sex, I think I may be expert now.  Some images, you just can't erase.

   
   I don't know if I would recommended this as a horror film or anything else, unless you really want to see a werewolf creature being satisfied in every which way by a woman.  Again, the story is really weak, the acting is poor and worst of all,  there isn't anything really scary here, expect for the gallons of fake werewolf semen being sprayed out of werewolf cock.    This is a bizarre erotic fantasy film and it isn't what I'm looking for when I'm looking for horror.




  

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Euro - Horror Vaction: Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead (aka Død snø 2) (2014)

Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead (aka Død snø 2) (2014)
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Starring: Vegar Hoel, Ørjan Gamst, and Martin Starr
Running Time: 100 min

  I was so excited when I heard that director Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow, Hansel & Gretal: Witch Hunters) was going to do this sequel.  I was totally blown away by not only the impressive gore scenes but the fantastic humour that balanced the film as well as all the great plot twists that made the first Dead Snow a now classic.  This film has some big black boots to fill, so I hope it can meet expectations.

  Starting right from where we left off in the other film, Martin escapes and gets into his car.  Martin quickly thinks back about his snow trip with his friends, how they found Nazi gold and how all his friends were torn apart by Nazi zombies.  Except for his girlfriend, who he accidentally killed.  Whoops!  He is also reminded that he had to cut off his arm because he was bitten and the only reason this horrible ordeal ended was because he finally returned the gold to the army of undead Nazis.  Then he looks down and finds one more coin.  Shit!
  Out of nowhere pops up Colonel Herzog, the Nazi zombies leader and smashes into the car to get Martin.  Martin fights him off and gets the car started but barely escapes the rest of the horde of undead coming toward his car.  He is now flying down the snowy roads with Herzog hanging onto his side window pawing at him.  By chance a huge truck is coming on the other side of the road, Martin smears Herzog on the truck, which rips him off the car, literally, and Martin tosses the last coin back at Herzog.  Unfortunately, Martin is exhausted from battling Nazi Zombies all day and he falls asleep at the wheel, then drives himself of the road and crashes the car.
  When Martin wakes up, he's in the hospital and he is handcuffed to the bed.  The police think that he was the one who murdered his friends and laugh at him when he tries to explain that is was actually Nazi Zombies who wanted their gold back.  Also, the doctor tells him that they were able to put his arm back on, but it isn't his arm that he has, it's Herzog!  It was ripped off when the truck smeared Herzog of the car and now it's attached to Martin, giving him super strength with that arm.  Unfortunately, Martin also cannot control the arm and he bursts out of the hospital bed.  Martins' new arm ends up killing another police man with it and once the police and doctors dog pile him, they sedate his ass and Martin goes night, night.
  Meanwhile, Herzog replaces his arm with Martins and decides that since their all up, they should finish their mission, which was to destroy a small town in Norway for disobeying the Fuhrer.  So they hit the road and Herzog decides that they need a bigger army of the undead to complete this task.  So, they start marching through other towns and creating new zombie soldiers as they go.  You have to admit, the man is resourceful.
  Martin finally wakes up again, now shackled to the bed but this time he has a visitor.  A young boy from the states, who finds his zombie arm fascinating and has sent a picture to the "Zombie Squad" to check it out.  Martin explains his situation to the kid and kid recommends getting in touch with the "Zombie Squad" to help him destroy Herzog and his undead army.  The boy unties Martin and the zombie arm accidentally throws the boy through the window, killing the boy and allowing Martin to escape.  He then calls the "Zombie Squad" and they agree to help him destroy this undead scourge.  Can Martin and his new friends stop Herzog a second time and save the people of the Norway or will they get caught with their panzers down and be trampled by the army of the dead? 


  This is a great sequel and keeps the same sense of humour and gory fun as the first film.  Director Tommy Wirkola doesn't miss a beat from the last film as he bombards with gruesome images of people being brutalize by these zombies but in an entertaining way.  There is tons of blood and there is no holds barred, Wirkola has the Herzog and his soldiers kill everybody!  No one is safe from this battalion of the undead!  Men, women, the elderly, kids, the handicapped and even babies fall prey to them but it's done in such a way that is palatable and cartoony.  You know you shouldn't be laughing but you can't help it.
  All the new characters are terrific and add such a great dimension to the film.  The "Zombie Squad" are Americans and claim to be professional zombie hunters, but have never faced a zombie because up until now zombies haven't been real. But they leave their parents basements and fly over to Norway to help Martin and prove everyone who ever mocked them about being zombie hunters wrong.  Their terrific to watch as they blunder around with that novice energy and excitement with just enough fear to make the scenes feel true.  Also the sheriff or chief of police of the small town that the Nazi are trying to destroy is pretty hilarious as well.  He is all bravado and big talk until he sees what's going on and then he wants to let things just take care of themselves.  He's kind of dumb but he has a great female sidekick cop who really seems to be the brains of the operation.  They two of them play really well off each other and they're very funny to watch. 
 

  There really wasn't too much to complain about, but maybe the end battle goes on a little long.  There are some many zombies fighting each other at this point that things do get a little muddled but overall Wirkola does a pretty good job keeping it exciting, fresh and on point.
  Also, the ending may not be everybody's cup of tea.  The ending is a bit sappy, very gross and it even surprised me a bit.  I don't want to ruin it but it leaves the film on a very weird note.  On top of that, watch till the end of the credits.


  This is a great film and a must see if you're a fan of the first one or even if you're not.  It has tons of great gory scenes mixed with a very dark but sharp sense of humour that is akin to say "Dead Alive" or the first "Evil Dead"zz.  This is definitely one of the better sequels that I've seen for a long time and not one that should be missed.


Sunday, 16 November 2014

Euro - Horror Vaction: Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter (1974)

Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter (1974)
Director: Brian Clemens
Starring: Horst Janson, John Carson, and Shane Briant
Running Time: 91 min

  I don't really know too much about this movie, outside of that this is a vampire flick and it comes from Hammer films, one of the most prestigious companies to produce terrifying tales across the pond.  However this is from 70's Hammer, which is a bit different from 60's style, where they seem to be a little more risque and a little less button down.  Anyway from the posters, it looks like they try and take vampires in a different direction.  Putting stuffy old Van Helsing out to pasture and bringing in a swashbuckling vampire hunter, so it should be interesting.

  Some of the buxom young ladies have been attacked in the forest during the day and have caused them to age rapidly and die.  Dr. Marcus sends for the help of Captain Kronos by mail and hopefully he arrives as soon as he can.  Probably in two to six weeks, if my memory serves me right. ;)
  Kronos is on his way with his helpful hunchback Grost and as the cross the country on horseback, they come across a gorgeous young lady named Carla locked in the stockade for "dancing on the sabbath".  Kronos frees her and she joins their merry band not knowing the dangers that lies ahead for them.   
  They finally arrive in town and Dr. Marcus greets them and invites them in to discuss the business at hand and what could be doing such nasty things to these lovely young ladies.  Dr. Marcus is unclear if it is a vampire because the attacks are during the daylight and it isn't blood that is drained but the youth, or life force of the victim.  Grost explains that there are  "as many species of vampire as there are beasts of prey."  Which is a satisfactory explanation to everybody involved.  So, Grost and Carla are sent out to put dead toads in the ground and mark them, which as everybody knows the most scientific way of finding out if you have a vampire in your woods because like the old song says, if a vampire treads across a dead toad, then it will live again.  Big hit in the 19th century, c'mon people.
  The next day, another young lady is attacked and Kronos checks his dead toads and discovers that one is alive, confirming a classic case of vampirism.  Kronos also tries to track the vampire down, but runs into some ruffians in the bar and before he gives them a good thrashing with his sword, he gives them a good tongue lashing for mocking Grost and letting them know that making fun of some who is different isn't very nice.  Then Kronos kills them.
  As the film continues, things aren't looking good for Kronos, more girls are having the life sucked out of them and even Dr. Marcus as come down with a mild case of vampirism.  Can Kronos find this soul sucking creature and save whoever is left in this small village or will this town wither and die after the vampire and Kronos get through with them?


 This was pretty good and I like how they changed up the vampire mythos.  It's funny because just having that one line of dialogue in the film, "as many species of vampire as there are beasts of prey", opens up the vampire realm and allows writer/director Brian Clemens (The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, Highlander II: The Quickening) to tread on any ground that he wishes.  Vampires can walk in the daylight and don't necessarily need to feed on blood but on soul energy, so watch out George Clinton.  It sounds like I'm teasing but I'm really not. Clemens does a great job adjusting the the myth and breathes some new life into an overworked genre.
  Also, Clemens not only adds something new to the story but he also touches on a very old story and it answers some good questions and ties the film together. **Spoiler**  One of the reveals at the end, is that one of the villains is a descendent from the Karnstein family.  The Karnstein family were characters from a book called "Carmilla" and a number European vampire films in the 70's were adapted from this book, including a trilogy films that Hammer had just wrapped up a year before.     **ENDSPOLIER**  I think this a terrific nod to the studio and is a nice surprise at the end.
  In addition, there are some very humorous bits in this film.  Clemens writes some intentional and maybe some unintentional things that just come off funny to me.  **SPOILER** For instance, when Dr. Marcus discovers he is a vampire, they all decide that Marcus must die.  Trying to kill Marcus is very amusing because they try a number of different methods, but nothing seems to work.  Eventually, they kill him but searching for the way gave me a good chuckle.  Also, there is a scene where Kronos sits with a bag on his head in the courtyard while Grost makes his vampire sword for him.  They don't really explain why, it's probably some vampire hunting ritual thing, but I thought this was very funny.  Maybe I'm simple, but a bag on the head for no reason always makes me laugh.  **ENDSPOLIER**  Not saying these are good or bad elements, but they do make the film that much more fun.


 Although there is a large body count in this film but that doesn't make it a plus for me.  Director Clemens just keeps knocking off girl after girl and there doesn't seem to be any build up to any of it.  A random character that you don't know goes out and then dies in the forest, another one talks to her dad for a moment and then goes out and dies, ad nauseam.  I have no feelings for any of these characters or a reason why I should care, so I don't.   Why not have fewer deaths and develop these secondary players so their deaths have some meaning in the film, instead of just a conveyor belt of death.
   Also, there isn't a lot of blood or gore that one would expect for a vampire film.  I know that this is a different kind of vampire flick but there are still some things you would like to see.  The ending is fairly decent, but I still would have liked to seen a few more splattering, I mean spattering of red here and there.
 Finally, I find Horst Janson (Deadly Jaws, Shout at the Devil), who plays Captain Kronos a little stiff in this.  I think he is terrific in the action scenes, which are fantastic if your into sword fighting.  That dude can swashbuckle like nobody's business but when he is interacting with his love interest, Carline Munro (Maniac, Slaughter High), or anyone else, he just doesn't seem to fit in just right.  It may be that his character is suppose to be aloof but it just comes off to me as weird.


   With that said, I still found this to be a very enjoyable film with that Gothic feel that you expect from Hammer horror films.  It has a terrific story, that puts a good twist and expands on vampire lore, it has some excellent sword play, which is rare to see nowadays and an ending that is quite memorable.  So, if your looking for a different kind of vampire film that doesn't sparkle, then give this a try cuz it doesn't suck.  

Friday, 14 November 2014

Euro - Horror Vaction: The Tombs of the Blind Dead (aka La noche del terror ciego) (1972)

The Tombs of the Blind Dead (aka La noche del terror ciego)
(1972)
Director: Amando de Ossorio
Starring: Cesar Burner, Lone Fleming and Maria Elena Arpon
Running Time: 97 min

  This is the first film in the "Blind Dead" series and it's suppose to be the best one, this and the sequel.  I've only seen the third entry, "The Ghost Galleon", twice, and no matter how hard I try, I just can't get into it.  Hopefully, this is the film that will make me fall in love with the franchise and have a better appreciation for the "Blind Dead".

 At very sunny resort in Spain, Betty runs into a her old school friend, Virginia.  They talk about old times and Betty tells her all about her new and exciting mannequin business.  As they're chatting, Virginia's "friend" Roger joins them and invites Betty to join them at another spa next weekend.  Betty agrees and Virginia insists that she bring a "friend".  Through the magic of film, the next week arrives and much to Virginia's chagrin, Betty arrives "friendless" and claims that he backed out at the last minute and that she just came to tell them that she is not going but Roger will not hear it and puts Betty on the train and they head off to another spa in Spain. Hooray! 
  On train, Roger is getting really chummy with Betty and Virginia leaves in a huff to go get some air.  While standing on the caboose of the train, she remembers how her and Betty made sweet love back when they were in school.  Frustrated with Betty and Roger, Virginia grabs her bags and jumps off the train.  Betty and Roger call to her but she ignores them and keeps walking through the field.  Betty and Roger ask the conductor if they can stop the train to get their friend but he refuses to because he seems really scared of that area.
  So, Virginia wanders off and finds the ruins of a medieval castle and after finding a creepy cemetery, she breaks down a creepy door to find a creepy floor to sleep on.  It must be nighttime because she is getting into her pajamas and ready for bed.  I'm not sure if it's the full moon or it's the jazz music that Virginia is listening to but outside the corpses in the graveyard have come back to life!  These corpses stumble onto their horses and gather together to find out where this jazz music is coming from that has awakened them from their sleep.  Damn kids!  Eventually, the find Virginia and chase her through the ruins and catch her in the same field she was in earlier after jumping the train.  These ghouls then devour/suck the blood from her until she is dead. ewww.
  The next day, Betty and Roger wake up fresh and feeling good at the spa and remember that their friend, Virginia ditched them.  They try and get directions to the area where Virginia jumped but everyone is afraid to tell them about it.  So, they just rent some horses and head back themselves.  They discover the ruins but no Virginia, only her lost shoe.  Fortunately, they're not the only ones looking around because the police are there searching for clues to Virginia's murder.  The police drag Betty and Roger down to the station to identify Virginia's body and question them.  After a mix up with the body, it is Virginia and this leads Betty to put aside her Mannequin business, so she and Roger can find out who killed Virginia.
  Eventually, they find out that the ruins belong to an ancient group of knights/priests who worshiped Satan and loved to torture people and drink their blood.  After a while, people didn't care for this and had the local magistrate hang them all and let the birds eat their eyeballs.  That's why their blind!  There is a lot of folklore in the area that these monks are able come back from the dead because of a deal with Satan. They can still eat people and they're the ones who probably killed Virginia, them or the smugglers who live down the block.  Now, Betty and Roger must confront these undead monk and/or smugglers to find out the truth about about the death of their "friend"!


  This movie was a lot of fun to watch and I really enjoyed it.  Director Amando de Ossorio (Fangs of the Living Dead, Canadian Wilderness) creates a spooky atmosphere for these monks to exist in that doesn't really let up throughout the film.
  Also, I really dug the look of these undead monks.  The make-up team do a fantastic job bring these dead creatures to life and I love the skull hands that seem to pop up through out the film.
  Finally, the ending to this film is soooo awesome and unexpected.  They ending to some films are so trite and when it comes to that moment here, you're expecting one thing but Ossorio switches things up and creates one of the most unforgettable ending ever and really pushes the envelope here. 


  This film is slow and there isn't as many blind dead scenes as I thought there was going to be, which surprised me.  There is a lot of investigating which is interesting, yawn, but then Ossorio throws in two very bizarre horroresque twists that have no explanation.  **SPOILER** For one, Virginia comes back as a zombie and attacks the morgue guy and Betty's assistant.  This is weird because there is no mention anywhere in the film of the "Blind Dead" turning people into zombies and when zombie Virginia dies, no other victims of the "Blind Dead" come back as zombies.  This is kind of neat but makes no sense.  Also, after Betty and Roger meet with the smugglers and convince their leader, Pedro and his cheap girlfriend, Nina to join them in the ruins during the night, Pedro rapes Betty.  Again, it's just unnecessary and puts the movie out of joint.  I don't see how that enhances the story, other than it's horrible that Betty gets raped before she is attacked by the undead.  After seeing that, this film should be at least be a PG-13, cuz PG is too low a rating for something like that.  **ENDSPOILER** 


  This isn't the best horror film I've ever scene but it really does have it's charms and is very enjoyable.  The "Blind Dead' are done up really well, and there is some interesting violence as well as the type of ending that most horror fans will really enjoy.  Worlds better than "The Ghost Galleon" and great film for a day at the horror spa.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Euro - Horror Vaction: Blood and Black Lace (aka Sei donne per l'assassino) (1964)

Blood and Black Lace (aka Sei donne per l'assassino) (1964)
Director: Mario Bava
Starring: Cameron Mitchell, Eva Bartok, and Thomas Reiner
Running Time: 84 min

  So excited to watch this!  Director Mario Bava (KIll, Baby Kill, A Bay of Blood) is becoming one of my all time favourite directors, not just because of the groundbreaking films that he has created but for his ability to take a considerably limited budget and work within those constraints to create some the most unforgettable impressive terror in film ever.  He is like a mad magician because he turns nothing into something and that is the real magic of the movies.

  During the night, Isabella is on her way home to the fashion house and she is attacked by a faceless killer.  She struggles to fight back but she ends up brutally murdered in the garden.  The next morning, fashion house mistress Contessa Cristina complains to the manager, Max Marian that Isabella is late again and if this happens again she will be fired.  Cristina walks off in a huff, bitches to some other models and then while putting a dress away, finds the body of Isabella in the closet.  The police come to investigate and question everybody, the models, the ne'er do wells who work for Max and they even go to speak with Isabella's boyfriend, Frank, who is a antiques dealer and a cokehead but the police can't find pin this on anyone, yet.
  That night there is a fashion show at the house that night, even though Isabella was murdered, the show must go on.  Cristina is rushing around trying to find someone to wear the dress that Isabella was suppose to wear but no one will touch it because they feel that it's cursed.  Finally, Nicole grabs it and while looking for a broach that goes with the dress, she finds Isabella's diary.  A look of concern washes over the faces of everyone in the room and Nicole puts the book into her purse, so she can turn it over to the police tomorrow.  Unfortunately, Frank calls Nicole and asks her to skip out of the show and come see him immediately because he is sick.  She borrowers her roommate Peggy's car and ditches the show.  Unfortunately when she arrives at the antiques shop, she meets up with the faceless killer and is killed.  However, the faceless killer can't find the diary because somebody has stolen it from Nicole!  What information does this diary possess and at what lengths will this madman go to find it?  Is anyone safe at the fashion house and how many will die at the hands of this maniac?


  This movie is incredibly gorgeous to watch and has one of the best giallo stories that I've come across.  This being one of the earliest films of the genre, you can see how it influenced other directors, like Argento and Lenzi, with Bava's use of colours and shooting style.  The story is a fantastic whodunnit, which was a style that Bava was actually bored with.  So, he changed the focus from the police and put more emphasis on the murders.  The killings aren't that extreme, considering what we have now, but there are definitively some tantalizing torture stuff that would make any gorehound smile.  As well as there are some very well done twists in this film that leave you guessing who the killer really is and a fantastic ending.
  Also, future film makers take note, Bava did this film on 150,000 dollars, which is very limited budget, after considering how well his "Black Sunday" and "Black Sabbath" did at the box office for American International.  However, this didn't stop Bava and he figured out a way to get the shots that he wanted.  I've read that the impressive dolly shot through the fashion house was done on a child's red wagon and some of his crane shots were done on a make shift seesaw. 


  There isn't that many bad things to say about this, the only thing I can think of is maybe the dubbing.  However, the script was written in English and acted this way, but when it was released in the U.S., the studio still dubbed the voices over and nearly all the male voices were done by one guy, Paul Frees.  This isn't a big deal and I think that there is a lot of leeway when watching dubbed film but I thought that this an interesting note and something to look for the next time you watch it.


  This is a great film and a definite must see for any horror fan.  This has a brilliant story, gorgeous cinematography and there are some wonderful death scenes that fans will enjoy. So, if your looking for a bloody whodunnit, then this should be on the top of your list.


Monday, 10 November 2014

Euro - Horror Vaction: Dard Divorce (2007)

Dard Divorce (2007)
Director: Olaf Ittenbach
Starring: Martina Ittenbach, Daryl Jackson, and Jaymes Butler
Running Time: 87 min

I've only seen one other film by German director Olaf Ittenbach and although it was probably one of the worse scripted movies I've ever seen, it was also one of the goriest nastiest funniest films as well.  Given "Premutos" was one of his first films and made a decade earlier, I'm hoping ten years in the biz has given Ittenbach a bit of time to create better looking movies with better storylines, while still keeping all that awesome gore intact.  Fingers crossed.

  Nathalie Stein is a mother, divorce attorney and an alcoholic going through a messy divorce with her husband, Tim.  She had her first child, Elisabeth, who is how 13, when she was 14 and her son, Jeremy 10 years later. Which if you do the math makes him 3, but he seems to be 8?  These bad math skills are probably one of the factors why Tim lost his restaurant franchise and is now working as a dishwasher at one of his former restaurants.  This must be one of the reasons, I think, why Nathalie is divorcing Tim and taking what money he has left and making it so he'll never see his kids again but they don't really explain why she is being so harsh.
  Anyway one afternoon, Tim picks up the kids for his weekend visit and Nathalie reminds Tim and the kids that this is probably the last time that he'll see them.  They say goodbye and she goes to meet her lover.  When she returns, the family dog is missing but she can hear it barking in the cornfields in their yard.(?)  She quickly calls for the dog, but the barking ends with an eerie yelp and Nathalie rushes into the house.  Inside she finds a note that says "Dard" in blood and calls the police.  The police arrive and say they can't do anything for her but to stay in touch if the situation escalates.
  The next day, she feels unusually sorry for Tim and makes plans with him and the kids to have dinner.  When they don't arrive at the restaurant, she goes home and finds Tim stabbed in the gut and dying on her deck.  She asks about the kids but in his dying breathe, he mentions something about the dog and the cornfield.  The police arrive at her house and Detective James Gates cannot find Tim's body out on the deck because it has disappeared.  She tries to explain that Tim was just here but Gates doesn't want to hear anything because he thinks that Nathalie is being paranoid because of the "Dard" note.  Later on another police officer arrives to put a tracer on the phone but after he puts the tracer on, he beats up Nathalie and demands that she tells him where his money and drugs are. What?
  In an incredibly graphic flashback scene, the fake police officer explains that her husband Tim killed everybody at a drug deal and stole all the money and "cokes" or cocaine.  Then with another very gratuitous flashback, he also tells her that he has killed one of her children and she and her daughter are next, if she doesn't tell him where Tim is and the money and "cokes".  Will she be able to tell this man the information he needs so she and her daughter's will survive or is there something else going on that is more dangerous than she could ever imagine?


  I am really surprised, the production value of this film is way better than I expected.  It actually looks like a film and there is a somewhat cohesive story.  Writer/Director Olaf Ittenbach (Beyond The Limits, Legion of the Dead) has the makings of a very inventive and interesting crime/horror/thriller here but a lot of it fails due to bad storytelling.  The main character Nathalie is not likeable and there is no justifiable explanation why she is being so cruel to her husband in the divorce. So when bad things start happening to her, people are happy or at least I was.  Also, there are too many trips to the well, with people coming in and trapping her.  She is captured four times in that house and has to escape that many times.  Each time more beaten and exhausted than the last and it just gets old after a while.  We get it she doesn't know where her husband is, there must be another way to find him villains, think outside the box.  Finally, you can see the ending a mile away, so when the reveal happens at the end it's not a surprise.  **SPOILER** This is a shame because at first, was hoping that this going to be a psychological game that her husband and his friends were playing with her, so that they could make her look crazy and the husband could get the children.  However, as time passed on, I realized that this was just a crime thriller with that element put to the wayside.  The potential was there but I think it got missed.  **ENDSPOILER** 
  Also the acting is terrible and I partially blame the script because I think it was written in English but some things don't really jive in the translation from German.  But even good writing couldn't have saved some of these performances but it might have given them a fighting chance.
  Finally, the audio mix at the end of the film is terrible.  When they real "villain" is exposed, you can't hear their explanation because it is drowned out by the background music, thankfully the script is so simplistic that it doesn't matter what he/she says because it's pretty cut and dry.


  The only saving grace to this film and the only reason I would recommend seeing this is the amount of disturbing gore in this film.  What this film lacks in acting and storyline, it makes up in ultra-violence.  There are heads exploding, limbs being severed everywhere, fingers, toes and faces being pounded into goo.  It's really quite extraordinary just how gratuitous this film is and how enjoyable these parts are to watch.
  Also because the rest of the film is so bad, it then goes into that so bad, it's good category.  If you can stomach the crap about her and the divorce until the first fake cop shows up then it's all gravy from there.  Bloody gravy!  It's like watching a human loony tunes cartoon with people splattering all over the place.

 
  As a whole this is a terrible movie.  The acting is shit and the story is alright but incredibly simple.  However, Olaf Ittenbach has such a gruesome imagination that it's hard not to recommend watching it for just the mindless senseless violence.  So if you like B to C grade movies with an absurdly amount of gore then this could be the Horror/crime/thriller for you.  And it actually looks like a movie movie.