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Archive for February, 2010

Queens of Evil

by on Feb.28, 2010, under Daily Review

This is an astonishing piece of cinema, and one which deserves much more attention and praise. French/Italian production, it’s filmed with charm and elegance with a captivating plot, intriguing, gripping, mesmerising. A great cast, (Lovelock and Politoff are both outstanding) brilliant script and a tremendous storyline which leaves the view questioning with plenty of talking points regarding social and cultural issues, which would have been huge mile stones at the time of filming, yet still very relevant in today’s climate.

Ray Lovelock plays a carefree traveller, cruising the countryside on his motorbike, looking for whatever grabs his attention, free love and peace to all men. After helping a rich bloke (Guido Alberti) out with a flat tyre, he is involved in an accident, causing the rich fella to crash and die. Failing to flag down help, he hit’s the road heading to ‘Summer Lake.’ Spending the night in a barn, he is awaken by three beautiful women (Ida Galli, Silvia Monti, Haydee Politoff) who offer his food, shelter, fun and love in their ‘Snow White’ styled cottage, but this is only the first of a series of tests of faith for the young traveller.

Tonino Cervi’s second film as director, following up his incredible debut, ‘Today it’s me, tomorrow it’s you’ has a great eye for detail, capturing emotion through various lesser seen techniques creating a fine visual movie. The cast are small, yet offered great support with a fine script which questions reason’s for sin, women’s rights, social standards and structure and of cause, free love. It’s Final moments of the film are shocking and will leave the viewer thing with memorable scenes running through the mind.  The rich bloke with the flat tyre is back at the end, and his true identity revealed. A great quote from him goes ‘we need these people to understand the pleasure of their sin!’

The film also carries connotations of Grimm fairy tales, a travelling prince, cottage in the forest, castle in the woods, evil king, three beautiful princess’ and a series of tasks. The other similarity here would be ‘The Wickerman’ dealing with pagan values against modern social issues, with an outsider as the protagonist, unsure of his surroundings. Even the name of the town is suggestive.

Other highlights are the Bob Dylan style folk tracks played throughout the film, with vocals credited to Lovelock.

A great find. This won’t disappoint fans of 70’s euro horror.

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Murder Rock

by on Feb.27, 2010, under Daily Review

How surprised am I with this movie? It’s a great flick. I was expecting something very different, but what we have here is a subtle Fulci film. Very few scenes of violence and even smaller amounts of gore… well.. in fact none, apart from a few piercings. The film is set in a school of dramatic art and dance, focusing on an elite team of dancers working with top choreographers. For the first ten mins of the film, I actually thought I’d slipped the Flashdance disk in by mistake, with hardbodies in leotards flinging from one side of the screen to the other. We soon get into the bones of this film with the first murder. A black leather gloved killer, knocking the victim out with chloroform before using a fancy hat pin to pierce the breast, straight through the heart. A plot device and totally original for what could have fallen in to the usual who done it category.  From there on in, girls are dropping all over the place, in order of talent. Who is the murder? What is their reason? With many jealous students and teachers, in this highly competitive world, any one of them could be the killer.

Olga Karlatos is stunning in this film, such screen presence and character, playing the dance academy tutor; her moments on screen are intense. Pair that up with the mighty ray Lovelock who plays a ‘down on his luck actor,’ the chemistry here is magnificent. Hats off to Fulci for beautiful direction, neatly crafted and brilliantly shot scenes. Cosimo Cinieri is also amazing here as the hard boiled police chief on the case.

It’s a fine film, witch pairs the energy of Flashdance with the cinematography of New York Ripper, without the over the top violence, opting for a subtler Hitchcock approach. A perfect piece of Giallo. A final note must be made to credit the amazing talent of Keith Emerson for recording a great 80’s groovy score with some memorable pop hits.

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Week 18

by on Feb.27, 2010, under 365 Schedule

First two Lovelock films, the second breaks us into Zombie month. A bunch of Italian classics and the Dawn Remake.

  • Queens of Evil
  • The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue
  • Dawn of the Dead (Remake)
  • Fleasheaters (Zombi 2)
  • Zombi 3
  • After Death (Zombi 4)
  • Killing Birds (Zombi 5)
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Door into Silence

by on Feb.26, 2010, under Daily Review

This is not the usual Fucli film, unlike anything else I have ever seen made by the legend. Id’ even go as far as to say this was filmed mainly by his daughter, Camilla as there is little to tie this Lucio as far as style, look, feel and concept, although some obvious signature zooms are dropped in for credence. Fulci was a sick man when this film was made, and although credited under a pseudonym as writer, I’d even question this, with Fulci maybe offering a brief concept for the plot which was adapted by Camilla et al.

 The film follows Melvin Devereux (John Savage) who, after the funeral of his father, spends most of the film following a crazy hearse and bumping into a strange ‘Mysterious’ woman (Sandi Schultz) in the Deep South America. Through various encounters, Melvin struggles to gain cohesive reasoning for actions, bumbling from one crazy encounter to the next without any real flesh to the scenes.

The twist at the end is far to long coming and could have been seen within the first ten minutes of this film. For any Fulci fan, this film is worth a look, otherwise, it’s slow, obvious and torturous to watch.

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Liza (Demonia)

by on Feb.25, 2010, under Daily Review

500 years ago, a superfluity of Sicilian Nuns was thought to be in league with the Lucifer, crucified in the most horrendous of ways. When a team of archaeologists begin an excavation on the site, the evil spirits of 5 of these Nuns are released, seeking vengeance and revenge for the wrongs done against them. One of the team Liza (Meg Register) discovers a secret tomb with crucified Nuns all over the place. She’s haunted by dreams and tries to get to the bottom of what happened, but the local community are not forthcoming. Liz begins the experience the supernatural with her soul sympathising and synchronising with one of the ghost Nuns. It’s not long before her team and the village locals start dropping like flies in all sorts of grisly manner.

Once again, Fulci shows strong character in his direction with a great cast to support. Brett Halsey is again, superb here. Al Cliver’s performance is solid as always. Carla Cassola (The Sect) is also believable here as the Medium, offering the insight to the terrible deeds against the Nuns. But it’s Meg Register that carries the bulk of the film and does a great job.

My only grip here would be pace. It’s a bit slow on the start up; it takes a good 40 minutes to really get going. But once Lilla (Cassola) has explained the back story, the film picks up and gains pace. The tale of the Nuns is quite a disturbing one, and some of the visuals are quite graphic, especially the burning baby! Lilla’s downfall is also an interesting scene with Fulci making use of cats (once again) as a faithful familiar to the evil doings, removing the Medium’s eyes. The scene is memorable to that of Manhattan Baby which uses taxidermist birds for the same device.  

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Manhattan baby

by on Feb.24, 2010, under Daily Review

Proffessor George Hacker is on an excavational field trip in Egypt with his family. Whilst uncovering a tomb, an evil spirit is released possessing Hacker’s young daughter Susie, whilst Hacker was blinded by a blue light. Back in New York, the family are recovering as Hacker gets his sight back, but strange things begin to happen with death close behind.

This is a great film which emphasises Fulci’s talent. The plot is strange and mysterious with an ethereal threat from the desert. Both Egypt and New York are filmed beautifully, yet totally natural making the viewer feel they are part of the film. The Shots are all well constructed with a great vision, which makes full use of the glorious widescreen. It’s also great to see a very strong cast working hard within the boundaries of this film, which has a classic late 70’s feel about it. Rosemary’s Baby, The Omen, Exorcist etc. The colours are soft and diluted which gives a natural feel; plenty of dusty sunlight through windows, back lighting actors, slightly bleaching out faces. Very nice.

The main cast, the Hacker’s are all very good. George, (Christopher Connelly) is convincing as the father and archaeologist. His Wife, Emily played by Laura Lenzi is outstanding here and it’s a shame she didn’t really make many other films. (Is she the Daughter of Umberto?) The two kids, Suzie and Tommy, played by Brigitta Boccoli and Giovanni Frezza are cracking child actors. Incredibly relaxed and natural in front of the cameras. Frezza also seen in House by the Cemetary and Boccoli makes the film her own, a true star in the making with real presence.

Let me also mention the score. Fabio Frizzi is a master of dramatic, cool and funky music which fits in so well with this film. Eerie in places, groovy in others: Superb.  

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When Alice Broke the Mirror

by on Feb.23, 2010, under Daily Review

This is a real gem. Fulci creating a mixed genre piece, black comedy horror with a top quality cast of Italian gore veterans, it’s an intriguing film. Lester Parson (Brett Halsey) is a crazy man. Womaniser and gambler, he picks his women from the lonely hearts column and chooses only those on the rich list. Wooing romantically and drowning them with fine wine, before butchering their bodies using various weapons of choice. All is going well until a tramp notices the ungodly deed and resorts to blackmail.  The police are soon on his trail and his luck is fading on the poker table.

Halsey has been in every US TV show of the 80’s. Bionic Woman to the Fall Guy, Love Boat to Fantasy Island. He’s got real charm and charisma and takes the lead role with real zest. The supporting cast include Ria De Simone (Bruno Mattei’s Women’s Camp 119), Zora Kerova (New York Ripper, Anthro and Ferox) and Al Cliver (Flesheaters, Murder Rock, Devil Hunter). A real quality cast.

This is a quirky, kooky movie. Its comedy is as much a strength as the over the top gore which is also played for laughs, despite its gruesome grisliness. It’s great to see Fulci toying with this combination which he does so well without neglecting his beautifully framed cinematography. Well worth a look.

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House of Clocks

by on Feb.22, 2010, under Daily Review

Made for Italian TV, this is not one of Fulci’s finer moments but don’t write it off, as the plot is interesting in a surreal kind of way. The running time could have benefited from being trimmed down to the 70 minute mark, if only to allow the viewer a snappier experience. But when I say made for TV, this is not the usual average TV viewing and it’s still a Fulci film and therefore, blood and gore go with the territory

The story involves three crooks who break into an old manor house in the countryside. The residents, an elderly couple have an obsession with clocks which fill the house; every room. When the blundered robbery goes wrong, the elderly couple end up murdered, but with the help of their mystic magical clocks, they can control time and it’s not long before the crooks find themselves victims of revenge, or maybe their own insanity.

Much of the film is beautifully shot, especially after the halfway mark and the clocks begin to reverse and this is really where the film picks up and the grabs the viewer with some real intensity. There is a great atmosphere which Fulci manipulates for haunting effect. The earlier sequences are straight to the point, steady and solid with little character, and I’d suspect this to be the work of assistant Director Michele De Angelis.

The acting is not too bad to be honest, with the older couple knocking out a truly creepy performance, and the crooks playing dumb victims, but they are puppets in the bizarre Fulci world which they are dropped into. Fulci veteran, Al Cliver steals the show for me as Peter, the gardener.

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New York Ripper

by on Feb.21, 2010, under Daily Review

This film is a perfectly crafted piece of American heritage and a dutiful contribution to the horror genre. It can be described as sleaze, but this would be an understatement and also, to pigeon hole what is an accurate recording of the history of New York, or more accurately, the rise and fall of 42nd street at it’s most seedy and unpleasant. It’s also probably the most beautiful shot film using New York as a fine back drop, really showing off the city at it’s best and worst, but most realistic, casually using iconic landmarks to ultimate effect with glorious cinemascope cinematography.

And then we have the violence. It’s about as vicious as you can get without stepping into the realms of outrageous. I mean to say, this is as gruesome as can be taken to fit in with a realistic plotline, being that of a serial killer with an eye (and a blade) for the girls. Flesh is sliced in every direction in brutal full screen violence; no body part is left unscathed. Some scenes are about as obscene as could be filmed, others are a thing of beauty. (i.e. the effects are as realistic as could be expected for the time and place), my favourite being a knife slice to a girls leg. Subtle but looking as perfect as a slice could be.

The killer uses a neat duck quacking voice to terrorise and tease the local police who are fed one red herring after the other, finding a trail of carved up women along the way. Legendary.

The acting is also pretty good. Some are more animated than others but over all, it’s a well balanced cast. Notably Jack Hedley as Inspector Fred Williams. Alexandra Delli Colli offers a great performance as the nymphomaniac wife and also a young Barbara Cupisti. Fulci himself has a supporting role which is fun.  Antonella Interlenghi is brilliant though, and there are some stunning cinemagraphic moments, especially a huge close up of her face which spans the full screen.

The other great film about this film is the soundtrack. It’s amazing, funky, sleazy with spats of jazz and electro, from Francesco De Masi.

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Week 17

by on Feb.20, 2010, under 365 Schedule

Lets have a bit of Fulci. Also, Murder Rock will be the first of 3 Ray Lovelock flicks, continuing next week.

  • New York Ripper
  • The House of Clocks
  • When Alice Broke the Mirror
  • Devil’s Honey 
  • Liza
  • Manhattan Baby
  • Door into Silence
  • Murder Rock

Devil’s Honey replaced by Liza. I’ll come back to DH later in the year with Fulci week 2.

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