365horror

Archive for June, 2010

Gore Gore Girls (Blood Orgy)

by on Jun.30, 2010, under Daily Review

I wasn’t expecting much from this, but it’s far better than you could ever expect. I’m not saying it’s perfect or even good, but better than you might hope.

Herschell Gordon Lewis is renown for being one of the worst directors ever, but made some of the most extreme films of his time. Gore, exploitation, sex and violence is what you get. A whole load of bad camera work too. But behind the cheap look and feel, there is a desire to make a shocking film, something which could stand out from the rest and that’s exactly why this is still available on DVD.

The story focuses on a go-go bar, in which the girls are under threat of a crazed maniac who is slashing them up, one by one. The murders are violent. Eyes stabbed out, faces destroyed, even nipples cut off with scissors. (this scene, although shocking, is actually a very good effect, although actually played for laughs). The local police inspector on the case is at a loss as to who could be committing these crimes, but he’s gonna find out, even if it does mean Frank Kress basing his character heavily on Groucho Marx.

The film is a real mess. I think it’s filmed on 8mm, acting is average but dedicated. The overall look is cheap, but H G L uses what he has to the best of his ability, creating a very claustrophobic atmosphere. The murders are all shockingly horrific, from a single cut throat to the head in a pan of hot chip fat; one girl dies through repeatedly being beaten on the butt with one of those wooden meat hammers.

Although this film has it’s flaws, it’s only real problem is pacing. The murders are clumped together likewise the go-go scenes in the club, but my biggest gripe is the finale in which we get a Scooby Doo conclusion, which is spelled out over ten minutes. The killer is boxed off, we don’t need to know all the reasons as and why, well, not ten minutes worth of explanation.

This is the first H G L film I’ve ever seen and overall, it’s been an experience. I’m surprised at the desire he has, the light humor and the quality of the gore.

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The Sorcerers

by on Jun.29, 2010, under Daily Review

This has all the elements of a great film, and one which I cannot believe I’ve never seen before. But this is what the 365 project is all about, digging out the classics. Ogilvy and Karloff directed by Michael Reeves. Gotta be great.

It’s a crazy plot. An old couple (Boris Karloff & Catherine Lacey) have a magic electric chair type thing which lifts the emotions from the seated, into the old pair. After the event, they have the power to feel and experience those vibes like they were their own. They coax a young cad into the hot seat, and afterwards find themselves wrapped in a crazy world crazy stuff. The young chap (Ian Ogilvy) is a bit of a wild one, womanising, violence and murder. But the old girl gets more out of it than the old bloke, who tries to stop the violence.

Sounds great eh? Too right. It’s all swinging 60’s, depravity and vicious cruelty.  Ogilvy is stunning here, picking up great looking women in crazy bars, slashing ‘em up in a nasty way. Susan George gets it good and nasty in a brutal scene. Another girl, a swinging singer in a club gets forced to sing in an alleyway, a shocking scene of humiliation. Karloff is a legend too and here does not disappoint; real presence and charisma. Brilliant.

Finally, there is an amazing car chase at the end of the film, one to look out for which certainly give Bullet a run for its money, and through the streets of London too. Awesome.

Reeves was a real master. His triumph was Witchfinder General, but here he shows his talents as a fine director, working on a small budget but using brilliant actors. His vision is spectacular, emphasising a real darkness in every scene, bringing real vicious characters to life. A real tribute, but a damn shame he only got to shoot a few films before his untimely death. Raise your glass and drink this film deep.

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Die Screaming Marianne

by on Jun.28, 2010, under Daily Review

This is quite a confused film, but has all the signs of greatness growing from it’s seed. Pete Walker’s first attempt at a redirection in his film making style, from the Brit sex comedy to that of horror, although here, in more of a crime giallo style.

There are characters in abundance, which is one of Walker’s strength’s. Natural human character who are solid and real, vicious and nasty at times too.

The basic plot see’s Marianne (Susan George) escaping her wicked father, The Judge (Leo Genn) and evil sister Hildegarde (Judy Huxtable), leaving Portugal for the sights of London, along the way, hooking up with two blokes, Seb & Eli (Chris Sandford & Barry Evans), marrying one. Her secret though, is a family fortune left to her only from her deceived mother.

The plot swings all over the place. Switching from London to Portugal with loads and I might even say, too much plot for the whole. But, this is a real first attempt and Walker certainly escapes his own past, here offering a very credible movie.

Acting is great and believable. The two fools she picks up are great in a cartoon kinds way, whilst her evil father, the Judge is a real nasty bugger. Susan George steals the show though, as expected. She is tough, empowering and beautiful, but so charismatic, electric on the screen. One highlight being the leading lady herself dancing in a funky go-go style over the opening credits.

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Fright

by on Jun.27, 2010, under Daily Review

I expected this film to be good. I had a very good feeling about it when I dropped it on the list, but I wasn’t expecting it to be one of the best films so far from this project.

Amanda (Susan George) is a babysitter, and on this night, she heads over to Helen and Jim’s place (Honor Blackman and George Cole). This is the usual gig. One child in bed and the boyfriend (Dennis Waterman) heading over whilst the home owners are out. But this turns out to be a very different night as Helen has a dark past of violence caused by the hand of an evil ex-husband Brian (Ian Bannen), who is now locked up in an institute, or is he?

The film looks amazing, one of the nicest shot films I’ve seen made in Britain from this time. There are some really atmospheric scenes, stunning close-ups and a great use of hand held camera too. The cast are about as perfect as could be, and although being very 70’s looking, this only gives the film credence from an era which was one of big changes. Just before the big glamour and punk things of the 70’s, here we still have a real 60’s vibe, but with the empowerment for women which came dominant in the 70’s.

Susan George is perfect here too in a role, similar to Straw Dogs, which she uses her stunning natural looks, but pushes her innocence, regardless of her image. She’s a teenage girl and terrified for most pf the film, and screams like crazy for the most part. Some of the scenes are shocking. A vicious sexual assault which intercuts between Susan and Honor is a stunning piece of cinema, showing the pleasure and pain of a situation from the eyes of a lunatic.

Waterman and Cole, famous for ‘Minder’ the British TV series are perfect here and not really what you expect from their previous roles, although Cole is a bit stereotype, Waterman is outstanding here. Director Peter Collinson lifts a tremendous performance out of his cast, as he did with The Italian Job.

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Week 35

by on Jun.26, 2010, under 365 Schedule

Some good old classics this week. A Susan George trilogy and a few others from the golden age of terror. A scorching selection even if i do say so myself.

  • Fright
  • Die Screaming, Marianne
  • The Sorcerers
  • The Gore Gore Girls
  • The Night of the Sorcerers
  • See No Evil
  • Satan’s Slave
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Lust for a Vampire

by on Jun.26, 2010, under Daily Review

This is probably the weakest of the 3 Hammer Karnstein films, the middle in the series and the strangest variation in Carmilla plot. Here we have Carmilla raised from the dead through a ritual sacrifice of a young girl. Soon the Vampire is swooning the countryside, but unaware of her true self. She joins a finishing school for girls and loves the advances of a young novelist who falls head over heals for her looks and charm creating a conflict off interests within Carmilla; should she seek blood, or run off into the sunset. Odd.

Yutte Stensgaard plays Carmilla and does a great job too. She is charismatic and beautiful with great screen presence. It’s a shame our leading man Michael Johnson, in the role of Dick LeStrange, doesn’t offer the same talent, bland and poor. The script is good, pace is quick and flowing, but the plot is just a bit too flat. Not enough blood sucking, deaths and vampirism. There’s also the Karnstein parents who are a joke really. Pure caricatures of how vampires should be. Pippa Steele takes on a great role once again as one of the early victims, but Yutte is the finest thing about this film.

Highlights have got to be a really odd dream sequence which lifts some of the memorable scenes up to that point in the film, but nicely done. The romantic moment between LeStrange and Carmilla in the cemetery is quite a scene too, but the finale, i’m sure you can all see it coming, that Carmilla will end up being sent back to hell, but the route she takes is one of thunderous creative effects.

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The Vampire Lovers

by on Jun.25, 2010, under Daily Review

Hammer Studios takes on the Carmilla storyline and does so with virile force. The films breaks into action and rockets along, no time for dream like love affairs with this one, but what we have is a twist of sympathies, the audience supporting the vampire from the off.

The daughter of a Countess, Carmilla (Ingrid Pitt) is left in the trusting hands of her neighbour, General Von Spielsdorf (Peter Cushing), who it seems is possessed with the desires of her ancestor, one for the love of women and the blood in the veins. It’s not long before Von Spielsdorf’s daughter, Laura (Pippa Steele) is dread and buried. Carmilla flees, getting caught up in a traffic accident, but ends up rescued by a friend of the General’s Roger Morton, (George Cole) who incidentally also has a beautiful young daughter, Emma, (Madeline Smith)

This is fast and fun to watch. There are ridiculous, blatant scenes of nakedness just to emphasis the talents of Ingrid Pitt, but the film is solid, brilliantly filmed with sterling performances all round. The script is great, and well executed from the perfect cast. As I mentioned, the difference here really is the sympathy towards Carmilla is what makes this film stand out. The Vampire is beautiful and healthy looking, rich in character and charisma whilst those she feeds upon and lives alongside are pale and gaunt and in many ways, depict the archetypical look of the vampire themselves.

Ingrid Pitt here is amazing and stamps her mark not only on Hammer and the Vampire genre, but as one of the greatest actress’s in horror. She’s electric on the screen, absolutely perfect for this role.  

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Et Mourir de Plaisir (Blood and Roses)

by on Jun.24, 2010, under Daily Review

This is the rarest film of the week, Roger Vadim’s ‘Et Mourir de Plaisir’, which translates roughly to ‘Let me die in Pleasure’ (My French is not great) and it’s probably the most beautiful looking film so far this week, or month even. Vadim in my opinion is a God and a master of cinematography. He knows what looks good and how to captivate an audience and with Et Mourir de Plaisir, he certainly does that.  

The Carmilla storyline is a neat simple one here, and although set in France, 1960’s, the film feels and has a certain charm of the 1600’s, and dreamy light whimsical atmosphere with many scenes of countryside, a stunning masked ball gives an amazing feeling and connotation of French aristocracy and cake eating luxury. Carmilla (Annette Vadim) is taken over or possessed by the ancient vampiric spirit, eager to find exploit the living. Using her charms to manipulate Georgia (Elsa Martinelli) and Leopoldo De Karnstein (Mel Ferrer), whilst feeding on various victims. The vampire theme is reimagined here, with a beautiful scene of Carmilla gazing into a full length mirror as her heart pours with blood in her image. (I must mention also that the scene immediately prior to this has Carmilla and Leo falling for each other over a piano, which is a mesmerising scene.) Another interesting point is a young farm girl, brutally taken advantage of is later found in the morgue, crucifix still intact around her neck.  

But although the vampire thing is going on here, it’s not really like anything else. Carmilla seems distant at times in a subtle way as her possession longs for a real life, the touch and feel for love and desire, rather than an obvious craving for blood. Another visionary brilliance offers the viewer the incite of the mind of the victim in the form of a dream, as Geogia is lightly fed upon, she dreams with her own images watching over a surgery scene as Carmilla both doctor and patient performs a blood transplant.

This film is an experience to watch and one which will fill your heart and soul with emotion and carry the viewer through this beautiful journey. It’s peotic and amazing looking, credence to Roger Vadim for his visionary eye and the delightful looking Annette who is startling and enigmatic. A final note, the score (Jean Prodromides) is outstanding which sets the scene though every moment of this great looking film.

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Vampyres

by on Jun.23, 2010, under Daily Review

This is some film. It’s so easy to pigeon hole female vampire films, especially those from the 70’s. Usually little plot, nudity, dreamy whimsical arty filming; and there’s nothing wrong with that. But here, we have something entirely different. A solid plot, brutal realistic characters, and a great pace which just keeps you glued to the screen.

The tale is a simple one. Two hot women live in a huge gothic English mansion. Their game is to hide in the woods and await passing travellers on the road, flag down their car and exclaim that they need help, can they hitch a lift back to their home. By the time, the driver (usually a bloke) has them home, they’re so under the spell of the women and the huge house: putty in their hands. Invited in to repay for kindness, get ‘em drunk and drink ‘em dry: Blood that is.

Simple. But what makes this film different from the rest in this sub genre? We’ll, I’ve gotta say, I’ve not really seen anything quite like this. It’s pure reality. I mean, I know we have lesbian vampires in a big house. I know this is not a reality, but the characterisation is perfect. They are solid real characters. Women who enjoy the red stuff, and have a fine way of getting what they want. It’s this really, which makes it stand out. There are some other stunning characters too who end up in far too deep. The sex scenes are solid reality and it feels like you are there with them in the room and when the bit comes, Christ it’s brutal.

The film looks and feels like a situation that anyone could fall into. A crazy moment of lost reality, one minute you are driving to your destination, the next, drinking wine in a cellar of an amazing house. Now that scene is something to be seen and one of my favourite moments in the whole film.  Michael Byrne as the playboy and wine connoisseur, Marianne Morris as Fran, Anulka plays Miriam, who lure the bloke into their trap with real magical charm. The scene is electric and mesmerising and when it all goes wrong for the playboy, it’s a great moment.

Meanwhile, Fran has a bloke in the loft, Ted, played by Murray Brown. She has a little thing for him so keeps him alive for a while and he doesn’t really know what to do about it. She’s all over him.

There’s nothing quite like this film. Spanish director Jose Ramon Larraz has created a great British horror yarn which works on the strength of the reflection of 70‘s Britain, great characters and also an amazing subtle use of score. Many scenes are entirely without music which works very well in creating an atmosphere.

Finally, there is a massacre of a woman late on in the film, which is so amazing and so real, it really is a shocking moment. Great finale too. Even within the last two minute of the film, the view has no idea which way this one will go. This really is a gem.

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Alucarda

by on Jun.22, 2010, under Daily Review

Mexican filmmaker Juan López Moctezuma directs this dramatic visionary version of the Carmilla story, using all the arty tricks he picked up from working as Producer on Joderowsky’s El Topo. A fast moving exploitive festival of devil worship, naked sacrifice and blood shed.

The Carmilla role is this time filled with Justine (Susana Kamini) who arrives at a convent.  She makes a bond with (Tina Romero), and soon, after frolicking in the woods, and a strange encounter with some weirdo gypsy types, they discover a burial chamber of a sister who had taken her own life, condemned. A pact in blood and the possession of a spirit, and soon we have the Devil himself corrupting the girls in a crazy scene, but one of ultimate experience. I’ve never seen anything like it. From here on in, the convent is in trouble as Alucarda creates despair and chaos.

Juan López Moctezuma does a great job here with dramatic performances from his cast. The film feels more like a stage production with brilliant dialogue, brilliantly executed by Romero, Dave Silva (The Father) and Kamini. Scenes of possession and exorcism are stunning and truly realistic.

Set design is also bloody amazing. The main church has a thousand crucifixes carved from a cave wall which looks amazing. The village scenes are beautiful looking, I’m not sure if it’s a real place or a sound stage, but even so, it’s magical looking.

This kind of film can so easily be made on a low budget, or an excuse for naked nuns, but here we have a terrifying, visually stunning film, which will probably surprise most viewers. Amazing shocking moments with a finale which will truly stick in your mind, Alucarda using all the powers of Hell to destroy the convent, burning nuns, monks and effigies. Romero’s performance is something else.

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