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Young Dr. Kildare: House Call (1972)
The episode "House Call" from the TV show Young Dr Kildare, centers on the character of Dr. Leonard Gillespie (Gary Merrill), instead of the good Dr. Kildare. In this episode Ted Thatcher (Don Johnson) overhears Dr. Gillespie handling a female patient's kidney stone issue. Ted approaches Gillespie asking if he might be able to help his friend. Reluctant to leave the hospital premises, Ted pulls out a knife on the doctor, and forces him to come home with him. The doctor arrives to find a young female has overdosed, and Ted and his friend are scared to contact the police or take her to the hospital. Dr. Gillespie tries to save the girl, but insists she will die if she's not taken to the hospital. Becoming desperate, the two friends' heroin addiction is taking an effect on their judgment on the situation. Ted becomes unhinged and starts coming up with ideas of getting rid of the girl's body as well as possibly plotting the murder of Dr. Gillespie. As the girl's life hangs by a thread, Dr. Gillespie is tied up, and Ted tries to invite his drug dealer over for a hook up. I won't give away the conclusion, but it's an interesting little drug addiction mellow-drama.
I'm not sure if this series was typically on the thriller side of things, but this one is almost like a 50s style noir number at times. Ted played by Don Johnson, embodies a kind of Bogart or Cassavetes' style of character. Chain smoking, while holding Gary Merrill hostage, he reminded me of a character from Desperate Hours (1955) or The Night Holds Terror (1955). It's not a bad performance, but his character does seem a little uneven in the half-an-hour running time. His oncoming drug-related-sickness seemed a bit of a rushed transition. Yet, for an early role in both TV and film, Don Johnson shines exceptionally well. If Sal Mineo was Don Johnson's mentor, this episode seems like something Sal would have tackled back in his youth. An interesting episode, with a noted young performance from Don Johnson.
Green Lantern (2011)
Nice adaption of an amazing comic hero
I've been eagerly anticipating a Green Lantern film since I was a child in the 80s, and this film delivered a pretty faithful adaption.
The Cons: Despite all the critical bashing, this was a really ambitious film, probably too ambitious for its meager running time. I can only hope that Martin Campbell releases an unrated director's cut on DVD, for surely more had to have been shot. It seems that they wanted to cover a lot of territory with Oa, the Guardians, the Corps, Ferris Aircraft, Hal and Carol, Hal and his Dad, Parallax, Hector Hammond, etc. The problem is, is that to cover all of that, you need a much longer film. So instead we get very rushed explanations on all matters and no one gets enough screen time. For example, Hal has this moment with his family and nephew that is meant to be meaningful, but as soon as they are introduced, we never see them again. Though it is faithful with the comic (Hal does have a big family), it was maybe not necessary to introduce them quite yet, and then the film could have made room for at least one more action scene. The ending comes off a little anti-climactic with the final showdown between Hal and Parallax, but I did enjoy that the solution did arrive through Kilowog's suggestion (which he humbly takes credit for). Unfortunately the trailers showed an awful lot of the best scenes in the film, which left fewer surprises when watching in its entirety.
The Pros: I thought Ryan Reynolds did a nice job playing Hal, which was sarcastic, cocky, funny, and troubled. Deep back story concerning his father, and his lifelong friendship with Carol. Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively have nice chemistry together, and though Lively's acting isn't Shakespeare worthy, she looks great and seems to connect with her character. I thought Lively was quite good as Carol. Mark Strong was a natural as Sinestro and if a sequel is made, I'd love to see him have more screen time next time (though I suspect that Campbell only ever meant to wet our appetite concerning Sinestro anyways). Peter Sarsgaard was creepy and funny as Hector Hammond, though in all honesty (****SPOILER****) GL and him should have had a major showdown, which never happened because of Parallax. It was nice to see Oa and some of the familiar Lanterns like Kilowog and Tomar-Re, but I'm glad that the majority of the film was on earth, because Hal did spend a lot of time there in the earlier comics. I was actually worried that too much of the film was going to be in space, sacrificing Hal's earthly issues. I found the CGI to be top notch, with actions scenes done in an exciting manner, without resorting to shaky cam shooting with confusing fight scenes. Credit should be given to Campbell in his ability to handle action. The music score was decent which was reminiscent of Superman and John Barry (I swear I could here elements) and strange guitar moments.
I enjoyed the hell out of this film and it was a real surprise, especially after all the negative buzz, and I look forward to seeing it again in the theater. I really hope the producers make enough back from the film to encourage an even better and more confident sequel. I even think Martin Campbell is capable of making an even finer follow-up, with GL battling Sinestro and (possibly) Star Sapphire. Finger's crossed!
L'ultimo harem (1981)
The Last Harem
George Lazenby was in two Italian giallos, one in 1972 and (this) one in 1981. Where Aldo Lado's Who Saw Her Die? (1972), is a great stylish thriller, The Last Harem's mysteries take a back seat to the erotic elements. Relying more on sexploitation elements (with soft focus shots), The Last Harem clearly is geared for the late night cinemax viewing. Interestingly, both Who Saw Her Die? and The Last Harem contain actors from previous James Bond films (Thunderball's Adolfo Celi and Moonraker's Corinne Clery).
George Lazenby is Prince Almalarik, heir of some oil fields who seems to have the last remaining harem (of discontent wives). After marrying Sara (the stunning Corinne Clery), Prince Almalarik decides to give up his harem for one woman. Yet these wives refuse to give up that easily and one (mysteriously) kills Sara. From this point on the film becomes a series of flashbacks as Almalarik buries his dead wife in the sand dunes. He has vowed to punish all the wives unless the killer confesses. While he is gone, the wives wax poetic about their origins of arrival to the harem. Lots of romancing and nudity follow as old Almalarik chases after women, gathering everything he wants like a spoiled Prince. The endings twist is an unsurprising event, yet creepily downbeat.
Lazenby is sporting his trademark 70s mustache and actually is quite effective in what is really on- dimensional role. Unfortunately (like his other giallo), Lazenby's voice is dubbed, which distracts from his performance greatly. Director Sergio Garrone had previously helped pen the cool giallo Death Knocks Twice, but in this film he seems to have gone a little lazy. There are however some nice shots to be found, for I like when (wife #4) Laura's (Daniela Poggi) arrival, with the burning oil fields for-shadows her doomed hellish imprisonment. At times the music soundtrack has some nice moments as well, in a typical surreal Italian manner. This by no means a great film, but I have to admit that it held my interest.
Trivia: When I met George Lazenby I asked him about this film, and as soon as I mentioned it, he made a pretty sour face. He apologized by saying he was drinking a lot at the time. I told him I liked it, and he looked at me very suspiciously. After pestering him a little, he told me the story of how he got into a fight with Arnold Schwarzenegger (who was filming Conan, the Barbarian in Spain at the very same time)!!! Apparently, Arnold was staying at the same hotel and said something to Lazenby, who responded with "F--- Off!" Arnold attacked Lazenby in the elevator, and I didn't even want to ask who won that one. It was very strange story that he shared with me, but I was happy that he did!
Juego de amor prohibido (1975)
Rare film on shocking topic of kidnap!
Eloy de Iglesia's lost rarity `Forbidden Love Game' would sit comfortably next to `Salo: 120 Days Of Sodom' as being a foreign, art house flick that borders on exploitation. When looking at Eloy de Iglesia's other works though, this hardly comes as a surprise. Subsequently, Iglesia had made `Cannibal Man' and `Murder In A Blue World' (also known as `Clockwork Terror'), which were both exploitative B movies, hiding intelligent political ideas. His films tend to be meditations on characters that do warped and horrible things, yet we care about the characters, because you feel that they are politically (and irrationally) motivated through their poor economic circumstances. It is no surprise to me that Iglesia would choose to create a Spanish version of `A Clockwork Orange' through his film `Murder In A Blue World', because that very film is about a protagonist who does horrible things, yet. we're sympathetic to what happens to him. Though the two films that were just mentioned are lesser known Spanish cult films, `Forbidden Love Game' is even more obscure (I'm not sure the film was even released in the U.S.?). The film begins with a school teacher played by Javier Escriva bidding farewell to his students, who are leaving for the summer. As he is heading home he notices two of his students are hitch-hiking (a boy and a girl, played by John Moulder-Brown and Inma de Santis), and picks them up. He invites them over for dinner and lodging, which they accept.. The majority of the film from this point on is set at the mansion, where the two students turn from guests to prisoners under the teacher's command. The teacher has a thuggish (yet sensitive) henchman played by Simon Andreu, who enforces the teacher's wishes. The teacher begins to sexually humiliate and torture the two students until he has mentally brainwashed them into his way of thinking. What is really interesting about the movie from this point on, is that the scenes are relatively tame compared to a movie as notorious as `Salo', but the viewer is put on edge through out, because you think something worse is in store for the students. The film needs to be seen to recognize the political ideal logy, but it's just as evident as the other two films mentioned. Eventually there is a reversal of roles, and the girl (Inma de Santis) is not as innocent or sweet as she looks! This film really benefits from the great cast that seems perfectly handpicked. Javier Escriva is perfect as the fascist teacher, who looks like an aristocrat born from wealth. Simon Andreu who was a favorite among Italian and Spanish exploitation films (he's great in the `Bloodspattered Bride' and `Forbidden Photos Of A Lady Above Suspicion') was perfect as the henchman who has bi-sexual leanings. His rugged and unique appearance makes him an intriguing character, who has different faces at different times. John Moulder Brown as the boy student is great as well, he's such an interesting lost actor, who'd played in numerous cult films in the 70's (I quite love `Deep End', `The House That Screamed', and `First Love'). His androgynous youthful looks, and egocentric behavior fits a cocky teenager who has the rug pulled out from underneath him. He becomes a ruthless, self centered survivor as expected. The beautiful Inma de Santis is wonderful as well. This extremely attractive girl metamorphosis' from victim to controller with amazing ease! The film is by no means perfect (I could have done without the jarring classical music), but it did have an amazing hold on me, though I've only seen it once it quite often pops up in my mind as being memorable. That's a lot more then I can say for a lot of new U.S. films! Recommended if you can find it! Eloy de Iglesia is a very underrated director!
Fantastic example of the Giallo genre!
Sergio Martino's giallo masterpiece `The Strange Vice Of Mrs. Wardh' (also under the inferior titles: `Next Victim' or `Blade Of The Ripper') is one of the best films in the Italian cult genre. This was Sergio Martino's first (er..um..excuse the pun) stab at a Giallo thriller, and it's one that defines the genre as much as Argento's `The Bird With The Crystal Plummage'. Directed in 1970, Sergio Martino set the standard for Italian Hitchcockian slasher films. His use of fancy camera angles to explore the art of killing is quite entertaining while at the same time unsettling (an example of this, has a man being shot while we see it happen in the sunglasses of the killer). Sergio Martino also incorporates a surreal travelogue of exotic locations (all the characters seem to be on permanent holiday) and erotic imagery, which depicts the Italians as the ultra hip jet setters of the 70's. Mixing the seductive and intense music of Nora Orlandi with these visuals, the viewer is captivated by a darker attraction, which cannot be justified. The viewer is barraged with misogynistic violence and female cruelty, while simultaneously being lured into the debauchery setting through the lush veneer. The film also weaves a convoluted plot, that has more then one murderer (I counted four!), and everyone seems guilty. Fresh from the Spaghetti Western genre, actor George Hilton was beginning to make himself a name in the Giallo world. Though he'd previously been in `The Sweet Body Of Deborah', `The Strange Vice Of Mrs. Wardh' was a meatier role. This film would also be the first of several that paired George Hilton with Edwige Fenech, as they continued to be the tortured couple in various Giallo outings. As a couple, George Hilton and Edwige Fenech seemed to represent exactly where Italy was at in the 70's. They were completely hedonistic, beautiful, rich, sexy, and free with passion yet completely shallow. They maybe shallow, but they are still more beautiful and nicer then the victims around them. It's the cardboard beauty that is the allure, yet their characters are never allowed to develop to be anything more then pawns for the mystery at hand. They represent our shallow fantasies, and unreal nightmares they represent a dream state. Ever notice how the characters never converse, but rather make statements, it never feels real. Along the way, we are introduced to other characters played by genre regulars Ivan Rassimov and Alberto de Mendoza. The story proceeds with a killing of a prostitute in a car by a sex crazed maniac. Then it moves on to Julie Wardh (Edwige Fenech) a rich wife to an Ambassador Neil Wardh (Alberto de Mendoza) who is being harassed by her ex-boyfriend Jean (Ivan Rassimov) who used to violently have sex with her. At a party she meets George (George Hilton) a handsome playboy, who likes to drive fast on motorcycles and wear white leather fringed jackets and aviator sunglasses. Suddenly the sex crazed murderer begins to kill women around her, while psychologically torturing her. The film lifts a reference or two from Psycho (there's a shower murder) and other Hitchcock films, but one must realize that this film fits into a genre known as Giallo, which is unique in it's own way. Though homage is paid to American mystery films, these films are still very much a product of Italy. It's this very genre that influenced `Dressed To Kill' and other American slasher films, not the other way around. It's these films that have the stylistic flair, where the likes of DePalma learn their craft by stealing. Some call it Euro Trash, or exploitative, but they refuse to see the finer aesthetic of the film. It's really just exploring the art of murder. This film is a must see for fans of Italian genre cinema, and should be done in widescreen. Highly recommended!
Yumurcak kücük sahit (1972)
The Boy Who Knew Too Much
Director Guido Zurl made the film "Kucuk Sahit" in 1972, but to find any info on this film is pretty impossible. The film was released on German video under the title "Little Eye-Witness", but on the actual print of the film, the title reads "The Boy Who Knew Too Much"? So what "Kucuk Sahit" actually means, I have no idea? Along with all the actors and actresses of this film, young actor Ilker Inanoglu, is named Dickie Dickie on this print. The only reason I can see for this change, was to appeal to an English speaking audience with an American sounding name. But I think the film goes completely unnoticed by most English speaking viewers, and I'd go even further to state, that most people would never be able to find this video. Despite all the confusion, this is actually a pretty good little Turkish thriller (which has elements of Hitchcock and Italian Giallo Cinema). It's basically the old "boy who cried wolf" story, with Ilker being that boy. This young little child is loads of trouble (though to his credit, he does live a pretty banal existence). For fun he likes to: make prank calls to the fire department, take a little donkey home to his mom, step on hoses so that he can release a spray of water in the recipient's face, and compulsively lie to his mother at every chance he gets. So it makes sense why no one believes him when he tries telling the police that he's just witnessed a gruesome murder. What seperates this film from that of a Disney flick, is that you actually think it's possible that harm may come to him. When you see what the killers did to the first victim, you know that cruelty is not an abstract notion for this film. The child will take a few beatings along the way, and children might be terrified by viewing this film. Though the version I saw was dubbed, the cute young thespian Ilker Inanoglu looked to be a pretty convincing actor. I find it impossible to find out which actress played his mother (due to the name changes on the print), but she was quite good as well. All in all, not a bad way to spend 90 minutes at 3:00am. Director Guido Zurl would also direct the cult favourite "Meat Is Meat", which explains this films a tad. Not really worth extensively searching for, but...well, no one's really ever going to see this film anyway.
Jesus' Son (1999)
Best Independent Film Of The Year!
Brilliantly pieced together from assorted short stories by Denis Johnson, director Alison Maclean brings depth, humour, compassion, and darkness to the screen adaption. Heroin addict FH (ryhmes with: Duck Bed) goes through a strange odyssey of loss and understanding his compassion. Brilliantly (and this is not an overstatement) acted by Billy Crudup (who should have been given an Oscar nod for his performance), he brings a complexity to his character that is missing from most actors around. Minor details are amazingly evident in his portrayel of FH, as the lovelorn, selfish, and sensitive junkie. Samantha Morton is outstanding as Michelle (FH's girlfriend), giving an intense and moody performance (which the viewer mourns the loss of half way through). The movie mixes moments of surreal madness, as the viewer is taken along existential scenes that could be described as hallucinogenic and funny. The scene where a gentleman (played by book author Denis Johnson) comes into a hospital with a hunting knife stuck in his eye is uncomfortably hillarious. Drugged up hospital attendant Georgie (Jack Black in a standout performance) proceeds to pop pills as he attempts to pull the knife out. But this is just one of the many great cameos that fills the screen. Denis Leary (looking a lot like Dennis Hopper in "Easy Rider", Holly Hunter (playing a neurotic widow with a limp), and Dennis Hopper (looking amazingly like Dennis Hopper too) give great performances as well. Alison Maclean directs the film with great use of color and cinematography, but never crowding the actor's performance. Included as well, is a great music theme by Joe Henry, that incorporates the blending of psychedlic guitar and wurlitzer electric piano work. The rest of the soundtrack is great as well, with music by Wilco, Joe Tex, Neil Young, and Booker T & The MG's. This film was one of my favourite films of the year, and unfortunately didn't get as much notice as it deserved. Highly recommended!
I think this film would make an excellent double-feature with "The Mean Machine" (also a Barbara Bouchet cinematic vehicle). Boro Draskovic's 1971 doozey "The Rogue" is just as silly, just as exploitative, stupid n' sexist, and just about as much fun (depending on your idea of fun). Marquee headliner Milan Galovic (looking a little like Scott Walker from the Walker Brothers) plays a young womanizing opportunist who's out to get all he can, in a really sloppy way. He's a pimp, philanderer, cocaine smuggler (but a shister one at that), and quiz show cheat. After a while he's even just annoying to look at, especially when his inner thoughts keep coming out in the form of a voice over. It's really hard to follow the exploits of someone who is suppose to be charming, but really he's just grating (on your nerves that is). Barbara Bouchet shows up though as his American girlfriend, and they drive around the country in his convertible sports car with her standing up nude waving her hands in the air. Lots of soft core stuff follows, with the director zooming in on too much tongue action that becomes silly, then tiresome, and finally gross. Even though I quite like Barbara, this film fails to excite, and one gets the impression that it was strickly a paycheck film. The music for the film (though a little lackluster) is ok, but contains a song (with vocals heavily influenced by Edda Del Orso) that is played so often that becomes aural torture. To Barbara's credit, she does catch on to Milan's shifty ways and drops the loser. Once Milan is dumped, he's already set out trying to seduce and con Margaret Lee (the new girlfriend), which will eventually be his own unmaking. Again we are subjected to more softcore footage of Milan and Margaret (if the latter failed to excite, then this is no better), and again I begin to clockwatch. The director does try to insert moments of artsy footage, that just falls to trash. Scenes of an artist spray painting nude girls, and footage of falling paint cans as Milan is stabbed to death seems contrived. But the fact that he does get stabbed to death is relevent to one factor...it's the end of the film. A pretty depressing film, with little to recommend, I found it interesting that the video box art claimed it to be a cult classic. Looking at the number of votes and reviews on IMDB, I find this highly doubtful.
Tutti i colori del buio (1972)
Giallo meets "Rosemary's Baby"
Director Sergio Martino, was a Giallo genre regular. Having made a career on these little sleazy masterpieces, Martino directed the Horror/ Giallo hybrid "All The Colors Of Darkness/ They're Coming To Get You/ Day Of The Maniac" in 1972. Basically this is a Giallo film, but the black gloved assassin went on holiday, and instead we've got a Charles Manson type group of greedy interlopers disguised as a Satanic Cult. Jane (the wonderful Edwige Fenech, playing yet... another victim) is having reoccuring nightmares of her Mother's death. Her relationship with her husband Richard (the great George Hilton with a really badly dubbed English accent) is strained, due to a pregnancy miscarrage she suffered, due to an automobile accident. Poor Edwige is then tormented by the Satanic group that enjoys orgy Black masses (acompanied with throbbing bass and sitar music produced by Bruno Nicolai), who claims that she can never leave the group (even though she only went to one Black Sabbath). I've yet to figure out what the symbol of an upside down triangle and an eyeball means, but it seems to pop up a lot in the forms of necklaces and tattoos (I suppose that maybe it's just required wear for this sector). The only thing I find truly objectable through this "black mass" scene is the sacrifice of a poor animal (I sure hope it wasn't real, but with an Italian and Spanish production...? Who can be sure?), while they serve up it's blood in a goblet to Edwige. The leader of this cult is McBain (Julian Ugarte) who likes to sport long metalic fingernails, and show his bloody teeth to Edwige, which I find the silliest aspect to what is actually a very engaging and suspenseful film. Like the Roman Polanski films "Repulsion" and "Rosemary's Baby", this film centers around the mental inballance of Edwige's character. For a long time, you (the viewer) are not sure if she is dreaming this all up, or if it's real, when in times she inflicts herself with self mutalation and dreams. There are moments of pure horror. When she is being stalked in a subway (with a beautifully shot intro, of Edwige standing in a circular tunnel awaiting the train), being chased through the woods by dogs, being trapped in her Pychologist's home after the groundskeepers have been murdered, and when she is cornered in her own room with a knife weilding maniac coming after her all add to the viewer's (and my girlfriend's) discomfort. It's the moments that I've mentioned that make up for the silliness that sometimes pop up. The movie is full of the typical red herrings that are incorporated in gialli. Though you may be sure that the Satanic Cult is responsible for this mental torment, you are still not sure who else is involved. Everyone seems a little suspicious. The air of paranoia is so thick that you find yourself sympatheising with Edwige Fenech. Like I've mentioned in other comments, I cannot stress enough how much I dig Edwige. She's always a good sport about being in these films, and she's actually a very good actress. Typical of this genre of cinema, all the actor's and actresses are given groovy wardrobes and cool interior decorating to work with. The musical score by Bruno Nicolai is so close to Ennio Morricone's scores that I often wonder who was influencing who? This film also seems to be the first of it genre to sprinkle a little supernatural elements in the proceedings, (ie: premonitions of the psychic nature) that was a forerunner to later giallo's like "Deep Red". Typical of a lot of Italian cinema, this film exists in many forms. A lot of the American prints omits the beginning dream sequence, and a pivotal scene dealing with Edwige's sister played by genre regular Susan Scott. The copy I have has this scene, and I truly wonder how the film would even work without it? These films are truly a chore to follow due to the different cuts and numerous titles they fall under. But once you're hooked... you're hooked for life. Recommended to creepy people and fans of Italian cinema. George Hilton and Edwige Fenech made quite few films together, due to the fact that they were a handsome couple on screen.
Le notti del terrore (1981)
This film put me to sleep, and when I awoke, I needed a shower. I do understand that everything Andrea Bianchi directs comes out sleaze, but where I could at least enjoy "Strip Nude For Your Killer", this was just boring. It did have a pretty funny intro though. When the bearded guy brings the dead back, and the Zombies attack him, he yelps, "No, stop I'm your friend!" I was choking with laughter for about 2 minutes! "Burial Ground" (aka: "Zombie Horror") is a great contender for one of the most awful films created. Well, that's a little rough, I imagine there could even be worse (if you look at my comment history, one might suspect I was searching). But Andrea Bianchi directs all of his films with such an ugliness. Lacking in overall good taste. The cast in this film look so weird (especially the mutant kid Michael!), and the Zombies have big wooden teeth (not to mention, they're not much fun either!). Speaking of that kid Michael, where did they find that 40 year old dwarf with such scary eyes? I don't mean to disrespect actor Peter Bark, but I seriously think he has a medical condition. And the fine actress Mariangela Giordano, who played his mother, does she agree to do any part that's offered her? I don't know if anyone else has seen her work, but the only other film I've seen her in, is even more repulsive then this one! The other being "Giallo A Venezia"!!! I know that there are people out there who do enjoy this kind of stuff, but I can only imagine that they also probably listen to Heavy Metal and sniff glue. I really like to be able to point out the finer aspects of films (even really bad ones), but I just can't find any in this one. A girl is running away from the Zombies on the property, and she trips. Of course this always happens in a movie of this stature. But this one defies any logic, of why her foot is stuck in a BEAR TRAP! Why is a bear trap sitting on this property? If someone tells me a Zombie planted it, my opinion will even drop further on this film! And when that child goes up to his mother, and she offers to breast feed him... the screen writer should have been smacked in the head! Anyways, this film is not much fun. But check it out for yourself.... maybe I was just in a bad mood that day.
Zombi 2 (1979)
Ouch! That hurt my eye!
In 1979, Lucio Fulci was contracted to direct a follow up to Romero's smash hit "Dawn Of The Dead". What better director could deliver the gory goods, other than Lucio Fulci? Um,...well, I guess no one. When I first saw this film as a youngster, I was pretty disapointed by it. It just was too gloomy, and not as much fun as "Dawn Of The Dead". But as I've gotten older, I've actually learned to appreciate Fulci's film more (boy, did I mature!). Recently I went back and viewed the film in it's full aspect ratio, with a gorgeous print supplied by The Roan Group on laserdisc (I know, I'm the only one in the world still watching laserdiscs!). I have to say I liked it a lot more! I look at it with a new angle now. I see it as a great Italian comic book, pop culture masterpiece! The film begins with a lone boat floating into New York, that is inhabited by the hungry dead. Thus having the old world coming to haunt the new. The police investigate the boat, only to have them become infected with the new zombie trend (come on, everyone's doing it). Tisa Farrow (box office magnite and sister to Mia) and Ian McCulloch (he made a real cinema career killing Zombies), with the aide of a friendly couple on holiday, travel to the zombie infested island to investigate what the heck is going on. On the island, a mad doctor (Richard Johnson) is mucking around with Zombie Voodoo (don't try this at home kids). Within these proceeding, lots of gut munching carnage follows. But as I was mentioning, after reviewing this classic again, Fulci tends to show real cinematic flair. His use of zooms are a little over the top, but he does have nice color and stylised shots. His soundtrack is really cool as well, which gives it an errie quality. He does rip off a lot of ideas of other films, but it's done in a comic book way. The underwater Zombie that takes on a shark was surprisingly well shot (obviously "Jaws" was still making an impact in Italy), and the music that flows throughout is groovy. The movie is pretty gory, and Lucio Fulci likes to shoot it as if it was a sex scence in a porn. Long slow shots of overflowing blood. The scene where Olga Karlatos loses site on escaping from the zombies, is er...repulsive (my roommate Jason said, "yeah, that's pretty disturbing!"). Another gory scene has Al Cliver (looking like Nick Nolte's stunt double in "The Deep") as the last of the holidaying couples that eventually gets a love bite by his now zombie girlfriend (in a pretty unintentionaly funny scene). Lots of maggots squirm out of empty eye sockets, as these decomposing zombies take over the world. The film contains a pretty grim ending, but it's fun anyways!
Crusty Old Zombies Eating Breakfast In Manchester
"Let Sleeping Corpses Lie" is cool little film that fits in nicely with the better Zombie film genre. It pre-dates "Dawn Of The Dead" and the assorted Italian rip-offs that followed, but contains gore that rivals them. Obviously influenced by "Night Of The Living Dead", it still holds a lot of it's own originality. Set in England, but actually a Spanish production, director Jordi Grau makes great use of wide-screen cinematography. The English countryside is a vast open area made extremely dangerous, with lurking Zombies ready to eat the living. This time the Zombies are being awaken by a radiation spewing device used by scientists to kill pesty ants (if you've ever lived in a home with an ant problem, Zombies seem like a small price to pay!). The ants are forced to attack each other, which kills off the race. Well, this machine triggers dead people to rise and (like the ants) attack each other. I will give them credit that at least the reason for the Zombies is somewhat original. But this time our (anti) hero comes in the form of a groovy hippie type named George (Ray Lovelock giving another credible performance!) with the help of Edna (the always pleasent to watch, Cristina Galbo), who try to survive the hungry intruders. What's great about the film, is that it also makes a lot social comments of the time. The police inspector (the always mean Arthur Kennedy) continuously harrases George, and never believes his story because he's a "long hair". While the Zombies are tearing people limb from limb, the Inspector thinks that it's George. I'm sure for the 70's this is a formulaic idea, but for a Zombie movie it's a little different. The music for the film is quite effective as well (though at times the noise that proceeds the Zombie approach, sounds like a large metal sheet being waved in the air) which contains a great opening tune. I've always been fond of Ray Lovelock, because he continues to give good performances in Italian films (see: "Queens Of Evil" and "Autopsy"), and in this film he really attempts to even clone very English like mannerisms (which made the silly dubbing less irratating). Cristina Galbo has also given great performances as well, (see: "What Have You Done Solange?", "The Finishing School", and "The Dark Is Death's Friend") plays the very frightened victim role to perfection. This film is not gonna change anyone's life, but it makes for a fun late night viewing. As for it's status in the Zombie sub-genre, it ranks as one of the bests! Recommended! Incidentidly, I recently read an interview with Ray Lovelock, and I quite liked his personality. He seemed like a pretty nice guy.
Shao Lin wu zu (1974)
Super Bad Ass!!!
Cheh Chang directed this martial arts masterpiece (well, I thought it was when I was a kid) in 1975, and kids like me knew it by the title "5 Masters Of Death". I loved this film. I saw it on TV when I was in about 2nd or 3rd grade, and it changed my youth! Because it was after this film that I was being dragged into the Princible's office for trying to flex my Karate skills in the play yard! Of course I was one of those kids who made my own num-chucks, and bonked kids heads with them, until my parents made me dismantle my weapons of destruction. But until then, I thought my hands were illegal weapons. I can still recall the day my Mom picked me up from the school and took me to get a milk shake, while she proceeded to tell me "no more Karate! I'm throwing away your weapons!" and that milkshake went down my throat like a brick, as the tears swelled in my eyes. I know this isn't much of a review, but I want to convey the power this film had on my youth. I wanted to be a killing machine (but one of the good guys as well!), because this film burnt a hole in my young psyche. Like a lot of things, I did abandon my desire to learn Karate. But the film still nestles in a place of my youth, and I did finally locate a copy on video. Unfortunately my memory served up a far nicer looking print. The quality looked horrible! But the film was fun to watch again, and I might still learn Karate yet. I give it a 10, because it's fun!
Looks a little Lean... to be too Mean.
Whoo-hoo, what a film! This film is lots of fun. Of course not in the masterpiece kind of way. Tulio Demicheli's "The Mean Machine" is a pretty bad flick indeedy. But it's such a perfect example of Euro-Trash, that I felt someone had to mention it. First off, it has Christopher Mitchum (where else can an a major actor's son find work? In Italy of course!) giving such a wooden performance, that my roomate mearly rolled his eyes, snickered, and walked out of the room shaking his head (c'mon Tony, you know you did). Christopher with his Dad's droopy eyes just stares off with that same blank expression through out the entire film. Of course he must have known it was a pretty bad script, so I won't fault him too much (I haven't seen his other artistic efforts). But it really cracked me up that on the video box there was this drawing of him looking handsome and muscular, which he definately is not. He was pretty wimpy looking, and evertime he tried to give a macho pose, or flex his authority, I nearly laughed myself silly. Though I excuse all of this, because the real reason I rented this flick was because of the wonderful and beautiful Barbara Bouchet! And this film delivers! She does this great little strip dance in front of these gangsters in a car, right before Chris (Rico the "Mean Machine") throws them into a lake! It's so funny, that Italy will take any oppertunity they can to show off Barbara's attributes. Of course it gratuitous, but it's just too much fun! And of course even after the big ambush, Chris looks to Barbara and she's still has no clothes on. She's having a good time tackling gangsters in the nude! Well, at least Barbara looks to be having fun. Another Euro-babe favourite Malisa Longo (as Chris' ex-girlfriend)also likes to spend her time flirting with Bodygaurds and sitting around in the buff. But unfortunately she meets with a very grizzly end, and becomes the film's sacrificial lamb (what else was gonna come of her character? Chris Mitchum was now with Barbara Bouchet.) in a tub of Acid! This film contains all the unnecessary violence (gory stuff as well), nudity (lots of it), macho posturing (Chris' Ricco is not opposed to giving a lady a smack if she's not behaving), and crummy acting that 70's Italian cinema is so famous for. Would I recommend it? Hardly! Did I laugh my fool head off? Yep! After this review, I'll let the reader make their own call. Barbara Bouchet is amazing!
One Of The Most Brilliant Films Of All Time!
John Cassavetes' 1970 masterpiece "Husbands" is by far one of my favourite films of all time! I'm aware that this film divides a lot of fans of John Cassavetes. Some love it, and some loathe it. And to be honest, I can understand both sides. But I find it extremely dramatic, funny, touching, brutal, and thought provoking. Some have complained that it is too long, misogynistic, contrived, pretentious, and badly acted. You're intitled to your opinion, but I don't share it. John Cassavetes' cinema was never to appeal to mass aproval or for enjoyment. It's meant to slap you in the face silly, wrench emotions out, throw you into uneasy laughter, put you ill at ease with an uncomfortable situation, drag out scenarios pass the point of tediousness, get into your skin, get into your brain, and have you walking out of the theatre feeling like you just got off a rollercoaster. If you haven't felt this by the end, then I'm afraid you should ask your designer to input an emotion chip in the android brain of yours. Lots of film directors make great, fun, entertaining, and dramatic films. But few take on the emotional coach role. Cassavetes has you running around nerve ends exposed, doing laps around your own personal plights, guilts, and loves. Maybe I've painted an over the top description of his films, but when I think back on his films, this is what comes to mind. I have a very hard time criticizing his films, because his films abandon typical cinema interpetation. He does not follow cinema rules, therefore I cannot follow typical rules of criticisim. Cassavetes had inserted a heart into celluloid, that burns before the eyes on the cinema screen. The film "Husbands" begins with three middle age males attending the funeral of a fourth friend. We have John Cassavetes (Gus), Peter Falk (Archie), and Ben Gazzara (Harry) returning to the man-child role, as they escape from middle age suburbia on a European bender. The bender includes scenes of drunkeness, singing, basketball, gambling, picking up girls, picking on people, and often making complete asses of themselves. This film is just too thick on topics to have a simple review give it any justice. But I urge everyone to experience his cinema with an open mind, and commitment. John Cassavetes has given us this commitment in making it. He is truly a genius of independent films, and is obviously (in my book) up there with Orson Wells, Francois Truffaut, and Alfred Hitchcock as one of the greatest directors in cinema history. Be prepared to not like everything you see, because I don't think he wanted you to. He wanted an emotional reaction that sticks on your brain. I've read that he said "We only have 2 hours to change someones life", and for me...he did! May John Cassavetes live on forever! I give this movie a 10!
Der Leone Have Sept Cabeças (1970)
Rare, Bizarre, and Kinda Slow
I'm simply reviewing this film for one reason...I'm a big Jean Pierre Leaud fan. I would not have normally sat through a film that I couldn't even read the subtitles of, but J. P. Leaud seems to hold some weird spell over me and gets me to commit half of my movie viewing life on his output (as boring and slow as that output can be sometimes). Well, not being able to read the subtitles obviously impairs my grasp on the narrative, because I couldn't make much sense of the visuals. The film opens with a man's hands grasping on some woman's breasts while he's yelling like a mad man. Then it jumps to a scene of Jean Pierre Leaud shouting out loud (in French) a lot words while hammering at the ground with a big hammer (or something resembling such) while African natives look on the scene. Then it cuts to some African chanting and dancing, in some Mondo looking footage (but nothing seems to be going on here, really) and it feels like a documentary without narration. Incorporated in all of this looks to be some political angle, with millitant soldiers marching around opressing everyone, and Jean Pierre Leaud (wearing a white nightgown) getting into the scenes with that hammer of his. One scene in particular has the soldiers marching in circles, while the natives chant the same thing for what seems like 15 MINUTES! I thought I was in some kind of cinematic redundency torture! But being a good sport, and carrying on some Leaud one man fan club, I sat through this damn thing to the end. The film is shot in black and white (I'm not sure if this was for artistic reasons or budget restrictions?) and has the feel of an Art Film. This is basically a Foreign Film Phobic's nightmare. If you don't like pretentious French Art Films, then you'll probably last about two minutes through this film (then again, you probably won't stumble across this film or review anyways). I really wish I could have read the subtitles, because I'm sure I'm not giving this film a fair review. If a Jean Pierre Leaud fan is out there searching for this film, don't look too hard. I've a feeling that you'll be sadly disapointed. I'd love to understand this film, and not to be writing some moronic review about something that's over my head. In the end, I found it be really weird and very slow. A real endurance test and no mistake. But I still like Jean Pierre Leaud a lot!
60's Groovy DC Super Heroes....Super Cool!
Why "The Cartoon Network" does not rerun these cartoons is a big mystery? Maybe in the past they did? But I scanned (recently) in the TV guide, and they don't anymore. This show was Super Duper Cool. They use to show it on television on some Bay Area (or maybe it wasn't because my reception always looked like TV snow) TV station back in the mid 80's. The coolest aspect was that it wasn't as cheezy as "The Super Friends" and it gave "Green Lantern" his own mini-show. The fact that they were made in 1967, was great because all the comic book characters looked like they were suppose look... "silver age" style! And to find out Ted Knight did narration, only makes it groovier. Please, some one out there needs to release them on video, or play them on the "Cartoon Network"! Even if it's just to show the Awesome "Green Lantern" on TV! If I saw it again, I'm sure I'd give it a 10!
The Avengers (1998)
Weird and yet Slightly Under Rated.
This was a film I spent a good 2 months getting psyched up over during the summer of it's release. Why? Because the trailer was pretty cool (it contained the way groovy song "Get Duffy" by Primal Scream!), I owned every single (Emma Peel) Avengers episode (way before A&E made it easy for everyone) on video and Uma looked pretty neat-o in a weird outfit. Did I have my doubts? Sure! This was being made by the director who brought us "Benny And Joon"! (God, how I hate that film!) Well, on the day of the release I began to really sweat. First there were no reviews to speak of (that being always a very bad sign) and while waiting in line people were coming out of the theatre grumbling "lame", "don't waste your money!", and "where did I park my car, again?" So maybe in a way, I wanted to like it, because everyone hated it. Oh, and I was hoping to hear that "Primal Scream" song in the movie again. Well, unfortunately the song was only in the trailer, so that was a let down, but the film did manage to put me in some kind of hypnotic dream state that neither fully enthralled or fully entertained me. It just sort of existed like a weird pot haze state. Did I appreciate the liberties it took on one of my favourite tv shows? Not really. Emma Peel's character was reduced to a neurotic victim, versus the ass-kicking woman that the show had depicted. Mr. Steed was a little too foppish and suffered terribly from an over abundance of blush (they should have fired the make-up department)? A friend of mine met Patrick (the original Mr. Steed) and he'd mentioned that there were some great moments in the film that were edited out at the last moment? Also, I can recall reading that they did some last minute special effects tweaking? Maybe a director's cut is in order? Was it the best film I ever saw? Nope! What I have found with a lot of films though, is that everyone has such strong opinions of a film that really doesn't warrant much of a reaction. I mean if people really want to explore BAD films, then surly there is definitely worthier candidates then this one. It has a lot of cool (though I'm not a big fan of digital, but..) effects, and the color is bright enough to keep most viewers awake. The acting is a little shakey, but at least the cast was attractive. The characters remind me more of the last season episodes with Tara King, more then the Emma Peel ones. It does have some great surreal imagery though. The colorful bear outfits are like some opium induced (or "Grateful Dead" inspired) dream. If I was a child I could have had nightmares for days. Also, I thought the landscape of the new England was pretty inspired. It had a cold almost isolated feel of another planet. An alien environment like the isolated villages I use to view in the TV show. I spend (unfortunately) a lot of time at jobs that just allow me to surf the net for a living (life of a receptionist), and I spend many of the hours reading a lot of reviews from people who should not be reviewing films, but "hey, it's freedom of speech". And then I spend the latter part of my day watching films that no one could be bothered to watch. Why is it that a film relatively harmless as this one gets such outrages and attention, when a film director like John Cassavetes gets barely 4 reviews a film? But I find it interesting that (for the most part) all reviews as whole put together all the thoughts on a film. I've read reviews of films I love and can't get enough of, and found myself giggling at someones "bad" review of it. Why? Because film in general takes people places that they don't necessarily ask to be taken to, or change the way a person usually predicts it should be. Depends on the mood. One film is just one interpetation of an idea. A film does not have to be the last word on a topic, but rather an opinion. At least it tried a little harder to hit the mark then the "Mod Squad" remake. In a way I highly recommend everyone see this film, because it's different from the typical Hollywood turn out, and someone at a studio decided to drop millions of dollars on it with people spending hundreds of hours making it. Will there be a sequel? I should predict not. So hey, it's a one off deal. For all the people that hate it...you're eyes will bleed no longer. I predict that this will be Sean Connery's second "Zardoz" (and I love "Zardoz"). In 50 years, people will look to this film and think..."hella weird" (due, no doubt to the failed sense of British humour. And for those people who come onto this review and gag... well just look into your own reviews and see the duds you've been championing. Because I have.
More Mental Madness From The World Of Giallo
Though Mario Bava had gotten the Giallo ball rolling in 1964 with "Blood And Black Lace" (though some may argue that it was really 1962's "Evil Eye/ The Girl Who New Too Much" that was really the first Giallo), it wasn't really until Dario Argento's 1969 masterpiece "The Bird With The Crystal Plumage" that started the Italian Production trend. But between 1970 to 1972 it was in it's full swing!
They must have been throwing these films out weekly! But Duccio Tessari's 1971 Giallo "The Bloodstained Butterfly" is a standout for many reasons. First it takes a slightly different approach in it's proceedings, anouncing the characters names like an Agatha Christie thriller. It contains a lush hypnotic soundtrack supplied by Gianni Ferrio (that blends out of a jarring Tchaikovsky number), that fits in snuggly with Ennio Morricone's doodlings (yet retains it's own originality). The entire cast is solid, with Helmut Berger's Giorgio (a pianist) going mental every time he hears Tchaikovsky, and Giancarlo Sbragia (the main suspect) looking timid (yet shifty) while trying to defend himself. Red herrings abound (everyone seems slightly guilty and slimey) the story weaves a web of perplexity until the surprising (or not so surprising if you've seen enough Giallos) climax. Dementia out of passion is called into explanation, and this is not just your regular moral avenger or greedy interloper Giallo. Beautiful Wendy D'Olive plays the daughter of the suspect (the only character who isn't dipped in slime), and one can't help but feel that this poor character will probably suffer a nervous breakdown at the end of the chaos. To give away the story would be a crime, because this is what keeps the interest jumping. Again the black gloved assassin is taking the lives of beautiful women, but this tends to feel like a more mature outing with restrained gore. The emphasis is placed on the convoluted, puzzling story. One thing that makes Giallo films so great is that it's stylized trash. Not simply just stalk n' slash fair (unlike so many of America's horror films of the time), but great detail is placed on locations, clothes, interior decoration, and music. Giallo films tend to seduce (before destroying) it's viewer with everything abound incorporating a lushous veneer.
"Bloodstained Butterfly" is a prime example of this asthetic. One of my favourite moments of the film is when Wendy D'Olive is taking a tram through the city, while Helmut Berger is driving his sports car right before their chance (or maybe it isn't?) meeting. The wonderful music glides you through the scene like an Italian daydream, only to drop you into a scene of suspicion. Highly recommended for fans of Italian Cinema!
La tarantola dal ventre nero (1971)
I Find This Giallo Refreshinly Special!
My God! The opening scene alone is worth the price of admission! Barbara Bouchet being given a nude body massage while Ennio Morricone's score (hightened by Edda Del Orso's seductive vocals) explores our aural senses is nearly the best opening I've ever seen... period! Paolo Cavara's brilliant Giallo "The Black Belly Of The Tarantula" is definately special. The film contains a beautiful (Euro Babe) cast, that would please James Bond afficianados everywhere. It contains three Bond Girls in one film! The wonderful Claudine Auger ("Thunderball"), Barbara Bouchet ("Casino Royale"), and Barbara Bach ("The Spy Who Loved Me"), all lending shady perversity to the proceedings. The title refers to the sadistic means in which a killer is performing on his prey. An acupuncture needle is inflamed with a paralysing poison that the killer inserts into the neck of his victim (realistically, this would probably kill someone, but hey... this is an Italian B Movie!!) thus insuring that the victim is paralysed yet concience while the killer tears open their belly with a knife (eehhh...hella creepy!). The story primarily surrounds the investigation by Inspector Tellini (well acted by Giancarlo Giannini) of the murder of Maria Zani (Barbara Bouchet) who was being blackmailed before her death. Other murders follow, as the Inspector's trail leads to a Fashion Boutique, a Science Laboratory, and then a Health Spa, which are all linked to drug traffiking and sexual deviant politics. Like "What Are Those Strange Drops Of Blood Doing On Jennifer's Body" this film as well could be a kind of prototype Giallo film. If you are familiar with the genre, you can only laugh at the way the victim always says to the Inspector "I can't talk right now... but I think I know who the killer is. Come back later (or tomorrow), and I'll tell you. (another equally laughable sentence is: "I just want to check something out, but I'll meet you later!) This line is usually a recipe to get yourself gutted and tortured in the most painful of ways. Also, like "What Are Those..." this film again has the theme of moral avenger (quite often this theme is linked with something resembling impotence... c'mon you got to laugh at that!) that strikes out on the poor girls with viciousness. I'm still trying to sort out if this is somehow linked to the cynicism surrounding Catholicism in Italy? But the killer's use of fetishistic surgical gloves only insures that this is pure Euro-Trash at it's best.
Giancarlo Giannini's Inspector Tellini is a slightly different breed of cop. The film interestingly delves further (then most Gialli) into the relationship of him and his wife Anna (played by the beautiful Stefania Sandrelli), and the moodiness surrounding his job. He neurotically says "I just don't think I can do this anymore. I want to quit." (echoing my own displays of verbal discontent in the work world, as my girlfriend pointed out) And in the end when Inspector Tellini loses his cool, as the killer gets closer to getting to his wife!
This is a great little Giallo, which unfortunately is a tad hard to find in America. But I nevertheless highly recommend it to those who love weird and twisted little masterpieces that come from a country of machisimo mentality. And the music score is to die for!!!!
Great Giallo Prototype!
Giuliano Carnimeo's "What Are Those Strange Drops Of Blood Doing On Jennifer's Body? (this has got to be one of the most elaborate titles used in a genre ridden with flamboyant, wordy titles, that border on daffiness!) is one of my favourite Giallo films of all time. It's really a prototype Giallo in a lot of ways. First it combines genre regulars George Hilton and Edwige Fenech, who'd appeared previously in Sergio Martino's "Next!/ The Strange Vice Of Madam Wardh" (yet another wonderfully eccentric title!) , and "They're Coming To Get You/ All The Colors Of Darkness/ Day Of The Maniac", and contains more red herrings then you can shake a stick at. The movie boasts a wonderful lush score by genre regular composer Bruno Nicolai (who'd assisted Ennio Morricone in quite a few of his musical endeavors as well) and great cinemagraphic imagery bordering on surreal. The plot has the usual violence, drug and sexual debauchery that Italian cinema loves to exploit, with the black gloved assassin carrying out his moral dementia on the vice ridden young ladies. Such tortuous acts as repeatedly stabbing a young lady in an elevator, drowning another in a bath tub, and even steaming one to death, are commited as acts of vengence on an immoral society (a typical genre theme). The story concerns two models, Jennifer Osterman (Edwige Fenech) and Marilyn (Paola Quattrini) who meet building architect Andrea Antinori (George Hilton) and move into an apartment he designed. The newly available apartment has a sinister history though. Days before they moved in, an exotic dancer was murdered in the apartment (she herself having discovered the body of a dead prostitute in an elevator days before) and it seems that their newfound architect friend is the police's biggest suspect. Despite the suspicions surrounding Andrea, Jennifer begins an affair with him. Because of the beginning affair, she is harassed by an ex-boyfriend, who she use to engage in drug (heroin) induced orgies with. To give anymore away, would cheat the reader from discovering (and trying to piece together) this most convoluted puzzle of a film. Trying to figure out who the murderer is in a Giallo, is one of the genres many pleasures (my girlfriend got a kick out of solving this one before it's conclusion!). Filled with enough nudity that can be done in 94 minutes, this film contains one of the genre's biggest (and most beautiful) assets...Edwige Fenech! She is amazing! It's really a shame more people in America have no idea who she is! And of course George Hilton is the dependable shady rogue as always.
This is one of my favourite Giallos and a pure Euro-Trash masterpiece! Highly recommended!!!!
La coda dello scorpione (1971)
Director Sergio Martino was a regular Itailan Giallo director, who brought us "They're Coming To Get You/ All The Colors Of Darkness/ Day Of The Maniac", "Next!/ The Strange Vice Of Madam Wardh", and "Torso/ The Corpses Show Evidence Of Rape (though I'm not sure why this title is relevent, because I don't remember any moments of rape from the killer?)" and a slew of other nasty little numbers. But I found "The Case Of The Scorpion's Tail" to be his most accomplished work (outside of the silly model Airplane explosion in the beginning!). The rather perplexing story weaves so many red herrings, that when the killer finally does become unmasked, you are a little surprised! Keep in mind that not all that you see, is what you may have really seen. Keeping with Giallo tradition, this film has a little nod to Michelangelo Antonioni's "Blow Up" (Dario Argento's "The Bird With The Crystal Plumage" would be the first of "Blow Up" immitators, which loved to have "I thought I saw something...if only I could recall what it was!" moments in it.) with even a moment where the investigators "blow up" a photo to find a clue in the picture. This film contains (can you believe?) actual tense moments in it. The scene where Anita Strindberg is assaulted even had me biting at my finger nails. There are two parts to this film, the first is centered on Ida Galli (Evelyn Stewart) and then a third of the way switching to Cleo Dupont (Anita Strindberg) in a "Psycho" style switch of heroines.
Both leads (genre female regulars) are interesting to follow (and sensually alluring to look at) and the film moves at an even and fast pace, keeping the viewer inticed. I have to say that after watching this film though, it was really George Hilton who won me over, and made me an instant fan. Though like the female leads, he's a genre regular, I found this to be his best role. Always smarmy and shifty, George Hilton personifies the Giallo male to perfection! I won't describe the story in any great detail, because I think it should be viewed with a virgin state of mind (also I'm too lazy to describe this convoluted story), but it does contain the usual block gloved assassin (always super human in ability) and the gratuitous killing of female characters. I can't honestly say that it's healthy to enjoy such misogynistic dementia or condone objectification of women, but Giallo Cinema is more interesting then the predictable Hollywood road that bulldozes us with the same exact car everytime. My girlfriend would accuse Giallo Cinema of a one make car as well... but for some of us...it's a Jaguar! Highly recommended (for some)!!!!
A Sort Of Modern German Version Of "The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly"
In 1970, it seems as if Roland Klick set out to emulate Sergio Leone's "The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly", mixing it with Michelangelo Antonioni's "Zabriskie Point" to create a modern Sauerkraut Western (without horses, but rather a truck and a car). The story stars three characters, Marquard Bohm as the "Kid" (The Good), Siegurd Fitzek as "Mr. Sunshine" (The Bad), and Mario Adorf (can be seen in Dario Argento's "The Bird With The Crystal Plumage" as the reclusive cat eating painter) as "Mr. Dump" (The Ugly) (who again plays a reclusive man who lives in a dump??). The story begins with the Kid, who has just pulled off a heist (with a bullet wound in the arm), and is carrying millions of dollars in a case. Wandering aimlessly through the sunbaked desert, (he finally passes out and is left for dead) until Mr. Dump drives along and finds him and the money. Once back at Mr. Dump's residence (a sort of abandoned junk yard), the Kid warns Mr. Dump, that Mr. Sunshine (who apparently is the ringleader of this heist) will be coming for his money. Thus begins the cat and mouse story, of who will get the case of money. Mr. Dump also has two neighbors, an older (and apparently sexually crazy) woman and her pretty (but feral) daughter (who is obviously sexually curious of the Kid).
The film is set in (what looks to be) a wasteland desert, which could have been a forerunner for films like "A Boy And His Dog" and "Road Warrior". Yet the film maintains a complete Sergio Leone feel to it. You get all the great close ups of the characters sweating in the sun, and the typical double crossing that took place in his westerns. The Kid in this movie also kind of resembles Charles Bronson's character in Leone's other masterpiece "Once Upon A Time In The West". But on the flipside, this film also kind of reminded me of Antonioni's "Zabriskie Point", in the surreal desert filming. Also the use of Kraut Rock band "Can", who's music score, will remind one of Pink Floyd's music score for Antonioni's film. The inspired use of Can, as the music score was a great choice, because though at times it does remind you of Pink Floyd, it also reminds me of Ennio Morricone's music score as well. The Kid's theme song seems to be "Whiskey Man" by Can, and this reminds me of the way you hear that unforgettable Clint Eastwood whistling theme, or the accompanying harmonica for Charles Bronson. Can's score embodies both stylizations perfectly. The film is pretty obscure, and there was very little information, that I could find on it. But it's worth searching out if you have an interest in different cult type movies from the late sixties, or an interest in Can. But the pacing is a little uneasy and the finale was a tad unclimatic (yet somehow downbeat). Though it's a German production, the English dubbing will remind you of the Spaghetti Westerns as well. Cool, but very weird.
The Best James Bond Film (without Sean Connery)!!!
Sean Connery is James Bond, there is no subsitute! Now, that I got that out of the way, the 1969 United Artists release "On Her Majesty's Secret Service", is the best James Bond film. One time J.B. film editor Peter Hunt, made his directorial debut with this film, and for a debut film...it's truly amazing! With the previous films, it seems as if Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli were quite content to discard Ian Flemming's original novels, and subsitute it with flashy production costs and new scripts (a notion that is still being practiced to this day). Now this is by no means really bad (being a BIG FAN of both movies and novels, I have no real complaints), but it was fantastic to see that (for me) this film combines the greatest qualities of both. Now there's no argument that "O.H.M.S.S." was the worst received Bond film (it grossed the lowest box office earnings!), and that it (to this day) still rankles quite a few Bond fans to the point of anger. So in the end, "O.H.M.S.S." remains a cult favourite amongst fans of the movies and especially those of the novels (it's my all time personal favourite!). This film rids itself of ALL the unnecessary silliness that's prevalent in the later films. It has a harsh seriousness, that was one of the virtues of the novels. This James Bond is a moody, romantic, fallable, darker, and even more athletic than the previous films. He's very much a human, and not so super-human as in the other films. I quite like the scenes in where he tries to resign, when he's feeling under appreciated (would Connery's Bond even care?). This is a real moody Bond. And to be honest, I don't think Connery could have played a Bond like this. It's through George Lazenby's lack of actor's confidence that fits well with this insecure more human Bond. George Lazenby (a former model and car salesman) had only acted in a few comercials, before he was cast to play Bond. Considering his previous experience, he does amazingly well in his first outing. Though, I do quite laugh at film critic Danny Peary's description of George Lazenby as resembling a "bland cartoon generated version of Connery". But in all reality, there is really only one Sean Connery. And Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, and Pierce Bronson are not him either. So, knowing that Connery would not come back, who were their choices? Michael Cain or Patrick MacGoohan, maybe? Well, we got Lazenby. And I feel like he gets a raw deal from the critics. I'm actually a bit of a fan of his cult filmography. I like the fact, that no matter how many critics bash his performance, he still gets out there and tries to make a name for himself as an actor. Cheers to Lazenby! Anyways, he's not so bad, especially when it comes to the action scenes. He's very believable kicking the baddie's a**e*. And when we get to the ending, he looks like he's getting close to the funny farm. Now this is Bond I like to see! James Bond nearly has a mental breakdown on his wedding day! The rest of the cast is fantastic as well. The beautiful Diana Rigg (who adds a large dose of class in anything she appears in) as Tracy, is the feisty daughter of crime lord Marc-Ange Draco (played by the great Gabriele Ferzetti). Bond's interest to find arch-nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld, leads him to Draco for information of Blofeld's whereabouts. For information of Blofeld, Draco has persuaded Bond to court his daughter Tracy (whom Bond already more or less does of his own free will), because Draco thinks of it as therapy for her. His search eventually takes him to the top of the Swiss Alps, where Blofeld (strangely acted by Telly Savalas) is hiding out at Piz Gloria blackmailing the world with Fist Omega (germ warfare!!!). His means of dispensing this terror comes in the form of (allergy ridden) beautiful women from all over the world! What a GREAT story!!! Sounds like an Avenger's episode! Well, it may sound a little over the top, but director Peter Hunt actually makes it work with a real seriousness. The cinematography by Michael Reed is at times breathtaking and wonderful. The escape from Piz Gloria, (ski chase scene) is tense, and you begin to actually fear that Bond might actually get caught (and usually Bond films are anything but tense). The music score is probably John Barry's BEST, especially the main title theme!!! And this film stays so close to the book, that really the only changes made are for the better. I know that a lot of Bond fans will disagree, but I can't recommend this movie enough! I love the way the plot is allowed to develop, rather than just be another eye candy spectacle. It also has a sort of European look to the film (possibly due to heavy dubbing of the actors?), which makes it sort of stick out from the other Bond films. It's time that "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" received it fair dues as the Best Bond film, and that George Lazenby wasn't all bad. And for all those who think this is boring, don't bother reading the books. Because this movie is a pretty close aproximation of the novels. Highly recommended on all counts!!! I give it a 15 out of 10!
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
I'd Rather Be A Fake Somebody, Than A Real Nobody.
The Anthony Minghella film "The Talented Mr. Ripley", is possibly going to be the most awkward Hollywood film of 1999. It will not be easily placed in any specific genre. It harkens back to a filming style of the late 50's early 60's Hollywood Technicolor period. Using a "La Dolce Vita" look to the scenery, but even more Hollywood lush. One can be easily seduced into the sexy hot Italian landscapes, where the sun bakes down upon its characters. It works as Italy's biggest travelogue in years. The not so easily adaptable story by Patricia Highsmith, follows the story of a young, introverted American Thomas Ripley, who is sent to retrieve the son of a millionaire shipping tycoon. The millionaire tiring of his son's carefree spending, and bohemian lifestyle, sends Tom to bring him home to his ailing mother. Ripley who's had no real purpose in his failing non-existent life, takes up the oppertunity to add some sense of mission and purpose. His character will remind one of a socciopathic Holden Caufield type. Where behind the virgin and innocent exterior of a boy, lays a more sinister and manipulative man. Everything that Ripley does that is amoral and murderous is easily shrugged off as a nessasary solution to the arising situation. He easily justifies his means to an end, which usually concerns money and status. With this in mind, the movie fails the book, but stands as it's own masterpiece. The movie will continue to flesh out areas that the book didn't, with additional emphasis on newer (written in) characters, the theme of jazz, and homosexual innuendos being more in your face and less hidden. The problem here with extra character development can be that you begin to sympathize too much with the individuals that will soon turn to victims. This can cloud our viewing and distract us (the audience) from getting on with the story. When Dickie Greenleaf (the millionaire 's son) is disposed of by Tom Ripley, you spend the next 20 minutes mourning the loss of his presence. Which I'm sure was inteded by Anthony. Where in the book, you are able to move on and focus on current predictiments. It's what gives the book fluidity, and motion. This is where the movie becomes stunted. The power of loss and shock is too great. And in my opinion is distracting. The individuals in the book are as cold as the calculated mind of Ripley. Cinematically speaking it is these larger brush strokes that warm (like the Italian sun) the viewer, and seduce us with characters that we care about. Such an accomplishment on Jude Law's part, that his role as Dickie Greenleaf wins over the viewer and nearly scenery chews himself into the main role of the film (and a best supporting actor, Oscar nomination). The additional characters that were written into the script, while well acted by Jack Davenport, and Cate Blanchet, are unnecessary and clutter the script. Making it seem clastrophobic, while the book maintained a feeling of isolation and lonliness. Where Patricia Highsmith's Ripley was calculated and amoral. Mingella's Ripley is an accident prone nerd. Though Matt Damon does a great job, I still find him terribly miscast. His Ripley is made out to be a jittery Anthony Perkins type (ie: "Psycho"). Where the Ripley of the novel was calm and collected (Is it me, or does bits of Gabriel Yared's score remind one of Bernard Herman's "Psycho" theme?) Speaking of score, the additional jazz element to the theme, was at one point brilliant, but another point blasphemy to the book. The jazz element meant to represent the wild and carefree aspects of Dickie (a supposed jazz head). While classical music is meant to represent Ripley's (a classically trained pianist) boring and conservative life. Though classical is to represent conservative stylization in the film, true musicians know it to be the original musical improvisation. Thus making Ripley a true improvisor, while Dickie is actually more conservative with his life and emotions. Clever. But the idea in the book of Dickie being a painter is also brilliant, making Ripley the true open canvas, which alows him to use his ingenous brush strokes to create the person he needs to be in a quick (chameleon like) manner. It's what makes him so talented (hence the title). It's the artist in him, which makes you root for him, not his accidental good luck. I can understand the director wanting the characters to suffer emotionally, for their crimes, but I don't know about if the viewer should. The biggest problem I have of all is the homosexual tendencies of Ripley and the angle on which the movie exploits this from the manner of the book's vision. In the book Ripley was more asexual (almost virginal), with a sort of worship for Dickie (but probably more his lifestyle, rather than who he actually was). And with the inclusion of the homosexual character Peter (Jack Davenport, whom Ripley seems to fall into an emotional nest with) acts as a sort of a coming out for Ripley from his homosexual closet. The Ripley from the book was far too insular, to let himself be open to this. And like all heroes of the crime and spy novels. It's this sort of insular, anti-hero (or in Ripley's case..."killer") that makes you thrill to their private hells, and successes. Though I may have been overly critical with this film versus the book. I really cannot recommend this film enough. It's beautifully shot with an amazing musical score. The acting is top notch all the way, especially that of Jude Law, who steals the film from just about everyone. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is wonderful as Freddy Miles, and Gwyneth Paltrow is good as the happy-go-lucky turns to upset and edgy Marge. This film is really a nineties masterpiece, even though it takes some unnecessary liberties with the book. Still a great film through and through. Highly recommended!