Violent and brutal Spanish western (also known as a "Paella Western"). Robert Hundar (also in Why Did You Pick On Me? (1980), see blog entry of April 29, 2012) is an army sergeant, who through a stroke of misfortune, becomes the sole escort for nine chain-gang prisoners through the mountains, from their work area to a fort. He is accompanied by his daughter, played by Spanish starlet Emma Cohen (the same year she was in Jess Franco's The Other Side of the Mirror). His wife was stabbed in the stomach and killed by one of the convicts, but he doesn't know which one. Not too far into the journey, the convicts find out that the chain that holds them all together is made out of gold. As they die, the numbers start to dwindle and everyone turns into an animal. This is probably the most violent western I have ever seen. Shootings in the face and head, a man burned beyond recognition, throat slicing, stabbing and blood gushing out of wounds and guts hanging out. All VERY graphically presented. So don't eat lunch while you watch it. It moves along quickly and doesn't become boring. The director, Joaquín Luis Romero Marchent had already made about a dozen westerns. This was his last one.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Early giallo starring the pretty Erna Schurer (who I previously remember seeing in 1976's Deported Women of the SS Special Section). She plays a young woman who is entitled to an inheritance, so she goes to the old ancestral castle, of course - where else. Once she gets there we hear some jazz music and wolves howling. There's a bunch of creepy people, including an old crazy hag in a wheelchair holding a baby doll. Someone starts putting something in Erna's drink, and that gives her erotic dreams. Meanwhile, someone in a hood kills a couple cast members. Eventually Erna ends up in the torture chamber in the basement. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot going on in this movie plot-wise - I couldn't really understand it, since I don't comprehend Italian. The only other name in the cast I recognized was Aurora Bautista - she was in Eugenio Martin's Nightmare Inn (1973). An average viewing experience.
Monday, May 14, 2012
Nigel Kneale (the creator of Quatermass) wrote this very original teleplay for the BBC. Directed by Peter Sasdy (who had just made three movies for Hammer Films), the story concerns an electric company that is re-locating to a renovated building. The building has a foundation that probably dates back to before 1000 AD and before long they find that there is a "ghost" of a woman appearing in the basement. The scientists working for the company want to invent a recording medium to replace magnetic tape and eventually everything falls together to make this a scary and weird viewing experience. Jill Asher (looking a little like Mimsy Farmer here) plays one of the scientists who figures prominently as things unfold. I can't say more without ruining it!
Sunday, May 13, 2012
An obscure 70's French Dracula movie starring Peter Cushing? Point the way, right? Wrong. In the film, Cushing is an actor who plays a vampire (a role I don't think he ever played before in a real film). When the studio finds out he wants to stop making horror films, they send two writers out to his castle for the weekend to see what's up. They bring along their girlfriends, one played by French star Miou-Miou, who is seen naked while singing a long song about monsters. People talk and talk and talk. Cushing shows his old scrapbook which is filled with real pictures of him in his movies. There's some blood here and there and I was most surprised to see Alida Valli playing Cushing's wife. I think it's supposed to be a comedy, but I forgot to laugh. It's a long bore.
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Big boring drama. I guess that's why someone on the imdb described it as "film noir", one of the genres that I rarely am able to enjoy. A barber shop is a front for some bookies. When some guy can't pay his gambling debts, he gets beaten up and then commits suicide (in a truck full of eggs) so his wife can collect the insurance money. Darren McGavin plays a cop who wants to bust the thing wide open. Unfortunately, some of the police force is in on it, too. Some characters go out to eat where some singer named Bobby Helms sings an annoying song called "Jacqueline". There's one really cool fight scene in the middle and the bad guys set off a bomb or something in McGavin's house. Unfortunately, I didn't care what happened to anyone, it's boring and the performances are wooden. Not my kind of movie either. The year after this, director Paul Wendkos made Gidget, of all things.
Friday, May 11, 2012
So the same year that Jaws 2 came out, we also got Piranha and this. Wayne Crawford (who had already been in God's Bloody Acre (1975), by the same director, Harry Kerwin) plays a marine biology student who is testing the ocean out near a chemical plant. The plant's owner, played by character actor Bert Freed, has him arrested by the sheriff (played by William Kerwin, Harry's brother and star of the H. G. Lewis classics Blood Feast (1963) and Two Thousand Maniacs (1964)). People out swimming or fishing are getting attacked and killed by barracuda. Crawford gets out of jail and does some more testing (at one point he has a couple barracuda heads on a desk!) Eventually he finds out that the chemicals are making the fish hypoglycemic and that is what makes them attack! There is even something more sinister afoot, as he soon finds out. The attacks are not gory and even when someone finds a head on the beach you really don't see anything. It's still pretty fun to watch and keeps you guessing. This was Harry Kerwin's last movie (he died in 1979).
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
This hard-hitting crime drama made me gasp a couple times. It starts out with a government type at a desk giving us a history lesson. The Purple Gang was a real syndicate made up of teenagers in Detroit during prohibition. In this dramatization, they are led by Robert Blake (he still looked very young despite actually being 25). They easily get protection money from everyone and kill a welfare worker who is trying to help them!! They want a police lieutenant (Barry Sullivan) out of the way, but when he won't resign, they scare his pregnant wife (while wearing stockings over their heads) into jumping through a window! Eventually the mafia moves into the territory and Blake gets more psychotic as it goes on. Great line of narration: "Marijuana...in a tulip."