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."
Monday, May 7, 2012
Routine adventure drama with Errol Flynn. I was hoping it was going to be a jungle movie with that title. Turns out he's a deep sea diver and salvager. His partner (Richard Webb) is killed and he can't figure out who was behind it. His partner's wife (Ruth Roman) is always hanging around. Raymond Burr plays the bad guy. When Flynn won't go down to some shipwreck for him, Burr causes his boat to explode by putting a shiny thing on it so a kid will pick it up. Yeah it's just as interesting as it sounds. Flynn finally does what Burr wants, brings up the loot in the middle of a storm, but he breaks the compass so Burr will need him to get back to land. I've only seen one other Errol Flynn movie, his last one, Cuban Rebel Girls (1959). It's a little better than this one.
Sunday, May 6, 2012
Bad guys, led by a dude with an Hitler mustache, kidnap women and trade them for jade to a bunch of crazy monks on an island. The monks (led by the king of Philippines exploitation, Vic Diaz) cook and eat the women which gives them the power to raise the dead! Cameron Mitchell is the captain of a whole big lust boat full of sluts and martial arts students. The mustache guy doesn't want them sailing anywhere near the island, he's afraid they'll find out about all that jade. So his henchmen attack and kill a bunch of the passengers and set the boat on fire. The survivors make it to the island on a raft, but then they have to deal with the ninja zombies that the monks have resurrected! This movie has very little happening in the first 30 minutes (mostly people talking and hanging out at a strip club) but once the boat starts sailing things move fast. There's a few famous b-movie actresses in this: Jillian Kesner (Firecracker (1981)), 80's scream queen Jewel Shepard, Carla Reynolds (who is tied up naked to a bed by a guy in a nazi helmet) and Camille Keaton (I Spit On Your Grave (1978)) as "girl in toilet". This was the last movie produced by Lawrence Woolner of the famous Woolner Brothers. At the end it says, "To Be Continued", but how could you ever continue this??
Saturday, May 5, 2012
Saw a clip from this a couple years ago from a friend who did a puppet festival. It got me interested in seeing the whole movie and it was not a disappointment. Dante (voiced by Dermot Mulroney) is led through all of the circles of hell by Virgil (voiced by James Cromwell). Everyone in the movie is a hand-drawn paper puppet (except for Lucifer, who is played by a person and eats the souls of the worst people, dipped in Velveeta cheese). The story is full of jokes (mostly about what famous/infamous people are in hell and why they are there) and is very funny. I especially liked George Sanders, whose soul is imprisoned in a tree forever for committing suicide. It's pretty cool and amazing at times. There's also a short shadow puppet performance and other characters are voiced by Martha Plimpton, Olivia D'Abo and lesser known actors.
Thursday, May 3, 2012
Exploitation director Larry Buchanan was hired by AIP in the late 60's to produce/direct 8 movies for television. I'd already seen the 7 horror/sci-fi films, but this one lone war movie had escaped my grasp until now (it was thought to be lost at some point, by some sources). John Agar starred in three of them - Zontar and Curse of the Swamp Creature (both 1966) and this one. It's a remake of AIP's earlier theatrical film Suicide Battalion (1958). We start out with a bit of a history lesson and a lot of stock footage. Agar is a army major in World War II. He's gruff and leads a small battalion who dismantle mines. A young soldier gets shot in the head by the "krauts" so the captain (played by Richard Webb) throws a "hot one" (live grenade) into their tank and they don't move so much after that. There's a woman that loves Agar, but he doesn't show her any affection - at least until they get recruited for a very dangerous mission, then she gets a kiss. This movie is so cheap that a building has a handwritten sign on it that says "Ristorante". When a soldier gets kicked in the head, the foot doesn't even appear to make contact. Not a good movie by even low standards. With Bill Thurman (who was in 11 other Buchanan movies!)
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
I didn't even realize this extremely obscure United Artists release was a British movie until AFTER I finished watching it. A prologue shows a guy playing a flamenco-style guitar in a cafe - a man is shocked that the guitarist ISN'T Spanish, he's Hungarian. I guess this is supposed to prove that people can appear to be something they're not. Theodore Bikel stars as a high ranking Hungarian official who defects to Austria. He gets sent back though to help some scientist defect, too. The 58 minute running time seems way longer - almost nothing seems to happen. Dullsville, man. There's a part where they are all hiding in the woods - I guess that was memorable because it was outside. The female lead (Adrienne Fancey) was in the director's (Denis Kavanagh's) next two movies as well. Not much else to say, other than I have one of the first 5 votes on this movie on the imdb.
Monday, April 30, 2012
Rebecca Balding of The Boogens (1981) stars as a college student who needs to find some housing, pronto. She takes a room along with a couple other students in a house owned by an old woman (Yvonne DeCarlo) and her son. The house is actually the same one that is in the classic Spider Baby (1968). People start getting killed soon after. Cameron Mitchell (in like his millionth zero budget horror movie) and Avery Schreiber (all those Doritos commercials) play two cops trying to figure it all out. The great Barbara Steele is also on hand in a very creepy role. There's not a whole lot going on in the plot but the ending is pretty cool. The film was actually shot in 1977 but was unreleasable, so it was re-shot in 1980 - only 12 minutes of the original film was used! A movie being watched on TV in the film is actually part of the original movie.
Sunday, April 29, 2012
I've seen almost every mummy movie made, up to the year 2000. This Brazilian film is one of the most obscure. It was directed by Ivan Cardoso, who made other movies featuring vampires. The great Jose Mojica Marins (aka Coffin Joe) has a very small role at the start as a dying man who has a map to the tomb of a mummy. A scientist who digs it up has also perfected an "immortality" serum that he already has injected into his helper, Ygor (of course). Injecting it into the mummy is the next obvious step. Ygor is kind of like Peter Lorre - bald headed, bug eyed and maniacal. He and the mummy bro up and he uses the mummy to kidnap women after killing their boyfriends. The women are all taken to the same room where for some reason they are insane, naked and fighting each other. The mummy is your usual run of the mill bandage-head. Some of the movie is filmed like old newsreels to give it more of that old film feel. It's not a great movie but it is what it is. Cardoso went on to make the much better The Scarlet Scorpion (1990).
Bud Spencer (who made umpteen movies with Terence Hill, including the Trinity series) stars in this sequel to The Sheriff and the Satellite Kid (1979). The amazing thing about these two movies, to me, is that his co-star is the little kid from Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Cary Guffey! Guffey plays an alien, H7-25. If you saw the first movie, you'll remember the great low-budget effects, hilarious events and usual fights. This movie isn't quite up to par with that one, but it's still pretty great and has even more of a sci-fi plot. Borrowing from Invaders From Mars (1953), evil aliens make a base on Earth where they begin controlling people that can help them take over. Unfortunately for them, the place they pick to do it is the same town where Spencer has just become sheriff. The movie starts off with the usual fight scenes, Spencer beating up lumberjacks, The Brothers Dynamite (a gang of hoods who threaten to blow everything up if they don't get protection money) and a gang of miscreants in weird cars who wear masks. Later, Spencer beats up a bunch of alien robots, who start repeating the same phrases over and over ("You're an alien-schmalien!" being one of the stranger ones). One of the aliens is played by the very prolific Italian actor/stuntman Giovanni Cianfriglia (over 100 movies to his credit). Some of the movie was shot at Six Flags Over Georgia. Unfortunately, the English dubbed video of this on YouTube becomes un-synced halfway through so the sound doesn't match the action. Director Michele Lupo made two more movies with Spencer before retiring.
Saturday, April 28, 2012
Dennis Quaid stars as a psychic who gets nabbed and taken to a clinic where they "count boners". Max Von Sydow and Kate Capshaw (the poor man's JoBeth Williams) work there. They are doing research on using psychics to go inside of, and interact in, other people's dreams. Christopher Plummer is a government bad guy and Eddie Albert plays the President of the United States, who is having a lot of bad dreams. George Wendt (Norm on the TV show "Cheers") has a role where he doesn't do much except look kinda like Damon Packard. There's a little kid, and whenever there's a little kid in these movies I refer to the kid as an "Opie", named after Ron Howard's character in "The Andy Griffith Show". This "Opie" has bad dreams and the dreams have the best thing about this movie - the Snakeman! Mostly a cool puppet, also stop-motion animated, it's scary and awesome. Sometimes you want to ask, "why did that character do that?", but that's okay, try not to think too hard. It's fun, pretty fast moving and definitely better made than a lot of others. Director Joseph Ruben had previously directed Quaid in the Meatballs rip-off Gorp (1980). His next movie was The Stepfather (1987).
Friday, April 27, 2012
This Mexican movie was in Spanish, so I'm not sure exactly what was going on. Some people, including Kitty de Hoyos (who was the lead in the horror movie La Loba the same year), get down in some caverns. A guy got killed down there by something with a big claw. Scientists show a projected film that includes the usual footage from One Million BC (1940) that you see recycled in these movies. There is also footage of some (puppet?) dinosaurs. They are all kind of goopy, but the Brontosaurus has the goopiest neck. If dinosaurs were really like that, they wouldn't be able to keep their heads up at all. The people who go down in the caverns get assaulted some more by the claw, which belongs to a cyclops-thing. There's a lot of blood when necks get gashed, but the movie is in black and white, so it's not as disgusting as you would think. A guy takes a break to sing a song. There's also a big bat monster that can swim underwater, and there's an underwater scene that looks exactly like the one with Julie Adams in Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954). There's also a part where it's eyes are the only things on the screen, which is kind of weird if you pause it. Pretty fun, even though I still have no clue what anyone was saying.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Robert Walker stars as Edgar Allan Poe. This is the story of Lenore, the character talked about in the famous poem "The Raven". Lenore is Poe's first great love, but is nearly buried alive when everyone thinks she has died. She is pulled out of the casket in the grave, but her hair has turned white from fright. That's not all...she has also gone crazy. Poe takes her to an institution run by Dr. Grimaldi (Cesar Romero). He has some people locked up just to get their money and is doing some experiments with a new drug on his unfortunate patients. Poe is always snooping around. He gets some of the drug and has what he thinks are hallucinations of snakes. There's not much going for it and it's really not all that interesting. The end is probably the best part. You could put this movie into two genres: Edgar Allan Poe movie and/or snake horror movie. If you are a completist of either of these, then obviously you won't want to miss it. With Carol Ohmart (Spider Baby (1968)) as Grimaldi's wife.
Monday, April 23, 2012
Millie Perkins (whose first role was as Anne Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank (1959)) stars as Molly, a very disturbed woman who castrates and kills men with a razor blade. She hallucinates, has flashbacks about her father and is topless a lot. The story is not very convoluted but the script by Robert Thom (Death Race 2000 (1978)) is very good and the movie is compulsively watchable. I think one reason for this is the way different sequences are filmed - it helps put you into Molly's mind. I definitely did not expect the final revelation about Molly's father. The two people's names I recognized in the credits were George "Buck" Flower (for once not playing a bum and looking pretty clean cut as a police detective) and Roberta Collins (from those 70's Roger Corman women-in-prison movies). Director Matt Cimber started off in 1968 with the Jayne Mansfield movie Single Room Furnished. In the 80's he made two movies with Pia Zadora, Butterfly and the entertaining Fake-Out, then went on to make two adventure movies with Laurene Landon. He stopped directing for over 20 years, but he's back in business now and has a new movie due out in 2013!
Sunday, April 22, 2012
This Filipino movie stars 2' 9" actor Weng Weng (yes, a midget) as Agent 00. He fights various villains so cardboard that you can almost see the corrugation. It's humorous seeing him running around and jumping and stuff like that. He does his own stunts too, they probably only had to pay half the usual amount of insurance (yuk, yuk, yuck). Sometimes Bionic Man music plays. Our little spy also slides across the floor a lot (with such force that someone must be giving him a push). He's basically up against guys who kidnap a scientist so they can get the N-bomb formula (oh geez) and they also smuggle drugs inside loaves of bread. When we find out they want to give it to kindergarteners, well, they lose any sympathy we might have had for them. One of Weng Weng's best lines comes when the cab he's in runs out of gas: "Jerk! Now I have to walk on my little feet!" The dubbing is pretty bad, sure. The main villain is a slightly bigger midget and the two adversaries have one of the shortest (hahaha) martial arts battles ever. It's kind of tedious but also just ridiculous enough to keep you watching. I mean, any movie where a dwarf flies around with a jet pack has at least that going for it. Weng Weng returned as Agent 00 in The Impossible Kid (1982).
Saturday, April 21, 2012
A creepy balding guy (Bo Brundin) tries to get "$65" for his rent by taking it out of the purse of a sleeping woman. She wakes up and screams. Unfortunately for him, she has a spoon on her bedside table, which she uses to gouge out one of his eyes. Now he goes around with an eye patch and his (mostly female) victims are on the unfortunate end of knives, hammers and clotheslines. He takes out all their eyes and uses them in his "art" (turns out he's a bad sculptor as well). He passes them off as "50¢ fake eyes" that he resells for a dollar. He rants a lot and says stuff like, "I am twisted!" A subplot with a female art student goes nowhere. The big climax takes place in a meat packing plant. If you can handle looking at plastic eyeballs drenched in ketchup, I think you'll be okay getting through this. Incredibly, this was directed by the same guy that made Snowman (1978), that movie where Mel Torme crashes his plane in Utah and has to survive on his own. Brundin's next role was in Jerry Lewis' The Day the Clown Cried (1972).
Friday, April 20, 2012
Ray Danton stars in the title role. We find out he's really good at yoga in the opening segment, which means he can hold his breath a long time. This helps him out when things get tough later on. Marisa Mell (of Danger Diabolik fame) is a red-haired adversary and Margaret Lee plays his blonde assistant-type who almost takes an electric bath. The plot has some bad, bad men putting "Syncron 2" in the chewing gum supply at a bowling alley in Michigan. This makes some girl gyrate like crazy to the jukebox, but it can also make grown men fight if their drinks are spiked with it. It's obvious the whole earth is in trouble unless Superdragon can save the day. There's kind of a strange non-ending though. Semi-entertaining weirdness from director Giorgio Ferroni, best known for his 1960 epic Mill of the Stone Women.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Pretty decent Paul Naschy horror movie. As the pharaoh (and horrible person) Amenhotep, Naschy tortures and kills women until he is poisoned by one of his underlings. He's buried alive and many years later, his tomb is disturbed by an archeologist (played by Euro star Jack Taylor). An ancestor (also Naschy) resurrects the mummy by killing more women. Then the mummy goes on his usual rampage as he tries to resurrect the soul of his favorite concubine. Euro favorite Helga Line plays the unfortunate vessel for the soul. There's some good gory effects and atmosphere and we get to see the mummy walk around in some sewers. This was the fourth (and last) Naschy film directed by Carlos Aured.