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.