Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A Virgin Among the Living Dead

There's gourmet chocolate. It's refined and delicious. It melts in your mouth bursting with wondrous flavor combinations and sensations. Think SUSPIRIA or BLOOD AND BLACK LACE or DON'T TORTURE A DUCKLING.

Then there's A Virgin Among the Living Dead - the M&Ms brand of chocolate that's not magical or expensive, but still tastes pretty darn good and makes you happy.

A young woman's relative is ill, so she pays a visit to her estranged family at their villa in the country to see her before she passes away. She makes it just in time to say her goodbye and gets a sinister warning. "Run. Run far away!"

It took me a while, but I'm a big Jess Franco fan now. I kinda get him. He loved horror. He loved women. He loved film making. He just went up to 11 on everything. Nude women romping through horrific situations as his wild camera followed them kinetically. They are so much fun. And this "Old Dark House" style film delivers all of the above and more as the mystery unfolds. And of course, Jess is right in there as one of the family members, so that's fun too.

And the film as some fantastic, Franco dialogue as well as his wild storyline and convenient situations.

"Poor soul! Beyond words! You must get away from here. You'll fry in your own hell, believe me. Ask me no questions, just get away from here."

"Run! Get out of the valley! Can you see everything here is dead?! Get out of here!"
"Come on. You're not going to believe a crazy old man."

"Come and try it. There's nothing like the taste of blood. Try it. Try it, Christina. hahahahahahah" 

It's a warm blanket of a film that delivers up some crazy characters, giggles, lot and lots and lots of camera zooms, and....yeah...a lot of nudity.  The film does have a great, shadow filled look to it that makes me happy. Everything is lit by candles and dim, but then you'll enter a room and it's bright as day in the middle of the night! heheheh  I love it.

Seventies horror lovers need to check this one out for sure. I don't know what else to say here. Is it a good movie? Well, it's very entertaining and fun, so I'd say yes. But, it's not good in that "good" way. It's good in a "what the hell am I watching here?!" sort of way that I love. You watch things unfold and giggle as you mutter little quips and jokes as the film plays on. I dare you to give this a go!

I think I might have to snag a Franco box set. His films are so strange and interesting.

The Forest of the Lost Souls

This spoiler free review will be rather short - I don't want to give things away for this one.

First...the elephant in the room.

If you are looking for a fast paced gore fest...don't watch this one. Just move along. Nothing for you to see here. :::grin:::  This film takes it's time to tell a story and gives you visually stunning images to go along with it's deep, philosophical discussions as things build and build.

This is the first feature film for writer/director José Pedro Lopes and it's a fantastic effort bringing in three awards to date from the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival, Fant, Bilbao Fantasy Film Festival, and Triple Six Horror Film Festival and the awards are well deserved.

Without saying too much about plot, I'll give you a very brief overview.

The titular FOREST OF THE LOST SOULS is very similar to Japan's Aokigahara, also known as the Sea of Trees. A place to go to commit suicide - filled with bodies and sadness. Two strangers meet in the woods - both there to end their lives. The discussion that follows leads to some rather interesting happenings. I'll say no more.

The film starts out slow for sure. It lets the viewer discover things. See the surroundings. Do a bit of wondering. That wondering time is very important throughout the film. There's not a lot of clumsy exposition walking the viewer through what's going on. I LOVED that. Nothing makes me more crazy while watching a film. Especially horror.

"Hmmm....the guy in the mask - HE must be the SON of the Baron who...as we all know....had a mistress in the village. She disappeared shortly after they met. Remember?"

This film has none of that. It tells it's story and lets you figure things out. And, it gives you everything you need to do so.

As I said, the film is shot beautifully. The black and white is perfect for the subject matter. It plays off like a modern day Bergman film - moody and dark and full of things lurking in the corners. There's a richness to the visuals that I found to be very pleasing. The cinematography was stunning.

The film is a foreign language film...unless you're from Portugal, of course. However, the film isn't heavy on dialogue, so those who fear subtitles need not be too scared. It's a drama with horrific moments that hits every point it makes an effort to hit. The acting is fantastic and all the characters seem real and well rounded.

The film stars Daniela Love, Jorge Mota, Mafalda Banquart, Ligia Roque and Lilia Lopes. It is produced by Ana Almeida with production companies Anexo 82, Studio 2203, Creatura and Agenta a Norte.

I highly recommend this...I'm going to say it again... "thinking person's horror film". I believe film lovers, horror lovers, and mystery lovers will enjoy this immensely. Well worth a viddy!

Hitting theaters August 3rd, 2018


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Murder Obsession

Ok...this is not one of my favorite giallo films. Not by a long shot. It's ponderous, super slow, all over the place....but the ending is somewhat comical and amusing, so it MAY be worth a watch for some of you true genre fans.

The plot is rather straight forward. A movie star named Michael Stanford goes back to his home with some movie folks and his girlfriend to spend the weekend at the family villa. But, of course things can't just be simple, right? He doesn't want his mother to know about his girlfriend, so he has her pretend to be his assistant. Odd, right? People start dying - that's never good. And...there was something else. OH!  Michael stabbed his Father to death! That's it! :)

Some of the standout items in this fun little romp are the way Michael and his mother interact - cringe inducing for sure. He's talking to his mother and she's nearly falling out of her shirt all the time. :::cringe:::   The beautiful Laura Gemser is mesmerizing. And then there's the other star of the film - Stefano Patrizi's FUCKING MUSTACHE! HOLY COW is it distracting! heheheheh It's like that thing some folks do to look older, but in this case he just ends up looking like a five year old boy with a mustache. heheheheh

The film stumbles and limps along, but does manage to ramp things up to 11 for the thrilling climax. I had to really make an effort to push through this one, starting and stopping it a few times over the course of a month or so. However, it hit a stride at one point and I was able to make it through. And boy was I happy that I did. hehehe. What a nutty flick.

Check it.

Uh....say what?

All the Colors of the Dark (1972 aka Tutti i Colori del Buio)

And we're into another Sergio Martino classic with All the Colors of the Dark starring the :::heavy sigh and swoon:::  wondrous Edwige Fenech. So lovely. Those eyes. :::sigh:::   AHEM! Uh....

A CLASSIC....that's where I was. :)

Edwige plays Jane Harrison who has lost her unborn child after a car accident. She is having SUPER strange nightmares and is really slipping into a state of depression and madness. Her husband pushes her meds on her, but her sister Barbara (the awesome Nieves Navarro) wants her to try some less medicinal ways of dealing with her loss by talking to a Dr. and leaving the pills behind. But, who is the mysterious man (Ivan Rassimov) that is following her around town...and peeking at her? Is her neighbor really trying to be her friend...or is she involved in some other way herself?

We have a lot of Martino goodness in here as well. Handheld, kinetic camera movements and dramatic shots with great lighting make this a great giallo sampling, though it's not one to start with if you're new to the genre. It's pace and sometimes confused storyline may turn off those that are not obsessed with gialli.

This film is wacky for sure, but it has some fun moments. And...you know...I'll stare at Edwige on the screen no matter what she's up to! heheheh.  The film runs off the tracks a few times, but manages to stay on course for a fun and diabolical ending.

Well worth a viddy!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

It Comes At Night

While the film is very well made, well shot, well written, and features some great acting, it's "not what's on the tin".  Everything about the films marketing and media - from the trailer to the poster - is just not what the movie is. As others have said, this is a slow, SLOW burn, post apocalyptic human drama about the lengths people will go to protect their family and just how horrid those lengths may be. Grand, but far from a creepy, "what's in the darkness?" film.

Even with the heads up about the trailer being nothing like what the film turns out to be, I kept waiting for what the IT COMES AT NIGHT title meant. Yeah, nothing in that as well. It was a disappointing distraction.

The film should have been called IT COMES WITH RISKS or IT COMES WITH LOSS. Something that hits the nail more on the head.

All that aside, the film seemed like a 30 minute film crammed into and hour and thirty-three minute runtime. While it was good, it just wasn't worth the ride time.

The film does deliver some creepy visuals and tense situations. It has a cool look to it overall and, like I said earlier, the acting is fantastic.  So, if you go into it with the insight that it's really just a drama with some "don't catch the sickness" undertones, you might just walk away with an enjoyable experience. It's worth checking out for sure. Just don't expect monsters or high energy. If you want that, check out POD instead.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

In The Folds Of The Flesh (1970)

Oh my goodness. Lordy.

This is another fantastic gem of a giallo. Another OLD DARK HOUSE like situation here with a family up to no good. Twists and turns after twists and turns.

I have to admit, I was confused - happily - through most of the film. Long and the short is there is a family with a secret. A dark and sad secret. It looks like the Father was a bit handsy with the daughter, so the daughter killed him. Mom goes and buries him, but....yes, bare with me....and escaped convict sees her bury the body. He's caught, but keeps the place in mind for future endeavors.

Everything slips into normalcy and 13 years go by. But, something isn't right with the daughter, Mom seems a bit off as well, and old brother seems to keep forgetting sister is sister and not girlfriend.

It all keeps getting more and more insane as we have the return of the escaped convict from the beginning,  wild police goings on, murders all over the place, and twist after twist as we watch things play out.

I had a fantastic time with this madness. The screenplay by the films director Sergio Bergonzelli is all over the place crazy and I love the idea supplied by Mario Caiano and Fabio De Agostini. If you are fond of madness and mystery with a bit of the holocaust slipped in for good measure, you'll want to check out this wild ride.

Check it!

The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave

Ok, I'm warning you folks in advance here - there will be spoilers in this review. I have to. This movie is nuts.

I thought, "Wow...written by Fabio "The Red Queen Kills Seven Time" Pittorru and Massimo "Strip Nude For Your Killer" Felisatti?!  And Directed by Massimo as well?! This has to be gold! No wonder people talk about it all the time!"

In with the spoilers.

Yeah...I can see why they talk about it all the time. It's bonkers, that's why. Our lead Alan (Anthony Steffen) straight up kills women. He's messed up about his beloved Evelyn, so he kills women. Several women. His friend George tries to get him to settle down and get remarried. Alan eventually finds Gladys and gets married...after knowing her for 24 hours or so. And, like that, he's all better. For the most part. He doesn't kill Gladys. All is well.

Little does Alan know that there's a plot against him. Gladys and George and...evil redhead...are out to get Alan committed or killed.  Gladys dresses up like Evelyn, Alan goes bonkers, and all is well! HURRAY! The bad guy is out of the picture and people screwed him over...the MURDERER...and took his money!

BUT...that's not all. George is also and asshole. He poisons Gladys. Gladys and Evil Red go toe to toe as Gladys is dying and Gladys stabs Evil Red and kills her before dying herself. George tries to make his escape, but is stopped by Alan's shrink and...Alan himself! Alan and George fight, Alan wins, and the cops take George away. What a twist!

BUT FUCKING WAIT!  ALAN still KILLED several fucking people and he walks away without a scratch! heheheheh . I was screaming at the screen while watching the conclusion.

"So...dude killed all those women, but gets away with it and is a hero now?!"   I couldn't believe it! heheheheh

The film is a pacing nightmare. It's like watching two films - one about a crazy, Marquis de Sade like fiend, and another about an odd murder plot. It's super slow and tedious at times. The odd 70s world of Italian sleaze is hard to fathom.  Another club where women strip and men and woman watch like it's some sort of floor show. I've seen this in several films of the era.

The script is also a mess, jumping around like a drunk monkey.

The direction seems like an afterthought. Definitely not like Miaglia's work on THE RED QUEEN KILLS SEVEN TIMES, but maybe he was working up to that piece seeing that it was his last Director outing.

But, all of that aside, the film is a fun watch and the big ending is a ton of fun. If you can make it through all the madness...like the maids all being dressed alike with blonde afros...then I think you'll have as much fun with this one as I did!

Check it.