Friday, May 30, 2008
Mad Mad Mad Mad Movies continues to add titles to my ever-expanding movie wishlist with this review of the intriguing-sounding Tower of Evil. Psychedelic orgies for the win!
The Drunken Severed Head has a wonderful chat with David Patrick Kelly, actor in such classics as The Warriors and Commando (everybody loves those movies--all the cool kids do, anyway).
Arbogast takes on the film adaptation of Steven King's The Mist.
The Groovy Age of Horror shares a birthday gift of fumetti erotici (thank you, Jaako, for your bounty of smutty goodness).
Kindertrauma continues to make me giggle with their series of Faux-sters for sequels that could have been.
Shudder at the ghastly horror of pre-code horror comics in The Ghoul's Revenge at the Horrors of It All (or, really, just read the whole damn blog--it's divine, I assure thee).
Frankensteinia reveals why May 26th just might be the coolest day of the year with this wonderful tribute to horror legends Vincent Price and Christopher Lee.
The Vault of Horror continues its investigation of the development of the modern zombie movie in this fascinating third installment.
Zombos Closet of Horrors rounds out this week's offerings with this poignant memorial to the Coney Island of yesteryear.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
- The Goblin soundtrack was the STAR of "Heroin Busters." Seriously, that soundtrack is so good you can listen to it sans-movie. Very funky, atmospheric, seventies-hip stuff.
- Good performances throughout, including David Hemmings' turn as a narcotics inspector, as well as gritty action sequences, well-edited with fairly engaging tension.
- Plenty of psychedelic costume choices and unintentionally hilarious portrayals of the Counterculture Menace.
But... in spite of this goodness, I am not inspired by this movie in the same way that I am by other Castellari offerings. Enzo G. Castellari is really a master of Italian action movies, and I'm deeply concerned about the announcement that Quentin Tarantino is remaking "The Inglorious Bastards" because I know that movie won't capture the splendid, low-budget weirdness that Castellari injects into his work (also, without Fred Williamson's swagger, I question whether the story will work *at all*). With this news in mind and upon watching "Heroin Busters," I found myself craving another Castellari film--a favorite of mine in the tradition that surpasses "so bad it's good" genre stuff and rockets right into the stratosphere of the Fantastique. That movie, internet, is "The New Barbarians."
I touched on the amazing fashion statements of "The New Barbarians" last week, but I feel compelled to devote a post to this movie, which is simultaneously a "Road Warrior" rip-off, and yet so much more. Rather than offering a traditional write-up, I'll explain why I enjoy watching "New Barbarians" more than "Road Warrior" (I know, I know--I never claimed to be an arbiter of good taste).
1. Fred "the Black William Shatner" Williamson. I know, I used this picture in two posts. But it's just that good. In the post-nuke future, Fred Williamson has zero cigars--that's the kind of dedication he brings to his portrayal of Nadir, the world's cockiest sidekick, in this film. What he lacks in cigars, he makes up for in gold-plated armor and leather chaps. No human on earth has the on-screen arrogance of Fred Williamson, and his delivery of dialogue would make "Dramatic Pause" Shatner blush. How much Fred Williamson was there in "Road Warrior?" None, meine Freunde. More's the pity.
2. Related to 1--every character has an abnormal amount of macho swagger. I can only postulate that something about the atomic bomb contributed to this. Above is the hero of this fine story, Scorpion. I don't think his parents gave him that name, but after the collapse of civilization, you're kind of free to make up whatever name you want, and if you're full to the brim with bravado, then you call yourself something like "Scorpion." Then you get to DARE people to mock you by driving a completely bad-ass hot rod with a skull hood ornament. I'm pretty sure that Fred Williamson was cast in this movie merely to balance Scorpion's incredible gasconade.
3. This chick. She's totally hott, and wears skintight purple leather chaps. You'd just have to be as smooth as Scorpion to make time with her.
4. Everything in this movie explodes. No--seriously; everything. From moment one, where an awesome model city falls prey to tiny explosions, to the final firey showdown, everything explodes. Even people. Nadir's crossbow shoots exploding arrows. Crazily-retrofitted dune buggies run into walls and burst into flames. All these explosions convince me that the overarching message of this movie is FUCK SUBTELTY. Now that is a message I can endorse!
5. Weird villains. You thought Lord Humongous, with his tiny leatherman outfit and gimpy hockey mask, was a little homoerotic? Well, what if a bunch of rogue hairdressers banded together, called themselves the Templars, and enforced their policy of non-reproduction with flamethrowers and sodomy? Oh yes, you read that correctly--these guys want to ensure the end of the world by preventing people from breeding future generations of offspring, and are willing to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to make their bleak vision a reality. Even if that means buttraping the protagonist, which they do in one of the more jaw-dropping scenes in action-movie history.
"The New Barbarians" is the kind of movie that makes me regret I have but two thumbs up to give. Maybe I need to adopt Mad Mad Mad Mad Movies' Alonzo the Armless Scale in future posts?
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
1. Accessories - if you feel like you're wearing too many, add another. Just look at Coffin Joe--he could have stopped at the top hat and cape, nodding to that earlier icon of evil style, Count Dracula. Instead, CJ makes this statement his own, adding facial hair (well-groomed--take note!) and long, curving Mandarin fingernails. Is this evocation of Fu Manchu an example of cultural appropriation? Nay--I say this is the sign of a worldly fellow who is not willing to accept ethnic stereotypes. Our wicked Brazillian undertaker goes a step further, accessorizing even in his choice of companion--a disfigured hunchback--creating a truly multi-textured style narrative.
2. Leather is always the right choice. Don't be limited by colors. Sure, chicks dig the bad boy image of black leather, and its has a classic, seasonless appeal cannot be denied. A light-colored leather is perfect for camoflauge, as Diabolik shows us above, and this fresh hue blends seamlessly with Spring's whimsical color palette.
3. Pair a fabulous hairstyle with a say-something codpiece. In "The New Barbarians," men are challenged by more than just surviving after the nuclear apocalypse--they need to come up with a garment statement that balances personal expression with all-important Junk Protection. Fred Williamson had no problem kicking it to the ladies, even though his character was burdened with the unfortunate name "Nadir." Why, you may ask? Clearly his apparel played an important role--Nadir was at the Apex of post-nuke style, with his gold-plated codpiece and sporty headband. Not to be outdone, the marauding Templars sported outfits that coordinated without playing "matchey matchey." Uniforms don't have to be uniform--think outside the box! Lest we move on to quickly, let's not underplay the impact of a sleek half-ponytail or a butch purple mowhawk. Not ready for such a display of follicular flash? Consider some brushed-in highlights, sported so chicly in this film by George Eastman. He's come miles since "Anthropophagus," hasn't he?
4. Forget smiles--let a smirk be your umbrella. Trust me on this one. She looks like she's all upset, but Satan has clearly won her over with his charms, possibly aided by his flashy cape (see rule 1 above).
5. Don't be afraid of cosmetics; just make sure you're the guy with the baseball bat. That's why the mime gang didn't get much screen time in "The Warriors"--going half way never works.
6. Pick the right pair of jeans. Related to Rule 5, if you pick the wrong pair of jeans, carry a machine gun. This means you no longer have to fear ironing a crease in the front of your bell-bottoms or sporting a crotch-crushing eighteen-inch rise. Set your inner Urkel free as long as you've got the right firepower. Which brings us to Rule 7...
7. The "What Would Helmut Berger Do?" [WWHBD?] Rule. This is related to the Berger Corollary (see footnote here) and, frankly, may not apply to a wider demographic. Still, you could potentially tap into a little bit of that hott Teutonic mojo with a zebra car coat of your own. Try it--what do you have to lose?
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
There Will Be Blood Libel
My first reaction upon seeing photos of the cast of the 2008 remake of LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT was "Funny, they don't look Jewish."
I consider Wes Craven's LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972) to be one of the great unintentional blood libels of the latter half of the 20th Century. I don't think for a minute that Craven is anti-Semitic but rather that he, like all of us, carries with him learned associations that exist apart from his conscious mind. Just as David Lynch has in the past identified a sense of evil in effeminacy (BLUE VELVET) and ethnicity (WILD AT HEART), Wes Craven particularizes in LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT his perception of pure evil with a distinctly Hebraic flavor. Though none of the characters identify themselves explicitly as being Jewish, David Hess' Krug is depicted as an obnoxious cigar-smoking "Jew Yorker" whose perpetual stubble, curly hair, olive-colored skin and outer borough accent code him as an obvious Heeb. Add to that, Krug has been convicted for the killing of a Catholic priest and two nuns.
Cast in the role of Krug's accomplice, Weasel Podowski, Fred J. Lincoln wears the
slate-colored hair and slack suit of a Lower East Side alter cocker while both Jeramie Rain (as Sadie, a common Jewish name that also brings to mind Manson killer Susan Atkins, aka Sadie Mae Glutz) and Marc Sheffler (as Krug's schlemiel of a son, Junior) have "difficult" ethnic hair. Weasel's rap sheet identifies him as a child molester, which fits the historical blood libel that slandered Jews as sacrificers of children. The quartet is shown to be "animal-like," to inhabit a dirty tenement (a dwelling associated with foreigners) and, while transporting their kidnap victims from the city to the country, Krug and Sadie engage in rear-entry sex (coitus more ferarum, or "sex by way of the beasts"), a form of copulation frequently associated (however unfairly) with non-Christians.
The transition of the kidnappers/killers from the city to the country is a key element of LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, illustrating an old white Anglo-Saxon fear of the contamination of suburbia's assumed purity by ethnic types (as Fairfield County, the film's location and setting, became a destination for upwardly mobile urban Jews post-World War II). The waspy surname of one of the victims and her parents, Collingwood, is eerily similar to Sadie's imaged alias (Agatha Greenwood), suggesting that Krug & Company aspire in some part to assimilate even while they shred the very fabric of Christian society.
In the film's most disturbing sequence, Krug, Weasel and Sadie
kill their captives after stripping them and humiliating them sexually.
When Phyllis tries to escape, she is run to ground, stabbed and then butchered in a scene that can't help but evoke shechita, or Jewish ritual slaughter. Phyllis' intestines are pulled out of her oozing abdominal cavity and examined, as a shochet would do to determine if a slaughtered animal were fit to be declared kosher. Obviously, Phyllis' disemboweling is not genuinely kosher but does suggest that Krug & Co. are operating on auto pilot, as if by collective cultural memory, in the same way that their earlier torment of Phyllis and Mari echoed the treatment of Jews bound for concentration camps. The kidnappers seem to be maltreating their captives as a form of confused racial self-hatred, channeling ritualistic acts that both glorify and slander their ancestors.
Having killed Phylllis, Krug rapes Mari... but not before he uses a switchblade to carve his name into her sternum. This gesture reminded me of Rabbi Lowe scratching the word "EMET" into the forehead of The Golem. (With his helmet hair, Krug even resembles Paul Wegener's iconic 1920 interpretation of THE GOLEM.) As EMET is the Hebrew word for "truth," Krug's mutilation of Mari might be said to be his way of sending a wake-up call to WASP society, announcing both his arrival and his intention to destroy their four-square, missionary position world. (In this regard, Krug also bears a resemblance to the character of Berger from the musical HAIR, who comes to his position of iconoclastic hippie king from a distinctly urban Jewish environment.) And can it be mere coincidence that Krug comes to his decision to shoot Mari after having overheard her reciting the Lord's Prayer, as she wades into a woodland pond in a cleansing act of self baptism?
At this point it's worth remembering that LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT is a remake of sorts of Ingmar Bergman's THE VIRGIN SPRING (1960), a Medieval morality tale set at a time when Christianity was waging war against Paganism for world and spiritual dominance. LAST HOUSE hews closely to the VIRGIN SPRING template by having its spree killers (who pose as salesmen, and in so doing aligning themselves with Jews via the merchant class) taken in by Mari's parents, who feed them in a scene that mimics da Vinci's The Last Supper (while leaving an empty chair in the foreground - for Elijah?). Over the course of the evening, the truth comes out and Mari's parents turn on her killers. While the ensuing slaughter is strong stuff, the third act's oddest/most brutal bit of business is Mrs. Collingwood's oral castration of Weasel in a scene that seems to mock the Jewish rite of circumcision (thus explaining the chair left empty for Elijah). It should also be noted that she performs this act after first using Weasel's leather belt to bind his hands in what could be construed as an allusion to the philactery, the calfskin box containing Hebraic scripture that some Jews wear strapped to their heads and wrapped around their left arms during weekday prayers.
Again, I hasten to add that I don't believe ex-Baptist Wes Craven set out to slander the Jews with LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT but the Jewishness of the killers he created cannot be ignored. My feeling is that Craven was writing/casting/directing instinctively from a series of societal and cultural presets and prejudices. Certainly, living and working (first as a taxi driver and then as a young filmmaker) in New York, Craven would have had plenty of negative experiences with people of all ethnic persuasions. I half suspect Krug was modeled on a particularly noxious distributor who blew fetid cigar smoke in Craven's face while cheating him out of profits. However it all came together, these textures (real or imagined) give the original LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT intriguing layers of meaning. You won't find this kind of subtext in a New Millennium remake claiming to pay homage to 70s cinema while pissing all over a glorious, difficult and demanding decade that was never afraid to get blood on its hands.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
The Virgin of Nuremberg is a particularly vexing film, in that it is a Technicolor reminder of the fact that I don't live in a castle with a gruesome past that I get to explore via candlelight, dressed in my finest Hammer Films robe, menaced by mysterious Germans and--
Wait--this review got off on entirely the wrong foot. Allow me to compose myself.
When I was a kid, my favorite dessert was the wizard sundae at Friendly's, composed of a scoop of vanilla ice cream arranged in a dish with candies for eyes and an upended ice cream cone for a hat. The best part of the sundae came at the very end, when the ice cream and cone had been thoroughly enjoyed and there was that delightful little pile of Reese's Pieces floating in a tiny pond of melted sugary deliciousness. I've had better quality treats since then, as well as many more sophisticated desserts, but there's an undeniable pleasure in the simple and familiar delights of that wizard sundae. The Virgin of Nuremberg is the cinematic equivalent of the wizard sundae, with a cone and ice cream scoop composed of Gothic horror cliches and a surprise treat of Nazi mad science standing in for the Reese's Pieces candies.
The film is a veritable checklist of Gothic tropes, opening as it does with a nightrobed beauty roaming the halls of a darkened castle during a thunderstorm. The beauty in question is Mary Hunter (Rossana Podestà), wife of Max Hunter (Georges Rivière), the son of a Nazi general and descendant of the Punisher, a beastly figure who struck terror into the women of the region during the seventeenth century by torturing and killing ladies of loose morals. With a pedigree like that, what woman wouldn't fall under the spell of Max Hunter? In the opening sequence, Mary stumbles upon a fresh body in the Virgin of Nuremberg that sits in the castle's museum, an iron-maiden-like device that kills by thrusting spikes into the eyes of its victims. Mary spends the first half of the film trying to figure out what, exactly, happened that fateful night while her husband and the servants in the castle try to shield her from the gruesome goings-on. It becomes clear that the Punisher has returned after a centuries-long hiatus and, in even if you're not privy to the copious spoiler-age in the promotional materials for this movie, it'll be darn clear to you who's behind the murders even if poor Mary isn't hip to the haps till about five minutes from the end of the film. The plot isn't about creating mystery, it's about how these creakily-obvious things are revealed to the audience. I find it impossible to hate any movie that crams so many elements of the genre into a single movie (including RAT TORTURE!), and then rewards me by adding in a spectacularly preposterous Nazi subplot. That's positively a Valentine in my world.
Director Antonio Margheriti is not a nuanced craftsman nor a brazen auteur--he's a solid horror director given to what I'll politely call Flights Of Fancy regarding the level of his involvement in the Paul Morrissey Dracula and Frankenstein films. Virgin is an excellent example of Margheriti's work--an unsubtle film that demands to be loved for its unsubtelties rather than in spite of them. Riz Ortolani's score is jazzy and overwrought, but is right in time with the pacing of the film. Everything in this movie--everything--is announced with portentous music, either a trumpet blare or a piano trill, to the point where I tuned most of the music out about three-quarters of the way through the movie. It's the cinematic equivalent of typing in capital letters, but this was somehow wonderful within the context of this kind of film. The dialogue is stilted and at times downright silly--no human being in the year nineteen sixty three announced himself by saying "it is I," and when Max introduces Christopher Lee's disfigured butler character Erich as "the very best person in the whole world," I almost did a coffee spittake. However, if the dialogue was handled in a naturalistic manner, it would've spoiled the overall effect of the movie as a joyously absurd and, ultimately, very fun Gothic chiller.
Enjoy a gallery of film stills from The Virgin of Nuremberg on Flickr.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
I pay tribute to these friends by drawing tiny art cards (they're 2.5" x 3.5") as a trade for their services to the Tenebrous Empire. I was so tickled by the way this one came out that I'm sharing it with you, internet.
This is also a shameless ploy to get more people to send me more movies and cookies. So's you know--the going rate for Mr. Berger here was several hours' worth of garage-rock MP3s and a half-dozen Unmentionable DVDs.
ADDENDUM: This seemed like a fair enough place to post this, seeing as how we're on the topic of beautiful men. Someone please tell me that it's not true that John Philip Law has passed away. Not Diabolik--say it ain't so, internet!
ADDENDUM II: Sadly, this news is accurate. Mr. Law died on May 13th. Kim at Cinebeats posted this wonderful tribute to John Philip Law, one of the suavest gents to grace the screen with his presence. I couldn't do the topic any more justice than she's already done--it's a lovely tribute.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
There have been movies that could reasonably be dubbed "torture porn" for decades now, encompassing such works as the "Faces of Death" series, episodes in the "Guinea Pig" series and, arguably, much of the Italian cannibal cycle. I think what has people all aflutter is the fact that the recent American movies in this subgenre have been such money-making machines. Whispered-about movies swapped on grainy VHS are one thing, but these newer movies are the cinematic equivalent of the "Not In My Backyard" conversation. REAL people--real TEENS, even!--are watching these movies and now, apparently this is A Big Issue.
For me, the torture porn conversation is not one of the morality of the viewing audience and their shortcomings as human beings. It's a conversation about lazy film-making and piling on scenes of gore while letting style languish (perhaps even substituting copious gore FOR style). Much like a comedian should never go for the very first punchline he creates (writers of "Robot Chicken" and "Family Guy," take note), a horror director shouldn't stop short at "gross." This genre is about more than the Ick Factor. The reasons I disliked "Hostel" had nothing to do with the slicing of tendons, the gouging of eyeballs or the relative length and intimacy of the violent sequences--my reasons had everything to do with lackluster acting, a rotten script, and the retread of ground that was heavily traversed and not-so-fresh by the late 1970s. I hated "Hostel" so much that I'm adamantly skipping the sequel in spite of some cute stunt-casting with Edwige Fenech. Moving on to the "Saw" movies--I managed to lock myself out of my apartment in a post-surgical haze while the second half of "Saw II" played on my television. I see this as being the hand of a benevolent deity intervening on my behalf to shield me from more poorly-acted, implausible, Rube Goldberg murder scenes. The "Saw" movies are like a gore-soaked session of Mousetrap, without any of the intellectual stimulation of the board game.
Worse yet, these movies are utterly humorless. Scenarios that could be salvaged with a smirk or with some element of unreality (not to be confused with implausibility) are played with a deadpan that sucks all joy right out of the room. Cary Elwes' severed leg is SERIOUS BUSINESS. Hell, even a cool-looking jaw-trap murder-thing is SERIOUS BUSINESS, when it ought to give an opportunity for showing psychedelic madness on screen. All this seriousness might be an attempt at enhancing the audience's connection with what's happening in the film, but it seems to me to be the easy way to handle material like this, providing an "out" if questioned about the glamorization of movie violence. The movies are in bad taste, but not in fabulously bad taste--they never achieve the jaw-dropping high camp of the "Ilsa" films and there's never an interjection of weird comedy as in "Last House on the Left." This is even before addressing the fact that no one in these movies comes close to the screen presence of a Dyanne Thorne or a David Hess.
From where I sit, the main threat of torture porn seems to be that it can lead to me getting locked out of my apartment, or throwing loud hissy fits post-"Hostel." For the betterment of my personal universe, I'm staging a personal boycott of torture porn. There's just too much interesting splatter out there for me to trouble myself with.
Thank you to the League of Tana Tea Drinkers for nominating me for membership. Check out the League website for some of the best horror blogs on the web. I'm honored to be listed among such luminaries!
Sunday, May 11, 2008
1) Pick up the nearest book.
2) Open to page 123.
3) Locate the fifth sentence.
4) Post the next three sentences on your blog and in so doing...
5) Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged me.
I just finished reading "The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde* and it was sitting on my nightstand, so we'll play with that.
Was the face on that canvas viler than before? It seemed to him that it was unchanged; and yet his loathing of it was intensified. Gold hair, blue eyes, and rose-red lips--they all were there.
Well. If that was the excerpt on the book-back, Wilde wouldn't sell a solitary copy of this thing. Vain guy ponders own portrait--FILM AT ELEVEN. It's a good thing that there was no internet in Wilde's day. In addition to being undone by memeage, he'd probably get distracted by the profusion of hairless, nubile young men willing to post pictures of their naughtiest of bits for a paltry monthly membership fee.
Curiously, in reading "Dorian Gray" for the first time (yes, I know, I know), I realize that the film adaptation I just watched is actually *less gay* than the novel. Yes, the fabulous Mr. Berger actually butches up the role considerably. Notably, he also trades a lot fewer bitchy quips with any characters so... you win some, you lose some, and so it goes with film adaptations of novels.
Now I tap the scepter of pass-along on to:
Rogue Spy 007
The Mysterious P8
*Yes I am a rules-fudger and waited till I was in my apartment to Play Along. Trust me, people, this is much better than whatever book on executive cheese-moving was sitting near the office I occupy at work.
Friday, May 9, 2008
Yesterday evening was an exciting night at the Apartment of Erotic Horror--I had the teevee all to myself and seized the opportunity to watch the copy of The Machine Girl that I bought at Chiller Theatre Con. In retrospect, I think my movie-watching experience would probably have been enhanced with group participation (to make no mention of the addition of booze--booze would have helped enormously). This movie was... problematic.
The movie tells the story of schoolgirl Ami, whose brother is killed by a teenaged gang of thugs led by the son of a sadistic yakuza family. Hell-bent on revenge, Ami joins forces with a mother who has lost her son to the bullies and embarks on a kill-crazed mission to massacre the criminals.
Much the way that Don't Answer the Phone is a retarded cousin to Manhunter, The Machine Girl is a developmentally challenged relative of Takashi Miike's ultraviolent yakuza epic Ichi the Killer. Similar themes of revenge and the inevitability of violence are explored with the application of similarly grotesque portrayals of violence. Machine Girl is not a very smart or introspective movie, though, and it falters at being a funny movie most of the time as well. Ridiculousness without ample humor just isn't a recipe for success.
From the get-go, it's clear that the movie exists as a framework on which to hang various scenes of outrageous violence. Within the first five minutes, there are limbs hacked off, decapitations and copious arterial spray as Ami mows down a group of high school bullies. The remainder of the film is told in flashback, showing how she came to be the titular Machine Girl. Character development is iffy, showing our heroine ping-ponging between gentle sweetness and moments of preternatural toughness. We take it on the story's honor that Ami is made of the kind of stern stuff that would lead a young woman to hammer nails into the face of an enemy or use a corpse's blood-spurting neck-stump to douse an opponent in grue.
The portrayal of this kind of violence varies throughout the film and it's hard to pin down whether the makers were aiming for Hostel-type torture porn or crazy adult cartoon action. Ami's showdown with the Super Mourner Gang, a cadre of parents of the gang members she's murdered, is very fine--almost balletic--Grand Guignol involving miniguns, a chainsaw, and a flying guillotine. On the other hand, the scene where Ami loses her arm when being punished by the yakuza family is vicious, highly personalized and a little uncomfortable to watch, as is Ami's encounter with the drill bra. The "Fun Factor" would have been easy to enhance through toning down the one-on-one torture, but the final effect is not the "I'm laughing so hard I'm puking" reaction one gets from Peter Jackson's gore comedies--there's a sense of real cruelty and sadism about the proceedings that puts a significant damper on the entire affair.
In reviewing the IMDB page for this movie, it looks like this is really a party movie--I imagine that being distracted from the "vicious factor" by friends (and the aforementioned booze) would've improved the experience a lot. There's plenty to recommend the movie--I don't want to give the impression that it's entirely a downer. My major complaint is that I can see what the movie *could have been*--it's right on the cusp of trash-cinema wonderfulness--it just never realizes this potential.
Click here for a gallery of film stills from The Machine Girl.
Addendum: For those of you who are looking to watch this film for yourselves, be advised that the English dubbed track on the new Media Blasters Tokyo Shock-imprint DVD is... notgood. There are English subs available over the original Japanese and this is your best viewing option.
Above: Udo Kier as Count Dracula in Blood for Dracula
Now, I know what you are thinking--"Kate, you can't save Count Dracula! He's the villain." Au contraire, internet--in Paul Morrissey's 1974 Blood for Dracula, he's done in by a thuggish, raping Communist. As the new Indiana Jones picture has taught us, Commies are the new Nazis, and Nazis are the ultimate screen villains. Simple cinema mathematics, yes?
The Dracula of BfD is absolutely swoon-worthy--a perfect example of the Three F's:
There would be four Fs, but "Effete"only sounds like it starts with an F. [And there is still only one T in "writing," in spite of what these people think]
Nobody's perfect, and his inability to stomach sub-par, non-"wirgin" blood just puts him nearer to my black little heart. We're kindred souls, really, with our Special Needs--I break out into hives at the very thought of wearing drugstore perfume, for example. While some have said that the Count was too feeble and diminished to live, I prefer to think that he was just overly discriminating, a true perfectionist in an imperfect world. I have OCD--I can relate to this.
We could trade makeup tips and go shopping for outrageous outfits together (I need to know where the hair-trimmed coat can be purchased--NEED TO KNOW). My professional background as a corporate admin would make me a really outstanding Renfield-analog, and I'd be worlds more effective at protecting Dracula from his eventual dismemberment and staking than the eldest daughter in the film.
Poor Dracula--he was simply too fabulous for our world. He could even make rolling around in a wheelchair look chic.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
"Perversion Story" tracks the twisty personal life of Dr. George Dumurrier (Jean Sorel, whose character name evokes the author of that other famed work of Wicked Spouse fiction, "Rebecca") after his wife's death due to a lingering illness. Far from being the devoted husband, Dr. Dumurrier carries on a torrid affair with bohemian fashion photographer Jane (Elsa Martinelli) during his wife's final days. A sometimes overly-convoluted plot brings Dumurrier into contact with "strip tease artist" Monica Weston, who bears a remarkable resemblance to his late wife--most likely because she's also played by Marisa Mell in a blonde wig. Things take a hard left when Dumurrier unexpectedly becomes the beneficiary of a large sum of insurance money resulting from his wife's demise, bringing him under suspicion from the authorities.
While all acting parties put in good performances throughout, the real star of the movie is the visual presentation. This is a stunner, folks, from the San Francisco cityscapes to the ultra-stylish mod fashions to the bravura cinematography. It's clear that this movie had a significant budget, with scenes taking place across the United States and Europe, including on-location shots within San Quentin Prison. Mell's and Martinelli's characters are kitted out in some outrageous outfits, none moreso than Monica Weston's motorcycle striptease gear that includes thigh-high leopard-print boots and a matching jacket.
The cinematography was surprisingly energetic, including really creative point-of-view shots (such as scenes shot as if within the medicine cabinet in Dr. Dumurrier's home) and wonderful use of forced depth-of-field. When Dumurrier arrives at his home to discover his wife dead on her bed, there's a fantastic shot of her corpse reflected in the mirror while his emotions play across the doctor's face. Other scenes are shot through clear platforms in a move similar to Metzger's "Camille 2000" [reviewed here on March 31, 2008]. Two montages are shot in a split-screen style that evokes Richard Fleischer's 1968 docu-drama "The Boston Strangler"--a daring move that goes a long way to creating drama and interest.
All told, this movie was an unexpected treat! Although seekers of real "perviness" might want to look elsewhere, there's a whole lot to recommend Fulci's "Perversion Story."
View the set of film stills from "Perversion Story" on my Flickr account.
*Much like the More Berger = More Better corollary, More Mell = More Better, thus mathematically proving that "Beast with a Gun" [reviewed here February 15, 2008] is one of the hottest movies EVER.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Allow me to summarize the event for you in bulleted format:
- It was uniquely smelly even for Chiller Con, since the buffet was set up in a hallway right across from the "Celebrity Petting Zoo." The celeb area was in maybe the worst location ever--the hotel had just moved the sofas out of the waiting room and plunked a bunch of folding tables into the depression there.
- There was some sort of suspiciously motorcycle-less biker gang whose Device included crossed axes and Satanic symbols. Two folks separately commented that they must be related to the subterranean urban gang from the Sly Stallone epic "Cobra."
- Vendors were the usual assortment, though fewer in number than I recall from Chillers past. I picked up a handful of DVDs, including "Machine Girl" from Media Blasters. They claimed it was a Con Exclusive, which... probably means you can purchase it at Best Buy tomorrow.
- A pal remarked that there were fewer model kits available, which is a shame for those who are into that hobby.
For the curious--no, I did not wait on the epic line to see Steven and Daniel Baldwin, or Mickey Dolenz, or Ernest Borgnine in the Celebrity Petting Zoo. I just assume they were there, and I can just hope that they made enough money so they'll each be able to drink away the trauma of the weekend.
Here is your Carrot for having read through my bitching. The "Machine Girl" trailer [hella-NSFW]:
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Let's face it--what we all *really* want to know is who's filling Martin Kove's shoes as the bumbling, comedic deputy. I'm on the edge of my seat. Believe that, meine Freunde.