Friday, February 25, 2011
Hello! Well, I finally decided to start selling stuff on eBay again. I realized that I needed to do two things: 1) I need to make space in my domicile and 2) I want to raise money for a little horror movie I want to shoot in November. So HERE IT IS, my little store. If any of you buy anything from now until November, I'll put your name in the credits of my horror movie (which I'll be telling you crazy kids about later) as "Less Than Executive Producers". Most of the stuff in the store will be VHS cult and horror flicks but there might be some DVDs and movie magazines and stuff later. Not sure about all that I'm willing to part with. Stay tuned for updates and stuff.
Franco Friday #5
Hello, sweet peeps. I turn back the clock to check out a film that I've been avoiding for a long time. For some dumb, stupid, and stupid reason, I was avoiding The Awful Dr. Orlof. Maybe it's because I'm awful. Maybe it's because all the mirrors in my house are covered because my stepdad Ed kidnaps women so that he can use their succulent face-flesh to restore my beauty. There's at least a dozen million reasons but they were all bad. Word.
The Awful Dr. Orlof
AKA Gritos en la Noche
Directed by Jess Franco
Starring Howard Vernon, Conrado San Martin, Diana Lorys, Perla Cristal, Maria Silva, Ricardo Valle
The police are baffled as beautiful young women keep disappearing throughout the city. Witnesses claim to have seen a man with freaky eyes carrying a body through the streets while others claim a well-dressed man is wooing these young ladies away into the night. Both of these scenarios are correct! Dr. Orlof (played by Howard Vernon) and his blind assistant Morpho (Ricardo Valle) are capturing their gorgeous victims so that the doctor can restore his daughter’s crunked up face with his experimental skin transplant techniques. Despite a lack of solid leads, Inspector Tanner (Conrado San Martin) refuses to give up.
The inspector’s fiancé, Wanda (played by Diana Lorys), is doing better at cracking the case than he is and of course, no one believes her. Unfortunately, Wanda bears a striking resemblance to Dr. Orlof’s daughter so he puts her at the top of list of victims for his experiments. When she goes undercover as a woman of loose morals, Wanda gets kidnapped by Dr. Orlof. Will her dumbass fiancé- I mean, the great Inspector Tanner- find her before it is too late?
The Awful Dr. Orlof is a fun slice of gothic horror that, despite its status as a Spanish version of Eyes Without a Face, is way ahead of its time. Director Franco shows his skills here by making a film that is beautiful and easy to sit back and just enjoy. There is lots of dark humor and a couple of silly cliffhanger moments that will instantly win over any fan of classic horror. And, because this is Franco, there are even a few surprisingly bold sexy moments that are rather jarring to behold in black and white. The cinematography is stunning and the English dub is a dang riot.
This is where the whole Orlof cycle began, my friends. Franco would return to these characters time and time again throughout his career making several different versions of (and quasi-sequels to) this flick. And it's easy to see why. I'm sure anyone involved in this project would look back with fondness on this landmark in Spanish horror. I won't say The Awful Dr. Orloff is a good starting point for future Francophiles but you could definitely do worse.
Friday, February 18, 2011
Franco Friday #4
Rarely have I been this stupefied, this discombobulated, this gobsmacked, or this totally friggin' destroyed by a movie. I almost just want to post some screenshots and let you decide for yourselves what I just watched is all about. But I figure that since I'm the bloggist around here, I better give this one a shot. Make no mistakes my friends, this may be the weirdest film you will ever see.
The Rites of Frankenstein
AKA The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein, La Maldicion de Frankenstein
Directed by Jess Franco
Starring Alberto Dalbes, Dennis Price, Howard Vernon, Beatriz Savon, Anne Libert, Fernando Bilbao, Britt Nichols
Shortly after he completes his monster, Dr. Frankenstein (played by Dennis Price) is murdered by Melisa (Anne Libert), a blind bird woman with a taste for human blood. The doctor’s daughter Vera (Beatriz Savon) shows up, takes her father’s body from the tomb, and revives his corpse long enough so she can find out who is behind this crime. The Frankenstein monster tries to kidnap a woman for his new master but Vera convinces him to take her instead.
It turns out that the evil magician, Cagliostro (played by Howard Vernon), wants to create a super being by mating the Frankenstein monster with his female counterpart, which he orders Vera to complete. After he hypnotizes and whips the heck out of her, she immediately goes to work on the she-monster. Meanwhile, Doctor Seward (Alberto Dalbes), a former colleague of Dr. Frankenstein, steps in to rescue Vera and stop all this madness.
Holy shit, Rites of Frankenstein is even more insane that I thought it would be. Hell, it’s even better than I thought would be too. So if you like pseudoscience, sacrifices, psychic powers, reanimated dead people, whippings, and other ghoulish delights, you need to see this film, duders. Jess Franco is firing on all cylinders with one crazy scene after another. And by all cylinders, I mean one cylinder is firing furiously and the rest are melting. This thing could explode at any second but the movie is only 85 minutes so disaster is averted. The soundtrack has got it all with everything from fuzzed out synthesizers to free jazz to stuffy library music.
The elephant in the room of course is that this is the clothed version. That’s right folks, this is supposed to be The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein but since I’m not all about the pron, I couldn’t care less. Oddly enough, I think Lina Romay (who plays a character so slight, so poorly realized that you could categorize her role as a cameo (but that might be too generous)) is hotter with clothes on. There was definitely a moment for a prolonged masturbation scene and it jumps to her readjusting her wardrobe. Did I feel cheated? Hell no, I didn’t. I was relieved. Sorry you dang perverts, but I’m just here for the horror and the weirdness.
I love Rites of Frankenstein and you should love it too. This movie needs love. It’s a hilariously childish and morbid horror fantasy with its head screwed on backwards and sideways. Seriously though, how the fuck can a film have striking cinematography and yet be slightly out of focus for nearly all of its running time? There’s even a machine that looks an awful lot like an air conditioner that reanimates the dead and some acid that instantly melts a human head thrown in with all this tomfoolery. Damn it, you need to see this. Did I even mention the silver Frankenstein monster?
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Don't Look in the Attic
AKA La Villa delle Anime Maledette
Directed by Carlo Ausino
Starring Beba Loncar, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Annarita Grapputo, George Ardisson
Once upon a time, there was an accursed house where the people living there killed each other. Many years later, the descendants of these ugly motherfuckers are called together by a lawyer to go over their inheritance of the estate. Elisa (played by Annarita Grapputo) and her cousins, Douche and Doucher, have never met before but they must share the responsibilities of restoring the family house or else they lose the money that comes with it. There's a creepy groundskeeper and of course, the stupid curse on the place. Almost immediately, strange things begin happening at the accursed house and the events of the past start to like totally happen again. It is all very ironic and stuff.
When you scrape the bottom of the Italian horror barrel, you're going to get two things: shitty movies and splinters. Please, dear reader, let me save you the trouble: I strongly recommend you don't watch Don't Look in the Attic. It starts out somewhat interesting and then it takes a shit-dive into Poop Town, population: the viewer. All I can say positively about this film is that it isn't the worst Italian horror film I've seen. There are very brief glimpses of talent in here: a few decent shots, pretty scenery, a mediocre seance scene, a little nudity, and decent lighting (when the scenes aren't so dark you have to guess what the hell is going on). But for every split second of accidental talent onscreen, there are 15 minutes of ugly and bland banalities to compensate.
All of the actors are too ugly to look at (I'm joking) and the characters they portray are so fucking boring you'll die when you watch them (I'm not joking). The score for Don't Look in the Attic is listed as being the responsibility of Stelvio Cipriani. I want to believe this. First of all, most of this tacky score sounds like it was lifted from a cannibal movie. And I swear that during one of the scare sequences, the music is stolen right Fabio Frizzi's score for City of the Living Dead. Soundtrack = fail. Speaking of soundtracks, Don't Look in the Attic has the added bonus of jungle sound effects when people are walking around the grounds of the accursed house. How many howler monkeys are in Turin, Italy? Probably a lot.
Go ahead, poke your eyes out. You'll thank me later.
What's it like being a poor man's Tisa Farrow? Ask this dumbass.
The best shot in the movie. No seriously.
Don't mock me, you fucking turd-face.
Friday, February 11, 2011
Franco Friday #3
Welcome to the third Friday of- VENUS IN FURS WILL BE SMILIN'- Whoa! What was that? Anyway, welcome to- VENUS IN FURS WILL BE SMILIN'- Damn it all, what the shit- VENUS IN FURS WILL BE SMILIN'- Okay, I get it, jeez! Are you done yet? VENUS IN FURS WILL BE SMILIN! Look people, it's the third Friday in the Franco Friday series and I'm here to examine a little film by our man Franco. It's a biography about trumpet maker Maxwell Venus who developed the silicone spit valve and- VENUS IN FURS WILL BE SMILIN'- That's it, I'm outta here. Laters.
Venus in Furs
Directed by Jess Franco
Starring James Darren, Barbara McNair, Maria Rohm, Klaus Kinski, Dennis Price
A man named Jimmy (played by James Darren) rushes out to the beach and digs up his trumpet. No really, that’s how the movies starts. Moments later, the body of a dead woman washes up on the beach. Jimmy knows her but he can’t quite remember how or from where. It all starts to come back to him. Her name was Wanda (Maria Rohm) and we see that she was this happening chick who was killed (maybe accidentally) by a gang of rich sexual deviants (played by Klaus Kinski, Dennis Price, and others) for their pleasure. Before you can say “Hey, nice wig!”, Wanda is back from the grave and is making Jimmy crazy. Jimmy’s girlfriend Rita (Barbara McNair), a nightclub singer, is not too pleased about all this but she’s pretty understanding. Wanda starts hunting down the jerks who brought about her demise and is killing them with her obtuse yet sexy methods.
The moment it begins, you know that Venus in Furs is going to be a lush and sensual feast for the senses. There is something so magical about this film. Its slow motion, dreamy, sexy, and hallucinatory vibe is instantly hypnotic. This film will not let you go until it is done with you. Even the soundtrack is magic. There are several jazz numbers, brassy lounge pieces, and even some slinky freakouts stashed all over the film.
Everyone in this movie is perfect in their role. I really like James Darren in this movie. He plays this totally hopeless schmuck who can’t catch a break. His character is just someone for Wanda to leech off of and yet he’s totally awesome. And speaking of Wanda, Maria Rohm (of The Bloody Judge) is simply amazing as the revenge-seeking undead sexy lady. Let’s not forget good old Klaus Kinski playing a sheik of some sort, what more could you really ever want from a film? From life?
Also on hand to really class things up is Barbara McNair as Rita, a nightclub singer so popular that she can just lie on the floor and sing. No seriously, Rita, you’re too good to stand. Did I say “class things up”? I did and of course, I was talking about veteran actor Dennis Price. His character’s name is Percival Kapp. So awesome. I really appreciated the presence of Adolfo Lastretti from Umberto Lenzi’s Spasmo as the detective hot on Wanda’s cold heels.
Movies as sexy and as fun as Venus in Furs should be illegal but since they’re not (well, they’re not in the good ole US of A anyway), you gotta check this out. It’s got some whipping, some sex, some stock footage, some none too subtle necrophilia, a cheesy theme song (VENUS IN FURS WILL BE SMILIN’), an untrustworthy narrator, and even a car chase. This is how I stopped worrying and learned to love the Franco. Hmm, that was pretty lame, wasn’t it? This film has nothing to with Dr. Strangelove. Why would I even go there? Damn it, I am such a goof. Just watch this frickin’ movie.
“We escaped from the real world into a dream world that I never wanted to end.”
Friday, February 4, 2011
They said it couldn't happen twice. They said that I'm a loser and a wimp. They said I couldn't possibly watch more than one Jess Franco movie without going insanium in the cranium. Who are "they" exactly and why are "they" so opinionated? Yo dawgs, "they" were completely not right. Welcome to the second "Franco Friday" (copyright pending). I hope you guys like torture!
The Bloody Judge
AKA Night of the Blood Monster
Starring Christopher Lee, Maria Schell, Milo Quesada, Hans Hass Jr., Howard Vernon, Pietro Martellanza
Yikes, this plot is pretty complicated. Bear with me, folks.
Some happy go lucky pagans are hassled by the cops and Alicia Gray (played by Margaret Lee) is arrested for consorting (read as “getting it on”) with a man accused of witchcraft. Judge Jeffreys (Christopher Lee) asks for the executioner (Howard Vernon) to test her with some horrible tortures to see if she is a witch herself. Alicia’s sister Mary comes to Judge Jeffreys to beg for his mercy. Since Mary is totally hot, Judge Jeffreys asks for her to give herself to him in order to spare Alicia. She refuses and Alicia is put to death. A blind witch named Mother Rosa (Maria Schell) prophesizes that Mary has some bad shit is coming her way.
Of course, Judge Jeffreys is paranoid, corrupt, and is using his power to stamp out enemies of the king. His spies report that a man named Barnaby (played by Pietro Martellanza) is behind a conspiracy against the king. The Judge finds out that Harry (Hans Hass Jr.), the son of his associate Lord Wessex, is friends with Barnaby and that he has taken up with Mary, the object of his desire. The judge takes Mary away to hide her from Harry. When Lord Wessex’s lackey Satchel (Milo Quesada) tries to rape Mary, she shoves his face into a fireplace. Luckily, Harry shows up and takes her away.
While a bunch of armies are fighting over England, Barnaby is injured and Harry takes him to a hideout. Satchel, who is now deformed and working for Judge Jeffreys, discovers this and has all the rebel women rounded up to be tried and executed. Harry and Mary are arrested and put on trial. Harry is spared thanks to his father’s connections but Mary gets into even more trouble when she tries to murder the judge. What will become of her and will someone finally hold the judge accountable for his actions?
I am astonished by how lavish this production is and I still can’t believe Franco made this. Now I’m not saying that the guy was a bad filmmaker but I definitely didn’t see this one coming. The Bloody Judge is more than capably directed and has excellent sets and scenery. The superb music score comes from the amazing Bruno Nicholai. There is also a thick layer of sleaze that doesn’t surprise me one bit. There’s a particularly pointless scene where Mary is forced to pleasure one of her fellow female tortured souls for the amusement of the guards. Funny, I haven’t seen any men being tortured yet. Why? Because men aren't as sexy as women when they're being tortured. Duh.
This is why British people aren’t allowed to have laws or government anymore. They always abuse their power. That’s why no Americans live in England anymore. Back in the 1850s or whatever, we were all like “no demonic possession without representation”. I find it very inspiring that Jess Franco wasn’t afraid to tell this story of how Judge Jeffreys became the first King of the United States of America. If it wasn’t for all the royalty and stuff, where would we be today?
Okay, enough gibberish. While I wouldn’t call it a favorite or especially life changing, I really enjoyed The Bloody Judge. The film is well written, well acted (Christopher Lee is frickin’ awesome, as usual), and is certainly a well made. It’s fascinating to see just how large of a production that Jess Franco could handle. The torture scenes are painful to behold and are mostly gratuitous. You know when the dubbing of the film suddenly switches to German, you’re gonna see some twisted stuff. Oh yeah.
Here's a phrase I forgot to use in this review: "religious hypocrisy". You like that?