Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Interview with Tom Skulan of Fantaco Enterprises

Tom Skulan 1982 (photo c/o of Roger Green)

Cranky here, No longer mentioning that I skinned the corpse of a certain 60 Minutes celebrity (his undead army of lawyers, shut me up)! TOG sat down with Fantaco CEO Tom Skulan, who was a crucial part in helping distribute Deep Red Magazine and the number one company that I ordered from every xmas in middle school. Their ads were always featured in Fangoria and any horror fanatic owes them a huge debt in fueling their collection, because they carried all the best comics, books and toys.   
Chas and some Italian fellow

1.When did you first meet Chas Balun
My first contact with Chas was through the mail. He sent me a copy of his self published GORE SCORE booklet and wanted to know if we would sell copies for him.
It was so well done and so funny that everyone at FantaCo wanted to list it in our Fangoria ads immediately so that was how things started. Soon I would regularly go out to CA and stay with Chas and Pat at their house and Chas and I would come up with book and magazine ideas together. It was a blast. A fun, creative slice of time that will never be repeated.

A Fulci zombie cover girl model

2. Talk about the impact of Deep Red Magazine on the horror community
Deep Red Magazine came along at the exact right time. Chas' popularity was exploding, the horror market was red hot and as publisher and advertiser we had the large circulation of Fangoria just waiting for something new.
The first 2 issues hit like a bomb. They were picked up by the usual collectors but were also carried by comic book stores and regular bookstores. In addition we had very good International distribution.
I attribute this directly to our ads in Fangoria as well as the extreme creativity of Chas. He was being viewed as the Forry Ackerman for the new crop of horror fans. Not that everyone liked Deep Red....or Chas. Several of the existing fanzines expressed negative reviews on the whole "Chas" phenomenon. More than a few of them would meet the wrath of the man who was a mountain! Either in print or in person! Chas was never ever one to hold back his opinion..
A great man that influenced so many

3.Talk about the early days of Fangoria and your relationship with them.
Our first Fangoria advertisement appeared during the magazine's second year of publication and we then continued to advertise in every issue for over 10 years straight. We were Fangoria's largest advertiser. I created all the ads and dealt directly with Rita Eisenstein. After a few years Rita became a good friend and I also met Norm Jacobs and the various editors of the magazine. I would often go down to their offices in NYC and go out to lunch with Norm and Rita. They were very fun times. In a very real way we grew up with Fangoria and vice-versa. It was an extremely positive relationship for both businesses. I stayed in contact with Rita for many years after we stopped advertising. She passed away a few years ago. She was a wonderful, brave, feisty and creative person and I miss her.

Books With Guts!

4.How did you meet Steve Bissette and please talk about Gore Shriek
I first met Steve when we published the original ALIEN ENCOUNTERS comic book in 1980, edited by Larry Shell. Steve had a story in the issue. It was always apparent to me that Steve was a cut above intellectually. His writing, his research and his sensibility was all completely different than the normal comic book artist.
A Steve Bissette story that gave me nightmares

As for GORE SHRIEK, well that is an entire interview in itself. A while ago Steve compiled a very good overview of the series and I would direct you to him for it. If you would like more specific information please compile some more pointed questions for me. GORE SHRIEK was my "baby". I created it and nurtured it for years. There is a lot to the story of GORE SHRIEK.

Balun drawn cover 

5.Talk about the early 80's horror community as opposed to now?
Oh what a difference between then and now!! WOW!!
Videotapes were just coming into the market and collectors were scrambling to find actual copies of those obscure horror films that they had always read about. $50, 60, 75, 90 and even $100 a tape were not unusual at all.  Fanzines were springing up all over the country. Fangoria was just establishing itslef and Famous Monsters was just going out. Movie stills and posters were hot.
A new crop of horror film books kept collectors begging for more.
Now? One word comes to mind for the younger fans: jaded. Horror fans are used to the highest quality special effects. ANY film from ANY date and ANY country is readily available on DVD.
On the back side, the older, original fans are delighted by the accessibility of the older films and often delight in collecting the schlocky titles right along with the classics.

The Xerox Ferox crew at Fantacon 2013. (Left to Right, Graham Rae, Steve Bissette, Dennis Daniel, John Szpunar and Kris Gilpin).

6. Please talk about Fantacon 2013 and the eagerly awaited debut of John Szpunar's book Xerox Ferox.
FantaCon 2013 happened because fans wanted it. I did it as a tribute to the fans that supported the past conventions and and supported FantaCo. Headpress- the publsher of John's book- was the first company to book space at FantaCon 2013. So the premiere of Xerox Ferox was cast in stone nearly 2 years before the convention happened.
John's book is a true phenomenon. I was in contact with John during the entire process. The sheer amount of work he put into that book cannot be overstated. He easily balanced the work of 10 people and at times was totally overwhelmed but in the end he created something that will last. He's a real trooper.

7. Talk about Tom Savini and his early connection to Fantacon.
Tom's first appearance at FantaCon was over 25 years ago (!!) in conjunction with Imagine. Imagine had published the wildly successful Savini effects book GRANDE ILLUSIONS.

Maniac era Savini with Joe Spinell and Mrs. Zito

In addition FantaCo published a set of GRANDE ILLUSIONS TRADING CARDS with Imagine. Tom came to FantaCon 1988 with Bob Michelucci from Imagine. Tom was a huge hit at the show, doing special make up effect demonstrations on attendees. Those demonstrations are still talked about to this day!!
Tom Skulan, artwork by John Hebert.
Thanks alot Tom and also special thanks to Roger Green for letting me use some of his photos. Green ran Fantaco for a number of years and is now a business librarian. As always thanks to John Szpunar for helping out too.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Cry Of A Prostitute

Cry Of A Prostitute (Quelli che contano) Directed By Andrea Bianchi, starring Henry Silva (1974).
Besides Tomas Millian in The Rat, Cynic and The Fist and Rabid Dogs, we've completely neglected to review any Poliziotteschi (or Italian Police Flicks) at all. So to try and include a few choice chunks of meaty italian Bolognese, I went to one of the most trusted sources on the web, the Video Junkies (Thanks William for the recommendation)! I was told that this might be one of the most brutal and vile films in the subgenre. That's how I came to discover Cry Of A Prostitute, which was directed by none other then the man who made the genius decision to cast dwarf Peter Bark as a perverted pint sized cannibal in Burial Ground. 
   Right after a seaside country jaunt, we are delivered a severed head in a car wreck and a child corpse packed with bags of heroin. Some Mafioso goons show up (who's language in this Youtube presentation goes from Sicilian to dubbed American) and a few beastly looking detectives are out stalking every rat infested corner for Henry Silva (Chained Heat, "Mr. Bull Shit Or Not"). They manage to never return again, the authority is totally useless in this film.

Get me to a hospital!
   Most of the Italian horror heavyweights have a few Westerns and Police flicks under their belt (Deodato, Fulci, Lenzi), but I didn't expect the inept direction of Bianchi to come off so captivating as it does here, keep in mind visually everything is perfect, but the dialogue leaves much to be desired. Piero Regnoli wrote the screenplay for this and one of the most incoherent zombie flicks possibly ever--Nightmare City (let's give him the benefit of the ESL doubt).
Don't laugh at my sweet, high class donkey ride!

   Two peasants out on a mule drawn cart are blown away, as Tony Anianti (Silva) hops aboard and makes deals with different mobsters. He stops off in a wine bar and pummels a few trouble makers that call him "queer". While hanging out with a priest and settling more scores with Dons he finds a sultry blonde, washing herself in a barn. The blonde is married to a bastard named Ricco (Fausto Tozzi) who gets turned on by the thought of his wife, having interracial sex with other men. Margie (Barbara Bouchet) the crying prostitute doesn't really weep as much as suffer every kind of abuse for her extreme lustiness (she's constantly punished, while corrupt mob enforcers rip open children and stuff them with heroin). Bouchet was in Don't Torture A Duckling a few years before this and does a pretty effective job. The society depicted in Cry Of A Prostitute is a dismally abhorrent one.  
   Silva pounces on a thug who tries to blast an innocent kid's head off, he crushes the perpetrators skull and then runs him over with a bulldozer! How's that for subtle?
   Later on, Ricco's wife fellates a banana at the dinner table and wants to trap Tony and piss off her husband, the men trust each other on a slimy business level.

She also uses those super strong lip muscles to set the table
   There's an extremely depraved scene of Ricco's whorish wife, who aims to seduce Tony while a gutted pig hangs. He turns the tables and rapes her as Margie's face becomes smeared with the blood of the carcass. The level of misogyny in this film is off the charts and all of it is directed at the low class blonde. Immediately after, there's an all out blood bath as sawed off shotguns are emptied and heads are caved in by shrapnel.

Do you suffer from severe lock jaw during forced entry?
   The level of sadistic violence in this police flick is high, as the mother of a child takes revenge by using a ban saw to split a killer's head open like a mushy cantaloupe. There's a tense shoot out at the end, a reoccurring surreal dream sequence and as made men are iced, Tony moves up in authority.
Cut it out, you're gonna hurt somebody!

   There's no real police element to step in like Maurizio Merli and toss all these jag offs into the clink, so is it really an Italian Police flick? It's a freewheeling category, where the anti-hero is in charge and like most Neo Realistic Italian films, its nihilistic and no one is safe from corruption.   There is alot of female slapping and male chauvinism (enough to satisfy scumfucks in the same league as Ike Turner). That being said, most women would not enjoy this film, it's hard edged and brutal. I immensely enjoyed it, the dialogue could be alittle stronger and coherent for sure, but what can you expect from the man who penned Demonia and The Bronx Executioner! Check it out to see what professionalism certain schlock meisters are capable of beyond Fulci derivative walking dead shenanigans.  

Thanks, I needed a facelift

I learned my bitch slapping technique from James Brown

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Love Me Deadly

Love Me Deadly (Secrets Of The Death Room) Directed By Jacques Lacerte, starring Mary Charlotte Wilcox (1973).
An Ann Coulter looking scraggly blonde, has an unhealthy compulsion to shack up with withered, smelly, deceased bodies. Her main problem is that she carries an aversion to anyone living who touches her. This is the single credit for director Lacerte, who never worked in film ever again, I wonder if he ever became aware of corpse-fucking-auteur Jorg Buttgereit, who up until this day and age has relished in continued and well deserved success and cinematic accolades. Fornicating with the dead is where the link begins and ends, because Love Me Deadly is missing all the style and depth that Nekromantik has, it is one of the earliest examples of using main characters that are necrophiliacs (or corpse humpers) as a problem among normal society. It's shock value is more subtle in a tame kind of earth tone way.
Is that a car crash? Me so horny!

   I first became aware of it by way of the trailer on Mad Ron's Prevues and it's twisted in a 70's T.V. melodramatic fashion with extraordinary dull characters. Half the of them are full blown satanists, who's hobbies include embalming still living victims and yet it all borders on dreadfully tedious! It's not terrible, just alittle straight laced for the subject matter it's handling, that's the worst part of it! There's even a little schmaltzy Dionne Warwick style theme song (look for the 45 on ebay possibly).

rigor mortis is my mating call
 Lindsay Finch (Wilcox) has all kinds of daddy issues, which are shown during the credits, there's not a therapist in sight in this film and one should really step in and help these freaks! During her groovy 70's soiree she's almost raped by some bohunk (an young Christopher Stone later from The Howling) and after that incident actually checks the obituaries, like Beetlejuice would, looking for stiffs to snoggle. After accidentally smushing in a corpse's face by gently touching it (the mortician's work ruined, thank you very much)! She then bumps into Lyle Wagoner, who she's instantly attracted to because he looks like her dead father. This is some disturbing shit for 1973, so why am I struggling to recommend this film? You'll see what I mean if you bother to watch it, it's definitely creepy, although not beyond the pale (I'll just chalk it up my being too desensitized once again)!

Let crack open this Human Pinata!

While she's out, there's a satanic sect leader/ mortician out trolling for male prostitutes to use in his disgusting ritual, he callously jabs an embalming needle into a victims arm and floods his arteries with the poison fluid (all while he struggles and says "No, Don't Cut me"). This scene is pretty ghastly, but done in a tame kind of 70's beige fashion.

That's right folks in GAY COLOR!

   Love Me Deadly isn't far off in portraying satanists and necrophiliacs as gravitating toward funerals looking for ritualistic or sexual kicks and my favorite aspect is that they support one another's bizarre quirks! So there, they have their own support group and don't need someone with a P.H.D!
   Fred Mcsweeney (Timothy Scott) who's constantly out murdering prostitutes for Satan anyway, decides to lead Lindsay into her first sexual encounter with a dead body, how quaint, aye? Fred looks sort of like Eric Idle and warns her never to divulge the secrets of his devil cult. I should also mention there's no element of police or authority and all of these sickos are able to do what thou wilt (to quote some English occult figure). All of Lindsay's relationships are creepy and she starts to become more involved with Alex Martin (Waggoner of Carol Burnett fame), who's so out of it, that he has no knowledge of her unhealthy fixation on cold, smelly, lifeless bodies. They even end up getting married and she can only get it up if she imagines he's her dead father, how nauseating can you get?
That's it I'm going back to my old flame on The Carol Burnett show, Harvey Korman!
   I recommend seeing this sober, if that sounds unlike any other review on TOG, than you're right! I was pretty wasted when I first saw this and its too complicated to figure out, while heavily inebriated. I recommend watching it twice if possible. This film is disturbing, a little dull, but it's rewarding in its own way.  The reward is kind of like a bad burrito that sinks to the bottom of your stomach and haunts you in your nightmares! A few days after I watched this, it just seemed like all the creepiness seeps in, especially when you consider how the main protagonist finally gets exactly what she was looking for in the first place, a nice role in the hay with a corpse that looks like her dead father!


Noway am I putting that thing near my face!

Thursday, February 20, 2014


Plankton (Creatures From The Abyss) Directed By Massimiliano Cerchi (or Al Passeri) Starring Sharon Twomey (1994).
There have been many films with an Italian crew and actors masquerading as "Americans" in Miami Florida. This seems like a whole subgenre in itself (along with Aladdin, Primal Rage, Devil Fish, Miami Golem and Raiders Of Atlantis), Plankton however, it so entertaining that it puts them all to shame! It's so out of left field, bat-shit crazy on so many levels that if you have to see one Miami-sploitation film involving over-sexed teens turning into fish and miraculously spawning human caviar, make sure its this one! This film is so 80's, it looks like the set designer from Liquid Sky and Earth Girls Are Easy got together and went hog wild. In actuality it's some douche named Eddie Reinhold (maybe Judge's brother), who never worked again!

3rd grader archeological etching
   A group of beach babes and dorky lunkheads get trapped in a storm and are forced to board a floating science experimental lab/gaudy Italian bachelor pad. They are being watched by a mutant creature (through a fish-eye lens, of course---guffaw, get it)? This crustacean has a whiplash action tongue that slaps around its victims!

Is this the Mermaid/ Bronie convention?

   The interior of the boat looks like a tinfoil covered hovel, flooded with neon lights designed by Pee Wee Herman or the production designer of Miami Vice on acid. A unibrowed character named Bobby (Michael Bon) is constantly horny and his pal Mike (Clay Rogers), a transgendered nerd, quickly becomes the only dependable heroic one, after the rest of them succumb to the disastrous effects of Billy Bass' second cousin Cleetus!

Pass The Duchie Frome Thee Left Hand Side Maan

   The teens find a half dead scientist with drool leaking out of his mouth who looks like Terry Kiser of Weekend At Bernies fame, only he's not a party animal like you'd imagine, he's a fish fornicator.
   After eating a badly cooked meal of trout, one curly haired blonde pukes up yellow vomit with undigested beetles crawling around in it. There's a sexy computer in the shower and a fish that sings two songs, one by Bobby McFerrin and another by The Talking Heads (not really)! Most of the weirdness comes from the random futuristic junk on the boat, that's never explained, but I'm glad it's there because it raises the bar into uncharted, can't believe what you're watching territory!

Gary Coleman's mutant fish Abraham on a cocaine rampage
   Another blonde named Julie (Ann Wolf), resembling a dime-store big budget action-era Sharon Stone, takes a shower as the computer tells her how to wash, in a lurid mechanical lady voice. 
The fish special effects are ridiculous, as the aquatic horndog turns into a lightning fast cartoon and the actors swat at it with bats.
Anally aquatic death sentence
   It pops out of the wall and attacks one poor girl's throat and later her face gets pulled under, while trying to wash. Mike the androgynous nerd says "Freud would have a field day" and confronts the "Weekend at Bernies" look-a-like scientist character about his sexual habits with fish!

Joey Silvera jailed for fish porn

   Bobby takes some of the contaminated plankton (which he thinks is spanish fly), as he humps the blonde, it transforms him into a hideous puking, sexual beast! His eyeball pops out and falls directly into Julie's mouth! Dorthy, the curly haired blonde from the beginning shows up later, then a giant sea creature pops out of her ass and attacks Mike the effeminate action hero. Plankton is completely insane, the effects are jaw droppingly hilarious, there's non-stop action and its on a sci-fi level of type over dubbed shenanigans.

Here let me upchuck this pork loin onto your plate
   None of the actors ever worked again accept Sharon Twomey, who coincidentally enough, ended up in A Fish Called Wanda (which is not an unofficial sequel to Plankton)! Be sure and check out the smug look the director Massimiliano Cerchi has on his face, he must be suffering from Claudio Fragasso syndrome, or an over-bloated unmerited sense of self confidence! Here's a great review from Facemelting Films .

Don't Miss it, It's a movie deserving of Midnight Movie Cult Status!

I want a newer drug

Yowl, I'm so fierce girlfriend!

There's a dwarf with a giant penis lightbulb next to me isn't there?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Hollywood High

Hollywood High Directed by Patrick M. Wright, starring Kevin Mead  (1976).
Imagine you found a time machine and instead of doing something valuable like going back and shooting George Bush's mother in the stomach, like any ultra liberal's fantasy scenario, you decide to venture into a video store in 1986.
You scan the comedy section shelves for something new, a little bit different. You've already seen the Belushi-sploitation antics of "King Fucking Frat", the lovable pre-mainstream debauchery in "Losin It!" and "Nerds In Paradise" for the umpeeth time, so much so that you may puke all over your milkduds! What is there left?
I came here to rent something, but I contracted chlamydia instead
 Well courtesy of the brain trusts over at Vestron Video there is one final nail in the Beach Party coffin left to slam down, Hollywood High! So why would a hypothetical person risk life and limb to get in a time machine and risk averting 911 to procure a stupid videotape, because Hollywood High may be the most incredibly revolting, head scratching, Coors Abusing , homophobic, May West impersonating, Beach balling, spaghetti hurling, cop dodging, mind explosion this side of The Hollywood Knights. There's even random bestiality thrown into this dangerous powder keg of stupidity and insanity!
Carload of trollops

   Boobs are Goodies in the universe of HH, get it straight! And girls, sexually assault random strangers on the beach, who's first on deck you may ask, a mexican hobo with "cuban cigarettes". There's so much seaside frolicking that it may endanger you of hating frolicking forever!
The slutty girls surround the latin beach comber, just as they are about to gang rape him, wouldn't you know it, all of their boyfriends show up. The leader of the gang is a stringy haired greaser named The Fenze (played by the mentally challenged Kevin Mead). The Fenze is a yardsale version of The Fonz, a little more Ramonesy than Henry Winkler-ey, he says 'Heeeeyyyyy' instead of 'Ayyyyyyy' and according to IMDB has a fanclub that you can join for just a dollar. He cares more about combing his slimy hair then fighting (which according to him is why he's so good lookin).

The Fenze's B.O. enhances the flavor of apples 

   Many of the "actors" never appeared in anything else, but the most prolific one in Hollywood High is a guy named Hy Pyke who plays Mr. Flowers. Pyke plays the most exaggerated bitchy gay teacher who looks like Fred and Velma from Scooby Doo combined, he later ended up in Blade Runner, Slithis and even Growing Pains!

Whom ever smelt it doth dealt it
   The girls act like hard up hookers as they trade favors for cash, beer or whatever and even have sex with a gigantic a-froed midget, who falls into a tire. Your ears are treated to some of the most schmaltzy, cheeseball music in different locations, one song prattles on about The Pizza Plus, a local hangout, going into specific detail about hanging out at this swell joint. The lyrics are pure poetry "Down At The Pizza Plus pot, that's where we hang out alot", I'm sure it took the songwriter five minutes while driving to the set to come up with those lyrics. Most of the horny blondes remark about how they all wish they had some hot pepperoni, so frequently that it would've made a better title than the original one (since the nonexistent storyline takes place anywhere else but in a high school)!

Please for fucks sake, pour the beer in your mouth not on your face!

  Scott Glen, who handled the score later went onto fortune and glory as the music supervision on The Golden Girls and Saved By The Bell. The authority in HH are either child molesting teachers or cops who piss on their own shoes and are pelted with rotten eggs and fruit by the kids, (a random food fight automatically occurs since it happened in a famous frat movie with a certain fat junkie). There's hardly any plot to grasp onto, but with characters this one dimensional, do you really want to get emotionally invested in their lives anyway? The director obviously is self-aware, or just doesn't give a fuck. There's actually more pathos going on in a Lemon Popsicle flick, so make sure you turn your brain off before watching.

You don't know the half (pint) of it girlfriend!
   June East (Marla Winters), an even sluttier rip off of May West shows up to bang the younger chicks boyfriends at her mansion, she manages to almost murder The Fenze with her powerful vagina and is caught by the kids having sex with a lion!

A special cameo by Bill Gates
HH is completely retarded in the most entertaining way possible, I recently saw it at an illustrious screening where the beer flowed like nobodies business and everyone had a blast! All the characters have immature names like Mrs. Crotch, Big Dick's garage and than there's the lone named actress Susan (Severeid, who later used her full name in sleazoid classic Don't Answer The Phone). Director Patrick Wright has had an interesting career, he later played a prison guard in Maniac Cop and directed a MST3K panned film, Track Of The Moonbeast. Wright acted in one of my all time favorite Don Edmunds film, besides Ilsa, and that's Bare Knuckles! If you like your teen sex comedy devoid of all brain matter then get in that proverbial time machine and prepare to have your mind blown. Or if you don't have one, just pick up a copy at any yardsale or J4THOI video.


Just toss that hot pepperoni down my gullet lady!

Don't be jealous of my "goodies"

You're doing it wrong!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Demons 5

Directed by Lamberto Bava.
Screenplay by Massimo De Rita and Giorgio Stegani.
Review By Goat Scrote
According to the marketing, this movie is “Demons 5: The Devil’s Veil”. According to the cheap-ass credits onscreen I am watching a film called “La mascara del demonio”, literally “The Mascara of the Devil”. Will the demons work their corrupting influence through the eyelashes of their victims? Am I about to enter some unfamiliar subgenre of Italian “evil cosmetics” films? Is this a typographic error that nobody noticed? Is the title in Spanish for some reason? Or is somebody having a little joke on us? I’m pretty sure I’m watching “Lamaschera del demonio", “The Mask of the Devil”.
That’s the original title of Mario Bava’s “Black Sunday”, too. This movie is a reimagining of “Black Sunday” done by Mario’s son, Lamberto.  Both movies draw inspiration from the 1835 short story “The Viy” by Nikolai Gogol (http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/g/gogol/nikolai/g61v/) about a dead witch who torments a brandy-swilling seminarian. (That’s a student at a religious school, you dirty buggers, nothing to do with bodily fluids.) It is not a direct remake of “Black Sunday”, since virtually everything about the two stories is different except for the origin of the witch and her desire to return from the dead at any cost. The name of the character is Anibas, not Asa, and it seems to be about an entirely different villain who met a similar fate. It could be considered “Black Sunday 2” but it’s a poor fit for the “Dèmoni” series. Possession by an evil force is a feature of the story, but it’s the undead Anibas doing the possessing. These are not the homicidally whacked-out contagious slime-creatures we know and love from “Demons” and “Demons 2” (also directed by Lamberto Bava) or “The Church” (directed by Michele “mee-KEH-leh” Soavi, who also plays the first victim here in “La maschera del demonio”).
Don't blame me for all this confusion, I just played the victim

This movie is somewhere in the middle compared to other L. Bava movies I’ve seen –- pretty entertaining, but he’s done much better. There’s not much here for splatter-hounds except a bit of slime and one bloody death, but it’s still a pretty decent low-budget fantasy-horror movie thanks to the imaginative monstrous special effects that start showing up in the final act. The movie is at its strongest when the witch’s magical powers are on display. This is a made-for-TV movie, I believe, so it’s light on blood… yet it lays on the insectoid date-rape fairly thick. Different TV-censorship standards than the United States, I suppose! For some wild monster makeup (and/or disturbing monster sex) be sure to tune in to the best effects sequence which starts at 58 minutes and the climactic confrontation starting at 75 minutes.
The Original Demons 5?

The first half is mainly interesting for the “Black Sunday” connections. The details of the story don’t make a heap of sense but the overall plotline is pretty straightforward: An undead witch is trying to return from the dead and she kills or psychically controls everyone but the hero, who must figure out how to stop the witch and save his beloved. Almost none of the characters has a distinct individual identity or a purpose in the plot. With a trivial change to the story the number of cast-members could have been cut in half. The score by talented Simon Boswell is uninspired and has some outstandingly weak spots, definitely not his best work. Parts of it sound like he fell asleep with the tape still rolling. During an otherwise pretty good fistfighting scene, for example, the keyboard goes on autopilot as a single spooky chord is sustained with no accompaniment for about 87 seconds. (Yes, I fucking timed it just so I could complain about it, you wanna make somethin’ of it? I do these things for the sake of advancing human knowledge!)
H.R. Giger designed mask of satan that acts like an icy/hot patch

The movie begins with a swarm of skiers who take a helicopter up into some remote mountains. Supposedly there are eight thrill-seekers but I never bothered to count them because it just seemed like too much math. The happy horde is swallowed by a deep hidden crevasse. Sabina (Debora Caprioglio) breaks her leg. The skiers notices something man-made sticking out of a big block of ice nearby and chip away at the ice around an ancient metal mask. The mask resembles an alien facehugger (which should be a warning right there) and it has spikes inside, but only a couple of skiers are observant enough to notice that there is a human face impaled underneath. The rest are all much too distracted by Michele Soavi clowning around with the metal mask (a little nod to his super-creepy nameless character in “Demons”).

Lookout! Here comes an Italian Wampa

The entombed face seems to rejuvenate partway, the ice block starts shaking, and the cave starts coming apart. Sabina’s broken leg has mysteriously healed, which is lucky since now she has to run for her life. The skiers comment on this but soon forget all about it. Soavi’s character Bebo is impaled during the collapse, still clutching the mask. His friends soon forget all about that too, so I guess I don’t have to care either. They really are a pretty unsympathetic bunch right from the beginning.
The sets are very stylish. The quake reveals a passage to a tomb full of pillars, which exits into a strange hidden ghost town. They have pet dogs in Italy, don’t they? I only ask because when they meet one, the skiers seem to have no idea what the fuck they are dealing with. The barking dog frightens them, but if that’s a wolf then I am a ninja assassin. They’re even more spooked when they meet the master of the place, a pale, blind, very odd priest (Stanko Molnar). They spend the night in his creepy old church.

Not in the face, It's Eve not Barbara Steele!

At 21 minutes or so, the backstory is filled in as the priest reminisces about the good old days when spectral evidence was still admissible in court. We rewind to the 1600s, when the villagers led by the priest (who looked much more ordinary) condemned the witch Anibas (Eva Grimaldi) for witchcraft. They sledgehammer the spiked mask onto her face. The mask-hammering scene here doesn’t manage the same intensity as the original but it’s still a nasty fate. Before she goes, Anibas re-affirms her dedication to Satan and lays down her curse. The specifics aren’t very clear but I’m assuming one of the consequences is that the priest gets stuck as an immortal guardian over her tomb, has all his melanin drained, and gets his eyesight taken away. (Or perhaps he’s supposed to be a descendant, I wasn’t totally sure.)

Keep your mouth closed Giada De Laurentiis

Back in the present, the women wake up with brand new eating disorders and the men fight like drunks in a honky tonk bar. (It’s the Jerry Springer Show, Italian style!) The skiers play cruel tricks on the blind priest, cackling wickedly while they do. Only Davide (Giovanni Guidelli) seems unaffected. The priest finds out that they took the mask off the corpse and he immediately understands that the group has become possessed. Why didn’t he ask about that right away, given that the one function of his long, miserable, sexless life is to keep the mask on the witch’s face?
The possessed skiers trap the priest inside a confessional booth, join hands, and circle around chanting “Anibas”. Their impaled buddy Bebo comes back as a zombie and joins them. The confessional walls warp and bend inward, threatening to crush the priest, but the dog attacks the circle and scatters the wimpy minions. Alas, this canine hero is later assaulted by a gang of angry housecats and dies off-camera. The priest, though, turns out to be a little better at this game than expected. He ambushes and takes prisoner a couple of the skiers to try to exorcise them. Zombie-Bebo intervenes, and then the priest gets dragged down under the floorboards and there’s a short but gory scene where he is eaten by slimy monsters under the church.
Davide is befuddled by love and cannot believe Sabina is part of what is going on, and she is willing to play along. He ‘rescues’ her and they hide from the others in a stable. Sabina convinces Davide to make love to her, since she doesn’t want them both to die virgins. This leads to the creepiest special effect of the film. During the foreplay she becomes the abominable gray-skinned witch, grows giant grasshopper legs, and molests the hell out of him before he stabs her with a pitchfork. I didn’t know it was going to be a rape-revenge film!

This ain't The Dark Crystal starring that Gilf Aughra

He returns to his friends and they’re all cleaned up and acting disturbingly normal all of a sudden. They aren’t fazed when he reveals that he just killed Sabina. He asks for the priest and they don’t know who he’s talking about. He finds Sabina down in her room, just fine, and Davide isn’t quite sure if he’s going crazy or what. He almost kills her but flees instead, to tell his friends what he finally noticed… Sabina is Anibas spelled backward! They still act like he is nutty, and when they find Sabina again she is bearing wounds like he inflicted on the nymphomaniac witch-bug from the stable. She appears to die and they lay her in the tomb. Even as a corpse, the possessed Sabina goes on trying to seduce Davide. Oddly enough, he doesn’t seem interested in corpse fucking, even if she is still pretty fresh.

Let me eat that donut Jeff Goldblum "Brundlefly" style

All the stops get pulled out at this point. The magical battle here uses some of the action and other elements from the confrontations in Gogol’s “The Viy”. The camera swoops through the tomb, from the perspective of the unseen witch. Little winged monsters attack Davide. There’s a sort of confusing Obi Wan Kenobi moment where the disembodied voice of the priest utters a latin prayer, which allows Davide to use supercharged holy water to create a protective magic circle that glows around him. The crypts levitate and the frescoes on the walls swell and come to life. Sabina springs to life again, too. She begs Davide to save her from the fresco-people. He falls for it and leaves the circle, but it’s almost as if the possessed are letting him win… as if they had some other plan… and sure enough Sabina recommences trying to get it on with him. Her pickup lines are really subtle: “All I want is your flesh!” Ah, the rotting, putrid stink of romance. The witch seems to need the two virgins to make humpy humpy.
Turn on the lights before Wham's Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go plays
The next stage of her smooth seduction involves turning into a blue-skinned medusa-like figure with twitchy tentacle-dreadlocks on her head, glow-in-the-dark teeth, and a three-foot-long prehensile tongue. Anibas, sweetie, a bit of advice for next time you get a shot at resurrection. Unless you met the guy on the internet, he’s probably not into this shit. Try a glass of wine by the fireplace, and never, ever turn into the Overfiend before the third date.
The demons return to life, overpower Davide as a group, and try to physically force him to have sex with their evil mistress. It’s pretty much the weirdest 80’s music video ever. Davide manages to break away and grab the mask, which is still in Bebo’s hand where he was impaled… hey wait, didn’t he return as a zombie and go inside the church? And who keeps their own kryptonite lying around like that? Davide forces the mask back onto the icebound corpse and Anibas is returned to her ages-long sleep.
somebody hand me some industrial strength witch summers eve feminine hygiene spray!
With all her evil illusions dispelled, Davide can see that his friends are a pile of corpses still dressed in their skiing gear, frozen quite solid. It’s a pretty dark ending! I thought he would at least save his co-virgin. Even though he is half naked, Davide scrambles back out of the crevasse in a panic. Yes, he survived the witch, but without skis and warmer clothes he’ll just die out on the mountain… come to think of it, I’m okay with the idea of Davide dying before he gets a chance to enter the gene pool.
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