Monday, August 31, 2015


 photo crash1_1.jpg

Crash! Directed by Charles Band, Starring Jose Ferrer (1977). 

Review by Greg Goodsell

Before he hit pay dirt with an entire motion empire predicated on tiny, stop-motion figures wreaking havoc with his Puppetmaster and related films, Charles Band began his career with some extremely grimy, unrelenting, downbeat horror pictures that more than any other defined the genre that was dubbed “grindhouse.” When this reviewer is asked what the sleaziest motion picture he has ever seen, I invariably say Band’s Mansion of the Doomed (1976). Don’t laugh – there’s something about that film that worms its way under my skin. Dark, grim and relentless, there’s something about that dime store variation of Eyes Without a Face (1960) – with its cellar full of eyeless human guinea pigs that can’t be denied. Adding to the oppressive atmosphere is the presence of down-at-their-heels Hollywood has-beens Richard Widmark and Gloria Grahame wishing they were anywhere else.

 photo img8deb8d1d.jpg
Hey Chuck you left out Mansion, but included Evil Bong, really? 

Crash!, Band’s first film, while not reaching the gory heights of Mansion still has plenty of darkness and ill will bubbling underneath. Never released to video and DVD until just recently, Crash! is beyond ridiculous and borrows heavily from the many films that preceded it – The Car (1977), especially, but maintains viewer interest throughout.

The film open with a driverless black convertible driving a hippie van off the road, whereupon a stoner dude and his girlfriend are killed in a fiery, apocalyptic explosion. This goes on for awhile, satisfying the audience’s innate need for vehicular destruction. It makes perfect sense that author J. G. Ballard penned a novel with the same name that later became the main cornerstone in director David Cronenberg’s oeuvre of psychosexual films in 1996. Ideas that are far more pungent will be visited upon the yahoos in search of Band’s film who pick up Cronenberg’s picture by mistake.

 photo crash.jpg
Fulci's lawyers are on the phone as we speak!

Here comes the funny part: Sue Lyon (Stanley Kubrick’s titular siren Lolita, 1962) is seen shopping at a flea market at a drive-in theater (once again tying the picture to its target audience, as well as another facet of American car culture) where she buys an ugly one-idol pagan idol keychain from horror film icon Reggie Nalder (Salem’s Lot, 1979). She returns home to her bitter, wheelchair bound husband Jose Ferrer who forbids her to leave the house. Disregarding hubbie’s directive, Lyon jumps into her black convertible – the same one seen in the beginning killing various motorists. A snarling black Doberman pinscher jumps into car (the same one used in Dracula’s Dog, 1978), and forces her off the road. Injured and amnesiac, she’s rushed to a nearby hospital still clutching the demonic keychain.

Natch, the keystone is an ancient evil spirit, which is subconsciously used by Lyon to send her black convertible on a random spree of death and destruction. The question immediately arises … why was her car going on a murder spree before she lucked into the malefic keychain? The movie certainly doesn’t say …  

 photo crash06.jpg
I think someone stuck some microdots onto my Dunkin Munchkin

There’s not much too it from there on in. Lyon slowly regains her memory with the assistance of kindly Dr. Gregg Martin (John Ericson) and the car continues its war against humanity. Ferrer pops in and gets hip to the fact that satanic forces are being rallied against him – and in a scene quite tasteless, and therefore daring for an exploitation film – Ferrer’s wheelchair is telekinetically used to batter the Doberman pinscher to death. 

WELL, the DVD is packed with extras, the best one being a documentary on tighty-whitey auteur director David DeCouteau love affair with the film. The film’s relative unavailability – DeCouteau caught it one weekend at a crummy theater, never to catch it again on VHS, TV or DVD led to his scavenger hunt for memorabilia. Certainly, the poster is one of the GREATEST ever for an exploitation film – a veritable doomsday of colliding automobiles with scantily dressed women running for their lives ties it once again to the Gospel of Cars, Sex and Death as preached by Ballard and Cronenberg.

While the enthusiasm behind this rare film is evident on the DVD, one has to wonder what Lyon and Ferrer thought about the direction of their lives and careers at the point they signed on for the project.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Smile Before Death

 photo deathsmile2.jpg

Smile Before Death, aka “Il sorriso della iena” Directed by Silvio Amadio, Starring Jenny Tamburi (1972).

Movie Review by Greg Goodsell

In this sleazy murder mystery, we see rich old bag Dorothy Emerson (Zora Gheorgieva) flail about on the floor of her parlor, her throat slit with a piece of jagged glass. Detectives note that ol’ Dorothy had been drinking heavily before her demise, and so they describe as an “apparent suicide.” As we learn much later, this ridiculous assumption was probably based on the fact that Dot was an overbearing old hose bag who the surrounding community exclaimed “Good riddance!” when they wheeled her lifeless body on the gurney. However, we are getting ahead of ourselves –

Dorothy’s daughter Nancy (Jenny Tamburi) arrives at the family manse, school cap, knee socks and all. In boarding school for the majority of her life, she says she only saw mom about seven to eight times in her entire life (This figures in to plot later on, takes note.) Nancy is greeted by lesbian lizard Gianna (Rosalba Nelbi), “her mother’s best friend” – HA! – and scumbag stepfather Marco (Silvano Tranquilli). Dorothy kept no pictures of daughter nancy anywhere in the house and both Gianna and Marco rarely heard of her … do we see where this is going?

 photo PDVD_004.jpg
mirror mirror on the wall, do I look like a porn parody version Gina Gershon? 

In no time, shutterbug Gianna has Nancy posing for a series of pictures. Beginning with relatively innocuous fashion shots, the photos sessions become increasingly steamy and more explicit. Eventually, these modeling sessions include a third party, Connie Linglus. OOOOoh, you saw that one coming, didn’t you friends?

 photo PDVD_001.jpg
I saw that one coming but am incapable of smiling

To cut to the chase, it’s later revealed that Cougar Woman Dorothy was a happy lush who embraced life with her Bobby Sherman-lookalike boyfriend (Hirma Keller) who was fixing to tell both Gianna and Marco to hit the road. Natch, they both killed Dorothy, and tried to make it look like a suicide by locking her up in her bedroom from the inside by using a piece of twine. When faithful house servant Magda (Dana Ghia) gets hip to the Disgusting Duo’s plans – to eventually kill Nancy to get their hands on all the loot, she is brutally dispatched by Gianna with a glass ashtray. 

Not surprisingly, Nancy isn’t who she’s supposed to be – a minor character makes a reappearance – and a throwaway bit at the beginning involving a traffic blind spot and a garden arbor likewise returns for a grisly surprise ending that will have you laughing for days!

They don’t make them like this anymore, and did they ever? Set in one location, crammed full of Seventies disco décor that fetches top dollar on Internet auction sites, Smile Before Death features a jazz soundtrack from vocalist Edda Dell'Orso, frequent Ennio Morricone collaborator. It’s a catchy tune that lasts under three minutes and is played over and over and over and over again, even when it’s not supposed to. 

Director Silvio Amadio’s previous giallo feature Amuck (1972) remains highly sought after. In the meantime, slice off some smelly Italian cheese at the black-gloved buffet with Smile Before Death!

Monday, August 24, 2015

All That Remains Are Memories by Kris Gilpin

 photo Welcome-to-Florida-500.jpg

As I'm stuck back here in Floriduh now (still hate it) and broke, in debt & basically homeless, I think about the few highlights of my life (I should've been a character actor but fucked that up, I didn't know how to go about it (duh!), I think of all the cool peeps I've met & just wanted to share these short bits with others. I don't mean to be at all pretentious here, I'll just always be a kid from boring Miami in my heart and I've never lost the thrill of meeting famous folk thru the years. That and the fact that Erok has offered me $1 a word, well, enjoy, I hope!...[Gilpin, you having one of those LSD flashbacks?! - Ed.]...

Kurt Vonnegut:

The last time was in NYC (only been there twice, didn't like it, dirty and hard as hell to make a living there, and that was decades ago. L.A. is like that now) I was walking down a popular, rich street (6th Ave.? Duh...) and coming towards me was Kurt Vonnegut (!), a long time literary hero of mine. Unfortunately, he had his hands full, with lots of bags. My heart beat faster as I got the courage to say, "Hello, Mr. Vonnegut! I, uh..." He saw I really wanted to talk to him, so after a  moment he stopped, motioned me aside, tho he was obviously in a hurry, shook my hand and said, "Yes..."

Knowing I was apparently keeping him from something, I quickly tried to get out, "When I was a kid my old brother, who I was closer to than anyone, bought me a copy of Mother Night, I loved it, he later took a year to die young in pain from cancer, and I've read all your books since, and every time I read one it reminds me of him and of how, if he had lived, we surely would've written some funny stuff together--we had the same warped sense of humor--and my entire life would've been different, instead of the fucked-up mess that I've made of it by myself,"

 photo Vonnegut Jr Mother Night Gold Medal 1962.jpg

I still don't know why, but all my nervous, then jammed-up brain could spit out was, "Uh, um, my...I think you're fantastic!"

I instantly thought, Oh no, what a fuckin idiot!!

He simply nodded politely, as if to say, Thanks, but I'm in a hurry and you're wasting my precious time here...

He then wordlessly walked away and I froze there, getting tears in my eyes. It haunted me for YEARS, until I encountered someone online who said they knew someone who knew someone who knew Vonnegut. I wrote out all the above in an email, sent it to him and begged him to send it to K.V. He said he would, and did, but of course I never heard back a word.

I don't know if Vonnegut ever did get my apology/explanation for that day, but I've always hoped that he did before he died.

Michael Ironside:

For the 22 years I was in L.A. I was in heaven, of course. On almost every street, almost every day, I'd run into people I recognized and loved.

One night my ex-wife and I were coming out of a theater on Hollywood Blvd. and in front of us was Michael Ironside, he looked and even moved like Joe Fucking Cool, no lie! We walked behind him a few feet and he actually seemed to emanate a strong vibe which I could feel just by being behind him, making me think, Holy shit, he has the Joe-Cool aura you'd expect from Jack Nicholson!

More heart palpitations before I stopped him and told him how much I loved his work in Scanners. I didn't know if he would bark, "Fuck off!" at me, but he was cool, said thanks and shook our hands. Only then did I notice the smiling beauty on his arm, and my jaw partially dropped--it was the still-stunning Kristen (R-and X-rated Alice in Wonderland) DeBell! I said, "Oh, hi, Kristen, we love you, too!" (Ironside smiled at that.) She smiled sweetly and shook our hands. "Well, I'll let you guys go, we just had to say hi!"

 photo Scanners-fireGILPIN.jpg

That's one of the few things (along with the indie-film theaters and the bookstores) I miss from L.A. I got out after all the rich, vacuous movie-studio types (who I worked for) started making me sick (another story)...

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

White Slave (Amazonia)

 photo nackt_und_zerfleischt-plakat copy.jpg

White Slave (Amazonia: The Catherine Miles Story, Cannibal Holocaust 2) Directed By Roy Garrett (Mario Gariazzo), Starring Elvire Audray.

This film which is apparently based on a true story has been on the back burner for a few years (every time I started it up though, I'd get bored or fall asleep). Let's see if I can power through this time around. I should also mention that there was no actual Catherine Miles and one of the Godfathers of Mondo, Franco Prosperi, who's no stranger to making up bullshit, claimed this was real just to create more publicity.

The derivative Cannibal Holocaust on ludes theme song that opens this flick is pretty funny considering Riz Ortolani worked for Jacopetti long ago in the 60's. Maybe Franco was pissed and wanted to capitalize on Deodato fever by using a ripped off version of the title track, who really knows? To me it seems deliberate, adding to the nonsense that this was a sequel to the Deodato controversial hit.

White Slave (or Amazonia) is the story of Catherine Miles played by Elvire Audray, a rich blonde who tells her story from a courtroom in flashbacks. She mostly scowls at the camera, but when she does smile, she has gummy baby-like teeth. She kind of resembles Sandal Bergman or a cheap knock off Olivia D'Abo.

 photo Screen shot 2015-08-14 at 1.03.31 AM.png
Wait, there may be some time left to reattach my head, call the paramedics

I instantly recognized the voice of Pat Starke, who dubs Cathy from such classics as Cannibal Ferox, where she voiced Gloria (aka Larraine De Selle). Starke has been in so many Italian horror flicks such as Burial Ground and Anthropophagus, she does a nice job of elevating Elviria's stilted performance. Starke is sadly uncredited in many of these exploitation flicks, I think she deserves some kind of recognition and definitely should be as highly regarded as Nick Alexander (aka Al Cliver's dubbed pipes) and my favorite voice over guy Ed Mannix. 

Anyway back to the storyline, Mr. Miles, who looks like a bloated Barney Miller sails down the river with his daughter and wife. The family is quickly attacked by headhunters (not cannibals) with blow darts. Minutes before the incident, Cathy decides to crank up Radar Rider by Riggs (featured on the Heavy Metal soundtrack during the spaceman in the cadillac scene)! The fatal darts paralyze her for a short while and kill her parents. The Asians in awful bowl hair wigs take over the boat and decapitate her mom and pop (the fake heads are particularly lame). Next they inter-splice some footage of a real Cheetah devouring a deer, there's that famed Prosperi Mondo stink rearing it's ugly smell. 

 photo Screen shot 2015-08-14 at 1.19.28 AM.png
I'm scowling so hard at you right now!

A violent tribe in white face attempt to capture the blonde damsel but one of them gets decapitated. Noone is ever eaten through out the entire film, so if you're looking for man eating savages, go look somewhere else! She's taken over to the village, bathed by the women and smeared with grease to smell more attractive to the Natives. They all barter and trade her for sex, this film totally preys into the jungle fantasy scenario--I mean she's a virgin, they all want to have their way with her, whoop-de-doo! She runs through the brush naked, looking pretty sweaty and constantly always seems annoyed, I guess anyone would be.

It gets worse for this uptight prude as she's defiled by some bloody bamboo and viola, virgin-no-more. The one aspect I like about this flick is that the tribesman (and women) are in charge and none of the headhunters are being humiliated or tortured by oppressive outsiders. I like how Cathy makes a flute out of bamboo and plays it by the river like Jen from The Dark Crystal. She always wears that "I'm not amused" face. She has a valid reason to have that attitude, considering the tribe keeps her parents severed heads as a joint trophy and have adorned their hut with the rotting corpse faces.

 photo Screen shot 2015-08-14 at 1.08.35 AM.png
I got Gelfing Fever

There's a lot of naked Native girls walking around with full bushes, was Me Me Lai busy that week, why is she not in this film? In reality, after appearing in Lars Von Trier's Element of Crime, Lai stopped acting altogether.

One poor bastard as punishment for a domestic dispute is hung upside down while bugs eat his face off for a few days, it's pretty gruesome. I like how as she tells the court all the intricate details, they basically go "OK we get it, TMI"! I guess you could say I enjoyed this "Diet Cannibal Flick", there's enough going on to hold your interest and it's the least disgusting out of most others in the genre. 

It evolves into a reverse version of Man From Deep River as the female Westerner, trapped among the savages begins a forbidden relationship with one of the tribesmen. It takes half the film to get there, I'm also grateful that there's less real animal deaths than the aforementioned movie. Whenever they flashback to the court room, I like how it looks as if they shot it at a condemned DMV! Also the dude who plays the hunky Native has about as much acting ability as a cold Salisbury Steak.

 photo Screen shot 2015-08-14 at 1.16.20 AM.png
Holy Shit, are you OK? Hey while you're awake, can you take out the garbage?

The village gets besieged by a helicopter flown by racist bomb dropping machine carrying maniacs. One exploding head effect looks pretty sweet! They take the remains of the natives and carry them off in a knapsack as if they were to be used later as Gordita filling. I should also mention that there is never any gut feasting of any kind (and in some circles this shit was passed off as Cannibal Holocaust 2 just like The Green Inferno)!

This becomes the first clue in how Miles parents were really murdered and she assimilates into their tribe. If you're a hardcore shock value junkie then you'll be bored to tears, but if you've seen it all and can appreciate a dopey Jungle adventure flick with a surprise ending, than give it a whirl. I (obviously) created the snazzy poster uptop because I thought this German poster for CH was just too perfect.  


 photo Screen shot 2015-08-14 at 1.18.02 AM.png
Miss, would you mind clearing the room, we've got driving tests to hand out

Friday, August 14, 2015


Tenement Directed By Roberta Findlay, Starring Dan Snow (1985).

When I first saw this film it was back in the glory days of Netflix I had the three DVD's deal and no streaming capabilities. I know that sometimes I come off as a technophobe, but streaming every possible film on the planet has made us all basically spoiled brats! I like the convenience but miss the days of blindly renting something and taking a stab at an unknown film that hasn't already been over-saturated by whiny reviews online about how it sucks before you even get to see it. Anyway, I digress but the reason I'm bringing this is up is because the film in question tonight is one I was stoked about just by the cover art. Having just seen William Lustig's Vigilante, which totally blew me away and Don't Go in the House, I was all keyed up for another scummy grindhouse hit and Tenement just didn't measure up at the time, if anything it left me cold. 

As cold as a nice refreshing Rolling Rock on a toilet?

Did I unfairly misjudge this Roberta Findlay production, which even has Dan "Cigar Face" Snow basically as himself? At the time I was really excited to check out every punxploitation flick that I could get my mitts on and this one just formed a huge question mark over my head. Chas over-sold it too with phrases like "ultra violent urban assault" and "a wet rollercoaster ride through inner city hell". What was I missing, this film has it's sect of fanatics, so why do I not respond to it?

I took a break from this one for about five years and then felt that I should re-evaluate it and surprisingly enjoyed this grimy street punk outing a lot more the 2nd time. It's still incredibly cheesy but at least I had more of a sense of humor, having detested the film so hardcore at my first viewing. 
From what I've read about Roberta Findlay, she was a porn director who dabbled in exploitation occasionally and was most famous for directing Snuff (1976) with her husband Michael who was killed later on in a freak helicopter accident. Roberta cut her teeth in SWV style porn like Curse of Her Flesh (and other Flesh related titles in the series). In the Jerry Butler porn book, which shits on everyone in the biz, he refers to her as "A Nice Lady", good for her!

This flick opens with one silly happy rap song (that's actually pretty catchy) Walter E. Sear who composed my favorite broken casio/Collecovision score for the VHS of Dr. Butcher and The 7 Doors of Death version of The Beyond actually produced this and handled this film's soundtrack!

Some coke snorting Bronx punks hang out in the shittiest looking scum pit (beer bottles are seen on the toilet). Of course they're up to no good, one dude snacks on a dead rat and talks about how delicious it is. These lowlives are more pathetic than The Orphans, the saddest gang in The Warriors and have zero class. I bet the rabid punks from I Drink Your Blood would turn up their nose at these shit heels. Their leader Chaco, played by Enrique Sandino kind of resembles Miguel "Puman man" Fuentes if he were scagged out on smack. The actor who plays him is pretty laughable and even delved in TV on Miami Vice and The Shield. 

There's a certain amount of inept charm that this film has going for it that keeps it afloat.
Sometimes it comes off like loose improve (as if there was hardly any script). There's the constant presence of a time frame, or countdown I guess, as the punks end up at the prison building for three seconds before getting back to the ghetto and abusing all the tenants. One of the worst, most unlikeable "good guy" characters is Mr. Rojas played by Larry Lara (who's whereabouts are unknown, maybe he's a manager at Arby's now)? His performance as a slumlord is pretty entertaining with his heavy "Ricky Ricardo style accent".

I'm the Joe Spinell of horsey sauce and curly fries!

They intercut the punks getting dusted and the "decent folks" at a community party trying to figure out what to do. The score (which is some goofy stock library guitar music) sounds like it's playing from a boom box on the set. The domestic situation filler is pretty excruciating between the different dull characters and adds nothing to the story. For a more effective realistic ghetto drama check out Life is Hot in Crack Town instead.

One black female character who hates her living situation is gang-raped by all the horny punkers, it's pretty grim how the film seems to be punishing this woman for believing that she's too good for the ghetto and it's kinda fucked up!

You've mistaken me for someone else, I'm Nose-chain-face, got it?

One Spanish Baba Booey looking character is knifed in gruesome detail, what this movie needs is an elderly vigilante--I mean where's a B-rate Charles Bronson when you need him right? 
Halfway through Cigar Face, (or should I say Nose-chain-face, because he has jewelry that differentiates him from the Toxic Avenger character) sadly O.D's and has a seizure that kills him. I was sorry to see him go, because after that, all we have left to identify with is Rojas (to reiterate, he's a racist slumlord--GREAT)! One of the strangest parts of the film shows the gang leader have sex with his girlfriend and they slather each other in a victim's blood kind of like those vampire fetishists, very gross!


Eventually the tenants fight back, but they're so unorganized that it comes off as ridiculous and fake. I mean not even the bumbling cops from Police Academy or New Yawk's Guardian Angels show up to help these citizens patrol their shitty apartment complex. The only way to get through this film is to suspend all logic, turn off your brain and sympathy, so in other words get a lobotomy and Tenement will be your favorite movie! Get me outta here! Even though this film is awful, it's kind of shocking in it's ballsiness to be so unpleasant and hard to like that it's almost existential.    


Remember in the 80's when this Sandino poster was super popular?

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Spider Labyrinth

The Spider Labyrinth Directed by Gianfrano Giagni (1988). 

By Richard Glenn Schmidt (

After waking up from a nightmare where his childhood self is tormented by a spider, Professor Alan Whitmore (Roland Wybenga) is called to work on a project for the university to connect all religions and beliefs through some ancient texts. His colleague named Roth has disappeared and now his rather shady bosses want him to travel to Budapest to complete his research.

Of course, everything is weird as balls when Alan arrives in Budapest. He is greeted by the lovely Genevieve Weiss (Paola Rinaldi), assistant to Professor Roth. She takes him to see the poor man. Roth’s wife Celia (Margareta von Krauss) warns Alan not to take her husband too seriously because his mind has become unhinged. The very paranoid Roth gives him a secret journal that he’s been keeping and a tablet that he claims contains the names of a sect of evil immortal beings. 

A mysterious man (William Berger, whose character is named “Mysterious Man”) delivers the wonderfully cryptic warning that if he doesn’t leave now, he’ll get “sucked into the vortex”. When Alan returns that night to meet with Roth, he finds the police and a bunch of onlookers waiting outside Roth’s place. The man has been murdered, hung from the rafters with a web-like substance all over him.  When Alan asks to speak to Celia Roth, the cops claim that the man had no wife. 
Now it’s Maria (Claudia Muzi) the maid’s turn to warn Alan that he needs to get the hell out of town before it’s too late. She makes a tactical error by warning him within earshot of Mrs. Kuhn (Stéphane Audran), the owner of the hotel who, of course, is part of the conspiracy. Kuhn is also totally insane, rocking the cradle of her dead son at night to pass the time. Maria is brutally murdered by a redheaded snaggletooth witch that hiss-screeches (I’m finding it really hard to describe this hideous sound) at her prey. 

 photo vlcsnap-2015-07-31-10h26m26s817.jpg
How about exactly like the hissing of cracking open a can of tepid Shasta?

As Alan continues to follow the clues to what the hell is going on, everyone who potentially could help him ends up skewered by the Screech Witch. He finds some solace between the legs of Genevieve but her seductive charms are leading him down the path that all men must take at some point. No, not marriage! I’m taking about the Super Secret Spider Cult! 
I’ve always thought it was weird that more Italian horror fans weren’t jumping all over this film. It’s just so damn good. Director Gianfranco Giagni’s only horror outing to date is really eerie, grotesque, bloody as hell, and bizarre enough to stand out in a pretty uneven period for Italian horror. Though it has moments that feel oddly like some of Hong Kong horror’s strangest flicks, The Spider Labyrinth has a dark and mysterious tone throughout with just a few explosions of total fucking insanity.

The music score by composer Franco Piersanti, in his only horror outing, is both robust and haunting; it’s a big reason why this film works so well. Producer and co-writer Tonino Cervi, once upon a time (1970, to be precise), directed the wonderful horror film, Queens of Evil. Cinematographer Sebastiano Celeste is certainly no stranger to the horror genre. He worked (as camera operator) on Night of the Devils (1972) -a favorite of mine- and would work on both of Lucio Fulci’s TV horror movies, The House of Clocks and The Sweet House of Horrors (both 1989). 

My first of two negative criticisms of The Spider Labyrinth is of the writing. It took four credited screenwriters to come up with a story that has a lot of gaping holes in it which are patched over with weirdness and atmosphere. For my tastes, that’s a compliment. 9 times out of 10, I love when a horror film just shrugs its shoulders and goes, “Okay, we’re doing this now.” When the giant rubber spider pops up in Murder Obsession (probably because that’s what Riccardo Freda thought audiences in 1981 wanted to see), I stand up and cheer.

The Spider Labyrinth owes quite a bit to Dario Argento’s Suspiria and Inferno, especially with the stalking and killing scene of Maria the maid. But it intentionally references Hitchcock with a rain-soaked umbrella sequence straight out of Foreign Correspondent (1940). Another film that I felt like Giagni was channeling was Pupi Avati’s The House with the Laughing Windows (1976) and that is a very good thing in my book.

My second problem with this movie is Roland Wybenga as Professor Alan Whitmore. I don’t know where they found this guy but he is kind of the worst thing about this movie. He holds his own for the most part but he’s a little too stiff and dull. As the miasma of paranoia and death swirl around him, it’s kind of hard for the viewer to care when you have such a dud in the lead role. The scary part is, with every viewing, Wybenga’s hammy performance is starting to grow on me. But that’s because I’m insane.

 photo vlcsnap-2015-07-31-10h23m22s320.jpg
That's right my hammy combination of Val Kilmer and George Michael will grow on you too!

I’m glad that Stéphane Audran was having an interesting latter half of the decade as she was in this and Jess Franco’s Faceless the year before. The always reliable William Berger makes the most of his totally underwritten character. Sadly, he passed away only 5 years later but left behind a vast body of genre film work having been directed by Mario Bava, Jess Franco, Fernando Di Leo, Enzo G. Castellari, etc.  

 photo vlcsnap-2015-07-31-10h27m25s666.jpg
Don't tell my grandchildren I was in this or Faceless, they won't visit me!

It wasn’t much of a surprise when I cracked open Luca M. Palmerini and Gaetano Mistretta’s Spaghetti Nightmares to find that their paragraph-long review calls this movie “overrated” but I think the opposite is true. As much as I love their book, I am often at odds with these two Negative Nellies. This movie, even with its faults, stands proudly among its late 1980s Italian horror brethren. Thanks to its beautiful setting, moody lighting, over-the-top monster effects (from the legendary Sergio Stivalleti), suffocating paranoia, and fun Italian horror silliness, I highly recommend you track this one down. Hopefully, someone will give this films its HD debut at some point. 

 photo vlcsnap-2015-07-31-10h27m43s672.jpg
Remember those Spider Labyrinth Madballs from the 80's? 

Friday, August 7, 2015


Dial: Help (1988) Directed By Ruggero Deodato, Starring Charlotte Lewis (1988).

George Costanza's allegedly bulimic model girlfriend played by Charlotte Lewis stars here. Two years before she was second fiddle to Eddie Murphy's comedy stylinz in The Golden Child. This is one of many terrible films in Deodato's later period just after Phantom Of Death and The Barbarians, a truly sad time for the man responsible for the female anal impalement exiting through mouth and turtle disembowelment seen world wide (which was obviously the high point of his checkered career). I can't say I feel bad for the cannibal king's occupational derailment, which he's still never recovered from. 

It opens with Claudio Simonetti's dopiest tune, which is available on "Evil Tracks" along with the score for Primal Rage and Nightmare Beach, which I highly recommend. The last time these two paisanos worked together was on my absolute favorite Deodato film, Cut & Run. I like how in the DR catalog Chas just writes "great underwear" after the description, too funny!

 photo Screen shot 2015-07-20 at 1.14.56 AM.png
Stop prank calling me Eddie, I'm not transgendered

The lighting and set design look like a shitty Russ Mulcahy-esque new wave video and it begins with someone being strangled by a telephone cord, that's right it's a killer phone movie! In the late 80's Deodato was not the same film maker who went immediately for the jugular (the straight razor scene with David Hess and that innocent blonde played by Brigitte Petronio springs to mind as a disturbingly outrageous example). There's no element of threat and you feel secure in knowing there's no danger. So yeah, this one is pretty much a dull bore.

 photo Screen shot 2015-07-20 at 1.16.02 AM.png
Look out pigeon, a Glen Frey or Rod Stewart video is about to start!

The version I saw on YT only had sound in one speaker. This is the flashiest I've ever seen this director get though, which I guess counts for something. Maybe he felt it was time to go all Argento (or Lamberto Bava) on us and class it up a bit. This seems like a prime film for Houseofselfindulgence to review (perhaps Yum-Yum will read this and take a stab at it). It's just too glossy and doesn't fit in with all the gore soaked grimy flicks in the DR catalog, but here we are.

 photo Screen shot 2015-07-20 at 2.31.48 AM.png
Keep drinking, nothing helps!

I hate to beat a dead monkey or turtle, but this is a side of Deodato you're not likely to see ever again, it's very eurotrash. Maybe this was his attempt to go "mainstream", who knows?

Jenny (Lewis) the Brit model keeps getting heavy breathing phone calls and tries to forget them by hanging out at a cheesy party. She shakes her butt on top of a piano and tries to chillax.
One greaseball musician with a ponytail drives them around in his douchey sports car and waxes philosophical. 

 photo Screen shot 2015-07-20 at 2.20.28 AM.png
NOOO!! Why didn't somebody call the suicide hotline, at least before they played that Neil Sedaka song?

A high pitched frequency noise blares out from her phone and kills all her fish in a giant aquarium, "Oh Shit, now it's gotten personal"! Her brain dead Italian neighbor who wears a Mona Lisa T-Shirt, lets her sleep at his pad. The irritating high pitched beeps start up again and put the lunkhead into a trance which causes him to almost take a nosedive off the roof of the building. 

We're almost 26 minutes in and the sheer boredom is almost unbearable, I want to shut it off but the beer is flowing and maybe I can power through, the shit I do for TOG I swear sometimes!

 photo Screen shot 2015-07-20 at 2.30.16 AM.png
Hey this is that same pee colored bath water from Mad Foxes, uh oh!

RD's usual prolific screenwriter Gianfranco Clerici has fled the scene, there's noway he can be blamed for this abysmal disaster. It's kind of weird that this is the sole film that the two other writers besides Deodato have written, maybe they were eaten by a hungry tribe. 

I can't think of a worse stalker film right now but this one is so terrible that it should be on the top of the list, there's no real establishment of anything other than a mysterious phone call and a lame model. One guy who attempts to stab Jenny is killed by a bunch of quarters in a phone booth, Whu? You may want to rewind that part, is this film trying to be Maximum Overdrive all of a sudden?

The best/dumbest part happens when the phone decides to call up Jenny and give her a "blowjob" or turn her on by blowing hot winds at her. Sadly, this movie isn't even accidentally good, it's just completely worthless! 


 photo Screen shot 2015-07-20 at 2.38.12 AM.png
I'd say "This movie really sucks" but that would just be a ridiculous pun!

 photo Screen shot 2015-07-20 at 2.28.14 AM.png
OK fine score one for this movie, that underwear looks pretty spiffy!

 photo Screen shot 2015-07-20 at 2.27.30 AM.png
                                                         Can somebody Dial help already or at least call Life Alert!                                                            

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Strangler of Syggrou

-Reviewed by Skunkape-
The Strangler of Syggrou aka O Stragalistis tis Sygrou 1989
Directed by Dimitris Tzelas 
Syggrou Ave is a street located in Athens, Greece and if you’re looking for a sleazy good time it’s the avenue you’ll want to hang out at. The infamous street is filled with prostitutes, shady characters, and it’s also quite well known as a spot where transvestites and transsexuals gather. So pack your bags and bring the whole family cause were going to rock down to Syggrou Ave.
Daytime view from a Hotel on Syggrou Ave.
The Strangler of Syggrou aka Angelos, The Strangler is Greece’s answer to William Lustig’s classic Maniac. Filling the shoes of Joe Spinell in the title role is Apostolos Souglakos, a famous Greek wrestler turned actor and singer. Souglakos did have a couple high points in his career but this film isn’t one of them. The film was a straight to video release filled with terrible performances, stolen music, and a couple of porn inserts. Luckily, thanks to the awesome people of the Internet world I got a copy with fan/subs because this movie is so far off the radar an English dub or any proper subtitles for distribution would seem very unlikely. (the fan subs are good enough for me though) Not to mention it could never really get a legit release in America because of copyright infringement, it steals all kinds of music! In one scene we hear Tina Turner's Simply the best and in another Vangelis's Blade Runner End Theme.

"I'm looking for Kim Cattrall."

The movie kicks off with Angelos (Souglakos) walking around the city streets with Giorgio Moroder’s music from Cat People playing. (Paul’s Theme-Jogging Chase/track 6) Once the opening credits end and the music fades, Angelos makes out with a hooker and then stranglers her. Wow! In five minutes the movie has already lived up to its name.

"Ach! Ok I won't tell the public that you ripped off The Cat People soundtrack!"

Why does the strangler strangle? His wife Mary died from some sort of heart disease and that was enough for him to snap. He makes mannequins for a living and then makes one in his wife’s image. He keeps it in his bed at all times. Mary, his now mannequin wife haunts him, tells him what to do and belittles him. When he goes out and meets a lady, he faces the guilt of cheating on his dead (but in his mind alive) wife and that causes him to strangle the unsuspecting women. If he does strangle you and you’re a hot chick then he will also make a mannequin in your image but he won’t put you in the bedroom, there is another place in the house for his growing collection of plastic ladies. Unlike the Joe Spinell character in Maniac, this Greek’s got game, he spots a model in a department store so he puts a sticky note on the window with his digits and gets a call back immediately. They connect on their first date, this is when we get to hear Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best” as it plays in the background and with that kind of atmosphere she wants to have sex with him immediately. Once alone at her place he makes up an excuse not to do the deed, so that the urge of strangling her doesn’t temp him. She wants him so bad that she puts on a porno called Mondo New Wave Harlots, this is actually an insert and not the original intent of the director but it works for me! He cares about this new girl and this newly discovered woman of interest takes the place of the Caroline Monroe character from Maniac.

"Forget about the Greek Debt Crisis and lets party!"

The Greek Paul Blart: Gyro Cop

Jacopetti & Prosperi meet Russ Meyer

The movie jumps from one clumsy scene after another as cops try to track this killer down. The investigation begins at the flower shop because all of his female victims are left with a single rose on their body. His usual hangout for abducting ladies is the local disco, The Barbarella Disco. The police captain’s daughter almost gets picked up from the dance club right after doing the Lambada (this movie was clearly trying to cash in on the Forbidden Dance craze of the 90s) and since she is the only one who can ID him they use her as bait.

"I keep telling you Chee-Burger Chee-Burger, Pepsi, no Coke!"

"Maybe I should hide a little better."

The movie gives up on trying to create a relationship between Angelos and the fake Caroline Monroe. In the 3rd act they are finally about to have their first intimate moment but his penis doesn’t rise to the occasion, she sighs in disappointment and  he strangles her in bed. No Big Fat Greek Wedding for them! In order to cope with his grief he gets a prostitute and has a nice bath. This is my favorite scene, it features the music of Do Piano and their song “Again”. (Thank you Shazam!) The song reminds me of The Kids in the Hall sketch “Tammy” with Bruce McCullogh playing the pop star. “Again” is an  80s synth song with a monotone depressing rhyme scheme and it's very catchy one making it a true guilty pleasure. I crank it up to ten in the car all the time! (Shhhh don’t tell anyone) The happy hooker gets all nice and clean but of course strangled and then there's a peeping tom who was the whore's last john that also gets strangled. After this, the big man goes out in drag to a different section of town strangling a dude, no rose for him, how sexist!

What a "Drag"

Ted Turner hangs out in here.

Do Piano "Again" click for video

Tammy "Dance" click for video

The chief’s daughter spots Angelos at the disco and reconnects with him putting the trap in action. The cops follow them back to his place and he introduces the girl to Mary the Mannequin wife. Mary yells at him for bringing back some slut to their home as he tries to rub it in her face and all his mannequins laugh and torment him in this ridiculous but very entertaining finale.  

"I'll use my back hair to make you three some wigs."
"You can't cock block me!"
6/10 on the CULT-0-METER
Stupid and Silly. If you love the original Maniac you will either hate this for trying to copy it or love it as a brainless tribute. I quite enjoyed the film but its not something I'll be itching to watch again anytime soon!

Follow me on TWITTER
and there was this!

Our Fan Trailer 
Maniac 3 : It's all Greek to Me

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...