Thursday, April 27, 2017


Macabre (Macabro, Frozen Terror) Directed by Lamberto Bava (LamBava) starring Bernice Stegers, Stanko Molnar, Veronica Zinny, Roberto Posse, Ferdinando Orlandi (1980)

-Reviewed by Richard Glenn Schmidt

Mom Of The Year/Wife Of The Year for 1980 runner-up Jane Baker (Bernice Stegers) waits until her husband leaves for work so that she can abandon her two kids and meet up with her lover in his apartment. I don’t know if this is normal or not because this story -“inspired by actual events”- takes place in New Orleans; that could just be how they roll there. What Jane doesn’t know is that her daughter Lucy (Veronica Zinny) is a complete wacko. In a desperate plea for attention she fucking drowns her little brother! Dang, those tween years are murder!

When she gets the call that her son is dead, Jane and her lover Fred (Roberto Posse) -fresh from making the sex act- jump in his VW Bug and head for the house. Because she’s having a nervous breakdown in the passenger seat, Fred loses control of the car and is killed in the ensuing crash. Jane has to spend some time recovering in the loony bin. Once she gets out, Jane heads home to patch things up with her long-suffering husband and deal with the clearly insane Lucy. Just kidding, she heads right to Fred’s apartment to be even more of an asshole than she’s already been thus far.

This is not about Hurricane Katrina.

Enter Robert Duval. No, not Robert Duvall (with two L’s), Robert Duval (Stanko Molnar), the blind son of the former landlord who lives alone in the same building as Dead Fred -not Drop Dead Fred. Stop distracting me, IMDB. I’m trying to write about Macabre! He has always had a crush on Jane and now that she’s single, he’s ready to make his move. But is she single? Robert immediately notices that Jane is acting rather strange. She has nightly rendezvous with someone she calls “Fred” and is having about a thousand loud orgasms during these encounters.

Never date anyone with anything less than a Passat.

Skip this paragraph if you don’t want the film spoiled for you. But if you’ve seen the completely unsubtle VHS art for this film under its Frozen Terror title, then you know what I’m about to say. Somehow Jane has managed to save Fred’s severed head in a freezer and has been making love to it since she got out of the nuthouse. How the hell she managed to score this little trophy is beyond me. Robert and Lucy figure out the truth at the same time. He wants to help Jane and presumably hook up when she gets back from a possible second trip to the place with padded walls. Lucy decides to use her knowledge of the severed head of Fred to torture her mother for reasons unknown. I’m telling you. Tweens, man.

The doctors dilated my pupils years ago, I kept the glasses.

In case you ever wondered if British actress Bernice Stegers (of Xtro) is batshit insane, Macabre can answer that one for you. Her performance in this is completely unhinged and ludicrously over-the-top. I love it! Of course, it doesn’t hurt that she’s voluptuous as hell and her character is dangerously horny with a slightly (sarcasm) unhealthy dose of sexual obsession and necrophilia to boot. If her half-assed altar to the memory of her deceased lover doesn’t make you snicker, then I don’t know my business.

You can never wash off the Stanko.

A huge part of what makes this all so brilliant is Jane’s epic cockteasing of poor Robert. And for reals, part of me wants to think that she’s genuinely interested in Robert but she’s so damn bonkers that she can’t let Fred go, even in the face of a seemingly normal encounter. Robert repairs brass musical instruments for a living so you know he’s good with his hands! Give the guy a chance, lady.
Possessing one of the finest names in history -second only to Fabio Testi- is Croatian born Stanko Molnar. He’s really good in this one and I wish he’d done more Italian horror and giallo. Of course, the real MVP of Macabre is Veronica Zinny. Her portrayal of the diabolical and unintentionally hilarious Lucy really carries the movie when Bernice Stegers isn’t chewing giant sexy holes in the scenery. I wish that this wasn’t her only screen credit. I would have liked to have seen those constantly narrowing, sneaky eyes in more Italian horror flicks.

No one plays Minecraft anymore.

I kept misremembering this film as having a 100 minute or longer running time but no, it just feels like it does. While the same can be said to a lesser degree of his follow-up, the hilarious giallo A Blade in the Dark (1983, see review here), LamBava’s feature film debut is disastrously methodical in its pacing. Add a couple of megaton bomb level annoying brats and a one note mystery to the mix and you’ve got a film that I find tough to recommend but enjoyable enough for seasoned Italian horror fans. Just don’t expect anything remotely insane like the director’s own Demons (1985). This is the un-Demons.

Tastes like Fabio Testi.

The music by composer Ubaldo Continello (Trauma, Play Motel) is spare when it’s not ramming a saxophone, harmonica, or wildly heavy handed percussion and strings up your ass. I really think this film would have benefited from some synthesizer freak-outs to fill in the long stretches without music. Hey LamBava, I know you probably thought that less is more but it’s not true. Less is just less, duder. Do I really think that blogs speak directly to all them fancy directors in Hollywood?  How long has LamBava lived in Hollywood anyway? Eh, probably since Body Puzzle (1992) came out.
So yeah, I have mixed feelings about Macabre. There’s quite a bit of atmosphere, lavish set decorations, great locations, unexplained plot weirdness, mind-melting histrionics, and abrupt, comedic violence. The director admits that the idea for the film started as a joke and/or is based on a real case. I’m thinking it’s the former but you know what, why not? New Orleans doesn’t have laws against this kind of thing happening. Just like Ft. Pierce, Florida, anything goes. The aforementioned slowness of the plot is kind of a deal breaker but I might give Macabre another viewing someday. Or not. The music score certainly doesn’t do the film any favors because let’s be honest, the harmonica is the butthole of musical instruments.

Can you necro-feel me, dawg?

Monday, April 24, 2017

A Virgin Among The Living Dead

A Virgin Among The Living Dead directed by Jess Franco, Starring Jess Franco (1973).

In Florida, there was a convenient store that played a huge part in my journey from adolescence to manhood. It all happened at the corner news stand, where I used to purchase all my porn mags. This was in the dark ages or possibly the last thread of sanity before every chucklehead had a social media soapbox to blab about their opinions on the Internet and everyone craved their dopamine fix on a second by second basis plus no internet porn yet. Ahhh--how I long for a massive unplugging, me being a die hard Luddite and all (who typed this out on his labtop,SHHHHH). Corner News stand had a little video store section of big box videos like the H.G. Lewis ones, random Eurotrash and that’s where I first saw the cover art for this Jess Franco turd, this may have been the beginning of my repulsion or accidental enjoyment of this director’s catalog. Franco and Naschy fans have the same kind of touchy sense of humor and take this shit waay too seriously. I mean it's goofy monsters and lesbian vampires, lighten up people! The Deep Red catalog had a couple of titles featured and usually they were begrudgingly recommended in a snickering way, which I totally understand.  

There was an article in Fango most likely penned by Tim Lucas that peaked my interest, mainly because there were some scantily clad babes and that magazine kept it pretty squeaky clean. This was back in the days where you had to really be an underground hardcore trader to see his work and pay a shit load for a VSOM copy or get super lucky to have an off the beaten path video store that served your cult movie needs. I was in none of these categories and come to think of it still too young to buy adult reading material, but years later I would return.

the grill marks mean extra batin'.

The first time I laid eyes on this Jess Franco pile of shit with an epic big box cover art showing a gruesome assortment of horn dog corpses that looked Bernie Wrightson-esque (RIP Bernie) and Michael Jackson’s "Thriller" as well. They were all exploding with lust to defile one chick! Now even Weng’s Chop or Tim Lucas (aka Thee Franco-fanatics) would be hard pressed to tell you that what’s inside lives up to this cover art! Actually they most likely will but I’m not convinced. According to VHS Collector Paul J. Zamarelli, the Wizard box cover art was done by Spataro. I couldn't find that much on the subject of this artist but I did notice Charles Band is selling autographed posters of the Wizard artwork, what gives him the right to claim ownership over something he didn't paint? What else is new with that guy though?

Franco's work gives me that feature of opening a can of SpaghettiOs and thinking for nostalgia's sake that I might enjoy this and sometimes it happens, but I immediately regret this decision. Nothing in my mind has lived up to his witch burning sacrilegious shit like Love Letters or The Bloody Judge. I use this site as a PSA against "the unwatchables" (to coin the Greg Goodsell term), so you don’t have to bother suffering. If you're a Franco-holic though you are a glutton for punishment.

you know I added the horse meat balls to Franco-American Spaghetti in a can, right?

Instead of Lina Romay and her fuzzy vagina, we get to see Christina von Blanc's pubic hair in see through panties--excited yet? She takes a little road trip to a creepy castle where Uncle Howard Vernon (starring as himself apparently) is banging out tunes on a piano. He's rocking a 70's coked out disco shirt and mussed hair look. Britt Nichols is pretty hot though as the perpetually smoking blond, she has that greased up look of the Fassbinder James Mansfield-esque actress Barbara Valentin, who was also in Horrors of Spider Island.

I'm so ganked up on krell!

After lots of zoom ins of people smoking and one girl keeling over and dying, von Blanc takes a dip in a lily pad covered pond that looks like the one featured in Zombie Lake (I'm already feeling the effects of PTSD from that shit flick). A bunch of old pervs drool over her and seem to be geriatric zombies or cannibals. If she was surrounded by old dudes on the cover leering with their pants down I wouldn't be in this mess in the first place, I blame that god damn video cover art that drew me in like a stupid moth to a bug zapper. Some of the cemetery villagers are played by Paul Muller, who later showed up in Dog Lay Afternoon and Antonio de Cabo who has the hugest unibrow I've ever seen. This actor later showed up in Mandingo Manhunter and stopped acting in 1983.

I love our new urban forest cannabis dispensary. 

I get the feeling that they gave Franco the skeleton key to a cool castle, he suckered some babes to roll around in melted crayon blood splatter and he cobbled this into some incoherent sleaze. For some reason it works for me when Jean Rollin does it. I wasn't expecting much from the lucky chicken egg director (don't know what I'm talking about read my review for Faceless

The score is pretty uneventful by the usually superb Bruno Nicolai, it sounds like the Tobe Hooper Chainsaw pots and pans over the quiet noodling parts of Moonchild by King Crimson.
There's some hideous looking dudes to look forward to, snaggly teeth, caterpillar brows--a regular fugg-fest! Interested? Go on get out of here ya weirdo!


Sunday, April 16, 2017

James "Dr. Terror" Harris R.I.P.

This is an awkward depressing time right now, it seems as if all the nicest, most talented and genius artists are dying off and the world is being over taken by greed, ignorance and people who drink Gatorade instead of water cuz it's got electrolytes. I keep thinking that pretty soon, it’ll be an apocalyptic hell on earth run by white supremacists and the fascist Orange monarchy, once they drop a nuclear warhead. But I’m trying not to be consumed by negative thoughts.

this was my fav. picture of Dr. Terror.

Even though I barely knew Dr. Terror, his death is very tragic and shocking to me and as evident from the outpour of condolences on FB, he meant a lot to others. 

I’ve admired his site for a few years now and he was very talented and overly enthusiastic about gore films. As “horror bloggers” we cast out our impressions of things and convey how these films affect us. Sometimes it seems like nobody gives a fuck or even bothers to read anything, but we roll that boulder up the hill anyway hoping to influence others. That’s my biggest fear, that something will happen to me and everything I’ve said online will just become buried under useless trite information and it will be lost forever. But it’s not lost, even though James Harris is gone, his words, thoughts and the things he loved and cared about remain for others to be inspired by.

I loved those 8-bit horror videos he uploaded, there’s an insane clip of him eating raw meat while watching Faces of Death for the Guts and Grog blog. Our basic connection was that we contributed to each other’s sites on Italian Horror Week and USA UP ALL NIGHT WEEK. I only met him 5 years ago and he was gone too soon. He planned on reviewing Psychomania for us, but sadly it won’t happen and it’s a shame.

All the things he loved and cared about are over at for others to relive and cheer us up. Let’s celebrate his legacy by sharing with others his videos, reviews and things that he cared about on his site. You can contribute whatever you can spare at this link to help his wife Nicole and family (

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