Saturday, 27 June 2015

Mega Python Vs Gatoroid (2011, Mary Lambert)




This is a very strong contender, i feel, for the title of best film ever made in the entire history of time.

Now, i'm not saying that it's a great film, or even a good one really. It's just that the very existence of a film wherein '80s popstrels Debbie Gibson and Tiffany fight in a swamp... Debbie Gibson and Tiffany... mud-wrestling... It's like someone hacked into the dreams of my ten-year-old self and beamed them directly onto celluloid. The fact that the movie also contains giant lizards engaged in a serpentine duel to the death is just the icing on the cake.
Said gargantuan reptiles may not be the greatest effects committed to film (in fact, the word "special" is possibly not applicable to these effects), but that just enhanced the charm. Speaking of "charms", hasn't Tiffany grown? She now resembles Karen Gillan's MILFy mother, and that ain't no bad thing. Still more of a Gibson fan, myself, though.
 Monsters, ex-teen pinups, and in-jokes galore. When the lines "I think we're alone now..", "There doesn't seem to be anyone around!" were uttered, i think i nearly spontaneously combusted with joy. Truly the stuff of a madman's dreams.

Strippers Vs Werewolves (2012, Jonathan Glendening)

 I truly can't believe some of the terrible reviews that this flick has garnered on certain review websites. I thought that horror fans had more of a sense of humour. Perhaps, like a rotten corpse to a ghoul, it simply isn't to everybody's taste.
I, however, found it absolutely hilarious, and great fun. Thrills, spills, gorgeous chicks in states of undress, cameos from horror and fantasy legends... i fail to see what's not to like. Seriously. Any film that manages to star Robert Englund (oh, come on, you know who he is!), Sarah Douglas (Superman II, Return of Swamp Thing, etc.), Barbara Nedeljakova (Hostel), and Lucy Pinder (Zoo and Nuts magazines. Regularly. Ask yer dad or uncle) cannot be A Bad Thing. Oh, and the lovely Ali Bastian off of the Hollyoaks, and Adele Silva from Emmerdale Farm. And they're both really good!
 From the opening scenes, with "Hungry Like the Wolf" ringing in my ears from the titles and a horny Martin Kemp turning into a lustful lycanthrope who is dispatched in a singularly original way (the scene caused me to wonder whether the penis or pen is mightier than the sword...), i knew i was on a ride that was going to enjoy, and happily wasn't disappointed. Hot strippers: check. Bloodthirsty werewolves: check. Needless but very hot cameo by British porn starlet Syren Sexton (trading here under her real name of Gloria Savage - which somehow seems more of a made up name) wearing little apart from a crucifix and lace gloves: check.
Absolute z-grade heaven. Add to this cameos by the likes of Steven Berkoff and Lysette Anthony, and the promise of a sequel featuring werewolf strippers vs. vampires... i fail to understand why i can be the only one who's excited? Good unclean fun. More, please!

The Wickeds (2005, John Poague)

Well, for a start the director can 'Poague' Mahone for making this straight to DVD slop.
Now, let me begin by saying that i love cheap horror movies. Can't get enough of 'em. I adore "Plan 9 from Outer Space". I loved "Chopping Mall" and "I Dismember Mama". But this... abomination...
Shot on camcorder in a local graveyard and what seems to be someone's garden shed standing in for the requisite "Evil Dead" shack, this stars (and i use the word advisedly) porno legend Ron Jeremy and the local amateur dramatics society. When the Hedgehog of Sex puts in a movie's best performance, things ain't looking good.
Anyhow, the plot - such as it is - involves two cretinous gravediggers stealing an amulet from the body of a magician / vampire, who promptly rises from the grave to retrieve his filched property, and conjures a horde of zombies from the surrounding graves to help him besiege a shed full of dozy students in which said gravedigging thieves have taken refuge. Leaving aside the question of how a vampire summons zombies, what follows is some of the most inept stuff committed to film. The girl who is spuriously "possessed", gaining spooky eyes DRAWN ONTO HER EYELIDS had me paralysed with laughter rather than fear.
Worth viewing only for the hot brunette chick (Kelly Roth) and the awe-inspiring stunt sequence where a guy hangs and drops a whole 3 feet onto some straw. They even play it in slow motion for maximum devastating effect. This film may well be toxic: do not approach.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace (aka The Valley of Fear) (1962, Terence Fisher)

 Dubbing? Rudimentary, dear Watson!
There are several criminal aspects to this sub-krimi German co-production, first among them being the fact that the filmmakers neglected to get Christopher Lee and Thorley Walters in to loop their own dialogue. It's somewhat jarring to watch an actor with so readily identifiable a voice as Mr Lee speaking, yet the words come out of his mouth spoken by what sounds like a Transatlantic drawl. Or an American dubbing artiste doing a poor Lee imitation.
If one can get past this surreal experience however there is fun to be had. Lee and Walters are ideally cast as Holmes and Watson, at times certain shots looked like Sidney Paget illustrations come to life. Hans Sohnker does a creditable job projecting a sinister air as Moriarty, despite the handicap of dubbing even more atrocious than that of the English-speaking cast. He's no Eric Porter or even George Zucco, but better than some lesser efforts. The direction, however, co-credited to the masterly Terence Fisher of many a Hammer classic fame, is somewhat workmanlike. Perhaps Fisher's heart wasn'tin it, or he was held back by his Teutonic cohort, but it's not in the same league as his and Lee's earlier essaying of "The Hound of the Baskervilles".
 The supporting cast are more than adequate, with the lovely Senta Berger in an early role adding some class and beauty to a female cast of East End slatterns played by burly hausfraus. It really is a shame though that Lee's icily incisive portrayal of the great detective, perfect for the role in every way, was only seen in this film and a couple of early '90s productions. Still, there's always the consolation of being the only actor (so far as i know) to have played both Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes, as well as Sir Henry Baskerville. That's got to count for something.
By the way, i saw this under the title "Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace" (somewhat reminiscent of the Basil Rathbone series, the middling entries of which it is on a par). The alternate title of "The Valley of Fear" is somewhat misleading, as apart from characters such as Holmes, Watson and Professor Moriarty this film has very little in common with the Conan Doyle novel of the same name. However, for a Holmes fan wanting a diverting hour and a half on a rainy afternoon, this more than does the trick.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Zombie Creeping Flesh (aka: Hell of the Living Dead) (1980, Bruno Mattei)

Sheer insanity from "Vincent Dawn", aka Bruno Mattei in a film with more alternate titles than cast members. Here we have a plot which is reminiscent - to put it mildly - of Romero's classic "Dawn of the Dead" (commando squad storm a building in the opening ten minutes, one rogue member of said team is a trigger-happy psycho), and also semi-Fulci "Zombie Flesh Eaters 2" (zombie outbreak caused by toxic clouds from chemical plant / lab/ refinery / whatever); although as this movie came around seven years earlier than that particular abomination, we can rule out any ripo... er... 'homage' on that score.
We follow this crack commando squadron (not, so far as we know, framed for a murder they didn't commit) to the tropical wilderness of Papua New Guinea - portrayed by Italian parks plus stock natural history footage - to contain a zombie outbreak caused by a chemical leak from a factory/lab setup known ironically as a "Hope centre". As BP can tell you, this sort of thing is not good for business.
Along the way, our team hook up with hot ace reporter Lia and her camera dude. Lia is, thankfully, an expert on the customs of the local natives, and - having obviously watched Alexandra Della Colli in "Zombie Holocaust" - knows that the best way to avoid being eaten by cannibals is to get your baps out and paint yourself strange colours. Hey, man, it worked for me. Cue a mishmash of stock footage of native dances, until relief arrives when the zombies showup to massacre the village. Phew.

The standout character here is definitely Santoro, played with crazy-eyed intensity by Franco Garofalo / Frank Garfield. It's as if Wooley, the crazy SWAT gay from the opening scenes of Dawn of the Dead, went on to be major character throughout the whole movie. I dunno about you, but i've always wanted to see that: and here it is. See him grin and laugh as he shoots rotting revenants thru the head. See him cackle with glee as he sets a ghoul ablaze with a burning torch. I loved it. He should have his own series.
  Also competing for Most Bizarre Behaviour by a Commando is Osbourne, who when told to check out the basement of a seemingly deserted house in zombie territory, ransacks the wardrobe to dress up in a tutu and top hat before being eaten alive. I'm sure it's how he wanted to go.
All this, and a quality tongue-ripping and eye-gouging to end on. A veritable feast of entertainment that i highly endorse.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Lips of Blood [Levres de Sang] (1975, Jean Rollin)

As a youth, when i wasn't weeping in butcher's shops, i was watching horror movies and reading books about horror movies.  One such salutary tome was David Pirie's The Vampire Cinema, which expanded my knowledge of the bloodsucker genre beyond the confines of Hammer and Universal, and introduced me to the works of Jean Rollin.

French poet and filmic auteur Jean Rollin spent a lot of the late 1960s and early 1970s churning out films containing lots of sexy lady vampires, for which the world is grateful.  His opus of this subgenre is in my opinion 1975's Lips of Blood, which honed the elements of earlier efforts like Requiem for a Vampire and Shiver of the Vampires and crafted a masterpiece of a sort - a film that can be bluntly described as having a lot of beautiful and elegant French actresses wandering around pretty much naked and wearing vampire fangs, but can also be explored on a deeper level.
 The story begins with Frederic (Jean-Loup Philippe) attending a swanky Parisienne party, where he sees a poster displaying a photograph of a ruined castle and coastline that trigger long-forgotten memories deep within him. "Those ruins, that landscape - they're like a part of my childhood" he says as this wall-mounted fiche sends him fishing in his subconscious and coming up with a bad case of deja vu.  Frederic has repressed a lot of the memories of his childhood, and the earliest thing he can recall is this ruined castle, and an encounter there when he was twelve years old with an alluring young girl dressed all in white (Annie Belle).
The only clue as to the location of this place from his youth is to be found from the photographer who made the poster, who Frederic tracks down to her studio at the convenient time (for the director / scriptwriter and we the viewer) that a photoshoot is taking place involving a voluptuous strawberry blonde model posing naked apart from a pair of thigh length leather boots.  Cheers, Jean - but you try explaining to your mother who's just happened to walk in when the image on screen is said lady running her hands sensuously down her body and then between her legs that you're actually watching an artfully constructed film that's almost Proustian in its exploration of the power of memory.  No, i hardly believed me, either.
Frederic's quest to find his lost childhood and the vampire girl of his dreams leads him to a Parisian crypt, wherein he clumsily knocks over the cross in the doorway that has contained the vault's denizens: four vampire vixens in diaphanous dresses that leave precisely nothing to the imagination.  These undead temptresses are unleashed upon the world, with all of their their alluring lure of enjoying le petit mort in Death's embrace.
Eventually - after much danger, death and destruction - Frederic finally locates Sauveterre Castle and returns to the place of his beginnings to find the answer within, as The Boo Radleys told us all to do back in 1995. "You had to remember me, before i could appear to you" says Jennifer, the girl from his childhood and twenty years of dreaming, as she appears exactly the way he remembers her from two decades before.
A wonderful film, dripping in atmosphere and full of emotional intensity and complex ideas about memory, existence, death and longing.  And sexy vampire girls, yes.

Recommended Rollin.  Rollin', rollin', rollin'.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Sadisterotica [aka Two Undercover Angels] (1969, Jess Franco)

I just performed a feat that many would probably balk at: i sat through Jess Franco's bizarre-a-thon '60s crime caper / spy-fi / horror flick "Sadisterotica" (aka "Two Undercover Angels") for the second time in two days.

Glutton for punishment, you may well say: making the 'sadist' part of the title almost apt. Sadly for a movie involving the buxom charms of Rosanna Yanni and Janine Reynaud, though, there is precious little of the 'erotica' that one would expect from crazy Jess after seeing later works such as "Vampyros Lesbos" or "Female Vampire". Ah, well: you can't have everything, and i was focusing too hard on trying to detect a plot and keep tabs on the myriad characters to be distracted, anyway.
The two titular (arf!) lovely ladies of the 'Red Lips' detective agency are on the track of missing models, which lead them to murderous pop artist Klaus Tiller, with his amazing disguise kit of fake beard, fez and eyepatch that will have precisely no-one fooled, and his inexplicable werewolf sidekick - named Morpho, as is de rigeur for deformed henchmen in a Franco flick.

If you can cope with the execrable dubbing in the English-language release - which really is terrible: my brother and i used to do better making stuff up on the spot with a microphone and the video's audio-dub button - then this kitsch and campy slice of late '60s madness does yield some enjoyment. Gawd only knows what was happening most of the time, though. It made more sense when i watched it drunk: i recommend everyone does the same.