The Atrocity Film Festival 2001
as reported by Verson Jetorix
We kicked things off with a trio of AIP exploitation flicks.
The Big Doll House (71), Jack Hillís Filipino-made wonder starring Pam
Grier, was okay. I honestly donít remember anything much remarkable about it. We
followed that with Wild Angels (66) with Peter Fonda and Nancy Sinatra.
That was more like it; rambunctious bikers spouting lines like ďWe wanna be free
to ride our machines without getting hassled by The ManÖ and we wanna get
loaded!Ē You gotta like that. Best yet was Slaughter (72) with Jim Brown.
A nice tight actioner with nudity, gunfire, and attitude. Thumbs up!
AFF continued with The Day the Sky Exploded (58), slated
because of Mario Bavaís involvement. Pretty fun stuff with more stock footage
per minute than I could remember seeing in a while. Then it was Grave of the
Vampire (72) with William Smith. I had read a few decent things and some bad
things about this movie and based on what I saw, Iíd side with the bad. Maybe
the version we saw lacked some magical quality that, had we been privileged to
see it, would have made this a good movie but I doubt it. Quickly we moved to
Tower of Evil (72), a not so terrible but quite artificial horror. The Brits
usually do okay with this kind of thing but I wasnít much impressed. Next up was
Tomb of Torture (63) but we could have skipped it altogether in my
opinion. Iím all for Euro costume horrors but this lacks any punch at all and
remains ultimately forgettable. Day of the Maniac (72) is much more fun
in the nonsensical way of these Satanic thrillers. Good cast, some nudity, and
an endearing incoherence made it worth while. Lastly was House of 1000 Dolls
(67) with Vincent Price and George Nader. Traditionally lambasted, this was
actually better and more enjoyable than I thought it would be. Naturally Iím a
fan of the two leads, but this had a sleaziness to it that raised (or lowered)
it a new level of appreciation. I would own it.
The Atrocity Film Festival kicked back into full gear with a pair
of not-so-great flicks. We had high hopes for Hunted City (79) because it
starred fave Maurizio Merli but the fact of the matter is it was so forgettable
that our only recollection of the flick was that it sucked. The other winner was
Red Light Girls (74), a C-grade Italian giallo with very little going for
it; no good actors (except a cameo by Umberto Raho), hardly any nudity, and the
murders are forgettable. I know that sounds crass and all but thatís what you
watch these movies for! Listen, a bad foreign movie is almost always better than
a bad American movie because at least you have a window into another culture.
But unless thereís some hook, some way to appreciate that bad foreign movie it
might as well be American because itís a coin toss for losers.
AFF continued with The Corrupt Ones (67), a very fun adventure film with Robert Stack, Elke Sommer, the stunningly beautiful Nancy Kwan and Werner Peters. Not to mention a groovy title song by Dusty Springfield! This one comes highly recommended and was a surprise hit of this yearís fest. That hard-to-follow act was followed none too successfully by a spaghetti western called Dead For a Dollar (68) featuring John Ireland and even he couldnít bring a dollarís worth of life to this film. Lastly, it was 5 Dolls For An August Moon (70), a body count movie by the great Mario Bava. Itís my opinion that Bava was past his prime by this time but this oneís held up by the cast and a couple of good set pieces. Could be worse and it does have Ira Von Furstenberg in it, after all.
We kicked off a long AFF Saturday with The Man From Planet X
(51), Edgar Ulmerís very lean sci-fi classic. The disk looks great and the film
is fun, what more do you want? The Cheaters (75) is a Euro crime flick
with Luc Miranda. Itís okay I guess but no great shakes. Oil (76) is a
very strange (and not good) flick about crews that fight fires at oil rigs in
the Middle East. The good cast, including Stuart Whitman and Gordon Mitchell,
are completely adrift in this dull and confusing entry. Next was Curse of the
Devil (73), one of Paul Naschyís many wolfman flicks. Pretty enjoyable
actually in its quaint, old-fashioned way. Hand of Power (68) is an Edgar
Wallace adaptation starring the great Joachim Fuchsberger. The late-cycle
thrills were enough to keep this fan happy. And last we have Manhunt
(72). Mario Adorf gives a cult-defining performance as a family man gone
revenginí against the likes of Henry Silva and Woody Strode. Check it out.
Weapons of Death (77) is another generic Italian crime
thriller that does, however, feature Henry Silva as the bad guy. He suffers
train death. We followed this with Fuzz (72), that messy cop dramedy with
Burt Reynolds and not enough Raquel Welch. Itís as bad as Iíd remembered it when
it first came out.
Next was a triple feature starting with The Seven-Ups
(73), a pretty good cop thriller with Roy Scheider. Plenty of car chases and
stuff in this gritty actioner in the Dirty Harry mold. Black Caesar (73),
on the other hand, is a really lame blaxploitation flick made by hack Larry
Cohen and starring Fred Williamson. Do not bother. This has none of the elements
that make this genre fun. Luckily we had an ace up our sleeves, Black Tight
Killers (66). This Japanese private detective thriller/comedy has sixties
fab style to burn and was so much fun to watch that I immediately bought a copy
for myself. If you want to step into a hip, colorful, completely fabricated
world of female assassins and guys with skinny ties and sunglasses, check this
out. Highly recommended.
The Atrocity Film Festival continues. This time we started with
The Girl in Room 2A (73), an exploitable but undernourished slice of
Eurosleaze. We had medium hopes for this because Rosalba Neri is in it but she
doesnít have much to do (and never takes her clothes off) so it turned out to be
a loser. Perhaps the uncut version, which this was not, is better but I wouldnít
bet on it. Next, for reasons we wonít go into here, was Hustle (75), the
Burt Reynolds cop vehicle. Itís okay I guess. At least it had Catherine Deneuve
in it which is more than you can say for most movies. Last up was Messiah of
Evil (75), an old-fashioned supernatural horror flick. This was the third in
a day of middle-of-the-road flicks. Sometimes you just watch movies to get them
out of the way. We just had to pick three in a row!
Back to AFF. Kicked things off with another John Ireland spaghetti western, Gun For One Hundred Graves (68), with about the same results as before, not very good. Umberto Lenzi is not a sure bet. Then it was Rififi in Amsterdam (67), a Roger Browne Eurospy flick. Quite impenetrable, this one, but itís fun watching Umberto Raho and Franco Ressel at any rate. Roger Browne had a good run as a spy guy and this was the first one of his Iíd seen. There would be more in my future. Finished this day off with TNT Jackson (75) a lame blaxploitation/kung fu hybrid that never reaches its potential.
The next day was Shat Day; three William Shatner flicks in a row.
Needless to say this was a much-anticipated evening of revelry. The long lost
Incubus (65) had just come out on DVD and it was worth the wait. Shot in
Esperanto, this curio turned out to be everything it had been touted to be over
the years. Director Leslie Stevens was a guiding force behind the Outer Limits
TV show and this has the feel of an elongated episode except in an odd language.
Shot on Big Sur, this fable has great photography and music (another Outer
Limits guy, Dominick Frontier) and The Shat handles the Esperanto quite well!
Recommended. From there we diverted into dual Shat mode in White Commanche
(68) where Bill plays brothers! Itís a ludicrous western, as youíd expect and
pretty darn fun to watch as the good Shat takes on the bad Shat. The topper for
the evening, however, was Impulse (74) which features the Shat as a
psycho killer! This is pure, unadulterated Shat. An extremely tacky wardrobe and
an equally tacky performance make for a priceless picture that every Shat fan
should see. All in all, Shat Night was a resounding success, living up to the
promise of over-the-top entertainment.
This full day of AFF started with the 70ís eco-horror Frogs
(72) which had promise but ultimately turned out to be a croaker. Next was
Fatal Charm (77) with fave Maurizio Merli and, believe it or not, Joan
Collins. Not a good flick but Joan does take her clothes off, if that helps.
Joan pops up again in Subterfuge (69), an old-fashioned British spy flick. This
was another one with potential because of the good cast but it remained strictly
middle-of-the-road fare. However, Ring of Death (69) with the great
Franco Nero and the gorgeous Florinda Bolkan turned out to be a great flick. We
hit our stride with this hybrid of giallo and cop thriller. Again, I had to buy
a copy for myself. Euro-fans wonít want to miss this one. The Killer Likes
Candy (68) is a Eurospy flick with Kerwin Mathews, a likeable leading man.
Fans of the genre will find some satisfaction with it. This one features the old
ice bullet trick from Ring Around the World. Last up for this day was The
Executioner (70), another Brit spy flick that turned out to be quite
engrossing with good performances, especially from George Peppard. Joan showed
up in this one too!
An AFF double feature was next. The Reincarnation of Isabel
(72) is typical Italian supernatural nonsense with Mickey Hargitay. In other
words, a throwaway, one of those movies to get out of the way. On the other
hand, Goke, Body Snatcher From Hell (68) is fun Japanese sci-fi worth
checking out. Thereís just something about the non-giant-monster sci-fi flicks
that came out of Japan in the 50ís and 60ís that is very appealing.
Hmmm, that thing on Goke's forehead looks kinda familiar...
The last day of AFF kicked off with The Dark is Deathís Friend (75) an okay giallo with George Hilton. Heís made better movies but now we know. The spy spoof Operation Kid Brother (67) was next. This one stars Neil Connery, Seanís less charismatic brother, and it turned out to be more entertaining than most Bond films. A great cast and good music help a lot. A major step up was Day of the Cobra (80), another great Franco Nero crime thriller. Franco rocks and I immediately knew I had to have my own copy of this one too. Last, and perhaps least, was Night of the Assassins (70) that sports an awesome Euro-cast (Klaus Kinski, Adolfo Celi, Margaret Lee, etc) but is a serious film about revolution in Greece. Not the best way to end the festival but there you have it. The festival would be back for a third year in 2002.
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