"Fear is a bitch, Santo."

January 2006

Verson Jetorix watched:

THE LICKERISH QUARTET (70, encore viewing)
This is Radley Metzger's most accomplished and significant film but not his most enjoyable. That honor must go to CAMILLE 2000. LQ is a highbrow mix of social commentary, sexual irony, and religious allegory--thesis material. Although geared for the intellect, LQ also boasts remarkable craftsmanship and effective eroticism. The Image DVD isn't framed correctly but the impact of Metzger's visual intentions is only intermittently compromised. Recommended for the agile viewer.

WAR OF THE PLANETS (65, encore viewing)
More silly sci-fi stuff from Margheriti. Shot back to back with WILD, WILD PLANET, this retains much of the same cast and sets and hard to describe appeal.

SKELETON KEY (95, first viewing)
I wanted to like this, and it wasn't bad, it just wasn't good. It's an interesting story and the film has plenty of atmosphere but it wasn't very involving. Kate Hudson didn't seem into it either. I noticed several nods to the infinitely superior ANGEL HEART.

9 SONGS (04, first viewing)
Live performances by several hip bands like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Dandy Warhols, Franz Ferdinand, etc are interspersed with the vapid, short term relationship arc of a couple who met at the London club where the bands play. Controversial because of the explicit sex scenes, I found myself fast forwarding thru that stuff to get to the next band.

LADY IN THE MORGUE (38, encore viewing)
Fun "Crime Club" mystery with Preston Foster, some denigrating humor, a graveyard sequence, and enough sassy patter to satisfy any twist with a rod.

JOURNEY TO THE FAR SIDE OF THE SUN (69, encore viewing)
This Gerry Anderson production (the GA studio did the fairly extensive model work) is long on buildup and short on payoff. An intriguing idea (a duplicate Earth--story by Anderson too) is terribly mishandled so this becomes fun only for model watchers and those who might get a kick out of seeing the occasional UFO cast member.

IGUANA WITH A TONGUE OF FIRE (72, encore viewing)
Ok, it's not very good but I think most people may miss the point of this Riccardo Freda misfire. It's a satire of the giallo genre. What else can you make of the overly grotesque murders, criminal misuse of the cast, the cop's mom who knows who the killer is immediately, and the ridiculous denouement. At least I hope it's supposed to be funny. It's still worth it to watch Pistilli, Diffring, and Lassander

SANTO IN THE VENGEANCE OF THE MUMMY (71, first viewing)
We done been Scoobied. Santo lets us down for the first time and has a phony monster to fight. This adventure was particularly juvenile, both in front and behind the camera.

FOR YOUR HEIGHT ONLY (79, first viewing)
Bizarre. Disturbing. Funny. Depressing. Incomprehensible. Filipino.

RETURN OF THE STREETFIGHTER (74, first viewing)
El Chiba returns to do more of what he did in the first film. Kick ass. If you liked (or remember) the first one, you will enjoy this one.

THE CABINET OF CALIGARI (62, encore viewing)
The chosen title set this film up for some unfair comparisons. Criticisms beyond that have generally centered around Robert Bloch's florid dialog and I can understand the gripes. But I enjoyed this truly odd and visually interesting film even more in glorious b&w widescreen. This Caligari dude has an awesome modern pad too.

DEVIL DOLL (63, first viewing)
Clumsy but curious "evil ventriloquist" story with a twist from hack Lindsey Shonteff. Some visual eccentricities and a couple of good performances keep this afloat.

BLUE EYES OF THE BROKEN DOLL (72, encore viewing)
Carlos Aured's giallo features faves Paul Naschy, Diana Lorys, and Maria Perschy, exposed breasts and violent killings. The underrated Lorys gives an excellent performance.

THE SECRETS OF WU SIN (32, encore viewing)
Those inscutable Chinese. Another Yellow Peril creaker with Grant Withers as the newspaper editor on a mission to expose the coolie smuggling into San Fran.

BROKEN FLOWERS (05, first viewing)
Jarmusch and Murray is a marriage made in cinema heaven. The honeymoon wasn't perfect but then what honeymoon is, or what film is, for that matter. I hope they make more movies together, tho.

TERROR AT ORGY CASTLE (71, first viewing)
Talentless, unattractive actors pretending to bump uglies on badly-lit, cardboard sets in a film that appears not to have gained the benefit of an editor.

THE HAND OF PLEASURE (71, first viewing)
By the same "creative" team that brought us Terror at Orgy Castle. Except worse.

BIGFOOT MAN OR BEAST (71, first viewing)
20 minutes of footage I hadn't seen, including an interview with famous animal imitator Janos Prohaska who believed the Patterson film to be authentic, and then it's the same campout movie released by itself later as In Search of Bigfoot, which I'd already seen and hated.

DOLLS (87, encore viewing)
Yes, it's an encore viewing but I barely remember this competent shocker from Stuart Gordon. Pleasantly intelligent, fast-moving, and generally fun, Dolls also wins kudos for not overstaying its welcome. There's also a good performance from Guy (Mr. Sardonicus) Rolfe.

EVIL COME, EVIL GO (72, first viewing)
Only in the 70s. Or maybe the 60s. Sleazy amalgam of social (religious) commentary, serial killer antics, and sex, this free-wheeling, no-budget package could be called ambitious but I'd call it overreaching and subpar in all departments. Okay if you're drinking.

ONE ON TOP OF THE OTHER (70, encore viewing)
Jean Sorel, Marisa Mell, and Elsa Martinelli star in what must be considered one of the best, if not the best, of Fulci's films. Visuals, music, and story blend into an enjoyable and satisyingly cohesive whole, for a change.

SO SWEET SO DEAD (72, encore viewing)
Slasher flick or condemnation of sexual immorality? You make the call. Whatever the principles, or lack thereof, this is still a fun flick with an awesome cast: Farley Granger, Sylva Koscina, Sylvano Tranquilli, Femi benussi, and Susan Scott. Plus it has tits and J&B in the final 5 minutes!

CASTLE OF THE CREEPING FLESH (67, encore viewing)
Typically delirious French-German production that blends surgical horror and sexual antics guaranteed to warm a genre fan's heart. Janine Reynaud, Michel Lemoine, and Howard Vernon star in this nicely photographed sleaze classic.

LORD OF WAR (05, first viewing)
This didn't get great reviews but I thought it was excellent. Nicholas Cage was great as the unrepentant gunrunner and the subject itself was fascinating. Visually interesting, devastating, and hilarious.

ASYLUM (05, first viewing)
Wife (Natasha Richardson) of asylum administrator falls for inmate. Things go to hell. This is pretty much by the numbers for the first hour then it turns strange. Technically well done but ultimately not really believable and rather cold.

THE LONG HAIR OF DEATH (64, encore viewing)
While not among Margheriti's best works, this still has lots going for it and how can you resist a classic gothic chiller with Barbara Steele, Georgio Ardisson, and Umberto Raho? You get what you pay for with the cheapo Sinema Diable DVD, however. The quality of the source material and of the transfer are sub par (even the dub goes out of sync 40 minutes in and never recovers). On the plus side, the aspect ration seems correct and it contains the "continental" version of a love scene between Ardisson and Steele's body double.

THE ARISTOCRATS (05, first viewing)
Fucking funny.

FLIGHTPLAN (05, first viewing)
Rather silly thriller that you know isn't going to go the way you want it to. To say that this is Hitchcockian is to say that TINTORERA: KILLER SHARK is Spielbergian.

DAUGHTER OF THE TONG (39, first viewing)
This old creaker plays like an hour-long serial with car chases and plenty of knock-down, drag-out fistfights. Evelyn Brent plays the Yellow Peril crime boss and Grant Withers is the infiltrating FBI guy.

PERFUME OF THE LADY IN BLACK (74, encore viewing)
Comparable in theme and quality to REPULSION, Francesco Barilli's mad hatter tale is a remarkably nuanced and accomplished work. Mimsy Farmer gives a central performance of surprising depth that outshines even her fragile beauty.
 


Joe Violente watched:

 MACHINE GUN MCCAIN (68)
John Cassavetes, Britt Ekland, Peter Falk, Luigi Pistilli, Florinda Bolkan and Tony Kendall in an Italian crime/heist movie set in 60's Vegas with music by Ennio Morricone. If you're still waiting for more to recommend this movie - fuck off, you're at the wrong web site.

SHADOWS IN THE DARK: THE VAL LEWTON LEGACY (05)
A nice little documentary that spends a lot of in depth time on a three of his movies but sadly and tragically barely mentions CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE and THE BODY SNATCHER. Well worth watching but since it's obviously designed around an hour tv spot it's not the deserving tribute the amazing producer deserves.

THE DEATHLESS DEVIL (73)
Picture if you will, I mean picture if you can, a Republic serial with hypermovement fight scenes and the good guys drive 50's sedans and the bad guy is Dr, Satan with a cheesy robot and his henchmen are Turkish terrorists dressed in 70's fashions and everyone is speaking some fucked up language and the lead actor is really named Kunt Tulgar and all the music is stolen from composers like Mancini and Morriconi to name a few and you keep trying to wake yourself up...if I could just wake up...I know this is...I need to wake up...I don't feel right....is anybody there? I'm ready to wake up now...

SANTO IN THE VENGEANCE OF THE MUMMY (71)
Unforgivable Santo monster movie with no fucking monster.

FOR YOUR HEIGHT ONLY (79)
Funny and bizarre one-of-kind movie that everyone needs to see...once. Little groin demolishing superstar Weng Weng can't act but he can fight and do his own stunts (who else could they get?) and that goes a long way in my book even if you do wear baby shoes and doll clothes.

RETURN OF THE STREETFIGHTER (74)
Sonny kicks even more ass this time around. It's a fun one even with the annoying sidekick and seemingly endless martial arts school footage. At under 80 minutes I wonder if this copy was uncut as stated.

BROKEN FLOWERS (05)
Enjoyable mood piece road movie of self discovery that is thankfully handled very lightly. That said,  I hope this more accessible direction isn't the new Jarmusch because I'll truly miss his unique style of filmmaking.

GHOST LAKE (04)
I didn't much care for this because I spilled a whole can of guinness on my couch while watching it. Actually this shot on video horror isn't bad. It has a little atmosphere and a creepy moment or two as the dead rise from the lake multiple times to claim a required 13 victims. It's all here but not arranged very well for suspense and some of the characters act as if they're from a tv soap opera.

ZATOICHI (89)
It's great the Shintaro Katsu Zatoichi series didn't go out with a whimper. This one is often arty and poetic and uhh, you know, ultra fucking violent. Nice personal  touches like Z giving his mother's mirror to a young girl and she sees her mother are offset by well choreographed ultra violent fight scenes. Top notch.

STREET FIGHTER (74)
I was in the bourbon dimension the first time i saw this and only remembered about 1 minute. Foregoing alcohol, well okay, i drank a little, this second viewing proved to be as much fun as the first time, i guess. Sonny Chiba's anti-hero is a bone-breaking back-flipping skull-splitting gonad-ripping snarling mother fucking killing machine in this non-stop action classic.

KING OF THE ZOMBIES (41)
Poverty row WWII anti-Nazi pic spiced with some voodoo action. I'm usually against blatant comic relief but luckily this routine programmer has Mantan Moreland, who is quite funny and steals the show with an endless supply of one-liners.

HIRUKU THE GOBLIN (90)
Filmed by Shinya Tsukamoto for a major studio this standard horror film is obviously geared for the teenage crowd. One has to look way too hard to find even a hint of the man who had just unleashed TETSUO on the world.

DOLLS (87)
Cool stop-motion effects and some creepy dolls make this pretty fun despite several annoying and unsympathetic characters that are the way they are because they're expendable doll fodder.

EVIL COME, EVIL GO (72)
Okay if you're drinking really heavy. I mean straight whiskey out of a highball glass. And the bottle has to be within easy reach for frequent refills.

INTO THE DARKNESS (80)
A taxidermist's girlfriend dies so he digs her up and stuffs her. Joe D'Amato uses the barest of plot devices to string together extreme scenes of unflinching gornography. A very long autopsy and a dismemberment/acid bath are the main set pieces. It's strange because this movie looks great thanks to D'Amato's cinematography but unfortunately it has all the style and suspense of one of his porno movies.

WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS (50)
Good evenly paced moral drama shrouded in noir. The dvd looks really good.

KISS OF DEATH (47)
Pretty good noir. It would have been much better with any number for noir regulars in the Victor Mature role though. Richard Widmark's slimy psycho steals the show. The dvd looks really good.

IMPULSE (74)
The sad horror of Matt Stone and Tina Moy, kids who have killed. This movie made me cry. This movie would be nothing without William Shatner but since The Shat IS in it, it's awesome. It starts out a little rough but it gets better about the same time the whiskey kicks in. The Shat has the best costume designer this side of the Philippines. The local J&B spotter has certified that Harold Sakata does indeed pull a pint of J&B out of his pocket in The Shat's motel. A proper dvd is much needed for this classic that establishes The Shat as a top actor in the 70's - he made, even me, want to grind up that fat chick with the balloons into dog food!

SACRED FLESH (00)
18th century nunsploitation with a lot of good period detail like groomed pussies and boob jobs. Enough said? Watch a Walerian Borowczyk instead.

SAFETY LAST (26)
After a fun sequence where Harold Lloyd tries everything imaginable to get to work on time, the story eases into the familiar territory of boy trying get himself out of hole so his girl doesn't know he hasn't succeeded in the big city. Lloyd is a pleasant actor much like Keaton, and he's enough to keep you watching until the cleverly photographed, stomach churning finale as he scales his bosses building for publicity.

TWO EVIL EYES (90 )
On this second viewing the Romero half is even more dull and unimaginative than i remembered. It's more EC Comics/Creepshow retread than Poe. The Argento half of the program is better. Keitel is great as the cat torturing necrophile Rod Usher. But still, good acting, flashy photography and gore isn't going to hide the fact that the world did not need yet another retelling of The Black Cat!

S.O.B. (81)
I laughed out loud. Not just because i'd been drinkin either. or maybe it was.

 

 

February 2006

Verson Jetorix watched:

BLAZING MAGNUM (76, encore viewing)
An overlooked classic. Alberto de Martino's crime/revenge/mystery thriller holds up after multiple viewings because of good casting, an interesting plot, awesome music, and one of the greatest car chases ever. The best Stuart Whitman movie of all time. Highly recommended.

TERROR IN THE DARK (72, encore viewing)
Jose Antonio Nieves Conde's HISTORIA DE UNA TRAICION is another nonsensical and totally enjoyable slice of Eurotrash cinema. Marisa Mell, Stephen Boyd, Massimo Serato, Fernando Rey, and Sylva Koscina glide through the twists and turns while some groovy tunes by Carlo Savina play on the soundtrack. I really don't need much more than that to be very happy indeed.

THE INNER CIRCLE (46, first viewing)
Poverty row gumshoe mystery based on a radio play is not really convincing on any level and any credibility goes out the window in the final act when the suspects are rounded up and they put on... a radio play to announce the killer!

THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER (49, encore viewing)
British no name production didn't win any awards for acting but has loads of atmosphere. Recommended for Poe buffs and those who might want to be immersed in a dark and stormy night.

AEON FLUX (05, first viewing)
Most of the qualities that make the Aeon Flux animated shorts some of my favorite viewing are naturally lost in the translation to the Hollywood live-action screen. It looks nice though and may live on as a good stoner movie.

THE GHOST AND THE GUESTS (43, first viewing)
Funnier than usual creaker written by Morey Amsterdam! An appealing cast handles the rapid-fire, witty dialog in their search for stolen goods in a an old, dark house.

KISS ME DEADLY (55, encore viewing)
A lean and mean classic with a career-defining role for Ralph Meeker who kicks ass in his quest for the great whatsit.

NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES (68, encore viewing)
Mexican medical hi-jinx features a monster with an eye for tits, chick wrestling, first-time drivers, and a green Rambler American station wagon.

STATELINE MOTEL (75, first viewing)
I liked this little noir with a good cast and a fresh mileu. Fabio Testi gets a ride from the big house directly to his next heist after which he gets sidetracked to a little hotel and falls for Ursula Andress (who wouldn't?) but what happened to the stolen jewels?

CHALLENGE OF THE TIGER (80, first viewing)
Richard Harrison is the first nominee in 2006 for the Van Johnson Memorial ABP Award! Harrison looks totally loaded as he floats thru this nonsensical Hong Kong action thriller. Brad Harris pumps up and Jack Klugman and Jane Seymour have unknowing cameos!

INVISIBLE GHOST (41, encore viewing)
Better than your average poverty row creaker due mainly to the creative direction of none other than Joseph H. (The Big Combo) Lewis. Lugosi's a sympathetic killer when he flips out upon seeing his supposedly dead wife.

CORPSE BRIDE (05, first viewing)
Another enchanting fantasy from Tim Burton. Certainly as creative and well-crafted as The Nightmare Before Christmas, if not as immediately endearing. Time will tell.

RED EYE (05, first viewing)
Wes Craven's slick and silly thriller is a teen fantasy all the way, consisting mainly of broad-stroke stereotypes and lacking virtually any fogie appeal. They don't make'em like they used to.

MURDER CLINIC (66, encore viewing)
A bridge film from Ernesto Gastaldi. This wallows in the last gasps of the gothic mystery atmosphere that permeated Italian horror films of the period but infuses now-familiar giallo elements with a dash of medical horror resulting in a decent shocker that has unfairly fallen through the cracks.

THE THIRTEENTH GUEST (32, encore viewing)
One of two "forgotten horror"-type mystery films Ginger Rogers made before hitting it big with Fred Astaire. She's cute and spunky amongst the terror trappings and survives the verbal sparring matches with Lyle Talbot.

NAKED LUNCH (91, encore viewing)
The true black meat.

ELIZABETHTOWN (05)
Charming romantic comedy from Cameron Crowe. Kirsten Dunst is to die for and it's the first film I've liked Orlando Bloom in anything. Very funny.

ANGELS AND INSECTS (96, encore viewing)
Excellent and edgy, Philip Haas's multi-layered period piece takes on the social and sexual mores of the British upper class. Gorgeous, well-cast, and has more than enough depth to hold up to repeat viewings.

THE GHOST WALKS (34)
Ancient creaker wherein a playwrite arranges for his new play to be put on in an old dark house for an unknowing producer. When somebody really dies, however, the playwrite explains all to the producer but he still thinks the play is going on. It's not very good either way.

THE LIVING GHOST (42)
Another humor spooker with James Dunn. The picture's a disappointment (William "one take" Beaudine) but Joan Woodbury looks like she would do very naughty things for a drink.

SECRET OF THE TELEGIAN (62, encore viewing)
One of the very best of the non-giant monster Japanese sci-fi flicks of the late 50's and early 60s. Who knows when a DVD might emerge so I gave it another whirl. Still terrific.

LOVE BITES (00)
I liked this vampire/gangster hybrid despite the severely compromised presentation. Let me explain: The Netflix disc is, for some reason, from Asia. First of all, the subtitles are extremely poor translations of French into English (there is no English-dubbed option and the few sequences in Italian are not subtitled at all). If that wasn't bad enough, the film was framed at 1.85:1 when the subtitles were added but it has been framed again at 1.75:1 cropping off any subtitle longer than one line! Unbelievable.

NIGHT SLAVES (70)
TV-movie riff on IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE. James Franciscus discovers a small town where the residents are taken over by an alien at night to repair his spaceship. Jimmy's not effected because he has a plate in his head. In the end he goes with the aliens. Not bad. Good cast (Lee Grant, Leslie Nielson, Andrew Prine).

SOLE SURVIVOR (70, encore viewing)
The last time I saw this film was when it premiered on CBS in January 1970, over 35 years ago! It's always haunted me and finally, after all that time, I watched it as a movie-seasoned adult and guess what? It's still great, gripping, poignant drama. The ghosts of the crew of a crashed WWII fighter hang out in the Libyan desert until their bodies can be found. Vince Edwards, William Shatner, Richard Basehart head up the talented cast. One of the all-time TV-movie greats.

MIRRORMASK (05)
Fiercely imaginative fantasy by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean is an amazing visual feast. Surely one of the finest cinematic artworks of 2005.

IN THE EYE OF THE HURRICANE (71, encore viewing)
Jean Sorel, Tony Kendall, and Rosanna Yanni in a twisty mystery shot on the Cote d'Azur with tunes by Piero Piccioni. You shouldn't need more inducement than that.

RENEGADE (04)
Trippy French/Mexico/US co-production based on the long-running Moebius comic strip. Although occasionally sidetracked with psychedelia, I liked this high-spirited western for it's holistic approach, interesting cast, and fantasy elements.

FRANKENSTEIN'S BLOODY TERROR (68)
Atmospheric monster mash that kicked off Paul Naschy's career as the wolfman Valdemar Kandinsky and ushered in the Spanish horror boom. Great locations and some gorgeous photography make for an enjoyable ride through an ambitious, enthusiastic and rather silly movie. I want this disc.

NIGHTMARE IN WAX (69, encore viewing)
There's something about this film. It's not good or anything but it's fun and they don't seem to make them like that anymore.

SECRET OF THE BLUE ROOM (33, encore viewing)
Lionel Atwill and Gloria Stuart star in this old creaker mystery about a deadly room with a tragic past. Gloria's suitors dare the gods and one by one vow to spend the night in the death trap. Who will survive?

SOMEONE IS WATCHING ME (78)
John Carpenter's Hitchcockian cat and mouse game shows hints of the skill that would make his breakthrough film released the same year, Halloween, a hit. Unfortunately, star Lauren Hutton, however beautiful, is a major weak point in the casting department and the story, also by Carpenter, features the kind of characters that do dumb things just to further the plot and an ending that seems too contrived.

MEMORY OF A KILLER (03)
Excellent hit man/policier from Belgium. Suffers a little from trying to be too American but that's to be expected, I guess. Killer with the onset of Alzheimer's gets involved in a series of killings with implications of corruption in high places. Handled with a flair for tension.

SOMETHING EVIL (72)
Steven Spielberg telefilm about... something evil that infects a family when they move into an old farmhouse in PA. Pretty good compared to other telefilms but seriously hampered, in my opinion, by the casting of Sandy Dennis, who creeps me out big time. She's on screen the whole damn time too. To the good is Darren McGavin as the "I can't leave work now" husband and Ralph Bellamy as a sympathetic and wise codger.

THE WEATHER MAN (05)
Another good Nicolas Cage movie. The mainstream Cage. I laughed, I cried, y'know, that kind of stuff but it's pretty bleak overall and the part seems written for him. Four of Cage's last five films have been good ones.

An odd trio of vampire movies from 1962 (all are encore viewings). From the US, PORTRAIT IN TERROR, Jack Hill's curious gothic mystery shot on the cheap in Yugoslavia. No it's not a vampire film but it was later recut and released as TRACK OF THE VAMPIRE. So there. From England, the 2nd tier Hammer film KISS OF THE VAMPIRE. Although it's rather slow going this "also ran" is still good for a Hammer fix if you're in the mood. I love the phony bats at the end and Isobel Black is a totally hot vampire. Finally, from Mexico, THE BLOODY VAMPIRE, a silly but very cool looking gothic tale of Count Frankenhausen who introduces our hero to the pleasures of coffee drinking!

GHOST TOWN LAW (42)
The Rough Riders are back! Buck Jones, Tim McCoy, and Raymond Hatton are US marshalls poking around a ghost town looking for bad guys and gold. It has a lot of old haunted house bits in it that keep this ancient oater at least amusing. Buck jones died later that year in the Cocoanut Grove fire that took more than 400 lives.

THE SPELL (77)
TV take-off on CARRIE. The twist is that the kid's mom has the power too, revealed only at the end when the two of them duke it out telekinetically. Nobody wins especially the viewer.

 

 

Joe Violente watched:

NEW WORLD (05)
Terrence Malick's latest movie is filmed in the style of THE THIN RED LINE and overall it is good although it's uneven and feels rushed out of the editing room - four cutters are credited. Some of the narration that makes his movies so thoughtful isn't that good and is often there to fill in story gaps. All that said, NEW WORLD has a lot of great stuff that you'd expect, especially in its early stages when the colonists first arrive and the relationship between Smith and the young "natural". Hopefully Malick will pull a Michael Mann and revisit it later (for dvd) but even if he doesn't. i'll still give it another look one day because his three previous movies offered much more on a second viewing.

NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES (68)
This Mexican movie has a monster with an agenda that all monsters should follow - terrorize the streets and tear chick's clothes off. I liked it.

STATELINE MOTEL (75)
Pretty fun crime movie with a hint of sleaze, some twists and a bleak ending. I love the fact that Fabio Testi does a jewel heist after being out of jail only a few minutes.

CHALLENGE OF THE TIGER (80)
Peaked too early but was still just fun enough due to some gratuitous nudity, gratuitous fight scenes and Richard Harrison's glassy-eyed hopped-up performance.

LONG WEEKEND (78)
An estranged Australian couple go camping - oh jesus, what a great idea -  and fuck with the environment until it fights back. This ecological horror is pretty good although it's heavy handed and very indebted to Peter Weir.

THE MECHANIC (72)
Bullshit. This movie is total bullshit. The unrealistic story and unnatural dialog almost qualifies it as camp. Maybe in another 10 years.

RAINY DOG (97)
Yuuji is a stoic Japanese yakuza exiled in Taipei who makes a living by doing contract killings for the local mob boss. Then a chick shows up and sticks him with a mute kid. So you don't get the wrong idea about this new story development, Yuuji guns down his targets right in front of the kid and shacks up with a whore and eats take-out while the kid sleeps outside in the rain and eats out of trash bags. The final act is the yakuza, the whore and the kid on the run from just about everyone. Takashi Miike transforms a potentially trite script (hit man with a kid) into a spare and compelling tale as bleak as the garbage covered seashore the trio try to take refuge at. 

L'AGE D'OR  (30)
Oh what a movie -  over 75 years later it's still an affront to the right. A surreal work of art that is visually mesmerizing and funny as hell. 75 years!

FUDOH: THE NEXT GENERATION (96)
Extreme, bloody, entertaining, audacious, satirical, violent, Takashi Miike. Young son of a murdered Yakuza uses his school mates as assassins. We're talking 8 year old kids with grenades and automatics. We're talking (older) school girl hermaphrodite and a chick who shoots lethal darts out her snatch. I'm going Takashi simple.

IZO (04)
A crucified samurai  wanders through new and old Japan getting his revenge while opening our eyes to hypocrisy on every level imaginable. Takashi Miike's experimental and chancy philosophical drama pretty much fails on every level i can think of. What we end up with is an endless, and i mean endless, string of bloody fight scenes lead by the unappealing Kazuya Nakayama, whose  horse screams, which are many, become grating. Occasionally there's a cameo, like Takeshi Kitano and Susumu Terajima, to give you hope, but alas, heads role way too easy in this one.

FULL METAL YAKUZA (97)
Lame impudent gangster wannabe gets gunned down and is reborn, thanks to a mad scientist, as the full metal yakuza cyborg. Yeah, he kicks ass. Yeah, and no, he's not all metal - I'm calling TETSUO reference right now. Is this me writing this? Yes, ahh, yes it is me. 1997 huh? Takashi Miike's 1997 that is. This one feels a lot more like 1987 without discotheque scenes. Yes, okay, it's quite watchable and fun at times and intentionally funny but with an unexpectedly grim final act - you could do a lot worse - it's called IZO. Oh yeah, it's got Ren Osugi in it, that guy from a bunch of Kitano movies, the crippled dude from FIREWORKS. He gets his arm lopped off and tries to golf.

SHINJUKU TRIAD SOCIETY (95)
You know you are in Takashi Miike's world when the cops anal rape a male suspect and our "hero" slams a metal chair on a woman's face and they later become allies and lovers. It's the all too familiar story of a cop trying to get his younger brother out of the criminal life. The spin here is, the cop - no, he's not a cyborg - is half Chinese and the gang he's up against are all ruthless Chinese homosexuals lead by Wang (Tomorowo "Iron Man" Taguchi), a crazy-eyed mobster who starts a war by flashing his wang in front of a rival gang. Still, it was pretty good in a dark and confusing sort of way thanks to some weird and outrageous moments and an ultra violent ending.

RENEGADE (04)
An enjoyable western with a lot of nice visuals although the trippy ending goes on forever.

FRANKENSTEIN'S BLOODY TERROR (68)
Delirious and fun.

NIGHTMARE IN WAX (69)
Perfect late night movie when you're coming off an all day drunk.

ZATOICHI I & II (62)
A good and defining Zatoichi story spanning two movies. Z goes up against his real life brother at the end of II. These are best watched together with a short intermission to heat up more sake. I drank Gekkeikan sake which was pretty good and easy, slightly tangy and wine-like. A good sake starter I presume since it's my first sake. It's available everywhere.

MPD PSYCHO (00)
Didn't realize this was a tv show.  A lot of the first crime scene was digitally fogged so i turned the video taped fucker off.

BAND OF BROTHERS (01)
Ten part mini-series with three outstanding episodes at the beginning.

ZATOICHI AND THE CHEST OF GOLD [VI] (64)
In this good solid entry we find Z being victimized by goddamn farmers and a treacherous bitch out for revenge. Z is stuck with a kid for a bit but dumps him off before the kid can piss on him. Z kicks major ass (even in the credits) and squares off at the end with an asshole with a bullwhip. This one was enjoyed with Hakutsuru, a sweet pear-like tasting sake with a bitter apple peel finish.

ZATOICHI: ON THE ROAD [V] (63)
Yeah, it's good. Z tries to save some ungrateful bitch while another scheming bitch screws everything up. I think Z straightens everything up in the end tho. This movie was sponsored by Kirinichiban, a Japanese beer I wouldn't recommend more than I would Bud or Miller or Pabst.

YAKUZA DEMON (03)
For violent times, make it Suntory time. Some day i'm going to wear that out. Takashi Miike delivers a standard but ultimately fun and ultra violent tale of a lone yakuza trying so save face for his boss and going way way too far and starting a major gang war. All the ultra violence and macho posturing works right up to the bleak ending.

LORD OF WAR (05)
Pretty good arms dealing movie that gets a bit too preachy at times and feels a lot like BLOW but with guns instead of drugs. The ending makes up for it and the whole cast is good.

WEDDING CRASHERS (05)
Funny as hell.

MCKENZIE BREAK (70)
Pretty good prison break movie with Brian Keith playing an Irishman trying to figure out what his Nazi captives are up to.

 

 

March 2006

Verson Jetorix watched:

SST: DEATH FLIGHT (77)
Like FER-DE-LANCE, which featured a submarine stuck on the bottom of the ocean with deadly snakes aboard, this tele-classic also boasts a double disaster scenario. This time the eponymous plane loses all hydraulic pressure (and thereby all control) and then an explosion unleashes a plague on the unsuspecting cast of star victims. All this on the maiden voyage! Martin Milner and Burgess Meredeth give the best performances, if that tells you anything.

THE STRANGE AND DEADLY OCCURRENCE (74)
Robert Stack, Vera Miles, and the great L.Q. Jones in another scary TV movie. Chat about a ghost and some strange and deadly occurrences turn out to be an ex-con coming back for his money buried years ago. Actually pretty well written and Bob, Vera, and L.Q rock. Note: potential Ozz Franca sighting.

THE DARK CORNER (46, encore viewing)
The unexceptional story was simply a framework from which to string outstanding photography, lots of superior noir slang, and a solid cast including the hotty Lucille Ball, Clifton Webb, and William "2 Yards" Bendix.

SCHOOL OF THE HOLY BEAST (74)
Racked up some serious points with the Atrocians when an advert for BIG GUNS was flaunted in the background of an early scene and when two naughty nuns shared a pint of Suntory. But there were lots of other reasons to call this one of the best nunsploitation flicks around.

ZATOICHI IN DESPERATION (72, encore viewing)
One of the best Z movies that was fun to share with the uninitiated.

ASSIGNMENT: OUTER SPACE (60, encore viewing)
Antonio Margheriti's first solo directorial effort is perfect for a saturday afternoon when all you want is to have spacemen on the TV. It would be nice if a better presentation that Alpha Video's DVD was available.

THE EVIL (78, encore viewing)
As generic as its title, this justly forgotten picture seems designed to include every horror cliche possible on the way to its seriously flawed finale. Only partially redeemed by the solid work of Richard Crenna, the willowy beauty of Joanna Pettet, and the rotund charm of Victor Buono. Andrew Prine is insufferable.

SATAN'S BLOOD (77, encore viewing)
Right outa nowhere, Cinderalla story. This legitimate DVD release of last year's runnerup for the AFF Golden Knife Fight Award proves that the judges weren't just hopped up on goofballs. Compelling and mostly unpredictable, this Spanish sex and horror entry makes excellent use of a small cast, an interesting location, and dream logic to forge one of the better nightmares of the subgenre.

WHERE THE TRUTH LIES (05)
Atom Egoyan's fairly straight ahead showbiz murder mystery is darn good entertainment. The Atomesque touches weren't as obvious this time but they were there. I have no problem recommending it, even to The Fans of Atom.

THE STRANGER WITHIN (74)
Barbara Eden has an alien baby! Based on a Richard Matheson story that certainly owes something to CHILDREN OF THE DAMNED. See Babs smother her food with salt, drink coffee by the gallons and speed read textbooks before gives birth to an alien baby and flies off to who knows where! Good riddance.

LAURA (76, encore viewing)
Carroll Baker, Adolfo Celi, Luigi Pistilli and Femi Benussi with tunes by the De Angeles brothers and directed by Andrea (STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER) Bianchi. There's enough Euro-ambience, nudity and J&B here to keep this domestic drama about sexual problems interesting. Pistilli with a bottle at 19 minutes, Carroll has hers at 54 min.

WASP WOMAN (60, encore viewing)
Roger Corman's fun little sci-fi/horror story is entertaining enough and it has some very cool thrift store furnishings. The Alpha Video DVD is pretty lousy tho.

VIRGINS FROM HELL (87)
What can I say? Even drunk at 3AM it seemed unfathomably and depressingly amateurish.

A TALE OF TWO SISTERS (04)
Beautifully-made but deliberately obscure Korean horror film based on a folk tale. In a word: Rynchian.

DON'T BOTHER TO KNOCK (52)
Marilyn Monroe gives a good peformance as a mentally disturbed (and yet totally hot) chick. Richard Widmark is great (he drinks Rye) as a regular kinda guy, for a change. Anne Bancroft is gorgeous too and Elisha Cook Jr. is always a pleasure to watch.

OPEN SECRET (48)
The story of this poverty row programmer is about anti-Semiticsm but the visuals are pure noir. This has some great moody photography and a good John Ireland performance. Sheldon Leonard plays a cop.

A DRAGONFLY FOR EACH CORPSE (73, encore viewing)
Leon Klimovsky directs Paul Naschy's script about a kick ass cop (Naschy) and a psycho killer. Not a Spanish giallo but more like a Spanish interpretation of an Italian giallo. This has an excellent soundtrack, some impressive period interiors but no real craft or subtlety to it. Erika Blanc looks great. Absolutely second-rate but enjoyably odd. A keeper.

KILLER SHREWS (59, encore viewing)
Underrated, no-budget 50s fun. James Best makes a good hero and Ken Curtis (who also wrote) a good slimeball. And those damn shrews are everywhere!

MAREBITO (04)
Scattered and unfocused, this story about alienation and mental breakdown never really pays off.

THE INSATIABLES (69, encore viewing)
Murder mystery set in the high-powered, decadent and corrupt business world. Great tunes, lots of nudity, good cast (Robert Hoffman, Dorthy Malone, John Ireland, etc.), and plenty of ambience with LA exteriors and Italian interiors.

THE WAILING (80, encore viewing)
Riccardo Freda's gothic giallo is still good fun. Anita Strindberg looks great and so does Silvia (FEAR IN THE CITY) Dionisio who spends a good amount of time topless. Lots of atmosphere in which to wallow.

DJANGO AGAINST SARTANA (70, encore viewing)
It's too bad this western with faves Tony Kendall and Gorgio Ardisson is so lackluster and lifeless. The Umiliani tunes are good tho.

HYENA OF LONDON (63, encore viewing)
A better Tony Kendall movie. This forgotten, rather generic Italian gothic is an atmospheric, nicely photographed trifle that I always enjoy watching but never seem to remember much about later.

THE UFO INCIDENT (75)
TV-movie based largely on the hypnosis therapy sessions that Barney and Betty Hill underwent seperately that describe a shared experience of abduction by aliens. Mostly talk with a few short scenes of the UFO encounter, this may not be exciting for those seeking thrills but the film will nevertheless fascinate those with an interest in the subject.

EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED (05)
Excellent Ukrainian road movie. Hilarious and deep, this decidedly odd journey was generally ignored upon release but I found it a highly rewarding watch.

WALK THE LINE (05)
Primo. Joaquin totally rocks and Reese is to die for.

A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE (05)
Well, Ed Harris was good.

TRAUMA (62)
Strange little Amer-indy psycho-drama similar in story to the Hammer thrillers of the time: girl suffers traumatic amnesia upon seeing her aunt killed, returns years later and all comes clear. The claustrophobic fabricated world that holds the action seems only vaguely familiar to our own and in fact, many times borders on the surreal.

VAMPIRE (79)
TV movie with Richard Lynch as a 700-year old blond bloodsucker up against Jason (The Exorcist) Miller and E.G. Marshall. Conventional but stylish pilot for a vampire hunter series.

A SOUND OF THUNDER (04)
A lame-ass adaptation of a Ray Bradbury time travel story. Cardboard characters, ludicrous situations, and unconvincing special effects make this a real winner. Ben Kinsgley is the new John Carradine. He's cranked out 15 movies in the last five years.

 


Joe Violente watched:

ZATOICHI'S REVENGE [X] (65)
Ruthless yakuza and corrupt politicians bleed the farmers dry and enslave their daughters in a brothel. How evil can you get? Z shows up to find his former master dead and his daughter forced into prostitution. So, yeah, it's revenge time! Enjoyed with Momokawa Diamond, a junmai ginjo sake that is ever so slightly fruity and spicy with a long dry bitter finish.

DUCK, YOU SUCKER (72)
The cynical script, locations/sets and most of the action are good but everything else is a little off in Sergio Leone's epic - the accents, direction and even the reliable morricone's score adds very little.

WHERE THE TRUTH LIES (05)
Atom Egoyan regulars Don McKellar, Arsinée Khanjian, Gabrielle Rose, Maury Chaykin and David Hemblen all show up in bit parts. Bit parts. That pretty much sums up this slick and polished and depressingly routine murder mystery from one of cinema's major talents.

LAST LIEUTENANT (93)
Surprisingly funny and personal look at a recently retired sailor unable to accept his country's invasion by Nazis and the thought of a being a useless old man. Made me want to die..... for Norway. But not for this crummy looking dvd.

CITY OF LOST SOULS (00)
A brazillian soccer player and a cute Japanese chick are on the run from everyone. What they did, I don't really know. Stole drugs and sold them I think. I DO know it's confusing, even by Takashi Miike standards, and I was fairly sober at the time. Low-key and too restrained despite a dwarf, ping pong to the death, multi-grenade launching downtown and mutilation via fire breathing.

SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE (05)
A jailed woman plans revenge for 13 years and most of the movie, so it's not until the final act that the story finally gets real Korean on our ass. The third and final chapter in Chan-wook Park's revenge trilogy is mostly satirical and black humor. Using several actors from Oldboy and Mr. Vengeance this really DOES feel like the end. I hope his career goes on the skids and instead of doing blowjobs for dog meat, he gets back to revenjin... because he's good at it.

ZATOICHI  AND THE CHESS EXPERT [XII] (65)
Here we have Z trying save a little girl's life, a bunch of people out for revenge (and not just against Z) and one of the best characters to show up in a Zatoichi movie, Jumonji, the chess expert, played perfectly by Mikio Narita. Several stories all come together nicely to make this top notch Zatoichi. I drank 3/4 of a bottle of sake and i could still walk to the computer. What's up with that?

THE DARK CORNER (46)
Enjoyable but fairly standard film noir that really pays off with exemplary cinematography. And William Bendix.

SCHOOL OF THE HOLY BEAST (74)
Delivered on so many important levels important to me.

ZATOICHI  IN DESPERATION (72)
Top notch Z. That's all I've got to say.

CLAIRE DOLAN (98)
A prostitute works off a debt owed to a family friend in Lodge (Clean, Shaven) Kerrigan's foreboding tale of modern human existence where everyone has to take care of themselves. The performances by Katrin Cartlidge, Vincent D'Onofrio and Colm Meaney, and the unsettling dialog make this a dark, haunting and concise experience that lingers on and on....

ELLING (01)
"Why have an apartment if we have to leave it all the time?"  Two social retard wards of the state are released from institution to see if they can make it on their own in Oslo. That's right, comedy, Norwegian style. Pretty funny throughout, like only the Scandinavians can do.

BIRD PEOPLE IN CHINA (98)
A Japanese salaryman is sent to China to investigate a huge vein of jade. An asshole yakuza tags along to protect his "family" interest on money they're owed by the company. The journey takes them through rural god forsaken china where their travels are hampered by vehicles that break down and roads that are destroyed by floods, and then into the mountains, for which they are totally unprepared (suits, dress shoes). After they discover a village where a young woman keeps a legend alive that they can fly (with manufactured wings) , the jade is quickly forgotten. It's an ultimately enjoyable LOCAL HERO in the Chinese mountains and a surprise coming from Takashi Miike. It does falter in the end though, like most movies, not knowing when to stop.

BATTLE OF BRITAIN (69)
Watchable war movie starring every limey you can think of. Good acting and some exciting flying sequences aside, it's pretty much made for airplane fetishists only.

PLAY IT AGAIN SAM (72)
This is the first time i've seen this since the drive-in 30 years ago. A good blend of both the funny and embarrassing woody.

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SOLANGE? (72)
Giallo grandioso!

SLAUGHTERHOUSE OF THE RISING SUN (05)
Homage to 70's horror that's not consistent enough in style to work and only serves as a reminder that the great mean 70's are long dead.

VIRGINS FROM HELL (87)
Inept pseudo-exploitation fever-dream of a 10 year old indonesian boy.

ATTACK (56)
Oh boy, Jack Palance really chews the scenery, even by his standards, in this dull war drama with battle scenes so bad they're funny. It's overacted by almost everyone, including Lee Marvin, as if they didn't want to be overshadowed by Palance. Unfortunately, Strother Martin dies before the credits and the dirty SS kraut bastard Peter van Eyck only gets 5 minutes screen time . It's hard to believe director Robert Aldrich made the slick KISS ME DEADLY the year before.

GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK (05)
Lean, relevant and outstanding.

ZATOICHI'S CANE SWORD (6)
Top five Zatoichi. Here, Z is forced to go about his daily routine without a sword!   Enjoyed with Fu-Ki sake, selected because it sounded a lot like Kinji Fukusaki, the director of YAKUZA PAPERS series, THE GREEN SLIME, BATTLE ROYALE  and STREET MOBSTER. Anyway, it's good. Fruity with a sharp tanginess and mild finish. Very easy to drink. I drank a whole bottle, and yeah, it can get you drunk when you drink the whole bottle and i did get drunk.

MAREBITO (04)
Kind of a mess that has non stop voice over to fill in all the incoherent parts. Some of it was okay but it's mostly wasted potential.

THE TRAP (96)
Masatoshi Nagase returns as Maiku Hama for the third time. This one is a pretty good straight forward thriller with Hama after a cool masked psycho killer. There's still some room for the usual zany characters. Jo Shishido has a better role than last time and doesn't have to act like a goof.

MEMORY OF A KILLER (03)
Good Belgian thriller with appealing leads, especially the hit man.

HOW TO KILL A JUDGE (1974)
Pretty good but tame mafia & corruption drama with Franco Nero carrying the whole show. It's funny, all the regulars are present but not the exploitation. You keep expecting whores to get slapped around or a black gloved maniac to be the killer or outrageous car chases but they never happen.

THE TRAIN (1964)
Burt Lancaster is a frenchman, not even trying for an accent, reluctantly trying to stop a nazi train full of rare art from reaching germany. It's never really suspenseful or involving but the stoic lancaster, doing his own stunts, made it worth watching, i guess.

MANIACTS (2001)
A couple of insane murderers fall in love in a prison for the criminally insane. Yeah, i didn't think they had coed prisons anymore but what do i know. Anyway, the movie isn't bad. A bit of the humor works and it's gory and the two leads grow on you. Surprisingly, the final act is actually pretty good after the couple escape and become farmers in arizona!

THE GIRL FROM MONDAY (2005)
Hal Hartley dreams George Orwell. I wish it wasn't filmed in digital video blurry vision like BOOK OF LIFE but I still liked it.

SATAN'S BLOOD (1977)
I  hereby nominate this movie for the newly formed Atrocity Hall Of Fame.

A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE (05)
Yeah, Ed Harris was good.

EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED (05)
Terrific little comedy drama that manages to transcend the road movie to a new level. It's better than that, really.

D (05)
Where do i start with this Indian crime movie, a realistic and violent tale of a real life gangster? At times it's good and at times it's really weird culture shock funny. When a scene seems to run too long, the overbearing music gets really loud and drowns out the dialog. No joke. It was weird and happened throughout the whole movie. Don't even ask me about the weird and intense music video extras. I hope i can sleep tonight.

OLD MEN IN NEW CARS (02)
Hilarious. The fucking Dutch, man.

 

 

April 2006

Verson Jetorix watched:

THE LADY CONFESSES (45)
Likable little programmer from PRC with Hugh Beaumont as a psycho killer. The IMDb tells me that this was written by Helen Martin, an African-American woman, the same woman that wrote the Lugosi cheapie THE INVISIBLE GHOST. Can this be right?

KING KONG (05)
Well, the monkey was good. Seriously, the special effects are the star here but my emotional investment was minimal which led to a "let's get this over with" attitude in the third hour. One thing Jackson didn't learn from the original film he loves so much is that less is more.

MARTA (72, encore viewing)
Another Euro-ambience flick with the ever-gorgeous and frequently topless Marisa Mell. Stephen Boyd goes over the top as a psycho mama's boy who killed Mell's sister. The cops are played by Jesus (YPOTRON) Puente and Howard (5 DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON) Ross.

TOMBSTONE (93, encore viewing)
A great B western. Buried amongst a terrific cast are Billy Bob Thornton who gets bitched slapped by Kurt Russell and Robert (SIMPLE MEN) Burke who doesn't.

SWEET BODY OF DEBORAH (67, encore viewing)
Romolo Guerrieri's classic slice of prime Eurotrash ambience. No J&B that I could remember so I supplied it myself. Too bad I didn't have any sedatives to pop along with Carroll.

CASTLE OF THE WALKING DEAD (67, encore viewing)
AKA Pendulum, Blood Demon, The Snake Pit, The Snake Pit and the Pendulum, The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism, The Torture Room. A rose by any other name... This is Harald Reinl's Mario Bava movie. Steeped in gorgeous gothic atmosphere, this overlooked gem should be on every Atrocian's list. Tunes by Peter Thomas too.

STAY (05)
Stay away from this derivative, pretentious, self-conscious exercise in flashy film school BULLshit.

WHITE LIGHTNING (73)
Can't remember if I'd seen this fairly tame redneck revenge flick before but it is adequate entertainment if properly inebriated with corn whiskey.

HELL IS A CITY (60)
Furiously paced Brit crime thriller with tommy gun dialog. May hold the land speed record for interrogations. Razor sharp b&w photography and a hot Billy Whitelaw.

TARKAN VS. THE VIKINGS (71)
Valhalla must have rumbled with fury when this flick was made. Vikings were never like this except in the minds of enterprising but inept young Turks. More laughs than the fur budget.

THE PANTHER'S CLAW (42)
Hardly the "forgotten horror" it's been touted to be, this is just another poverty row sub-par mystery.

FORBIDDEN PHOTOS OF A LADY ABOVE SUSPICION (70, encore viewing)
Dagmar Lassander and Susan Scott make a beautiful pair of peacocks in their high fashion duds. Not the giallo that some disappointed reviewers wanted, this top notch Euro-ambience entertainment is about sexual politics, mysterious motives and washing down loads of tranquilizers with hard liquor. Great Morricone score, fun set design, and outstanding cinematography. Stylish and twisted, this comes highly recommended.

GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK (05)
A most excellent and important film. I'm impressed with Clooney the director: a Best Picture nomination for a $7 million movie. But the real star of the show (apologies to David Strathairn) is Murrow's writing. People don't talk like that on television anymore, I imagine. Kudos to George and all concerned.

BRANDED TO KILL (67, encore viewing)
Still a stunning achievement after many viewings and one of the great hitman movies to boot. Boil rice!

DEATH WALKS IN HIGH HEELS (71)
Pretty fun giallo from Luciano Ercoli with sex bomb Susan Scott, Frank Wolff, Simon Andreu, and Luciano Rossi who gets to wear a dress for no reason. Better than Ercoli companion piece DEATH WALK AT MIDNIGHT but no match for his masterpiece FORBIDDEN PHOTOS OF A WOMAN ABOVE SUSPICION.

THE FIFTH CORD (71, encore viewing)
Beautifully photographed giallo with the great Franco Nero as a drunken journalist investigating a series of murders amongst people he knows. Gorgeous Silvia Monti is Franco's ex. Ira von Furstenberg pulls a kinski. With Wolfgang "Dr. Mabuse" Preiss, and babes Agostina Belli and Pamela Tiffin. A clear winner.

THE ICE HARVEST (05)
The neo-noir is a bona fide genre by now with its artistic and commercial arcs well established. Many have gambled, some have won. To tell you the truth, I liked Harold Ramis's entry, a pitch black comedy with a purposefully ambiguous tone. But I wonder if it would have been as appealing without the great cast.

PRIMAL IMPULSE (75, encore viewing)
I chose to watch PRIMAL IMPULSE on a lark, it's odd meter and melancholy means of discovery appeal only occasionally. When I realized that it was made by Luigi Bazzoni and shot by Vittorio Storaro, the team responsible for THE FIFTH CORD, I approached it with a fresh perspective. It's a psychological mystery, a meditation on insanity that is impeccably designed and, to be frank, curiously remote, though my affection for it grows with every viewing. The Klaus Kinski science fiction inserts remind me, without a second thought, of the space operas of Antonio Margheriti from a decade earlier. Finally, it pains me that my only option is to watch a square, third generation VHS dupe of what is, in light of the revelation of the THE FIFTH CORD DVD release, undoubtedly another widescreen visual masterpiece.

TONY ROME (67)
Everybody's a hard-ass in this slick, enjoyable Sinatra vehicle. Some fun 60s set design but not enough "One Bone" Conti.

THE DETECTIVE (68)
Very dark and strange on the one hand and child's play on the other, this serious Sinatra cop thriller kept surprising me, at least. I thought William Windom was going to raise the Kinski level with just a photograph and a voice recording but he showed up at the end for some of his typical primo work. The rest of the cast is boffo too: Lee Remick, Meeker, Klugman, Duvall, Bisset. Musante sucks royally.

MATCH POINT (05)
Yes, I liked it and yes, it was the Woodman's best work in years. Gimme C&M any day.

IMMORTAL (04)
French "Metal Hurlant" artist extraordinaire Enki Bilal directs based on his own graphic novels, a wild sci-fi tale made possible for the screen only in recent years with CG. A gorgeous fantasy that may not be a completely successful film (the story's too dense for one movie) but it is a treat, nonetheless.

STAIRWAY TO THE DISTANT PAST (95, encore viewing)
Great stuff. This second Mike Hama adventure in the trilogy is possibly the best but I haven't seen THE TRAP yet. Just terrific.

ROJO SANGRE (04)
As a film, this is enjoyable enough but it shows the weaknesses of a beginner. As a document, however, it's priceless. The flash the young director employs is nifty, yes, but it's unnecessary because the performance that Naschy gives is what makes the film worth watching. It's obvious the director was only partially aware of what he had in front of him. Naschy was giving him pure gold, the best work he's ever done or is likely to have the chance to give again. This is Naschy's UNFORGIVEN. He strips away the Naschy fantasy but delivers what his fans want, mostly. Not perfect but, as is life, it's the best chance he'll get.

THE TRAP (96)
The third Mike Hama movie is deep water indeed, what with Masatoshi Nagase playing a disturbing (and chillingly parallel) dual role. The trilogy is a fucking masterwork.

BLOODSTAINED BUTTERFLY (71, encore)
Not the most primo of gialli but this is still quite enjoyable with startling locations and way groovy tunes by Gianni Ferrio.

THE BLACK RAVEN (43, encore)
The ever-watchable George Zucco, a scene-stealing performance by Glenn Strange and enough wind and rain for three more movies. Features Byron Folger and Charles Middleton too! Love it.


 


Joe Violente watched:

KEANE (2004)
Disarmingly powerful tale of a paranoid schizophrenic looking for his abducted daughter. Damian Lewis turns in a great, realistic performance, fortunately not the Ralph Fiennes type performance where it becomes the actor's show above the story. Once again Lodge Kerrigan proves he's one of the very best directors working the independent scene.

JARHEAD (05)
There's some cool visuals in the final third but other than that this very familiar anti war movie is instantly forgettable.

800 BULLETS (02)
A bunch of stuntmen do wild west shows for tourists by day and live the cowboy life at night in Almeria. This homage to spaghetti westerns could have really been something but it's a total misfire that plays like a kid movie, except for the full frontal nudity. One scene has the main little boy in bed with a totally naked whore and he's playing with her tits! Only in Spain.

THREE EXTREMES (04)
Three Asian directors - three horror stories. The first is typical but pretty good, relying heavily on gruesomeness of  what's in the chinese dumplings she eats to stay young. The second is the big disappointment, coming from Chan-wook Park. It's a SAW kinda deal with a movie extra terrorizing his film director. With the final segment, Takashi Miike blows everyone away with a stylish and subtle tale of sibling rivalry.

DEAD MAN'S SHOES (04)
"God will forgive them. He'll forgive them and allow them into Heaven. I can't live with that." Well acted Irish movie with standout performances by Toby Kebbell as the humiliated semi-retarded guy and Paddy Considine as his vengeful brother. This isn't the movie i was expecting, instead it's a surprisingly moving little revenge tale that took me off guard and keeps lingering in my mind.

WHITE LIGHTNING (73)
Inbred rednecks without the squealing.

HELL IS A CITY (60)
Enjoyable, unbelievably fast paced noir. I need to see it again though.

TARKAN VS. THE VIKINGS (71)
So bad it's funny as expected but it got old after a while.

SECOND SIGHT: SERIES 1 (99)
This british mystery show with clive owen as a detective slowly going blind and trying to keep it a secret was okay, due mostly to the good casting.

PUSHER (96)
Gritty and uncompromising and depressing and totally absorbing week in the life of a small time Copenhagen dope peddler as he spirals into hell.

TERRIFYING GIRLS' HIGH SCHOOL: LYNCH LAW CLASSROOM (73)
Pink film with lots of annoying screaming jap gang girls but it's also twisted and violent and comes up with every excuse imaginable (even inventing a few new) for chicks to get naked or have their clothes torn off. It held, uhh, my interest.

THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE (70)
Expertly executed and historically important giallo but the lifeless Tony Musante is the only liability. Not an uncommon problem with Argento. The Blue Underground dvd looks great. J&B galore.

JUNGLE HOLOCAUST (1977)
Another real atrocity from Deodato. It's watchable mostly just to see all the shit Massimo Foschi, Ivan Rassimov and Me Me Lai went through during filming. Naturally, there's animal death but it's mostly snakes eating exotic creatures - that's the way it is in nature and in the mind of an Italian. J&B in the first 40 seconds.

INFECTION (2005)
Really lame nonsensical jap horror.

GRAVEYARD OF HONOR (75)
Chaotic, violent and involving, this is one of Kinji Fukasaku's best, helping redefine the yakuza movie. Tetsuya Watari does a good job playing the real life psycho turned yakuza psycho that even his bosses feared.

SHIVERS aka THEY CAME FROM WITHIN (75)
Fun and sick little biological horror that i first saw back in 1980 on a double bill with MOTEL HELL. Needless to say the sexual parasite movie made more of an impression on me.

QUEENS OF EVIL (70)
Odd and dreamy enough to be watchable but needed more naked evil.

FIFTH CORD (71)
Non-sensational but well made giallo that's enjoyable thanks to Franco Nero and the great design and cinematography.

GUN SHY (03)
Lame underdeveloped German schieze.

CRAZE (74)
Jack Palance is the whole show, but he's not all that over-the-top and the movie isn't the camp fest i was lead to believe. it's just dull. the dvd hidden away on the Slasher Cinema set looks pretty poor and sounds a lot worse.

MON ONCLE (58)
Clever, intricate and very funny stuff from Jacques Tati. The criterion dvd looks good but there's at least two gags off screen so i gotta question the framing or proper aspect ratio.

NIGHT MOVES (75)
Gene Hackman is good but he's stuck in a tv movie of the week with some brief nudity thrown in (including an 18 year old Melanie Griffith).

M. HULOT'S HOLIDAY (53)
Enjoyable little comedy from Tati. Not as funny as some of his others but it has a lot of nice, well choreographed moments for those who are willing to take the time to look.

FEMALE YAKUZA TALE: INQUISITION AND TORTURE (73)
Tons of nudity, action and sleazy situations. Reiko Ike sword fights some yakuza in the raw. The weird part is, it's pretty well made sleaze with the exception of some camera noise.

CAPOTE (05)
Fine drama with a good story and great performances all around.

MATCH POINT (05)
Well made drama from woody allen but it feels familiar. Very familiar. Oh yeah, he already made this once. And that excellent movie does not need to be rehashed.

HOSTEL (05)
Obnoxious teen sex fantasy movie turns into pointless obnoxious teen snuff torture movie with all the style of a Halloween haunted house. Takashi Miike has a small cameo at the snuff factory.

CRIMINAL WOMAN: KILLING MELODY (73)
Those japs sure knew how to title a movie. Here we have Reiko Ike pitted against the yakuza that killed her good for nothing father. Ike and the sexy Miki Sugimoto have two, count 'em, two knife fights but not underwater. A bit on the tame side for a pink film but still watchable.
 

 

May 2006

Verson Jetorix watched:

ACE VENTURA: PET DETECTIVE (94, encore)
Still funny. And I don't care who knows it. And Courtney Cox is totally hot. I forgot Udo Kier was in it.

ARIEL (88)
Excellent early effort from Kaurismaki, the master of deadpan. When the top goes up on that Caddy convertable, it brings the house down.



STRIPPED TO KILL (87)
Really good and really bad. Many breasts are exposed including those of the gorgeous Kay Lenz but Greg Evigan should do everyone a favor and kill himself. Reeks of 80s vibe.

BLACK BELLY OF THE TARANTULA (71, encore)
Much here to be appreciated like nice cinematography, good tunes and sweet Euro-babes. But following the tit-fest of Stripped to Kill would put many films at a disadvantage.

DELICATESSEN (91, encore)
Wonderful breakthrough film from the team that made CITY OF LOST CHILDREN. Fascinating from beginning to end. Highly recommended.

BLOOD OF THE VIRGINS (67, encore)
Revisited this Argentine tits 'n' blood horror show that played an Atrocity Night a couple of years ago. It still has its naive charms, lots o'boobs, and some groovy tunes. Plus it has a very cool Corman-esque title sequence.

DOGORA (65)
Okay late cycle Japanese crime/monster hybrid sci-fi. Not in the same league as THE H-MAN or SECRET OF THE TELGIAN though.

HORROR OF PARTY BEACH (64)
Del Tenny's monster/beach hybrid is strictly amateur hour but innocence and enthusiasm count for something.

CURSE OF THE LIVING CORPSE (64)
A much more professional production from Tenny (real actors!), this time a gloomy, gothic period piece and, in comparison, pretty good. Po' man's Poe.

THE NEW WORLD (05)
I'll admit that after two hours, Malick's hypnotic tone poem put a spell on me. It is beautiful to look at and I liked the cutting style but I found the narration bits pretentious, for the most part. Like Kubrick, the film is elegant and emotionally remote. Unlike Kubrick, Malick seems to favor a free hand for his actors. This approach obviously put Farrell at a disadvantage who mumbles his way through hoping his swarthy good looks will count for something (not enough). Bale fares much better, however. Perhaps, another comparison with Kubrick is apt: it may take some distance in time from the work for it to be fully appreciated.

THE MAN WHO HAUNTED HIMSELF (70)
Enjoyable supernatural doppelganger story with Roger Moore set in the executive ranks of business. Freddie Jones is a hoot as a psychiatrist. Roger and J&B at 46 minutes.

FOUR TIMES THAT NIGHT (72. encore)
A fun and funny sex comedy, RASHOMON-style, left over from Bava's pop period. Brett Halsey has a cool apartment, there's J&B up the ying-yang, Daniela Giordano is gorgeous, and the tunes are cool. Bava lets it all hang out in the art club scene that could have been lifted from DIABOLIK.

GOLDEN CLAWS OF THE CAT GIRL (68, encore)
Continuing the DIABOLIK theme is LE LOUVE SOLITAIRE, the lone she-wolf. Daniele Gaubert is Francoise, a beautiful ex-circus performer living a secret life of crime as a talented cat burglar who wears a nifty outfit similar to Diabolik's. This is a pretty cool but low-key multi-heist movie that I liked much better this second time around.

BLACK TIGHT KILLERS (66, encore)
Yasuharu Hasebe's first and probably best film. I still love this visual knockout of a crime movie with awesome go-go ninja chicks, groovy tunes and a palette that would make Bava proud.

DEVILS OF DARKNESS (64, encore)
A low-key Brit-French vampire movie with William (Gorgo) Sylvester as the hero and Hubert Noel as zee vampire. Colorful and satisfying in the manner of the logical Brit horror flix of the time.

FATA MORGANA (65, encore)
This experimental Spanish new wave flick from Vincent Aranda (The Blood Spattered Bride) was much better the second time around. Clever and funny, it tells the story of a model whose beauty inspires devotion and murder. Hip and cool.

SHE MOB (68)
Bizarre, disturbing and depressing white trash crime from Shithole, Texas. If I was one of these people, I'd kill myself.

BONNIE'S KIDS (73)
Surprisingly smart and sexy, this drive-in crime thriller is a cut above the usual mindless dreck of the era. Director Arthur Marks came off the "Perry Mason" and "I Spy" series' to helm the adventures of Tiffany Bolling and Robin Mattson as sisters who make the best of the hands they're dealt. Recommended.

TRUCK STOP WOMEN (74)
Claudia Jennings deserved better than this depressing stupid redneck BULLshit. May she rest in peace.

DOG EAT DOG (64)
Strange and not particularly satisfying film about a group of oddballs stuck on an island trying to get their hands on a million bucks. Cam the Man, Jayne Mansfield, Pinkas Braun, Werner Peters. All die.

ANY GUN CAN PLAY (67)
Spaghetti western from Enzo Castillari with Edd Byrnes, Gilbert Roland and George Hilton all vying for their share of 300 grand. The finale takes place in a gothic ruin that was most certainly used in Spanish and/or Italian horror films.

THREE THE HARD WAY (74)
Jim Brown and Fred Williamson have the charisma while Jim Kelly tags along for this revenge flick about big-thinking white supremacists. Features some nice exploding cars and three topless female torturers.

THE RED QUEEN KILLS SEVEN TIMES (72, encore)
Competent and visually interesting giallo from Emilio Miraglia with a good score from Bruno Nicolai. Much better than the usual black-gloved killer antics and having Barbara Bouchet around doesn't hurt either.

MILAN CALIBRE 9 (72)
Superior crime film from Fernando Di Leo with an excellent performance from Gastone Moschin as an ex-con outwitting the mob for stolen money. Barbara Bouchet is totally hot. With Mario Adorf, Frank Wolff, Luigi Pistilli, Philippe Leroy and J&B up the ying yang.

MARK OF THE VAMPIRE (35)
Although loaded with gothic horror atmosphere, this Tod Browning misfire (yet another) is ridiculous and sloppy. Browning was a hack with a hit back in'31 with Dracula, but that was due more to Lugosi's charisma than to the direction which nearly ruined the picture. MARK is simply annoying with its bad acting, unappealing actors (other than Atwil), comedy relief and worst of all, the nonsensical cheat ending.

SLAUGHTER OF THE VAMPIRES (62)
Another gothic vampire tale, this time an Italian/German co-production with fave Dieter Eppler as the bloodsucker. Good locations and photography, some cute Euro-babes and enough old-fashioned enthusiasm to overcome the usual drawbacks of low-budget genre pictures. I'd own it again.

THE SILENCERS (66)
Without the pretty girls this would be a boring, cheaply-made spy thriller. But it does have the babes, in spades. Dino led the life.

THE OTHER HELL (80)
Miserable piece of nunsploitation that doesn't exploit any nuns and feels like every scene is a half-formed thought that didn't bear thinking in the first place.

POLICE STORY (85)
Tried and true Jackie Chan classic that does deliver the stunts, some multiple times, and brought back memories of enjoying the Chan's with sold-out theater audiences.

SOMEWHERE IN THE NIGHT (46)
Pretty fun noirish mystery with a good supporting cast and some pretty juicy dialog along the twisted way. This film was the basis for the oft-repeated legend that Richard Conte never blinks.

FIND A PLACE TO DIE (68)
Standard spaghetti with a couple of real hotties on display: Pascale Petit and Daniella Giordano. The underrated Jeffrey Hunter fits the bill nicely as a grizzled, reluctant hero. Unfortunately, Hunter would die the next year of complications from a stroke at 42.

KILLER CLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE (88)
Creative and surprisingly entertaining horror/sci-fi comedy, a genre hybrid that is difficult to pull off. Could have used some nudity from the leading lady but overall quite satisfying.

FEMALE PRISONER SCORPION: BEAST STABLE (73)
Third in the Scorpion trilogy and while not the masterpiece that FEMALE PRISONER #701 was, this is still premiere exploitation cinema. Sick, visually interesting and all around excellent.

LIVE LIKE A COP, DIE LIKE A MAN (76)
Deodato's take on the cop thriller genre is as subversive as his most famous films. The violence is cranked up to 11 and the homo-erotic undertones of the buddy cop relationship are unmistakable. These guys are simply killers with badges who don't wait for actual crimes before blowing away the bad guys. Hilarious.

 


Joe Violente watched:

PRIMER (04)
Kinda geeky and in love with the sound of its own technical voice but it's still a nifty little bewildering time travel movie.

DELINQUENT GIRL BOSS: WORTHLESS TO CONFESS (71)
Terrible and annoying with no payoff, along the lines of STRAY CAT ROCK (70). They hadn't quite figured out the Pink formula yet.

EATEN ALIVE aka MANGIANTI VIVI (80)
Ivan Rassimov is a Jim Jones type cultist living with his followers in the heart of cannibal country! And you know, it's as funny as it sounds. It was funny, laugh out loud funny. Lenzi does a total hack job on this one but there are artistic touches like Me Me Lai and Janet Agren nude.  Lai  is nude a lot but not as much as in JUNGLE HOLOCAUST but enough to be cast in ELEMENT OF CRIME. Atrocity count (besides the script and direction): Some sort of gator gets skinned alive; Janet Agren gets raped by Rassimov with a dildo covered in snake blood; a giant snake eats a helpless little monkey in horrible detail; a couple of chicks get their tits cut off and eaten (alive); some sort of lizard gets gutted and its entrails spread on some warriors; oh fuck isn't that enough?

ARIEL (88)
I love Kaurismaki's world.

STRIPPED TO KILL (87)
Where do i get the soundtrack?

BLACK BELLY OF THE TARANTULA (71)
Barbara Bouchet is way hotter than Claudine Auger.

MADE IN BRITAIN (82)
Tim Roth is intense as an anarchist skinhead being swallowed up by the system. Alan Clarke does a good job of making us hate and  feel compassion toward the difficult main character who is obviously, right from the very beginning, not going to last long. Oddly, you can't help but admire the out of control punk for not conforming.

JACK THE RIPPER (76)
I made the mistake of trying to revisit this Jess Franco movie, sober. The only good part is when Klaus Kinski rapes and murders Lina Romay. There, I said it.

MUNICH (05)
Sure it's based on fact - there was a massacre at the Olympics but everything else is really dramatized and clichéd. The hit men employ a powerful conspiracy-theory-sized French family who can find anyone in the world for dough, and the Jews and PLO members are accidentally assigned the same safe house (so they can discuss the political situation). How many times is Spielberg going to do this same scene? The James Bond kinda stuff is fine for something like RONIN, but this isn't supposed to be a fun thriller, and Spielberg makes sure of that by spreading out the brutal Munich massacre through the entire movie, and (gulp) actually working in a shot of the World Trade Center at the end. I could go on and on.... So, if you can ignore the many flaws and politics, it's not bad for a farfetched thriller. Oh yeah, Bana's good as always, and that cool French dude from RONIN.

SCUM (77)
Well done condemnation of the British juvenile detention system. I sure hope things have improved.

THE NEW WORLD (05)
Flawed but breathtakingly beautiful.

VICE SQUAD (82)
To keep you from getting too bored there's lotsa brutal violence but it's all wasted due to an unappealing cast.

GRIZZLY (76)
Not a bad JAWS rip-off that plays like a tv movie with blood and a helpful wee bit of camp. The best part is when the little kid gets his leg bit off, naturally. Unfortunately, the copy netfux has is a crummy P&S one, not the widescreen one recently released.

LA SCORTA (93)
A gripping thriller that holds up well. Morricone's score is very familiar but very effective.

MODERN ROMANCE (81)
There's some funny bits but it's kinda hard to watch Albert Brooks whine and make a fool of himself for 90 minutes.

KILLER VS KILLERS (85)
Henry Silva teams up again with Fernando Di Leo for this terrible, ultra cheap ASPHALT JUNGLE inspired crime movie. Too bad it was Di Leo's last effort.

TENEMENT (85)
This ugly little movie from Roberta Findlay has a bunch of thugs terrorizing and killing most of the residents of an isolated Bronx tenement. It's mean and poorly made and not all that watchable. They can't really make them like this anymore.

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT (83)
A rather serious effort from Aki Kaurismaki with his trademark minimalist styling but with very little humor. It's a very likable and well made drama. Matti Pellonpää watch: he has a supporting role as the murderer's friend and slaughter house co-worker.

CALAMARI UNION (85)
Helsinki coyotes! A group of hapless loafers, all named Frank, decide to move to Eira, a utopian part of town a few miles away, but they just can't seem to get there. That's the whole movie. That's Aki Kaurismaki. And it's hilarious. Matti Pellonpää watch: he plays one of the Franks and almost makes it to Eira.

SHADOWS IN PARADISE (86)
"The supermarket's a merciless machine."  Matti Pellonpää is a garbage man and Kati Outinen, in her first many Kaurismaki movies, is a grocery store clerk. Together they have a romance, Kaurismaki style. It never falters.

VIGILANTE (83)
"Look at this. Ten years of my fucking life. What is it? Plastic shit."  Classic 80's grindhouse revenge with Fred Williamson and Robert Forster as the reluctant vigilante. Carol Linley plays a prosecutor but is totally sleazed over by defense lawyer Joe Spinell. Woody Strode is the badass negro jailbird.

THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN (57)
Told without humor or teenagers this great 50's sci-fi classic fascinates right up to the sad but transcending end.

SCORE (95)
This Japanese heist movie is set in Las Vegas but looks suspiciously like Thailand! Sure, it's ultraviolent but so ridiculous it's laughable and annoying. A shameful ripoff of many movies, RESERVOIR DOGS being the main one.

 

 

June 2006

Verson Jetorix watched:

IN THE DUST OF THE STARS (76)
Weird and trippy East German sci-fi with groovy tunes, nudity and just about as much bizarre campy action as the Commies could possibly fit into the running time. A true sleeper, I hope it shows up for an Atrocity Night later in the year for all to enjoy.

DELIRIUM: PHOTOS OF GIOLA (87)
Another substandard giallo from Lamberto Bava starring the hefty Serena Grandi. Plenty of nudity, some pretty bad music and a couple of interesting ideas that go nowhere.

MURDERER'S ROW (66, encore)
An improvement over The Silencers, this time Dino has to contend with a hyper Ann-Margret, a lesser villain in Karl Malden and some silly hovercraft action. Favorite moment is when Dino lets go of the steering wheel to open a bottle of Ballantine's.

THE NIGHT EVELYN CAME OUT OF THE GRAVE (71, encore)
It's nice to see an improved (but certainly not perfect) DVD of this beautifully-shot, fetishistic mystery. Anthony Steffen is one messed-up dude who lives in one of the primo run-down palaces of all time. Favorite line: "The east wing is in ruins."

ROLLING THUNDER (77)
Could have rolled a bit more in the revenge department and made better use of James Best as a villain but Bill Devane owns every scene he's in and when it comes down to it, this is a character piece.

MASK OF DIMITRIOS (44, encore)
It's great to see Lorre and Greenstreet together, especially when their scenes bring out the best in their personalities. And this mystery about a conniving scoundrel is interesting on top of it all.

HERCULES THE AVENGER (65)
Reg Park muscleman movie remarkable only in that it uses scenes from the far superior Hercules in the Haunted World, directed by Mario Bava.

THE LIVING CORPSE (67)
Pakistani version of Dracula that pretty much lacks all the qualities of every other version. Includes musical numbers that inspired fast-forwarding.

THE NIGHTMARE NEVER ENDS (79)
Fever dream hack job with three directors that is interesting in the same way a car wreck is interesting. Unexplainably, this was written by the man responsible for such classics as The Big Combo, The Man From Laramie and many others, Philip Yordan.

VIOLENT CITY (70, encore)
Good Sergio Sollima hit man movie with Charles Bronson and his frequently nude wife Jill Ireland. Excellent cars and music and Telly Savalas serves drinks in cocoanuts.

KNIFE OF ICE (72, encore)
Lenzi aims higher with this giallo by playing down the murders, skipping the sleaze factor almost entirely and focusing on the mystery itself. That's a risky approach for an exploitation filmmaker but it works resulting in a truer Hitchockian flavor. The ending twist will surprise first-timers, too.

THE BLANCHEVILLE MONSTER (63, encore)
One of my favorite films of all time. There's a generic quality to gothic films like this (The Hyena of London, Blood Castle, etc) that adds to their charm. They seem to encompass all the mood and every event of the entire subgenre in one 90-minute slice.

FALLING MAN (68, encore)
The ETC copy of the US version of this film must be one of the oddest Euro-viewing experiences around. Not only does the American cut deconstruct the action so the entire film unfolds as Henry Silva is falling to the floor after being shot but the absurdly poor video transfer actually enhances the trippy quality of that editing scheme. The filmmakers throw in some experimental electronic music too making this a genuine ideosyncratic wonder.

HERCULES AND THE BLACK PIRATE (64)
It's kind of weird to have a muscleman hero (not really Hercules) in a swashbucker set in 17th century Spain but since I like both genres, it was entertaining enough. Alan Steel and Rosalba Neri star.

BLACK COBRA WOMAN (76)
Low-key D'Amato sex film with Laura Gemser. Jack Palance's performance barely registers on the screen and thankfully, only two critters are killed on screen. The wall-to-wall Umiliani score is lifted from other, better films. In the finale, Gemser exacts a vicious revenge on Gabriele Tinti by having a live cobra shoved up his ass for killing her lesbian lover.

DON'T DELIVER US FROM EVIL (70)
French riff on the real-life murder story that inspired Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures. This baby delivers with disturbing and titillating images, assured performances and a high-brow approach not usually found in exploitation pictures. Recommended.

THE AMBUSHERS (67, encore)
Weak entry in the Matt Helm series but it has many sweet babes to distract from the lack of interesting action. To watch James Gregory and Dino have a conversation is to watch a slurring contest. Gregory could be up for this year's "ABP" award.

SEX AND FURY (73)
There are some brilliant sex scenes and action scenes in this combo revenge/spy period piece. Christina Lindberg is a major plus in a film that sometimes tends to get bogged down in political intrigue.

STREET LAW (74, encore)
Nice to have a clean, wide copy of this Franco Nero action favorite.

JOHNNY EAGER (42)
Pretty good little film noir with Robert Taylor and a 20-year old Lana Turner until, that is, Johnny goes soft for the twist which, of course, seals his doom.

VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS (70)
Surprisingly captivating dream that a young girl has on the occasion of her first menstruation. This Czech fantasy is a haunting and erotic journey with excellent music and images of a subtle, masterful beauty.

THE VALACHI PAPERS (72)
Charles Bronson testifies against the mob, the details of his life of crime within the organization told in violent flashback. Too serious for fans of exploitation, however, and Terance Young's attention to period detail is seriously lacking and too often distracting.

STREET MOBSTER (72)
Furiously violent tale of a young, arrogant Japanese gangster who is, as one mob boss puts it, his own worst enemy. Thus, his short and wildly anarchic career ends as expected. Excellent performances and a relatively straightforward approach make this oft-told story a superior entry of the genre.

THE ANTICHRIST (74)
Alberto De Martino's half-baked Exorcist rip-off has excellent production design but not nearly enough nudity and depravity to make it worth the watch.

CEMETARY MAN (94, encore)
Very stylish with a dry wit, this contemplation of death and of love is a bonafide classic of modern Italian horror by maestro Soavi. Highly recommended.

TEXAS, ADDIO (66)
Spaghetti in the American classical style, meaning simplistic plot with iconic characters. Entertaining enough with good fights and Franco Nero's charisma even if he doesn't use his own voice on either the English or Italian audio tracks.

CAPOTE (05)
Right outa nowhere, a great performance in a great movie.

CASTLE KEEP (69)
Definitely part of the cinematic anarchy of the late 60s, Sydney Pollack's anti-war war film has more depth and style than many of its brethren. More a success than a failure, this is definitely worth a look even tho netflix did not take the opportunity to upgrade to the widescreen DVD thereby forcing its customers to put up with the artist-compromising cropped presentation.

KRONOS (57, encore)
Dark and stark production design and a giant faceless robot monster raise this simple sci-fi movie into classic status. The special effects were quaint even in '57 but this has the feel of an Outer Limits episode ten years ahead of its time.

THE WRECKING CREW (69)
Sharon Tate made this the hottest Matt Helm of the bunch. And that's up against Elke Sommer and Nancy Kwan, which is saying a lot. J&B at the tail end seals the deal.

WAVES OF LUST (75)
The ultimate J&B movie had the crowd off the couch. Silvia Dionisio is perhaps THE Italian hottie. I smell a festival award of some sort for this Deodato sleazefest.

THE EXECUTIONER (74)
Sonny Chiba kick ass in this nonsensical martial arts crime thriller. This time he pops the eyes out of some poor sucker's head.

ANGEL FACE (52)
Bob Mitchum is the sap again, this time playing along with a murderous, suicidal twist who takes him for the ultimate ride. Okay noir but Bob doesn't get to be in charge much.

LUST TO KILL (59)
Good old-fashioned B western with a solid cast and some uncharacteristic brutality. Worth another look.

HEROIN BUSTERS (77)
Undercover cop Fabio Testi working for David Hemmings takes on the drug trade in this fashion-challenged thriller. Not much to write home about, really, the usual stuff. The villains weren't strong enough to make much of an impression.

THE BOSS (73)
The mob turns on loyal lieutenant Henry Silva. Some good stuff with Silva and his nympho whore and Conti delivers his unflappable godfather routine. The eccentric/drunk cop in charge was hysterical.

99 WOMEN (69)
Not sleazy enough for exploitation nor sincere enough to be social commentary, this lukewarm Franco fails to generate much empathy with the closing-night crowd. How does one blow the chance of having Rosalba Neri and Maria Rohm in a lesbian scene? Luciana Paluzzi was right to bail after one line for the fest's Kinski award. Toss it in the very large pile of the prolific director's misfires.

 


Joe Violente watched:

TARANTULA (55)
Jack Arnold re-uses locations and sets from IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE to come up with another winner. Doc John Agar finally listened to my advise, calling in an air strike and Clint Eastwood napalms the giant spider into cinders.

SINGAPORE SLING (90)
Sick and slick film noir that is deliriously perverted, often erotic, often nauseating, always fascinating. Laura is turning over in her grave for inspiring this one.

SIXTEEN TONGUES (99)
Sick and weird but too cheap and stagy.

CEMETERY MAN (93)
It's great to finally have this really fun mix of sex, black humor and comic book horror on dvd. The dvd looks good although no special attention was given to the print - the colors are a bit muted and black levels are too low. There's a good 1/2 hour documentary featuring Soavi and others. Anna Falci still looks hot.

BADLANDS (73)
Excellent! Keeps getting better.

HAMLET GOES BUSINESS (87)
Kaurismaki does Shakespeare his own way with mixed results at best and with a twist ending. Matti Pellonpää watch: He's only got a tiny tiny role.

MATCH FACTORY GIRL (90)
Kati Outinen is the lonely title character who starts poisoning people after she's knocked-up and dumped. Told without his characteristic deadpan humor, and with so little little dialog it could have easily been a silent movie (that one comes later), Kaurismaki has crafted a very sad and compelling story. Matti Pellonpää watch: No where to be found.

FEMALE PRISONER SCORPION: GRUDGE SONG (73)
This Scorpion entry is very straightforward with little artistic flare. It's got some action and sleaze at the beginning but it really slows down and gets repetitive as her and her new lover escape the law, get caught, get tortured escape get caught get ratted out. Meiko Kaji is always nice to look at though.

HIGH ANXIETY (77)
A cable favorite of mine when i was a kid, but it's just not funny anymore.

I HIRED A CONTRACT KILLER (90)
A lonely man fails at killing himself so he hires a hit on himself, only to fall in love with a woman and try to stop the hit. The story is pure Kaurismaki but the French and English actors used here just don't have the timing to make it as funny as it could have been. Matti Pellonpää watch: No where to be found.

HIGH TENSION (03)
This French horror starts out promisingly enough with a guy fucking a severed head but then immediately goes to shit from there with a way too flashy look and laughable situations to build tension. Then they even try to pass off one of the most ridiculous twist endings i've ever seen. Even more pathetic than expected.

EOLOMEA (72)
Pretty good East German sci-fi with some dreamy visuals and music although it's quite choppy and feels condensed from a longer source.

SYRIANA (05)
"Corruption is our protection. Corruption keeps us safe and warm. Corruption is why you and I are prancing around in here instead of fighting over scraps of meat out in the streets. Corruption is why we win!"  Excellent and very complicated political drama that does a great job of painting the whole sad picture.

BLOODY MOVIE (87)
After a plan to raze the house of a movie star from the silent era, the actor starts killing off everyone who sets foot on his property. The murders are intercut with actual vintage scenes from movies, which was pretty cool. But this is total 80's trash, with admittedly, a cheesy charm to it. John Ireland finally shows at the hour mark. Cameron Mitchell pops up 63 minutes in and dies less than four minutes later. Aldo Ray hardly lasts that long.

THE WITCH WHO CAME FROM THE SEA (76)
I saw this several years ago and I'm embarrassed I don't remember more about this incredible fever dream of a movie than I do.

MIGHTY JOE YOUNG (49)
Well, I never expected to see Ben Johnson lasooing a gorilla!! MJY is kinda fun thanks to some good Harryhausen action but jesus, it gets laughable at the end during the orphanage fire scene.

WILD BUNCH (69)
One of the greatest westerns ever made and still packs an unbelievably violent punch.

BIG FIX (78)
Italian crime and unfunny comedy about three crooks who horn in on a kidnapping scheme. Hide all sharp objects before viewing because there's some real annoying women and music that just might make you try to puncture your ear drums to make it stop.

GALLERY OF HORRORS (67)
Actually quite funny and enjoyable because it was sooooo bad.

DEADLY SPAWN (83)
Fun homage to the good old horror/sci-fi movies of the 50's. Needed some nudity to go along with the gore though.

 

 

July 2006

Verson Jetorix watched:

THE THREE BURIALS OF MELQUIADES ESTRADA (05)
Tommy Lee Jones expertly weaves two time strands together that culminate into a road movie (ok, a horseback road movie) into darkest Mexico. A damn good watch.

KISS KISS BANG BANG (05)
Smartass, jaded Hollywood dark humor crime story that was entertaining enough.

SYRIANA (05)
Excellent, compelling labrynth of government/business corruption that describes the futility of resistance but is still utterly fascinating to watch.

THE RESURRECTED (91)
Dan O'Bannon's ode to Lovecraft's Charles Dexter Ward is surprisingly engaging. The few missteps and now-quaint special effects don't detract too much from the generally competent, atmospheric and gory goings on.

NIGHTWATCH (04)
Very dark Russian magic realism describes a world wherein the forces of light and dark keep tabs on each other in the constant battle for the upper hand. The simple story sounds like a fantasy video game (in fact, the movie inspired one) but the treatment is a full-blown smorgasbord of cinematic technics, very showy but definitely worth a watch. First in a trilogy.

CACHE (05)
Michael Heneke's psychological thriller takes about an hour to kick in but then it fascinates and infuriates until its ambiguous ending. It is quite good for those with patience and a grasp of (and appreciation for) non-traditional filmmaking.

COLT 38 SPECIAL SQUAD (76)
Massimo Dallamano's last film (he was killed in a car wreck later the same year) is a northern Italian take on the popular cop thrillers of the day. Ivan Rassimov, though playing a critical character, seems only peripherally involved. Not up to the standard set by the man who brought us What Have They Done to Solange? and the curious Super Bitch.

RITES OF FRANKENSTEIN (72)
Yet another waste of celluloid from the master of waste, Jess Franco. The occasional nice image may rouse the drowsy viewer.

THE MATADOR (05)
Really good, fun, edgy hit man movie with a terrif perf from Pierce Brosnan. He and Greg Kinnear make an excellent team. Photography par excellence too.

THE WITCH'S MIRROR (60)
I liked this "clean floor" shocker from Mexico. Things really pick up when the medical horror kicks in.

THE CURSE OF THE CRYING WOMAN (63)
Mucho gothic atmosphere in this Mexican classic. It goes over the top with the horror elements and although the ending seems stretched out, I still give it a thumbs up.

TWO MEN IN TOWN (73)
Delon and Gabin in an indictment of the criminal justice system. Delon goes straight after doing ten but Michel Bouquet hounds him until Delon goes over the edge and kills the bastard, for which he is guillotined.

SCARLET DIVA (00)
I had low expectations going in but I actually liked this cathartic film from Daria Argento. It ain't perfect but I believe she said what she needed to say. There's a good interview with her on the DVD.

WORLD TRADE CENTER (06)
Oliver Stone's film focuses on two Port Authority cops who were trapped in the rubble on 9/11, two of only twenty who were brought out alive. It is very emotional but completely free of politics. Nicholas Cage is good and the recreation of the terrible event is quite convincing.

VIOLENT MIDNIGHT (64)
AKA Psychomania. Another one of Del Tenny's low-budget upstate New York shockers, again shot in a black and white autumn (in fact, the downer folk tune played is called Black Autumn!). This modern psycho slasher tale is as enjoyable as the period piece CURSE OF THE LIVING CORPSE. Undeniable charm.

GALLERY OF HORRORS (67)
Totally cheapjack, low-talent anthology of poorly written and executed twisty horror stories that features John Carradine and Lon Chaney. The best parts are the clips stolen from the Corman Poe flicks. Entertaining in a so-bad-it's-good way but not a must-own way.

DEADLY SPAWN (83)
Another low-budget film but this time there is some talent involved. Quite fun and mostly successful alien monster mash takes place pretty much inside two houses. Humorous, enthusiastic and gory, DS confirms that enthusiasm goes a long way in filmmaking.

 


Joe Violente watched:

ELECTRIC DRAGON 80000V (01)
A kid gets electrocuted and becomes violent. He grows up to be Dragon Eye Morrison (Tadanobu Asano) who absorbs electricity and looks for people's lost lizards. Enter Thunderbolt Buddha (Masatoshi Nagase), who owns the wavelengths, and we have serious comic book action here with lots of loud guitar noise. A fun, nice looking movie.

COLT 38 SPECIAL SQUAD (76)
A very dull crime film from Massimo Dallamano.

SCALPHUNTERS (68)
The rather grim story is watered down with too much humor to enjoy it.

THE WITCH'S MIRROR (62)
The whole thing is rather stagy with the first half being pretty routine and short on atmosphere but the second half takes a macabre turn and ends up being pretty good. Heck, the old housekeeper conjures up Satan, so what more could you want from a Saturday or Sunday morning horror?

LA VIE DE BOHEME (92)
The deadpan Kaurismaki humor and timing translate wonderfully into French. Matti Pellonpää plays a painter. Classic Kaurismaki here.

TAKE CARE OF YOUR SCARF TATJANA (94)
A Finn locks his mother in the closet and grabs his friend (Matti Pellonpää) and they install a coffee maker on the dash and go on a road trip with a stack of 45's! More classic Kaurismaki here. Kati Outinen plays one of the Russians they pick up and drive to the harbor. Pellonpää's ticker gave out the following year. He was 44.

DRIFTING CLOUDS (96)
"I'm taking a journey to the end of vodka."  Melancholy drama about a woman (Kati Outinen) and her husband who are desperately out of work in Helsinki. Matti Pellonpää is supposedly the little Finn in a photograph of their child that apparently has died.

A SHOT IN THE DARK (64)
Yeah, it's still funny.

RETURN OF THE PINK PANTHER (75)
Yeah, it's still funny.

PINK PANTHER STRIKES AGAIN (76)
Yeah, it's still funny.

JUHA (99)
Content farming couple have their lives destroyed when a smooth talking pimp lures the wife (Kati Outinen) away to the big city. Pretty good tragic silent movie from Kaurismaki with an accordion score (what else?) and the actors using exaggerated movements. MAN WITHOUT A PAST is up next.

BURST CITY (82)
Sogo Ishii's really dated and obnoxious futuristic Jap punk movie that was filmed in nauseating shaky cam.

GO-JOE: SPIRIT WAR (00)
Sogo Ishii's epic struggle between good  and evil spirits (Tadanobu Asano). It's not bad but it's too long and the numerous fight scenes get monotonous pretty quickly. Features Masatoshi Nagase as an expert sword maker.

ICHI THE KILLER (01)
You know you're really in for something when the film title rises out of a pool of freshly deposited semen. Outrageously brutal and gory because it can be. Over two hours is way too long for this kind of movie but Takashi Miike keeps things moving fast and the cool Tadanobu Asano is always fun to watch.

THE MATADOR (05)
Clearly the sleeper of the year.

UNLEASHED (05)
Typical flashy overthetopness from the Luc Besson factory. When there's no video game like action to keep you interested the cheesy and sappy stuff surly will.

INSPECTOR CLOUSEAU (68)
Not really funny at all but the restrained Alan Arkin creates a few smiles for his fans. Luckily Clouseau shifted back to Blake Edwards and Peter Sellers who weren't interested in subtleties.

THE CROOK (71)
Watchable crime movie thanks to an appealing cast lead by Jean-Louis Trintignant, but in the end you get the feeling director Claude Lelouch had very little interest in the genre.

THE CURSE OF THE CRYING WOMAN (63)
Even stagy acting and seemingly endless monologues can't undermine the good black and white photography and excellent gothic atmosphere.

THE THREE BURIALS OF MELQUIADES ESTRADA (05)
Pretty good road movie with some nice subtleties and an occasional thoughtful surprise. The cast is really good except Dwight Yoakam who ruins every scene he's in and should not be allowed to act. In fact, I think Tommy Lee Jones should pay with his own money to have Industrial Light and Magic digitally remove that motherfucking shitkicker from the movie. If it works then they can remove him from WHEN TRUMPETS FADE too. I don't know who will pay for that one though. I guess he can stay in SLING BLADE and MINUS MAN because it's been a while and I don't remember him.

LIFESPAN (74)
What could have been a moody mystery turns into an endurance test due to some bad dialog and a ton of annoying  narration, all from the same character. It lived up to its reputation.

LEY LINES (99)
Chinese immigrants in Japan hate the way they are treated so much they will do anything to get out and turn to fatalistic crime. Not a bad effort from Takashi Miike.

MORE (69)
Two hippies plunge into a world of drugs, sex and Pink Floyd. The cast can't carry this type of movie and mimsy farmer doesn't get naked enough.

THE WIRE [season one] (02)
An excellent cops vs drug dealers show set in the high & low rise projects of West Baltimore.

BEAT THE HEAT HORROR FEST 2006
DELLAMORTE DELLAMORE
THE BROOD
HALLOWEEN
LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT

PALINDROMES (05)
Chancy road movie from Todd Solondz about a 14 year old girl who wants to have a baby. It's touching and disturbing and cheesy and pretty much works more than it fails.

BUBBLE (05)
Soderbergh's exercise in barebones filmmaking is pretty good I guess but it's so minimalist it's hard to care for the characters. In the end it lacks the power of a ken loach or those two Belgians who made ROSETTA and LA PROMESSE.

ALMOST HUMAN (74)
This Lenzi is pretty over the top in the violence department and really obnoxious in the tomas milian department. I only watched it for the J&B.

THE WIRE [season two] (03)
An excellent cops vs smugglers show set on the Baltimore waterfront.

TATTOOED LIFE (65)
Dull little effort from Seijun Suzuki that plays like a 50's Hollywood melodrama. He manages to sneak in a little artistic flair at the end, a hint at things to come, but it's not worth watching just for that.

 

 

Aug/Sept 2006

Verson Jetorix watched:

V FOR VENDETTA (06)
Excellent graphic novel adaptation that not only boasts beautiful images and a top notch cast but is intelligent, prescient and puts forth some very dangerous ideas. Bravo.

FLIC STORY (75)
Cop Alain Delon tracks down crazed killer Jean-Louis Trintignant.  Pretty good true tale but if it weren't for the two stars it would be largely unexceptional.

CSA: THE CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA (04)
Faux-documentary plays like a Ken Burns history of America if the south had won the Civil War. Very realistic and well done in that regard. Commercials from "America today" are interspersed throughout for products such as Darky Toothpaste and Niggerhair cigarettes. Truly funny and tasteless. Trouble is, those were real products in America's past that the filmmakers updated to the present. Clever and very inappropriately funny. Recommended.

BRICK (05)
A BUGSY MALONE for the new millenium. Likable teen film noir with an excellent visual sense and a palatable self-consciousness.

THE PYJAMA GIRL CASE (70)
Lesser Italian murder mystery shot in Australia. Very little in the way of arresting images or convincing characterization although Dalila Di Lazzaro is a knockout.

EMERGENCY SQUAD (74)
Cop Tomas Milian tracks down his wife's killer, Gastone Moschin. Standard post-heist crime thriller that benefits from a low-key Milian and the always interesting Moschin.

THE AMOROUS ADVENTURES OF CASANOVA (77)
AKA Casanova & Co. Euro sex "comedy." Tony Curtis plays Giacomo Casanova and lookalike Giacomino. Hilarity ensues. Nicely photographed period piece with modern "funny" speech (which, after a half-hour and a couple of glasses of wine, is fairly funny). Tony gets to fuck a bevy of naked Euro-beauties. Marisa Berenson barely gives it up. Same for Marisa Mell. Sylva Koscina gives it up unashamedly. Britt Ekland proves shy but shows a little. And a feast of gorgeous babes deliver. Also features Umberto Raho and Giacomo Rossi-Stuart. From the director of Tower of the Screaming Virgins.

SO SWEET, SO PERVERSE (69, encore)
Very entertaining Euro-mystery written by Ernesto Gastaldi and directed by Umberto Lenzi. Great cast (Trintignant, Baker, Blanc, Line, and Horst Frank as the bad guy), great tunes (Ortolani), and great ambience. But no J&B.

BORSALINO & CO
Quite entertaining gangster fantasy with Alain Delon. Too bad he doesn't have someone to play off of like Gabin or Ventura.

NIGHTMARE IN BLOOD (78)
Considering this was made by fans for fans, it is quite an achievement - not that it's any good, really. The story is kinda dumb and the action is poorly executed but there are several recognizable actors in the mix (including Kerwin Matthews in a movie within a movie and "Kathy" Quinlan pulling a Kinski). The best part is the many horror movie posters and comics on display throughout.

ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS
(58, encore)
Pretty fun Corman monster mash with giant crabs that absorb their victim's personalities. The lack of a more recognizable cast (Russell Johnson being the only exception) keeps this from being a bona fide classic.

THE ETRUSCAN KILLS AGAIN (72, encore)
There's a generic quality to this Italian horror that neither suprises nor disappoints. A good 'B' cast and some interesting elements but no strong visual quality. Good for a Euro-fix but doesn't completely satisfy.

NAKED SPUR (53, encore)
One of the great westerns of all time. Period.

THE SCREAMING SKULL (58)
Enjoyable enough low-budget, supernatural psychodrama (there really is a ghost with a screaming skull). One of many little b&w shockers from the late 50s/early 60s that should be cherished for their enthusiasm and dour mood. They just don't make'em like this anymore.

HOUSE OF BAMBOO (55)
Sam Fuller's great eye makes this widescreen crime flick a beauty. The pacing's a bit slack but Ryan, Stack and Cam the Man are fun to watch.

GHOSTS OF MARS (01)
Interesting concept of bodiless Martians taking over colonists is reduced to lowest common denominator hardware movie with death metal production design (including John Carpenter's soundtrack). The leads are weak but Ice Cube and Jason Statham come off best.

BAD TIMING (80)
Nicholas Roeg's meditation on the human psyche is fascinating in a macabre sort of way. It is languid, jarring and filled with striking images, but neither main character is appealing, which adds to the sense of remoteness and alienation. Garfunkel's a dud altogether, in my opinion.

 


Joe Violente watched:

THE SON (02)
With ROSETTA and LA PROMESSE Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne tell the stories of children trying to overcome lives set upon them by their thoughtless parents but with THE SON, we have a father trying to deal with the kid who shattered his life. Riveting and deceptively simple - the Dardenne brothers are masters of their craft.

LEOLO (92)
Amazing and imaginative
disturbing and above all poetic
william arnold is an ignorant bastard
i want to shoot him and fuck the brain hole

SHAWN OF THE DEAD (04)
Always a fun watch.

HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET  [Season 1 & 2]
This crime show based in "Ballimore" is a mixed bag. Barry Levinson delivers the first two excellent episodes filled with grit, wit and a streetwise detective vernacular but the rest range from cheesy (thanks to Michael Lehmann) to good (thanks to Nick Gomez) and then mostly fair with lots of sap and heavy handedness mixed with some pretty good and then a really good episode from John (what the fuck has he done since HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER) McNaughton. I'm trying to say is there is a lot of good stuff here but too uneven for me, like I'm being strung along....

THE NOAH (75)
I don't know if I could stand being the last man on earth because I felt like killing myself watching this last man on earth movie. Okay, I'm exaggerating. But many consider drinking as much as I do (did during this movie) suicide, so maybe I'm not exaggerating.

THE WIRE [season three] (04)
They brought the show back to the dope filled West Baltimore streets for the third season and just might have topped the first two excellent seasons. It's tighter and a little chancy - Some day this show is gonna end...

NAKED SPUR (53)
This wonderfully intense Mann/Stewart western is fucking finally on dvd!!!  It gets better with every viewing. The print feels soft but it's clean and colorful.

CSA: THE CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA (04)
A well made mockumentary that's both funny and sad.

BEAST OF BRAY ROAD  (05)
Set in Wisconsin and supposedly based on actual sightings [I bet they see lots of UFOs out there too] this werewolf movie gets points for not using CGI (we're talking a guy in a werewolf suit!) for its monster but unfortunately some of the acting is bad enough to ruin what little fun there is between werewolf sightings.

OVER THE EDGE  (79)
Very oddly enough I saw this movie about teen alienation 25 years ago and didn't really like it but now that I'm old I find it pretty effective.

NIGHTMARE IN BLOOD  (72)
Silly and amateurish vampire movie that is, for reasons I can't quite explain, easy and fun to watch.

ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS (57)
Scientists, civilians and sailors battle a seeming unbeatable land crab! Good God it sounds kinda cheesy and it is, but it's kinda fun too.

THE ETRUSCAN KILLS AGAIN (72)
Where's that probe?!?!?!?!

 

 

Sept/Oct/Nov/Dec 2006

Verson Jetorix watched:

THE PROTECTOR (05)
Silly Thai movie about a young man, raised as a protector of elephants, who chases down the bad guys who stole his prize pachyderms. Kickboxer Tony Jaa is the draw here, and the action scenes are a lot of fun. The kid kicks ass!

BEFORE DAWN (33, encore)
Irving Pichel directed this supernatural tale of greed. Warner Oland, who had just begun his most famous role of Charlie Chan a couple of years earlier, is after hidden stolen money and the cops call in a medium (the cutie Dorothy Wilson) to help them solve the murders Oland is committing. Pretty entertaining, with a good cast.

DEAD MEN WALK (43, encore)
Another revisit to this favorite George Zucco classic vampire flick that deserves a better reputation than it has. The soon-to-expire Dwight Frye adds goulish interest, and you get two Zucco's for the price of one in this atmospheric creaker.

THE SENATOR LIKES WOMEN (72)
Lousy Fulci "sex comedy" that features neither component. Fuck it.

JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF TIME (67, encore)
I love this no-budget, sci-fi turkey. It plays and looks like a comic book come to life and the set design is pure sixties TV. Scott Brady and Anthony Eisley are the poverty row dream team. Sure, it doesn't make sense, but I'm glad!

DISTRICT B13 (04)
Fun French action/crime flick featuring lots of athletic stunts as a young, good-hearted denizen of the walled-off, crime-ridden district teams up with a young, well-intentioned cop to undo the local coked-up crime lord. A great little B movie.

HOUSE BY THE RIVER (50)
Fritz Lang's period noir has Louis Hayward as a struggling writer who accidentally kills his maid, then enlists his brother in disposing of the body in the river. When the body resurfaces, Hayward goes haywire. Pretty fun, with good acting an nice creepy atmosphere.

UNDERWORLD (03)
Not unworthy entry in the post-BLADE RUNNER, post-MATRIX cinema world of action movies. Plenty of silliness and it strains for credibility, but there's some cool stuff too. At least this one features vampires vs. werewolves. The old monsters are best.

MAN IN THE VAULT (56)
Quite good little late-cycle, poverty row noir based on the work of Frank Gruber, who was actually better known as a writer of westerns. William Campbell is the sucker and Berry Kroeger (he was Max Black in NIGHTMARE IN WAX) is one of the bad guys. Mike Mazurki is his muscle. A beautiful young Anita Ekberg gets slapped around too. A couple more noirs based on Gruber are on my list: ACCOMPLICE (46) and BACKLASH (56).

THE CURSE OF THE DOLL PEOPLE (60)
Corny and creepy, this Mexican voodoo revenge story has enough going for it to make it worth a watch.  Some nice photography and atmosphere and the needle-carrying dwarves are the highlights.

HELL (Jigoku, 60)
This arty story about the corruption of a young man and his journey to the eight hells of Buddhism features fantastical and horrible imagery of eternal torment but suffers from a dull middle section and way too much screaming by the entire cast.  Best watched with the sound turned down and your own music choice playing.

VIRGIN WITCH (72, encore)
There's plenty of skin to keep this predictable Satanist story interesting.  The Michelle sisters spend the majority of the running time in various states of undress which should be enough for any fan of the subgenre.
 

I KILLED THAT MAN (41)
Run-of-the-mill poverty row murder mystery features several deaths by poison dart, which is why it landed in the Forgotten Horrors 2 book.  Ricardo Cortez and Joan Woodbury make for an attractive pair of leads but the supporters are a dull bunch indeed.

 
WHIRLPOOL (49)
Otto Preminger's weird psycho hypnotist story features Gene Tierney, "One Bone" Conte, and Mel Ferrer.  The scene where Ferrer hypnotises himself with a mirror pretty much says where this movie's head's at.
 
DARK WATERS (94, encore)
DW on DVD delivers years after seeing it as a third generation dupe on VHS.  Absolutely gorgeous.  And it almost makes sense.
 

LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH (71, encore)
Excellent gothic horror story keeps the viewer guessing long after the end credits.  The attention to sound design is only one of the examples here of craftsmanship trumping a low budget.  Recommended.

 

CHARLIE CHAN IN EGYPT (35)
One of the better Chans has Chuck involved with ancient tombs, curses, and ingenious murder.  Lots of atmosphere.  Marred only by the painfully embarrassing Stepin Fetchit comedy relief.

 
 
CHARLIE CHAN IN PARIS (35)
Pretty good entry in the Oland series with Keye Luke joining the action.  No shufflin' Negro stuff this time, thankfully.
 
CHARLIE CHAN IN SHANGHAI (35)
Chuck takes down an opium smuggling ring.  Okay Chan with Keye Luke confined to a hotel room for most of the running time.
 
SLITHER (06)
Enthusiastic, well-intentioned neo-horror in the mold of TREMORS: gore and creeps leavened with humor (that misses more often than it hits).  Accomplished and enjoyable enough to be worth a look.
 
TERROR (78)
This British tale of supernatural retribution from Norman J. Warren (SATAN'S SLAVE) wears its SUSPIRIA influence on its sleeve.  With candy colored lighting, showy murder set pieces, and a Goblin-aping soundtrack, Warren manages to create merely a reasonable facsimile of Argento.
 
MR. MOTO TAKES A CHANCE (38)
Standard programmer has Moto spying in Cambodia.  Worth it for Peter Lorre, of course, and for Rochelle Hudson.  Somebody should just shoot Chick Chandler tho.
 
THE LAVENDER HILL MOB (51)
Fun heist movie from Ealing Studios with Alec Guinness putting together a very polite gang to steal gold bullion and melt it down into little Eiffel Tower statues in order to get it out of the country.  Needless to say, things go wrong and crime does indeed end up not paying, but it's an enjoyable road to ruin.
 

THE WILD BLUE YONDER (05)
Werner Herzog cobbled together some interesting (and some boring) NASA footage with new scenes of the great Brad Dourif ranting about being an alien and calls it a science fiction fantasy.  Werner's heart is in the right place and he makes a few good points but one viewing was enough for me.  Oh, and there's some cool music too.

 

 

THE QUILLER MEMORANDUM (66, encore)
A classic, cynical British spy film.  One of the greats, really, and it looks fabulous wide on DVD.  See The Eurospy Guide for a complete review.

 
 

MAD LOVE (35, encore)
Karl Freund's expressionistic, sexually subversive tale of madness and obsession would never be made by a major studio today.  Peter Lorre rocks as the twisted doctor who goes to unheard of lengths to satisfy his lust.  Terrific classic fun and highly recommended. 

 
 

TARANTULA (55, encore)
Jumpin' Jupiter!  John Agar rules!  Agar drives a cool car around a perfect 50's desert town, woos the totally hot Mara Corday, and fights a terrifying monster!  And Clint Eastwood delivers napalm death!  Top five 50's sci-fi.
 

 
THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN (57, encore)
An incredible classic movie!

 

 
THE MYSTERIOUS MR. MOTO (38)
Moto exposes a murder racket in London.  Pretty fun stuff, lots of action this time.

 

 
WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO YOUR DAUGHTERS (74, encore)
Fair riff on SOLANGE by Massimo Dallamano features Claudio Cassinelli as the cop after a schoolgirl prostitution ring.  Also features the ever-lovable Farley Granger as an out-of-touch father and Mario Adorf in a small but excellent role as another cop with a daughter involved in the shenanigans.

 

 

SCOOP (06)
Woody Allen's funny again!  Entertaining murder mystery set in London has the Woodman and his latest muse, Scarlett Johansson, investigating upper crust Hugh Jackman who may be a serial killer.  I laughed. 

 
 

THE HELLFIRE CLUB (61, encore)
It's nice to see this old Brit swashbuckler wide.  Upstart in exile returns home to claim his aristocratic birthright from his evil cousin who runs the naughty club of the title.  Beautifully shot even if the film itself is only so-so. 

 
 

BLOOD OF THE VAMPIRE (58)
Old fashioned Brit medical horror doesn't really have a vampire.  But it has lots of atmosphere, some creepy doings and the gorgeous Barbara Shelley.

 

THANK YOU, MR. MOTO (37)
Above average entry has Moto tracking down antique scrolls in China that, together, form a map to the tomb of Genghis Khan.  Good cast (including John Carradine), atmosphere and action.
 

 

TOKYO DRIFTER (66, encore)
A classic revisited.
 

 

THINK FAST, MR. MOTO (37)
Diamond smuggling this time.  Fair entry enlivened by a good cast, including J Carrol Naish in a small role.
 

 
 

VALLEY OF THE DOLLS (67)
The deservedly legendary and fabulously tacky booze 'n' drugs showbiz pic.  Total widescreen, stagebound 60s kitch.  Some terrific sets, cool cars, and tons of delirious, soapy melodrama!  Must be seen to be believed.  Sharon Tate was, perhaps, the world's most beautiful woman. 

 
 

BLADE RUNNER (82, encore)
It just keeps getting better.
 

 

WARNING SHOT (66)
Obvious TV movie diverted to theatrical release but it's a solid cop drama with a great cast.  Cop David Janssen kills a doctor who pulled a gun on him but the gun disappears and Janssen bops around LA trying to clear his name.  Lots of cool 60's decor and cool 60s cars.

 

 

A SCANNER DARKLY (06)
Really liked this Phillip K. Dick adaptation by Richard Linklater.
 

 

 

LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE (06)
Savagely funny dark satire on family and the child beauty queen machine.  Highly recommended.
 

 

SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE DEADLY NECKLACE (62, encore)
Not-so-good German non-canonical Holmes adventure with Christopher Lee chasing Moriarty.  But it does have (not enough of) Senta Berger.
 

 

 

 

THE SHOOTING (67, encore)
Awesome little western from Monte Hellman still rides tall.

 

 

 

 

THE BLACK DAHLIA (06)
I didn't totally dislike Brian De Palma's reverie on the famous murder case.  It has a helluva cast but wasn't all that involving.
 

 

 


 


Joe Violente watched:

FEMALE CONVICT SCORPION JAILHOUSE 41  (72)
A worthy sequel that's not as fun or exploitive as its predecessor but it makes up for it in arty abandon. Meiko Kaji is hot and doesn't talk until over an hour into the picture.

THE BLANCHEVILLE MONSTER (63)
Evil housekeeper gothic that has very good photography, sets and locations. Needs a proper dvd release to appreciate.

THE CORNER (00)
Uncompromising and depressing six hour drama about two generations of a real life family living in a Baltimore ghetto who have watched their neighborhood and themselves devastated by the runaway drug trade.

THE STREET WITH NO NAME (48)
Noir with Mark Stevens going under cover to capture murderer Richard Widmark. Fine performances and good locations set this apart from the rest.

THE BODYGUARD (76)
Fun enough action movie with Sonny Chiba trying to wipe out drugs.

PATRICK STILL LIVES (80)
The first half is like a dull, annoying giallo. The second half is pure gornography with the comatose Patrick eliminating the cast in very brutal ways but without style.

OUT OF SIGHT (98)
Elmore Leonard should sell his sole to get Soderbergh to adapt more of his novels.

UNO BIANCA (01)
The first half of Michele Soavi's three hour cops and robbers movie is very engrossing as two young cops try to identify a group of murdering thieves but unfortunately the second half of the story becomes very routine and falls into all the trappings as the cops try to infiltrate the gang. Worth noting: stars Giacomo Rossi Stuart's son, has J&B and there are characters named Soavi and Tanzi.

BERMUDA TRIANGLE (78)
Would make a good double bill with the director's equally worthless TINTORERA.

THE TAKERS/BUMMER! (71/73)
Something Weird just doesn't realize some movies should stay lost - like most of their catalog.

GREEN STREET HOOLIGANS (05)
A serious drama about soccer firms in the U.K. that unfortunately tries to portray them as real people, not the bleedin arseholes that they are. And we're supposed to empathize with them. Call in an airstrike.

HOUSE OF THE DAMNED (63)
The artificial dialog and performances some how turn this into watchable camp. But it is only an hour long. The two real-life freaks are icing on the armless legless cake.

LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH (71)
This nice little psychological horror still holds up. There's a few eerie bits but Zohra Lampert carries the movie with her heartbreaking performance as the "recovering" schizophrenic.

DISTRICT B13 (04)
Cheesy and over stylized and loaded with fun action/fight scenes.

DARK WATERS (94)
Mariano Baino's horror film has finally made it to dvd, and it looks great. So beautiful and atmospheric and haunting the disappointing ending (they ran out of money) hardly matters.

IN THE BELLY OF THE BEAST (01)
Documentary about genre filmmakers at the Fantasia film festival. A couple of lengthy interviews with passionate filmmakers about the nightmares of indy movie making are fairly interesting but they spend way too much time with a very annoying, self important director, who hasn't even finished his gornographic film yet. Luckily the fascinating Richard (HARDWARE) Stanley provides much needed breaks.

V FOR VENDETTA (06)
This graphic novel adaptation with a very serious and pertinent politically charged story is okay. On one hand i really like the complicated story for a change but I found it too long, and difficult to watch an unmoving plastic mask deliver long monologs.

THE CURSE OF THE DOLL PEOPLE (60)
This fun horror movie has enough good parts to warrant another viewing in the original, uhhh, mexican language to hopefully eliminate a lot of the comedy.

JIGOKU (60)
Effective trip to hell movie with great visuals and a lot of annoying screaming at the end.

VIRGIN WITCH (72)
Fun witch movie with the right amount of sex and nudity and cute chicks.

KAFKA (91)
Steven Soderbergh's ambitious second feature is a visually stunning paranoid thriller. I hear he is recutting the film and will release both versions, but i doubt he'll be able to cut out Theresa Russell, who is the only liability.
 
COMMON WEALTH (00)
Hitchcockian thriller black comedy with really fast talking Spaniards. Who cares.
 

BURIAL GROUND (81)
Thoughtless and pointless Fulci zombie gornographic ripoff.

 
MONSTER ON THE CAMPUS (58)
Unimaginative but fun all the same monster movie.
 
MOLE PEOPLE (56)
This sci-fi horror movie plays like a prototype for the STAR TREK series. John Agar plays the all-knowing bastard in charge - Hugh Beaumont should have fed him to the moles. The mole people are the best part.
 
SUPERBITCH (73)
Fun Eurotrash with Ivan Rassimov. I think i watched this in a motel in Kansas where i later killed a cockroach and got very paranoid thinking someone stole my watch but they didn't. The breakfast was awful but the chick with the big nose who had to lean over a lot working a double shift at the front desk i can't quite get out of my mind.
 
DEVIL'S PLAYGROUND (02)
Very compelling documentary about Amish youth doing the rumspringa thing.
 
HARAKIRI (62)
Drawn out restrained revenge story that's worth the wait. Stars the great Tatsuya Nakadai (you'd recognize him if you saw him).
 
THANK YOU FOR SMOKING (05)
Very funny and well acted. And it doesn't give in.
 
NASHVILLE (75)
I've been meaning to watch this movie for about 20 years and after driving through the whole state of Tennessee  last week without stopping once I figured it was time.
 
GOOD MORNING (59)
Two kids refuse to talk until they get a TV. Whimsical and entertaining social commentary on post-war Japan.

 

It's almost embarrassing how many times I've watched this movie.

 
Just moved this one into the short list of my favorite film noir - I love this goddamn crime movie. Now I think I gotta make a place for it in my top 100.
 
Jesus christ! A monkey with a machine gun! Buster was losing control of his movies at this point but he's still in top form here, delivering some great laughs.
 
Hide in the basement Halloween movie #1.
 

Hide in the basement Halloween movie #2.

 

 

 
MANIAC COP (88)
William Lustig's last watchable movie. Not that it's all that great but it's got Bruce Campbell as Honest Cop and William Smith is good as Asshole Cop.

AUDITION (99)
Elegant and twisted. Probably Takashi Miike's most accomplished film.

 

 

 

TALES OF ZATOICHI (74)
Episodes 1-3 are a comfortable return to the violent world of Zatoichi.

 

 

 

MASK OF FU MANCHU (32)
This fun weird menace adventure is finally on dvd. Boris is great, even if he wouldn't fuck around with the electricity.

 

 

 

TALES OF ZATOICHI  (70's)
Episodes 4-5. Sentiment and tragedy.

A severed arm on the table isn't uncommon when Z is gambling...

 

 

DOCTOR X!

 

 

 

TALES OF ZATOICHI (70's)
Volume 3, episodes 1-2. Pretty familiar stuff here but still entertaining.

 

 

 

TALES OF ZATOICHI (70's)
Volume 3, episodes 3-4. Easy to watch and entertaining. I think Katsu directed one of these episodes -  there's some camera and editing techniques that show up later in 1989.

 

 

 

TALES OF ZATOICHI (70's)
Volume 4, episodes 1-4. More watchable Zatoichi action. Reiko Ike shows up in one episode but she keeps her clothes on because it's tv.

 

 

THE WILD BLUE YONDER (05)
This cautionary "science fantasy" tale from Werner Herzog is pretty damn dull. At least he could have found some interesting space footage to re-use.

 

 

 

THE QUILLER MEMORANDUM (66,)
Outstanding spy movie with a good cast and great photography.

 
 

MAD LOVE (35)
Very nice looking horror movie about sexual obsession. Peter Lorre is great. It's a shame Karl Freund didn't work in the genre more often.

 

 
 

THE COLLECTOR (67)
Eric Rohmer's talkathon about two intellectuals trying to reform the local slut but end up falling for her, sort of, is always pretty interesting and Haydee (QUEENS OF EVIL) Politoff is easy to look at.

 

YOUTH OF THE BEAST  (63)
Deliriously cool yakuza/revenge movie from Seijun Suzuki. I
wish I was half as fucking cool as Jo Shishido.

 

 

BONNIE'S KIDS (73)
Two very manipulative sisters are out for all they can get in this fun, and ultimately dark, drive-in movie you probably never heard of. Tiffany Bolling is looking mighty fine here.

 

 

"You can always go home...
and it's nothing."

 

 

 

TALES OF ZATOICHI (70's)
Volume 5 ends with a bloody steam bath, courtesy of Z. I guess the remaining 80 episodes(!) are lost. Hopefully they will get found some day...

 

 

 

TELL THEM WHO YOU ARE
Emotional and compelling documentary about the relationship cinematographer Haskel Wexler and his son.

 

SUPERMAN RETURNS
Over done, too long, and totally predictable rehash super hero movie from bryan singer. i watched the whole thing though, so it wasn't all bad.
 

 

loudQUIETloud (06)
A documentary about the Pixies' "sellout" reunion tour. Well, they still can't communicate after all these years - how they managed to produce as many good records as they did is a true wonder. Involving and depressing.
 

 

THE SHIELD: SEASON ONE (02)
Fairly gritty cop show that's pretty good due to the fact most of the main cops are dirty.
 
 

THE WIRE: SEASON FOUR (06)
The best show on tv returns, this time concentrating on a group of black west baltimore kids - die in the vacants or sell dope on the corners or go to jail or die or maybe, just maybe make it into high school. David Simon and Ed Burns once again deliver 13 hours of solid, uncompromising drama.
 
 

INSTRUMENT (99)
Appropriately crude and disjointed documentary about punk legends Fugazi. Sometimes interesting, with rare behind-the-scenes concert footage set to different instrumental music, and sometimes just plain dull.
 

 

THE SHIELD: SEASON TWO (03)
Fairly gritty cop show that's pretty good due to the fact most of the main cops are dirty, and you never know who will die.
 

 

NORTHVILLE CEMETERY MASSACRE (76)
Just as bad as i kinda remember it. The good part: all the "hero" bikers get killed! The bad part: they get killed at the end of the movie rather than the beginning.
 

 

GWENDOLINE (84)
Campy serial-like adventure with a bit of nudity. Not as bad as i expected. It was almost fun at times and the chicks are cute.
 

 

Christmas night started with the very enjoyable GARDEN STATE because i needed a laugh. The scene where Zack Braff closes the refrigerator and is scared by Ian Holm lurking behind the door is a total ALIEN moment so i watched that next. They sure don't make sets like that anymore. There was still an hour of Christmas left so i watched BLACK CHRISTMAS, the only Christmas themed movie i have. It's surprisingly effective and stars The Sax!