Is this Patricks way of making us glad Junesploitation is coming to an end?
Mario Bava's BLACK SUNDAY (1960) on Amazon Prime for the first time.Might sound sacrilegious to its fans, but for me on first viewing "Black Sunday" belongs in the same category as the Universal Monsters classic horror films from the golden Hollywood era. Shot in gorgeous and atmospheric B&W, taking place in a fictitious European nation (Moldavia) not unlike the one in Universal Monster land and featuring clearly-identifiable lines of good vs. evil doing battle to the death, "Black Sunday" adds just enough snippets of gore/violence to give it its then-contemporary edge over the classics that clearly inspired it. Mario Bava directs the hell out of "Black Sunday" as a man with something to prove. Though some of his decisions are a little baffling (like shooting some regular non-action scenes with sped-up photography to give it an unusual look) the film works like a tight little drum from start to finish. It doesn't hurt that the gorgeous Barbara Steele gets to play both innocent wholesome girl and a resurrected witch, making up for the sad fact that most of the men in "Black Sunday" are kind-of interchangeable douches (at least in the English dub version).I think I found the cure for Patrick's inability to embrace Italian horror. In "Black Sunday" Bava and his crew were clearly trying to make as non-Italian a movie in feel, look, setting and plot as possible, and in succeeding the film isn't saddled with that cultural Italian disconnect that inevitably ruins it for him. Too bad that only a small percentage of Italian horror (most of it from this era) qualifies, but hey, you're welcome. :-)
I like Black Sunday, but it's very different from the kinds of movies we're usually talking about when we discuss "Italian Horror." I've gotten better over this month, having seen more stuff I like (or at least tolerate) than in the past. So I'm halfway there.
Deep Red (1975) – First ViewingIn his review of ‘Atame’ Roger Ebert wrote this and it always stuck with me: “Almodovar's polarities are so perfectly lined up in opposition to my own that it is quite possible for one of his movies to shoot right through my brain without striking a single cell.” That’s how I feel about every Dario Argento movie I’ve seen (I’ve only seen 70’s Argento, apparently he’s made legitimately terrible movies for at least the past couple decades). Deep Red was just a slog to get through. I didn't enjoy it at all. I will say there are a couple genuinely creepy moments near the end though. At least the score by Goblin was kicky. Overall big thumbs down for me though. This review contained Ebertsploitation.
Kill, Baby…Kill! (1966)Well-made chiller from Mario Bava, where a town is cursed by the vengeful ghost of a 7-year-old girl. The movie features nice atmospheric direction from Bava (there’s one spinning shot of a spiral staircase that’s particularly cool) and an appropriately spooky music score by Carlo Rustichelli. Giacomo Rossi-Stuart gets the thankless role of visiting doctor, who must pound his thick rationalist skull against brick walls for the whole damn movie when everyone else knows what’s up. The ghost-girl gets an able assist from Evil Otto (bonus points for anyone who gets that reference).
Profondo Rosso A.K.A Deep Red (1975) Second ViewingThe first time I saw this was 22 years ago via VHS on a 13" TV. Having watched it today on a LED 55"; remastered, I can definitely say that this movie is absolutely beautiful to look at. There are 100 frames that you could take a still of and hang them on your wall as art. Argento is a master at framing scenes. His direction is also untouchable in this. The confidence exudes from almost every camera trick and angle he uses. He knows what he wants to shoot and how to shoot it and it shows. The score by Goblin is of course great, albeit there are only two or three themes played throughout. All that being said there is a HUGE problem with this film that Matt touched on above - it is freaking SLOOOOOOOW. I might catch shit from Argento purists for this, but I'm even going to say this film is flat out boring as all hell. No joke, we were 35 minutes in and checked the time; I swear we thought we had at least been an hour through! If it weren't for the visuals and the superb directing we would have shut it off. Btw - I didn't remember one thing from this movie from when I first watched it on VHS 22 years or so ago; I'm guessing that's because I fell asleep 35 minutes in.
I almost wanted to warn you off of this one, though it does have its merits. This wasn't your fiancee's first Argento, was it? Should have gone with Phenomena!
Unfortunately, it was bro. But she's cool with it, felt just as bored but agreed it was amazing to look at.
Black Sabbath (1963)I did it! I found an Italian horror movie that I kinda liked! I was gonna give Argento another try (specifically The Bird With the Crystal Plumage because I kinda love that title) but decided at the last minute to go with this Karloff-hosted anthology instead, which was much more straightforward than any of the Giallo movies I've seen. All 3 stories are actually pretty effective, and the tone is consistently creepy.
Macabre (1980) FMS - Oh my God that was disturbing and horrible. I didn't enjoy that at all I think it will give me nightmares! I rented Suspiria so maybe I should have gone with that one. It might have been an interesting theme about if it was all in Robert's head or not but it is not really explored as we know it is not. Another theme could have been that the one who is blind is the most sane, so the one with the most sense in a way even though he is missing one, but again, this is not explored. Some things I don't ever really want to see in films such as a young girl kill her younger brother are shown in this movie and maybe it is because I have much younger siblings (my brother is 9, my sister is 11 and I am 24 on Sunday) so I can't take shit like that well at all. Maybe the fact it disturbed me makes it a 'good' horror movie but as I stated before I don't think it is a smart one as it could have been way more interesting and had more going for it then just the shock value so I would still argue it isn't good. I was curious though when I saw the poster 'prepare for a shock of a lifetime' what that could refer to. So I guess I found out!
Annoying personal side-note: My Dad's birthday is today, on Italian horror day. He is from Malta and our relatives hail from Italy; Ferro means Iron in Italian. P.S. I only spoiled small parts of the 'shocks' in this film
Buon Compleanno Signor Ferro!It's a cool last name! Also, I think I'll avoid that movie and just watch Black Sabbath for the first time!
Thanks Sol! Yes you're better off watching something else. I haven't seen Black Sabbath but it is on my list :)
Murder Rock: Dancing Death (1984) trailerFulci's reimagining of Fame (aka Slashdance in European release!) New York-shot murder mystery about dance students being stabbed in the heart by a killer with chloroform and a hatpin. I think Fulci really did his damnedest to go mainstream with this one. It's nearly bloodless, and feels more like an Argento giallo than the typical Fulci gorefest. Instead of feeding his bloodthirsty id as usual, he attempts to appease a wider audience by adding an uncharacteristic erotic undertone to his murder scenes. Keith Emerson from ELP contributes around four songs which get replayed endlessly. What is it about these Italian horror flicks that makes them so frustrating? Bad translation of the screenplay for creating the dub has to be part of it... barely anything these people say makes any sense!
Trailer is nsfw btw lel aspca
Hatchet for the Honeymoon (1970)I'm only about 15 minutes into the movie, but I felt compelled to pause it so I can tell everyone that the main character is about to make love to a mannequin. Maybe I love Italian horror?
Bodycount (1986)This is a slasher film directed by Ruggero Deodato. Only seeing one other Deodato directed film, that being Cannibal Holocaust I really didn't know what I was about to get into. What we have is a low budget slasher that was pretty disappointing. When i say low budget i mean sometimes they didnt have lighting when they were filming a scene. I couldnt see a thing. The plot is about a shaman that is going around killing a bunch of teens at this cursed campsite. Hmmm...this sounds a bit familiar. Anyway, there is also a twist ending that really didn't make any sense. Side note: there is a strange subplot that has nothing to do with the rest of the movie that involves a love triangle between David Hess, his wife played by Mimsy Farmer, and Charles Napier the town sherrif. I just didnt get why they put that storyline in the movie. Just stay away from this stinker.
How can you tell me that David Hess and Charles Napier are in a Deodato slasher movie and expect me not to watch it? You're frying my logic circuits!
Lol! Those are the exact reasons I picked it! Hess and Napier definitely deliver but can't save this mess of a movie.
The Beyond (1981, dir. Lucio Fulci)This was the big one I still needed to see -- the one that was supposed to turn me around on the films of Fulci. It didn't. There's stuff to like in it, but I feel like that has more to do with me warming up to this kind of movie over the course of this month than with The Beyond being much better than House by the Cemetery or City of the Living Dead. All three movies are almost interchangeable: the doorway to Hell opens, the dead come back to life, eye trauma ensues. I'm really glad to have finally seen it.
"The doorway to Hell opens, the dead come back to life, eye trauma ensues." Man, I think you've got it! Embrace it! That doorway to Hell will take you to (boredom induced) ecstasy!
When Quentin Tarantino's Rolling Thunder outfit brought back "The Beyond" to theaters as a midnight feature in the mid-90's I saw it at a packed house. Holy crap, it was a borderline-religious experience to experience such a fucked-up movie (which 99% of people hadn't seen, myself included) in which every set-piece (the spiders, the dog, the head shot, the ending) just played and hit us all, hard (but the good kind of hard). I spent an hour in front of the theater afterward talking to strangers about the ending/final shot, which literally mind fucked us into giddy cinephile stupor. No other midnight movie since (particularly Rolling Thunder's "Mighty Peking Man," a huge disappointment) has come close to the high from that night almost 20 years ago (God, I'm old).I'm pretty sure "The Beyond" was the first Italian horror film I saw aware of what "Italian horror" means. I've loved the genre ever since, so I guess great minds don't always think alike. :-)
DELIRIUM (1987) Sorry, folks, but I missed a few days of Junesploitation. I was looking forward to GATOR BAIT for hicks and BATTLETRUCK for '80s action, but starting a new job and moving to a new town just got in the way of movie watchin’. I'll have to turn in my movie dork ID card now. Anyway, this movie. A serial killer stalks a bunch of models, and everyone has huge hair. There are a couple of funky scenes where we see things through the killer’s eyes, but most of the movie feels like some sort of alternate universe episode of DYNASTY. Fun but forgettable.
Black Sabbath (1963)Not bad - though the first segment was genuinely scary (and may have had the original gruesome "death face" that became popular in the 2000s?), I was a little disappointed by the tameness of this Italian horror. On the plus side I didn't see any live animals or killed or anything.