Saturday, June 9, 2018

Junesploitation Day 9: Italian Horror!

It's looking at you...from Hell!

81 comments:

  1. Andrea Bianchi's STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER (1975, 98 min.) on Blue Underground DVD for the first time.

    Unapologetic misogynist trash (the 98 minute running time felt like the longest week of my life), this slasher giallo certainly lives up to its title. Everybody working at Milan's Albatross Studio (models, photographers, talent agents, etc.) is being slashed to death by a knife-wielding killer wearing motorcycle gear (BOERI-HELMET-SPLOITATION!). Not that those left alive look like they give a shit about their murdered colleagues, as they go about their daily routines of photo shoots, blackmail and/or screwing each other. Carlo (Nino Castelnuovo), a freelance photographer that uses his position at Albatross to get laid, eventually teams up with staff photographer Magda (the stunning Edwige Fenech) to try and stop the murderer. Not out of a sense of right or wrong, but because they want to keep their jobs so they can keep seeing each other. Our heroes, ladies and gentlemen... fart sound!

    It's a running theme through many of the worst movies I see, but "SNFYK" has no sympathetic or likable characters. It's as if the filmmakers have a bet among themselves as to how they can make one character (Franco Diogene's Maurizio, who would rape the model he's dating behind his wife's back if impotence didn't stop him) more loathsome than the last (Claudio Pellegrini's Mario, a walking collection of every gay man stereotype imaginable). The beyond-shitty English dub does not help. Even an "innocent" female victim who dies at the start (a flashback with no significance until its explained to us at the very end) and the diligent police inspector trying to solve the case (Lucio Como) get dirt thrown in their face. And what a better way to end the picture with a smile than our male hero joking with his female squeeze about anally raping her? AAAAAARRRGGGGHHHH!!!! You know, #MeToo came 43 years too late and in the wrong country. :-( A-fucking-void.

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    1. Andrea Bianchi is not an example of good taste in filmmaking. This is not even the most misogynistic film of his that I have seen. That would be Cry of a Prostitute.

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    2. Ugh. I really like Cry of a Prostitute, except for how insanely ugly and misogynistic it is. Especially that scene. Ugh.

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    3. Thank you both for warning me about "Cry..." I still love me some Italian horror and Junesploitation!, but every once in a while I hit a third rail of cinema that lets me know I've crossed a line. And this year Andrea Bianchi is T̶H̶E̶ shit, period.

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  2. DOCTOR BUTCHER, M.D. (1980, dir. Marino Girolami)

    This has also been released as Zombie Holocaust, yet neither title really fits the film. I am not sure what title would. It is a mash-up of all that was happening in the realm of Italian horror and exploitation at the time: random scenes in New York, cannibals, zombies (sort of), and nudity. And why not throw in a mad doctor. The finished film is complete trash, but it can be a pleasant if you like Italian schlock. I had a good time with it.

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    1. My film for this evening will be Mario Bava's Hatchet for the Honeymoon. I think it is a very underrated. Although not his best film by any stretch, Bava achieved an aesthetic in Hatchet that mesmerizes me every time I see it. The killings in the mannequin room are simultaneously creepy and beautiful.

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    2. I watched Zombie Holocaust for Zombie Day, only to find out how poorly the title represented the movie. Dr Butcher works better, if only by not misrepresenting the movie as much as Zombie Holocaust does.

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  3. A Bay of Blood (1971)

    Its quite weird watching this, and realizing it’s the protoslasher for so many films in the 80s and 90s. From the location a secluded bay in the Italian countryside to the young couple getting pierced with a spear during their lovemaking. The story is all over the place, and gets a bit convoluted in the last act, and had to see it twice to figure out the plot, and why people acted like they did. And the whole second act with the four young people is only part of the story, so there are some people to kill. They do die in great ways.

    The effects is like the rest of the movie a decade ahead of its time. As well as the cinematography, it is a visually striking movie.

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    1. Mario Bava was my gateway to Italian horror. While not a preferred Bava film, Bay of Blood is one I do like.

      I find the opening of the film very effective, probably my favorite part of it. With the music, the character, and that setting, you do not expect what happens a few minutes into the film.

      The soundtrack by Stelvio Cipriani is excellent.

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    2. One of the biggest WTF endings, ever. If anyone saw it coming, I would claim they were some sort of wizard.

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    3. Twitch of the Death Nerve a.k.a Bay of Blood (I like TOTDN as a better title) is my favorite Bava film!

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  4. Slaughter Hotel (1971)

    Not one of my best choices. Klaus Kinski (which is why you would think this would be a good idea) is a doctor in a female asylum, and the slowest walking killer I have ever seen. And I felt the whole thing was boring and ultra sleazy, which is not a great combination.

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    1. It is an ineffective film, being split between sexploitation and horror. One of the alternative titles, Asylum Erotica, is certainly more representative of the film's agenda. Kinski is also completely wasted. Fernando di Leo made some great movies, but you would not guess that from Slaughter Hotel.

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  5. Stage Fright (1987- dir Michele Soavi)

    Now we are talking. I loved this movie. The imagination on display, the premise of a production locked in a theatre with a killer, and the meta-ness of the piece. The bird mask was inspired and such a great visual.

    The whole thing is theatrical, even in how Soavi moves the camera, it was so much fun.

    I must go I have Michele Soavi movies to buy.

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    1. Stage Fright is incredible!

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    2. It might be my favourite so far this month.

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  6. Tenebre (1982, dir. Dario Argento)

    This pick is also making up for John Saxon day which I missed.

    The only Argento movie I'd seen before this was Suspiria, and Tenebre is a very different beast. So this wasn't the craziness I was expecting (maybe even hoping for), but a really good giallo thriller.

    And I just noticed the Arrow Blu-ray includes a clip from a Goblin gig, where they perform the Tenebre and Phenomena titles. Love it!

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    1. damn it, i just got the Synapse blu-ray. i need to buy it again now

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    2. When I wrote titles, I meant themes. It's just a 15-minute clip of those two songs and Simonetti introducing the band in between. But it's a great clip.

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    3. yeah, i understood that, but the release have other interesting extras. i'll get it someday, it's not i priority though.

      on the Synapse release, which i'm watching now, has a great documentary about the Giallo genre. can't wait to get to it

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  7. Demons (1985)
    Movie goers are locked in a theater where they begin to turn into demons.
    Come for the practical effects, stay for the tunes. This was a fun ride.

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  8. Beyond the Door (1974, dir. Ovidio Assonitis)

    Italian Exorcist rip-off is well made and has great moments, but at just under two hours felt too draggy for me. The Franco Micalizzi score is pretty cool and the good stuff is very good; I just found myself wishing there was more of that and less padding. I think Madhouse is still my favorite of Assonitis' few movies as a director, so I would place this between that movie and Tentacles.

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    1. LOVE this film! And it's *by name only* sequels - Bava's Schock from '77 and Amok Train from '89. Definitely see Amok Train when you can - possessed train movie!!

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    2. The more I read reviews about "Amok Train" the more I want to see it. And watching Bava's "Beyond the Door II" in 35mm at 3AM during a Halloween marathon in the mid-2000 at the now-defunct Pioneer Theater was like a religious experience. :-)

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    3. Man, that's awesome! The colors in that film.

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    4. I was looking for another movie to watch tonight, and Amok Train seems to be available on YouTube. So that's sorted.

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    5. Strong! I had a lot of fun with it. Bought the DVD a few years back and I think the YouTube one is a rip of that so it should look good!

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  9. Inferno (1980, dir. Dario Argento, First Time Viewing) I don't know what it is about Argento but the first time I see his movies they just wash over me. It really takes me a few viewings before I start to understand what he's doing. For example I first saw Suspiria in 2001 and it took me until about 2017 to really start appreciating it. So I think I'll start appreciating Inferno sometime in the mid 2030's...

    P.S. Last night Greg Nicotero walked right past me at the Atlanta Airport. He was wearing a T-Shirt that said "Dracula". It felt like a Junesploitation miracle.

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    1. You lucky dog, go buy a lottery ticket. First viewing of "Inferno" and a sighting of a true master of horror within 24 hrs.? Too cool. :-)

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  10. The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)

    and

    The Cat o' Nine Tails (1971)

    I wanted to work my way through some of Argento's earlier stuff which I hadn't seen, and not surprisingly I enjoyed it. These two are maybe a little more subdued than some of his later work, but they're solid murder mysteries that make for good viewing when you want to watch something on the other end of the spectrum from the batshit crazy Italian horror.

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    1. I own them both on DVD and they're pretty cool flicks. If you liked those you'll probably dig 1972's "Four Flies on Grey Velvet" (available for rental on Amazon), which feels like the transition film between Dario's early "giallos" and his breakthrough hits "Deep Red" and "Suspiria."

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  11. as i mentioned before, i watched TENEBRAE. i liked it, though it's not my favorite of the Dario Argento's filmography. i think it would have worked better on my if i watched it later at night (now it's midday). but the Argento touch is definitely present.

    also watched YELLOW FEVER: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE GIALLO. presented as an extra on Synapse release of Tenebrae. this is a great documentary about the genre. stronly recommended, even if you only have a passing interest in the Giallo genre

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  12. My double feature for today showcased two sides of Italian Horror. The classy gothic and the sleazy sleaze!

    Kill, Baby... Kill! (1966, dir. Mario Bava)

    The movie opens with a coach driver telling his passenger he can take him no further due to a curse and the passenger enters a small European pub where the locals all fall silent and stare at him and I knew then that this was for me.

    This is a really cool ghost movie that is absolutely dripping with gothic atmosphere and imagery. It was like a great hammer film, but perhaps more creepy. I loved it!

    The New York Ripper (1982, dir. Lucio Fulci)

    I can't imagine anyone watching this film and not being completely fascinated. This is one of the craziest films I've ever seen and seriously has a new WTF moment or line of dialogue every few minutes. It's so violent and sleazy in really bizarre ways. I loved it? Yeah, I kinda did. Check out a great looking version on Prime!

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  13. Black Sunday (1960)

    One of those films that's influence is immeasurable. I was really interested in the lore established in this story. Its probably considered a little gruesome for its time too.

    Great sets, great costumes. Its a shame we don't see more films using this setting. This film really seemed to have an influence on Crimson Peak

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    1. Gothic horror had its moment to shine, and then something else came along. Doing gothic horror is difficult now because building up the appropriate atmosphere requires patience, which is a trait lacking in modern cinema.

      There are plenty of Italian gothic films out there to see. Nightmare Castle and The Ghost are two examples I have enjoyed, and both star Barbara Steele.

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  14. Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eye (1973) Dir. Antonio Margheriti

    I've had this score (by the great Riz Ortolani) for about 20 years but never got around to actually watching the film. It's kind of dull but I liked it because it's a Gialli with a possessed killer cat! and there is classic camera push in's on the cat's face! Jane Birkin is the lead and her frequent music collaborator and lover Serge Gainsbourg shows up as a cop. (Jane and Serge had a massive hit in the late 60's "Je t'aime moi non" and are the parents of Charlotte Gainsbourg.) It's an odd one because it feels more like a Hammer film as it's set entirely in a castle and that made the film feel claustrophobic but in a non-suspenseful way. It's also set in Scotland which is a bizarre (and meaningless) choice. It's perhaps the ugliest, non stylish looking Gialli I've ever seen which made it even more of chore to get through. Oh, and there is a gorilla locked in the dungeon named "James" so that was cool.

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  15. Lisa and the Devil (1973)

    Mario Bava films are a big hole in my horror fan viewings. This one was a very Kafka-esque, surreal experience where a woman is lured by the devil to play a part in an eternal danse macabre.

    It had some really strong horror moments that I felt were powerful, some other parts were hard to watch as Bava casually plops down some really heavy shit then just kinda brushes past it.

    I’m happy I saw this as I can see how it is influential, but I don’t think it’s going to be a yearly Junesploitation fav. Then again I’m the guy who had to stop reading The Castle halfway through because I was just getting too frustrated, so maybe the whole trapped in a dreamlike state where no one gives you a straight answer thing tugs on my subconscious in a way I’m not comfortable with.

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    1. This is my 3rd favorite Bava film, perhaps because I saw it when I was in my early 20s and it was tough to come by at that point. Might revisit at some point.

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    2. I watched this for SSM last year and absoutely fell in love it. For thr Kafka-esque nature you refer to. I still need to watch more Bava to see how it fits with his filmography. But its one of my favourite Italian Horrors.

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    3. Lisa and the Devil was Bava's attempt to break out of the genre niche he had been working in for more than a decade. The trouble was that nobody wanted to buy the film for distribution, so it was shelved and parts of it were used for an exorcist ripoff entitled The House of Exorcism. Although House is an altogether terrible film, it has some of the best unintentional comedy I have yet encountered.

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    4. Yeah I was reading the plot for House of Exorcism and it sounds like a completely different movie! Pretty crazy how much they chopped it up.

      Lindsay and Chaybee I definitely need to see more Bava. I read below that Blood and Black Lace is your 2nd favourite so that will be the next one I seek out. Up until now I think I’ve only seen Black Sunday (which was great!) Perhaps having the film in context with his other work will change my opinion on it like you say Lindsay. Either way I’m glad I picked it for today. :)

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  16. The Sect (1991)

    Michelle Soavi has directed some movies I really like. Cemetery Man and Stage Fright are great and I enjoyed The Church. This one is way too long and not a lot happens. There is a decent face exchanging scene but other than that it's pretty forgettable. The ending is pretty crazy but I wasn't sure what was going on so I was unaffected. Watch those other movies before watching this one. Or don't. But you should.

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    1. Blu ray box cover:

      "There is a decent face exchanging scene" - Brent Petersen

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    2. I just imagine John Woo standing up in the theatre dramatically, and running out to go buy the script for Face Off.

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  17. Eye in the Labyrinth (1972) Dir. Mario Caiano

    The previous film I watched I mentioned that I had the score to the film years before finally watching the movie. Well, I didn't have the score for this one but I just got it immediately! Wow. Roberto Nicolosi did the music and it's Cool Jazz/Funk at it's best for this type of film and clearly inspired by Miles' work at the time. This film just came on my radar by coincidence that the great Damon Packard had cut the trailer for the Code Red release. It's pretty good though fairly dull which IMO is typical for a majority of films in this genre but it kept my interest throughout. Sybil Danning is great as is the lead played by the gorgeous Rosemary Dexter. Not recommended but check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDqFHxJIr34

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  18. Deep Red (1975)

    Although I just wrote about this Argento film two months ago, I felt like watching it again. This time I watched the longer international cut on the Arrow disc. Those children’s drawings still FREAK ME OUT.

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    1. Any noticible difference in the cuts?

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    2. A lot more stuff between David Hemmings and Daria Nicolodi. I can hear the American distributor saying, “This ain’t scary” and CUT!

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  19. Beyond the Door III aka Amok Train (1989, dir. Jeff Kwitny)

    Of the two movies I watched today, Tenebre is unquestionably a better movie, but Amok Train is the kind of crazy you want on Italian Horror! day of Junesploitation. Thanks for the suggestion Chaybee!

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  20. Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972)

    Italians be crazy. Luigi Pistilli’s sweat glands star as an alcoholic author who becomes a suspect in a series of gruesome murders. Also involved are his wife Anita Strindberg and a mysterious new arrival at his home played by woman-so-beautiful-that-I’m-pretty-sure-she’s-actually-made-of-porcelain Edwige Fenech.

    The story is (very) loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe’s The Black Cat (though the similarities don’t really come to the forefront until the last reel), and it’s intriguing despite the fact that the majority of the characters are pretty thoroughly despicable shitweasels. Awful as everyone is (the characters, not the actors, the performances are all good) it’s still a fun watch, with plenty of the sex, gore, and all-around craziness that makes Italian horror so compulsively watchable.

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    1. Edwige Fenech's stunning figure (she sure had no problem taking her top off and walking nude in Italian movie sets) is the one thing I enjoyed in Bianchi's "Strip Nude for Your Killer." I don't recommend the picture at all (see first post of this day), but if you're a fan of Fenech check out her scenes in this movie on YouTube. NSFW-SPLOITATION! :-P

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  21. Opera (1987)

    While the narritive may not be his greatest, Argento’s late 80s romp might be one of his most suspenseful. There are some wonderful set pieces with all the fantastic gore you’d expect plus a peep hole scene to end all peep hole scenes. Oh and there is eye stuff. Lots of eye stuff.

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  22. Shock (1977)

    This is my first time seeing SHOCK. It's a lot of fun; peak-Nicolodi, a creepy kid and a shot near the end of the movie that's one for the ages.

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    1. I know that shot, remember it well. So simple, and yet so pants-wetting scary. :-)

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  23. Tenebre (1982)

    Let the Summer of Saxon roll on! Love some trashy giallo-style horror, even if there are far too many loving ahots of architecture. And finally someone has the balls to reveal the truth about Rhode Island... its lousy with teenage beach fivesomes. Won't some Saxon type step in a put a stop to the debauchery?

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  24. I'm not the biggest Italian horror fan but in the spirit if Junesploitation I gave it the old college try with a double feature.

    Stagefright (1987) Dir: Michele Soavi

    I actually enjoyed this one quite a bit. I've heard great things about Soavi and people weren't kidding. Light on plot but heavy on style I had a great time watching this. Soavi's camera is always on the move but stays clear and focused on the action. His use of color and lighting clearly shows he learned from Argento and there's nothing wrong with that. Definitely recommended.

    New York Ripper (1982) Dir: Lucio Fulci

    I think I just may not be on the Fulci vibe. Basically Fulci's version of an 80's slasher but for some reason it left me cold. It just felt skeezy without being any fun. The kills are impressively gory and and the killer is certainly memorable but alas it just didn't do much for me. Going to keep going back to the Fulci well though, I want to see more of his movies to fully make up my mind.

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    1. Have you watched any of Fulci's earlier films, Hibachijustice? Titles like Don't Torture a Duckling, A Lizard in a Woman's Skin, and The Psychic are very different from his output starting in the late 1970s.

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    2. I haven't. The only other Fulci I've seen is The Beyond. I've heard good things about Don't Torture a Duckling though

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  25. Blood and Black Lace (1964):

    ALSO needs more Cameron Mitchell!

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    1. BABL is my 2nd Fav Bava film!

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    2. It is easy to look past Blood and Black Lace the plot of a series of people being murdered in graphic ways is one that has been repeated endless over 50 years. BABL, though, was the first film to use that plot, so it has its place in film history.

      I have a great fondness for the film, and I did not hesitate to pick up the Arrow release. It looks beyond terrific.

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    3. "because the plot of a series of people..."

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  26. DEMONS (1985)
    Supernatural monsters trap a bunch of characters inside a movie theater, where all hell breaks loose. I like atmospheric psychological horror as much as anyone, but my favorites are total roller coaster rides. That’s this movie, as it starts out completely crazy, only to get crazier and crazier and crazier. Also, that soundtrack! Recommended.

    DEMONS 2 (1986)
    We jump from movies to television, as this time the demons travel through TVs to menace folks trapped in a sparsely-populated apartment building. There’s no plot, but there is a lot of gooey, slimy monster movie fun. That brings us to all the sequels, none of which are actual sequels.

    THE OGRE (1988)
    (a.k.a. DEMONS 3) An author and her family encounter supernatural weirdness during a trip to Italy. A whole lot of family drama with some tepid horror elements. It’s pretty boring.

    THE CHURCH (1989)
    (a.k.a. DEMONS 3) Spooky goings-on inside a haunted church. Here’s where we get all the trippy dream logic that Italian horror is known for. Slow at parts, but mostly enjoyable.

    THE BLACK VEIL (1989)
    (a.k.a. DEMONS 5.) A bunch of 20-something skiers find an ancient mask after being stranded in the alps. They remove the mask, kicking off supernatural freakishness. It’s all low budget and cheesy, but it’s done with that non-winking earnestness that the best B-movies have.

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    1. THE BLACK CAT (1989)
      (a.k.a. DEMONS 6) A film crew is making a horror movie about a witch, only for the witch to come to life and mess with them. It’s okay, I guess. This was allegedly also marketed as a SUSPERIA sequel, and there’s an influence with some neat Argento-style lighting. But there’s also some over-the-top gore and rock music, which maybe calls back to the original DEMONS. Maybe?

      BLACK DEMONS (1991)
      (a.k.a. DEMONS 3) Some college students visiting Brazil run afoul of a voodoo cult, leading to possessions and zombie attacks. Both the gore and the cultural politics are in horribly bad taste, but if you’ve decided that this is #Junesploitation and bad taste is what you want, you’ll do all right.

      THE SECT (1991)
      (a.k.a. DEMONS 4) A woman is targeted by a satanic cult who believes she will give birth to the antichrist. More suspense/thriller than horror, it’s kinda/sorta ROSEMARY’S BABY meets kinda/sorta THE DA VINCI CODE. It’s a meandering plot, and it’s a good thirty minutes too long. There’s a scene where a rabbit uses a remote control to change TV channels, though, so that’s something.

      CEMETERY MAN (1994)
      (a.k.a. DEMONS ‘95) My fellow lovers of weird cinema already know this one. A lonely cemetery worker hopes for romance while dealing with the living dead, among other things. The real question is, how many people back in the day actually got fooled into thinking this was a bona fide DEMONS sequel, only to get a quirky, absurdist comedy instead?

      This was a lot for one day.

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    2. Fuckin' mad respect for rolling through the Demons series!!! Don't forget that Demons 5 has one of the most amazing women of all time in it, the amazing Debora Caprioglio and that Lamberto Bava was completely paying homage to his father's film, Black Sunday. I love it!

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  27. Graham the Haunted MarshmallowJune 9, 2018 at 11:52 PM

    Isle of the Damned (2008, dir. Colgrove)

    This is actually an American, no-budet movie that is, I guess, an homage and recreation of Italian cannibal movies, complete with a DVD cover that claims it to be the “1980 classic” directed by “Antonello Giallo” and “banned in 492 countries.” I picked it up from a thrift store a few years ago, still in its saran wrap, after glancing it and missing the signs that it wasn’t an authentic Italian horror.

    There’s very little info online about it, but after I realized it wasn’t a film from 1980, it sat on my shelf for years as this oddity that I had no interest in. I almost feel bad for watching it today, but I know I’ll watch actual Italian horror in my life, whereas I’d never get around to this if I didn’t invite a friend over and take the plunge.

    Turns out, it isn’t an homage at all, but to call it parody might suggest the filmmakers considered aspects of Italian cannibals films and attempted to subvert or poke fun at those aspects in a somewhat thoughtful manner. This is a parody in the most vile and indulgent sense, without any wit, charm or cinematic competence. It’s disgusting, racist, insensitive, homophobic and, above all else, offensive. I’m offended that this exists. It honestly makes me sick that anyone involved thought this was funny enough to spend their time on. For them to then try to sell it to people — or hell, even show it to anyone — well, that’s truly reprehensible.

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  28. Opera (1987)

    This was definitely one of those times where I initially chose a completely different movie, got maybe 24min in, and bowed out (which I rarely do, but to quote JB, “life is short”). I instead started looking at the filmographies of Italian directors I know I dig. I went with this Argento flick since I’ve heard people talking about the recent Blu release and it also happened to be on Amazon Prime. Oh boy, am I glad I did. I was immediately pulled in visually with the POV style camerawork, the grandeur of the opera house, and the music. This movie lacks the fever dream aesthetic of so many other Argento movies, but it remains heightened throughout in a lavish and indulgent way. The kills are all brutal, but the eyelid needle torture got me bad. There are some fun twists throughout, but I think I’m a little disappointed with the resolution of the killer’s identity, whose motives are also vague at best. By the end, it’s become a full-blown nightmare version of ‘Phantom of the Opera’ both literally and figuratively. Super fun with great visuals and performances.

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    1. Also, looking through Patrick's "I Stream, You Stream" article, it appears we have some of the same picks for the next few days. Excited.

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  29. Death Walks On High Heels (1971)

    I would say this is much more of a mystery than a horror film. It has a few of the Giallo tropes but was missing that batshit crazy element i enjoy in my Giallo's. Once i readjusted my expections i enjoyed the movie. Oh and the Arrow Blu is pretty to look at.

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    1. Everyone in that movie is just so insanely beautiful I can’t even.

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  30. If you want to see a crazy giallo from the same director and virtually the same cast, look for Death Walks At Midnight. It is much more fun than High Heels.

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    1. Thanks for the recommendation, it came as part of the Death Walks box set Arrow put out. I will now definitely be viewing that for one of the upcoming free space days.

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    2. Luciano Rossi is my favorite part of the film. It is a little weird seeing him clean, fashionably dressed, and acting even a little normal.

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  31. Manhattan Baby (1982)
    Kinda disappointing when a movie called Manhattan Baby has a great opening sequence in Egypt that you know won’t last. Most frightening part is how quickly a guy who was just stricken blind is driving again in New York City.

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