Monday, June 17, 2019

Junesploitation 2019 Day 17: Fulci!

Happy birthday, Maestro!



    SILVER SADDLE, aka 'SELLA D'ARGENTO' (1978, 98 min.) on Amazon Prime
    for the first time.

    Within minutes of "Silver Saddle" starting we have the backstory and signature of young Roy Blood (Giuliano Gemma) down pat, allowing the story to coast on the character's ability to be a righteous outlaw in a sea of undesirables. After hooking with picking-apart-the-bodies-Roy-leaves-behind gunslinger Turner (Gianni De Luigi, the only character besides Roy to get his own theme music whenever he appears on-screen), the duo is tricked into assisting in the assassination attempt of a small child. And what do you know, young Thomas Barrett Jr. (Sven Valsecchi, who bears a striking resemblance to "The House by the Cemetery's" infamous Bob) happens to be the son of the man a similarly-aged Roy gunned down to avenge his murdered father. Keeping this secret to himself, Roy tries to find out who'd want young Barrett dead while fending off banditos and hired guns trying to collect rewards on both their heads.

    The western was a genre Fulci thrived in, and his last one before turning into a full-time horror auteur (with a couple of detours into sci-fi/fantasy) shows the man at the top of his skills. Camera work is fluid and never confusing, the couple of elaborate shoot-outs (including one where Roy improvises exploding canteens) entertaining, and the genre tropes adhered to slavishly. Only in a Fulci western could our hero punch a little kid in the mouth and remain sympathetic, mostly because the worse of the bad guys (Aldo Sambrell's Garrincha) whips Thomas mercilessly when he finally nabs him. It's no "Four of the Apocalypse," but "Silver Saddle" is good-enough to make me sad to see Fulci move on to g̶r̶e̶e̶n̶e̶r̶ bloodier pastures. Recommended.

    AENIGMA (1987, 85 min.) on Amazon Prime for the first time.

    Or the one where a bunch of magically appearing slugs rape a woman to death in bed, complete with money shot of the slugs nibbling on the victim's breast. Believe it or not this is Fulci showing restrain after going buck-wild the year prior with "The Devil's Honey." You know, the Fulci movie I would be reviewing today if Amazon hadn't misplaced the Blu-ray I ordered (sigh). Anywho, throw "Carrie" (young student at an all-girls Boston school tortured by her sniveling upper-class mates) in a cinematic blender with a supernatural variation of "The Medusa Touch" (the power of an angry comatose mind racking up a body count) and you get "Aenigma." And what better human avatar for the restless spirit of a vengeful mind than new student Eva (Lara Lamberti), a man-hungry nymph (like every other female student we encounter) who quickly hooks-up with twice-her-age Dr. Anderson (Jared 'Our Hero' Martin) just to show him off at school... BARF!

    The Fulci touch is strong in "Aenigma," even if half the time what the victims see as their deaths (statues coming to life, a mirror image strangling them, etc.) is imagined. No matter, we still get plenty of beheadings and grotesque imagery (like 80's posters of Tom Cruise, Stallone, Bowie, etc.) to complement a steady diet of topless women and disregard for mainstream narrative. Like, you know, making the victim of bullying or her mother likable instead of the scariest freaks in the flick. Not top-tier Fulci, but still showing a semblance of artistic intent sorely lacking in the director's output going forward. Worth a look for Fulci completists.

  2. The Black Cat (1981)

    I like Gothic Fulci, even if the movie does drag a little in places. My cat on the other hand went from absoutley hating it, hissing at said Black Cat, to studying intently taking notes. I'm now a little concerned.

  3. House by the Cemetery (1981)

    I did not know my night would turn into a Dagmar Lassader dying horribly double feature.

    This is still my favourite Fulci. Though on this viewing I think I might be a horrible person, Bob's screams are very entertaining.

  4. House by the Cemetary (1981)

    I'm not sure if I'd like this movie 20% more or 20% less if the dubbing on Bob wasn't so insane.

  5. "The New York Ripper" 1982

    This is my favourite Fulci flick, and I realize that makes me sound like a quack.

  6. AEnigma (1987)

    I really dug this one. A bullying target in a coma is telepathically possessing someone in order to off a slew of victims. There is plenty of Fulci to be felt in this sleeper. I had never seen this before and will certainly be revisiting this one.

  7. The Black Cat (1981)

    This was great! This was a first watch, and this leapt onto my list of Fulci favorites. Beautiful cinematography and music. This was a very entertaining watch. I liked this more than Martino's version, Your Vice Is a Locked Room, And Only I Have the Key. I highly recommend this if you have never seen it.

  8. The House by the Cemetery (1981, dir. Lucio Fulci)

    This definitely became one of my favorite Fulcis, along with the others in the Gates of Hell trilogy! Gotta make it a triple feature one of these days.

    And I agree with Brian Sager, Bob's dubbing makes the movie better in its craziness, but also at the same time kinda unbearable.

  9. Aenigma (1987)

    I don't have much to add to this one beyond what has already been said. Solid premise, although you're clearly working on a budget when you're using that well-known vicious predator, the snail, as one of your murder tools.

    1. Or toy-sized miniatures of a city to signify the restless spirit leaving the hospital and descending onto the school. I'll take crap like this over "Avengers: Endgame"-caliber green screen work any day. :-D

  10. The Devil’s Honey (1986)

    Well that was...something. At the very beginning we encounter a dude who is attempting (and, it should be noted, succeeding) to bring a woman to orgasm by blowing a saxophone directly into what is scientifically known as her hoo-ha. Buckle up, buttercup, because it only gets stranger (and kinkier) from there.

    Fulci was a man who often displayed a fascination with how the mind processes trauma, especially violent or sexual trauma (as my personal favorite of his, A Cat in the Brain, can attest), but this deep-dive into psychosexual trauma seems much more focused on showcasing sleaze than it is in truly considering the hows and whys of the way we handle trauma that it feigns interest in. That being said I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t entertaining, even if I felt dirty afterward. It’s pretty sick and has...let’s just say not the most enlightened view of women ever committed to film, but it’s also a fascinating watch. I’d be curious to double-feature it with Cronenberg’s Crash but I’m afraid my libido would commit seppuku.

    Murder mystery in a small town that may or may not involve the supernatural. Reminded me of The Wicker Man a little bit. It’s not an easy watch, as it deals with heavy themes of superstition and repression, but it’s good that Fulci pulls no punches. And it’s always nice to see an Italian horror movie take place in Italy, rather than be set in “generic movie city” again.

    Bonus #Godzillasploitation: GODZILLA VS. BIOLLANTE (1989)
    Wow. This one’s so very much of the late ’80s that my nostalgia brain is exploding. It not-so-shamelessly rips off so many blockbusters of that era that I love it. There’s a lot of action and really weird enemy for the big G to fight. It’s probably the closest we’ll ever come to a John Carpenter Godzilla movie. It’s just got that vibe, you know?

  12. Zombie (1979)

    The second Fulci movie I ever had the pleasure of seeing (House by the Cemetary was first, and I hated it at the time). When the zombie battles the shark I knew I had something special and memorable on my hands. The splinter scene is practically an endurance test.
    This title belongs in every horror film collection.

  13. The Four of the Apocalypse (1975, First Time Viewing)

    When I saw my first Fulci film over 20 years ago (Zombie) I thought the director was a hack who accidentally made a crazy-entertaining movie. I was so dumb. Fulci really is a master, and watching something like The Four of the Apocalypse really cements that. It is so cool to see Fulci making a true Spaghetti Western, and an excellent one at that. Beautiful, nihilistic, cynical, with great performances. I loved it. Definitely one of Fulci's best.

  14. City of the Living Dead (1980) many maggots. And that purge scene in the car. Literally made me queasy. 10/10 would highly recommend.

  15. The Black Cat (1981)

    Though a little weary due to how it slow it started (OK, not the first minute, but you know what I mean), it quickly picks up the pace and becomes a pretty kick ass little mystery.

  16. Aenigma (1987)

    The posters on the walls in this movie are worth the price of admission.

  17. The Beyond (1981)

    Far less slow than advertised. Love the weirdo, psychedelic gore, especially the constant eye trauma. Also loved that the gate to hell was in a basement in New Orleans - a city famous for being so close sea level even the graves are above ground. Still loved it!

  18. The Black Cat (1981)

    I decided to go with 3 lesser know Fulcis. This one isn't bad. Plenty of great shots surrounded a lot of dead air. Someone flies out of a window after being engulfed in flames. It's hard to make cats seem murderous. Not Fulci's best but not his worst.

  19. Murder Rock (1984)

    Fulci's version of Stayin Alive. I just watched it and I can't remember a damn thing. There was definitely a Flash Dance scene. Worse than The Black Cat but better than the next movie I watched. Fulci still rules.

  20. Contraband (1980)

    I wanted to see 3 that I hadn't seen. This was a mistake. I should have watched at least one that love. But we never know until we know. What I do know is that I'm not the biggest poliziotteschi fan. There are smugglers. A couple good deaths. A machine gun to the face does not seem pleasant. An overload of plotting that is confusing and boring. I still love you, Lucio.

  21. City of the Living Dead (1980)

    I think I'm becoming a Fulci fan! I remember I wasn't THAT in to The Beyond when I watched it last year, but something about this really worked for me (and makes me want to revisit The Beyond) - a pretty coherent and interesting story and some gross-out gags that REALLY work - loved it!

  22. The House by the Cemetery (1981)

    Fulci’s version of a haunted house movie, with all the incredible gore and dreamy visuals you can handle. Sure, the kid’s annoying (so, so very annoying) and they keep going into the damn murder basement, but it’s great. I loved the last line of the Wikipedia summary (somewhat redacted for spoiler purposes)- “leads... down the wintry grove into a netherworld of ghosts and sadness”... pretty much sums it up.

    Four of the Apocalypse (1975)

    Tomas Milian is a fantastic villain, and the rest of the cast is pretty great as well. Much more quiet and cerebral than I was expecting from Fulci, but he pulls it off. This is absolutely begging for a Blu Ray restoration.


    I liked this one quite a bit, but I'm starting to think my Italian horror heart might belong to Bava.


    As the month nears its end, it is time to get my Fulci watch in. This was chosen because his later period is a blank spot for me. Voices From Beyond is a good film, more polished than I am used to from Fulci. The one thing I can state against Voices is that it has a certain generic quality. Although there are periodically glimpses of his hallmarks, little in Voices points to this being a Lucio Fulci film. It pushed the nudity more than any other exploitation factor. With the late 1980s and early 1990s being a lean period for Italian horror directors, I guess he had to find whatever project was available.