Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Junesploitation 2020 Day 17: Fulci!

Happy birthday, maestro!

40 comments:

  1. MURDER ROCK: DANCING DEATH (1984, YouTube, E.S.A.D.D.: 6/27/2014)
    Lucio Fulci is no Dario Argento, so why is the former stealing ideas/techniques from the latter for this giallo-like erotic thriller with shades of "Fame" and "All About Eve" set in the competitive New York professional dancing scene? Gore's minimal (and so are the Keith Emerson rock tunes that keep getting looped) but we get plenty of multiracial boobs, black gloves, long hairpins, flashing bulb lights (with matching female voice-over alerts), NYC establishing shots and bad English galore ('Arts for Living Center Building'). The no-name actors dance as if they're auditioning for Stallone's "Stayin' Alive" or an early 80's De Palma film, and it all ends because the movie runs out of red herrings. I've seen worse Fulci, but considering its time and setting this could and should have been so much better. 3 STABBED-IN-THE-HEART LIL' BIRDIES (out of 5)

    THE FOUR OF THE APOCALYPSE (1974, TUBI, Patrick Bromley: 6/29/2014)
    Bookended by satisfactory spaghetti western action tropes, most of this one concentrates on the desolation of being abandoned in the wild west to fend for oneself without means to protect loved ones. Fabio Testi is called upon to rely on his acting more than his good looks and passes the test. Michael J. Pollard humors his way through most of the ordeal until he and "Bud" (Harry Baird's embarrassingly one-dimensional black man role) are just plain done. Poor Lynne Frederick gets to flex her acting muscles the most while Tomas Milian is the only cast member who looks like he's having any fun. The last 30 minutes pull off the feat of making Fulci seem like he actually cares about his characters. It doesn't last, but the effort's appreciated. 3.5 MARKED CARD DECKS (out of 5)

    TOUCH OF DEATH (1988, YouTube, Chaybee: 6/20/2015)
    Now this is how I like my Fulci: unapologetically weird, nasty and pushing buttons. A degenerate gambler (Brett Halsey) talks to his tape deck after he romances and kills rich widows to cover his spread... over and over again. By the time we meet a soprano who sings all her lines when she doesn't get bitch-slapped as a sexual turn on, the pitch-black comedy tone has been set... before Fulci pulls a final act "twist" that is unconventional, but doesn't build on the crazy train (chainsaw body dismemberment, microwaved head, etc.) we've been at for 75 minutes. Who knew Hialeah middle aged folks could be so much bloody fun. 4 KICKED-ON-CAMERA PUSSIES (BOO! out of 5)

    CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD (1980, A.Prime, Patrick McCallister: 6/2/2018)
    After three new-to-me Fulcis in a row my brain was like Swiss cheese; if I'd watched another new Fulci my brain would have gone "Scanners." So I rewatched a golden classic from Fulci's prime that I didn't like when I first saw it many years ago. Having #HCCC among the "heroes" trying to save the day was welcome comic relief, but all that second hand smoke coming off my TV... phew! :-P I'm at peace now with the disappearing/reappearing undead, the recycled-with-changes tunes from "Zombie," etc. It's all about dreary mood and immersive visuals, and "COTLD" racks them up in unending succession (and in high-def to boot). 4 CRIMSON-RED DRILL BITS (out of 5)

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  2. SILVER SADDLE (1978)

    “Silver saddle shining in the sun, no place to go…”

    I finally have my spaghetti western fix for this Junesploitation, and it was not what I was expecting at all. Silver Saddle is surprisingly endearing, focusing more on the good qualities of the characters than violent deeds. It is only when the outlaw Garancha enters the film that a mean streak emerges. I thought that I might tire of the theme song, yet it somehow fits in by emphasizing the themes of the film.

    Though far from being the best spaghetti western, Silver Saddle entertained me. Giuliano Gemma is an agreeable lead, and it is always nice to see Geoffrey Lewis show up. There are also plenty of familiar faces from Italian genre cinema, including Donal O’Brian and Cinzia Monreale. Seeing Cinzia so youthful here reminds of how long ago Italian genre cinema was thriving. Time does move on.

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  3. I was thinking about going to Silver Saddle as well. I’m more than intrigued by the thought of Fulci’s take on the Italian western!

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    1. I watched it the other day for Westerns and it's definitely worth a look. I liked it.

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  4. Don’t Torture a Duckling

    1972, dir. Lucio Fulci

    Streaming on the Arrow Video channel app, Shudder, & Amazon Prime

    Not sure why I’ve slept on this one for so long. Solid early outing that’s much more cohesive and propulsive than I’m used to from Fulci. This movie has none of the hazy dream logic of his main horror run, which for the record, I love, but it’s what keeps this grounded procedural on its feet. I think this might also be one of his best looking films. Again, it lacks some of the arresting visuals that make his later movie iconic, but it’s just solid camerawork, production design, and framing. For a movie centered around child murder, where a woman is brutally beaten and whipped with chains, and a final death that pushes things over the edge*, I was kinda surprised by how tame it was. I was expecting something much more gory and sleazy given the subject matter and, of course, that it’s Fulci. Granted, the story is the age-old one in which a backwards town erroneously points the blame toward all the wrong people in the wake of a tragedy, but I was very surprised by how many elements resembled the West Memphis Three fiasco. Solid watch and I might even grab the Arrow Blu next time they have a sale.

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    1. I see what you did there.

      I watched this for the first time back in February, followed by The Psychic (1977). It's an amazing double feature, an early or possibly opening kill goes over the edge in a VERY similar way.

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    2. Though The Psychic is my favorite Fulci film, this late 1960s and early '70s period is, for me, his strongest as far as storytelling goes. I have long preferred the grounded stories of this phase of his career over the gory phantasmagorical nightmares Fulci is most known for.

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  6. Murder-Rock: Dancing Death (1984)

    Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a black-gloved, never-seen-except-for-their-hands murder enthusiast is killing young women in a stylish mystery filled with red herrings, off-kilter lighting, and dubbed dialogue over what appears to be approximately 30,000 different spoken languages. Pass the J&B! Also, I just learned that an alternate title for this one is Slashdance and that works way better considering all of the aerobicizing going on in between the gruesome hat-pin murders.

    There’s some fun to be had (and some oft-repeated Keith Emerson songs to be heard) but in all honesty this one was mostly a slog. The murders themselves walk a razor-thin line between being uncomfortably graphic (that slooooooow push of the needle into the victim’s heart-slash-boob...you know, their heartboob, accompanied by an unnerving heartbeat on the soundtrack) and also somehow being not quite over-the-top enough to have the “holy shit” factor of so much of Lucio Fulci’s other work. At least there’s a significant lack of eyeball trauma in this one, I’m counting that as a win. Happy birthday, maestro!

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  7. THE BLACK CAT (1981)
    The premise is simple enough – a black cat going around killing everyone. It’s Jason Voor-Cat. The first half has some great over-the-top cat murders. Near the end we get some human drama between a "professor of the supernatural" (which is totally a real thing) and a young investigator, and the action slow down some. Not my favorite Fulci, but still pretty fun.

    30 days of HELLO MARY LOU: PROM NIGHT II, day 17
    Best background extras: 5) The spikey-haired punk rock girl defiantly listening to her Walkman while in class. 4) The girls in ballet class that the camera lingers on for like 30 seconds for no reason. 3) The ghostly cafeteria lady, no doubt on loan from Freddy Krueger’s dream world. 2) The sad boy and girl at the 1950s prom both looking like they wish they were there with someone else. 1) The guy with long brown hair and wearing a denim jacket who discreetly flashes the peace sign at the camera. The filmmakers didn’t notice him, but I did.

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  8. Don’t Torture A Duckling (1972) Fulci is awesome. I was already familiar with the usual suspects- Gates of Hell Trilogy, Zombi, Ripper- but the same intense tone, solid filmmaking and gorgeous visuals are here. This was much more disturbing to me than the over the top gore movies- all the dead kids, and the scenes of mourning parents are profoundly moving, and the feeling of a society unmoored really comes through. There’s a scene where a suspect is murdered that is also one of the most disturbing I’ve seen- the cuts like whips, the cheesy diegetic music, the sudden gore, even the sounds of the cars rushing by at the end really make it memorable. I read a little about the making of Duckling too, and it might be the ballsiest movie Fulci ever made. It wasn’t fun the way over the top Fulci is, but still great stuff. it makes me want to keep digging deeper into the giallos (Is Lizard in a Woman’s Skin any good?)

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    1. I really like Lizard in a Woman's Skin. It's kind of a giallo and leans hard into psychedelia, but it's cool.

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  9. Aenigma (1987, dir. Lucio Fulci)

    There's barely a plot here, just an excuse to stage as many bizarre death scenes as fit the running time. Death by snails was my favorite. I guess Fulci's masterpieces were behind him by 1987, but this is still a lot of fun.

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  10. A Lizard in a Woman's Skin (1971)

    My first Fulci, but certainly not the last. It's an erotically charged murder mystery with a wickedly elaborate intrigue and a staggering amount of plot twists that keep you guessing at what really went down until the very final moments. There's a dreamlike atmosphere to the proceedings and as a bonus we get a handful of animatronic nightmares: crazed bats, super disturbing mutilated dogs and a seriously creepy flying swan - but if the movie taught me anything, it's that none of these are even half as scary as murderous hippies on acid. I believe there's a life lesson there.

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  11. Contraband (1980) Amazon Prime

    Fulci's poliziotteschi film about a French crime lord moving in against the Mafia in Naples. You get some things you'd expect, like the standard montage of people getting offed, and you also get some throat and head explosions so all in all, I enjoyed it.

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  12. New Gladiators aka I guerrieri dell'anno 2072 (1984)

    I have to thank Patrick, for the past several years on this day I have watched a new Fulci movie and each time realized more and more what a master he is. This is his take on The Running Man (2 years before The Running Man) Super stylized, looks awesome (There is a model of futuristic Rome that is particularly cool). The last 30 minutes is a gladiator battle royale that starts on motorcycles. It's amazing. Each contestant has a different weapon, somehow I feel the guy with a knife is at a disadvantage to the guy with a flamethrower... "Take a good look at these contestants, because for these men violent death is just seconds away." is my favorite quote of Junesploitation so far. Love love loved it.

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  13. The New York Ripper (1982)


    The dream sequence is one of my favorites from Fulci.

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  14. The Devil's Honey (1986)

    When your wife walks into the room and asks "Are you watching a porno?"

    "Nope, just a Lucio Fulci movie."

    It's telling that the most shocking sexual act that this movie wants to portray, so much so that they wait for the very end, is that a guy might want to get a blow job from another guy in a movie theater.

    I can understand an erotic thriller (and a European one at that), but it's just the weird regressive sexual politics that make this an uncomfortable watch. Almost every sexual incident involving the main character is an assault. But, if course, she's won over in the end, so it's ok.

    Sunny side: that god-damned saxophone melody is super catchy.

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    1. Holy shit! Brett Holsey, the older doctor in "Devil's Honey," is also the gambler who talks to his cassette deck (which talks back to him) in "Touch of Death"! 🤯🤮🤢

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  15. Silver Saddle (1978)

    It's weird that the theme song plays between every line of dialog, but it IS catchy.

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    1. When it comes to Spaghetti Westerns, that shit is so my jam. Gotta see this.

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    2. I found it amusing that the story of the film was told even before the first scene takes place.

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  16. THE PSYCHIC (1977, Lucio Fulci)

    Happy Birthday Maestro. I loooooooooved The Psychic. It feels like it's Fulci's most lushest movie. Because, it is all about Jennifer O'Neil's visons Fulci keeps focusing in on different baroque and ornate objects. There's this absoutely gorgeous moment of O'Neil's silhouette against a grouping of Dutch Golden Era (era) paintings, of freaken hell, I loved it. Fucli was always a very tactile director, as in everything in his movies feels very tangiable, textured. And in The Psychic it's all in the furnishings. The Pyschic in it's way felt like a ghost story of sorts, maybe because of it's Poe edgings, that and I will some how manage to turn any big house story into a ghost story of sorts. Even though this feels more Giallo than anything he did - that I have seen.

    But also watching The Pyschic, I really love 1970s Fulci. And House by the Cemetery is one of my favourite movies. But I do really love the movies that start with Don't Torture a Duckling through the decade. He's taking what is happening in Italian genre movie scene, but he can't help but making those movies with a slight twist or unique to him. But there are still a few movies missing in my knowledge I could be talking nonsence like usual. But, The Pyschic is incrediable.2

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed this! I think it's my favorite Fulci film.

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  17. Conquest (1983, dir. Lucio Fulci)

    I'm getting on a real Fantasy kick, so the choice was clear for tonight. I don't know why I expected his sword & sorcery movie to be less violent than his Zombie flicks, but OH BOY I was wrong.

    What is this movie? I've seen it, but I still don't know.

    I love that it has lots of bizarre creatures. They don't have the budget to make them look convincing, but I really don't care. It's lots of fun. The movie has enough completely batshit insane things to keep you on board, but there's no plot and it makes no sense.

    But make no mistake... Lucio Fulci fucking rules.

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  18. May Buddha have mercy on my soul, I still love The New York Ripper. Somehow my wife understands and gives me a pat on the shoulder as one would to a silly puppy.

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  19. The House By The Cemetery (1981)

    My goodness, this movie was terrifying! I particularly loved the sequence when the woman was trying to open the door, up until we saw the baddy. And everything after that, including the ending. I knew it was one of his best regarded, and it was good to finally get to it.

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    1. My favourite Fulci. I'm glad you liked it.

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  20. Contraband (1980)

    What it lacks in logic, it makes up for tenfold in burnings, gunshots, and throwing bodies off of cliffs or through a window. Oh Fulci!

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  21. City of the Living Dead (1980)
    You get 2 films in one. First, there is the goings on in Dunwich where the dead are returning to ask the living for a piece of their mind. The second film is whatever universe Christopher George is in. He gets shot with a worm cannon and does not spill a drop of his drink or put down his cigar.
    I am new to Italian horror (2nd film), so I thought that trodding the familiar ground of the Zombie film would help. It did, but I appreciated the differences from the Romero zombie world. Rather than an army of zombies, one zombie would pop up unexpectedly and make bad gory things happen. Viva la differenza.

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  22. Beatrice Cenci (1969)

    One of the few remaining Fulci films available that I haven't seen. This wasn't the right movie to watch today, because it doesn't deliver the kind of stuff I want during Junesploitation. It's Fulci's costume drama, made just before he pivoted to thrillers and horror in the 1970s. It's very well made -- check those split diopters -- and there are touches of textbook Fulci (cynicism about the church, torture, depravity). I'm glad to have finally seen it.

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    1. Many years ago I watched Beatrice Cenci on a DVD rented from Netflix that also featured The Whip And The Body. I got the disc for the Bava film - which I still admire- but got more out of Fulci's film. It disturbed me quite a bit. The range of films Fulci made is impressive.

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  23. Day 17

    The New York Ripper (94 minute version on Prime)

    I had feeling that this movie might be test to how much I could take while watching. I didn't think that this would be the nastiest thing I had seen in some time. Fulci's combination of sex and violence at the same time was too much and nothing about this made me feel good. I felt like I needed to take a shower from how dirty this movie made feel. I guess if that is any kind of recommendation then so be it.

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    1. It's coming in 4K from Blue Underground later this year. A lot of people obviously like this and consider it top-tier Fulci. Me? I own the Blu-ray but haven't seen it in a while for the same reasons you mention Donnie (and I love Lucio's work). It takes all kinds.

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  24. SILVER SADDLE (1978, Lucio Fulci)

    I agree with what Patrick, Causual and Dan Synder said about Silver Saddle. And if you have a catchy theme song you might as well use it.

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  25. Silver Saddle (1978, dir. Lucio Fulci)

    I was a bit meh on this one, but I’m glad that it got a fair amount of love from everyone who watched it today. I was probably looking for something grittier and darker; it might improve for me on a rewatch when I’m more receptive to what the movie is instead of what I wanted it to be. Still, kinda bummed that there wasn’t a nine-minute scene of tarantulas slowly eating a cowboy’s face or something!

    Also, re: the constant repetition of the premise-explaining theme song: Guy Pierce's character in Memento would have been SO GRATEFUL for that.

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  26. Don't Torture a Duckling (1972)

    This was my first Fulci film! I chose it because of its interesting title. It wasn't as much horror as... supernatural mystery maybe? I liked his style and was enough to make me want to check out more of his stuff. Although that scene with the naked woman and the kid... WTF?

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  27. Don't Torture a Duckling (1972) and Touch of Death (1988):

    I'm noticing that Fulci's sense of humor is what really sets him apart from the other Italian masters. These were both fun watches.

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