This is always one of my favorite days of Junesploitation. I have a long history with Italian horror at this point. This year I found a film I had not seen before. It may not be the best example of Italian horror, but I am always glad to dive a little deeper.PATRICK STILL LIVES (1980, dir. Mario Landi) – Is this a good film in anyway? In one: it entertains. You get your horror and exploitation in one package. Ripping off the Australian film PATRICK, the Italians take the concept of that film down a far sleazier path. Five people are lured to an estate and start getting killed by an unseen force. All the while, there is a steady barrage of nudity. In the end, little makes sense and the kills get more ridiculous, but as a true fan of Italian horror I can appreciate the experience of it.
I am running into some of the software issues others have experienced. Trying another account.
Recommendations by director.Mario Bava: Black Sabbath; Black Sunday; Kill, Baby, Kill; Bay of Blood; Lisa and the Devil; The Whip and the BodyDario Argento: Suspiria, Inferno, OperaLucio Fulci: The Beyond, The House by the Cemetery, Zombie
By decade.1960s: Castle of Blood, The Playgirls and The Vampire, Nightmare Castle, Bloody Pit of Horror, Werewolf in a Girls Dormitory 1970s: Death Smiles on a Murderer, Beyond the Darkness, Lady Frankenstein, Torso (one of the few giallos I consider a horror film)1980s: Demons, The Church, Stagefright1990s: Cemetery Man
Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972)Bonk, slash, bonk, slash, bonk, slash, bonk, slash...And my crappy Dollar Tree four-pack DVD didn't give justice to either one.
Shock (1977, dir. Mario Bava)What a movie! This got on my radar from the Pure Cinema Podcast "Lasts" episode as this was Mario Bava's final film. It exceeded expectations. Daria Nicoloda's son becomes possessed and super-creepy shenanigans ensue. This movie was so stylish and had so many unique setpieces and flourishes. Truly one of the finest horror movies I've ever seen. Highly Recommended!
Un’ombra nell’ombra (1979)Ring of Darkness is about four women who made a pact with the Devil a decade ago. Now, Carlotta (Anne Heywood) has lost control of her daughter Daria (Lara Wendel, who so famously died in Tenebre), who has started to develop Satanic powers of her own, casting spells and hurting everyone in her way, including a boy with a crush who submits to her burning touch.Carlotta and some of her friends enlist the help of a priest (John Phillip Law) to help them rid themselves of the pact that they made with Lucifer all those years ago.Also known as Satan’s Wife, this is a nice Danger: Diabolik reunion as Marissa Mell is in it with Law. And man, nobody does a Satanic movie like Italian Catholics, huh? When interviewed on set in 1977, director and writer Pier Carpi (who also wrote the Diabolik comic book) denied that his screenplay was inspired by The Exorcist and claimed that it was based on his novel Un ombra nell’ombra which he wrote in the 60s and was published in 1974.You know what I do love about this beyond the Black Mass nude opening? The synth heavy score Stelvio Cipriani! You know who else liked it? Whomever ripped it off for the American edit of Pieces.I’ve seen people online critical of this movie and the score. Come on. We should be so lucky to have more Italian takes on American occult movies!
Ghosthouse (1988) dir. Umberto LenziCouldn't sleep, so decided to dive into Italian Horror Day (and my birthday) right at midnight with Ghosthouse, Umberto Lenzi's spectacularly silly 80's horror salad. Also known as La Casa 3, Ghosthouse kicked off a series of unauthorized entries into the Evil Dead franchise, which had become massively popular in Italy as La Casa 1 and 2. By the time Raimi made his actual follow up with Army of Darkness- The ever enterprising Italian film industry had already released five unofficial La Casa entries, most of which had no connection to either Evil Dead film, or even each other - in fact the last two were just the second and third entries in an entirely different American horror franchise with its own chaotic continuity, Sean S Cunningham's House series. So basically we are firmly in Italio territory before even digging into the actual film itself, which contrary to it's presentation is not in fact a riff on Evil Dead at all, but instead a pretty brazen Poltergeist imitation with a healthy scoop of Fulci thrown in (specifically the Gates of Hell trilogy) just for good measure. Like all good Italian horror rip-off cinema, it feels both highly derivative, and totally off, as if Lenzi couldn't have been bothered to watch Poltergeist, and instead saw some set photos, skimmed a novelization, and went off to the races. I'm also a sucker for this era of Italian Horror directors setting their movies in the US and the fun little beats this creates. What is it that American's are into? CB Radio and Chili? Put it in the script!This is definitely second or third step cinema for anyone dipping their toes into Italian, horror, but if you are already a convert it's an absolute blast– the sudden bursts of gore, the creepy music (some of it original, some of it curbed from other Italio classics like Stage Fright), the weird sudden moodiness- it's all here.
Happy 18th, J. Goose. :-D
Thank y'all! 18th and some (a whole lot of) change :-P . An excuse to binge Italian Horror is the best bday present a guy could ask for!
Cannibal Ferox (1981) dir. Umberto LenziVery different vibes from an earlier uncle Umberto joint to start the day proper off. Cannibal movies are a real blind spot, and for the most part, I'm fine with that- I have a lot of affection for Cannibal Holocaust, and I don't ever even really want to watch that Still, this seemed like a good opportunity to fill in a big missing piece on both my Italian Horror and my video nasties watchlist, and morning just feels like the right time for a Cannibal flick ya know? I appreciated the scuzziness, especially the almost non sequitur opening that set the thematic table but also just made me wish I was about to watch a poliziotteschi flick instead of a cannibal one. Giovanni Lombardo definitely steals the show with his deranged Mike, enough that I actually found myself enjoying(?) this once he showed up. I am curious to see earlier Lenzi entries in the genre, like Man from Deep River, but it'll probably be a minute before I want to dive back into the jungle with these guys.
Also! Realized this was an fitting place to post my Italian Horror, hold the Giallo Letterboxd list, for anyone else that wants some genre suggestions that won't cut into their options for Giallo day!!
I also tend to make a distinction between giallo and Italian horror., J. Goose. For me, giallo has stronger mystery or thriller elements than horror elements. There are some giallo, like Torso, that equally feel like a giallo and a horror film. I am sure other people have a different thoughts the relationship between them.
For sure! I generally just think of giallo as a subset of Horror, but there definitely some that veer pretty far away from anything measurably "horror"- something like 4th Victim comes to mind as an obvious example, but even just with Martino's contributions: stuff like Torso and Colors of the Dark and Your Vice is a Locked Room are so much more horror steeped than Case of the Scorpions Tail or even Suspicious Death of a Minor. I guess it's kind of that way with a lot of the Italian stuff- a bunch of the sci-fi and post apocalyptic flicks are basically horror aesthetically, but with slightly different themes and subject matter.
SLEEPLESS (Argento; 2001) An excellent & underrated work from Dario Argento where the master returned to a true gialli form, and you can tell he was feelin' it because this is awesome. It has everything you want and is so entertaining with a legit intriguing mystery that has Max Von Sydow as an aging, retired detective who worked a case 17 years prior chasing "The Dwarf Killer" which has possibly now come back to haunt the Italian streets. The opening 20 minutes takes place on a train and it is some of the best suspense filmmaking you'll see. It's set at 11 - a breakneck pace, hyper but laser-focused, weird and gnarly. Shares the same tone as all his greats (probably most with Deep Red), but this IS NOT just an "Argento plays the hits" movie. Along with the pulse pounding GOBLIN score, this was/is a new beast all on its own, working its way to a spot alongside the classic titles that are the established favorites.
BALLAD IN BLOOD (2016)D/W: Ruggero DeodatoW: Jacopo Mazzuoli, Angelo OrlandoP: Massimo Esposti / M: Claudio SimonettiWith mostly TV & shorts to his credit after THE WASHING MACHINE (1993), Deodato returns to the helm with this trashterpiece. Lenka gets puked on by Jacopo as she rides him the morning after a Halloween rave in an ancient tower. Duke has just stepped on broken glass that he caused & is yelling a lot. In a few moments, they all realize that their friend & the actual tenant of the apartment, Elizabeth, is dead on the roof. Naturally, she falls through the skylight into the living room. This opening gives you a very accurate notion of where the rest of this is going, tone-wise. Elizabeth was a video-junkie, recording with her phone all the time. The trio doesn’t know how she died, so between doing drugs, drinking, yelling, & watching her footage, they try to figure it out. Additional obstacles include the diminutive landlord & his black-winged boy-toy, a goth gang, a phone call from mom & dad, a possible witness, a bit of racial tension, sexual assault, no food in the kitchen, yelling & flashbacks. I’m pretty sure I can say that this isn’t a well-written flick, but it definitely captures three totally unlikable main characters in what I’d say feels appropriate to the story being told. I’ll never try to convince anyone that this is a good movie, but I chuckled throughout at how absolutely trashy it is. If you like broken glass, yelling, crass language, multinational trios of douschebags, blood spray, nudity & crazy raves, please watch BALLAD IN BLOOD. “Hey, let’s tear up the kitchen, too. So they think a thief got hungry, found nuttin’ to eat & just trashed the place.”SEVERIN FILMS
Cannibal Apocalypse aka Invasion of the Flesh Hunters (Apocalypse domani) (1980, dir. Antonio Margheriti)I guess the screenwriter mixed up cannibals with zombies, because the movie treats cannibalism as a virus that's spread by bite. Very strange logic. It takes its time to get to the good stuff and even when it does, doesn't go as crazy as you'd want for a Junesploitation pick. But the gore gags are pretty fun, the acting's appropriately hammy, the funky disco score is ridiculous, and John Saxon is John Saxon.
MURDER MANSION (1972) An unusually thick fog strands disparate travelers in a spooky mansion overnight, and then things get murdery. Despite some supernatural-ish imagery, this is more an Agatha Christie-style whodunit. I was a little disappointed at first, thinking I'd stumbled into a parlor drama rather than the dream logic Italian horror we all love. But then things get wild in the third act and it's great fun. Recommended! Bonus Lloyd Kaufman-sploitation, day 13: SGT. KABUKIMAN NYPD (1990) A dimwitted cop gets magic powers from a Kabuki actor (just go with it) and he battles an evil businessman. Allegedly, financiers wanted a PG-13 superhero movie for merchandising, but Kaufman couldn't get out of his own way with the sex and violence. Yes, the cultural appropriation is distasteful, but distastefulness is why we watch Troma. On the plus side, the bigger budget means this almost looks like something you might see in theaters, rather than the griminess of Kaufman's early films. Someone online described this as Troma trying to make a Cannon movie, and that sounds about right.
How can you stomach so much Troma crap within such a limited time? Every time I've watched a Troma flick I've needed a week to recover and get my bearings back. :-P
My secret confession: I signed up for the Troma Now streaming service, doing the first-thirty-days-free thing for this June.
DARIO ARGENTO'S WORLD OF HORROR 1985Dir. Michele SoaviJunesploitation film # 26!!!Profusely enjoyed this doc. Of course the soundtrack is fantastic collection from Dario's films filled with Goblin, Morricone and Keith Emerson! And really, the tender moments of somewhat melancholic Argento sitting my himself pouring over topics such as his concern over his ability to film Phenomena or his fascination with murderers.
Killer Nun (1979 – Giulio Berruti)This is the stuff this month has been made for. 70s nunsploitation from Italy, stamped to be a Video Nasty in Great Britain. There are some long softcore scenes in here, full-frontal nudity, blood, sexual arousal towards the dead, drug use and so on and so forth. That a lot of the harm is guided towards helpless disabled and/or elderly persons make this an interesting, yet difficult watch from time to time. It’s simply not something we see that often in movie. Most of the time we see people in their prime getting murdered by forces stronger or cleverer, here, it’s mostly helpless people that suffer.
THE HOUSE OF CLOCKS (1989)D: Lucio FulciAnother rewatch after probably 2 decades. I don't love this one, but I think it's pretty good. Classic Fulci elements populate a story that's classically scary. The ending, setting up a "classic" cop-out trope, makes me cackle with glee.MEDIA BLASTERS DVD
'FATE MORIRE LA DECENZA PER IL MALE DEI SOLDI ILLECITI' TRIFECTA! (right on! ;-P).Ruggero Deodato's HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK (1980, $1.99 Amazon Rental, 91 min.) for the first time.Sociopath Alex ("Last House on the Left's" David Hess with the face/hair of Shelly from "Friday the 13th Part 3-D" attached to the physical presence of the bully from "Christine") and his not-as-depraved sidekick Ricky (Giovanni Lombardo Radice) hitch a ride to a party in New Jersey with a group of bourgeois youths. So right away (a) there's no house that's (b) anywhere near a park after (c) the story/characters leave New York City 10 minutes in. Just an Italian-made home invasion parade hattrick of rape, misogyny and meanness-for-meanness' sake. As expected from the mind behind "Cannibal Holocaust" (you know, the director's OTHER notorious Italian 1980 exploitation flick that landed in the UK 'Nasties' list), the juxtaposition of Riz Ortolani-composed sweet music while Alex and Ricky force women to have sex against their well makes for troubling viewing. Worth seeing for Hess' beastly performance (tons of meme-worthy facial expressions! :-D) and being in the upper-tier of well-made Italian horror flicks during the genre's prime. 4 GRAPHIC-RAPES-BEFORE-OPENING-CREDITS-START THAT ARE ACTUALLY INTEGRAL TO THE PLOT (out of 5).Daniele Misischia's THE END? (2017, TUBI, 100 min.) for the first time.Imagine if the zombie apocalypse happened in Rome, but you were lucky (unlucky?) to be stuck in an elevator between floors with "The Office's" Michael Scott (Alessandro Roja, who bears a passing resemblance to both Steve Carrell and Luke Wilson). Ironically "The End?" works best early on when, after the premise es established within the first ten minutes, we wonder how are these filmmakers going to pad the next 90 minutes without boring us to death. And to their credit despite not featuring an iota of a new idea that we haven't already seen in zombie pop-culture (or the "Devil"-inspired 'stuck-in-an-elevator-with-___' premise), "The End?" kept me engaged and interested in seeing how Claudio would react when/if he ever got out of that elevator. Claudio Camilli has a nice role as the Barry Burton of this "Resident Evil"-inspired story, but Roja and the filmmakers squeezing blood from this thin premise are worth seeing. 3 EXECUTIVES' BRAINS SPLATTERED BY THEIR OWN GOLF CLUBS (out of 5). DARIO ARGENTO'S DRACULA 3D (2012, 3D Blu-ray, 110 min.).Not even Rutger Hauer playing Val Helsing (you know, a Dutchman played by someone from The Netherlands), Dario Argento re-teaming with ace cinematographer Luciano Tovoli ("Suspiria" and "Tenebrae") or Thomas Kretschmann reteaming with Asia Argento for the first time since "The Stendhal Syndrome" (gross!) can help "Dracula 3D" achieve anything more than mild amusement at its technical incompetence. Lasting 110 minutes that feel like 3 hours, the pace of this now-entirely-in-Transylvania story is either glacial or jump-cut quick (sometimes within the same scene). I was wide awake when I started watching, but feel asleep multiple times and had to complete the viewing over a couple of nights. Not all the shots and 3D effects are bad all the time (some pretty good imagery snuck through), but the regularity at which some shitty CG effect (particularly during Count Dracula's "Manimal"-like transformations into all kinds/shapes of animals) or badly-rendered background plate regularly appear is a constant distraction. Even if it was technically polished, though, nothing the actors do or the words Argento has put into their mouths makes "Dracula 3D" any better than the many versions that came before and have released since. For 3D completists only, aka me. :'( 2 UNDERWHELMING SHOVELS-TO-THE-HEAD 3D GORE GAGS (out of 5).
Good to see that you are able to post again, J.M. I was having some issues this morning. I remember watching around a quarter of an hour of Argento's Dracula before turning it off. I have not intention of trying to get through it.
It seems that consecutive posts by the same person (me) wipe the previous one off. So have to cut down on review size and number of movies to keep it to a single post, and there's no trouble. Fingers crossed I'll catch-up with all my missing reviews for next Free Day! :-)
A Bay of Blood (1971)Mario Bava's proto-slasher proves worthy of its reputation. A wickedly intricate plot about a group of shady people jostling for ownership of valuable seaside property leads to an orgy of violence perpetrated with an impressive array of murder weapons. I love how the cinematography and music work in tandem to create a bucolic atmosphere of the titular bay area, only to have it shattered by one bloody kill after another. After a slow-burn first half the movie really whips itself into a frenzy with a series of crazy twists and reveals until there's nowhere else to go... and then it delivers the final delirious blow. What a ride.
Black Sabbath (1963)A horror anthology where the running thread between all three stories is me going, "Bish! Why are you doing that?"
HOTEL FEAR (1978, aka PENSIONE PAURA)D/W: Francisco BarilliW: Barbara Alberti, Amedeo Pagani, Francisco ArizaP/W: José Gutiérrez / P: Tommaso Dazzi, Paolo Fornasier,Tadeo Villalba / M: Adolfo WaitzmanTeenage Leonora Fani (GIALLO IN VENICE, BORN FOR HELL) is struggling with her mother to keep a mostly empty hotel running as WWII is winding down. There’s a debauched desperation to the guests & Fani dreams of her pilot father’s return. A mysterious accident leaves her to run the place on her own. Gigolo Luc Merenda (KIDNAP SYNDICATE) is getting grabby, much to the chagrin of his older sugar mama. Francisco Rabal is in paranoid hiding & everything goes sideways when a pair of sinister dudes show up. The fact that Barilli’s previous film was THE PERFUME OF THE LADY IN BLACK & this film is called HOTEL FEAR might lead one to expect something more in the horror vein. The circumstances are steadily ratcheting up the tension & things do break into horror movie territory during the last half hour. Overall, this is a very good, sometimes very dark & very unique WWII psycho-drama.MONDO MACABRO BluRay
WEREWOLF IN A GIRLS’ DORMITORY (1961, dir. Paolo Heusch) I enjoy this long-time staple of public domain horror shows. It is surprisingly re-watchable. The B&W cinematography is excellent, and the giallo elements (courtesy of scriptwriter Ernesto Gastaldi) add some intriguing red herrings. It does drag toward the conclusion; it is hard to find an Italian horror film of this period that does not have some plodding sections. Despite the film being very easy to find in its English dub, I picked up the Severin edition for the European cut, entitled LYCANTHROPUS. It is definitely a more satisfying watch with the widescreen ratio and Italian dub.
The Sect (1991) dir. Michele Soavi I’ve been beating the Soavi drum for a long time now, and even I get stuck on The Sect. Despite being one of only four features he directed before semi retiring, the Sect still feels liken a bit of an anomaly. It’s his second official directorial outing with Dario Argento, but it breaks drastically from his mentors MO, trading out the stylized single location settings of The Church and Stage Fright for a looser, more sprawling take.If your new to Soavi’s filmography, this is probably not the place to start, but for those of us who’ve already drank the koolAid, the movies impenetrability just makes it all that much more rewarding to keep coming back to.
Suspiria (1977) dir. Dario Argento For anyone this deep in a thread on Italian Horror, singling Suspiria’s praises feels a little like stopping a tasting menu to wax poetic about the flatware it’s served on- but some just stay classic for a reason. I’ve actually been sitting on a disc of this for that exact reason- I kept finding something else to get to, by holy hell, seeing this with such vibrant colors really is something to behold.
4K or 1080P Blu-ray? Both work fine, but "Suspiria" in 4K (at home or in a movie theater) is something special. :-D
Just the 1080 so far - still haven't made the 4k leap, but Suspiria definitely one that makes me want to take the plunge quicker!
Nightmare Castle (1965)Another Morricone score here, and it's not flashy but it fits the material. Nightmare Castle has that classic B&W horror vibe, Barbara Steele in dual roles, plus with Giallo and Fulci both having their own days later on in the month I wanted to stay out of that territory for now. All in all this was a pretty fun pick.
One of my favorite Italian horror films just for the cast and the atmosphere. Of course, there is Barbara Steele getting a chance to shine, but Paul Muller has such a great turn as the evil husband.Which version did watch, Ross? 80 minutes or 100 minutes.Since you liked Nightmare Castle, you would probably like Castle of Blood. More great atmosphere and more Barbara Steele.
I quick glance at Amazon, which is where I streamed it shows it being around 1hr 50mins.I'm trying to remember if I've seen Castle of Blood. The name sounds familiar, but looking it up I don't think I've actually watched it. I'll be sure to check it out at some point.
Dawn of the Mummy (1981)Again trying to stay away a bit from the Giallo, Dawn of the Mummy does have a Mummy feel to it (you've got the tomb, curses, and all that). This Mummy also gets to come back with his servants that got buried with him though and these boys are flesh eaters giving some of the kills a bit more of a zombie movie feel. Not a great movie but not bad either and certainly less dull than a lot of previous Mummy films.
Cannibal Apocalypse (1980, dir. Antonio Margheriti)The movie is about Vietman vets who have gotten a taste for human flesh. It's spread like rabies, so quickly many new people are wanting to munch down on humans. Stars John Saxon who is excellent as always. Great funky soundtrack. Apparently Saxon received a badly translated version of the script and had no idea it was about cannibalism, and was quite upset to discover this on set.
One more watch before we leave Italian Horror day behind.THE DEVIL’S WEDDING NIGHT (1973, dir. Luigi Batzella) To be frank, this is a piece of crap. Muddled story, choppy editing, terrible dialogue, etc. Batzella was one of the worst Italian horror directors. To be frank, though, I did have a good time with The Devil’s Wedding Night, particularly in a Junesploitation context. This is pure exploitation filmmaking, and the pacing is quick for the era. The black mass sequence, with its weird imagery and nudity, was well done. Moreover, this is a good showcase for Rosalba Neri, one of my favorite Italian genre actresses. Having watched this a decade ago, and not having a favorable reaction, I am surprised with my reaction this viewing. Maybe it was because I knew what I was getting into, or maybe it was seeing a decent version (a Code Red blu-ray). The film definitely caught me in the right mood.