Review: Torso (Blu-Ray)

torso_02

“Hello, I’m your masked and gloved fashionable scarf-wearing killer. Today, I shall be your GUIDE. Then I’ll have to kill you, of course.”

Torso Arrow(Lectures): Sergio Martino tells an interesting story about the film’s originally planned title in an excellent interview on this lushly produced Arrow Video disc. The film’s  producers wanted something more salacious to sell tickets, so they chose to pump up the sexual violence aspect with what they saw as a fitting title, I corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale (The Bodies Bear Traces of Carnal Violence). where as Martino wanted to use I corpi non mostrano tracce di violenza carnale (The Bodies Bear No Traces of Carnal Violence) here after his working titles like Rosso come l’amore, nero come il terrore (Red Like Love, Black Like Terror) were rejected early on. The Torso moniker (Carnal Violence was a title created for the export release) was a choice from the film’s US distributors, by the way,  In the States, Joseph Brenner Associates worked up a new title opening, chopped out 4 minutes of footage seemingly for some gory content and likely to make the film a run a compact 90 minutes (more butts in the seats at the end of the day), changed some music cues (the great Guido & Maurizio De Angelis score was fine, thank you), and there you have it.

*Ahem* I’m starting this review much like the film does (with an intentionally dull lecture after a sexy-ish opening) as a little joke because I’ve heard some kooky grumblings over the years at how the film gets off to a slow start for about 20 minutes or so. Nonsense, I say. Torso works as an effective and disturbing popcorn flick you’ll want to gather a few like-minded giallo-loving friends up to see. Yes, those friends will have to like some copious female nudity, icky flashes of gore in two of the early murders and nearly every male in the film portrayed as a leering goon of some sort (there are some regular guys here, but as background noise or padding out the lovely Perugian scenery). But this is a film where you’re getting almost exactly what you expect from with a title like this.

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Ooh, pardon me while I do some gift-giving. “Hey, nice lady, I got you a scarf!” Oops, I kind of got carried away in my excitement. That’s Patrizia Adiutori doing a great job playing dead, by the way.

After the murder of some friends by the above mentioned killer (Hello!), four college students decide to hoof it over to a secluded villa, only to have the killer and a few other suspects trail them. While that’s pretty much the plot here, Martino makes things quite tense as well as very 70’s sexy (well, as far as the ladies are concerned). The film tosses a few potential suspects your way as it goes on, so you’re always on the fence as to who the killer might be. The killer not only has a penchant for he ladies, he turns out to be an equal opportunist, as the bodies pile up and more are claimed by a few means.

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DVD Review: Psychomania

psychomania-1973This one’s for Mr. Bruno, who asked how this 1973 British “horror” flick was. Here’s your answer in the form of an opinion, sir. While it’s got a cult following, is fun as hell to watch, has some striking imagery, Psychomania (aka The Death Wheelers) is very much a “meh” genre flick overall that hasn’t aged well and isn’t even remotely scary. It has some fine ideas and even a solid John Cameron score holding things together. But a lack of “edginess” or even a true sense of danger doom it as a “serious” scare flick.

That said, it’s got that cult following that adores it for a few key reasons such as a brilliant opening sequence, those GREAT skull painted motorcycle helmets worn by The Living Dead cycle gang, a killer shot of a formerly deceased biker bursting from the grave on the bike he was buried on, and a bunch of hilarious demises as most of the gang kills themselves in order to return as immortal bikers… from helllllll!

(Thanks, BFI!)

The plot goes like so: Death-obsessed cycle gang leader Tom Latham (Nicky Henson) discovers he can die via suicide and come back as an un-killable death-obsessed cycle gang leader with the aid of his frog-cult worshiping mum (Beryl Reid). Once risen, he lets his gang, The Living Dead in on his secret and they follow suit, save for his girlfriend Abby (Mary Larkin) who doesn’t want to join the ranks of the undead. There’s a bunch of bloodless murders and pre-Mad Max road crimes and chases, a lot of talking and a very weird finale that may baffle you if you weren’t paying attention to the kooky story and just wanted a more brainless flick to chill out to.

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Blu-Ray Review: Black Mama, White Mama

BMWM_AV041Okay, it was Pam Grier‘s birthday last week and I only know this because I overheard some OG’s doing some paper bag stoop drinking talking about the lady today while I was out shopping. They were trying to recall the names of two movies she was in back before she became a bigger name star and you better believe yours truly stepped in to inform them HIT MAN and Black Mama, White Mama were the movies they were looking for.

I don’t think I’d seen a more grateful group of old guys since Prohibition ended and even better, when I told them both movies had been restored and can be bought online AND they both pop up on TCM on occasion, I ended up getting a free beer for that information. Yes, it was still sealed – I don’t do that passing around stuff with former total strangers. Unless it’s some Thunderbird or Night Train. That stuff can kill germs from 50 paces and tastes like someone put a heaping spoonful of sugar into a pint of paint thinner (yum!).

Anyway, I got back home, tossed the groceries I’d bought aside like Frank Cannon used to do on that old CBS show (much to the surprise of the groceries) and got to this review of Arrow Video’s chock full of fun Blu-Ray released a little while back. Black Mama, White Mama is an excellent exploitation flick with Grier and the still stunning Margaret Markov that takes the plot of The Defiant Ones, adds a dash of Caged!, and sets the whole shebang in the (literally and figuratively) steamy Philippines (doubling for a never-named Latin dictatorship of some sort). The results are a sexy, sassy potboiler/revenge flick complete with copious female nudity, sudden (but expected) violence, and the always entertaining Sid Haig in a colorful role as a really bad man. Continue reading

The Exorcist, A TV Series? The Power of “Cripes” Compels You

So join me for a drink boys
We’re gonna make a big noise

So don’t worry about tomorrow
Take it today
Forget about the check
We’ll get hell to pay

 

According to a few sources including the director himself, William Friedkin fired blanks off-camera into the air in order to get an actor to react with fright during a key moment in The Exorcist. I’m betting the 1936 penny sitting mysteriously atop my too-small entertainment center (seriously, it just appeared one day and I have NO clue as to how it got there!) that Friedkin maybe shot a computing device of some sort when he found out Fox as making a series based (kind of?) on the classic horror film that freaked out millions back in 1973 and is still influential to this very day.

(Thanks, Movieclips!)

Me? I had NO idea this was a thing until the always on point Written in Blood pointed out that trailer above. The power of crap compelled my jaw to drop because WHY? There’s really no use or need for a modern take on The Exorcist because the film did what it did so well and is still an effective horror film to this day. Like the upcoming Lethal Weapon TV series (yeah, WHY?), this trend to dig up otherwise fine and dandy entertainment and drag it kicking and screaming into this decade’s short attention span theater audience that will drop a new show they don’t like like a hot rock after one or two episodes. My reaction to that trailer above was somewhat NSFW, and went something like this:

(Thanks again, Movieclips!)

Don’t believe me? Well, how’s that Rush Hour TV series doing, ladies and gents? Uh-huh. Sure, there are a bunch of devil shows on the air already and Fox does have a “hit” with Lucifer, which I’ve yet to see because I’m not at all interested in it. But I just can’t see The Exorcist being a series with legs once the story the film tells (now rewritten for TV) plays itself out. Well, unless it turns into some sort of possession anthology series with a demon of the week (ugh), which would kill off the scare factor faster than a vampire eating a loaf of garlic bread as the sun rose.

Meh, maybe I’m too cranky and wrong on this… but I don’t think so. If this show ends up being a surprise hit like Bates Motel and goes on for a few seasons, I’ll look into making my own deal with the devil. Oh, don’t worry about me, folks… I know how to trick Old Scratch into letting me keep my soul:

(Thanks, lilacwine85!)

It’s a good thing I can bake a little is all I’m saying…

Kvetch-22: You Win Some, You Lose Some

Good GOG PlusHere’s some news fresh from the “Wouldn’t You Know It?” desk:

Hooray! I won something awesome recently – a blu-ray copy of the Ivan Tors produced, Herbert L. Strock directed sci-fi film GOG (1954), restored into its 3D state and in HD for the first time on disc. Many thanks go to Kino Lorber, Classic Movie Hub and Aurora’s Gin Joint (all fine places to sit for a spell and learn about plenty of classic films) for picking my hastily scribbled entry. I also got two more Arrow Video blu-rays in the post today to review right after GOG showed up via Fed Ex: Dillinger and The Zero Boys. Excellent!

However (and this is hi-larious)… Continue reading

Blu-Ray Review: Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood


AmericanHP_AV043Having seen my share of horror oddities on TV, in theaters an via assorted video formats since the 1970’s (okay, late 60’s if you count those Chiller Theater and Creature Feature reruns), I have to say Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood is way up there as one of the more bizarrely unfocused storytelling-wise but visually striking genre films I can recall. Thanks to Arrow Video, the film has been lovingly restored and presented as one of the three films in its must-own American Horror Project Volume 1.

Director Christoper Speeth‘s unusual flick is a loosely (VERY loosely) plotted tale of a family who’s invested in a run-down carnival that has some pretty grim secrets underneath its dilapidated thrill rides. Some viewers may note slight similarities to Carnival of Souls, Night of the Living Dead and certain silent films the movie itself spotlights at certain moments. While the film does suffer from a number of continuity issues no editor could fix thanks to many shots being done in a single take, the production design and overall tone here makes this one well worth watching. Trust me, if the bizarre found object set design doesn’t hook you in, it’ll be the general weirdness and downbeat tone you can feel from the outset that work their magic on your eyes and brain. Did I mention you also get to see singing ghouls and cannibalism by said ghouls here? Nope? Well, yes indeed you do.
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Random Art: It’s Not Really A Day Off, As I’m Still Breathing…

Inkomplete WIP 

Yuck. Between the cold weather outside, the home being too toasty (hey, at least the heat is on, but yikes, does it get steamy up in here!) and someone who moved back in recently with his nasty smoking habit (who needs to quit before he gets beaten senseless or drops dead himself), I’m a bit under the weather today.

(Thanks, chshaw87!)
 

Well, it’s not THAT bad, but past experience tells me that if I get too occupied with cranking out work when I’m starting to get sick, I usually end up this way in a few days. Anyway, I’m going to go out for a short walk (I ran out of aspirin and need a refill), pop back in to get some resty-rest and be back tomorrow with more intelligent things to say. Have a tree in the meantime.

See you all tomorrow. Or perhaps later if I pop up and feel less froggy and possessed.

TCM Wants To Feed You With Classic Horror & Sci-Fi This Weekend…

Ha! Someone at Turner Classic Movies has a wicked sense of humor, that’s for sure. Granted, I’d still LOVE the job of hosting that Underground feature one of these days (I have a ton of ideas on how to make it sing and soar), but unil then, I’ll deal with the channel doling out its library in its current form. Anyway, FRIDAY night and into early Saturday morning (East Coast time), it’s Soylent Green followed by Night of the Living Dead (a film I really, REALLY need to do a RFotW on, even though it’s been reviewed about a million times or more already). Yeah, I’ve seen both of these many times already, but both are movies that have a way of luring me back in for just one more peek almost any time I find them playing. I bet you’re the same way too, right?

Yeah, I thought so…

Random Film of the Week: Theatre of Blood

Theatre_of_Blood_MPI can recall as a kid really, really wanting to see a third Dr. Phibes movie after enjoying the first two back in the day and being nicely surprised that Theater of Blood is basically Vincent Price back as a similarly maligned character with a lovely female assistant (Diana Rigg) bumping off in some rather offbeat manners those that did him wrong. Granted, Price here plays the wronged Shakspeare quoting actor Edward Kendall Sheridan Lionheart as less determinedly psychotic than Phibes and more of someone who’s otherwise a likable man bullied by his critics to the point he decides to clean up the gene pool a bit.

But beggars can’t be choosers at all, and Douglas Hickox’ great, campy as all get out plus tax film packs in some nice 1970’s blood and chills in about an hour and forty five minutes of running time. Although it’s nowhere as gory as straight up slasher films that would pop onto screens less than ten years later, some of the kills here win awards for creativity and sheer ACME-style setup and payoff moments… Continue reading

The Four Horsemen Have Been Busy @ The Movies For Ages. You Should Be Very Pleased About That.

Four_HorsemenSo, Nick Powell over at The Cinematic Katzenjammer asked for contributors this month to write up a post or do something creative using The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as a starting point and any horror-themed movies that happened to fit one or more of their particular talents. I decided to have a bit of fun picking four films (one for each rider) and pointing to moments in each that to me, define the essence of their namesakes. They’re not all horror films, but if you’re in the right mood you’ll see the horror in parts of them.

Amusingly enough, the devil has gotten his due here as well. ALL of these were done up as Random Film of the Week entries at one point, but three were lost when I misplaced a USB thumb stick with a ton of other fresh content I’d done for the site a few years back when it was on Blogger. One good reason for me doing this post was to kick myself in the butt hard and get on to full rewrites soon of those three.

In addition, I’ll warn you now that the Fifth Horseman (Spoilage!) is on board. So if you haven’t seen any of the four flicks listed here… you’ve been warned in advance. Which is unusual in this day and age, as spoilers usually just spill out and all over you in the oddest of places. Hell, I heard the end of Gravity from you yakky lady babbling like a jerk on her cell phone in a grocery store a few days ago. I wanted to throw a large can of low-sodium black beans at her head, but I’d be typing this from a jail cell and it was the last can of that brand on the shelf and I needed it more than her head needed a two-pound can-sized impression in it.

Anyway, saddle up and get ready to ride (or duck behind something and hope you’re unseen)… we’re off! Continue reading