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Main Entry: exclusion
Definition: expulsion; forbiddance
Synonyms: ban, bar, blackball, blockade, boycott, cut, debarment, debarring, discharge, dismissal, ejection, elimination, embargo, eviction, exception, excommunication, interdict, interdicting, interdiction, keeping out, lockout, nonadmission, occlusion, omission, ostracism, ousting, preclusion, prevention, prohibition, proscription, refusal, rejection, relegation, removal, repudiation, segregation, separation, suspension, veto
Antonyms: acceptance, addition, admittance, allowance, inclusion, incorporation, welcome
send to Coventry, to refuse to associate with; openly and pointedly ignore: His friends sent him to Coventry after he was court-martialed.
People from the music industry that I respect, idolize or just simply appreciate: Ennio Morricone, Amy McDonald, Daan, David Bowie, Therion, Pink Floyd, Leonard Cohen, Alice Cooper, Neil Diamond, Joy Division, Bobby Darin, the Everly Brothers, Bobby Vinton, Gene Pitney, Herman's Hermits, The Hollies, The Animals, The Byrds, Donovan, Vargoth, Drudkh, Behemoth, Triggerfinger, Falkenbach, Finntroll, Einherjer, The Smiths, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, BB King, Ministry, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rufus Wainwright, The Allman Brothers Band, Johnny Cash, Paul Simon, Raymond Lefèvre, Children of Bodom, Volbeat, Elvis Presley, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits, Anathema, Velvet Underground, Norah Jones, Fatboy Slim, Moloko, Angelo Badalmenti, Sarah Brightman, Lady Antebellum, Enigma, Muse, Army of Lovers, Chris Isaak, Lesley Gore, Kasabian, Pearl Jam, dEUS, Mumford & Sons, The Subs, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Cuff the Duke, Pulp, Oscar and the Wolf,
People from the movie industry that I respect, idolize or just simply appreciate: John Saxon, Mario Bava, Joe D'Amato, George Eastman, Darren Lynn Bousman, Boris Karloff, Enzo G. Castellari, Bo Svenson, Fred Williamson, Antonio Margheriti, Klaus Kinski, Lloyd Kaufman, James Gunn, Rob Zombie, Sid Haig, Matthew McGrory, Karen Black, Dennis Fimple, Irwin Keyes, Tom Towles, Bill Moseley, Wolfgang Petersen, Nicol Williamson, Fairuza Balk, Piper Laurie, Philippe Mora, Tom Holland, Ronny Cox, Lucio Fulci, Christopher George, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Catriona MacColl, Fabio Frizzi, Nicolas Cage, Todd Farmer, Tom Atkins, Paul Verhoeven, Kurtwood Smith, Miguel Ferrer, Ray Wise, Stuart Gordon, H.P. Lovecraft, Jeffrey Combs, David Gale, Barbara Crampton, Fernando Di Leo, Joe Dallesandro, Terence Fisher, Anton Diffring, Hazel Court, Christopher Lee, Robert Stevenson, William Girdler, Rebecca De Mornay, Mako, Ti West, Tom Noonan, Mary Woronov, Paul Bartel, David Carradine, Roger Corman, Adrian Hoven, Monte Hellman, Warren Oates, Harry Dean Stanton, Steve Railsback, Ed Begley Jr., Peter Fonda, Nathan Juran, Lionel Jeffries, James Glickenhaus, Ken Wahl, Joaquim de Almeida, Sam Peckinpah, William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Ben Johnson, Edmond O'Brien, Kurt Raab, Helene Cattet & Bruno Forzani, Karl Freund, Peter Lorre, Colin Clive, William Lustig, Joe Spinell, Caroline Munro, Tom Savini, Charles B. Pierce, Robert Wise, Fred Dekker, Fritz Lang, David Hemmings, Michael Ironside, Jan-Michael Vincent, Bette Davis, Joseph Cotten, Agnes Moorehead, Victor Buono, George Kennedy, Charles Bronson, Richard Fleischer, Elmore Leonard, Paul Koslo, Michael Winner, Brian Garfield, Lee Marvin, J. Lee Thompson, Riz Ortolani, Yul Brunner, Eli Wallach, Robert Vaughn, James Coburn, Steve McQueen, Michael Crichton, James Brolin, Mel Brooks, arry Cohen, Michael Moriarty, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Robin Hardy, Edward Woodward, Britt Ekland, Ingrid Pitt, Peter Cushing, Michael Gough, Herbert Lom, Udo Kier, Michael Reeves, Vincent Price, Ian Ogilvy, Dick Maas, Henri-Georges Clouzot, Paul Naschy, Paul Morrissey, Truman Capote, Peter Falk, Alec Guinness, David Niven, Elsa Lanchester, Peter Sellers, Gene Wilder, Patrick McGoohan, Herb Freed, Richard Kiel, John Landis, Tim Curry, Simon Pegg, Jenny Agutter, Frank Oz, Dario Argento, Quentin Tarantino, Everett De Roche, Stacy Keach, Russell Mulcahy, Brian Trenchard-Smith, Donald Pleasence, George Peppard, Simon Wincer, Narciso Ibáñez Serrador, Gary Sherman, Faith Domergue, Alexandre Aja, Ving Rhames, Christopher Lloyd, Eli Roth, Ishirô Honda, Greydon Clark, Cybill Shepherd, Neville Brand, Vincent Schiavelli, Martin Landau, Jack Palance, Alan Rudolph, Jonathan Demme, Pam Grier, Mark L. Lester, Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Kilpatrick, Don Dohler, Everett McGill, Corey Haim, Gary Busey, Jake Busey, Charlton Heston, Lorne Greene, Walter Matthau, Peter Bogdanovich, Woody Allen, John Milius, Franco Nero, Crispin Glover, Dennis Hopper, Dick Miller, Barbara Steele, Armando Crispino, Sergio Grieco, Helmut Berger, Lee Van Cleef, Robert Forster, John Huston, Melvyn Douglas, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., George Miller, Mel Gibson, Robert Rodriguez, George Hilton, Kane Hodder, Michael Madsen, Tony Todd, Nicolas Winding Refn, William Grefe, Cirio H. Santiago , Joe Dante, Don Coscarelli, Angus Schrimm, Tobe Hooper, Tiffany Shepis, Brad Dourif, George P. Cosmatos, John Boorman, Stephen Boyd, Tommy Lee Jones, Rod Steiger, Brian DePalma, Gunnar Hansen, George A. Romero, Simon Boyes, Adam Mason, Jack Arnold, M. Emmet Walsh, James Stewart, Darren McGavin, Kathleen Quinlan, Jack Lemmon, Robert Foxworth, Olivia De Havilland, Michael Pataki, Jerry Stiller, John Carradine, Julian Sands, Freddie Francis, Don Sharp, William Castle, Bill Rebane, John De Bello, Terry O'Quinn, Peter Sykes, Wes Craven, Michael Sarrazin, Lewis Teague, Yaphet Kotto, Sergio Stivaletti, John Phillip Law, Michele Soavi, Umberto Lenzi, Anna Falchi, Lon Chaney, Sergio Martino, Edwige Fenech, Ursula Andress, Michael Sopkiw, Edmund Purdom, Hal Yamanouchi, Barbara Bach, Cameron, Mitchell, Alberto De Martino, Ernesto Gastaldi, Maurizio Merli, John Steiner, Mel Ferrer, Barbara Bouchet, Marty Feldman, Tomas Milian, Bruno Mattei, Lamberto Bava, Luc Merenda, Anita Strindberg, Luigi Pistilli, Ivan Rassimov, Sergio Corbucci, Tito Carpi, David Warbeck, Luciano Pigozzi, Gianfranco Giagni, Florinda Balkan, Rosalba Neri, Mel Welles, Dagmar Lassander, Neil Jordan, Walter Huston, Ray Bradbury, Gregory Peck, Orson Welles, Bert I. Gordon, H.G. Wells, Ida Lupino, Kirk Douglas, David Lynch, Eddie Romero, Bela Lugosi, Al Adamson, Tor Johnson, Edward D. Wood Jr, David Cronenberg, Christopher Walken, Tom Skeritt, Martin Sheen, Dino De Laurentiis, James Wan, Anthonhy Perkins, Curtis Harrington, Julie Harris, Ornella Muti, Ray Lovelock
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La polizia ringrazia (1972)
Fetch a ride on the midnight crime-sightseeing city tour bus!
"La Polizia Ringrazia" is, at first sight, a prototype of an Italian euro-crime/poliziotesschi thriller like there were dozens during the first half of the 1970s. They practically always featured the same recurring themes, like unorthodox coppers, the ever-failing Italian justice system, vigilante squads violently cleansing the streets, corrupt politicians and police superiors, media circuses and liberal newspapers influencing the public opinion. You'd think the audience eventually grew tired of these familiar and continuously recycled themes, but no. Quite the contrary, every Poliziotesschi is unique and, for avid genre fanatics like me, it's almost becoming an obsession to track them all down. "La Polizia Ringrazia" is a downright stellar example of the euro-crime's peak period, complete with a compelling & intelligent script, an intensely raw atmosphere of realism, a few shocking bits of violence, a great soundtrack (Stelvio Cipriani, of course) and brilliantly devoted performances by some of the finest contemporary stars (notably Enrico Maria Salerno, Mario Adorf, Cyril Cusack, ...)
Salerno is truly amazing as the clearly tormented Commissioner Bertone, caught between the frustration of seeing criminals getting released without a proper punishment and the accusations of the press about the police being too violent when making their arrests. Whilst on the case of finding two bank robbers who killed two people during their escape, Salerno is suddenly confronted with another major challenge. A secret group, existing of former policemen and even judges, are hunting down acquitted or fugitive criminals and brutally execute them in true mafia-style. Moral dilemmas aside, Commissioner Bertone must find now the bank robbers before the so-call "clean up squad" does. The material may be familiar, but writer/director Stefano Vanzina (better known as Steno) keeps the levels of suspense, plausibility and originality quite high and steady. I was particularly surprised by this, because Steno is mainly known for his light-headed comedies starring Bud Spencer!
The last thing you can say about "La Polizia Ringrazia" is that it is light-headed! There are a couple of sequences that initially seem very bizarre, but they actually work quite effectively. For example, Commissioner Bertone invites a whole bunch of journalists on a nightly tour bus drive through the city, just to demonstrate how disastrous the crime plague is. The role of Mario Adorf, as the unreliable district attorney, is also quite unusual for this type of film, but the role (and, of course, Adorf's performance) add a great deal of value to an already intelligent film. "La Polizia Ringrazia" is far from being the most explicitly violent Poliziotesschi, but several scenes are nevertheless immensely brutal and gritty. The clean-up squad's cold-blooded executions, for instance, and especially the horrendous fate of a poor woman who's taken hostage and eventually thrown off a driving vehicle. It's the second time in a short period that I've seen such a similarly shocking death, the other movie being "La Legge Violenta della Squadra Anticrimine", starring John Saxon and J. Lee Cob. And no, it's not recycled footage, as I know the Italians were infamous for that.
Ah, the old trick with the self-playing piano! Does anyone still fall for that?
The absolute most positive comment I can write about "Dominique" is that director Michael Anderson and his entire cast & crew remained 100% faithful to their initial intention of making an old-fashioned convoluted and atmosphere-driven "vengeance-from-beyond-the-grave" mystery thriller/horror. "Dominique" undeniably relies on plot clichés, stereotype characters and predictable jump-scares, but somehow it still stands as a respectable and potent semi-classic of the late 70s, and (correct me if I'm wrong) no true horror fanatic would ever criticize it entirely.
It's quite easy to list all the minor and less minor defaults of this production. Heck, I'm also guilty of jokingly referring to the title as "Dominique is Dull" instead of "Dominique is Dead". The pacing is incredibly slow, often on the verge of comatose even. Almost a third of the footage easily could have been cut as well, notably all Cliff Robertson's snail-paced trips through the corridor and down to the greenhouse to check whether or not his supposedly dead wife is bungling from the ceiling. Most of the supernatural gimmicks and tension builders are pretty weak and transparent (especially the self-playing piano) and the denouement honestly is quite easy to foretell, even if you haven't seen "Diabolique" and its four dozen of inferior imitations.
And yet ... it's utmost admirable, I think, that "Dominique" stubbornly and wholeheartedly persists in trying to disquiet you with minimal resources. Contrary to many other, similarly themed films, this one didn't cause me to go eye-rolling or hit the fast-forward button. A handful of sequences really are effectively uncanny, like the arrogant husband suddenly getting confronted with his own date of death on a tombstone, and some sub plots really are clever, like what's the dubious role of the doctor. It also helps, of course, that the cast exclusively contains extremely professional and experienced names. Cliff Robertson is terrific, and he receives qualitative support from Jenny Agutter, Simon Ward, Jean Simmons and even that lovely elderly Flora Robson. "Dominique" may be routine horror guff, but I daresay that I'm proud to have it in my collection nonetheless!
A Shot in the Dark (1964)
Terrific comedy, mediocre whodunit
History always repeats itself. When I was young, my father was a big fan of the "Pink Panther" film series, and I remember how I loved sitting next to him for those hilarious animated opening sequences, but couldn't be bothered with the rest of the film. Last weekend when "A Shot in the Dark" came on television, my own 10-year-old son was also delighted with the animated footage, but then voluntarily asked to go to bed because he was disappointed that the rest of the film was with "real" people. Whether you are 10, 40 or 80 years of age, I guess the animated credit sequences of "The Pink Panther" remain timeless and brilliant (even if, like in this case, the animation doesn't even feature the famous theme song and iconic cartoon panther).
Same as me 30 years ago, my own son is still too young to appreciate that the rest of "A Shot in the Dark" is also marvelous comedy-material! Peter Sellers guarantees non-stop chuckles and hilarious laughter as the clumsy and incompetent Parisian police inspector Jacques Clouseau, and the genius lies within the fact that he (as well as his co-stars) remain dead serious and straight-faced regardless what mayhem he unwarily causes around him. In "A Shot in the Dark", surprisingly co-written by none other than William Peter Blatty (author of "The Exorcist"), Clouseau is sent for when a murder occurs in the fancy estate of millionaire Mr. Benjamin Ballon. During the fantastically convoluted pre-credits opening sequence, we are already made clear this is a household full of affairs, betrayal and dangerous liaisons, though. The chauffeur has been shot four times in the chest, and the chambermaid Maria Gambrelli is undoubtedly the culprit because she stood over his dead body with the murder weapon in her hand. When Clouseau sees her, however, he promptly falls in love with her and does whatever it takes to prove her innocence.
"A Shot in the Dark" is, hands down, one of the funniest comedies I've ever seen. The comical highlights are almost too numerous to list, like the game of pool between Inspector Clouseau and Mr. Ballon, the trip to the nudist colony, Clouseau's unsuccessful attempts to shadow Maria whilst undercover, the increasing nervous tics of Commissioner Dreyfus or the collateral damage piling up during Clouseau and Maria's night on the town. I must admit, however, that I secretly also hoped for the actual whodunit plot to be better and more engaging. This film is somewhat the complete opposite of the contemporary Agatha Christie adaptations featuring Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple. In those films, the aspired comedy isn't so great, but the denouements are vintage Agatha Christie greatness, whereas in "A Shot in the Dark", the comedy elements are impeccable, but the end revelation is rather disappointing. You can't have it all, I guess...
The Shallows (2016)
O-oh, digital shark attack!
Without over-engineering things, let's roughly assume there exist four categories of shark movies. Steven Spielberg's 1975 hit "Jaws" forms a league of its own; - there's hardly any discussion there. The second category, admittedly a guilty-pleasure group of mine, contains all those delightful knock-offs of the late '70s and 80s, like "Great White", "Mako: The Jaws of Death", "Tintorera!", "Cyclone" and even the official "Jaws" sequels. I'll skip the third category for a moment and simply state clear - for the record - that the fourth and final category exclusively contains the numerous dim-witted and infuriatingly horrendous OTT shark-comedies (like "Sharknado", "2-Headed Shark Attack", "Avalanche Sharks", "Sand Sharks", ...)
Coming back to the third category, this one contains, in my humble opinion the "Yeah... but no" efforts. I'm convinced these shark movies were made with the best of intentions, and most of them even are even enjoyable to watch, but none of them hold any potential to ever became great genre classics. There are plenty of titles here as well, like "Shark Night", "The Reef", "The Meg", "Open Water", "Bait", "Dark Tide", "Red Water", and I'm even willing to include "Deep Blue See" and "Shark Attack". Even though it received several good reviews and a relatively high score here on IMDb, "The Shallows" pretty much also sits in this category.
"The Shallows" is a so-called minimalist thriller, meaning it has a very small number of characters and a straightforward plot that can be summarized in one sentence. Nancy, a medicine student struggling with the choices for her future, has finally found the secluded Mexican beach where her beloved late mother went to surf. When night falls, she accidentally disturbs a great white shark during his whale carcass buffet and the massive animal promptly attacks her. With a severe leg injury, Nancy is trapped on a rock, barely 200 yards removed from a safe beach she cannot reach. Blake Lively's performance is forceful and director Jaume Collet-Serra ("Orphan") establishes a handful of notably intense and atmospheric moments. Unfortunately, the entire production is rather, well, shallow itself. Nobody would ever doubt if Nancy survives the ordeal, whereas the Mexican surfer machos are guaranteed to become shark snacks. The predictability of the plot is still acceptable, but it's most regretful that every special effect (the shark, the whale, the jellyfish, ...) is computer engineered again.
Le procès (1962)
Frustrating enough to drive a perfectly sane person utterly INSANE!
The easiest thing to do when writing a review for a movie like this, I guess, is to lie... Lie about how I was mesmerized by the intelligence of the screenplay, lie about how a such a film stimulates all my senses simultaneously, and lie about how it was - hands down - one of the greatest cinematic experiences of my entire life. The honest truth, however, is that watching "The Trial" meant surviving the most frustrating and infuriating two hours of my life! I hate when a film makes me feel dumb, and "The Trial" made me feel utterly stupid! I'm not the world's biggest intellectual, but I don't consider myself dumb, neither, and certainly not when it comes to film. There were reasons enough for me to watch "The Trial". I'm a giant admirer of German expressionist cinema, to which the film brings tribute. I have a weakness for several people in the cast, including Anthony Perkins (who did so much more in his career than star in "Psycho") and Romy Schneider (who truly was one of the most versatile actresses in contemporary Europe). Most of all, I have tremendous and endless respect for Orson Welles, who directed and/or starred in many of the most influential and original movies in history. I actually can't write anything negative about the film itself. The performances are impeccable, the direction is tight, and the sets & scenery are often stunning. What I most definitely can say, though, is that the oeuvre of the notorious Franz Kafka isn't for me... You can state that it's abstract, intellectually challenging and surreal, but for 99% of this planet's population, it's just impossible, implausible and incomprehensible nonsense.
Pet Sematary (2019)
That darn, undead cat!
Yours truly often thinks that Stephen King is overhyped and undeservedly praised, but I'm also not too hypocrite to reckon that some of his work resulted in the finest horror movie milestones ever; - especially during the 1970s and 1980s. The original "Pet Sematary" perhaps wasn't on par with the absolute best (like "Carrie", "The Dead Zone" or "Misery") but it still stands as one of his more superior efforts, notably also because King adapted the novel into a screenplay himself. Heck, for what it's worth, I'll always have a weakness for Mary Lambert's version "Pet Sematary" simply because it instantly causes the magnificent song by The Ramones to pop up in my head!
With King's popularity exaggeratedly booming again in recent years (thank you, new version of "It"), another update of the modest "Pet Sematary" was as good as inevitable. Although they hardly ever have an added value, I'm not principally against remakes/re-interpretations and thus approached the 2019 version with an open mindset. The film by upcoming young directors Kölsch & Widmyer ("Starry Eyes") is an entertaining time-waster with an admirably bleak and uncanny atmosphere, as well as a few effective shock-moments and strong performances, but I doubt it'll ever turn up in any "best horror movies" lists in the longer term. The story is still creepy and captivating after nearly 40 years. Most of the story, at least, since personally I never thought the sub plot of the wife's recurring nightmares about her nasty and crippled sister was very plausible. The menace coming from the ancient and mystical burial grounds, and the violent danger coming from the speeding heavyweight trucks, on the other hand, are very real and tangible in this film version!
The rational Dr. Louis Creed moves with his family from Boston to rural Maine, hoping to settle in a quiet and peaceful community. In their backyard, however, they find a grisly burial place for neighborhood pets and the roadside is even grislier, with massive trucks thundering by non-stop. When the family cat Church - short for Churchill - becomes the victim of such a road warrior, friendly old neighbor Jud (the always reliable John Lithgow) is so worried about breaking the heart of 9-year-old daughter Ellie that he takes Louis and the dead cat to a piece of land beyond the pet cemetery. A place where inexplicably supernatural things happen to dead bodies when you bury them here. But Jud should have known better... The resurrected Church isn't the same joyful fluffy cat anymore and, moreover, she indirectly even causes for a much bigger tragedy to overcome the Creed family.
Kölsch and Widmyer undeniably have talent and skills. They are effortlessly capable of making you accept a few drastic changes to the original story and simultaneously keep the 40-year-old and well-known story suspenseful. Several sequences, notably Louis and Jud's nightly excursion to the burial ground and the sudden apparitions of traffic victim Victor Pascow, are tremendously atmospheric. The finale is somewhat gratuitously violent and grotesque, but I don't think any horror fans will complain about that. In the end, "Pet Sematary" largely delivers the shocks and scares that it promises, and the film establishes once again what I already learned from numerous other Stephen King adaptations: don't ever settle in Maine!
The Rezort (2015)
Haven't you learned anything from the great, late Michael Crichton?
"The Rezort" is one of those movies of which you knew for certain they would be made sooner or later. In fact, it's surprising that it even took until 2015, what with the overload of zombie movies during the past decade and a half, and the oh-so-obvious plot outline of hunting them for sports. The pitch of this film is unarguably one the least original ever. Hunting down and killing other human beings for fun & games is one of the oldest and most copied premises in cinematic history. The magnificent classic "The Most Dangerous Game" already did it in 1933, although admittedly the preys weren't undead back then. Then, 40 years later, the almighty author Michael Crichton invented the ingenious concept of "theme park terror", first with "Westworld" (1973) and then with the commercial mastodon "Jurassic Park" (1993). Put these two gimmicks into a blender and the soup you'll get is "The Rezort"; - an isolated holiday island where, now that the global zombie epidemic is under control since a few years, people pay big sums of money to shoot zombies in the face, but still remain comfortably ensured the monsters cannot attack back thanks to hi-tech safety precautions and strictly controlled perimeters. But, of course, if Michael Crichton taught us just one thing, it is exactly that technology will turn against us.
I don't necessarily mind that the overall outlines of the plot are derivative, but it's most unfortunate that everything else is so damn cliched, predictable and shamelessly mundane as well! Writer Paul Gerstenberger and director Steve Barker add absolutely nothing creative or even remotely fresh, and thus "The ReZort" ends up being one of the dullest and most uninspired entries in the zombie genre, and I personally hate those even more than all those lame and tasteless zombie comedy/slapstick flicks. You can easily foretell the lead characters' profile types without even seeing the movie. All stereotypes are here: the stone-cold business woman, the silent & mysterious battle expert, the empty-headed but trigger-happy gamers, the innocent girl with a trauma to process, the cowardly boyfriend and the ignorant zombie liberation activist. The supposedly shocking end-twist is so evident you'll be rolling your eyes; - of course the greedy corporate executives are ten times more monstrous than the zombies, duh! The massacres and zombie-transformations are miserable CGI effects that neither frighten nor repulse, and Steve Barker doesn't undertake the slightest effort to generate suspense or make you sympathize with any of the characters. If I really do have to mention a positive note, I'll admit that the island's filming locations look very nice.
Nightmare Circus (1974)
Oh Andre, you're such a big "animal" lover!
The people who made these raw and gritty 70s exploitation movies were a strange bunch. Lead actor Andrew Prine, for instance, indicated that "Terror Circus" was the only film he ever regretted making. And yet, he starred in equally odd and shlocky titles ("The Centerfold Girls", "Simon King of the Witches"), as well as in trashy guff that is far inferior than this film ("Crypt of the Living Dead", "Eliminators"). The people who watch these raw and gritty 70s exploitation movies are possibly an even stranger bunch, though! The majority of reviews I encountered on "Terror Circus" are negative and severe, but I honestly can't fathom why...
As far as I'm concerned, this is one of the most enjoyably straightforward efforts if rancid 70s exploitation is what you seek. Of course it's cheap, misogynic and repulsive, but you only have yourself to blame if you take offense to that. "Terror Circus" is the tale of the young and handsome, but deeply disturbed, Andre who rescues women that are stranded in the Nevada desert (usually because they got lost on their way to Las Vegas), but then subsequently chains and treats them like animals, and trains them to perform as acts in his imaginary circus show! One of the three girls that he captured recently happens to look a lot like the mother who abandoned him when he was still a boy, so Andre becomes even more obsessed with the idea of proving to her that he's a capable circus ringleader. Oh, and if you think Andre is a monster, just wait until you meet his father who lives in a minuscule tool shed in the garden! By the way, did I mention that the US Military uses these parts of the Nevada desert for nuclear bomb testing? See, what's there to complain? "Terror Circus" has everything: a psychotic protagonist with a mommy-obsession, beautiful girls in chains being whipped, bloodthirsty redneck freaks and a delightfully cheesy country soundtrack! Naturally the script is full of goofs and improbabilities. How to explain that Andre behaves like a perfectly reasonable man when he saves the girls, but then transforms into a total nutcase who genuinely believes these women are circus animals? Also, how unlikely is it that the Sheriff never bother to check out the only inhabited farm in the entire desert despite all the missing person cases. "Oh, people get lost all the time around here". There, case closed. But hey, plot holes and continuity errors only make grindhouse better. "Terror Circus" is never boring, the performances of Andrew Prine and most of his female victims are more than adequate, the script at least attempts to insert suspense and plot twists and the finale is fantastically deranged!
Or perhaps certain folks are angry and disappointed because the most prominently used title ("Barn of the Naked Dead") promises sleaze and nudity that the film largely fails to deliver. Well, first of all, misleading titles are the most common thing in the world in the cult cinema industry. You must accept that the producers did everything they could to attract more viewers. Secondly, however, the lack of bare female flesh is really justified in this case. The fact that these women remain clothed and don't get repeatedly raped by their captor only epitomizes that Andre genuinely considers them to be dangerous animals instead of defenseless women.
The Black Room (1982)
So long, kids! Mommy and daddy are off to play kinky and adulterous sex-games!
Well, if nothing else, "The Black Room" at least deserves a few extra points for originality! In an era where most American horror were derivative and tepid slasher knock-offs, this film comes with a totally creative and unique (albeit utterly grotesque) storyline that is certainly trashier, sleazier and nastier than all those dull slashers. The protagonist of "The Black Room", a seemingly average middle-class guy named Larry, is a heroic role-model for all of use horny males! Dig this: because his sex life with his wife Robyn suffers from routine boredom and children always interrupting at the exact wrong moment, Larry invents a fantasy place - the black room - where he satisfies his sexual need with other women. He shares his lewd fantasies with Robyn in order to excite her, but Larry actually also does rent such a room for real! He picks up horny students and prostitutes like it's the most normal thing in the world and takes them to his secret for sweet-loving, while later that same night in the marital bed his wife whisper: "Tell me again about the black room, honey". Ha! Larry is awesome! What he doesn't know, however, is that the proprietors of the room, a very seductive brother and sister, are sick psychos that murder the lust objects in the black room and transfuse their blood into the brother's body because he supposedly has a rare blood disease! "The Black Room" obviously isn't an Award-winning masterpiece, but it sure is a compelling, unpredictable and darn hot 80s horror oddity! When Robyn discovers Larry's deceitful little secret, and plots her revenge together with houseowner Jason, the film resembles more of an early 70s European sexploitation movie rather than an 80s US horror flick; - especially with that randomly bonkers vampire twist-ending! He may only have made less than a handful of films, but the least you can say about writer and (co-) director Norman Thaddeus Vane is that he tried different things (see also "Frightmare" that was released one year later). Beautiful people in this film as well, both males and females. It's one of the earliest films of Christopher MacDonald and Linnea Quigley never looked prettier in her life.
This spaghetti could have used more Tabasco hot-sauce!
Another unofficial "Django" sequel, with yet another Franco Nero lookalike reprising the role of the silent but deadly gunslinger. It's practically impossible to inventory all the Django spaghetti westerns that were made in a relatively short time span, so it's advisable to restrict yourself to the really good ones. I'm still in doubt whether or not "10,000 Dollars for a Massacre" deserves to be labeled as a good one, though. The film knows a handful of genuinely powerful moments, and the atmosphere is overall very grim and melancholic, but on the other hand the plot is also quite mundane, and I was missing the truly raw & filthy aspects that I so desperately seek in Italian westerns. It's difficult to explain, but my absolute favorite westerns (like "And God said to Cain", "Bandidos", The Big Gundown", ...) have a few things extra that make them unique. In fact, the greatest spaghetti westerns are the ones that make you want to take a shower immediately after viewing them, simply because you can literally also feel the dirt and sweat on the protagonists' faces and necks. "10,000 Dollars for a Massacre" didn't have this effect, but let's not be too skeptical, as all the mandatory ingredients are nevertheless well represented: an unscrupulous and merciless villain, numerous violent shootouts, blood feuds, hostages buried up to their necks in hot desert sand, and poker games that end with killing the cheater who hid extra cards up his sleeve. Bounty hunter Django goes after the ruthless criminal Manuel Vasquez who kidnapped a rich landowner's daughter; - initially for the large reward, but naturally the hunt becomes personal when nasty Manual also kills the dame with whom Django was planning to retire in San Francisco. It's an interesting movie for cult fanatics who are somewhat familiar with the eminent names of the Italian film industry, since "10,000 Dollars for a Massacre" is directed by Romolo Guerrieri, with Sergio Martino as his assistant. Luciano Martino produced and the multi-talented Ernesto Gastaldi is listed as one of the scriptwriters.
Psycho Beach Party (2000)
So incredibly hilarious!
"Psycho Beach Part" is positively the biggest pleasant surprise I've encountered in a long, long time! It's a clever, refreshingly original and downright hilarious horror spoof, and I honestly cannot fathom why this film isn't more widely known or acclaimed among genre fanatics! Well, I do know, in fact. It's probably unsung and still obscure because it's a spoof of a particular type of low-budgeted 60s horror, and not a whole lot of people are familiar with this sub-genre, let alone with its typical trademarks that include spontaneous dancing contests, drive-in theater settings, super-cheesy special effects and lewd teenagers in flamboyant beach outfits. But, I swear, if you've seen - cough, cough - "classics" like "Village of the Giants" or "The Horror of Party Beach", you will genuinely feel yourself catapulted back to the swinging sixties thanks to this wondrous gem!
What makes "Psycho Beach Party" so fantastic? It's a perfect combination of everything, really. The story is goofy but nonetheless still compelling, offering a neat whodunit angle, and every single character of the extended cast is an extravagant and colorful persona. The script contains some of the, hands down, funniest one-liners and dialogues I've ever heard in a parody, and the ambience is just indescribable. The exaggeratedly phony sets and effects are also a hoot, for instance the surfing footage. Unpopular girl Florence desperately wants to be a part of the secluded all-boys surfing crowd, but her gentle nature and nerdy reputation prevents her from being accepted. But when Florence sees circles, she gets hypnotized and her aggressive and foul-mouthed alter ego Ann Bowman takes over. Meanwhile, there's a psychopathic killer on the loose and he - or she - preys on victims with a disablement. The transvestite sheriff Monica Stark (played by writer Charles Busch himself) has his/her hands full with eliminating all the potential culprits, including Florence, but also her overbearing mother Ruth, the incognito B-movie actress Bettina Barnes, surf-king Kanaka and popular jock Starcat. People that keep referring to "Scream" or "Scary Movie" as the only good horror parodies are so boring! Myself, I have a fondness for obscure gems like "Student Bodies", "Whacko", "Pandemonium", "Transylvania Twist", "Class Reunion" and, of course, as per now "Psycho Beach Party" as well. I can't count the number of times I had to rewind the film because I was laughing so hard that I missed the next sequences. I could continue with listing two more pages full of quotes, anecdotes and particularities, but you get the message: this film is a must-see!
Los mil ojos del asesino (1973)
I have important information for you. Meet me at a secret place where I will get murdered before I can tell you anything!
The splendid but totally irrelevant title leads you to suspect that "Killer with a Thousand Eyes" is a giallo, but it's not. It's a euro crime/thriller. It's a Spanish/Italian co-production almost entirely filmed in Portugal, and I generally always love these European potpourris full of excessive violence, sleaze and testosterone-laden macho actors. "Killer with a Thousand Eyes" is an enjoyable effort as well, but nearly not the best of its type. There's plenty of action and quite an enormous body count, but the plot is very standard and full of cliched situations. A typical example is how the lead hero (giallo/western regular Anthony Steffen) continuously runs into people that have crucial information for him, but when they are about to reveal it, they are killed from a distance by an unseen assailant. This trick occurs in practically every euro-thriller, but no less than four times here, as if the writer/director Juan Bosch didn't have a whole lot of inspiration. Tough London Interpol agent Steffen is in Lisbon to investigate the murder of a fellow agent, and he discovers that his late colleague was on the verge of uncovering a wide smuggling and drug-trafficking network; - naturally with some very eminent people involved. Anthony Steffen wasn't a great actor, but this role fitted him well and he even looked a bit like Christopher Walken when he was younger. It's an overall mediocre movie, but there are a few nicely grisly murders, a decent soundtrack and a handful of lovely scenic images of Lisbon (including a car chase on the famous 25th of April Bridge)
Legend of the Werewolf (1975)
Adopted by wolves, raised in a traveling freakshow and employed in a zoo... Who wouldn't turn into a savage beast under those conditions?
Hammer undoubtedly ruled the horror industry during the sixties & seventies, but there were several other production studios that released a couple of noteworthy gems, particularly Amicus ("The House that Dripped Blood", "Tales from the Crypt", "The Beast Must Die") and Tigon ("The Witchfinder General", "Blood on Satan's Claw", "The Creeping Flesh"). Tyburn was another very modest and rather anonymous studio, but they did manage to contract both director Freddie Francis and veteran actor Peter Cushing for their fairly original, suitably violent and delightfully raunchy lycanthrope tale "Legend of the Werewolf". The always-reliable and fantastic Sir Cushing has a lovely role as cynical police surgeon, but his distinct voice also serves for the narration of the atmospheric opening sequences. The titular "Legend" is that of a young infant whose parents are devoured by a pack of wolves but then raised by the same animals. When he's about 7, the boy is captured by a travelling freakshow and exploited as the main attraction in a cage. But upon the first full moon after his 18th birthday, he transforms into a werewolf for the first time, kills a man and is forced to run off again. He ends up in the sleazier part of Paris where he sneaks into a zoo and connects with the wolves there. The sleazy and drunk caretaker (a fabulous performance by Ron Moody) takes him in and offers him shelter and a job, but he cannot control his savage nature. When the moon is full, he prowls the streets and sewers and particularly targets the clients of his beloved cabaret girl Christine. "Legend of the Werewolf" is engaging 70s horror with a raw atmosphere and gruesome make-up effects, as well as a large dose of dry and wit British humor; - mainly provided by Cushing when he's performing autopsies, or Moody when he's trying to score free drinks.
The Spider's Web (1960)
For diehard Agatha Christie fans only? Well, I am one!
Once, long before I actually saw the film, I read a review which stated that "The Spider's Web" is so bad that only die-hard Agatha Christie fans would be able to somewhat enjoy it. Yeah, well, I happen to be a die-hard Christie fan and I didn't just "somewhat enjoyed" it; - I loved it! Besides, whoever wrote that dumb review must have been a real sourpuss, because even objectively speaking, I think that "The Spider's Web" is excellent entertainment for various types of audiences. It's a light-headed and comical murder mystery with spirited performances, nice scenery and decors (albeit limited because it's an adaptation of a stage play), ingenious plot twists and a memorable climax. In terms of atmosphere and narrative style, "The Spider's Web" is quite similar to the contemporary Miss Marple film series starring Margaret Rutherford ("Murder She Said", "Murder at the Gallop", "Murder Ahoy" and "Murder Most Foul"). If you liked those, there's a strong chance you will also very much love "The Spider's Web". Glynis Johns Gives a delightfully energetic performance as the hectic housewife Clarissa Hailsham-Brown, trying to cover up a murder in order to safeguard her household and even persuading three sophisticated gentlemen to sabotage the police investigation. Another woman, Cicily Courtneidge, is also outstanding as the intrusive and non-stop talkative gardener Mrs. Peake. True, I may be biased, because I worship Agatha Christie and firmly believe she was the greatest fiction writer in history, but regardless of that, "The Spider's Web" is a fun flick; - period!
Gli esecutori (1976)
From Sicily with Love (and a cross full of heroin)
Back in the 70s everything was possible; - just ask Sir Roger Moore! Shooting a down & dirty Italian mafia/gangster exploitation thriller in between two major James Bond productions? Sure, why not! In "Street People", the über-British Moore supposedly plays a half-Sicilian counsellor based in San Francisco. If you can believe that, the rest of the overly silly, far-fetched and pointlessly convoluted plot shouldn't be too difficult to accept, neither. The opening sequences are impressive, for certain. In the San Franciscan harbor, a massive Jesus' cross arrives in a container from Sicily. It's a gift to the local church, by the former mafia don Salvatore Francesco, but it turns out the hollowed cross was stuffed with heroin and three innocent harbor workers were killed during unloading. Furious over the accusation that the supposedly unaware Salvatore abuses the church to smuggle drugs into America, he assigns his nephew Ulisse to investigate who organized the drug-transport. Ulisse, at his turn, calls in the help of his buddy Charlie, who's a totally reckless and unscrupulous race car driver and thrill seeker. During their search, many double-crossings and nasty family secrets come to the surface, though.
The script of "Street People" (aka "The Man from the Organization" and about half a dozen other alternate titles) seriously lacks structure and coherence, but it also contains many clever little ideas and a handful of near-genius action sequences. I agree with what most reviewers mentioned already, namely that Stacy Keach steals the show as the pleasantly deranged Charlie. The "test drive" scene is unforgettable and there's another very spectacular and insane chase sequence with colossal trucks towards the climax. During this chase, you can clearly spot that the stunt drivers don't nearly resemble Roger Moore and Stacy Keach, but who cares? The flashback footage to Sicily in the 1930s is so exaggeratedly melodramatic, due to the slow-motion filming and the harrowing music, that it almost becomes hilarious!
Without Warning! (1952)
CSI in the early fifties!
Like most people, probably, I had never heard about "Without Warning!" before, but it's a surprisingly tense and bleakly atmospheric mixture between film-noir and drama. The plot follows both a frustrated serial killer, who scouts for lurid blond women in sleazy Hollywood bars, and the police inspectors that are trying to catch him via profiling and the little pieces of forensic evidence that he leaves behind at each crime scene. I'm certainly not an expert of CSI-cinema, but since this film was released in 1952 already, it simply must be one of the earliest productions to make use of advanced & specialized researching techniques. The story of crazed killer Carl Martin is quite an unsettling one. With his good manners, baby-faced appearance and admirable job as a city gardener, he's the last person one would suspect to be a homicidal maniac. But at the beginning of each month, right after he cashed in his paycheck and can afford to dress up nicely and offer drinks to ladies, he prowls for pretty blonds that resemble his unfaithful ex-wife and lures them to remote places to stab them with his gardening shears. Police lieutenants Hamilton and Wade quickly figure out his patterns and profile, but can they arrest Martin before he unleashes his angers again on the innocent store owner's daughter Jane? Perhaps the film could have done without the redundant and overly dramatic voiceover guidance, but director Arnold Laven ("The Monster that Challenged the World") maintains a steady pace as well as a good balance between serial killer suspense and intriguing police work. The escape of Carl Martin following the murder of the stunningly hot nameless victim (Angela Stevens) that almost went wrong, as well as the entire finale up in the Hollywood hills, are genuinely exhilarating; - especially taking into consideration "Without Warning!" is a low-budgeted B-movie.
I'd like to report myself as a victim of this hapless horror flick...
The only remotely intriguing thing about this terrible dud is that, on my bootleg DVD-copy at least, the film starts off with the bloody murders of no less than three young girls, but they are seemingly irrelevant to the rest of the plot and remain unexplained. One girl has an ax planted in her head, another one is sliced up naked in her bed, and the third one gets stabbed in the back by a guy dressed up as an old lady. The killer gets apprehended, but none of these events are ever brought up again throughout the entire film; - very weird. Not that it gets any better, though. Quite the contrary, "Victims!" looks like a typical 80s slasher, but in fact it's more of an overdue and insignificant rape & revenge thriller (like they made many in the 70s). Four free-spirited and deliberately provocative teen girls head out for a weekend in the desert mountains, supposedly for a school project but naturally they are more occupied with parading half-naked in front of gas station attendants and skinny dipping. The four girls encounter two thugs who are hiding because they committed a bank robbery, so I reckon you know what happens next? "Victims!" is extremely unoriginal and boring, boring, boring. The film only lasts 75 minutes, including the random footage at the beginning, but still it outstays its welcome. The abuse of the girls isn't shocking or harrowing, like it was the case in the classics of the seventies ("Last House on the Left", "I Spit on your Grave", "House on the Edge of the Park", ...) and the revenge part is even more tame and pitiable.
The House in Nightmare Park (1973)
This house ... is a Madhouse!
I've seen some crazy films with absurdly far-fetched storylines in my days, but I can safely state that "The House in Nightmare Park" has one of the most bonkers and wickedly convoluted scripts I ever beheld. Well, actually, I'm not sure there even was a script! It looks as if the film may be adapted from a stage play but, I swear, it often feels as if the plot simply got improvised as they went along! Don't get me wrong, though, it's a hugely entertaining and immensely creative hybrid between whodunit-mystery, comedy and horror, but it's practically impossible to write a half-decent synopsis! The titular house is the gathering place for four siblings that are awaiting the death of their oldest brother Victor and greedily look forward to the inheritance. The patriarch Stewart (the fantastic and versatile Ray Milland) hired the clumsy but good-hearted stage actor Foster Twelvetrees; - supposedly to provide some distracting amusement during the evenings, but it's quite evident that Twelvetrees got lured to the house for other and much more macabre reasons! Absolutely nothing or nobody in this house is even remotely normal. The silent and grumpy sister nurtures an impressive collection of killer snakes in the basement, the entire family performs in genuinely spooky dance/sing-along acts and their hatchet-wielding old hag of a mother is locked away in the highest attic! The gags and comical aspects nearly don't always work, but when they do "The House in Nightmare Park" is downright laugh-out-loud funny. I'm personally not very familiar with lead actor Frankie Howerd, who resembles Albert Finney but with goofier grimaces, but he's good and carries the film rather well. The patience of horror fanatics is tested for quite long, but when the first murder occurs the rest quickly follows. The biggest trump of "The House of Nightmare Park" is definitely its originality. The plot is full of surprising and ingenious twists, like the final one, for example! The ending is truly one of the most mischievously joyful ones I've ever seen.
And starring Klaus Kinski as the silent spectator...
Apart from featuring Klaus Kinski's name prominently on the DVD-cover, "Lifespan" also caught my attention because there were a lot of Dutch-sounding names in the cast. Indeed so, this bizarre cult co-production entirely takes place in the beautiful city of Amsterdam and the makers admirably took the effort to cast local actors and actresses for the supportive roles. It's a derivative and slow, but nevertheless compelling Sci-Fi/thriller about science's eternal quest for immortality. The ambitious American student Ben Land enrolls into the University of Amsterdam, eager to learn from his idol, Dr. Paul Linden, who allegedly stands on the verge of a medical breakthrough regarding prolonging human life. One day after Land's arrival, however, he finds Linden hanging in a noose from the ceiling (funny how the last thing he said to Land was: "tomorrow I'll be tied up"). With the support of the Dean, the brilliant and stubborn young student deep-dives into Linden's research and discovers successful results on lab mice and dubious experiments in old folks' homes. He also takes over the relationship with Linden's stunningly beautiful mistress Anna and learns about the connection with a mysterious Swiss pharmacist. "Lifespan" is tense and absorbing, but it seriously suffers from a lack of action, and particularly fans of horror & gore will be sorely disappointed! The film was released under the Mondo Macabro label but, like with "Crazy Love", I don't feel it really belongs among the other titles there. As for Klaus Kinski, this was clearly just another easy paycheck for him to cash in. Throughout half of the film, he only stands around and observes Ben Land from a distance. Later on, his role is slightly more extended, and he even gets to fondle ...'s beautiful naked body whilst wearing an antique death mask! You're the man, Klaus!
Crack in the World (1965)
Honey, I Screwed Up the Planet!
The mighty Leonard Cohen sung: "There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in". But his beautiful anthem was one of hope, whereas the titular crack of this film represents the greatest disaster imaginable, and possible the end of the world as we know it! "A Crack in the World" is a disaster movie that predates the Irwin Allen era. In other words, it's not a massively budgeted epos that features a long list of Hollywood stars and thrives on special effects and set-pieces, but more of an intelligently scripted and rather talky drama with genuine suspense and plausible plot twists. Brilliant scientist Stephen Sorenson (Dana Andrews) suffers from a terminal illness, but refuses to tell anyone in order to complete his prestigious and ambitious life's work, namely providing the world with never-ending energy sources that are coming directly from magma of the earth's core. To bring the magma to the surface, his team launches a missile straight to the center of the earth, but like his much younger and more handsome colleague Ted predicted, the missile causes a crack in the world, and consequently earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tidal waves, tsunamis and approximately 38.000 human casualties in one day! "Crack in the World" surely isn't the most exhilarating Sci-Fi/Action movie of the sixties, but the story is hugely absorbing and the scientist roles are very well-acted. After a very theoretical first hour, there's quite a lot of action. They even drop nuclear bombs into active volcanos and hundreds of poor souls fall to their deaths when a ramshackle train bridge collapses.
Sex Freaks (1974)
Oh sure, it's a "documentary"... Ha!
I'm sure the makers of "Sex Freaks" desperately wanted to believe themselves that they were working on an educational documentary, but it's abundantly clear that the only real intention of M.C. Von Hellen was to show explicit and gratuitous pornography in whatever format or context. The film supposedly enlightens us about all possible sort of deviant and nonstandard sexual preferences going from harmless and individual (masturbation, doll-fetishes, ...) over to playful with consent (sex tourism, role plays, sex in public places, group orgies, ...) towards obscene and downright harmful to others (voyeurism, S/M, rape, ...). But whatever the taboo subject or fetish is, it always comes down to the close-up depiction of male and female genitalia, fellatio and penetration. I don't mind, of course, but it's really funny how the stern male voiceover tries to sound wise and explanatory while it's basically just a series of dirty movie clips. Well, I'm not too ashamed to admit that I regularly watch pornography - alone as well as together with my wife - and I always find it a relief to find "real" men and women in the films of the seventies and eighties. With that, I specifically refer to girls with natural curves and breasts in normal proportions, opposed to the fake plastic and fully shaven women that reign the adult industry nowadays.
Too bad, however, that the "documentary" somewhat feeds the loathsome so-called rape-fantasies and doesn't make a harsher statement against degenerating behavior towards women. "Girls dressed in skimpy outfits are begging for it" and "Go along with the assailant and give him what he wants" are not exactly the correct messages to pass on to a largely male-orientated audience.
Arabella l'angelo nero (1989)
Those crazy and perverted, but oh-so-awesome, Italians!
They often say the greatest Gialli (excessively violent Italian murder mysteries) were only produced during the early 70s. Well, they are probably right. You can hardly refer to the late-80s "Arabella the Black Angel" as a good giallo, but boy is it ever entertaining!!! In fact, the whole giallo sub-plot is nothing but a mere footnote, since the film is primarily a semi-pornographic thriller full of demented characters with perverted fetishes and kinky after-dark habits.
Beautiful and voluptuous nymph Arabella, or Deborah, roams the streets at night and visits secluded bondage/orgy clubs because her beloved husband Francesco is paralyzed and can't physically please her. The reason why he's in a wheelchair is actually quite hilarious and, moreover, Arabella's own stupid fault! During a raid at the orgy club, she's raped by a filthy copper who subsequently lets her go, but only to show up at her front gate the next day for a second portion of joyful sex! Arabella knocks him dead with a hammer, because she knows Francesco is watching, and apparently this vile act sparks up their sex life again! Francesco encourages his wife to pick up random strangers for sex, while he writes her adventures down in a new erotic novel, but meanwhile there's also an unseen killer with shiny black gloves butchering Arabella's bed partners with a pair of scissors.
The plot continues to make utterly bonkers twists and turns, since the traumatized police inspector Gina (with massively oversized glasses to illustrate just how feminist she is) gets put on the scissor-murders case and her lesbian lover promptly backstabs her, but it's all too to insane and useless to write down. The only thing you need to know is that "Arabella the Black Angel" is purely unhinged Italian exploitation trash! The obvious giallo trademarks (black gloves, ominous music, vicious gore, etc) are definitely there, but quintessential things like suspense and surprise denouements are sorely missing. The identity of the scissor-killer is easy to guess, but it doesn't matter all that much, because the beauty of Tiní Cansino's continuous nakedness compensates for all the shortcomings. Director Stelvio Massi was a prolific Poliziotesschi director during the seventies, but during the 80s he had to revert to making sleazy flicks like this one.
Cop Killers (1977)
Cruising around, killing cops, killing cops, all whacked off of Scooby Snacks!
Mean-spirited, raw, merciless and utterly unhinged; - "Cop Killers" is one of the purest and thus most wickedly awesome American drive-in/exploitation gems of the entire 70s decade! There actually isn't a lot I can write about this rough grindhouse diamond, except that it offers straightforward and non-stop adrenalin rushes from start until finish. Two petty criminals, Ray and Alex, on their way to a big cocaine deal in rural Arizona turn themselves into public enemies when they murder four police officers during a roadblock. Determined to complete the deal and then flee to Mexico, the two continue their bloody trail across the state, with particularly Ray massacring a whole bunch of innocent people, including highway patrolmen and witnesses who are at the wrong place at the wrong time. "Cop Killers" is sort of an overdue hippie-exploitation effort, but one with nasty & explicit make-up effects from future Academy Award winner Rick Baker (yes, really), cheesy country songs and demented - albeit possibly unintentional - black humor. The acting performances of the two leading anti-heroes is decent, and the yummy female hostage Diane Keller is good as well, but all the supportive actors and actresses are amateurish beyond belief. The joyride with the ice cream truck is vintage exploitation heritage (or should be, at least!)
Girls School Screamers (1986)
The Girl with the Rotten Face
Of course I knew to keep expectations extremely low for "Girl School Murders". Obviously I spotted the bad rating and harshly negative reviews here on IMDb, and I'm naturally also well aware of Troma's questionable reputation as a production/distributor company. And yet, in spit of all this, the incurable horror geek in me still found the rather pricy purchase was justified even if only to own that utterly cool DVD-cover in my collection! You know, the one with the girl's rotten face that has worms crawling out of it. I just wish the film itself was half as awesome as the poster image! But, on the contrary, "Girl School Screamers" is easily one of the weakest and most forgettable slasher efforts of the entire eighties. It certainly has potential, though. The opening sequences, features a young boy trespassing into an old dark house and running into an eerie ghost on the staircase, is surprisingly grim and atmospheric but, unfortunately, it's the only real highlight. The spooky house is donated, via a last will and testament, to a Catholic college for girls, and seven fresh-faced students are promptly recruited to go and clean it over the weekend. It turns out that a beautiful young girl tragically died in the house nearly forty years ago and, moreover, she looks exactly like one of the students. They subsequently get killed off one by one, but this is where the film truly fails to live up to its potential, as the murders are mundane, uninspired, bloodless and often even occurring off-screen. The acting performances are lamentable, and so is everything else; - period. But hey, the DVD has a prominent spot on the eighties-shelf of my collection!
Dark Star (1974)
Delightful madness in a galaxy far, far away from Benson - Arizona!
It's an undeniable truth; - John Carpenter is one the biggest geniuses to ever contribute to landmark horror, Sci-Fi and cult cinema. There are more than enough titles to exhibit his mastery in all genres ("Halloween", "The Fog", "Escape from New York", "The Thing", etc) but I never knew that his debut long-feature was a zero-budgeted and student-made spoof of space exploration cinema, and of "2001: A Space Odyssey" in particular. Moreover, since co-written by Dan O'Bannon, scripter of "Alien" and half a dozen of other brilliant classics, we actually witness the first venturing steps of two majorly influential titans! And no, their fondly cherished "Dark Star" is not a totally boring and clumsily inept try-out, but a cheerfully spirited and subtly intelligent spoof for people with a peculiar sense of humor (although, admittedly, it also took me two consecutive viewings to realize that).
The small spacecraft "Dark Star" is endlessly voyaging through the galaxy, on their twenty years long mission to destroy redundant little planets. To be entirely honest, and confirmed via a formal video message during the beginning, nobody on earth really cares about the men aboard; - not even following the electrocution accident that neutralized the Commander and reduced the crew from five to four. The cheesy (but adorable) country song playing throughout the opening credits is already quite clear and significant. Benson, Arizona, is probably one of the most boring places on earth, but still a location to desperately crave for when you're stuck in a claustrophobic shuttle in outer space! Personally, I find it genius to revolve an entire film around the message how utopic and anti-adventurous space-traveling can be, in fact, but I also reckon that many spectators are put off by the incredibly slow pacing, the almost complete lack of action and the utmost silly visuals & sound effects. The key secret to truly enjoy "Dark Star", if you're open-minded enough, is to look out for all the delightful absurdities and the insane dialogs between the astronauts mutually and with the "intelligent bomb". You simply got to love the pet alien, for instance, which is just a beach toy with duck feet, or the useless but nevertheless formal and stoic video-diaries. Heck, I even find it hilarious that the crew members don't remember each other's first names - or even their own ones - after addressing them by their last names for 20 years straight! Admittedly you require an odd cinematic taste to laugh out loud with dialogues such as: "Hey bomb, what's your number one purpose in life?" "To explode, of course!", but I certainly prefer this over dull and pretentious milestones like "Star Trek" or "2001".