Sunday, 26 August 2007

All the colors...

I pre-ordered the book Mario Bava: All the colors of the dark by Tim Lucas, and I'm very excited about it. And it finally seems to be (almost) ready to ship...

Check the Bava Book Blog.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

B Cult Link

Renato Polselli

This is the site for Associazione Culturale B Cult, an Italian-based Film Society dedicated to international B movies. It contains articles about for instance Antonio Margheriti, Renato Polselli (with video, in Italian), Rosalba Neri and others, and there is a Trade Area, which is only open to registered socio-cultural members, whatever that means. Still, some pretty cool things to check out.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Quack! Quack! Quack?

"But you won't understand me, you'll never understand me! You're too stupid! Quack! Quack! Quack!" - The New York Ripper, 1982.

A changing expression...

And a freezeframe.

Something weird happens at the end of Lucio Fulci’s The New York Ripper. In a scene that seems to come out of nowhere, we see Dr. Paul Davis standing on a sidewalk smiling at something, then his expression changes to a more serious one and he walks away. Then he looks back and de image freezes mysteriously for several seconds before it fades out....

Is something implied here about Dr. Davis? What does it mean?

The funny thing is that it is actually a remainder of a previous scene, which comes after the first attack on Fay. Dr. Davis and Lt. Williams (Jack Hedley) discuss this attack and Dr. Davis claims that it is The Ripper’s first big mistake. Then Davis turns down the offer to ride with Williams, and Williams drives off.



My guess is that, while editing, it was just used to fill some kind of gap. But why the freeze frame? To “hide” the meaninglessness? Or do you think there is some (un)intentional significance?

Friday, 6 July 2007

Beyond The Beyond


I think I was about 10 when I first saw The Beyond, my brother rented the most gruesome horror film he could find and we watched it together. I thought it was extremely scary and shocking, I really had trouble watching it. But then my mother came home and when she saw what we were watching (we were in the middle of the spider scene) she became extremely mad and we had to turn it off.

Still, the film had made such an impact on me that I never forgot it. I told people about it and searched for reviews in film encyclopaedias. But I only became aware of such a thing as Eurotrash when I first search for this film on the Internet, about 7 or 8 years ago. At that time I was also finally able to watch The Beyond again, and so began my obsession with Italian B films.

It is obvious that on a personal level The Beyond is a very important film for me, but I also think that it is just one of the best films to emerge from Italian genre cinema and also the best film Fulci made. And when I see the film’s poster, I always have to think about that VHS from the Video For Pleasure label that my brother rented.

So for me The Beyond is the single most important and influential Italian genre film, the core of that entire cinema and of my obsession with it.

How about you?

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Violent Rome/Roma Violenta

Roma Violenta, 1975. Directed by Marino Girolami. With Maurizio Merli, Ray Lovelock, John Steiner, Richard Conte and Luciano Rossi.

The very first shot: a J&B sign.


Inspector Betti (Maurizio Merli) tries to find two criminals who killed a young man during a robbery. He gets help from a young undercover cop, Biondi (Ray Lovelock), to whom he is an example and mentor. Betti is also after another group of brutal murderous robbers, which leads to a major car chase, Biondi getting paralyzed and Betti’s resignation. Then Betti is contacted by Sartori (Richard Conte), a lawyer who wants to assemble a vigilante-group....


Betti and Biondi

This is the first poliziesco that stars Maurizio Merli. It made him a star and in the next five years he made about 12 more of these police films. Like most of these films there isn’t too much of a story, but that isn’t a bad thing per se. Betti’s ongoing fight with a whole bunch of brutal, ruthless criminals on one hand, and his superiors on the other hand, who’s main concern is with following the rules and avoiding bad press, is just what his films are all about.



...and the victim getting her ass kicked like there's no tomorrow.

The action is plenty and pretty cool, both Merli’s one-on-one’s with various criminals, as well as the big car chase scene halfway through the movie. Maybe there isn’t too much depth in Merli’s performance, but as sort of an iconic cop-figure, whose main concern is with the victims and catching the criminals, he’s just right. He comes off as passionate and sympathetic. There are also quite a few familiar faces, like John Steiner, Luciano Rossi, Lovelock and Silvano Tranquilli, which really adds to the fun. This is a very enjoyable, well made film, with a great soundtrack by G & M De Angelis.



A mysterious, open ending suggests that Betti might die, but the following year Merli was back for two more Betti-films: A Special Cop In Action (Italia A Mano Armata), also directed by Marino Girolami, and Umberto Lenzi’s Violent Naples (Napoli Violenta), which is my all time favourite poliziesco.





Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Blog: Film Walrus

Check out this cool film blog: Film Walrus. Not only are there posts and reviews about Italian genre cinema, but also about many other films and genre’s...

Who's Pino Boller?

This is Pino Boller's one and only credit: for the story and screenplay of Umberto Lenzi's Spasmo. I couldn't find anything about him, and I was wondering if there's anyway who knows anything about him? (Maybe it's Lenzi's neighbour?)

Monday, 2 July 2007

Holocaust 2000

Holocaust 2000, 1977. Directed by Alberto De Martino. With Kirk Douglas, Simon Ward, Agostina Belli, Adolfo Celi, Massimo Foschi.


Robert Caine (Kirk Douglas) is an American Industrialist, whose company is about to build a huge nuclear plant in a Middle Eastern country. His son Angel (Simon Ward) works for him and is also determined to build this plant, but Robert’s wife Eva, who has a majority of the shares of their company, wants to cancel the entire deal. But she is accidentally killed by an Arab assassin (Massimo Foschi), whose target was supposed to be Robert.





But there’s more opposition. The new Prime Minister of the Middle Eastern country thinks that the nuclear plant isn’t safe enough and wants to cancel the order. Robert and Angel start extensive tests to prove everything’s safe, but the computer gives a strange error-code. But then Robert meets a priest who shines a different light on that particular code: it might be a first sign of the coming of the Anti-Christ.

Although Robert is fascinated by the priest’s stories, he just can’t believe it’s true. But after a series of gruesome accidents, involving one of his top researchers and the Prime Minister, and a strange, visionary nightmare, he starts to doubt. And when his new girlfriend Sara (Agostina Belli) tells him she’s pregnant, he really believes that that boy will be the Anti-Christ. And he will do anything to prevent it from being born....



This film is directed by Alberto De Martino, who made several films in whatever genre was popular at that time, but never managed to make much of an impression. This Italian/British co-production obviously tries to cash-in on the success of The Omen, made a year before, and it isn’t actually much better or worse then that film.

Kirk Douglas leads a cast of actors with different nationalities and the usual strange mix of accents. All three leads are pretty good actually, and there are also some familiar faces in supporting roles, like Adolfo Celi for instance. With an international star like Douglas attached, the producers obviously could spent some extra bucks and it shows for the most part. Production value is rather high, but there are still some “typical” Italian B movie sets, like the computer room, which looks awful.






The film moves at a good pace, with enough mystery and a few bloody deaths, most notably a beheading by a helicopter. Especially those parts of the film about Caine trying to end Sara’s pregnancy are atmospheric and convey a genuine sense of fear and paranoia. Just like the nightmare-scene, it’s a well shot and edited scene. But the most memorable and effective scenes are those set in the asylum where Foschi’s Arab assassin is locked up. With its plexiglas rooms it is disorienting and claustrophobic.

The inconclusive ending is maybe a bit of a let down, but there is enough to enjoy. Ennio Morricone’s clichéd score works well enough.





Thursday, 28 June 2007

Random Contamination Screenshots

Contamination, 1980. Directed by Luigi Cozzi. With Ian McCullovh and Louise Marleau.

This is said by director Luigi Cozzi in a making off... Very charming, very sweet...





Commander Ian Hubbard: "But...but...these are photographs of the eggs."

Colonel Stella Holmes: "Yes, that is correct."

Ian Hubbard: "When we were on Mars, there were millions of eggs..."

"...They were all green, just like the one in your photograph."


"Help! Help me!"

"...There's an egg in here!"


"What is it you want to know? How many times a week I screw?"

"It's quite obvious you couldn't get it up, even if you used a crane!"

Spasmo Soundtrack: Ennio Morricone

Spasmo, 1974. Directed by Umberto Lenzi. Music by Ennio Morricone.

The two films Umberto Lenzi made 1974 are probably his most accomplished: the brutal crime film Almost Human, and the convoluted giallo Spasmo. They are also his only films for which Ennio Morricone wrote the score. With it’s complex, labyrinthine plot and it’s strange characters and dialogue, Spasmo is a film with a weird, disorienting feel to it. And this is reflected in Morricone’s score, which consists of a series of variation on three themes.

Some cool artwork on the OST's cover

, the elegant theme that also plays over the main titles, has five variations and is initially the least dark of the three themes. But by subtlety changing the tempo and orchestrations, Morricone adds an uneasy feel to it. I especially like Bambole 3, with it’s effective combination of guitars, that are of clear sound, and an organ that almost seems a bit out of tune, which results in a very mysterious sound.
Spasmo has a darker and more mournful theme. Especially as Morricone brings in a Hammond organ in the second variation, and, in the next, combines the organ with vocals.
Stress Infinito is more a reflection of the movies nightmarish qualities (or is it vice versa?) and its psychological themes. With an unusual, almost avant garde-like combination of sounds, music and instruments it creates a disorienting and disturbing effect.

This is a score that can stand on its own. The subtle, rich variations Morricone created on his powerful themes are simply stunning. Although Stress Infinito isn’t always easy to listen to, it is the combination of the pieces and the increasing uneasy feel that makes this such an interesting soundtrack.