Monthly Archives: May 2016

Heart Of Glass… THE STRANGE VICE OF MRS WARDH Reviewed

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DVD. Region Free. Shameless. 18.

Un altro giorno, un altro giallo here at The House Of Freudstein…

In 1970 Dario Argento’s directorial debut The Bird With The Crystal Plumage emerged as an unexpected international crossover hit, single handedly inspiring nothing short of a renaissance for the giallo genre coined by Mario Bava in 1963 with The Girl Who Knew Too Much / The Evil Eye. Luciano Martino was just one of the many film makers looking to cash in the revitalised killing-by-numbers craze. He had already produced Romolo Guerrieri’s The Sweet Body Of Deborah in 1968 and Umberto Lenzi’s So Sweet, So Perverse the following year but liked the idea of bringing in similar films on a lower budget, employing home grown talent.

He didn’t have to look too far, finding exactly the kind of ambitious young director he needed in kid brother Sergio; the choice of an alluring leading lady was a similar no-brainer, i.e. his current squeeze, Edwige Fenech, with whom Sergio had already shot additional footage to fill out Hans Schott-Schöbinger’s The Sins Of Madame Bovary (1969); and scripting duties fell to the prolific Ernesto Gastaldi, who had previously penned the above-mentioned Carroll Baker vehicles for Luciano among giallo credits including Elio Scardamaglia’s The Murder Clinic (1966) and Luciano Ercoli’s Forbidden Photos Of A Lady Above Suspicion (1970). Gastaldi had also directed one of the early gialli, 1965’s Libido, himself. The feature on which Luciano teamed them – The Strange Vice Of Mrs Wardh aka Blade Of The Ripper / The Next Victim / Next! (1971) – pounces enthusiastically on psychosexual hints made in Argento’s smash hit and shows that Sergio wasn’t sleepwalking through his stint as second unit director on Bava’s 1963 epic of sadomasochism beyond the grave, The Whip and the Body (1963).

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The film’s opening intercuts a fatal razor attack on a prostitute with the arrival of the plane that is bringing the Wardhs to Vienna, greeted by a quotation from one of that city’s most famous denizens, Sigmund Freud, concerning the potential killer inside all of us. Fenech plays the eponymous Julie Wardh (the “h” at end of her surname allegedly intended to forestall any libel proceedings from aggrieved Mrs Wards!), the neglected, bored wife of a workaholic diplomat (Alberto De Mendoza.) She is simultaneously stimulated and troubled by salacious memories of her full-on sado-masochistic entanglement with brooding Jean (old Tartar cheek-bones himself, Ivan Rassimov.) Their idea of fun, as revealed in sensuous slow motion flashbacks to the accompaniment of a Nora Orlandi theme that can only be described as sacramental, included him beating her in a muddy field (shades of Bunuel’s Belle De Jour, 1967) and – don’t try this at home, kiddies! – bonking her on a bed of broken glass. Eat yer heart out, 50 Shades Of Grey…

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Nor does the life of a neglected ambassador’s wife seem anything like as dull as we are expected to believe, including as it does wild embassy parties where drunken floozies rip each other’s dresses off, prior to one of them being bloodily dispatched in a Hitchcockesque shower sequence (“Another girl slashed to death?” remarks Julie’s cynical friend Carol: “We should be grateful that he’s eliminating all the competiton!”) Julie is horrified to discover Jean popping up among the ferrero rocher at one such bash but not sufficiently horrified to resist a) succumbing to his erotic menace and b) striking up yet another affair, with smoothie antipodean inheritance chaser George (George Hilton.) When somebody starts blackmailing Mrs W about her various extra-marital liaisons, the worldly Carol (Cristina Airoldi) becomes convinced that Jean is playing his old head games with her, and agrees to meet him in a park on Fenech’s behalf… only to get sliced up a treat (I wonder how grateful she was for that!) In mortal fear that Jean has lost it completely, Julie abandons her hubby and absconds to Spain with George (many of Martino’s gialli feature a lot of jet-setting, reflecting their status as international co-productions aspiring to success in as many territories as possible.) No prizes for guessing that there are several more twists to come…

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Martino confesses readily to the influence that Clouzot’s Les Diaboliques (1955) exerted over TSVOMW (and what about Hitchcock’s Strangers On A Train, 1951?) but has been ambivalent about The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, even seeming to claim half-heartedly at one time that his picture actually preceded the Argento biggie. His characteristic deployment of hand held camera conveys a sense of urgency, plunging the viewer into the thick of the carnage and his restrained use of zoom underscores dramatic moments without descending into Franco-esque overuse, all of this in sharp contrast to Argento’s signature use of steadicam. But there’s no doubt where those “through the keyhole” POV shots, which Martino would repeat through just about all of his subsequent gialli, came from. To be fair, Argento himself seems to have been influenced by the scene of Airoldi’s death, restaging it pretty faithfully for Four Flies On Grey Velvet (1971.) Martino’s diplomatic comment on this is that both scenes owe a lot to Antonioni’s Blow Up (1966.) Argento inarguably pinched one of TSVOMW’s central plot devices, by which a calculating, opportunistic killer takes advantage of a genuinely deranged individual’s murder rampage to deflect suspicion from himself (“I told you, the best time to kill anyone is when a homicidal maniac is on the loose!”) for Tenebrae (1982.) In fact if anything he tones it down because in Martino’s flick, at any one time there are no less than four killers operating with dovetailing motivations, no less than three of whom are out to get Fenech. Yep, there are nearly as many killers as red herrings… Looks like Freud wasn’t just blowing cigar smoke up our asses with that opening quote!

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This handsome “Shameless fan edition” is beautiful remastered in 16:9 anamorphic wide screen and comes with an all-new Sergio Martino interview and Introduction plus fact track and visual essay by Justin Harries, Fenech bio and trailers for other Shameless releases.

Fenech has made the mind-boggling observation that she doesn’t remember TSVOMW having any particularly erotic overtones. Strange, indeed… eroticism is undoubtedly, if not in the jap’s eye of the beholder, a subjective business, but the frequent showers that Edwige takes herein, be they in hot water or crystal cascades of broken glass (while mounting a persuasive portrayal of a woman in the throes of sexual ecstasy) certainly registered with this scribe and commenced the honourable tradition of her endless ablutions (by which Fenech became the most fragrant and freshly scrubbed actress in cinema history.) Martino states in the bonus interview that such scenes were easier to get past the Italian censor than love-making ones and that he often shot the latter specifically to provide the censors with their pound of flesh for extraction, leaving intact the scenes which he considered more important. He even declares himself disappointed that Fenech’s bonking scenes have been restored to DVD editions of his films. You won’t be.

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Further Feline Felonies And Moggy Mayhem… CRIMES OF THE BLACK CAT Reviewed

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DVD. Region Free. Dagored. Unrated.

Yep, it’s giallo time again and Sergio Pastore’s 1972 offering Crimes Of The Black Cat  is one of the few successful entries in that genre to be set outside of an urban Italian milieu. Peter Oliver (spagwest stalwart Anthony Steffen, who also did the giallo thang in Emilio Miraglia’s The Night Evelyn Came Out Of The Grave, 1971) is a blind film composer, living in Copenhagen (and apparently working on an alternative score for Lucio Fulci’s Lizard In A Woman’s Skin!) Sitting in a bar after being jilted by a foxy model (we’ve all been there, right?) he finds himself, due to his heightened sense of hearing, eavesdropping on a conversation about blackmail and murder. Unfortunately  his enhanced auditory capabilities are neutralised when, at a particularly juicy juncture in this exchange, some hip Scandinavian strumpet cranks up the juke box, all the better to bust some funky moves. Apparently this sort of thing is de rigeur in Danish drinking dens… well, that’s what happens when you legalise pornography! Incidentally, when this hippy chick commences the shaking of her uber-aryan booty, Pastore’s camera starts zooming in and out at an alarming rate, likely to induce epileptic seizures in the susceptible. Italian exploitation directors are frequently criticised for their reliance on zoom shots, but here Pastore sets a new Guinness world record for overuse of this device, which is repeated to laughable effect during each of the subsequent murders.

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Cut to the Venus modelling agency where, in a time-honoured giallo tradition stretching back to Mario Bava’s Blood And Black Lace (1964), the girls are  variously dykes, dope fiends and dying off at the hands of a mystery black-garbed assassin. Plenty of genre cliches there (plus Manuel De Sica’s Morricone soundalike score and a clutch of familiar faces… Steffen, Sylva Koscina, Giacomo Rossi Stuart, Umberto Raho and Annabella Contrera) but what sets this Black Cat apart from the pack are some of the gob-smacking plot developments that Pastore, with co-writers Alessandro Continenza  and Giovanni Simonelli, has managed to stuff into it. Yellow silk shawls are found left at the scene of each of the brutal slayings (thus the original Italian title Sette Scialli Di Seta Gialla… “Seven Yellow Silk Scarves”) and Steffen ultimately susses that the killer has impregnated those shawls with cat repellant and then hurled cats, their claws dipped in curare, at the budding Helena Christensens wearing them(!?!) In case that’s not bizarre enough for you, the patsy  who does the feline flinging is a wretched former circus performer who opened a pet shop and turned to heroin after her lion-taming husband was mauled to death during his act… neo-realism this ain’t!

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The nutzoid narrative appears to climax with the unveiling of the killer, at which point the putative perpetrator of the pernicious poison pussy posse falls into a handy-dandy vat of quicklime… but Pastore still has a barmy twist or two up his sleeve. The vicious razor slashing of Steffen’s girlfriend, while she’s taking a shower, comes completely out of left field and dwells lovingly on what Hitchcock only hinted at in Psycho. Only now do we learn the true identity and (far-fetched, even by giallo standards) motivation of the killer, who promptly  crashes headfirst through a window (thoughtfully freeze-framed under the film’s final credits). If that synopsis doesn’t get you itching to see Pastore’s pussy g(al)orefest you’re probably reading the wrong blog…

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Er, is it too late to say… SPOILER ALERT!

…. but now for the bad news. This release by Dagored (who they? ), though beautifully packaged (with an inlay leaflet that also folds out into a reproduction of the original locandina poster) looks very much like it has been sourced from a full screen VHS tape, complete with drop out! Certainly it boasts no better picture quality than the bootlegs previously sourced from Greek VHS and will set you back considerably more money. Nor does it pack any extras to speak of, beyond murky-looking trailers for further Dagored releases, none of which inspire any confidence that they’re going to look any better.

In my previous post I cracked a gag about somebody releasing an upgrade of Rene Cardona Jr’s Night Of A Thousand Cats, but it really would be good to see Pastore’s film given the kind of edition it deserves. Pity he didn’t make any more gialli…

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Hugo A Go-Go: NIGHT OF A THOUSAND CATS Reviewed

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DVD. Region 1. 905 Entertainment. Unrated.

Why would Trump wanna build that fucking wall, anyhows? Perhaps to repel the wave of Mexican monster movie outrages perpetrated by successive generations of the Cardona family (most of whom seemingly bear the Christian name Rene, to the ongoing consternation of trash filmographers). In 1962 the Cardonas launched Las Luchadoras (“The Wrestling Women”) upon an unsuspecting world with Wrestling Women Vs The Murderous Doctor, in which the eponymous heroines were called upon  to enforce the Hippocratic oath with drop-kicks, headlocks and forearm smashes. In 1963 they knocked out a couple of entries in the Santo series (Santo being a fat man in a mask, who has enjoyed innumerable punch-ups with monstrous and megalomaniacal adversaries), namely Santo Versus The Strangler and, in a much anticipated rematch beyond the grave, Santo Versus The Ghost Of The Strangler. But these were merely tune-ups for the Cardonas’ masterpiece, which came the following year – Wrestling Women Vs The Aztec Mummy in which, you won’t be surprised to learn, the Wrestling Women took on an Aztec Mummy that was getting ideas above its station, also taking time out for a tag team confrontation with Mexico’s answer to Fu Manchu and his kung fu-kickin’ sisters. Not content to rest on their luchadoral laurels, the Cardonas made The Invisible Killer that same year.

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In 1966 Las Luchadoras were clipping the wings of The Bat Woman and in 1967, Acapulco’s local favourites The Fish Monsters came unstuck against our indefatigable heroines. Treasure hunting was in, big time, for 1968’s Santo brace Santo And Dracula’s Treasure and Treasure Of Montezuma and in the following year’s Wrestling Women Vs The Murderous Robot, those feisty wrasslin’ gals kicked ass when one of their number was kidnapped by a mad scientist (mad scientists apparently being ten-a-penny down Mexico way.)  Also in 1969 the Cardonas pitted Santo Versus The Headhunter and still had time to make Los Jinetes Del Terror, in which leper gunslingers made Santo’s day. This latter film is known in English language markets as either Santo Vs The Terror Riders or, rather more memorably, The Lepers And The Sex (!?!) 1971 saw Santo In The Mummy’s Revenge, in which the Mummy fared no better against Santo than he had against Las Luchadoras. Hereafter this tranche of tacky taco terrors went into terminal tailspin, though Rene Cardona Jr had already perfected the horror wrestling sub-genre in 1970 with Night Of The Bloody Apes, a hysterical dollop of maniacal Mexican monkey business that ended up, inexplicably, on the dreaded “video nasties” list in the UK, more than a decade after it was made.

It’s difficult to imagine now what the DPP took such active exception to… the phoniest scalpings and eye gougings in film history? The way a kidnapped Orang-utan transforms, by the miracle of not-so-special effects, into a dude in a shabby gorilla suit? The surgery scene which splices together medical footage and original material so ineptly that more mitts are seen paddling around in a patients chest cavity than could possibly belong to the people conducting the operation? Dr Kraumann’s pronunciation of the word Leukaemia (as “Loose-seam-ia”)? Possibly it was the risible scripting and woefully inaccurate lip synching during the priceless scene in which a police chief dismisses the protagonist’s speculation about mutating killer apes, thusly: “It’s absurd, the proofs are insubstantial… it’s more probable of late that more and more you’ve been watching on your television many of those pictures of terror!”

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To some of us, this is the very stuff of movie magic. Indeed, the only fault that I can really pick with Night Of The Bloody Apes is that it scandalously short changes the viewer vis-à-vis plasma drenched simians, delivering only one when its title promises… well, at least two! The same director’s similarly titled (why mess with a winning formula?) La Noche De Los Mil Gatos / Night Of A Thousand Cats /  (1972… “Alone, only a harmless pet… One thousand strong, they become a man-eating machine!”) gives you considerably more title characters for your buck but I seriously doubt that we get anything like Mil Gatos… and 905’s obscure R1 edition kind of confuses the issue by going out as “Night Of A 1000 Cats.” You do the math…

… but if you can stop fixating on pussy dimensions for a cotton pickin’ minute, you’ll discover that the flick itself is a genuine laugh riot. For starters, it “stars” charisma bypass victim Hugo Stiglitz. If you found Thunderbird puppet Hugo less than convincing as a firebrand investigative reporter in Umberto Lenzi’s lamentable zombie bandwagon jumper Nightmare City (1980), check out herein his hopeless attempts to portray an irresistibly smooth, murdering  fanny magnet with the mandatory musclebound, kaftan-clad lame brain sidekick (“Dorgo”), those caged cats and a castle crammed with medieval weaponry and torture devices. Driving around Mexico City on his motorbike in a cowboy hat and leathers, sucking on his pipe and sporting Noel Edmonds patented facial fuzz, Hugo usually has no problem attracting senoritas. If he does strike out though, he simply climbs into his helicopter and flys over swimming pools in the choicest part of town, taking his pick of whatever easily impressed bikini clad lovelies he has thus drummed up.

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When he gets them back to his gothic shagpad and everybody’s loosened up with a few cocktails, he shows them his pride and joy – his collection of pickled heads in jars. Needless to say, his horrified dates’ bonces soon get added to the collection, while their minced bodies are thrown into the pussy pound by Hugo and Dorgo. All of this Bluebeard stuff is very jolly as far as it goes, but unfortunately the picture is heavily padded with travelogue shots of Mexico city and helicopters, to the point where you start wishing Los Luchadoras or a stray bloody ape would turn up to enliven the proceedings. Sensing that his “plot” is going nowhere fast, Cardona throws in a flashback wherein Hugo becomes emotionally attached to Paulette, a potential victim, and instructs Dorgo to spare her life. Acting on his own initiative, Dorgo kills her anyway, for which act of disobedience he too later becomes cat food and the least comely addition to Hugo’s bottled head collection. For no better reason than Cardona having topped the hour of footage he was obviously contracted to deliver, Hugo’s latest date escapes and so do those cats, to dole out poetic justice and demonstrate conclusively that eight out of ten feral felines prefer Noel Edmonds-style Whiskers…

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In an age when home cinephiles are debating the merits of 4K HD and curved screens replacing the flat screens that replaced curved screens, it’s safe to say that this is something of a cheapjack release. The “special features” promised on the box include “Scene Selection” (from all of 4 chapters!), “Digitally Mastered” (apparently from a fuzzy VHS copy) and “Full screen Presentation”… yep, the fact that the film isn’t even presented in its original screen dimensions is considered a “special feature” by 905! Nor do they  have any qualms whatsoever about revealing the film’s meagre running time (63 mins!) prominently on its poorly executed sleeve…. talk about a soft sell! Presumably if you were trying to shift copies of this today your sleeve and merchandising would concentrate more on the fact that Stiglitz is one of Quentin Tarantino’s favourite actors. Anybody fancy re-releasing it? Arrow? 88? Severin, maybe? On a double bill with Ted V. Mikels’ The Corpse Grinders, perhaps? Nah, didn’t think so…

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The Lunatics Are In The Hall… KILLER’S MOON Reviewed

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DVD. Region Free. Redemption. 18.

Never an official “video nasty”, Alan Birkinshaw’s 1978 effort Killer’s Moon (more specifically its lurid cover art, as concocted by the boffins at Inter-Ocean) would frequently crop up during those lurid News At Ten reports on busted “snuff movie” rings. Many seasoned readers of this blog would consider the “nasties” witch hunt of the early ‘80s to be the supreme folly perpetrated upon us by tub thumping media barons and crassly opportunistic politicians. Governments have dropped plenty bigger bollocks than that, though… consider how The Iron Lady was blunted by her preposterous Poll Tax plans… the price we’re all having to pay for the hopelessly miscalculated assault on Iraq… and the relentless promotion of greed as good that has inevitably brought the whole financial system crashing down around our ears.

A more mental governmental fuck up than any of these though, in my humble estimation, has to be the green light given by The Home Office during the 1970s (according to Mr Birkinshaw, anyhow) for a bizarre scheme to “cure” violent sex offenders by reducing them to a walking fugue state with the relentless overprescription of heavy duty psychotropic drugs, then encouraging them to kill whoever popped up in their ongoing “dream.” Apparently this would all be very “cathartic”… and what could possibly go wrong, eh?

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Well, for one thing a bunch of the brain frazzled guinea pigs in said experiment could escape from the institution in which they are banged up and break into a remote Lake District hotel packed with virginal schoolgirls… such is basic premise of Killer’s Moon, a film touted at various  times as a homegrown low budget answer to Last House On The Left, I Spit On Your Grave and A Clockwork Orange. Of course it’s not in the same league as any of those, though it has pinched the desperate absconding dudes and imperilled girls from the first two and the notion of trying to rehabilitate offenders via pharmaceutical experimentation from Kubrick’s classic… the bad guys are even duded up like droogs!

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Birkinshaw’s direction testifies eloquently to his pedigree in UK soft core sexploitation (he had made his debut with Confessions Of A Sex Maniac, four years earlier). Performances range from corny to hammy (special mention, predictably enough, to the loonies, Messrs Smith, Jones, Muldoon and Trubshaw, essayed by a bunch of character actors who you might have subsequently spotted on various kids’ TV shows…. menaced school girl in chief, JoAnne Good, later “acted” in Crossroads and has more recently popped up as a DJ on Radio London.) The main problem with this film has to be the script, which is sufficiently loose for one schoolgirl to disappear with no apparent reason, halfway through the proceedings, only to turn up dead in the film’s closing moments. Dialogue oscillates between sheer schlock, courtesy of Mr Birkinshaw (when a psychiatrist tells one  patient: “Go to hell you bastard, you’re mad!”, his disturbed charge muses aloud over whether he should have gone private) and florid Shakespearian pastiche penned by his sister – Fay “Life And Loves Of A She Devil” Weldon, no less – during a transatlantic plane flight.

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Yep, we’re talking a ripe load of old cobblers here, which doesn’t necessarily mean that Killers Moon isn’t a whole lot of fun… hey, I haven’t even touched on the part played in these proceedings by a three-legged Doberman! The film has a significant cult following and somebody (I’m not quite sure who was running the Redemption show in 2008, when this came out) clearly thought highly enough of it to compile an edition that puts contemporary releases of many more “worthy” titles to shame… the main feature looks surprisingly good, enhanced as it is for 16X9. The sound track is resolutely mono, though you get the option to play an audio track by Birkinshaw and Good, who also pop up in interview featurettes. Theatrical trailers and a stills gallery comprise the balance of the extras.

A worthy addition to any self-respecting trash film collection.

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Flares Du Mal: Armando Crispino’s AUTOPSY Reviewed

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DVD. Region 1. Anchor Bay. Unrated.

There are certain set elements that giallophiles demand from their favoured genre and they tend to comprise visually stylish direction, lashings of violence, a female cast that runs to eye candy and eccentric plotting. Autopsy (1975) features an androgynous female lead (in the gamine form of Mimsy Farmer) and Armando  Crispino’s direction of it is not particularly stylish (unless regularly inserting shots of solar activity is your idea of style) but some of its imagery tested my tolerance for gore (which is pretty high) and when it comes to kooky plotting in Italian Whodunnits, this one  grabs the garibaldi biscuit!

Try this for size… Simona Sanna (Farmer) is a pathologist working overtime at the main mortuary in Rome, where an epidemic of suicides has broken out… Romans in 1975 are kicking the bucket more frequently than celebrities in 2016 and apparently this is attributable to the effect of powerful solar flares. The strain is exacerbating Simona’s long standing psychosexual malaise to the point where she starts hallucinating that cadavers are getting up off their slabs, menacing her and having it off with each other. What’s at the root of this here psychosexual malaise? It’s suggested that her antique dealer father Gianni (the eternally slithery Massimo Serato) has been taking more than a paternal interest in her. Whatever, Simona’s frigidity is causing problems between her and her boyfriend(ish) Riccardo (Ray Lovelock… rather than listing Lovelock’s many Freudstein-friendly credits now, I’ll direct you to his IMDB page here.) Even his collection of hand-tinted fin-de-siecle porno slides can’t seem to get Simona’s juices flowing. One of Daddy Direst’s many conquests, Betty Lennox (Gaby Wagner) befriends Simona, shortly before turning up on one of her gurneys, having apparently blown her brains out on the beach. Betty’s brother Paul (Barry Primus) arrives to tell Simona that, despite evidence to the contrary, his sister was murdered: “You know your corpses but I know my souls!” and well he might, given that he’s a priest. Hang on though, he’s not just a priest… he’s a former racing driver who took holy orders after killing a bunch of spectators when his car crashed at Le Mans. Oh, did I forgot to mention that Riccardo, in the rare  moments when he’s not hanging around on top of Boromini’s tower taking photographs, is a racing driver too?

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After digesting that little lot, you won’t find it too much of a stretch to take on board that when Simona’s father is paralysed after jumping(?) from a high window, he attempts to warn her about the killer’s identity by using an “eye blink” machine that was devised to help one of the people who got run over by Fr Lennox… or that one of the major characters is an epileptic whose anti-seizure medication just happens to be the antidote to a paralysing drug the killer administered to him in an attempt to stage his “suicide.” What were the odds on that, eh? Well, Simona could probably have predicted it, as she’s doing her doctoral dissertation on the suddenly topical question of genuine versus faked suicides. At one point her research takes her to a Crime Museum (managed by yet another of her father’s many mistresses), where the tasteless tableaux are set up in such a way as to shoot each other’s heads (and nearly Simona’s) off… and so the fanciful plot contrivances continue to pile up until the culprit (or an unconvincing mannequin likeness thereof) follows in Boromini’s fatal footsteps and takes a tumble off that tower.

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If James Cameron evidenced a complete lack of perspective when he used that nuclear explosion to back light a kiss between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis in True Lies,  Crispino and frequent script collaborator Lucio Battistrada have topped him here. Flying in the face of all the outre narrative devices outlined above, the killer’s motives are ultimately revealed to be disappointingly banal (blackmail and a contested inheritance)… despite the amplification of a hint from the opening of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it turns out that the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves. But did the culprit really need a suicide epidemic amid which to conceal his murders? Well no, but it gives Crispino the pretext to ramp up the oppressive atmosphere of his film to rarely matched levels of queasy uneasiness. The opening montage that establishes the self-inflicted snuffathon is pretty amusing stuff, actually… I had a particularly good chuckle over the dapper dude who unceremoniously pulls a plastic bag over his head before plunging into the Tiber and the guy who cheerfully immolates himself in his car… reminds me of some of the jolly antics in Don Sharp’s Psychomania (1973). Things take a turn for the distinctly grotesque though when Crispino shares with us Simona’s collection of grisly post mortem photos. “Don’t tell me you get off on this stuff!” the shocked Betty asks Simona (a question that would be more usefully addressed to the mandatory perverted morgue worker Ivo, played by Ernesto Colli) and indeed, some of the photos look disturbingly authentic. Maybe not, though… those Italian FXperts could always mock up a convincing bit of bodily mayhem. Nevertheless, Joseph Brenner extracted predictable mileage of such alleged authenticity for the film’s U.S. release, packing out the drive-ins and grind houses in the process.

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As well as being an entertainingly tall tale and mini-masterpiece of morbidity, Autopsy also represents a significant entry in that most niche of movie sub-genres, the “Mimsy Farmer going bonkers” flick. After a string of low ranking Hollywood roles, Farmer made her name in Barbet Schroeder’s More (1969) as the doomed dope fiend Estelle. Her vulnerability in this picture convinced diverse Italian auteurs to employ her in similar roles. She’s suitably fragile in Argento’s Four Flies In Grey Velvet (1971) and generates pathos aplenty in Francesco Barilli’s The Perfume Of The Lady in Black (1974)… even Lucio Fulci takes a half-assed stab at getting a signature performance out of her in his endearingly goofy Poe adaptation The Black Cat (1981.) Farmer’s emoting in all of these was underscored and enhanced no end by tremendous musical accompaniment from the likes of Ennio Morrione (Autopsy and Four Flies), Pino Donaggio (The Black Cat) and Nicola Giovani (The Perfume Of The Lady), not to mention The Pink Floyd (More.)

Extras on this Anchor Bay DVD edition constitute two trailers, the American one for “Autopsy” and an international one under the guise of “The Victim”, a title that neatly encapsulates Farmer’s ongoing screen persona (the film is also known as Macchie Solari / Sun Spots, Tension, Corpse, The Magician and Tarot… no, I have no idea why!) Crispino’s film looks and sounds OK for a DVD release of this vintage. I’m not in a position to say whether it looked or sounded any better when it followed many of its fellow Anchor Bay titles to a subsequent release on the Blue Underground label. Unlike many of those, it shows no sign of re-emerging on Blu-ray just yet. Four Flies, The Black Cat and More have all been available in this format for some time and Perfume Of The Lady In Black is on the way from 88 Films… perhaps they’d like to extend a similar upgrade to Autopsy?

I’ll be keeping my eye out for that…

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Welcome To The House Of Fun… THE HOUSE WITH LAUGHING WINDOWS Reviewed

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DVD. Region 2. Shameless. 18

A former Argento collaborator (he worked on the screenplay of Deep Red), Giuseppe (Pupi) Avati has, when he can take time out from directing such internationally acclaimed Arthouse efforts as Noi Tre / We Three (1984) and Regalo Di Natale / The Christmas Present (1986), managed to  rack up an impressive secret horror history which compares favourably with that of the divine Dario, in terms of quality if not quantity. The Bolognese director’s outings in the horror genre include Zeder – Voices From Beyond (1983), a paranoid illuminati-type thriller involving the resuscitation of the dead which exerted a major, unacknowledged influence over Mary Lambert’s 1989 effort Pet Cemetery (officially a Stephen King adaptation) and another period saga of occultism, L’Arcano Incantatory (“The Arcane Enchanter”, 1996.)

Enhancing his paura pedigree no end, Avati’s Bordella (“House Of Pleasure For Women”, 1976) featured an “invisible man” sequence that was supervised by Italian horror godfather Mario Bava and Avati co-wrote Macabre (1980), the directorial debut of Bava’s son Lamberto. He even chipped in on the writing of Lucio Fulci’s political satire Dracula In Brianza (1975.)

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Avati’s greatest horror achievement The House With Laughing Windows (1976, the maiden effort from AMA productions, a company formed by Avati with his brother, producer and frequent script collaborator, Antonio.) bears closer comparison though with Fulci’s 1972 giallo masterpiece Don’t Torture A Duckling in its anti-clericism and its portrayal of rural retardation, moral degeneracy, superstition and  hypocrisy. Its allegorical condemnation of amnesia regarding collaboration with the Nazis makes for an interesting exercise in “compare and contrast” with Pasolini’s altogether more explicit treatment of the subject in his notorious Salo – 120 Days Of Sodom (1975)… which, of course, Avati also had a hand in writing!

Impatient with Roman imperialism, Avati has always been keen to shoot movies in his beloved homeland though THWLW is no glossy PR job: “The peasant culture in which I grew up is still very strong in Emilia Romagna…” Avati once told me… “I was brought up on terrifying fairy tales and a religiosity which always emphasised the terrible penalties for sin. I was brought up in a state of fear, and these fears are acknowledged in my work. They have shaped my imagination. I have tried to portray the dark side of my homeland, the secret side which doesn’t appear in the tourist brochures.”

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Although Avati believes it  was in Zeder that he “best captured this unofficial side of The Riviera Romagnola”, there is an almost palpable sense of degeneracy and decay pervading The House With Laughing Windows, an overwhelmingly oppressive effort. The sepia-tinted titles sequence, in which a trussed, suspended individual is stabbed and tortured by two concealed fiigures, immediately sets never on edge, its disturbing impact enhanced no end by the accompanying voice over from some clearly deranged individual, free associating about colours, syphilis, contamination, purification and death. This sequence comes closer to the essence of madness than any amount of gurning and hammy declamation ever could. Sir Anthony Hopkins, please take note…

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The viewer has hardly had a chance to regain his composure before artist Stefano (Lino Capolicchio, a favoured lead in Avati’s art house offerings though readers might recall him more readily from sundry Crime Slime efforts and Antonio Bido’s 1978 giallo effort Blood Stained Shadow / Solamente Nero… which also has a dodgy priest angle) is welcomed to a creepy Emilian backwater by its dwarf Mayor (Avati clearly has a non-PC thing about  vertically challenged individuals, as evidenced from as early as his second feature Balsamus L’Uomo Di Satana aka Blood Relations, 1970 ) to restore a flaky church fresco of St Sebastian being martyred by two obscure figures, their faces rotted away by years of neglect. Anybody who’s seen Don’t Look Now (1973), Massimo Dallaman’s The Cursed Medallion (1975) or Michele Soavi’s The Church (1989) might well have worked out by now that picture restorers in Italy have a similar life expectancy to Battle Of Britain pilots!

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Made to feel distinctly unwelcome and plagued from anonymous threats by somebody who wants the fresco left exactly as it is, Stefano gradually works out that the artist Buono Legnani (known as “the painter of agonies” due to his penchant for studies of subjects in extremis) liked to paint from life (or from “just about still alive”), his sisters torturing innocent victims as he worked at his easel so that he could better capture the exact moment of death (definite shades of Peeping Tom here). Legnani is now himself dead (not entirely unconnected with him setting fire to himself) and dunked in a vat of formaldehyde (his ill-preserved remains recalling the walled-up patriarch in the aforementioned Deep Red) by his loony siblings, who seem loath to give up their work… and guess who they want to model for them now! Just when it looks like the hapless restorer has escaped, his fate is sealed by one of the most outrageous transvestite revelations in film history (The Crying Game doesn’t even get a look in!)

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A masterpiece of paranoid pasta paura in the tradition of Aldo Lado’s Short Night Of The Glass Dolls (1971) and Francesco Barilli’s The Perfume Of The Lady In Black (1974) and among the greatest horror offerings from Italy or indeed anywhere in the world, THWLW was a middling domestic success but  went largely unknown in English speaking markets for decades, its cult status among the cognoscenti sustained by word of mouth, a rave review in Phil Hardy’s Aurum Horror Encyclopaedia and nth generation bootleg video dubs. “It didn’t get much overseas distribution because of the inadequacy of our organisation then”, admits Avati, “our fault entirely.” The time was long overdue to put this right….

Shameless’ sister label Noveaux had a not particularly great-looking R2 disc out prior to this “Shameless Fan Edition”, in which the film’s restoration was lovingly supervised by its director, revealing in the process no murdering transvestite priests but an unalloyed masterpiece of terror and suspense in all its glory. The audio option of 5.1 Italian language with English subtitles really puts  you there on the The Riviera Romagnola… just watch your step, OK?

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Extras include a trailer (also those for other Shameless releases) and an exclusive, revealing Avati interview in which he talks about the influence of his own country upbringing, such cinematic antecedents as Dreyer’s Vampyr (1932) and Clouzot’s Les Diaboliques (1955) and the dark shadows cast by WWII. The scenes in which the local authorities, one by one, wash their hands of responsibility for Stefano’s fate, might well remind you of nothing so much as the closing shot and final line in another Pasolini allegory of fascism, 1969’s Porcile…

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“Shhh… don’t say anything to anybody!”

 

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UnPalanced: CRAZE Reviewed

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DVD. Region Free. Nucleus. 15.

Neal Mottram (Jack Palance) is the oldest swinger in town and just about the least successful antique dealer in the world, but the antics that go on in the cellar under his shop would cause Fiona Bruce to raise her eyebrow (even higher than usual)… robed acolytes prostrate themselves before an African fetish doll representing “the all-powerful God of love, Chuku” while dusky beauties remove their shirts and gyrate energetically. All good clean fun, but when the deposed former head of Mottram’s coven turns up to claim the Chuku carving for herself, claiming that “Aleister left it to me” (geddit?) she ends up accidentally impaled on one of its claws. Mottram rolls her up in a carpet and dumps her in the river. Shortly thereafter, while fretting about his finances, he discovers a fistful of doubloons in a secret drawer on one of his pieces and comes to the conclusion that Chuku is paying him off for the blood sacrifice he accidentally made. This is the point where, to quote the art work: “Black magic explodes into murder” (doncha just hate it when that happens?) Transformed from libertine dilettante to true believer, our increasingly koo koo, Chuku-worshipping antique dealer bumps off a series of victims in honour of his idol.

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First to go is loose-living strumpet Helena (the scrumptious Julie Ege), who after a sex and drugs bender with Mottram (nice work, fella!) fails to treat Chuku with sufficient reverence and ends up having her face roasted in Mottram’s basement agar. Dominatrix Sally (Suzy Kendall, labouring under an alarming bed spring perm) is talking Mottram through her price list for specialist services when he throttles her to death (briefly quoting Hitchcock’s Frenzy in the process) and, in an overly convoluted piece of plotting, he sets up a tryst with a blowsy ex Dolly (Diana Dors) only to drug her so he can slip away and stake his rich, elderly aunty (Edith Evans, no less) through the neck on her croquet lawn and cite his alleged night of passion with Dolly as an alibi. Chuku keeps his side of the bargain, as previously overlooked Ming vases start turning up in the shop. Mottram inherits his aunt’s worldly chattels too, so I guess Chuku helps those who help themselves.

Detective Sergeant Wall (Michael Jayston), the Gene Hunt of his day (come to think of it, it was Gene Hunt’s day, too) is determined to bring the arrogant antiques dealer to book for these dastardly crimes but as his boss Superintendent Bellamy (Trevor Howard, no less) keeps telling him, they’ve got no evidence. Mottram’s crimes become less and less meticulously planned, however, under the influence of his blind faith in Chuku’s protective powers and slowly but surely, the noose begins to tighten. First Dolly clues Wall in on Mottram’s penchant for black magic, then he gets into an axe wielding tiff with long-suffering boyfriend Ronnie (Martin Potter) while their place is being staked out by Detective Wilson (David Warbeck) and it all ends, predictably, in tears.

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Just when you thought they’d gone a bit quiet recently, Nucleus return with this delirious dollop of early ’70s horror hokum. Craze (1974) is just one of the journeyman horror efforts that Freddie Francis directed, with increasing reluctance, as a sideline to his distinguished career as a cinematographer. He had already directed Palance in a very similar role (as an obsessive collector of Poe memorabilia) in Torture Garden (1967) but whatever familiarity existed between them obviously didn’t empower Francis to negotiate a scintilla of restraint in his star’s performance (though admittedly Hugh Griffiths, during his brief appearance as a solicitor, chews the scenery even more alarmingly than Palance.)

It’s been suggested that Francis, like just about everybody else who ever met Palance, was intimidated by him but Jonathan Rigby proposes, in the bonus featurette Crazy Days, an alternative theory, i.e that Francis really couldn’t be arsed by this point. Rigby, as ever, proves a value for money rentapundit, drawing from a seemingly bottomless well of information and anecdote on his subject. His dedication to duty extends to going through copies of old girlie mags to establish which one Palance was reading during his phone conversation with Kendall (I have to say, this is an area of research that I’ve always found particularly rewarding.) I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out that Rigby has the Chuku figure in his own basement, for which reason I’m not prepared to say anything remotely negative about him… and anyway, who could take possibly take issue with his judgement that “with the accompaniment of a few beers, Craze remains a ridiculous but very entertaining film.”6a00d83451d04569e20192aad95d68970d-500wi.jpgThat’s largely down to the astonishing cast that veteran exploitation producer Herman Cohen assembled for this one, chock-a-block with up-and-comers, has-beens, never-weres and reliable character actors. In the posthumously rediscovered interview that I did with David Warbeck, shortly to premiere in Dark Side magazine, he talks a lot about Craze and having now watched it for the first time since pre-Cert days, I was surprised to see just how little screen time he actually gets in it.

Additional extras include a PDF of the US press book plus trailers for this and other Freddie Francis pictures along with coming attractions for other titles that Marc and Jake have already released or will soon be releasing. As presented here, Craze looks pretty good for a 42 year-old exploitation picture although to justify its billing as “first time uncut on DVD in the UK”, three brief sequences that were not in the available negative have been sourced from an obviously inferior 1″ master by these die-hard completists.

Like the man said… ridiculous but VERY entertaining.

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Hell Is (with apologies to Jean Paul Sartre) Another Bruno Mattei Movie To Watch: L’ALTRO INFERNO Reviewed

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VHS. Pal. Redemption. 18.

I kicked off our survey of Italian Exorcist knock-offs with Pope Paul VI’s observation, from November 1972, that Satan really exists and has us all in his power. Some readers have suggested that I erred in omitting Bruno Mattei’s The Other Hell (“L’Altro Inferno”) from that survey. Did The Devil make me do it? Or was I right in my initial judgement that Mattei’s picture is more properly bracketed with the slew of “lesbian orgy outbreaks in a convent” epics that Mattei’s erstwhile collaborator Joe D’Amato was inspired to perpetrate after seeing Ken Russell’s The Devils (1971) than with spaghetti exorcism proper? Either way, now seems as propitious a moment as any to examine this particular cinematic outrage, also known as Guardian Of Hell and Terror In A Convent.

Deploying the “Stefan Oblowsky” guise from his extensive collection of pseudonyms, Mattei shot TOH simultaneously with his The True Story Of The Nun Of Monza in 1980. It’s undoubtedly his best picture (though he himself has had the gall to cite Rats – Night Of Terror  as his career pinnacle), which is not to say that it’s in any way accomplished… it’s the sheer go-for-broke audacity, the all-out  sense of accelerating, no-holds-barred delirium in The Other Hell that puts it ahead of even D’Amato’s Blue Holocaust (from which it swipe its Goblin score, female lead Franca Stoppi and even its fluffed “shock” ending) in the see-it-to-believe-it sick puppy stakes.

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Incredibly, its pre-titles sequence – wherein a deranged nun, apparently having just carried out a gory abortion in an alchemist’s lab, rants about the genitals being “the door to evil” before stabbing one of her sisters-in-Christ to death, apparently at the psychic behest of a statue with red, throbbing eyes – is one of the more subdued moments in The Other Hell, which goes on to delineate trendy cleric Father Vaelrio (Carlo De Mejo)’s vain attempts to put these unfortunate goings-on down to psychiatric rather than Satanic malaise, while all around him bats attack crucifixes, nuns vomit blood after taking communion, stigmata rend every available inch of flesh, severed heads turn up in tabernacles, exorcists catch fire, devil babies are dunked in boiling water and psycho-kinetic sculptures force nuns to strangle themselves!

Sinister gardener Boris (perennial Mattei standby Franco Garofolo) delivers an unsolicited soliloquy about how he prefers animals to people, then leeringly decapitates an unfortunate chicken (yep, its headless body proceeds to take a jerky tour of the barnyard). The wheel of karma turns full circle when Boris, after killing a witch’s cat, falls victim to his own guard-dog in a scene crudely cribbed from Dario Argento’s Suspiria, although Mattei always claimed this picture as a tribute to  Argento’s Inferno (with tributes like this, who needs insults?) Mattei’s trump card here is probably Stoppi, who chews the scenery magnificently as Mother Vincenza.

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The Other Hell was co-written by “Clyde Anderson” (Claudio Fragasso), a frequent scripting collaborator who has often found himself completing the direction of pictures that Mattei started before rushing on to his next schlock-fest. This ploy, together with Mattei’s already-noted reliance on stock footage, was crucial in sustaining his prolific output. Fragasso also co-wrote what is probably still Mattei’s most widely-seen monstrosity, that insufferable soufflé of amateur dramatics, Fulci thievery, goofy grand guignol and grainy stock footage Zombie Creeping Flesh (1981.)

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So who was the real Bruno Mattei (death finally intervened to stop him churning out motion pictures in 2007, the year in which he managed his final two directorial “credits”)? The poor man’s Joe D’Amato? The rodent-obssessed recycler of other people’s ideas and footage? The accomplished technician described to me by David Warbeck? You must be the judge… but to come to a fair decision, one that will not (to paraphrase the dude in Faces Of Death) implicate yourself… you’re gonna have to watch a whole shit load of terrible movies!

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“Can I look yet?”

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Kleenex Ferox… Eli Roth’s Seminal THE GREEN INFERNO Reviewed

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DVD. Region 2. eOne. 18.

That well-known “twisted director” Eli Roth is representative of a film making generation (most notably / notoriously represented, of course, by Tarantino) who grew up watching VHS of the kind commonly characterised as “nasty” by our moronic British press. Taking his cue from QT, he’s paid his dues. Cabin Fever (2002) melded elements of the Evil Dead franchise with suggestions of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre / Deliverance / 2000 Maniacs et al. His Hostel films (2005-7), while helping to establish the dubious “torture porn” trend, also found time to offer thanks to the likes of  Fulci, Martino and Lado, plus room in their casts for spaghetti exploitation icons Luc Merenda, Edwige Fenech and Ruggero Deodato. The Green Inferno (2013) which is actually dedicated to Deodato, is mounted as a post modern tribute / reboot / critique of the cannibal genre that Deodato co-founded with Umberto Lenzi (here is not the place to get into the ongoing, hoary “who came first” argument.)

TGI’s first quarter unfolds on an NYU campus where Lorenza Izzo’s Justine (those who know their de Sade will be able to predict with some confidence that lots of bad stuff is going to befall this character) falls for the charismatic Alejandro (Ariel Levy), who’s trying to raise the consciousness of students and recruit them as volunteers for a trip to Peru where they’ll confront the corporate interests hacking down the the rain forest and endangering indigenous communities. Good luck with that… having recently suffered the misfortune of working on a British university campus, I’d have to say the only causes that might feasibly raise these trainee Clem Fandangos from their self-regarding torpor would be, like, shortages of beard styling wax or a ban on wearing, like, drainpipe jeans with, like, stupid rips in their knees. Justine, however, is so hot for Alejandro and so indignant about female genital mutilation (hang on, that doesn’t really make sense… but no prizes for guessing where this plot strand is leading) she signs up for the expedition.

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The second quarter introduces the other significant characters, confronts them with the expected jungle perils (up to and including “dick-biting tarantulas”) and pits them against the mercenary militia who are clearing the forest. Although the idea is that their mobile phones, hooked up to a satellite transmitter, will simultaneously expose corporate misdeeds and protect them from the vengeful excesses of the goon squad (Roth’s 21st Century upgrade of Deodato’s influential “found footage” device), it becomes apparent that Alejandro and his snotty girlfriend had factored in the possibility of Justine’s murder acting as a potential game changer for their cause.

Fortunately, our eco warriors manage to register a significant propaganda coup without that happening. Packed on the first light aircraft out of the country by the Peruvian authorities, they’re celebrating (and Justine’s attempting to come to terms with her disillusionment) when an engine catches fire and they plummet into that green inferno. Those that end up messily decapitated or impaled on trees are probably the lucky ones, as the survivors promptly fall into the hands of the fearsome Yajes tribe, who take them for developers on account of the corporate duds in which they were disguised. The Yajes have very definite ideas of their own on how to discourage the encroachments of rapacious transnational capitalism… they’re rather peckish, too!

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The balance of the picture unfurls as an orgy of yuppy dismemberment, courtesy of gore FX aces Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger, in collaboration with cast member / “senior visual effects generalist” Aaron Burns. Heads are limbs are lopped off with gay abandon… eyes and tongues are pulled and cut out then scarfed down… body parts are flayed, salted and cooked… dudes are impaled over mounds of flesh eating ants (see above)… if anything these outrages are more convincingly rendered than anything perpetrated by the de Rossis for Deoadato, Lenzi and Marghereti. Given the director’s clear penchant for explicit bodily horror, I can only imagine that if he ever finds himself suffering from piles, he’ll treat us to an in-your-face autobiographical documentary about it… The Grapes Of Roth, anyone?

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While Izzo gurns up a storm in contemplation of the unfolding horrors, her friends struggle to bolster each other’s courage and contrive an escape from the holding pen in which they’ve been left to contemplate their collective fate (no choruses of Red River Valley, though) … all except Alejandro who’s busy, definitively revealing his true colours. He cracks jokes about the first guy to be eaten, tries every trick in the book to bump his recruits up the menu list ahead of him, cheerfully announces that the whole trip was actually designed to aid a rival corporation who were paying him to obstruct their competitors… and as if all this weren’t bad enough, he then starts unselfconsciously masturbating in the death cage… no, I am not making this up! In a parallel universe where the grind house and drive-in circuits still exist, I’d like to think that Green Inferno will one day get re-released under the title Make Them Die Wanking. There’s also a misfiring gag (complete with explicit Scooby Doo reference) about the natives getting stoned and developing a bad collective case of the munchies, with predictable results… there’s only one thing worse than a tasteless joke and that’s one which isn’t funny!

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Presiding over the cannibals is a fearsome witchy alpha female (Antonieta Pari) who seems to have wandered in out of Robert Stevenson’s 1937 version of King Solomon’s Mines to “sniff out the evil doers”… and virgins. She’s Hymen Hunter General and no prizes for guessing what she has in mind for our Justine (would FGM really be on the agenda in such a blatantly matriarchal society? Just wondering…)

The tribe’s special regard for Justine and her virginity (which they intend to express with a distinctly back handed compliment) smacks of the “white cannibal queen” cliche from so many Italian (and other) anthropophagous epics. Further familiar tropes that get trotted out include the sympathetic native (a child in this case) who assists the heroine in her escape and the closing scene (explicitly referred to by Roth as Izzo’s “Lorraine De Selle moment”) in which Justine reassures the assembled representatives of academe and the media that she encountered no cannibalism, that her experiences among Amazonian natives were completely benign and that the developers are the bad guys (regrettably, she resists the opportunity to wonder “who are the real cannibals?” aloud.)

Why exactly would she do such a thing, though? Is she that keen to stop the bulldozers going in until the natives have eaten ol’ Wanky Pants (served up in his special white sauce)?  That would be understandable. It’s also suggested (rather unconvincingly in view of the ordeal she’s just undergone) that Justine has somehow come to view the natives as noble savages… FGM notwithstanding.

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Maybe the wider philosophical issues will be addressed in the bonus materials of this “director’s cut” edition? Unfortunately they’re virtually non-existent (though I did enjoy the way the 5.1 soundtrack option put me right there among the squawking macaws.)  It’s difficult to glean Roth’s philosophical take from the audio commentary that he undertakes with several cast and crew members, which rapidly degenerates into a rowdy “what we did on our Amazonian holiday” free-for-all. Our Eli is clearly an intelligent guy and a competent writer, director and producer (the making of TGI was obviously some kind of logistical feat) with serious potential. Given his film’s ambiguous title, it would have been interesting to hear him clarify his thoughts on it’s place in the cannibal movie canon and reflections on the ethical status of this particularly controversial screen tradition. He does state that as a PETA supporter he was never going to include any of the animal abuse which even Deodato, Lenzi and Martino have subsequently disowned and which still haunts the genre (88’s current release of Lenzi’s seminal The Man From Deep River, for example, has had three minutes of animal cruelty excised from it for certification) and, as mentioned, Roth spares us the threatened beaver mutilation.

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The most interesting revelation to emerge from this commentary track is that to get the villagers of Callanayacu up to speed, Roth and co treated them to their first ever film screening which was, appropriately enough, Cannibal Holocaust. Apparently  they received Deodato’s notorious endurance tester very much as a comedy! But were they still laughing when the news sank in, if it ever did, that the film makers were presenting them to the world as cannibals and genital mutilators… and that these were their good points?

The Green Inferno is the fruit of a long line of  Italian Cannibal films, most of them listed in a selective filmography that appears in its end credits (which omits, among others, Antonio Climati’s original The Green Inferno from 1988!) Like the best of those, it raises  more questions about cultural imperialism and film making ethics than it actually answers.

One unresolved question above all others, though continues to torment me… “Who are the real wankers?”

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Thinks: “Hmm, wonder if I could knock out a quick one before dinner time…”

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