Wednesday, January 28, 2015

having a butchers.


Just in time for it's UK Bluray debut let's travel back in time and revisit a lost classic of the cannibal/zombie/mentalist medic genre.

Or I could just review this instead.

Enjoy.

Zombi Holocaust (AKA: Doctor Butcher M.D: Medical Deviate, Island of the Last Zombies, Queen of the Cannibals, La Regina dei cannibali, Zombie Holocaust, 1979).
Director: Marino Girolami (or if you prefer, Frank Martin).
Cast: Ian (the kids school fees are how much?!!?) McCulloch, Sherry Buchanan, Alexandra Delli Colli, Peter O'Neil and Donald O'Brian.

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"You nearly succeeded in ruining my life's work! I could easily kill you now. But I'm determined to have your brain!"


In a rain sodden (and badly lit) teaching hospital deep in the heart of New York City (the home from home for 80's lo-fi Italian movie makers) someone has been helping themselves to various body parts belonging to the cadavers marked for use in the daily anatomy class, much to the chagrin of the grumpy surgeon who uses the incidents as an excuse to shout "You've all failed!" at his students and fuck off down the pub (possibly).


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"Fuck me! A wasp!"


The gorgeously glamorous (in an Kay's catalogue way) Lori Ridgway (the frighteningly fish lipped Delli Colli) and her colleagues are baffled by this spate of icky thefts and reckon that the answer must be prank playing students.

But lo, the truth is far more sinister (and oh so slightly racist) when they discover the token, bowl haired Asian doctor (who looks disturbingly like a porn movie version of Erik Estrada) is caught sitting in the dark eating a corpses heart.

Spooky.

Erik decides the best course of action is to evade capture by throwing himself out of a window then cunningly turning into a shop window mannequin before he hits the ground (with a satisfying plastic echo it has to be said).


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Noel Edmonds discovers his hand twin.



After a leisurely trip to street level in the lift Ridgway bags the body and returns to work to start her examination.

Of the corpse that is, she's not taking her driving test or anything.

It's whilst examining the aforementioned corpse, that Ridgway — who also happens to be a student of anthropology, lucky that — recognizes a strange (for strange re: shite) tattoo on the dead man's chest—a tattoo that just happens to be (are you paying attention?) exactly the same as a symbol found on a ceremonial dagger given to Ridgway for her sixth birthday by the housemaid that looked after her when she lived on the tropical island of Kitkatoo.

Which by a strange coincidence is where the heart eating doc was from too.

Phew!

And if that wasn't plot contrivance enough it turns out that the dagger has recently been stolen!

I mean what are the chances of that?

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"This outbreak of cannibalism could
be related to the killing moon".



Feeling there's more to this than just an isolated incident, Lori decides to ask famous scientific 'investigator' and generally suave stud muffin Dr. Peter Chandler (genre god and owner of the worlds best ginger comb-over McCulloch) for help in solving the macabre mystery.

After much ooing and aahing, Chandler reckons the best way to get to the bottom of things is to organize an all expenses paid holiday, sorry expedition to the island alongside a crack team of experts (well alongside Lori, her assistant George (the credits say Peter O'Neal but I swear it's a pre Dead Ringers Jon Culshaw) and tough tomboy reporter Susan (the lank haired, boy trousered but infinitely bonkable Buchanan).
  

 Non-entities one and all but infinitely more charismatic than anyone featured on I'm A Celebrity.

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Admit it.....you would...at least once.



Deciding to visit the big island next to Kitkatoo (Dogpoochone?) first our fantastic foursome spend a few days staying with the trampish Dr. Jeff Obrero (screen legend O'Brian, looking like Wilfrid Brambell's buffer brother), a piss stained and pooh breathed gone to seed medical researcher with a great line in open neck shirts who's been living among the natives for years.

Well in their bins by the look of him.

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"Aye son!"


Although stinky as hell he Obero still has some manners and, after tea, cakes and a severed head (tho' it may have been a mouldy potato) in Laura's bed he offers not only the use of his boat but a trio of Beatle haired native bearers and his big cravated 'man friend' Moloto (Barrera, essaying his role in Zombie Flesh Eaters but in a cheaper outfit), as their guide.

As is the way in such movies, nothing goes according to plan. The boats engine overheats stranding the group not on the isle of Kitkatoo but on the smaller (and slightly less dangerous) Kitkatoow...or so Moloto claims.

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"Look at the dog!"



Chandler however is beginning to suspect that Moloto isn't being entirely honest about the situation but as he goes to confront the guide a loin-clothed band of scary cannibals jump out of the bushes and attack our heroes.

The native bearers are the first to fall (but isn't that always the way?) giving Chandler and co. time to leg it into the trees.

Contacting Dr. Obrero, the survivors are told to make their way to a handy abandoned church further inland and to lock themselves in whilst awaiting rescue.

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Jon Culshaw up the casino.
Twice.


As Chandler and his merry (if slightly smaller than earlier) band make their way through the jungle (well, producers garden) they seem surprised to find that the cannibals have been following them and stand around screaming when they attack again and after a particularly threadbare struggle
George ends up eyeless whilst slinky Susan (being the most attractive woman in the movie) is carried away by the arse bearing natives.

Suddenly (almost as if the director has remembered the films title) a gaggle of shuffling zombies turn up and scare the natives to buggery (not literally mind) and the survivors make it to the church on time to find Obrero waiting for them.

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"Rrrrraaaannnngggeeerrrrsssss!"



Convincing them that Susan is probably enjoying the attentions of the sausage fingered cannibals, he hands Lori and Chandler a map showing the quickest way to New York and points them in the direction of a handy rubber dingy left on the beach.

Even though Chandler's suspicions of foul play are getting stronger by the second he decides that it probably would be safer to just head home and forget about everything.

Plus he realizes that it'll just be him and Lori in the dingy for weeks...the dirty wee dog.

His sinful thoughts of hot sea-based sex are interrupted though when a zombies attacks them on the beach, leaving an angry (and no doubt sexually frustrated) Chandler to dispatch it with a handy outboard motor.

With a look of grim determination usually only seen in Sheepdogs our hero slowly realises that the only way he's ever gonna pull Lori is to solve the island mystery so with a heavy heart – and a raging horn - Chandler heads back to the church to confront the mad doctor......

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With more cuts available than Richie Manic, Marino Girolami's cult classic is probably the only Italian gore-arama to feature not only cannibals but also zombies and a mad as a lorry doctor too, so you effectively get three movies for the price of one.

It's just a pity that none of them are any good.

On the plus side, Ian McCulloch is in it and as we all know he would never appear in anything too shady, standing around in a selection of Primark suits looking worriedly ginger (or is that gingerly worried) and let's be honest, he could stand around in his undies painting a wall and he'd still be infinitely watchable.

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McCulloch: painting in his pants.



Donald O'Brian on the other hand is the complete antitheses of McCulloch's subtle acting style, a perfect example of an eye rolling, scenery chewing and wee stained madman. His fantastically realized Dr. Obrero is an utter joy, so convincing is his performance that you can almost taste his fishy breath.

Of the other cast members, the plump mouthed star of Fulci's New York Ripper Alexandra Delli Colli is only there to look good in her cream suspenders whilst pouting, her most difficult acting scene is where she's required to look vaguely scared whilst a group of Filipino tramps smear her naked body in face paint and strap her to a big paper mache wheel.

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Inside John Leslie's Mind.



This she manages with great aplomb I'm glad to say, whilst Sherry Buchanan comes across as a dirtier (but less mental and with more teeth) Margot Kidder.

Wearing her dads clothes and with hair that hasn't seen shampoo for about six months she still manages to exude an air of clumsy back alley sexual hi-jinks (even when strapped to a table after being scalped which would be a tall order for most actresses). 

 
The rest of the cast are kinda just there really, which is enough I guess.


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Buchanan: Just wait till the fucking starts.



As for the cannibal tribe, well it's the first time I've ever seen scary natives dressed only in thongs fashioned from rashers of bacon and mop top wigs but who's to say this isn't a realistic depiction of an ancient civilization?

Not me that's for sure.

Now to the zombies hordes (well I say hordes but there are only five of them, one of which is the directors mum) who, with make up that is a triumph for the seven year old hired to produce it using only the contents of the class arts and craft cupboard and accompanied at all times by a synth score that consists mainly of samples of a small boy farting whilst a dog with throat cancer barks backwards these undead terrors are guaranteed to strike mild apathy into the hearts of even the most hardened viewers.

Essential viewing.


And if that doesn't get me a complimentary disc from 88 Films nothing will.

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