Sunday, January 10, 2010

stab, cackle and pop (music).

Sometimes a film comes along that is so unique that it is only whispered about when in polite company.

A film so utterly wrong yet so utterly right that you glue the disc into your DVD player so you can never watch anything else.

A film so brain leakingly bizarre in it's genius that I passed out during the last twenty minutes.

Winner of the 14th Fantafestival Fulci Award (and who knew that a fizzy drink sponsored horror festivals?), ladies and gentlemen I give you:

Fatal Frames (AKA Fotogrammi mortali. 1996).
Dir: Al Festa
Cast: Stefania Stella, Rick Gianasi, David Warbeck, Donald Pleasence, Leo Daniel, Alida Valli, Geoffrey Copleston, Linnea Quigley, Ugo Pagliai, Nina Soldano, Rossano Brazzi and Angus Scrimm.

"It's pure Madonna!"



It's after midnight in the blandly shot black and white house.

Somewhere on the second floor an unseen musician is riffing Danny Elfman's Batman score on a Bontempi organ whilst the Werthers Original Granddad, clad in a pair of huge tartan slippers and a silk dressing gown sits cracking off a quick one to big breasted snuff porn.

From a gap in the doorway a wee boy sits and watches the unfolding carnage before him.

Suddenly Granddad turns to face the child but rather than be angry he picks up the boy and sits him on his (damp and sticky) lap to enjoy the entertainment from the comfort of the armchair.

Cut to a gaudily lit street somewhere in Joel Schumacher's mind, where an 80's catalogue model is tastefully hacked to death by a black gloved, flasher jacketed killer.

Phew! and that's all in the pre-credits sequence.

Back to the plot and pumped up, lion maned 'pop music' video director Alex Ritt (Sgt.Kabukiman himself Gianasi) is reeling from the murder of his young wife (that'll be the bird we've just seen chopped up then), moping around on rooftops looking windswept and interesting whilst a nondescript Europop score chunders in the background.

Hoping to cheer him up, horse-maned and buff chested music producer Dan Antonucci (Daniel, last seen propping up the bar in Gypsy Angel) invites him to Rome to direct the video for the Italian equivalent of Pete Burns, the frankly fantastic Stefania Stella.

Relax guys (and gals) she's single.

I. Don't. Have. The. Words.


Arriving in Rome he's almost instantly abused (but not in that way unfortunately) by a tramp before being taken to meet a bequiffed, power suited man in a foggy warehouse to talk about Madonna's Like A Virgin video and meet Amy Whorehouse herself in all her augmented glory.

Looking for the world like the result of a hideous teleport accident between Sylvester Stallone and a cheap handbag, Stefania spends the whole scene squinting at a convenient autocue reading the phonetic English subtitles like a child just discovering the power of speech.

Wandering around the warehouse in all his preening glory Alex bumps into the bendy and boy haired Rebecca an American ballerina hired to work on the video.

His best chat up lines failing, it's not until she realises that Alex is the director that she agrees to go out on a date with him that very evening.

Ding dong.

"Grrrraaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrr!"


Unfortunately the evenings entertainment is cut short when, after an excruciating ten minutes when Rebecca runs around a fog enshrouded castle re-enacting the Total Eclipse of The Heart video whilst shouting "Alex! Follow me!" she's cut up with a machete whilst director boy looks on in mild apathy.

Looking constipated whilst rubbing his hands thru' his thick luxurious hair Alex calls the police.

Sting however is busy (as is Stuart Copeland, no idea about the other bloke tho' - is he dead?) so he settles on Dishy David Warbeck (playing Commissioner Bonelli with a sarf London accent) instead.

The temperature is fairly hot, must be in the 80's.


When diddy David arrives however, there's no sign of either the killer or the victim and Alex, being brash, big boned and with hair like a Girls World is treated with the contempt he deserves as the Italian police point and laugh at him.

The laughing soon stops however when a video of the murder arrives on Warbeck's doorstep (that'd be a great name for a band) leaving David no alternative but to call Donald Pleasence (as top crafty killer catcher Professor Robinson) on the phone as it seems the video tape has triggered a memory in the depths of Warbeck's mind.

And no, it's not of him chaining a young boy to the radiator whilst sending electric shocks thru' his erect nipples.

Pulling a dusty file from behind the filing cabinet Commissioner Bonelli begins to explain how an evil American serial killer, nicknamed the video tape recording murderer who sends cassettes of his victims to the police to taunt them had exactly the same M.O. but mysteriously disappeared before he could be caught.

The most interesting fact tho' is that Alex's wife was the last victim.

Warbeck's cum face
(as your Dad is all too aware).


Wanting to cheer poor Alex up Stefania and Dan reckon a visit to the local psychic's house where he can, if he's lucky talk to the dead girl should do the trick and the trio head out to the creepy mansion belonging to the creepy (and blind, you can tell by her outfit) Countess Alessandra Mirafiori (Suspiria's Valli obviously needing money for booze) where a rather pretentious dinner party cum New Romantic tribute night is taking place.

After enduring a nonsensical conversation about how the blind can truly see everything (alright then, if there are any blind readers here how many fingers am I holding up?), Stefania takes Alex to meet the mysterious medium Tamara (the bullet nippled, beauteous bummed star of Tinto Brass's Paprika, Soldano) who without warning manifests the ghost of Rebecca who starts screaming "You did it you lank haired bastard!" (or something like that) at Alex.

"I'm sorry, I have my woman's period".


Storming out of the house in a huff (stopping only to watch what looks like an AIDS ridden Timothy Dalton burning a child's painting of a house) Alex ends up wandering the (blue light lit, smoke filled) streets with the pained expression of a kicked puppy (or someone desperately trying to remember his lines), his contemplation broken only by the pounding bassline of his mobile phone ringtone.

It's the lovely Tamara calling and she wants Alex to meet her at a(nother) castle, she has important information for our director pal.

And hopefully the name of a good barber.

You can tell where this is heading can't you?

Even a titwank would kill you.


On arriving at the castle Alex can only stand and look on in abject terror (well, he tries bless him) as the only attractive member of the cast is cut to pieces in front of him.

Running to find a policeman it's no surprise to find the body gone when they return to the alleged scene of the crime.

But that's not the only freaky disappearance.

It seems that poor old Donald Pleasence has died in the extended break between acquiring extra funding and the actual filming but not to worry as we're treated to an unknown actor in a phonebox wearing a cut out Donald mask telling Commissioner Bonelli that he'd love to help with the inquiry but he has to go home for his tea.

Bonelli has no option but to call on bad bastard copper Valenti (The Red Queen Kills 7 Times star Pagliai) whose interview techniques seem to be turning up whenever there's a video shoot cum song from Ms. Stefania (which is averaging about every ten minutes) and shouting at Alex whilst reminding him that is wife is dead.

Insert cock here. No really please do it,
it'll save us from her ungodly singing.


Alex, beginning to feel his grasp on reality drifting away does what anyone in that situation would.

That's right, he goes out and gets rip-roaringly drunk.

Fantastic.

And it's whilst he's propping up the bar (with Dan and Stefania looking on like concerned parents) that he accidentally pours a pint of warm, watered down lager over eminent parapsychologist Wendy Williams (original gore whore Quigley playing a scientist, yes that's right, a scientist!) who tells our staggering hero that it is, in fact, scientifically possible to contact the dead and find out who killed them.

With a burp and a shuffle Alex passes out.

Will he discover the identity of the murderer?

Will Stefania put on any clothes?

Can you ever have enough  sub-Sabrina Salerno Eurotrash tunes in one movie?

And, most importantly how does all this link to a mysterious painting and the artist (Scrimm) who refuses to stay dead?

Well unfortunately I've no idea cos I fell asleep just after this scene, tho' I woke up about five minutes from the end so I have a pretty good idea of who the killer is.

Or here if you prefer.



It's been over a week now and I've still not recovered from the experience of viewing Fatal Frames and hopefully never will.

It can only be described as the real reason for the invention of cinema in the first place, one of those movies that totally destroys what we describe as good cinema, brutally buggering our expectations of the Giallo genre before coldly slicing those same expectations and conventions up before hastily stitching them back together and wiring them to the front of a junior school.

Director Festa (best known for composing the song 'Living After Death' for the Zombie 4: After Death soundtrack) has managed the impossible with Fatal Frames; he's created something so crass, so ludicrous and so obviously unwatchable yet managed to make it totally unmissable.

This is celluloid equivalent of turning lead into gold and no-one before or since has come close to re-creating this magic.

"Which of you guys is up for
a wee bit o' mooth shite-in?"


There's precious little else I can say, I mean the cast is full of the type of A-list talent you just couldn't afford today (tho' the fact that quite a few of them are dead might make it difficult too), with everyone from Almost Bond David Warbeck and elder statesmen of cult Donald Pleasence and Rossano Brazzi, who knowing that this was the greatest films of their careers died soon after rather than appear in anything less perfect again.

Now that's the kind of dedication you wont get from Matt Damon.

And talking of dedication, look at Stefania Stella (tho' not for too long obviously for fear of covering the house in joy jism) who not only co-wrote and produced the film but also volunteered to play the lead character and perform all the songs on the soundtrack.

Whilst soaking wet in her undies.

Who else can you name that could do all that?

My friends there is a god.

And his name is Al Festa.

Worship him.

1 comment:

The Vicar of VHS said...

Sold! I would definitely never have sought this out on my own, but with such a high recommendation from such a bastion of good taste, how can I *not* see it?