Thursday, September 22, 2016

family ties.


Greetings readers!

In between work at the moment so keeping out of trouble by randomly picking films off the shelves and watching them whilst getting slowly drunk.

Quite a short one for a change with a distinct lack of 'laugh nows' mainly due to the fact that the kids are due home soon and I've still to sort their snacks.

Luckily I'm not feeling totally dejected as I've had a few review requests (well one) so I shall get to that ASAP.

But first.....
La notte dei diavoli (AKA Night of the Devils, 1972)
Dir: Giorgio Ferroni.
Cast: Gianni Garko, Agostina Belli, Roberto Maldera, Bill Vanders, Cinzia De Carolis, Maria Monti, Teresa Gimpera and Umberto Raho.




Well we're back in Europe and back in the woods (probably just around the corner from where Annik Borel is writhing around naked) where we're introduced to the tragic traveling wood salesman, Lesley Manhorn (played by the mightily mustached Maldera) who is passing his time wandering thru' the undergrowth clad only in a dirty sweater and torn Action Slacks.

Discovered by a concerned shepherd our poorly pal is quickly carted off to the local mental hospital, tho' probably not to be stripped naked and tied to a bed.

Instead he's viciously prodded and poked by the concerned (or constipated, I couldn't tell) Dr. Tosi (Enter The Devil's Raho) as his terrifying tale unfolds through the medium of dance (oh go on then, flashbacks), leaving him - and us - horrified to discover that he's become embroiled in yet another remake of the (one halfway decent) Leo Tolstoy novel, The Family of the Vourdalak.

But this time not one directed by Mario Bava or starring Boris Karloff.

"You ain't seen me, right?"


It transpires that during his trip home from a particularly successful building conference Lesley, after drinking far to much of the local brew and taking a wrong turn managed to wrap his car around a tree leaving him stranded in the Yugoslavian countryside.

The whole situation is a wee bit like being stuck in Dudley in the West Midlands but with less chance of getting your arse felt by a tramp.
Or catching crabs from a beer glass.

Luckily (for the viewer obviously otherwise it'd be a really crap horror movie) he finds shelter for the night in the home of the Ciuvelak family, headed by grumpy patriarch Gary (Vanders).

All seems well, until day turns to night that is, when our hero (if you can class someone who self MDF and hardboard for a living a hero) is kept awake by strange noises emanating from the woods.

Questioning his host the next morning he's told not to worry as it's just a bloodthirsty witch that lives in the trees.

Which is nice if a little unexpected.

I was expecting rats.

After running out of strawberry jam, Madeline McCann made a stunning reappearance.


It seems that the witch killed Gary's brother a while back before deciding that it'd be a wee bit more fun for everyone to resurrect him as an exotically monikered Vourdalak, a mythological Russian vampire with a penchant for time keeping, fact fans.

Anyway back to the plot where Les seems to be taking all this gypsy gossip in his stride, which might be because he's fallen head over heels in love with Gary's busty redheaded daughter Sdenka (button nosed beauty Belli), either that or the constant bowls of oxtail soup and bread are beyond compare.


Agostina Belli: Your grandad did. Twice.

Either way he doesn't even bat an eyelid when Gary decides to don a big furry hat and heads out into the woods to confront the witch once and for all.

Number one son Terry (Garko) tho' is prepared for the worst, fearing that his poor dad will get vamped and return home the next day at precisely 6 o'clock and wreak havoc on the household.

See?

Told you there was time keeping involved, I don't make this shit up you know.

Well, not all of it.

Beware! He's going to put his big chopper in you!

Suffice to say that Gary does indeed return at the allotted time the next day looking a wee bit greener than normal (which he blames on trapped wind) but insisting that he has in fact killed the witch and isn't a vampire.

The family (being a bit fick) believe him.

It won't come as too much of a surprise when I say that he's lying thru' his pointy teeth, leading to 60 minutes of death, depravity and dodgy trousers.

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


Criminally under-rated and hardly seen by anyone outside the directors immediate family, Giorgio (AKA Calvin Jackson Padget) Ferroni's penultimate picture is a slow burning supernatural shocker that's a joy to watch from it's starch slacked start to it's devilish denouement. 

Whilst it never reaches the giddy heights of the directors earlier Mill of the Stone Women it's well worth the effort to track down, if only to compare how two totally different film makers (t'other being Mario Bava with his classic Black Sabbath) approach the same source material.

"Shite in my gorgeous Italian mooth you wood loving bastard!"


Whereas Bava's vision is all clinging atmospherics, subtle lighting and and knowing nods from Karloff, Ferroni decides to go straight for the jugular from the start, the film’s opening minutes featuring as they do a barrage of blood and boobs before quickly settling down into a more sombre state as the story begins good and proper.

With a pitch perfect cast playing the whole scenario as straight as Chuck Norris,
Ferroni is free to let his camera camp up the proceedings as it treats both gore and nudity with glee abandon.

And it's this freewheeling style, aided by Giorgio Gaslini's sinister score that enables the film to flip from gothic chiller to frantic chase movie almost without warning as it builds to it's climax.

Plus Agostina Belli really pulls off those early 70s fashions.


"Is it in yet?"


T'is a pity then that such a great movie is lumbered with such a generically piss-poor title, which probably hasn't helped it's availability (or reputation) over the years, which is almost as much a shame as the fact that Ferroni made so few horror movies.

That and the fact that his best known work, Le baccanti (AKA Bondage Gladiator Sexy) is rubbish.



Well that's a bit of a downer to end on isn't it?





No comments: