Thursday, June 25, 2015

it's not just the water that's dirty....

As readers with long memories - and short skirts - may realise I often like to come back to the Zombie Lake review and update it periodically as an excuse to rewatch what is possibly my all-time favourite water-based undead Nazi movie (even more so than Shock Waves) so don't expect me to be too critical of this unsung masterpiece of the macabre cos it's abso-fucking-lutely brilliant.

If you don't believe me then you're a fool.

And that's a fact.

Now that's out of the way let's start as we mean to go on.....with a wee bit of gratuitous nudity.

 Beware! Zombie Lake!

Are you sitting comfortably?

So let us begin...

Zombie(s) Lake (AKA Le Lac Des Morts Vivants, 1981)
Dir: Jean Rollin and/or Jess Franco (as J.A. Lazer)
Cast: Howard Vernon, Annouchka, Rene Douglas, Alain Petit, some zombies and a lake.

Welcome to 1970's exploitation Europe and an oh-so-slightly scummy lake somewhere in France, the sun is glistening over the discarded condoms, fag boxes and pop cans as an incredibly buxom beauty is frolicking thru' the trees and gaily throwing her clothes behind her.

Stripped naked and enjoying the sun (unless you're watching the 80's UK 'Modern Films' Betamax edition where she's sporting big grey granny pants) she suddenly notices a 'danger' sign near the waters edge.

Tossing it aside she dives into the welcoming waters of the lake.

Little does she realise that it is, in fact, a lake of death.

Or more correctly a lake of zombies.

A 'zombie lake' if you will.

Swimming fun - death (or at the
very least a huge dose of the shits) to follow.

Sexily splashing away to a frankly fantastic Europorn organ soundtrack and making sure to keep her ample breasts in shot at all times, our wet 'n' wild wench doesn't notice the shadowy figures lurking just below the surface.

Well she wouldn't would she, seeing as all those shadowy figure bits have been filmed miles away and weeks later at a disused public swimming baths.

Anyway, back to the action where without warning - unless you count the sudden burst of 'spooky' organ music that is - a green hand grabs for the girls leg and pulls her below the surface to her doom.

With is quite scary if I'm honest, tho' not as scary as the loud pops and scratches that constitute a smooth transition to the next scene which appears to be made up of someone's holiday Super 8's of a quaint (if not a little seedy) public house somewhere in Normandy.

Most probably the town of Domfront* if I'm not mistaken.

Inside this marvellous example of early 19th century Orne architecture another, totally different buxom lady (she's blonde for one thing) is serving huge jugs (snigger) of beer to the locals who are busy eating snails and gossiping about the sheer amount of young girls who go missing near the local lake.

"She probably met some young stud eh?" remarks Claude, the big burly Brian Blessed alike as his drips piss weak French lager down his plaid shirt.

His rat-like companions twirl their moustaches in agreement before deciding to go see the Mayor if she hasn't shown up by closing time.

I mean come on, those tables aren't going to clean themselves.

Domfront: Local.

Morning dawns and the Mayor (who it appears is played by Ren Hoek from The Ren and Stimpy Show) is rudely awakened from his garlic fuelled fantasies by Claude and his chums loudly banging on his door.

It seems that after much frantic searching there's been no sign of the girl except her discarded clothes, so Mayor Ren decides to call in the police from the next village - his town being so small that they don't have any of their own.

Meanwhile, out near the (zombie) lake another busty young woman is busily spending her day pushing a milk churn in a wheelbarrow across a bridge whilst wearing orthopaedic shoes.

Which if I'm honest is reason enough to stay in the EU alone.

Unfortunately she is so deeply involved in her obviously important job that she totally fails to notice the fact that a shadowy green figure is watching her from the lakeside.

A shadowy figure which is revealed to be a one-eyed zombie in a Nazi uniform.

Well I say Nazi uniform but it's really a pair of mouldy Quick-Fit overalls with Swastikas painted on them topped off with a pair of Wellington boots but at least the thought was there.

If not the budget.

The hideous Hun quickly grabs the woman and grapples her to the ground before clumsily exposing her hideous brown bra to the world and finally messily nuzzling her neck.

She screams kicking off her horrendous clogs in the struggle as the zombie dribbles poster paint over her throat in a cacophony of hisses, scratches and pops that suddenly cut to her prone body being laid (but not in that way, tho' I wouldn't put it past the French) on the Mayor's patio by an ever sweatier than earlier Claude.

Check the shoes (and the milk
churn in a wheelbarrow).

"I know how you feel about your daughter," Mayor Ren tells her distraught dad as he shuffles about his daughters corpse desperately trying to cover her big white pants.

Which is nice.

"No son, I ordered semi-skimmed."

As the fumbling father heads off into the bushes for a tearful wank and a garlic frogs leg flavoured Pot Noodle the gathered crowd (all six of them) stand motionless gazing longingly at the Mayor for what seems like an eternity.

Before it gets too uncomfortable tho' there's another cack-handed cut and we're suddenly watching Ren sitting on a bridge, his sinewy wrinkled arms wrapped around two obviously terrified young boys as he slowly drags them ever closer to his quivering, sweat covered lips.

"Is it in yet?"

It turns out that the boys have witnessed something strange near the lake and the Mayor wants all to know all the facts straight from their pretty mouths.

And probably a 'special ' cuddle too.

"Fuck me! It's Jon Pertwee!"

Meanwhile back at the pub ace reporter Janet Ellis (Annouchka) has arrived in town determined to uncover the mystery of the 'ghostly lake' and heads over to Claude's table to pump him for information.

"You call it the Lake of Ghosts." Announces Janet.

Claude grunts, strokes his droopy moustache and lets loose a very eggy fart before realising that this would probably make a better title for the film.

So impressed by Janet's use of words - and her hairy back and arse - he quickly offers to take her up the Mayors house.

Which is sadly not a euphemism for field based barebacking tho' it really should be. 

Once there, Janet wastes no time (OK maybe a minute or so) introducing herself before explaining that she's working on a story regarding the legends of the lake and surrounding area for a local TV show called Zombing About.


Ren tells her she's talking bollocks, which she counters by whipping out a huge book detailing the legends of the lake (and other stuff) from her tiny handbag.

"Now I'm intrigued!" a visibly aroused Ren exclaims, rubbing his boney hands together with glee.

His pleasure is soon curtailed when he begins reading thru' the tome tho' deciding that it's too vague to be of any use.

"The book is too out of date to be useful" he cries.

You heard it here first kids, any books not written within the last forty minutes must be obsolete and should therefore be burned. 

Janet, not being an inbred hick, argues that legends and folktales like these are usually based on fact.

"But they are the very stuff of books." Ren cryptically (and nonsensically) replies, before launching into a tale from the heady days of the second world war.....

What your granddad really did during the war.

Thru' the magic of the 'wobbly dissolve' (that's the actual technical term for it, go on check) we're quickly transported back to the 1940's where a crack squad of German soldiers are battling an (unseen) airplane with pellet guns whilst yet another busty blonde stands screaming at the chaos and bloodshed going on just out of shot.

Noticing how the sunlight glistens on her ample breasts, the sexy blond Nazi-boy (is there any other kind?) in charge runs thru' the ensuing explosions to save her, grappling her to the ground as a 'huge' (ahem) bomb goes off.

Later that evening she shows her gratitude by having sex with him in a barn to the strains of romantic choral music.

As morning breaks the lovers prepare to go their separate ways - her to explain to her dad why she's having sex with a Nazi, him to slaughter some more Jews, the disabled etc. - she gives him a huge pendant to remember her by.

Which begs the question who knew they had pound shops in 1940's France?

Anyway, after what seems about 3 days worth of footage of the Nazi's fighting in the snow against (invisible) Russians and driving around aimlessly in a badly painted milk float, Aryan boy returns to the village to find that his 'lady friend' is heavily pregnant.

On discovering this fact - and being a blackclad badboy - he kisses her goodbye and leaves almost immediately to rejoin his jackbooted buddies for a bit more killing.

Cue even more shooting at imaginary foes and driving down deserted country lanes to a slightly sinister soundtrack.

Fear not tho' because before too long - probably due to the rocking motion in the back of the van - the crack troops are all desperate for a toilet break and a quick ciggie.

Just like the audience.

But, unlike the said viewer the soldiers joy is cut short by Claude and his buddies who leap out of the trees and shoot them all dead before dumping their bodies in the local lake.

See? it's all coming together now.

"Not the face luv!"

In a case of spooky coincidence - or plot contrivance take your pick - blond boy's squeeze dies at exactly the same moment.

Tho' this may have more to do with the fact that she's giving birth to a ball headed baby than some supernatural quirk of fate.

Janet, unable to hide her disappointment at such a shite story makes her farewells and heads back to the pub with only an evening of cheap drink and the chance of Claude pawing at her underwear with his sweaty sausage fingers for comfort.

Which, if I'm honest sounds a pretty good night.

Meanwhile back at the lake a local all-girl volleyball team have decided to stop for a picnic followed by some nude cavorting to a jaunty Hammond organ score.

As groups of women together are known to do.

Giggling, combing each others hair and throwing a ball around (in glorious boob bouncing close-up) they're all blissfully unaware of the evil lurking nearby.

And I'm not talking about Claude.

A nude volleyball team yesterday frolicking in a lake earlier today.

As is always the way in these situations there's usually one person for whom jiggling about in the nude is never enough, so a cry of "Let's all go for a swim in this inviting and zombie-free lake!" is soon heard and the ladies cheerfully dive in for more ball based, giggly fun.

But down below the zombies are on the move.

Not too quickly tho' as they appear to be enjoying the underwater shots of the girls swimming, doing star jumps and kicking their legs wide open as much as we are.

I don't have the words.

The zombies soon remember that this is meant to be a horror film tho' and soon enough decide to attack, fondling the ladies soft thighs as they drag them to their doom at the bottom of the lake.

Luckily one of the team has been sitting on the banks painting her nails so manages to run screaming and wobbling towards the village clad only in a big (and I mean BIG) pair of blue pants.

Nope, here neither.

Claude and his posse are enjoying a quiet beer or three (now there's a surprise) when she bursts into the pub screaming before promptly collapses on their table.

Obviously impressed by the service and totally enamoured by her choice of underwear Claude orders his pals to take her 'up the stairs' (I don't know if this is a particularly French sexual activity but we never see her again) whilst at the same time top 'tecs Spitz and Moran arrive on the scene, stopping by the pub to ask directions to Mayor Ren's residence.

It's all go in this town isn't it?

"Waitress! this gammons off!"

Mayor Ren cracks under the good hair/bad hair double act and reveals the full sordid history of the 'Lake of the Damned' and how it's evil has stretched back as far as the middle ages and maybe even earlier.

Tho' probably not as far back as lunchtime tho' because that would be silly.

Spitz and Moran unfortunately think he's talking complete shite and decides to go back to the pub to, um, 'interview' people.

As all this is going down (as the yoof say) our favourite Aryan zombie has taken a break from all the killing and decided to go and visit his now grown up (well 12 year old) daughter.

Surprisingly she takes his re-appearance quite well, seeing as he's now a green skinned, undead beast in a (possibly very damp smelling) German uniform.

The lack of surprise is only equalled by the films lack of logic, I mean it's now the 'modern' (well the 1980's) day, so how come she's not in her early 40's?

Ignoring this vexing plot point they exchange knowing glances and he heads back to the lake.

But what of Europe's greatest detective duo?

Well Spitz and Moran, now bored with getting pissed and annoying the locals elect to go and investigate the disappearance of the basketball team everyone's talking about, especially upon hearing that they were nude.

Heading out to the lake the dynamic duo soon come across an abandoned camper van and piles of ladies clothes.

"Do you think it's foul play?" asks Moran as he wipes his now flaccid member on a discarded t-shirt.

"It beats me," Spitz replies, "There's no clue to what happened." 

Save the bloodstained shoes and claw marks on the benches obviously.

Shrugging at each other in a manner usually reserved for impatient waiters the pair proceed to rifle thru' the team's discarded handbags no doubt in order to pocket lipsticks, blusher etc. to give to their wives.

But as this blatant abuse of police power continues the zombies are slowly rising from their watery graves and preparing to attack killing the detectives.

But this is only the beginning of their lust for vengeance (and lust for blood and possibly big pants too) as the unstoppable zombie horde starts to shuffle towards the village.....

"Where's mah hoosekeepin'?"

Your can't imagine the sheer ecstatic pleasure I feel every time a young film fan inadvertently discovers the joy of Jean Rollin/Jess Franco's infamous no-budget zombie 'epic', directed under the frankly fantastic pseudonym 'J.A. Lazer' and starring Rollin regular, the frighteningly ferret like Howard Vernon, what Zombie Lake lacks in budget, plot, effects, editing, coherent storytelling etc. it more than makes up for with lots of long, lingering nude scenes (not found in the original bulky boxed betamax UK Modern Films release) alongside scenes of such mind numbing bizarreness that you'll be flicking back to make sure you really did see them.

And then just flicking away in general.

Seriously it's that good.

Experience the crew forgetting to turn the lights on till halfway through a scene!

Recoil in horror as Nazi zombies in green emulsion stomp about in a swimming pool!

Swoon as grannie-haired Annouchka sits in the pub with a sweating moustached man!

Go open another bag of crisps as the unnecessary love story subplot (complete with soft focus ‘lurve’ scenes) unfolds in bum numbing detail!

Strain your ears trying to decipher the almost Lynchian dialogue and get a headache attempting to figure out how it relates to the action on screen!

Get slightly uncomfortable as you watch the antics of the nude female basketball team unfold to a cheesy 'europorn' score and much more besides!

Your mum and dad drunk at Christmas.

You know you’re onto a winner when you realize that Rollin was in fact using a completely different script to the one his actors had (he admitted as much in a 1981 interview in Starburst Magazine number 48…go find it out, it’s the special Zombie issue fact fans) meaning that for the majority of the films shoot people were just looking at him blankly as he barked out directions at them.

If only  Jennifer Kent had have had the same problem during The Babadook we might have had a halfway decent movie.

Plus when Jess Franco has dropped out of a project due to it being utter shit you know you're in trouble.

That's not me on the cover BTW....Everyone knows that I was the small boy in Suspiria.

 Usually at this point I spend ages ripping a film apart and making purile jokes at the crews expense but in all honesty I can't do it with Zombie(s) Lake because it's so damn wonderful.

No, really.

Essential Friday night viewing for fans of Eurotrash horror, anyone who thinks they've already seen the worst movie ever or those who really enjoyed 'Bloody Moon'.

Sheer genius.

* Domfront is a very pretty hilltown in the south of Normandy full of ancient ramparts and a quaint old town centre with half timbered houses, an historic church and a breathtaking castle.

There is also a popular - and cheap - market on Friday mornings.

More importantly I was once taken advantage of by an older girl from there named Cécile Fournier in the ZigZag toilets in Birmingham back in 1986 who I then proceeded to follow around for 6 months like a lost puppy.

She eventually gave in and asked me to move to France with her to live on her family farm but being really young and nervous I declined, tho' I've no idea if that's a reason to love Zombie(s) Lake or not.

Answers to the usual email address.

Nuff said.

Monday, June 15, 2015

ziggy gorefest.

The Spider Labyrinth (AKA Il nido del ragno, The Spider's Nest. 1988).Dir: Gianfranco Giagni.
Cast: Roland Wybenga, Paola Rinaldi, Margareta von Krauss, Claudia Muzi, William Berger and Stéphane Audran.


The studly and incredibly tidy bearded Professor Alan Whitmore (Wybenga, the poor man's Jason Patric) is rudely awakened - but not by the dustmen - from a terrifying dream where his younger (tho' no less attractive) self is trapped in a cupboard with a huge rubber spider by the tweet tweet of his fairly groove-some trim-phone.

Don't you just hate it when that happens?

Bizarre dreams are the least of Alan's worries tho' seeing as his superiors (and a priest) from the local community college - where he works teaching illiterate no-hopes painting and decorating - have summoned him to an important meeting.

Hopefully he's not been touching up the sixth formers (again) or this could be a completely different kinda movie.

Luckily for Whitmore the meeting is less about his touchy-feely way with the students and more to do with his college, the mysterious Doctor Ray Kuhn.

It appears that Doctor Kuhn, who is currently working of something very clever yet strangely mysterious in Budapest, has failed to respond to anyone's phone calls and more importantly when anyone writes to him asking for an update on his work he sharply replies that the dog has eaten his notes.


Geoff Priest and his pals want Whitmore to investigate.

Specs appeal.

Stopping only to grab a change of underwear and his pyjamas, Whitmore books himself onto the first available flight to the fun filled city of Budapest (Often described as the 'Little Paris of Middle Europe' fact fans) where, on arrival  he's met at the airport (yes it does have one, I checked) by the Doctor's sexy librarian styled, pixie-like assistant (and resident square jawed saucy strumpet) Genevieve Weiss (the star of pop wank U2's "All I want is you" video, Rinaldi).

Unfortunately for Whitmore (and us) there's no time for any of that sexy stuff because he has an urgent date with the dotty Doctor Kuhn at his spooky tenement flat as soon as touches down.

But luckily not cloth.

Grabbing his luggage our hero jumps into Genevieve's car and the pair zoom off toward the unknown.

Well I say unknown but it's actually a house mere minutes away.

I just wanted to make it sound more exciting.


Well, the lights are on.

Arriving at the Doctor's house (and left in the lurch by Genevieve who's gone home to style her eyebrows or something) Whitmore is greeted by Kuhn's manly wife Helga (Audran, best remembered as Pauline de la Rochelle in Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Hutton Story) who takes him to the Doctors study.

Tho' not in her full lipped German mouth.

Well not yet.

Anyway, back at the plot where it seems that Kuhn has gone a wee bit mental, seeing as he's taken to standing half dressed (and half cut) in his study spouting on about alternative gods and webs of deceit to anyone who's unlucky enough to be in earshot.

Which in this case is a very confused Alan, who really just wants the Docs notes so he can fuck off back to the States and his own bed.

"Ahm sorry hen, ah pished masel'!"

Anyway, after what seems like hours of meaningless chat the Doc reaches into his pants and whips out of small diary which he excitedly thrusts into Alan's hands before whispering "don't tell the missis!" but before Alan can question this bizarre turn of events a black tennis ball smashes thru the window causing Kuhn to wet himself before scuttling off to cry in the corner.


Very perturbed and maybe a little aroused, Alan decides to clear his head by returning to his hotel for a slap up meal and a quick game of footsie under the table with Genevieve before retiring for the night.

Unfortunately his plans are foiled by the appearance - from behind a desk - of the harsh faced old ginger woman (whose chat is as inappropriate as her skirt length) that runs the hotel.

Oh yes, that and the fact that halfway thru' dinner news reaches Alan that Kuhn has hung himself.

Worse of all tho' is the fact that he doesn't even get dessert.

Upon hearing the terrible news (about the hanging, not that the cheesecake is off) Alan rushes back to the Docs house only to be accosted by a fish breathed tramp (Berger from War and Remembrance) who drunkenly warns him to leave Budapest before it's too late and he too becomes embroiled in the local web of badness.

Hmmmm....I wonder if all these mentions of webs mean anything?

From this point in things go from bad to very bad via a whole myriad of badness for poor Alan, who is first questioned (rudely) by a fat policeman, his stories of spooky tennis balls mocked before his passport is confiscated 'for safe keeping'.

Or so the local coppers can have a laugh at his photo, one or the other.

Humiliated - and still dreaming of pudding - Alan sulkily returns to his hotel to sit in the dark and smoke fags in a brooding in a manner usually reserved for angsty teens.

All this sulkiness is soon forgotten tho' when he notices Genevieve in all her square shouldered glory dancing naked in her apartment, which just happens to be directly opposite his room.

Alan quickly rings room service for some tissues and a Pot Noodle.

How do you solve a problem like Maria?
Stab her in the face obviously.

Wiping the single tear from his milky eye Alan crawls sheepishly into bed only to have his rest disturbed by a soft knocking at the door.

Unfortunately it's not the dessert trolley but the hotel maid Maria (Muzi, whose IMDB entry features the keywords adultery, dancing, aerial-bombing and teenage boy for all you fact fans out there) who has come - but not literally - to warn Alan to go home now before he becomes trapped like a fly on a spiders web.


The chat (and anything else that may or may not happen when hotel maids turn up at your room at three in the morning) is cut short by Madam Ginger, who shoos Maria away before bidding Alan good night.

Surprisingly tho' she doesn't warn him about the screams he'll hear later as poor Maria is stabbed to death by what looks like Bonnie Langford - with pegs for teeth - on PCP.

If she had it would have saved him the uncomfortable chat he ends up having with her later about dead babies as he's searching the hotel for the source of the aforementioned screams.

Don't worry, it all makes sense (kinda) when you watch it.

Gratuitous staircase shot.

Hounded by the police, hassled by a tramp and with only the nude dance fixated Genevieve to help, Alan begins to investigate the mystery surrounding the strange town and the locals obsession with all things arachnid.

Oh and to discover why there seems to be a bizarre amount of sticky tennis balls flying about the place.

But as is always the way in these movies, time is running out for our hero.


"Laugh now!"

It's difficult to review Gianfranco Giagni's one and only foray into horror cinema without giving too much away because quite frankly Spider's Labyrinth is one of the most bonkers films to come out of Italy in the last thirty years, partly due to the fact that it appears to be written in a kinda free form style usually reserved for ear-splitting modern jazz but mainly because everything in the movie is played absolutely and earnestly straight.

Which was probably really difficult for the camp as pants Roland Wybenga so fair play to him.

Childish innuendo aside, who exactly is this wunderkind Gianfranco Giagni and where did him come from?

Born in 1952, this former music critic began his cinematic journey as an assistant to Mauro Bolognini's on set of his 1976 hit L'Héritage (AKA L'eredità Ferramonti),the film even won some awards and stuff but seeing as it doesn't feature Paola Rinaldi dancing naked I haven't seen it.

Jumping forward to 1981 (if you want a full resume you should really try a site that gives a fuck) Giagni created the frankly fantastically monikered music showcase Mr. Fantasy - hosted by magnificent Carlo Massarini - for RAI television, breaking into directing good and proper producing music vid's for the likes of saucy singing strumpet Loredana Berté and overseeing episodes of the erotically charged series based on the Guido Crepax comic masterpiece Valentina before moving onto music videos and finally giving us the magnificent Spider's Labyrinth.

I own this and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

Which makes it all the more upsetting when you realise he dropped from view just as quickly as he appeared, resurfacing in 1993 with a documentary about Orson Welles love affair (not in a biblical sense) with Italy entitled Rosabella: Orson Welles in Italy.

That must have taken weeks to come up with.

Paola Rinaldi today:
You still would.

Back to the film at hand tho' where Giagni, not afraid to pilfer from the best, takes a plot that is pure Lovecraft and filters it thru the classic Giallo template created by Mario Bava before adding a dash of Argento styling to create a movie that in many ways surpasses the sum of it's parts to become a classic in it's own right.

Plus it's got a big stop motion monster in it.

What's not to love?

It does beg the question tho', why has hardly anyone been able to see it?

If I was Giagni I'd be travelling around the world banging on folks doors demanding that watch it.

Or at least asking someone very nicely to give it a proper DVD release, the only way of currently viewing the movie is as a DVD rip of the ancient Japanese VHS edition complete with hard-coded subtitles.

Which I guess makes it educational as well as entertaining.

This is what too much masturbation
can do to a man.

And just think, if enough of us demand to see it Giagni might make a sequel which at the very least means that we can finally rid ourselves of the crushing disappointment we felt on discovering that his only other work of note was the dull as dishwater adaptation of Nino Filasto's novel Three days in the life of Councillor Scalzi.

Filmed as the much snappier Nella terra di nessuno (Nobody's Heart/In No-Man's Land take your pick), its only real claim to fame is a scene where Italy's very own Kate Winslet, the horse-like Maya Sansa breast feeds a doll.

It did occur to me after emailing him a copy of this review and a letter begging for a Bluray release of The Spider Labyrinth and receiving no reply that maybe he's trying to distance himself from his horror past.

Which would be a shame if true.

All I can say is get emailing Giagni as soon as you've finished here, his rehabilitation into the hallowed hall of horror highs begins NOW!

Monday, June 8, 2015

hatful of follow.

It's been hailed - by critics and fans alike as the blurb goes - as one of the scariest films of recent memory.

Luckily I have the memory of a goldfish so I might not be as harsh as I normally am.

Saying that tho' the last film I remember being raved about in such a manner was The Babadook.


It Follows (2014).
Dir: David Robert Mitchell.
Cast: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Olivia Luccardi, Lili Sepe, Daniel Zovatto, Jake Weary, Bailey Spry, Debbie Williams, Ruby Harris, Leisa Pulido, Ele Bardha Ingrid Mortimer, Alexyss Spradlin, Mike Lanier and Don Hails.

Yara: I have an idea!
Paul: What?
Yara: (Raises her leg and farts loudly) It got away.

It's a normal night in downtown Haddonfield, a cool John Carpenter/Alan Howarth score plays in the background as the camera smoothly glides down the street before coming to rest on an innocuous house.

Suddenly the calm is shattered when a scantily clad (and totally inappropriately high heeled shoed) young girl runs from house and stands, terrified and trembling in the street.

Anyone expecting a boiler suited bloke in a Captain Kirk mask striding purposely toward her, the kitchen knife he holds aloft glistening in the moonlight will be a wee bit disappointed as nothing or no-one resembling this - or that - ever occurs, she actually just runs back into her house, grabs her car keys and drives off in a panic.

Tho' we do get to see her fairly ample arse jiggle rhythmically in her shorts as  she goes so it's not all bad.

Fleeing to the local beach she calls her dad to say she loves him before walking into the water to get eaten by a shark.

Aha....It's not a Halloween homage it's a Jaws one.

Only it's not and the screen fades to black as she sits sobbing.

Cut to the next morning where our peachy posteriored pals body is lying bent and broken on the blood splattered sand.

She's obviously been brutally murdered by a madman.

Or it's a game of extreme Twister gone wrong.

Hannibal anyone?

"You aint seen me right?"

Spooky set up in place it's onto the plot good and proper where mousy college student Jay (Ex-freestyle kiteboarder and Brittany Murphy-alike Monroe) is preparing for a cinema date with her boyfriend Hugh (Zombeavers Weary, a man with the look of a down at heel Joshua Jackson from Dawson's Creek).

Seriously this movie is so chock full of lookalikes that you spend most of it trying to remember where you've seen everyone before. 

Or not in most cases.

"...Me neither!"

 As is always the way with movies of this ilk the date doesn't go well thanks to Hugh getting freaked out by a non-existent girl in a yellow dress staring at him from the concessions stand.

As far as excuses go for not wanting to sit thru' a movie picked by your girlfriend I must admit that this is a good one plus it has the advantage of Jay thinking that he's a wee bit kooky so when their next night out beckons she well up for having 'the sex' with him.

Unfortunately after the deed is done Hugh makes the simple mistake that we've all been guilty of and renders Jay unconscious with a rag full of chloroform.

This I can see with the experience that comes with age is a little extreme, I mean her conversation isn't that bad.

Left a bit, right a bit now scratch!

Waking up tied to a wheelchair in just her undies (which luckily match, I mean imagine the embarrassment had she woken up in a big grey pair of grannie pants), Jay sits fairly calmly given the circumstances as Hugh explains that he's planned the whole thing in order to pass a scary sex based entity on to her.

And no, it's not a metaphor for the AIDS or an STD because he actually does mean it in a supernatural sense.

Tho' the only thing unexplained so far is how Jay manages to pull all the good looking blokes when her best pal Yara (played to cute toothed, farting  perfection by the sexily spectacled Olivia Luccardi) is much hotter.

"He did WHAT in his cup?"

Anyway back to the matter at hand where Hugh is busy giving poor Jay the ins and outs of her situation.

It transpires that Hugh caught this ectomorphic entity from a one night stand and if not passed on - by more sex - it will slowly walk after you - sometime disguised as a love one in order to gain your trust but usually as a really freakish looking extra in a gory prosthetic - before eventually catching and killing you.

A wee bit like old age.

Or your gran.

Confusingly if you don't pass it on it kills the first person who caught it, then it kills you.

Which frankly makes sod all sense.

I mean, if it's going to kill you anyway why bother?

Or if it goes after your next sexual partner why not just shag a dog?

Or a corpse?

Or just have a massive wank.

Surely then you'd only lose a hand?

I would go on but my attention was caught by the sight of a scary naked woman slowly creeping towards the pair as Hugh wheels Jay back to his car before dropping her back home.

Which if nothing else is kinda thoughtful of him.

Laugh Now!

Chalking the whole thing up to experience, Jay goes into school the next day with her head held high (and her knees covered in rug burns) in the hope that her English tutor wont be reading from a text about death and mortality and that she'll be able to daydream thru' the days lessons without spotting any sheet clad spooks walking towards her with a look of menace on their faces.

It's not too surprising to say that this doesn’t happen and during the aforementioned text reading Jay notices thru' the classroom window an old lady in a piss stained bedspread stumbling in her general direction.

Which begs the question, does Jay know many stinky tramp-grannies or is this the girl that Hugh had sex with?

Or has Jay had sex with her?

This sex ghost really hasn't thought it's plan thru' has it?

Realizing that Hugh must have been telling the truth (and let's be honest as excuses for breaking up with a girl go it is pretty elaborate) Jay rushes to the diner where her younger sister Kelly (the cheeky chinned Sepe) and the permanently friend-zoned and rigidly angst faced Paul (Keir Gilchrist or a young David Schwimmer, take your pick) work.

Because let's be honest, if you're being chased by a scary shag monster, free ice cream is a priority.

Anyway, after listening to Jay snottily explain the situation whilst filling her mouth full of cold creamy goodness (as opposed to filling it get the gist) Kelly, Paul and the aforementioned (well lusted after) Yara decide to support Jay by spending the night at her house.

Which if you think about it isn't really that much of an act of friendship from Kelly seeing as she already lives there.

Savile: The Return.

At this point a shocking thought came into my mind (unlike normally when I just fire them over the person in front of me), the family live in what is obviously a copy of the town from Halloween, plus the sisters are named Jamie and Kelly - as in Jamie and Kelly Lee Curtis and their surname is Height, as in the Weng Weng film For Your Height Only......Perhaps the whole thing is some bizarro meta-experiment where a family have been subliminally programmed by an unknown force to react in strange ways to badly constructed horror concepts?

This concept falls apart on closer inspection because that would need a lank haired bad boy - of the type usually played by Daniel Zovatto of Beneath fame - to turn up at the halfway point for it to be true.

Oh well.

With both Kelly and Yara snoozing, Jay heads downstairs to keep the permanently petted lipped Paul company as he sits enjoying are rare showing of the 1965 classic Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet* on TV.

His enjoyment is, however ruined by not only a girl sitting watching with him (Jay is no doubt about to ask which are the goodies and the baddies and make comments about the clothes) but when a bloody big rock comes crashing thru' the kitchen window.

As Paul goes to investigate Jay sees a half-naked, dripping wet and bloodied toothless woman walking toward her in a slightly menacing (but strangely erotic) manner.

So erotic in fact that I paused the movie to check out who was playing this character.

And to see if I could get any screen grabs of her.

Look, I'm from the West Midlands...I'm not proud.

Alexyss Spradlin, thank you for this fleeting moment of pure unbridled pleasure during this movie.

Jay runs upstairs to find her friends with the evil entity in slow pursuit as the creepy creature morphs into a really tall bloke with gouged-out eyes, begging the question has it really got the hang of this 'people you know to get close to you' business.

If so then Jay has some serious explaining to do.

Fleeing the house our jittery pal rides her bike to a nearby playground, where she enjoys a quick go on the swings before her friends - or any scary monster people turn up.

When her pals do turn up they're this time accompanied by the lank haired bad boy neighbour Greg (played by Daniel Zovatto...what are the chances?) who offers to drive them to Hugh's address, an abandoned house he'd rented for the sole purpose of shagging Jay, where amongst the stiff tissues and porn, they find a photo of him outside his high school.

How's your luck?

"Can you believe the entire plot, motivation and character development of everyone in this movie fits on the back of this postcard?"

Turns out that Hugh's real name is really Jeff and he lives with his mum so the gang go pay him a visit.

Jeff informs them (and us - again - just in case we've forgotten) how he got the curse and reminds Jay that she has to have sex with someone to get rid of it.

Or not as it's still chasing Hugh/Jeff.

Maybe if the pair of them just keep having sex together it'll get bored or confused and leave them alone?

It'd be worth a shot.

Deciding they need a break, Greg drives everyone to his folks lakehouse where he teaches Jay to fire a gun as the others laze about on the waterfront in their pants.

But the entity isn't far behind, eventually catching up with Jay and attacking her.

Luckily her new found shooting skills come in handy and she incapacitates it long enough for her to steal Greg's car and crash into a cornfield.

She wakes up in the hospital with a broken arm and a grass stained arse, surrounded by Paul, Yara, Kelly, and Greg.

I say surrounded by but they're actually all sitting in a row opposite her.

Surrounded by is just a phrase and not to be taken literally.

Unlike this film.

"Scarper it's the parkie!"

It's whilst Jay is recovering from her injuries that Greg, insisting that he doesn't believe in the curse bravely offers to stick it in her if it'll help her feel better.

Much to Paul's chagrin seeing has he'd offered earlier and been knocked back quicker than an iced water by a very thirsty man.

All seems fine until a few evenings later Jay, whilst idly sitting in her bedroom window, sees Greg smash the window to his own house and climb in.

Hmmm....seems familiar.

And in a scene that would do Heather Langenkamp and Johnny Depp proud desperately tries to ring the real Greg to warm him but to no avail.

Running to the house and climbing in the window she arrives just in time to see poor Greg murdered by the thing disguised as his half naked mother.

Which is an interesting way to go.

Jay follows flees by car to the beach again where she considers shagging three men in a boat rather than heading back and taking Paul up on his offer.

She's not worth it mate.

"Aya mah BCG!"

Beginning to feel desperate and nearing the films climax Paul comes up with a frankly bonkers plan to kill the creature which involves dropping electrical items into an abandoned swimming pool whilst Jay treads water in an attempt to lure it in.

And why you may ask?

Because Paul has decided it's scared of water.

Either that or he's a huge fan of Cat People.

Will the plan work?

Will Paul get to have sex with Jay?

Will anyone care?

From David Mitchell, the besuited half of the Mitchell and Webb comedic duo comes this well shot, competently directed, engagingly acted and nicely scored little thriller that plays on those universal fears of sex and death.

Well I say plays on them but it's more like it just flicks them gently occasionally before settling down to the more important issue of being exactly like your favourite parts of every good horror movie made in the 80's.

Playing out like A Nightmare on Elm Street re-enacted by the cast of River's Edge - minus Crispin Glover unfortunately - It Follows seems more happy to spent it's time crafting a small group of well rounded characters whilst examining their feelings and thoughts rather than exploring the film's threat.

Which, under even the tiniest inspection becomes even more ill conceived and ludicrous the further the film progresses.


 As mentioned earlier, the rules of the entity make no sense....why pass it on if it still follows you?

What if you get pregnant?

Does that mean it kills the baby too?

Why appear as nightmarish visions if you want to get close to folk?

And more importantly, if it's invisible and can't be touched how come you can drape a towel on it and shoot it?

I wont even mention the random water revelation, which just seems to come from the fact that Jay likes swimming and that she shared a kiss with Paul in the pool from the movie's climax once.

Tho' I just did.

Interesting to look at and great to listen to, It Follows is ultimately hollow and disappointing leaving the viewer more frustrated than entertained.

Which scarily enough how having sex with me has often been described.

Cheers dad.

*Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet has a really interesting history.

Producer George Edwards, alongside the legendary Roger Corman purchased the rights to the Soviet science fiction movie Planeta Bur (Planet of the Storms) directed by Pavel Klushantsev and hired Curtis Harrington to film extra scenes featuring Basil Rathbone, Faith Domergue and (the non-warty) Marc Shannon for the English speaking market, much like he did with the Dennis Hopper starrer Queen of Blood.


Told you it was interesting.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

xtro strong mince.

Xtro (1983)
Dir: Harry Bromley-Davenport.
Cast: Philip Sayer, Bernice Stegers, Maryam D'Abo, Tik, Peter Mandell, Tok, Anna Wing, Simon Nash and Danny Brainin.

One dark, windy night doting dad and all round good guy Sam Phillips - no, not that one - (Sayer from the fantastic Slayground) disappears in a blaze of flashing lights (that look suspiciously like a helicopter) as a spooky synth soundtrack plays and his obscenely tight shorted wee boy Tony (Ex-Frankie Goes To Hollywood bassist Nash) looks on in horror.

Nothing like firing straight into the action.

And yes, this is nothing like that.

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Anyway with the backstory done and dusted in such an intriguing manner it's time to start the plot good and proper.

And almost three years later where poor (and scarily just as little) Tony is still convinced that his dad didn't just up and leave but was abducted by 'the aliens'.

His mum, the button nosed, Uber-MiLF Rachel (Stegers from Lamberto Bava's Macabre) and her new, fashion photographer boyfriend Joe (Brainin, best remembered for his striking role as 3rd Reporter in Dreamchild. No, me neither) are a little concerned by his almost Autistic obsession but are far too busy having lots of brightly lit 80's sex to really notice.

Luckily Tony's sexy French nanny, Analise (former Bond babe D'Abo) at least listens to him occasionally, sometimes even nodding in a concerned way.

When she's also not having brightly lit 80's sex with her boyfriend or getting a milk bottle put up her arse that is.

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Surprisingly tho' it looks like he may have been right in his concerns as one night a UFO lands in the local woods and a bizarro alien, looking like a man on all fours with a mask stuck on the back of his head....(oh, hang on, that's exactly what it is) disembarks and sets off across the countryside for a late night stroll, killing the first person it comes across before impregnating the poor guy's still screaming girlfriend via a slimy tube in her mouth and some mouldy Kinder Eggs.

Which, amazingly is even less tasteful than it sounds.

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"Put it in me!...oh sorry, you already have".

The unfortunate lady wakes up the next morning, horribly hungover, breath smelling of Frenchman and with her make-up smudged only to discover that not only is her boyfriend dead but she's about to give birth.

To a full grown adult male.

Gah indeed Mr. Reeves.

After chewing thru his own umbilical cord followed by a quick shower, shite and shave, the reborn Sam (for it is he)  heads back to his old family home for a quick catch up, much to the dismay of Rachel and Joe who've only just got over the annoyance of Tony walking in on them mid shag.

Could've been worse tho'...could've been Peter Bark playing Tony.

Talking of which (Tony that is, not Burial Ground) the boy is absolutely delighted to see his dad again, admittedly he gets a wee bit freaked out when he catches him licking ooze from his own arm but in a fantastic bit of parenting that would make Dr. Tanya proud, Sam reacts by biting his son on the shoulder before sucking a big nob shaped lump of skin out of it.

From then on it's fun all the way as young Tony discovers he too has strange alien powers.

And not all of them lumpy skin based.

First up he summons a freaky dwarf clown (soon to be an Ewok Mandell) to play with before conjuring up a panther and finally a life-sized Action Man in order to kill his nosy, pet snake killing neighbour (Eastenders Anna Wing).

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Big Toy or little house?

Despite all this strangeness going on, Rachel is willing to give Sam the benefit of the doubt regarding his fantastic tale of alien abduction, anal probing and nob suckling, deciding to head back to the Welsh holiday home where the couple were staying when Sam disappeared in order to see if anything jogs his memory, leaving Joe to a weekend of tearful anger ridden wanks and a Hot N Spicy Pot Noodle and Tony in the care of Analise and her bottle fetish.

How come that never happened to me as a child?

There's no pleasing some kids tho' as Tony, now bored with his creepy dwarf, big cat and killer Action Man for company (the fool) is sitting about whining and complaining in that way that only precocious, stage school kids do, only settling down when Analise gives in to his demands for a game of hide and seek.

The rules must be different in their household tho' seeing as when I played it with my family I invariably ended up sitting in a cupboard for two weeks (once they actually went on holiday without finding me I was that good at the game) before passing out thru' dehydration because this particular version climaxes with Analise's boyfriend getting his head cracked open with a table lamp and the au-pair being knocked unconscious and cocooned in the downstairs bathroom
culminating with slimy alien eggs popping out of a hole at her feet into a bathful of green gunge.

I'm surprised Noel Edmonds never featured this on his House Party programme but seeing as it was cancelled around 40 years ago he might have and I've just forgotten.

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Nightmarish, repulsive yet oh so slightly sexy.

Joe meanwhile has a suspicion that the trail of dead bodies/impregnated women/giant toys that have appeared around the house at random intervals since Sam's return may all be linked but just as he's about to phone the police (their special alien hotline obviously) Tony turns up at his door with the excuse that Analise was wanting to shag her boyfriend without him watching so could Joe babysit for a bit?

Joe decides to take Tony up the holiday home (isn't that illegal?) and confront Sam.

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Your dad and his cum face.

By this point tho' Rachel (who's not just a pretty face and smashing tits) too has an inkling that something is different about her husband.

Especially after she finds him writhing about on the bed, farting violently and shedding his skin.

Joe arrives in the nick of time to give Sam a stern talking to about family values, murdering people and misusing strangers wombs but just as he starts pointing his finger in a stern manner, Sam (or the Samalien as we call him in our house) shouts at him with his powerful 'space scream', killing poor Joe stone dead before taking Tony by the hand and returning to outer space.

Cor blimey that was a paragraph packing climax wasn't it?

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"Who's not in bed? Igglepiggle's not in bed!"

Rachel is left alone in a forest clearing to ponder the mysteries of the universe and how the hell she'll manage to explain why Analise is stuck to the bathroom wall to the employment agency.

 Now you to can experience the effect of watching this scene as a small boy whilst furiously masturbating whilst your Mum cooked tea.

Jumping between shlock horror cheapies - in the nicest possible sense obviously - and low budget indie fayre like the fantastic Smile Pretty and Frozen Kiss, Harry Bromley-Davenport is one of the few, true independent British film makers working today, always colourful, always interesting and always just outside the acceptable mainstream.

And his 1983 lo-fi sci-fi shocker Xtro is no exception.

Coming across for all the world like a darkly diseased distant cousin of Ridley Scott's Alien, the movie gets under your skin and behind your eyelids, leaving you with a nasty, itchy indie rash and a salty cinematic residue in the corner of your mouth.

Which frankly I adore.

The special effects, given the movie's non-existent budget, are both ingenious and incredibly disturbing to watch, in particular the scene where the naked, reborn Sam slowly crawls out from between his 'mothers' legs covered head to toe in slime and blood whilst our first glimpse of the alien walking thru' the misty woods is a truly remarkable sight.

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"Laugh now!"

The basic screaming-synth (the director's own description) soundtrack gives an air of menace and other worldliness to an already unnerving film which from the start is imbued with that stark nastiness only found in the British horror film.

And like most of blighty's horror output of the time it has a cast that, although not household names (D'Abo being the exception) each adds an air of unflinching authenticity to the proceedings.

Kudos especially to the great Bernice Stegers who, to this shy timid 13 year old on it's release, show that stern teacher-types could be sexy too.

And maybe a wee bit mental.

It's all your fault Bromley-Davenport!

Hats - and tops - off to Stegers!

Unfortunately outside the cult movie circuit, Xtro is most notorious for being one of the only two British movie's on the infamous DPP 'video nasty' list and tho' never prosecuted is best remembered for featuring (and I quote*) "...the most uncomfortable (yet greatest) 'saucy French actress and ex Bond girl becomes an alien egg incubator' scene ever filmed."

 Oh yes, and for Lou Beale being stabbed to death by an Action man.

Quite frankly Xtro is screaming out for a double bill re-release alongside Norman J Warren's equally bizarre Prey.


I'd be first in the queue.

*As said by my Nan back in the day after hiring it from Washvac Video in Coseley.

Aaah memories.