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.

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 Beware! Zombie Lake!


Are you sitting comfortably?

So let us begin...

Zombie(s) Lake (AKA Le Lac Des Morts Vivants, 1981)
Dir: Jean Rollin (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.


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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.


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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.

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"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.

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"Have you ever seen
Midnight Express boys?"

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.


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"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.

Probably.

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.

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"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.

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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.

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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?

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"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.....


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"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'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.


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Annouchka, up the casino, France, 1973. Yesch!


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!

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Your mum and dad drunk at Christmas.

You know you’re onto a winner when you realize that Rollin was in fact using a completed 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.


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.



Saturday, June 20, 2015

bungle bonce.

With Star Wars: The Force Awakens only a mere six months away I thought it'd be a good time to revisit this classic homage to George Lucas' magical saga from way back in 1978.

Enjoy.

Os Trapalhões Na Guerra Dos Planetas (AKA The Bunglers In The War Of The Planets, Brazilian Star Wars 1978).
Dir: Adriano Stuart.
Cast: Pedro Aguinaga, Renato Aragão, Carlos (The Jackal) Bucka, Wilma Dias, Carlos (The Kettle) Kurt, Tereza Mascarenhas and some other folk I've never heard of.


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By being forced to watch this movie perhaps?



Opening with a huge car chase that would put the makers of Top Gear to shame, the 'heroes' of Os Trapalhões Na Guerra Dos Planetas (top urine-stained Brazilian comedy tramps 'the Bunglers') are on the run from what looks like a ton of disgruntled Pikies suffering from narcolepsy, seeing as a huge number of them appear to be driving their cars into rivers for no reason.

It seems that one of the bunglers (the oldest yet least stinky one that wears the piss yellow sports jacket and pervert hat) amusingly named Didi, has slept with the head pikies missis and his friends/family/cousins are in hot pursuit looking for revenge.

After about twenty minutes of 'wah wah' guitar and exploding dune buggies the bunglers hide behind a convenient rock and wait for the bad men to get bored and leave.

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"sniff mah coat hen".


That night, whilst the bunglers are sleeping, a turtle with a candle glued to its shell shuffles thru their camp and, in a stroke of comedy genius two of the bunglers think it's a ghost!

Oh how we laughed!

But just as you think it can't possibly get any funnier, the turtle manages to set light to the third, fattest bungler!

While he’s running around in circles going "Woo! woo!" whilst slowly (and probably very painfully) burning alive a passing spaceship touches down near their campsite.

Aboard is the handsome Prince Flik (no doubt referring to his almost Farrah like locks) who tells the four comedy legends (but not the turtle) that he needs their special 'talents' to retrieve a vital part of the fabled 'brain computer' and stop an evil space tyrant named Zuco from destroying his home world.

What? were Torchwood busy? I mean it's not like the plot was too far fetched for them.

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A spaceship yesterday.


Our heroes, given the choice between jail time for forcing themselves on old ladies or a trip into space quickly agree and jump aboard Flik's starship where they meet his Red Setter-like, new romantic styled co-pilot Chewbacca (or Dave, I'm not sure).

He (it?) and Flik have an in depth chat in reverse Portuguese before Dave blindly stabs at a few buttons and prepares for take off in a blaze of coloured lights and sweet wrappers not seen since the heady days of Crackerjack.


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"Hello Dave?"


Touching down on Flik's home planet, they immediately encounter what looks like an army of hooded midgets attacking a group of desert dwelling Arabs outside a series of stone portaloos.

It's like Disney does ISIS but with fewer beheadings.

Possibly.

Spoiling for a fight the comedy quads rush in and beat the shite out of anyone within punching distance in hyper-slow motion that makes The Matrix 'bullet time' look like the cheap trick it is.

Every time one of our heroes kicks, shoves or stumbles the same clip is shown again and again, accompanied by a hellish 'doo doo' disco score.

It's like mind melding with Jimmy Savile.


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Runner up of the Lindy England lookalike contest (ask your mum).


About three days into the slo-mo spectacular the villain of the piece, the evil Darth Zuco appears from nowhere and drags the beautifully big hipped blond bombshell Princess Myrna (who?) from out of one of the portaloos before legging it across the dunes to what looks like a waiting gold vibrator (with wings).

Whilst this is going down (phnar), the warring aliens get bored and leave but not before blowing up one of the toilets with a painted air freshener cum grenade (as in an air freshener disguised as an explosive, not a grenade filled with man yoghurt, tho' that would be interesting) possibly as a political act lost on British viewers.

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"Touch my big black helmet".

What isn't lost on viewers from dear old Blighty tho' is the effect that the explosion has, causing as it does four fairly attractive (in a cruise ship entertainer way) Lycra clad ladies to come running out of the smoke like a cheap(er) version of Benny Hill's Hill's Angels.

If that were at all possible*.

The bungling buddies start rubbing their filthy hands with delight but spoilsport Flik starts shouting about having to rescue the princess.


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Relax guys....they're single.
And old enough to be your gran.


Agreeing with Flik (and obviously fancying a wee bit of manass) Didi attempts to drag the others away from the babes with a promise of letting them borrow his hat.

Seriously, why would I make this shit up?

Things get very tense before a compromise is reached and the ladies offer to go with them to the local space disco to look for clues.

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Hair Flik.



Arriving at the local nite-spot (which looks to all intents and purposes like Barry Noble's in Dudley circa 1985) the bunglers manage to persuade the DJ to stop polluting the airwaves with farty sci-fi warblings and play some hi-energy disco instead but when the alien clientèle begin to 'get down' to the hot tunes the jolly jokers start beating them up.

Just like Dudley then.

For Didi this seems a step too far, he leaves the disco to buy a space laser gun, accidentally murdering five innocent bystanders in cold blood whilst 'testing' it and blowing up Flik’s landspeeder along the way.

If that wasn't enough, in a fabulously misplaced piece of slapstick he finds he has no money to buy the gun so he shoots the salesman dead and steals it.

Ha ha ha.

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A normal Saturday night in Dudley.


Now the film begins to unravel and self destruct into an almost unwatchable display of violent comedy, giant birds and poverty row effects as our merry band decide to hit the trail in search of the princess and the evil Zuco.

All manner of random threats are thrown at the group from invisible monsters to flying oranges (yep....killer fruit......oh my sides) via a badly matted 'giant' spider and the aforementioned bird beast.

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"Pluck off!"


Every time they encounter a new peril everyone throws their arms in the air, jogs on the spot whooping then runs away.

And I do mean every time.

Every.

Single.

Bloody.

Time.

For around half an hour.


Eventually (and obviously bored waiting for our heroes to discover his lair) Zuco sends them an open invitation to his house to exchange their half of the computer (admit it, you'd forgotten about that hadn't you?) for the captive Myrna.

What follows is a series of bluffs and double bluffs that would confuse even a very unbluffable (is that even a word? cos it should be) man.

The outcome is that Didi ends up in a box (not a coffin unfortunately) and Flik is left holding a green painted dwarf in a frighteningly lifelike Myrna mask.

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Flik eats his words.


Everything is now set for the final battle.

Thank fuck.

Didi scores first blood by freezing Zuco and then spending twenty five minutes dancing with his frozen body, popping a selection of funny hats on him, booting him up the arse etc. whilst his buddies fight for their lives against an elite squad of enemy shock troops.

Seriously tho' it's not as exciting as it sounds.

Just as the good guys break thru' the enemy ranks Zuco thaws out and tells everyone that Myrna is dead.

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The Adidas Dark Lord
trainers were not a big success.





It seems that whilst Zuco's scientist were making the mask for the dwarf to wear they accidentally disintegrated her.

No seriously.

Flik just shrugs his shoulders and sighs before pointing out that under his planets laws Didi’s squeeze, the seductive Loya must take Myrna’s place as Flik’s betrothed.

She leaves Didi’s side and gets straight down to business with Flik, leaving poor Didi to travel back to with nothing to look forward to but a tearful wank and a Pot Noodle.

Which is a wee bit depressing really.




What can one possibly say in regard to the almost perfect example of high brow Brazilian comedy that is Os Trapalhões na Guerra Dos Planetas?

As an introduction to the many fascinating aspects of Brazilian culture the film is a Godsend, featuring as it does the countries three major obsessions; dancing badly, awful polyester jackets and fighting.

Which is three more than Belgium is famous for.

And what of the comedy greats that are/were The Bunglers? 

Well believe it or not these comedy cnuts starred in over 15,000 films in the 1970s and 1980s, becoming Brazil's biggest export (outside STD's and child labour that is) before being hunted down by the UN war crimes committee in 1997 and sentenced to death by firing squad  in late 1995.

So if you enjoyed their hi-jinks in this, their biggest grossing (and most expensive) movie and don't mind laughing at dead folk, there should be enough online to keep you going for a few months at least.


The Bunglers: They've got something to put in you.



The rest of you can sleep soundly knowing I watched it for you.

You lucky people.







*Obviously I don't count the wonderful Nola Hayes in this blanket statement because as a 12 year old watching Benny Hill she was by far the least scary of the bunch and not at all cheap.


Monday, June 15, 2015

world war zed.

Zeder (AKA Revenge of the Dead, Zeder: Voices from Darkness, Zeder: Voices from the Beyond, Zeder: voci dal buio, 1999)
Dir: Pupi Avati.
Cast: Gabriele Lavia, Anne Canovas, Paola Tanziani, Aldo Sassi, Adolfo Belletti, John Stacy, Alessandro Partexano, Cesare Barbetti, Ferdinando Orlandi, Enea Ferrario, Marcello Tusco and Bob Tonelli.

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It's 1956 and we're in a rundown mansion in France where the cheekily chinned Dr Meyer (Barbetti) is preparing a spooky psychic experiment involving his night gowned daughter, Gabriella, a load of ex rental disco lights and a dirty basement.

I'm sure you can get done for that.

After a wee bit of bollocks regarding the nature of life after death, Gabriella surprises everyone by leaping out of bed and running to the dank cellar before suddenly falling to her knees and clawing at the earth (a bit like an attractively arsed doberman), uncovering a wallet, tickets to Cats and a old bus timetable.

Hmmm....

These turn of events seem to throw Meyer into an almost orgasmic frenzy as he hurries about shouting "I've found you!" to anyone who'll listen before rushing back upstairs to grab his camera, leaving his by now filthy (and not in a good way) daughter all alone.

Nothing bad could happen.

Could it?

Out of the shadows shambles a mysterious figure that pounces on the poor girl, mauling her (smooth and shapely) leg.

None of this seems to bother her dad tho', who is more excited by the identity of the wallets owner, one Mr. Paolo Zeder.

This, he surmises can mean only one thing.

The cellar must be built on one of those spooky 'K' zones.

Obvious really.

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Fritzel.


Jumping forward (in a Quantum Leap manner) to present day Bologna, studly writer Stefano (Lavia, from Profondo Rosso and Beyond The Door) is looking forward to celebrating his first wedding anniversary with his moon faced (yet attractively pixie eared) wife Allesandra (Canovas from, oooh, loads of stuff including my rudest dreams).

Being in love and a thoughtful lady, she's bought her man a second hand electric typewriter (he got her a Fisher Price Knocking Shop and a brass tit from Argos) as a surprise gift.

She can't love him that much tho' or she'd have shelled out for a new one.

He seems to like it tho', seeing as soon as he's unwrapped the gift he's dragged her off to bed for some of 'the sex' that these people in films seem to have a lot of.

Awakening in the middle of the night (due in no small part to his wife’s hideous flatulence), Stefano jumps out of bed and heads downstairs to try out his new typewriter.

I usually just smoke a fag after sex myself.

Obviously I clean up the mess and hide the body first.

Soon bored with all this key banging he decides to remove the ribbon to have a wee nosy at what kind of stuff the previous owner wrote.

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Canovas: Crumpled tissues
and cold Pot Noodle.


I reckon he's hoping it's dirty porn.

No such luck, it would appear that the previous owner was some loon researching life after death, studying a bizarre theory whereby certain parts of the planet are imbued with special chemical properties enabling the dead to literally come back to life.

These highly rare areas are called (wait for it) K zones.

See? It's not just random shite.

After spending all night transcribing the notes, Stefano excitedly goes to visit a professor chum to see if he can make heads or tails of the frankly billy bonkers notes.

As luck (and deft plotting) would have it Professor Chesi (Stacy, star of The Wild Beasts Will Get You and Giant of the 20th Century) recognizes the theories as those of the aforementioned Mr. Zeder, giving him ample opportunity to explain them (again) in arse numbing detail to Stefano (and us lucky viewers).

This blatant piece of unnecessary exposition is ultimately foiled when a whorish student of the Prof's bursts in and offers to have sex with Stefano.

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"It's a fanny in a box! looks
like a
box....smells like a fanny!"


Intrigued by all this talk of cheating death and the like (plus thinking it'd make a bloody good book or even a film) Stefano calls his swarthy as fuck police buddy Guido (sex criminal in training Partexano) to help find out who owned the typewriter before him.

Obviously Guido jumps at the chance.

You see, much like our local police in Glasgow, their Italian brethren much prefer to do important work like this - and fining folk fifty quid for dropping a fag end - rather than go out and actually catch criminals.

Rant over, now back to the review.

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Strathclyde Police: stalking smokers
rather than catching criminals.


Using his fantastic detective skills (and no doubt threatening dodgy sexual acts to anyone who gets in his way) Guido tracks down one Don Luigi Costa (Orlandi), full time priest and part time follower of Zeder's theories.

Especially that is since he contracted lung cancer but there you go.

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"Wanna come for a ride in mah love machine baby?"


Stefano visits 'Big Don' for a wee chat and an Empire biscuit, finding himself becoming increasingly more intrigued by the mystery of Mr. Zeder, even going as far as to visit the priests old blind sister for more clues.

Which is where the fun really begins.

You see, it appears that Don isn't, in fact Don at all, but a sweaty fat man with a thing for stabbing whorish students.

In tunnels.

This is probably really relevant but I can't be arsed figuring out why. 

Luckily for our heroes, a friend of Allesandra's, Doctor Melis (Tusco from Rossella Izzo's 1998 TV classic Leo & Beo) knew the real Don very well and even attended his burial in the local cemetery.

Well that's that sorted then.

Meanwhile, across town (probably) a grown-up (and slightly bearded) Gabriella is back working with her dad, this time for a chubby dwarf named Mr. Big (Tonelli from The House of the Laughing Windows) who also desires the secrets of Zeder.

And a new pair of Cuban Heeled boots no doubt.

Whilst all these bizarro plot turns are going on it's good to know that Stefano is predictable enough to indulge himself in some good, old fashioned grave robbing, stealing what looks like a shoelace from Don's grave.

Look, it'll all make sense in the end.

Honestly.

All this driving around and skulking in graveyards is getting a bit too much for Allesandra tho' who, complaining about missing Eastenders, decides to drive home leaving Stefano at a rundown motel overlooking a huge unfinished French hotel complex famous in the area for a spate of nudist and ghost sightings.

Tho' no nude ghosts.

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Stefano searches in vain for Allesandra's K zone.


Could this be, in some way related to all this Zeder nonsense?

The owner of the motel (Belletti) seems to think so and happily lend Stefano his telescope so he too can chance a look at some nude French birds.

No such luck for him tho' as he only catches a glimpse of a greasy haired, big binned pedo bearded priest (Ferrario) that he met at Don's house earlier in the movie.

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A pedo priest? never?

Running into the woods to catch up with him Stefano is disappointed to find that he's only there to pick blueberries for his Nan's tea and not to look for the secrets of the undead.

Or so he claims before having his throat ripped out by an unseen assailant.

Left alone that night in the motel, our hero joins forces with the local bus driver to break into the building site and discover once and for all the secret behind Zeder.

But meanwhile poor Allesandra is about to discover that this dark conspiracy has it's roots far closer to home....

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Bins.


Something of an undiscovered classic, loved by those who've seen it yet unknown to a vast majority of horror fans, Pupi Avati's masterclass in bizarre atmosphere and oppressive tension is a zombie movie unlike any other.

This fact becomes even more surprising when you realise that Stephen King borrowed (OK blatantly stole) the plot wholesale for his novel Pet Sematary which was released later the same year and filmed in 1989 by Mary Lambert fact fans.

Playing out more like a Giallo than a conventional horror film, Avati fills each frame with hints of conspiracy and throwaway clues that make every character a possible suspect in the mystery of Zeder and it's this skillful writing that raises Zeder to sit amongst the best of Argento and Fulci's works.

Although not totally perfect; what the film makes up for in plot and scripting however it loses out with the directors seeming inabilitly (or unwillingness) to direct the cast.

Luckily the film is full of genre stalwarts of which even the most creaky performances (stand up Lavia) fail to detract from the overall skewed atmosphere.

Hard to find but worth the effort. Buy it now or forever be unfashionable.

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.

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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.

Curious.

Geoff Priest and his pals want Whitmore to investigate.

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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.

Sorry.

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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.

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"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.

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"Whit?"


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.

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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.

Hmmmm....

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.

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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.

Possibly.


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"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.


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Paola Rinaldi today:
You still would.
Twice.

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.

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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!