Tuesday, July 5, 2016

uphill gardening.

Torture Garden (1967).
Director: Freddie Francis.
Cast: Burgess Meredith, Michael Bryant, Maurice Denham, Beverly Adams, Barbara Ewing, John Standing, Jack Palance, David Bauer, Robert Hutton, John Phillips, Clytie Jessop and Peter Cushing.

Cabbage reeking carnie 'Doctor' Dave Diablo (Meredith, dressed in his - unwashed - Penguin hand me downs) has a frightening exhibit to share with the few lucky punters that can fit inside his frankly embarrassingly studio bound tent, an exhibit that fully exposes the depths of man's inherent inhumanity and badness and is guaranteed to make even the bravest soul fill his trousers.

But all of this fades into insignificance when compared the terrifyingly piss poor waxworks that anyone unlucky enough to enter his tent has to endure first.

Five brave B-list celebs are persuaded to enter his den of delights of which the centrepiece is, disappointingly a dining chair with some wires attached to the base upon which sits a scabby shop window dummy in polyester flares.

Luckily for Diablo either they're all easily amused or there must have been nowt on the telly that night because the crowd are utterly captivated by his over the top musings, marvellous hat and homemade 'electric chair' and are more than happy to part with a fiver each for the once in a lifetime chance to travel up his dingy back passage and experience (as Dr. D puts it) the most horrific thing they will ever see.

Which it turns out is a rather harsh faced, pendulous breasted wax gypsy wielding a pair of gardening shears (the fantastically named Clytie Jessop who also features in The Innocents and Hammers 1964 snoozefest Nightmare alongside big screen Doctor Who tottie Jennie Linden).

Each to there own I guess.

"Come clap the goat!"

But, the Doc explains, this is no ordinary waxwork pikey oh no, because it can in fact predict the future.

But who will be brave enough to face it's blades?

Leather jacketed beige bad boy about town Colin (Brit Teevee stalwart Bryant) is the first to volunteer, and after a mysterious dose of sweaty sex face and crash zooms finds himself outside the cottage of his ailing, wheelchair bound and urine stained Uncle Roger (alcoholic Time Lord Azmael himself, Denham).

It appears that Colin is your typical ne'er do well; jobless, skint and obsessed with pub lunches, fondue parties and tottie whose only interest in his uncle is to get his smooth, almost ladylike hands on the old man's inheritance.

Uncle Roger has other ideas tho' and is insistent that money isn't everything and all Colin needs to do to be happy is to live his life more considerately and maybe even get a job.

Tho' being a rich old sod he would say that wouldn't he?

Desperate for the cash, our Colin starts to stamp his feet and shout a bit, causing poor Roger to clutch his chest whilst making vaguely erotic (for an old man that is) 'love you long time five dollar' sucky mouth movements.

Seems poor Rog has a weak heart (but fantastic rectal muscles) and is trying to get his nephew to give him his medicine but Colin, either thru' badness or thru' being hypnotised by the sight of an elderly cripples blow job face just stands there and watches him die.

A sexy old man
(possibly named Roger) yesterday.

Even more angry than normal plus now sexually frustrated after his uncle's impromptu sex show and still desperate for the money, Colin starts to ransack the house looking for the hidden loot.

After what seems like an eternity of watching his smash china tea sets, rummage thru' hundreds of pairs of skid marked big pants and empty old copies of Razzle onto the floor Colin comes across a hidden cellar entrance under his uncle's bed.

Descending into the darkness he finds a dirty spade lying across a fresh mound of earth taking this as a sign of where the cash is hidden Colin begins to dig, soon finding a battered old coffin.

With pound signs ker-chinging in his eyes and thoughts of silk cravats filling his head Colin excitedly pries open the lid expecting to find a massive wad of money inside. Imagine his surprise then when out pops a boss eyed black cat called Raymond (or something).

But this is no ordinary cat, turns out this moggy has devilish mind powers (no, really) and has a proposition to make to Colin.

It seems that Uncle Roger was employed by the cat to do certain tasks for him in return for money (it's not what you think, unfortunately) and offers Colin the same deal.

All Colin has to do is murder a few passing punters to keep the cat supplied with his food of choice....

Human heads!

And no, I am not making any of this up.

"Suck mah Werthers!"

Intrigued by what Colin has experienced, bullet breasted wannabe actress Carla (one time arse revealing Dean Martin co-star Adams) stands before the dirty Gypo to see her future....

Cue that crash bang cum face effect.

Carla it seems will do anything to achieve fame and fortune in Hollywood, even if it means destroying her bubbly blonde flatmates party dress minutes before she's due to meet slick haired yet flaccid manbreasted director Mike Charles, and them going on the date herself.

He's about seventy so a lucky escape for her mate me thinks.

Arriving at the restaurant they immediately (well it is an anthology movie, time is of the essence) bump into movie God Bruce Benton (
pencil 'tached cousin of Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton and star of Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness? Robert Hutton) and his producer pal Eddie Storm (Phillips from The Onedin Line) and, seeing as it's Hollywood a big bitching session ensues between Storm and Charles over a few glasses of Babycham, leaving Bruce and Carla to get better acquainted.

"Let's get naked and play ping pong!"

Charles wants a new picture deal but Storm thinks he's past it (which is a wee bit rich seeing as he's about seventy three himself) but Charlie boy has an ace up his sleeve, you see he knows the secret of Bruce's success in the movies and he's threatening to tell anyone who'll listen.

With that he flounces off to a seedy bar to get drunk.

Predictably Charles is soon 'silenced' by a rat faced barman on orders from Eddie whilst Carla's luck seems to just get better and better seeing as she get's cast as the female lead in leathery Bruce's new movie without having to let an old man stick it in her.

Finding herself falling for the old fashioned charms (and wobbly turkey neck) of Bruce she becomes suspicious when he seems to cold shoulder her every attempt at seduction with a reply of "I'm not like other men....it's how I stay on top" before sneaking off for meetings with Eddie.

Now you or I might take that as a subtle way of him saying he's gay, but remember that this is the sixties, long before homosexuality was invented leaving Carla no alternative but to follow him home one night.

She only makes it as far as the car park tho' before some butch looking bruisers bundle Benton into the back of a car and drive off, stopping only to shoot him in the head and dump his body on a grass verge.


Eddie persuades Carla to help him get Bruce to a special hospital where he can get the best treatment but Carla isn't too sure that'll help. Maybe it's the huge fuck off hole in his temple or the fact that he's not breathing that has convinced her that he's actually dead.


Imagine her surprise the next morning when he turns up to work on time and with no visible signs of injury.

Carla is determined to discover the bizarre truth at any cost....*

Excited by her friend Carla's sweaty face, doe eyed, chisel chinned yet strangely attractive Dorothy (posh totty Ewing) is next to stare into the shears of fate.

A plummy journalist for a high brow music Dorothy finds herself interviewing famous concert pianist and professional fop Leo Winston (Standing last seen in The Shadow in The North alongside Jared Harris and Phil Cornwell of all people).

Falling for his fey charms and smooth, ladylike hands, she soon has Leo tickling more than just the ivories, much to his butch managers chagrin.

Oh, and then his piano starts to get jealous culminating in possibly the most bizarre stalk and slash scene ever committed to celluloid when it leaps out on poor Dorothy after hiding behind a door then pushes her out of the window.

Whilst playing Chopins Funeral March.

Honest guv.

"Roll up! Roll up! and give the Gypsy a
mooth shite-in she'll never forget!"

Lastly professional sexy bitch and rabid Edgar Allen Poe fan Ronald Wyatt (the mighty Sir Jack of Palance) approaches the stand (where the gypsy is situated, not the Stephen King book obviously).

Finding himself at a special viewing of rival Poe nut Lancelot Canning's (Cushing) private collection, all he can do is sweat over the books and fawn at Canning's feet (or is it the other way around?) whilst managing to wrangle an invite to Lance's house to get pissed and maybe if he's lucky, steal some stuff.

What follows is an incestuous tale of two middle aged men sitting in big comfy leather armchairs knocking back Sherry like there's no tomorrow, with each hoping the other gets sweaty and naked first.


After some top quality drunk acting from Cushing (who manages to make even a cravat and cable knit jumper sexy) Wyatt, high on love and cheap booze can't believe his luck when Canning allows him access to his secret chamber and thrusts something long and leathery into his sweaty sausages hands, an unpublished manuscript written by Poe.

On modern writing paper.

Confused, yet strangely aroused, Wyatt is determined to find the source of the text.

Could Poe still be alive, locked in a secret room just out of shot?

"Put it in me!"

Master of the threadbare anthology Freddie Francis brings his usual deft touch to this, the second (and little seen) of the Amicus horror cycle which, tho' lacking the flair (and budget) of the later Dr. Terrors House of Horrors or Tales From The Crypt is still an enjoyable way to waste an evening.

Which is nice for those of you who are easily pleased or enjoy the sight of an actor like Jack Palance sweatily leering over Peter Cushing's arse everytime he bends down, buxom posh birds being attacked by string instruments or tramps being run thru' with pitchforks for a laugh.

The script, knocked together in a few drunken hours by horror hack Robert Bloch skips along at such a pace, cramming in enough totally bonkers idea's into it's two hour running time that you can forgive the odd lapse in acting, effects or storytelling (of which there are many) and just go with the flow whilst the poverty row studio bound feel of the production actually add to it's dreamlike quality.

Except the Hollywood segment which frankly is just bollocks no matter how drunk you are.

Admit it tho', if you're reading this then you already own it don't you?

*They're all robots if you're wondering.

Monday, July 4, 2016

people you fancy but shouldn't (part 59).

Emily Woodrow, no-nonsense single mother of three, waitress and
part-time church organist from Preacher as played by Lucy Griffiths.

the last rezort.

Came across this on the festival circuit last month.

Was expecting it to be shite.

But guess what?

The ReZort (AKA Generation Z, 2015).
Dir: Steve Barker.
Cast: Dougray Scott, Jessica De Gouw, Martin McCann, Richard Laing, Jassa Ahluwalia, Sam Douglas, Bentley Kalu, Claire Goose, Shane Zaza, Elen Rhys, Robert Firth, Sean Power, Rebecca James, Jamie Ward and Catarina Mira.

“Every apocalypse deserves an after party!”

Welcome to the world of post zombie apocalypse Britain, were every street looks like Glasgow on a wet Wednesday afternoon (albeit with the addition of some CGI big wheels) where a pesky virus has killed a third of the human race before bringing them back as piss-stained flesh-tearing zombies.

Just like Glasgow then.

Luckily for us (and the film's budget) the war 'tween the living and the dead has been fought and won, the virus controlled and the remaining dead contained.

Tho' it has left Europe with a massive refugee problem.

A zombie outbreak yup but Europe getting upset by refugees? Now the plot has got a wee bit far-fetched.

Anyway a pretty canny entrepreneur called Penelope Wilton (Brit TeeVee stalwart Goose) has taken advantage of the situation transforming a zombie-ridden island in the Mediterranean into a high-class holiday resort catering for people wanting to unleash their aggression by hunting the undead.

Sun, sea, sand, sex and wholesale slaughter.

Which if I'm honest sounds pretty bloody perfect.

Except for the sun bit.

and the sea.

But I digress.
Heading off to the island on the recommendation of her psychiatrist is the wistful Mel (Council estate Shauna Macdonald De Gouw from the Sky One remake of Dracula), a dew-eyed china-doll of a gal who is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after losing her family during the crisis.
I'm assuming that they got eaten and that she didn't misplace them behind the sofa or something, tho' either works for me.
Along for the ride (well she is paying) is her boyfriend Lewis (Ripper Street's McCann),  a former soldier who's swapped a life of zombie slaying for gazing longingly at his girlfriend whilst wearing a variety of sensible jumpers.

You can see why he's offered to join her on her journey of healing.
Arriving at the airport our depressing duo soon meet to meet up with their fellow travellers; Sadie - a woman who was jilted on her wedding day (the yumsome Rhys, star of World War Z and the actress voted Wales' 30th sexiest woman in 2009), some photo-fit business types, Yoofspeak spouting simpletons Jack and Mike (Ahluwalia and Ward) and a grumpy, Fred Perry clad Scotsman named Archer (Scott).
You got all that?
Good, now we can begin the film good and proper.

Thoughts of a zombie apocalypse and friends long gone or just realised that she's left the gas on....you decide.

Arriving at the resort (which resembles Jurassic Park if built by Butlins)our merry band start having fun, jigging away to a sub-techno-school disco DJ (what no Agadoo?) whilst a (power) suited and booted Wilton gives then the lowdown on the (undead) showdown as a manacled mop-haired monster snarls and snaps at her from the stage for maximum effect.

The crowd (as they say) goes wild.

Except for Mel who, if at all possible gazes at the slowly setting sun in a more wistful fashion than ever before.

"Yall nevah git ye honds ahn mah tattie scones!"

But as the holidaymakers party into the wee small no one notices save Archer (he's most definitely a canny Scotsman) when Sadie sneaks away from group and heads into the bowels of the resort and begins tampering with the islands computers before returning to her room with a hard drive full of who knows what.

Up bright and early the next morn to begin a day of shooting zombie the happy holiday folk are blissfully unaware of the panic and confusion raging below as the resorts computer systems slowly splutter and grind to a halt.

As the behind the scenes mayhem escalates our merry band continue to enjoy themselves shooting shackled zombies from a safe distance finally setting up camp atop a hill where they can enjoy a beer, a barbecue and a bit more blasting as the sun sets.

And it's as everyone is enjoying a cosy night under the stars that the inevitable finally happens.

Yup, all the security protocols, electric fences and other assorted safety measures turn themselves off.

Shit even the hot water stops working.

Awoken by the low moans (and putrid smell) of the undead as they shuffle - fairly quickly it must be said - toward the camp the gang, Archer reveals himself to be a hard as fuck killing machine to whom the zombie war never ended, standing purposely astride a Jeep as his clinically despatches the approaching hordes in a style reminiscent of sex god Paul Darrow* during a particularly kinky Blakes 7 episode as the others run around shouting "We're doomed!" whilst dropping guns on the floor.
"Shite in mah undead mooth!"

Assuming command of the group he vows to lead them to safety - or at least the nearest chip shop - but with the islands emergency protocols activated and a squad of bomb-laden jets heading their way time is running out.....
From Steve Barker who gave us the Govan-based gore-bore Outpost comes a surprisingly effective take on the zombie genre that offsets its low budget with big ideas making you think as to why no-one has attempted anything similar before.

Wearing its Michael Crichton influences on it's bloodied and torn sleeve like a badge of honour whilst throwing in knowing winks to past classics (there's a lovely Zombie Creeping Flesh reference), The Rezort is confidently directed, nicely cast and with some nicely under-stated perforrmances from the majority of the cast.
Scott is especially great in what could have been a tedious, one note role whilst  Martin McCann bravely underplays boyfriend Martin adding real depth to what is essentially a quickly sketched character.

Yes the reveal - and by default the films message - is a wee bit heavy handed but when the previous 80-odd minutes have been so entertaining you can forgive the film-makers being a wee bit preachy.

Plus when the only criticism of a movie is that you wish the cast and crew had a bigger budget to totally realise their ideas then it can't be that bad.

Elen Rhys - milky thighs not shown.

Well worth seeking out, The Rezort shows that the spirit of Nigel Kneale is still alive and kicking in these terrifying times of popcorn horrors.
*Yes Scott is really that sexy during these scenes