Wednesday, September 28, 2016

cod only knows.

Been trying to get the house tidy before Christmas but it's not been helped by the fact I keep finding DVDs behind cupboards in the boys room.

Came across this earlier so had to sit and give it a spin.

It's been too long.

L'Isola Degli Uomini Pesce (AKA The Island of the Fishmen, Screamers, Something Waits in the Dark, 1979 possibly 1980 or 1981)
Dir: Sergio Martino (and the enigmatic Miller Drake).
Starring: Barbara Bach, Richard Johnson, Bobby Rhodes, Claudio Cassinelli,  Joseph Cotton and depending on what version you watch maybe even Cameron Mitchell, Mel Ferrer, Tom J. Delaney, and Olympic sprinter Eunice Bolt.

Be Warned: You will actually see a man turned inside-out. Only you wont unless you're watching the trailer for the Corman recut.

It's a Johnny Depp free Caribbean Sea sometime in 1891 (tho' it's more like 1981 by the cut of the trousers) and we join our story as a bobbity boat approaches a mysterious fog enshrouded island that looks uncannily like Bronson Caves in Griffith Park in Los Angeles from a distance.

That can't be right tho' seeing as this is a cheap n' cheerful lo-fi Italian monster flick.

Oh right, this must be the bits Roger Corman did to beef up the running time/quality for a more sophisticated audience.

Anyway back to the plot where aboard the aforementioned steamer is the bubble-pipe blowing salty sea dog Captain Blacken Decker (professional scenery chewer Mitchell) who's been hired to bring failed gambler - both onscreen and off - Daniel Radcliffe (Mel 'my illustrious career' Ferrer) and his 'beautiful' wife Samantha (Bolt) to search the island for a fabulous buried treasure fabled to lie in the spookily monikered Cave of the Dead.

Which is nice.

Wandering into the dark opening Daniel and Samantha soon stumble across some shite-encrusted pound shop skeletons clutching a big bag of chocolate coins and excitedly head back to the boat.

Which makes you think that if the treasure was so easy to find why has no-one else bothered getting it before now?

Well that might have something to do with the killer fishmen (hidden in the shadows to make it easier to match them to the original costumes later) that are currently ripping the heads off the crew before getting to work on our three guest stars.

It might only be a cameo for Ferrer but don't worry too much, Nightmare City awaits.

"Is it in yet?"

A new day dawns on different film stock (and in a totally different location, we're now in the Philippines, where permits are cheap) as we start the film good and proper - and as the original director intended -  with ships doctor Kemp De Ross (the late, great Claudio Cassinelli) and some criminal types drifting ashore on the same island (honest) after the prison ship they were traveling on ended up  sinking during a typhoon.

Waking on a pleasant Club 18-30 style beach De Ross is unnerved by the discovery of the dead body of one the prisoners, I've no idea why tho'...seeing as he's just been thru' a typhoon and a boat smashing but hey perhaps he has a fear of damp courdroy who knows? anyway he soon comes to his senses and heads off to look for survivors.

From the shipwreck that is not episodes of the hit 70s Terry Nation show.

Tho' Ian McCulloch turning up probably wouldn't do this movie any harm.

Almost immediately he runs across a small group of drip drying criminals who've decided to pass the time shouting 'I'm going to kill/bugger/eat/pick on you!' at the only other surviving authority figure whilst shaking their fists in a fairly comical manner hoping among hope that the dubbing director does them justice.

No chance really but they can but dream.

Luckily for the viewer the palatable air of community drama group tension is soon dissipated when slimy French crim Francois (probably one of the paparazzi responsible for Princess Di's crash) is ripped to pieces by a large half man/half Cod with big stick on finger nails.

Laugh now!

The convicts react as anyone would in this situation and run screaming and shouting into the trees and straight into an ancient tribal burial ground full of empty graves.

By this point I was sure that they run aground on the worlds most clichéd - and cheapest -  haunted house attraction.

All that's missing is a few rubber snakes draped on the branches.

Jose (a nice criminal), in what is probably the films best scene starts shouting about how the whole thing "reeks of that voodoo shit....reckon that the island is full o' zombies getting ready to eat our asses!"

Which if it did happen would make this an altogether different and probably much more entertaining film.

Maybe a wee bit like this one.

Unfortunately no zombies (ass eating or otherwise) show up but a rubber snake - which is indeed hanging of a tree -  does but any slithery shenanigans are cut short by the shooting skills of the 70's breasted, fluffy haired Amanda (The Spy Who Loved Me, The Humanoid and Caveman star Bach) who then - either quite enigmatically quite woodenly) wanders off into the undergrowth.

My head is in a spin
My feet don't touch the ground
Because you're near to me
My head goes round and round
My knees are skakin' baby
My heart it beats like a drum

It feels like
It feels like I'm in love....with a huge cod.

Being deprived of any female contact for months our motley crew follow thru' the 'jungle' (OK it's a garden centre but at least they're trying) to a big house - a very big house in the country possibly - guarded by fierce looking natives.

Well I say fierce natives but the cruel reality is it's guarded by some obviously uncomfortable extras - probably the local jobseekers group) hastily facepainted and forced into tiny leather pants and a collection of feathery festooned hats.

It's a living I guess.

Turns out that the house belongs to a rich bad man named Edmund Rackham (Zombie Flesh Eaters star Johnson) who purchased the island on Ebay and is busy working alongside bubbly Babs, her kindly scientist dad (B-movie stalwart and father of Ferne, Cotton) and the chicken killing Voodoo priestess cum maid Shakira (the slinky-hipped pop princess herself  in her first film role) on some project or other that will upon completion benefit the whole of humanity.

Or at least his wallet.

You know my hips don't lie. ... Oh I know I am on tonight my hips don't lie. your fingers smell of salt and vinegar chipstiks.

Invited to lunch De Ross (and by default us) soon learns that the island is in fact all that remains of Atlantis - and no I didn't see that coming - and Rackham is planning to steal all of the fabled Atlantean gold in order to fund a worldwide chain of hat shops catering for the larger headed man.

It appears that as a child Rackham was cruelly taunted at school for having an overly large brow meaning that his school cap didn't fit so he had to wear a discarded pair of his fathers pants instead.

Trust me I know what that can do to a child.

Realizing that this might be too big a job for just the four of them - and the fact that the treasure is lying within a temple two thousand feet below the surface - Rackham has decided to employ the local fish men - on zero hour contracts obviously - as a labour force.

Obviously he's never visited The Cave of the Dead, that place is full of the stuff.

Maybe he's been too busy to take a stroll along the beach?

Or maybe, just maybe the continuity between the original film and Corman's footage is just shit?

Answers to the normal address.

But Rackham has a secret.

It seems that the drug addicted fish folk working for him are not, as De Ross thought, the survivors of a long forgotten race but something much more sinister....

Well I say sinister but let's be honest how sinister can a man in an oversided mackerel mask actually be?

Same shit, different smell.

Best known for his Giallo work (oh yes and the star studded spleen sucker  Mountain of The Cannibal God) director Sergio Martino, for his first foray into sci-fi pays tribute to H G Wells (specifically his novel The Island Of Dr. Moreau)  and luckily for us it's way more entertaining than the big budget Moreau movie starring Burt Lancaster that was released two years previously.

Which sounds like damning with faint praise but heyho.

And at least with Martino's vision we're spared the sight of Richard Basehart dolled up like an albino Care Bear and Michael York in an ill fitting set of Austin Powers style teeth.

In its favour tho' it does have Barbara Carrera pretending to be a slinky cat whereas Martino is stuck with Barbara Bach attempting to emulate (and failing) a large piece of plywood.

And bizarrely enough both Johnson and Lancaster appear to be wearing the same costumes - and fake facial hair - perhaps there was a sale on?

So swings and roundabouts really.

Barbara Carrera: hairy back and arse.

But back to The Island of the Fishmen (or Screamers or is it Something Waits in the Dark? Fucked if I know) where whatever the film lacks in budget (or good sense) it more than makes up for in pizazz, the monster suits aren't too shoddy - in a sort of community panto way that is, the island location is stunning and the sets look fairly sturdy whilst the cast (Bach excepted) seem to be taking it seriously enough.

Which is nice.

Martino regular Cassinelli is his usual reliable self and makes a likable hero whilst 'B' movie stalwarts Richard Johnson and Joseph Cotton battle to see who can sore the highest without the use of drugs or wings, chewing the scenery like giant Godzilla's and filling the screen with menacing ticks, large hats and mad eyed stares.

It's like watching a Euro-horror face off between an evil Chuckle Brothers.

Just slightly sexier obviously.

"I can see your house from here Peter"

Talking of sexiness it's at this point that Roger Corman steps into the picture - not literally mind but take a moment to imagine the great man himself turning up halway thru' and fighting an army of fishmen, cinema gold I'm sure you'll agree - when his New World Pictures acquired distribution rights to the film.

Thinking the original cut lacked a certain something (gore and an appearance by cinema slut Cameron Mitchell), Corman hired his teaboy Miller Drake to write and direct a new opening for the film alongside some new gore FX from
his paperboy at the time Chris Walas.

Enjoying his experiences so much Walas gave up delivering newspapers and took up special make-up effects full time, going on to work on such movies as Gremlins, Return of The Jedi and, um, The Fly II.

Which just goes to show that nobodies perfect.

He was also charged with beefing up the half man/ half cod reveal near the films climax which saw the originals frankly terrifying Giger-esque paper mache  monstrosity replaced with a far more subtle - and slimier - Creature From The Black Lagoon tribute.

It was upon seeing these changes at a Halloween showing given by John Landis that gave George Lucas the idea for the Star Wars special editions and to this day Lucas continues to retool and reimagine his movies in the hope of achieving the same stunning realism that Walas did all those years ago.

And for only 30 quid.

And so in the summer of 1980 and with its title changed to Something Waits in the Dark the film was finally unleashed on the American public.

Unfortunately no-one bothered to go see it.

Probably in part to having the worst fucking poster design this side of Rick Melton's deranged, tit-fuelled scribblings.

Oh and that wibbly-wobbly blood font didn't help.

Undeterred (and not wanting to waste any cash) Corman called his gardener 'Jungle' Jim Wynorski and asked him what he would do to make the movie a hit.

After a brief pause Wynorski suggested replacing the fishmen with a collection of flesh-eating conifers (he'd just bought a job lot and had them lying about in his shed), retitling the film Screamers and adding a scene where a man gets turned inside-out.

This latter part was due to him suffering from organophobia (a fear of internal organs) an affliction he'd suffered from since he was a child and meant that he always wore paper suits in public.

Unable to afford treatment on a gardeners salary Wynorski decided that by featuring such a scene in the movie he could face his fear and hopefully cure himself.

And by default others too.

The thought of being able to help sufferers of such a terrible condition was too great an opportunity for Corman to pass up (as was the chance of some cheap trees for his garden but that's another story) but there was a major problem.

The film had already been booked for a re-release the following week so there was only time to change the title card before it shipped to the cinemas.

Undeterred Corman allowed Wynorski to shoot the inside out man specifically for the trailer thinking that even if folk didn't go to see the actual movie - either because their phobia may stop them or just that they thought it looked shite - the fact that it would be in the preview might even reach and maybe even cure more people.


The title changed seemed to do the trick and within a month of its release in June 1981, it became the biggest ever box office hit to be named Screamers and starring Barbara Bach ever released.

A record it still holds to this day.

And what of Jim Wynorski?

Luckily the film not only cured his organophobia but cemented his love of directing with him going on to direct such classics as Sharkansas Women's Prison Massacre, The Hills Have Thighs, Busty Cops 2 and Vampirella.

And for that we should be eternally grateful to Lord Roger.

Actually they don't....the girl standing in front of the hills does. Plus if you want to be precise about it that's a mountain range.

As a curious aside back in 1995 (ask your mum) Sergio Martino reurned to his magnum opus and directed a straight to TeeVee pseudo-sequel entitled The Fishmen and Their Queen featuring the Romanian-born Italian actress, singer, model and politician Ramona Badescu (as the Queen obviously).

Under the sea and inside my mooth.

Taking it's cues (and a shit-load of footage) from his 1983 hit 2019: After the Fall of New York, the 'plot' (what there is of it) follows the adventures of a couple of grubby teens as they escape from a post apocalyptic New York in the hope of finding a better life.

Tho' what life could be better than living the Italian movie dream is beyond me.

After a few so-so adventures that unfortunately don't feature either of them selling their arses for food they happen across an old tramp named Jeff  Socrates (Alien 2: On Earth's Mr Raymond himself Donald Hodson) who offers to take them to the island from the first movie because rumour has it that it's the only place on earth untouched by the nuclear fallout released during World War III.

Tho' by the state of the fishfolks massive green heads you'd be hard pushed to tell.

As you can probably guess it was utter shite, 

Tho' Badescu does wear a pretty crown in it, coming across like a council estate MiLF version of Ariel from The Little Mermaid.
Which is nice but probably not reason enough to bother searching for it.

My that's a bit of a sad way to end isn't it?


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

brief encounters.

Got an email from longtime reader David of Colchester saying that I don't feature 'the lovely' (their words not mine) Suet-Mei Leung enough (ever?) on here so thought I'd make amends.

My word that was short and to the point wasn't it?

Encounters of the Spooky Kind (AKA Spooky Encounters, 1980).
Dir: Sammo Hung.
Cast: Sammo Hung, Wong Ha, Lung Chan, Fat Chung, Ha Huang, Po Tai, Ching-Ying Lam, Biao Yuen and Suet-Mei Leung.

It's a dark night in China - well I'm assuming it's China cos when I say dark I mean it's pitch black, could be anywhere really - and our entertainment opens with a pair of burial urns floating around like some nightmarish Kinder Egg advert  discussing such pressing issues as the afterlife, hauntings and Kenzo perfumes new ad campaign.

I'm not surprised because Carol Lim and Humberto Leon (the companies artistic directors) have done wonders with it.

Plus let's be honest Margaret Qualley is so quirkily cute as to be almost painful on the eyes to watch.

But I digress.

As the urns continue their supernatural shenanigans who should come skipping toward then but the pudding-bowled, pratfalling prince of punch-ups Sammo Hung clad in a pair of sackcloth pajamas with a box of Nutella under his arm.

Obviously the urns have no choice but to attack our portly pal, poking, punching and pinching him till finally one of the spirits bursts free of his urn and bites Sammo on the arse.

Which as far as pre-credits sequences go is pretty unexpected.

Some Chinese (and English) words yesterday.

And with a huge bang Sammo falls out of bed - and into our hearts obviously.

You see t'was all a dream in the head of lovable taxi driver 'Daring' Darren Chan (or Bold Cheung if you're watching the subtitled version, me I've gone for the comedy voice-overs), the bravest man in the entire town.

And it seems from the dubbing voiced by a West Midlands version of John Wayne.

Dusting himself down he quickly prepares for work as his tiny of stature - yet harsh of face - wife Morag (yup it's readers fave Suet-Mei Leung, last seen skulking about the background of the fantastic Ni ge mie ye chang) verbally abuses him for being a bit rubbish.

Hurrying out of the house as his wife angrily shakes a rolling pin at him Daring heads off for breakfast with fellow taxi-driving pals Jeff, Tony and Stuttering Mike.

As is always the way the conversation soon comes round to Darings bravery and Mike, being a wheeling dealing wideboy type, challenges him to a fantastic new game that he's been told about from a foreign bloke he had in the back of his rickshaw a few weeks back.

Daring is, to say the least, intrigued.

And what  of this challenged of which they speak?

Well it involves spending the night in an abandoned house and peeling an apple whilst looking into a mirror.

Seems pretty straightforward eh?

Well it is unless you break the skin, then an evil demon will appear from the mirror and drag you to one of the myriad of Chinese Hells you always hear about in these movies.

Daring accepts the bet.


As is always the way with these things his pals decide to have a wee bit of fun at Darings expense so to this end rig up a series of (overly complicated) pulleys and levers whilst Mike drags up as a female ghost and hides behind the mirror.

Daring isn't that gullible and soon sees thru' Mike's disguise, beating him with a stick before settling down for a nice cuppa with him as he explains his almost Derren Brown like skills of deception.

Unfortunately everyone seems to have forgotten that Daring did in fact break the apple skin so when a demon actually appears and snatches Mike into the mirror our heavy-set hero can only stand in (faint) surprise as its ghostly talons reach out for him.

Or to be more precise his ample arse.

Not to be a man to be trifled with (he'd probably just eat it) Daring bravely cuts off the ghosts hand and in a scene reminiscent of a drink-fueled Bond pre-credit sequence as envisaged by Nick Knowles and the team at DIY SOS, smashes the mirror and leaps out of the window as the house collapses around him. 

Margaret Qualley: She's got something to put in you.

A new day dawns and Daring, with total disregard for his friends demise and utterly non-plussed by all these supernatural shenanigans heads off to work, which today involves driving local rich man and privy council member Master Tam (Craig David) to the town brothel for a wee bit of the hanky panky.

It seems that with all the work he does for the local community poor Tam doesn't have enough time to find a wife so keeps his ardour in check with a daily fix of female-based frolicking.

Concerned that his prostitute pleasing pastimes may count against him when he runs for mayor he swears Daring to secrecy with promises of unlimited doughnuts if elected.

Daring obviously agrees before heading off for breakfast.

All this plot development and inane chat is hungry work obviously.

Enjoying a Pot Noodle or two Daring and his pals listen intently as Tim the tofu seller regales everyone with a tale of love and lust.

It seems he too was once a cabbie and spent far too much time earning cash and eating rice and returned home one day to find his wife having some sex with another man.

Obviously - being male - it was totally his fault so he gave up driving and opened a fine eatery instead.

His customers look on in mild indifference as Tims wife storms out of the kitchen and berates her hubbie.

The tale strikes a chord in Darings heart tho' and he begins to wander not only how his wife can afford all her new clothes but who do the ginger pubes he keeps finding in the bed belong to.

Rushing home to check on his wife Daring comes across (not in that way, it's a HK action flick not a Cat III kinkfest) a couple of peeping toms outside his door.

Peeping thru' the keyhole our chubby chum is shocked to see his wife giggling in bed with an unseen suitor.

Luckily for them Darings cries of despair as he tries to enter the house alert the couple to his presence giving his wifes lover time to escape.

And who is this vile rotter?

Why none other than Master Tam himself.

Bursting thru' the door (and out of his trousers) Daring finds a discarded shoe  and confronts his wife with the evidence but being a typical girl she starts crying and blames him for everything wrong with her life making our hero wander off in a self-pitying huff.

"To me!" "To you!"

Meanwhile back at his mansion, Master Tam is getting exceedingly worried that Daring will find out about the affair and kill him, which is understandable seeing as Daring does have a wee bit of a temper so to this end tam hires the local warlock cum Paul Shane tribute act Kinky Chin Hoi (Lung Chan best known around these parts as the scrapyard rapist in Mou mian bei) to get rid of him using any supernatural skills at his disposal.

Luckily for our hero Chins brother Tsui (Crime Story's Fat Chung) arrives just as the deal is being settled and angrily reminds his brother that they have vowed to help people - as opposed to killing them obviously - much to Chins disgust.

You see being a beardy bad man Chin only cares about money.

Oh and male grooming products judging by his exotic facial hair and Noddy Holder-esque sideburns.

As he's heading to work the next morning (does this guy never take a holiday?) Daring is approached by the ferret-like Steve Peng who convinces our hero to accept another ghost-based bet in order to win 10 pieces of silver and a years supply of Mars Bars.

Daring eagerly accepts not knowing that Steve is actually in the employ of the evil Chin.

As in the warlock, not Bruce Forsyth.

This time Daring must spend the night in a haunted temple.

Seems legit.

"How much for a wee mooth shite-in?"

Unfortunately Steve has neglected to mention the hopping vampire that lies in wait there.

A hopping vampire (Or as they are most commonly known - by clever, well read folk - a Jiangshi. See? This blog is educational as well as entertaining) controlled by Chin thanks to a convoluted control system that involves mumbling over a scary penyata whilst gargling warm spit from a dog bowl.

As luck (and linear plotting would have it) during the journey to the temple Daring encounters Tsui who happily gives him a crash course in surviving vampires.

Which is pretty lucky if I'm honest.

But what is this amazing piece of advice that is certain to save you from a vampire?

Well it seems that Daring must spend the night sleeping on the roof if he wishes to avoid the vampires wrath.

Fair enough.

Being a quick learner (either that or easily convinced) Daring indeed spends the night clutching to a ceiling support but as is the way with Sammo, comedic clumsiness ensues and our baw-headed bro is soon brought crashing to earth and dodging the doddering undead demon before kicking it back into the coffin as dawn breaks.

Inside Rolf Harris' mind.

But Darings dangers aren't over yet, would you believe he's tricked into spending yet another night in the temple?

Fearing for his life (if not his sanity) Daring searches out Tsui and begs him for help of a more pro-active kind that doesn't involve hanging off rafters obviously.

Being an occult wizz (think John Constantine as portrayed by an Oriental Noel Fielding wearing a sack) Tsui tells Daring to collect fifty chicken eggs and a bucket of dogs blood, the chicken eggs to throw into the coffin everytime the vamp tries to rise (because we all know vampires fear omelette's) and the dogs blood to throw at it if things get too scary.

Why did Peter Cushing never do this?

It would have at least made Dracula AD 1972 a wee bit more entertaining.

Filled with a new confidence (and high on crisps and Tizer) Daring heads to the local shop to buy provisions.

The egg seller however, only has 40 chicken eggs so sneakily fills the basket with 10 duck eggs too.

Which as all students of Chinese folklore know is a very bad thing indeed.

Back at the temple Daring spends the night perched on the coffin waiting for the vampire to rise, tho' if I'm being honest with you his weight alone should be enough to keep the lid firmly in place.

But there are supernatural forces at work (obviously I mean the title kinda gives it away) and right on cue the coffin lid rises but Daring is ready with his eggs throwing them in and holding back the vampire.

And by default causing Chin to fly around the courtyard like a rag doll.

A rag doll with child molesters hair.

On a roll (as opposed to scoffing one) Daring continues to pelt the vampire with eggs which is fine till he throws one of the duck eggs at it which enables the by now sickly smelling (and rather sticky) beast to burst forth from its coffin and attack Daring.

But he still has the bucket of dogs blood which he uses to subdue the corpse and also send Chin flying into Tam's roof breaking not only his control over the vampire but most of his bones too.


"Just remember Spike, first rule of demonic possession show the punters the suit!"

Having enough of all these beast-based bets Daring heads back to town where he's arrested for the murder of his wife - thanks to someone serendipitously covering his house in red paint whilst he was away - and quickly thrown in prison.

Awaiting execution Daring has no choice but to escape (but not before he's had a slap up meal obviously), find Tsui and hopefully clear his name.

But local law enforcement officer Morse (HK action stalwart Ching-Ying Lam) is in hot pursuit.

More hilarity, amusing falls and ghostly action ensues before Daring and Tsui are reunited culminating in Tsui taking Daring as an apprentice and training our hero in the dark arts.

But first there's lunch to be had.

Glad to see Daring has got his priorities right.

But our dynamic duo aren't the only ones plotting a slew of occult-based actions as a slightly riled Chin, fully recovered from is injuries has discovered Darings whereabouts and after a failed attempt at starving him to death by psychically controlling his eating (and wanking) hand prepares to raise an army of darkness (well three guys in pound shop skeleton masks) to destroy our heroes.

Will Tsui's training be enough to protect Daring from evil?

Will Sammo strip naked?

Will Master Tam ever get his shoe back?

Is Morag really dead?

And more importantly had Sam Raimi ever seen this movie prior to writing Evil Dead II?

Written, directed and choreographed (he probably made the tea too) by the legendary Sammo Hung, Encounters Of The Spooky Kind was many folks (me included) first experience of not only the 'hopping vampire' genre of Hong Kong cinema but also of the great man himself.

By that I mean Sammo Hung not Lung Chan obviously, tho' he's not too bad if a wee bit too similar looking to my mums pal Uncle Clive if I'm honest.

Tho' I'm pretty sure Lung Chan didn't spend his Saturday nights standing naked in my doorway staring at me thinking I was asleep.

Originally trained as an acrobat and dancer at the China Drama Academy, Hung made his film debut at the age of 12, honing his craft as an actor, director, producer and choreographer in over 60,000 films (many shot back to back over a 5 week period) before coming to prominence as Bruce Lee's sparing partner in the classic Enter The Dragon. 

But it's Spooky Encounters that really made Hung a household name in not only in Asia but worldwide too.

And on viewing you can see why.

Uncle Clive: Pervert.

Packing more energy, humour and chills into it's opening 10 minutes than most films do over a full 90, Encounters is a bizarre mish-mash of ancient Chinese lore, low-bro laughs and coolly choreographed kickings courtesy of Hung and action choreographer extraordinaire Biao Yuen.

I mean name another movie that features flying funeral urns, monkey possessed mentalists, Taoist philosophy, flame hurling priests atop telescopic alters and the greatest collection of fake moles ever committed to celluloid.

And just when you think it can't get any better Ching-Ying Lam from Mr Vampire turns up with a mustache that would make Burt Reynolds green with envy.

As an introduction to the wacky world of cinematic Orient excess you could do much worse.

Ebola Syndrome for example.

"Put it in me!"

True things turn a wee bit misogynistic in a few (well in one particular) scenes and it's a shock seeing a chicken slaughtered on screen in what is essentially a family friendly comedy but these are fiddly little things when compared to the sheer joy the rest of the film gives.

If you've never experienced Spooky Encounters then go buy a copy right now and if like me you've not seen it for years go back and watch it straight after reading this.

you wont regret it.

Tho' you may become oh so slightly obsessed with Suet-Mei Leung's milky smooth ankles afterwards.

You have been warned.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

boris the hedgehog.

For your enjoyment/education various photo's from Moscow's Museum of Arcade games.

No idea why.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

family ties.

Greetings readers!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"You ain't seen me, right?"

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

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

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

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

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

Which is nice if a little unexpected.

I was expecting rats.

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

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

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

Agostina Belli: Your grandad did. Twice.

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

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


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

Well, not all of it.

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

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

The family (being a bit fick) believe him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Is it in yet?"

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

hairy nips and side sheds.

Just been chatting to the infamous Mr. Stu, the man behind to sinister synth combo' Agents of Evolution about classic werewolf movies.

Obviously An American Werewolf In London, The Howling and The Beast Must Die! came up meaning that all this talk about hairy scares made me want to go back and revisit one of my personal faves.

So ladies and gentlemen let me present probably THE best werewolf movie ever made featuring not only the wonderful Dagmar Lassander but a star turn from that blonde woman who you might remember from bit parts in Truck Turner and Blood Orgy of The She Devils.

La Lupa Mannara (AKA Daughter of a Werewolf, Naked Werewolf Woman, She-Wolf , Werewolf Woman, 1976).
Dir: Rino Di Silvestro.
Cast: Annik Borel, Howard Ross, Dagmar Lassander, Tino Carraro and lots of other folk that I can't be arsed listing, except for the amusingly monikered Felicita Fanny for obvious reasons.

The place: a cow-pat covered field somewhere in Europe.

The time: Ye olden days - probably the early 70s by the state of the bush on show.

And I don't just mean the overgrow fauna circling the flaming pentagram that's been hastily drawn on the damp, muddy grass.

Obviously if you're a regular reader of this fine blog you'll know I'm making a childish reference to lady gardens.

In particular the one belonging to the top-lining (and topless) Annik Borel, who's currently dancing about in the all together and jiggling her lady parts like her life (or at very least her next mortgage payment) is counting on it.

But she is not alone.

Watching from the woods is a bunch of evermore nervous of tinker types armed with flaming torches and pitchforks gazing in a mix of awe, terror and mild apathy as our buxom babe slowly transforms from a totally naked blonde 70s sexbomb into a blonde 70s sexbomb who appears to be wearing bits of carpet stuck to her body.

And black olives on her nipples.


The group surge forward, their weapons held tightly as Borel attempts to growl menacingly at the moon whilst dribbling thru' a set of comedy pound shop dentures.

In case you hadn't guessed this is indeed the naked werewolf woman of the title.

And unfortunately the only time we get to see her in all her hirsute glory, which by the state of the make-up isn't such a bad thing if I'm honest.

Obviously not wanting us to get too excited at the thought of a hairy woman eating a group of tramps (or spend any more money than he can get away with)  we abruptly jump forward 200 years (as in the movie does, it's not like some bizarre interactive Back To The Future style interactive performance piece) to find a very sweaty (but thankfully clothed) Borel (as the very rich but oh so slightly mad Daniela Neseri) suddenly jump up in bed with a squeak.

You see, the poor girl suffers from a recurring nightmare caused by the fact that she believes she's the reincarnation of her ancestor who was burned at the stake for being a werewolf.

Which sounds a pretty legit if not really badly constructed bit of background story.

Not all of her family agree tho' especially her dad Count Tony Neseri (Carraro from Argento's The Cat o' Nine Tails) and sister Elena (Raven-haired Giallo goddess Lassander, obviously she had a new swimming pool to pay for) who think that the whole mentalist thing could be caused by her memories of being diddled by a dustbin man as a child.

Being a wee bit stubborn Daniela refuses their offers of help preferring to 'self-medicate' her violent desires by hiding in a wardrobe and fiddling with herself whilst watching her sister and hubbie having 'the sex'.

Tho' lets be honest, do you really need a reason (medical or other) to want to watch Dagmar Lassander getting naked?

"Laugh nowwwwwooooooooohhhhhh!"

Being the cuddly and caring types her family are all very supportive, occasionally nodding in a concerned manner whilst muttering that everything will be OK whilst scrubbing the stains off the woodchip wallpaper.

And to be honest everything's actually fine, until that is Daniela decides to lure her brother-in-law into the woods, start humping his leg then tear his throat out before tossing him off a cliff.


With the Jeremy Kyle show fully booked till Easter 2019, the family decide that it'd probably be for the best if they had Daniela committed to the local hospital, where seeing as she spends her days stripped naked and strapped to a bed, I'm assuming isn't BUPA affiliated.

It's not all nude bondage and bed-baths tho' as Daniela often passes the time shouting "whore" at her still mourning sister and hiding scissors under her pillow in case the mad lesbian patient from two doors up tries to sneak into her room for cuddles.

Sounds a brilliant place for a break if I'm honest.

I don't know what that is in her mooth but it's definitely not shite.

Daniela obviously doesn't think so because after a week she decides that she's cured and proves this by plotting a totally non-mental escape plan that involves hiding in a doctor's car, waiting for him to leave the hospital then smashing his face repeatedly against the steering wheel before driving off into the countryside to start a new life.

Which is nice.

Unless you're that poor doctors wife and kids obviously.

It's at this point that the movie bizarrely turns into a sleazy version of the old Michael Landon TeeVee show Highway To Heaven, only this time featuring a mad woman coming across (quite literally in some cases) the damaged dregs of society and killing them in a rage of sweat, screams and howls rather than that guy from Little House On The Prairie helping club-footed kids and single mums with shingles.

Tho' I can't imagine that it would have run for 12 seasons had it followed Rino Di Silvestro's storyline can you?

But our writer/director has another twist for us because just when you think the whole film has descended into poorly made - albeit fairly unique - (moderately) hairy woman kills tramps flick our heroine bumps into a hunky stunt-man (Howard Ross AKA Renato Rossini) named Luca and everything changes again.

Except her underwear obviously which by this point I could actually smell thru' the screen.

God may want you for a sunbeam but I just want to use your mouth as a toilet.

Picking up a hitch-hiking Daniela in his patented stunt-mobile, lovely Luca wins her over with his sensitivity, charm and respect for women, hairy or not.

Oh and with his ability to fall off tall burning buildings whilst dressed as a chicken obviously.

Prepare for a romance montage like no other as we see our beautiful couple frolicking on the beach, running thru' parks and gazing into each others eyes intercut with scenes of our stuntman hero crashing thru' windows, getting bottles broken on his head and the like before setting up home together on the actual movie set.

Which I'm sure is against union rules.


Somewhere to park your bike (and reuse old captions obviously).

Our lovers soon realize tho'  that a fake western town isn't the best place to raise a family so Luca pops down on one knee and asks Daniela if she would mind if he took her up the village.

To live that is.

She smiles (which frankly is much more terrifying without her false choppers in) and cries "Yes!" before falling into Luca's massively muscled arms for another wee bout of the love-making.

You see it appears that it only takes the love of a rugged, sensitive stunt-man to cure any woman of her latent lycanthropy.

Which kind of explains where I've been going wrong the last few years.

Doggy style.

At long last it looks like things could finally work out quite nicely for Daniela but you forget that this is a cheaply made Italian exploitation movie (albeit one with delusions of high art) so it wont come as too much of a surprise when I tell you that one day, whilst Luca is out buying a pint of milk and various Veet hair removal products from Superdrug a gang of very bad lads turn up at the studios looking for cheap booze and evil sex.

Will the Luca return in time or will Daniela - after getting roughly bummed by the bad men - become a werewolf and hunt down her three attackers like a (hairier) Charles Bronson?

Or will true love prevail?

Dagmar Lassander: Ask your granddad.

Thank you Rino Di Silvestro (AKA Axel Berger, Cesar Todd, R.D. Silver and your 'Uncle' Pete) for not only giving us such classic calls for tolerance and love as Deported Women of the SS Special Section, Women in Cell Block 7 and The Erotic Dreams of Cleopatra but for following your dream and bringing this unique (yet oh so tedious) tale of love, sex, mental illness and furry nipples to the big screen.

A film that even after more than 30 years since my first viewing still holds a place in my heart as well as teaching me a valuable lesson in life.

When I was 12 years old I naively swapped a copy of the Video Network big box Betamax edition of Harry Novack's Axe for a dodgy VHS copy of La Lupa Mannara after being told that not only was it utterly terrifying but that it featured some top nude lady werewolf action as well as a scene where two girls stroked each others hair in a barn.

And I fell for it, hurriedly handing over Axe and excitedly running home, stopping only to buy crisps and Vimto ready for an evening of sheer terror.

And maybe, just maybe a glimpse of lady front bum, something at that point I'd only heard whispered about.

My friend Jamie had yet to obtain a copy of The Mad Foxes so the idea of men and women being different down below was pure hearsay.

But how was I managed to be duped so badly I hear you cry.

Well it's all down to the title the movie was released under in the UK.

You see over here it was called Naked Werewolf Woman.

Says it all really.

Bizarrely enough tho' the title change actually upset Di Silvestro more than the movies scathing (and in most cases hostile) reviews ever did seeing as he favoured the title The Lycanthrope, feeling that this was more in keeping with the movies serious arthouse aspirations.

No. really.

So imagine my disappointment, dear reader when what I ended up with wasn't actually the greatest, sexiest and hairiest movie ever made but a naked werewolf flick that singularly failed to deliver much in the way of either nakedness or werewolfism.

Ok I'll admit that it has an abundance of everything else you can think of; discussions on reincarnation, pseudo-scientific psycho-bollocks regarding lycanthropy as a side effect of sexual molestation, horny 70s Italian guys, revenge, tragedy and of course a stuntman years before Colt Seavers made it cool.

But that wasn't the point.

I don't think my 12 year old self ever recovered.

Come to think of it I'm still quite upset now.

I hope you're happy Rino.


Sunday, September 18, 2016

skinny deeping.

Was chatting with Mr. Paul earlier this week re: The Shallows (and sharks in general) when he asked why I hadn't done a wee review of In The Deep, a great little movie we'd both seen a few weeks earlier.
I scratched my head and said the dog had eaten the review and that I had a letter from my mum to prove it.
Unfortunately Paul called my bluff so I had to admit that the only letter I had was the one disinheriting me.
So, to make amends here's a very (for me) short review (don't want to give too much away) plus a wee bit of background first to set the scene.
Earlier this year at Glasgow FrightFest director Johannes Roberts popped along to show us his terrifying tale of totems, terror and antique tables, The Other Side of The Door as well as giving us a sneaky peek of his upcoming shark shocker 47 Meters Down.
The footage to hand promised an old school cinematic scareathon with some really nice shark effects and a taut, tight premise. 

Excited at sharks being taken seriously again we awaited its release with baited - and slightly eggy - breath.

Not this one.

Flash forward (and then forward again if you're reading this today) to the beginning of August when In The Deep (as it was now titled) was listed to appear on DVD and VOD.

Then suddenly, like a great white swimming away into the dark it disappeared.

And the reason?
Well, thanks possibly to the success of The Shallows, the movie was rescued from DVD obscurity by Freestyle Media who plan to release it in around 2,500 theaters sometime in 2017.
How bizarre - but great for film fans - is that?
Especially since In The Deep was actually completed first.
And truth be told a better film.
And with that let's go.....
In The Deep (AKA 47 Meters Down, 2016).
Dir: Johannes Roberts.
Cast: Mandy Moore, Claire Holt, Sir Matthew of Modine, Santiago Segura, Yani Gellman, Chris J. Johnson and Axel Mansilla.

Sugary sweet sisters Lisa and Kate (Moore and Holt) are on holiday in beautiful Mexico (which by this point should be named shark attack capital of the world), partly to get pissed and eye up the local talent (who are by the by really nice people and not these rapists and drug dealers that Donald Trump keeps shouting about) but mainly to help Lisa mend her broken heart after being dumped by her vile fiancé Chad Mantits.
And why am I taking her side?
Well he must be a total shit to dump Rapunzel from Disney's Tangled.
Nuff said.
Enjoying a few drinks in the hotel pair our cutesy twosome end up 'partying' (as you youngsters say) with local hunksters Louis and Benjamin, who offer to take the girls shark diving the next morning.
Which bizarrely enough does actually mean diving with sharks and not indulge in some kinky south of the border sexiness.

And by south of the border I mean Mexico, not something anal based.

Glad that's out of the way.
Lisa, being the shy sensible type (with a fear of water to boot) is unsure but is soon persuaded to join in by her more boisterous sister so off they go to sea alongside the boys and the salty sea dog Captain Taylor (Modine).
Their mission?
Get (wet) suited and booted and jump into a cage where they’ll be able to get up close and personal with the great white circling down below.

What could possibly go wrong?
In the midnight hour she cried Moore, Moore, Moore!
Worried, excited and aroused - I mean come on it is Matthew Modine - in equal measures the girls quickly jump into the cage and prepare to enter a magic and dangerous world under the sea.

Lisa soon relaxes, even attempting to stroke the shark at one point and admits to her sister that her fears were unfounded.

Which is nice.

With shark selfies taken the girls signal the boat to return to the surface but the cage cable snaps sending the pair crashing to the bottom of the ocean - which is 47 meters down fact fans - not only that but the massive iron pulley system has gone overboard too and is currently resting atop the cage.

Which is never a good sign.

As the scared shitless sisters struggle to save air and stay calm, the shark, obviously intrigued as to what an ex-Disney star will taste like, swims ever closer...

What do you call a fish with no eyes.....a fsh. (that doesn't really work written down does it?

As mentioned previously, you can't help but make comparisons 'tween this and
​The Shallows, both feature female protagonists taking on one of mother natures nasties and both have our leads cut off from help but for sheer claustrophobia and tension, In The Deep wins hands (fins?) down.
Although much location work was filmed in the Dominican Republic nearly all of the underwater scenes were shot in a (broccoli filled) water tank in Blightly which I'm only pointing out because you would never tell otherwise, the films (relatively) low budget in no way hindering or cheapening the overall feel or aesthetic of the film.
During his onstage Q and A at Frightfest Roberts jokingly apologized that the shark on show may look a bit ropey due to it not being completely rendered in the showreel, he needn't have worried then or now as the beast looks magnificent, I'm assuming that real sharks were composited into some shots alongside CGI equivalents but to be honest I really couldn't tell.
Nor did I care as I became totally involved in the plight of the characters onscreen as their predicament unfolded almost in real time, each character (even those sketchily drawn ones on the surface) seemed to react as real people not thriller movie cliches just there to forward the plot.

Which is a pleasant surprise.
Oxygen in mah mooth!
Roberts alongside, cinematographer Mark Silk do a fantastic job of making the most out of what is essentially a pitch black environment, their measured use of various lighting techniques (flares, hand-held torches etc) give a real sense of depth (excuse the pun) and menace to an alien world where (wo)man is just so much meat.
Lean, mean and peachy keen, In The Deep is a probably the best man vs. nature movie since Adam Green's chairlift chiller Frozen, which if you haven't seen do so now, then beg, borrow or steal a copy of this for a fantastically fearful film double bill.

No to find some shite to review, I appear to be enjoying myself way to much at the mo.