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.

RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRANGERS!


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?

Sorry.

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.


士特这几个月刀柄!

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.

Ouch.

"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.

See?

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

Well, not all of it.

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

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

The family (being a bit fick) believe him.

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


"Is it in yet?"


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

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



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





fog on the rhine.

After rewatching The Vampires Night Orgy I've found myself obsessing over the sublime Helga Liné.

Which is nice.

And, I may add a good enough excuse to revisit....

Las garras de Lorelei (AKA L'abbraccio mortale di Lorele, The Loreley's Grasp, The Night the Screaming Stopped. 1974).
Dir: Amando de Ossorio
Cast: Tony Kendall, Helga Liné, Silvia Tortosa, Ángel Menéndez, Josefina Jartin, Loreta Tovar, José Thelman, Luis Induni and Francisco Nieto.

“Send her back into the legendary night from which she has come.”



Welcome to the small town of Cleftplate nestling on the banks of the river Rhine, a town where nylon action slacks and porn mustaches rule supreme and where a green-gilled beast is doing it's best to eat thru' the entire neighbourhood in it's search for fresh hearts.

Beats Emmerdale any day.

But not The Archers obviously.

Every night dozens of angry, polyester-clad villagers gather at the local pub to debate who or what is terrorizing the town.

Luckily there's an expert in their midst, the local doctor, one Terry Von Lander (Der Todesrächer von Soho star Menéndez) and according to him the town is being stalked by a mythical beast.

Sounds plausible.

The Cleftplate men's club annual game of spin the bottle was always popular with the Colonel.


It transpires (I love that word it's second only to ottoman) that many years ago a beautiful lady, named Lorelei who spurned by her lover after he tricked her into a bout of the bum sex, tossed herself off the cliffs and into the murky waters of the Rhine.

As you would.

Well ever since then it is said that she returns every number of years (he's not that specific) in order to feast on human flesh for some convoluted reason.

I must have missed that bit.

Anyway fearing for the safety of the pupils at the local all girls boarding school, the sternly saucy headmistress Elke Ackerman (top tottie Tortosa from Horror Express) hires local he-man and open shirted sex god Sigurd (Italy's very own John Leslie, Kendall, most famous for his role as PI Jo Louis Walker in the Kommissar X movies) to patrol the grounds in the hope of keeping the pupils safe.

Frankly if I had to choose between a fishy monster or Sigurd's obscenely large bulge I know which I'd probably need more protection from, it's almost as if he has a babies arm down there.

A baby bodybuilders arm.

A baby bodybuilders arm holding an apple.

A really, really big apple.

With one huge weeping eye.

Arriving the following day astride a huge motorbike, Sigurd and his trousers cause quite a stir (and a hell of a lot of dampness) amongst the students as well as a feeling of complete loathing from Elke.

I doth think she protests too much but let's wait and see.

You would, he would, your mum did. Twice.


Patrolling the grounds every night with his massive weapon cocked and ready to fire, our he-man hero alleviates the boredom by leering and winking at the girls whilst they get ready for bed.

And being dolly burds they fahkin' love it.

Obviously.

Unfortunately (or fortunately if you prefer stalking barely legal girls to killing monsters) the beast appears to be more interested in killing the townsfolk.

Which, if I'm honest doesn't seem to bother anyone until the creature murders the local homeless musician cum rent boy Tobias that is.

With no-one left to cuddle up to on those cold winters nights when their wives have locked them out, a mob of the towns most mustachioed men march on the mayor's cottage and demand action.

Back at the school shifty Sigurd is having some trouble of his own after being caught masturbating in the pupil's private pool.

Ms. Elke, still not swayed by his manliness, sends our hero off into the countryside for a swim in a nearby lake in the vain hope of cooling his ardor.

"Ere! Can you smell Mackerel?"

Wandering around like a lost child (albeit a lost child with a massive hard-on), Sigurd comes across (I'm not even going to type it) a ravishing redhead in a green fringed bikini lounging nonchalantly on a rock trying her best not to appear too cold.

Having not seen a female for nearly fifteen minutes Sigurd gives chase but the mysterious woman gracefully glides thru' the rocks, her ample arse gently bouncing hypnotically as she goes before disappearing from sight. 

Bewitched by this ginger siren Sigurd begins to hang around the lake on a daily basis in the hope of seeing her again and luckily (with the movie only being ninety odd minutes) this happens fairly quickly.

But not as quickly as Sigurd's smooth moves seeing as within minutes he manages to get his mysterious Ms. into a saucy clinch on a dirty mattress in a broken down fisherman’s hut.

The romantic devil.

Unfortunately (for him and us tho' I reckon the lady had a narrow escape) just at the point of entry a big bearded man appears and reprimands Sigurd for keeping Lorelei out for so long.

But wait, isn't Lorelei the name of the flesh-feasting beast?

Sigurd thinks for a moment before remembering that one Lorelei is a big green monster whilst the other is a curvaceous sex kitten played by Berlin born Liné, from the equally fantastic La orgía nocturna de los vampiros.

Without another word beardy scoops her up into his muscled, well oiled arms and proceeds to walk straight into the lake.

Sigurd is intrigued to say the least.

"Hey Senorita! How'd you fancy coming in the back o' me car and letting me shite in your mooth?"

Dazed, confused and still aroused Sigurd is wandering aimlessly thru the woods when he discovers a shifty Von Lander skulking in the bushes during what appears to be an impromptu dogging session.

The doctor, however, obviously horrified at the thought of being outed as a sex fiend begins to confuse Sigurd with his utter bollocks theories.

You know the type of thing; much mention of the moons rays, waffle regarding photochemical stuff and theories on the molecular structure of things.

And to prove all these theories and how on earth they relate to the monster he invites Sigurd back to his Victorian style knocking shop cum laboratory where he makes a severed human hand grow green and scaly.

He's even created a radioactive steak knife in case he gets close enough to stab the creature.

Or for if he ever has a radioactive steak obviously.

Sigurd is impressed.

Unfortunately before a town meeting can be called Von Lander is violently murdered (is there any other kind?) by Lorelei and his lab burnt to the ground.

Every cloud has a silver lining however (except mushroom clouds, their linings are Strontium 90 based) as this only increases Sigurd's acceptance of the idea that his new squeeze Lorelei could in fact be the same Lorelei that's killing everyone.

Thinking the whole situation over for several seconds he decides that even tho' she can be a wee bit grumpy, Elke is probably better sex material and so heads off to the beach wearing his tiniest shorts and carrying a big bomb.

Insert cock here.



Persuading a local fisherman to take him out onto the lake, our horny hero plunges into the waters just below the infamous rocks from where Lorelei originally jumped and soon discovers an ancient underwater cavern festooned with jewels, gold and bikini clad ladies.

Which is nice.

But for once Sigurd is not to be distracted by such things, he's here on a mission, not only to blow the place to Govan and back but to also inform Lorelei that he's breaking up with her due in part to her habit of eating people but mainly cos she stinks of herring.

What a guy.

Jeremy Beadle: The Revenge.



After a few minutes of inconsequential dialogue and slow fighting Sigurd manages to fight off the bikini girls advances and set the charges before swimming to safety and leaving poor Lorelei to die under a collapsing hill.

Or did she?

Back on the mainland Elke is enjoying a midnight walk around the grounds when she hears a rustling in the bushes followed by the faint aroma of fish...

Lorelei is alive and well and out for revenge on Sigurd's 'other woman', jumping out from behind a tree and indulging in a spot of girl on fish wrestling.

Which frankly isn't as exciting as it sounds.

Luckily Sigurd arrives in the nick of time and plunges his radioactive blade into Lorlelei who then, not too surprisingly dies as the lovers gaze into each others eyes.

Aww, how sweet.

Yup, someone was paid for designing this.




Not only taking liberties with the Lorelei myth but kinda taking the piss a wee bit too, Blind Dead creator Amando de Ossorio takes the traditional tale of a beautiful siren who lures sailors to their deaths by enticing them into the rocky cliffs of the River Rhine and crafts it into one of the most terrifying monster movies ever made.

By that I mean one of the most terrifying monster movies ever made by someone called deOssorio called Las garras de Lorelei.

Glad that's out of the way.

The real Lorelei yesterday. Well a dramatic (and incredibly hot) statue of her anyway. Here's hoping it's wipe clean.


Although never hitting the heights of The Blind Dead, Las garras de Loreleiis a near perfect blend of tight storytelling, great locations, seventies breasted woman, shoddy gore and frankly bonkers characterization all mixed in with some fantastic Carry On style sauciness and topped off with a career best performance from Tony Kendall's trousers.


A must see for any self respecting fan of fish-based romantic horror or just those who enjoy staring at a (very) well endowed man for an hour and a half.

Perfection.