Monday, August 28, 2017

slayer-rific.

With everyone getting all hyped for the series finale of Game of Thrones I thought I'd revisit the pinnacle of sword and sorcery film making plus I thought it was about time I introduced the kids to it.

Which probably means I'll get a call from social work tomorrow.

Oh well.

Hawk The Slayer (1980).
Dir: Terry Marcel.
Cast: John Terry, Jack Palance, Bernard Bresslaw, Morgan Sheppard, Annette Crosbie, Shane Bryant, Ray Charleson, Peter O'Farrell, Patricia Quinn and Catriona MacColl.


I am no messenger. But I will give you a message. The message of DEATH!



It is a time of darkness (around 3:30 in the afternoon by the look of the sky) when evil walks the land.

Witches wander the woods whilst common folk sit on tree stumps wearing tights and tidy beards and every bad man possesses a shiny helmet.

One such chrome hatted horror is the wicked Steve Voltan (Jack Palance in a performance so over the top he's almost in orbit) who, after a huge argument with his dad (probably over not paying his board or being out too late), kills the old fella before doing a runner.

It's like the Jeremy Kyle show but with more tooled leather.

Enter from stage left the luxurious locked nice son Hawk (John - not the footballer - Terry) who's just turned up to see if his dad needs any shopping done.

Cradling his dying father in his arms (but luckily not in his mooth) our hero listens intently (tho' from Terry's acting he could have constipation) as the old man mutters on about the kids of today having no respect and the price of bread before finally bestowing the mysterious 'Mind Sword' on his son.

A magical weapon with bizarre powers represented by a kids torch stuck to the hilt.

As dad breathes his last Hawk turns to camera and vows to avenge his death.

But not before he gets his hair blow dried and his eyebrows done obviously.




"Don't touch the hair."


Meanwhile Voltan's evil ways have eclipsed the entire kingdom; his followers appear to have stolen all the buildings and replaced them with paintings, night time has been outlawed and replaced with a nicotine filter and the whole country has been reduced to the wooded bit next to the play park behind the directors house, just ever so slightly redressed between scenes in an attempt to confuse the locals.

Luckily there's at least one real building left in the land, a convent run by Victor Meldrew's missis and a last shining beacon of hope in an otherwise dark world.

And currently limping bravely towards this beacon  is the bearded and bashed Ranulf (genre stalwart Sheppard), sole survivor of one of Voltan's massacres.

Arriving at the front door he's quickly ushered into the dining hall and inbetween mouthfuls of egg and cress sandwiches and crisps helpfully informs the nuns  - and by default the viewers - of just how evil Voltan is.

It appears that the evil one attacked Ranulf's village without reason or warning, hacking the women and children to pieces and digging up the adventure playground before twisting the swings around so high that no-one could use them and sitting on the slide.

I shudder as to what he did to the men folk tho' as their fate is never mentioned.

Maybe he sent them to work in his secret licorice mines?



Hel-met.


Luckily for Ranulf he's a bloody good runner  - who seems not too bothered to lose his family, perhaps they weren't speaking?-  and managed to escape before things got too bloody.

Tho' he does appear to have left most of his hand behind and what's left of it is beyond saving,  so the nuns wrap a scarf around it and send him to bed.

On the other - only?- hand his beard and crooked teeth are perfectly fine so it's not all bad.

It's not all saucy young nuns and snacks tho' as before long Voltan appears at the convent intent on bad deeds, first he roughly takes Annette Crosbie to his lair (dirty boy), before demanding 'all the gold!' as a ransom.
 
Understandably pissed off at all these naughty shenanigans Ranulf, blaming Voltan for cutting short his promising career as a professional knitter decides to challenge him to a duel but unfortunately falls for the villains taunts of "I can fight you with one arm behind my back" (probably) which results in our bearded pal getting a damn good kicking.



"You should really see a doctor about that son."


Left battered, bruised and surrounded by crying nuns, Ranulf quickly rides off - he's getting good at this legging it lark - to the Abbey for a meeting with the High Abbot (unfortunately not Russ), who after much chin stroking sends Ranulf off to search for one who can help defeat Voltan.

A man named Hawk.....The Slayer.

Obviously everyone else was busy.


Ranulf quickly leaves to begin his quest to find Hawk but is almost immediately  accosted by some gypsies and after refusing to buy some pegs is locked up in a cage.

Come on, how unlucky is this guy?

Help is at hand tho' when Hawk just happens to come riding past - with his sexy blind sorceress companion (the raunchy redhead that fuelled so many teen fantasies thanks to Rocky Horror, Patricia Quinn) that he rescued from being burnt as a witch a few scenes earlier - and kills the dirty criminals using his 'Mind Sword'.

Which it turns out is exactly like a normal sword apart from the fact that it can float into its owners hand as if carried - just out of shot - by a member of the crew.



Spock: The Pikey years.


After listening to Ranulf's tale of woe, Hawk decides to help rescue Ms. Crosbie  and begins to round up his posse from 'the mystic hood' as they probably said in the olden days to kick Voltan's arse.

Contrary to what you might be thinking this isn't as heroic and selfless as it sounds seeing as he was on his way to kill Voltan anyway, it just means that now he'll be getting some readies for doing it so it's not long (well the film has a fairly short running time) before our hero has got his merry band (The Slayerettes?)  together.



"'Ere Sid! This is a real carry on!"

This (slightly) super six consists of Hawk himself, Ranulf, the aforementioned sexy sorceress, a seriously short mallet wielding 'giant' named Gort (Carry On star Bresslaw), an elf dressed in a knitted tracksuit Cameron Crow (Charleson, famous for playing the Bishop in London's first multi-racial production of Jean Genet's 'The Balcony' fact fans) and Alec Baldin (professional short-arse O'Farrell) an overly tall dwarf with a bullwhip, pointy shoes and a fish fetish.

Voltan must be shitting himself.



"Trout in mah mooth!"


Heading back to the convent, our heroes soon get to work protecting the nuns, eating sandwiches and trying to work out how to get enough gold to lure Voltan into a trap.

You see, they've figure out that it'd be impossible to literally get 'all the gold' seeing as no-one is quite sure where it's all kept but reckon that some - mixed inn with some chocolate coins and old Ferrero Rocher packets would probably be better than none.

I mean Voltan only has one good eye so it's not like he'll be looking too closely.


After much deliberation and deciding that whoring out the nuns for pennies would be a bad idea, our heroes decide the easiest way to get the gold is to head out into the woods and relieve Tony Trafficker, the local news agent cum slave trader of his stash.

Oh yeah and free his slaves too obviously.

Surprisingly this all goes without a hitch and our merry band are soon back at the convent celebrating with crisps and lashings of ginger beer.

There's always one miserable git who manages to sour any celebration tho' and in this case it's Hawk himself.

Seems he's beginning to have second thoughts about trusting Voltan to keep his side of the bargain.

Seeing as he's already killed their dad and - in a soft focus flashback sequence - Hawk's wife Eliane (the legend that is Catriona MacColl) you can kinds see where he's coming from.


Pissed up on Buckfast and spoiling for a fight our heroes grab their weapons and head out to Voltan's castle in order to rescue Annette (and no doubt keep the gold for themselves) and hopefully persuade Voltan to change his ways and therefore avoid any unnecessary bloodshed.

Or any prohibitively expensive action sequences obviously.

It'll come as no surprise when I say that this plan fails abysmally and the dirty half dozen end up retreating back to the abbey with bruised ego's and slightly ruddy arses.

From having them kicked that is.

Minds like sewers you lot.

It's not all bad tho' as during the botched rescue, Hawk did manage to run his nephew Drogo thru' with a sword.

Which is nice.



"Buns you say?!?"


Obviously this doesn't go down too well with  Voltan, who on hearing the news of the death of his son goes completely mental and after throwing a dinner service at his trusty servant decides to attack the abbey, kill everybody in it and just take 'all the gold' for himself.

Which if you think about it is much more in keeping with his evil image.

With the help of a well-meaning (yet ultimately misguided) nun he breaks into the abbey whilst everyone is sleeping/hungover and captures our motley crew, tying them up in the basement ready for a wee bit of torture porn.

And he's going to start by introducing his brother Hawk to a red hot poker.

All looks lost but can the sorceress use her magical powers plus her seemingly unending supply of glowing ping-pong balls and silly string to rescue our heroes from evil?


Five go mad on meth.

Before I go any further can I just say I fucking love this movie and nothing - or no-one - will ever change my mind.

It's sad but true that Terry (co-writer and producer of Norman J. Warren's Prey- see? this blog's not just chucked together randomly) Marcel's vastly underrated British entry into the early 80's sword and sorcery genre is often ridiculed for it's poor effects, lack of budget, pseudo-disco score and the varying quality of the performances but if you can look past that lot you'll find a gem as bright as the one in the 'Mind Sword' just under the surface.

Well maybe not that bright otherwise you'd probably go blind but you get the point.

OK I'll admit that the cast are, on the whole as stilted and wooden as the trees surrounding them, but this almost high arch delivery evokes a less sophisticated age.

Take John Terry's performance as Hawk, who's to say that medieval noblemen didn't speak in broad Yankee accents and I've never read anything in history books to say that they had to move their upper bodies whilst talking.

Who knows, it might be that seeing as the 80's was the height of the toy tie-in, Terry might just be the greatest actor of them all, choosing to play Hawk as a living, breathing full size Palitoy action figure.

Now how's that for post modernism?

Luckily the late, great Jack Palance appears to be compensating for everyone else's lack of energy, spitting and snarling every single syllable like some huge brutish bull terrier with it's balls being slowly squeezed by a fresh smelling Emma Thompson whilst Air's Sexy Boy plays in the background and all the time whilst wearing a swing bin on his head.

C'mon, what's not to love?



"Touch my ring!"


Of the other cast members Ray Charleson's portrayal of Crow the Elf, whilst seemingly spookily mysterious to me as a child now just comes across like a whispering pikey peadophile bedecked in his mums best PJ's, which I admit says more about me than him whilst Bernard Bresslaw is basically having a dry run for the same character in Krull a few years later.

Only in that they could afford to give him some built-up shoes and a mask.

Tho' in all honesty it doesn't make it any less a bind to sit thru', at least with Hawk the cast look like they're at least enjoying themselves, unlike Krull where half the budget seems to have gone on inserting poles up the casts arses.

Talking of arses, Patricia Quinn is as sexy/scary (tick as applicable) as she was in The Rocky Horror Picture Show and The Hammer House of Horror episode Witching Time (the first full frontal nudity I ever saw) even tho' she's forced to wear a headband with an eye chalked on it and an old sleeping bag but let's be honest here, can you imagine any other actress managing to pull that off and still look sultry?

Thought not.

Patricia Quinn: You would (and your dad probably did. Twice).


Of the rest of the cast, the fantastic Morgan Sheppard is all hangdog looks, world weary sighs and muscular thighs (well maybe not the last bit) whilst O'Farrell gives it his all, which seeing as he's stuck wearing a pair of child's black ballet tights, winkle-pickers and a hoodie with a plastic mackerel in the pocket is pretty damn good if I'm honest.

Talking of plastic joke shop toys, any film that makes no apologies for using silly string, glowing ping-pong balls, pound shop spiders and hula hoops stolen from the set of Superman II as a serious replacement for a lack of effects budget deserves all the praise you can muster.

I mean you have to at least admire the crews balls for even thinking about attempting a movie of this scale on a budget that wouldn't even begin to cover the cost of Lena Headey's tattoo camouflaging cream on Game of Thrones.

Headey: No reason.


And what of the high energy synth score by ex Six-Five Special and Oh Boy musical director Harry Robertson I hear you ask?

Well it's nothing short of genius, giving Claudio Simonetti a run for his money and perfectly evocative of a spooky age of sorcery, swords and magic.

Albiet one where holiday resort discos are all the rage obviously.

Just give it a listen now and see if you're not transported back to a time of mucky maidens and medieval mayhem.

Or at the very least overtaken by the urge to give your evil sibling a damn good hiding.

Had there been any justice in the world someone would have penned lyrics to this and given us another Eurovision hit thereby ushering in an age of Hawk-based fashions and films.

Instead we got Prima Donna: Love Enough For Two and the cementing of Thatcherism.

Bastards.


But then again, I may be just a sad, sad fan boy who needs to get out more.

energizer honey.

Christina Lindberg, star of the cult exploitation sleazefest 'Thriller' (AKA They Call Her One Eye) advertising batteries.

Just because.



Sunday, August 27, 2017

croc-o-shite.

Sad to hear about the death of terror titan Tobe Hooper today so thought I'd revisit my fave film of his as way of a tribute.

Unfortunately the twins didn't want to watch LifeForce and Cassidy will still only watch films featuring animals so had to make do with this.

Rest in peace Mr Hooper.

Eaten Alive (AKA Death Trap, Starlight Slaughter, Horror Hotel, Horror Hotel Massacre. 1977).
Dir: Tobe Hooper.

Cast: Neville Brand, Marilyn Burns, Carolyn Jones, Stuart Whitman, Janus Blythe Betty Cole, Kyle Richards, Roberta Collins, William Finley, Mel Ferrer and Crystin Sinclaire.
"My name's Buck and I'm rarin' to fuck!"


Welcome to the small US town of Tossburgh (near Texas I'm assuming from the fashions and accents), it might not be much to look at but it has everything a weary traveler will need.

On main street there's the world famous Bad Place Brothel run by Miss Hattie (Morticia Addams herself, Carolyn Jones looking for all the world like a half melted Truman Capote waxwork), a bar cum diner that appears to have only one song on the jukebox and a, um, police station run by Mark Forrest from Invaders of The Lost Gold.

On one of his rare, sober days obviously.

If you need somewhere to relax after a hard days boozing and shagging then the town boasts a fantastic place to stay that's just a few minutes away, the terrific Starlight Motel, located in an incredibly secluded wood just outside town.

Let's be honest tho', the reason it's so secluded is that it's actually in a studio, miles away from any live action shots.

Oh  and it's lit like something from Crossroads.

Run by the enigmatically bowl haired ex-soldier Leslie Judd (Neville Brand, star of Stalag 17 and father of Russell and Jo), the establishment boasts hot and cold running mentalism, flock wallpaper, an old sofa on the porch and a mini petting zoo consisting of a giant crocodile.
Just the place to take the kids.

Or it would be if Judd could go longer than ten minutes without offing somebody.


"Where's me washboard?"

Anyway, on with the plot where good ol' boy Buck Buckley (Sir Robert of Englund) is just about to get his end away with a pink babydoll nightied, bubble permed prostitute by the name of Clara (Death Race 2000's  Collins) on one of his frequent visits to the aforementioned Bad Place Brothel.

So far so seventies fashioned.

It's the poor gals first time tho' and Buck doesn't make it any better by roughly rolling her over and trying to do her up the arse, which as we all know is most definitely second date stuff.

Terrified and helpless Clara begs Buck to stop but our pervy pal is adamant that he wants his full hours worth of fun and tells her as much whilst trying to stick it in her.

Which would probably be a lot easier if he wasn't wearing his trousers and her a big pair of black granny pants.

But hey, that must be how they do things in the south.

Attracting the attention of Miss Hattie, Clara announces that she no longer wants to be a whore, most definitely doesn't fancy a wee bit of anal violation and wishes to return home.

Being a caring, sharing kinda boss, Hattie offers Buck a fantastic two for one deal before kicking poor Clara out into the street.

Jon Pertwee's initial costume choice was quickly vetoed by the producer.

With only some stamps, twenty pence and a hairy mint in her purse poor Clara trudges up the street in the hope of finding somewhere to stay.

Cut to a dimly lit backlot and our failed floozy is soon outside the Starlight Motel and it's oddball owner.

All's going swimmingly (well as swimmingly as a conversation between a bewigged block of wood and a man so over the top he's in orbit can go) until Judd realizes where Carla used to work.

Baring his yellowing teeth he picks the poor girl up off the floor and squeezes her arse before bludgeoning her to death with a scythe and feeding her whole to his croc.

And you thought they spat that bit out.

No sooner has Judd cleaned up the mess that was Clara's bowel than more guests arrive.

Albeit ones driving very slowly for fear of knocking down the cardboard trees.

Please welcome Mr. and Mrs. Des Functional, their daughter Angie and pet dog.

Liza Minelli-wigged Mrs. Functional (Marilyn Burns from TCM) desperately tries to hold on to an air of normality whilst her poppy eyed, crow faced hubbie Des (Finley from Phantom of The Paradise) minces around like a drunk Slinky whilst barking at the dog, much to the amusement (oh alright, total apathetic blankness) of wee Angie (latter day babe Richards).

Don't fret tho' cos it's not long before dad's dead, the dogs been eaten, mom's stripped down to her little white undies and tied to her bed, her mouth duct taped up and poor little Angie is trapped under the house whilst Judd menacingly waves his chopper at her.

Cliff Richard, up the casino, last week.

Judd's underage carnage will have to wait tho' as who should turn up next?

Only Clara's dad, the grumpy Mr. Harvey Wood (no shame Ferrer) and his terrifyingly plain younger daughter Libby (Sinclaire).

Father Harvey, obviously annoyed at how his career has gone after divorcing Audrey Hepburn starts shouting at Judd regarding the motel's wallpaper but before it can escalate into a bit of full on topless old man wrestling Libby calms the situation down.

Unfortunately.

Shuffling back to his car in order to get his luggage (which surprisingly isn't kept in the huge leathery bags under his eyes) Harvey comes across Sheriff Martin (movie icon and walking brewery Whitman) who kindly offers to help in their quest to find Clara.

Insert cock here. Again.
 

Harvey decides to rest up in the motel whilst Libby heads into town with Martin for a slap up meal and heartfelt chinwag at the local bar, giving her a chance to experience Buck's chat up skills and marvel at the frankly perfectly pert arse belonging to his date, the luscious lolita Lynette (the yumsome Blythe from The Hills Have Eyes and one of my first major movie crushes).

This sight is, by far the best reason to watch the movie.

You'd have to. Twice. Maybe three times on a Friday.


Unfortunately with no-one to stop them arguing it's only a matter of time before Judd and Harvey are back at each others throats, Harvey using a clenched fist and Judd his trusty scythe.

Unsurprisingly it's not too long before Harvey's bloodied corpse is chucked into the lake.

Bloody hell, that crocodile's gonna burst at this rate.

with Libby heading back to the motel for a snooze, Buck and Lynette heading over for 'the sex', poor Angie still stuck under the floorboards and mum desperate for a wee it can only be a matter of time before someone (anyone? Please?) discovers how far Judd is willing to go to keep his pet happy.

But who will survive?

And what will be left of them?

Or their careers.

Tramp in mah big green mooth!

With a director and writer hot off the back of an all-time cult classic and an ensemble cast to die for, Eaten Alive should be one of the all time greats of the horror genre.

Unfortunately Hooper didn't so much as drop the ball than not actually have a ball to begin with.

Or any idea of what the fuck to do with the ball if it actually existed.

Unlike the hyper real Texas Chainsaw, which made it's lack of budget, non-actors and home-made sets a unique feature of the film, Eaten Alive seems strangely studio bound looking for all the world like it was shot for peanuts in the late sixties by a particularly ham-fisted Herschell Gordon Lewis wannabe; the plotting is nonsensical, the editing obviously done by a hook-handed child leaving long
















pauses













in the middle of scenes and the scratched, outdated film stock (obviously found in a bin) and lack of continuity between studio and location work gives the impression of two different movies shoddily spliced together.

Unfortunately for us neither of them look any good.

Blythe: Nice, milky thighs you could ski down.


But it's not all bad.

I mean, with a cast as great as this how could it be?

Plus it does feature a tiny monkey.

And William Finley (sporting the greasiest barnet even committed to celluloid) barking like a dog in a vane attempt to get noticed by David Lynch and rescued from this madness.

Plus Janus Blythe's oft mentioned perfectly sculptured arse and silky smooth thighs.

And it's strangely hypnotic, like a particularly gruesome car crash drawing you in until you find it impossible to turn away, desperate to find out what Hooper will throw at the screen next.

Nowhere near as great as his Classic Lifeforce but still worth a look.

Especially if you suffer from sadomasochistic tendencies.

Or are a twelve year old boy.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

prey away.

The laydees are away today so it's boys fun all the way for me and the Cass-man and he gets to choose the movie.

Prey (AKA Alien Prey. 1977)
Dir: Norman J. Warren
Cast: Barry Stokes, Sally Faulkner and Gloria Annen.


"Do you take sugar?
I should think so, most men do!"




The day after a weird green light is seen in the English sky, luscious lesbians Jessica (cutesy Annen, best known for her spot on performance as 'Midvale Protestor' in Supergirl) and the bullish, lantern jawed Josephine (knicker flashing, boy haired, Cyberman stomping sixties strumpet Faulkner) are shocked to find not only three dead bunnies in the local woods but also a strange, polo necked young man with a gammy leg and a nice line in Burton's 'action slacks' hiding in the apple tree.

Being friendly, non men hating lesbians the pair decide to take him home.

Wahey.



Some quality knitwear yesterday.


Oblivious to his fairly odd behavior, his even odder name (Anders Anderson, short we find out later for Kator, go figure) and the fact that he appears to be the only Englishman in the world who doesn't drink tea, the ladies fawn over their new house guest as if he were a stray moggie they'd found in the rain.

Which, bizarrely enough is very close to the truth.

kind of.

The next morning whilst wandering around the scene of the mysterious rabbit massacre, Anders is accosted by two of the local constabulary who are busy investigating the crime.

It appears that one of the rabbits was seventies teevee star Hartley Hare's nephew and they desperately want to keep it out of the papers.

Panicking that he'll be uncovered as the phantom rabbit slasher, Anders morphs into his terrifying true form and kills the coppers dead.

Can I just take a moment to say that Anders' 'alien' make-up does, in fact border on pure genius.

Imagine if you will a kiddie forcibly face painted as Tigger by a tipsy Salvador Dali at a local funfair before having an Elvis wig plonked violently onto his tiny head and finally being made to wear a pair of pointy teeth cut from orange peel to complete the outfit.

Then imagine this very same child - high as a kite on E numbers - launching himself out of a garden bush at a policeman accompanied by a terrifyingly tune defying synth score.

I really don't have the words it's that bloody scary.



"Laugh now!"


Returning to the house for a light lunch (all that killing does take it out of a man/space-cat) Josephine suddenly announces that "Jessica and I are lovers," whilst Anders is tucking into a fondant surprise, causing him to vomit all over the cucumber sandwiches completely ruining the afternoon.

Far from being a scary lesbian hating bigot tho' it's due to the fact that he can only digest raw meat.

I guess that's alright then.

All this sick and sarnies seems to have a very strange effect on Jessica tho', who whilst licking her lips and stroking her neck admits to Josephine that "Anders is very attractive....for a man".

Crikey.

And if that wasn't enough, the constant talk of man lust has sparked our luscious ladies passions meaning only one thing, yup it's time for a wee bit of big pants, seventies's style lesbo loving.

All shot in brightly lit blackhead (and black bush) revealing close-up, our only relief (apart from the obvious) is when it cuts to Anders watching silently thru' a crack in the door.

Reminds me of boarding school.

Josephine's public hare on
show for everyone to see.


Returning to his room Anders has a quick conversation with the alarm clock before bed.

"Have made contact with human life forms, new identity established." he intones menacingly.

Well as menacingly as he can for a man clad in a nipple revealing sports shirt and arse hugging polyester slacks.

Waking the next morning to the dulcet tones of Josephine screaming, Anders and Jessica quickly head downstairs to find that a crafty fox has eaten all the chickens.

Obviously shocked by the senseless chicken choking, Anders heads off into the woods whilst Josephine buries her disturbingly large head in Jessica's fluffy pillow-like cleavage.

Gloria: pillows.


Slightly annoyed at the chicken massacre, Josephine decides to spend the entire day busily (and huffily) setting all manner of traps for the fox (including heat seeking missiles and bear-pits) but to no avail, luckily tho' Anders has kindly gone out and slaughtered the wee fella for her and returns home proudly carrying it's furry body aloft.

He'll be a Tory then.

Overcome with joy, Josephine decides to celebrate with a dead fox party.

As you do.

This involves (as if readers of the Arena need telling) Anders getting dragged up like a butch(er) Liza Minelli with the sole purpose the evening gazing seductively at Jessica whilst tapping away to a Foreigner tribute band on the stereogram.

Which we've all done at some point if we're honest.

And if that wasn't enough excitement for one night the evening culminates in a marvelously mind-bending game of hide and seek in which Josephine inexplicably arms herself with a flick knife and hides in a wardrobe.

But not before attempting to beat the keyhole at a staring competition.

"Blood on mah chest".


Scarily things get stranger still when the next afternoon (fuck, how long did she spend in the cupboard?) Josephine finds the half eaten remains of Mr. Fox under Anders pillow (sounds like a song title).

Slightly concerned by this turn of events she runs out of the house before coming across Jessica (you can tell she's a squirter) and begins to rant wildly about how Anders is a mentalist and no better than an animal himself.

Typical man then really.

Jessica, God bless her just stares at her lover with a look of mild apathy and the vague hope of a quick knicker fiddle in her eyes.

As do I most afternoons.

There's - unfortunately - no time for any sapphic fumblings tho' as the sexual tension is cut short by the sound of Anders screaming.

It appears he's fallen into a muddy pond whilst stalking a duck.

At this point I must warn readers of a nervous disposition that the scene that follows is frankly unparalleled in the history of mental movie moments, featuring as it does Jessica, Josephine and Anders erotically rolling about in mud - in slow motion - to the accompaniment of a truly terrifying tonal track of the kind not usually heard outside Wendy Carlos' gin fueled night terrors.

Probably.

Shite (quite literally) in her mooth.


The result of all this mentalist mayhem coupled with Jessica's hitherto hidden mud fetish and Anders' creepy conversation regarding needing a good duck has the effect of curing the by now jolly Jessica of her lesbian tendencies leaving her free to attempt to seduce Anders.....

Will Anders succumb to Jessica's ample charms and (quite literally) lunch out on her womanly thighs?

And whatever will Josephine do when she finds out?

What the French call 'Prey' yesterday.



When a film's credits include the names Norman J. Warren, Terry Marcel (director of the Legendary 'Hawk The Slayer'), Handyman hunk Barry Stokes, Confessions cutie Sally Faulkner and writer Max Cuff you know you're going to get something that's a wee bit different from the norm.

Obviously followed by a shameful wank and a hot 'n' spicy Pot Noodle.

The isolated locations (the splendidly imposing country house, the directors garden and a big muddy puddle) and the sparsely populated cast work to make this movie an uncomfortable powder keg of lustful emotions, strange undercurrents, market stall knitwear and disapproving looks ready to explode at any moment.

And that's before you add a talking parrot, Gloria Annen's incredibly sexy stretched polkadot knickers, a cake with a tiny iced fox on it and Sally Faulkner's vertigo inducing portrayal of a trackie sporting mad dyke with a flick knife to the mix.

Put it all together and you know you're in the presence of greatness.

It's like a post watershed version of the 70's sitcom Butterflies as reimagined by David Lynch with make-up effects by a group of particularly disturbed - yet scarily talented - hook-handed children and scored by Karlheinz Stockhausen.

And you can't get higher praise than that.

Well you probably can if you visit a proper film site but not here.


Sally Faulkner and your dad yesterday.


Like most of Warren's output, the movie's tone veers wildly from the just plain sinister to fairly bizarre to bizzarely sinister via the ever popular 'What did I just see?", lulling us into a false sense of security by appearing to peak early with Anders alien reveal but sneakily managing to keep getting better and better.

And madder and madder.

It's then, just when you think the surprises can't get any more freakish that muddy lake scene appears from nowhere.

Why Warren has never been knighted (or at least given the bumps in a playground) is a crime against cinema.

The fact that one of our greatest genre directors goes so unheralded should be made a crime.

Fuck Shakespeare (tho' not literally seeing as he's been dead for nearly 400 years) it should be Warren's back catalogue on the school curriculum.

If you don't already own this then there's really no hope for you.

Friday, August 25, 2017

hand shandy.

Had an email asking if I'd ever reviewed Black Candles* so thought I'd take a look thru' the archives - tho' why they couldn't search for it I've no idea....what is this a library?

So did a quick search and bizarrely this popped up instead.

Checking it seems that only 3 folk have ever read it which is sad really.

Or a sign of good taste.

Who knows?

Anyway, it's out on shiny Bluray now (and really cheap) so thought I'd re-review it.

Enjoy.

Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)
Dir: Harold P. Warren.
Cast: Tom Neyman, John Reynolds, Diane Mahree, Harold P. Warren, Stephanie Nielson, Sherry Proctor, Robin Redd, Jackey Neyman, Bernie Rosenblum, Joyce Molleur and William Bryan Jennings.



"Manos, God of primal darkness. As thou has decreed so have I done. The hands of fate have doomed this man. Thy will is done".


The somewhat sickening Felcher family; dad Michael (writer, director, actor, spy, salesman and inventor Warren), mum Margaret (Mahree - bless you), Hellish girl child Debbie (Curse of Bigfoot star and only person to be paid for the movie, Neyman) and the family dog, Peppy are heading for a well deserved (if arse-numbingly dubbed) holiday at Butlins in Skegness.

So far so so.

Luck (and let's be honest looks) obviously aren't on their side tho', as not only are they stopped by the police due to a cracked tail-light but also get lost somewhere near the A1 turn off to Smethwick.

Smethwick, twinned with your gran.

Bored, cold and tired, Michael and his family decide to pull over at a the first house they come across to ask directions.

But being Smethwick, there aren't any houses as we know them, just a few broken down sheds and a burnt out Burger king.

Oh and a car on bricks with the words 'GRASS' sprayed down the side in excrement.

Finally, just as their hope of finding any signs of civilization is fading the family reach a rickety old house looked after by a big hatted, bow legged backward arsed butler named Torgo (Reynolds, allegedly wearing a home-made bondage suit to aid his performance), who, as it happens is house-sitting for "The Master" (no not that one) whilst he's away on business.

Togo: He's got something to put in you.


Repulsed yet oh so slightly aroused by the smell of boiled onions permeating thru' Togo's beard, Michael and Margaret ask him for directions to Butlins; Torgo simply (and stiffly) replies that "There's no way out of here....It'll be dark soon...." 

Spooky.

Michael, totally nonplussed by the terrifying Torgo and his trampy beard demands that he and his family be allowed to stay the night and orders Torgo to fetch their belongings from the car.

Being a woman Margaret's concerns go unheard by her husband who's too busy booting Torgo up the arse as he attempts to balance a variety of cases on his hips.

Once inside, the family are disturbed to see that there are not only a distinct lack of carpets but that the walls are crammed full of pound shop voodoo shite with a child’s finger painting of a dark eyed, grey skinned moustachioed man and his anorexic greyhound as a stunning centrepiece.

The man it depicts is The Master.

The dog, well that's just a dog.

I've spunked prettier things.

When an amusingly scratched sound effect of a wolf howling puts the willies up poor Margaret and sends lil' Peppy running outside, macho Michael decides to investigate.

Grabbing a flashlight - tho' a fleshlight would probably be more appropriate for a pile of wank this big - and revolver from his car he wanders around in the dark (making sure not to step off the set obviously) before finding Peppy, by now cunningly played by an old coat lying dead in the desert dust.

Back at the house Torgo is busying (and arousing) himself by rubbing his legs and attempting to stroke Margaret's hair as he admits undying love for her, warning our moaning faced MiLF that she is doomed to become a bride of The Master, tho' Torgo wants her for himself.

 Dirty boy.

Obviously offended at only being able to pull square faced bores and bandy legged bums Margaret threatens to tell Michael about Torgo's frankly ludicrous seduction attempts but our bearded buddy convinces her to stay quiet by promising to protect her from stuff.

Look the script isn't that specific so why should I be?

Luckily for all concerned Michael re-enters the scene at this point with some bad news.

And it's not that the film is almost over.

It seems that on his travels he's discovered that not only is the dog dead but the car has broken down and little Debbie has wandered off.

Good news tho' is that the local Tapas bar still has tables available.

Unfortunately there isn't a phone in the house to ring for a reservation so with great reluctance the family decide to stay the night, if only to find out where Debbie has gone.

 Which is nice.

Tunnel or funnel?

Worry not dear readers, Debbie is only outside playing with the devilish greyhound from the painting.

Let's be honest tho' it's not like anyone would've abducted her anyway seeing as she has a face that would make a horse sick, I mean any pervy pedo that could maintain anything remotely like an erection around her would deserve a medal.

But I digress.

Unlike the director obviously who seems to be under the impression that the film doesn't have enough stilted, dialogue free scenes of badly made up (and in some cases just plain ugly) actors staring at each other for no reason than to highlight the many continuity mistakes on show.

Make it stop.

Or at least get a wee bit interesting.

Please.

Debbie: Not even With Jonathan King's.


Which after what seems like an eternity it actually does with the arrival of The Master himself (Neyman, unfortunate father of the fearful she-child Jackey, actual owner of the featured greyhound and the man who painted the portrait mentioned earlier...so many jobs so little talent) who is first seen sleeping in a barn surrounded by several ex-strippers clad in translucent dresses and oversized girdles.

Without warning Torgo ties Michael to a handy pole as The Master and his many 'wives' suddenly spring to life before indulging in a short (yet downright bizarre) argument over what to do with the Felcher family.

Is it just me or would you assume that a secret polygamous devil cult would already have contingency plans in place for such an event?

Batman: the mooth shite-in years.

Anyway, The Master (still not that one) after a wee pause decides to sacrifice Torgo and his first wife Mavis to the evil God of facial hair (and hands) Manos before taking Margaret and (ye gods no) Debbie as his new wives.

With this decision The Master makes his farewells and heads off for a power shower and a poo, leaving his wives to engage in some impromptu wrestling.

Phwoar! Wahey! etc.


Upon his return and using a potent post poo hypnotic spell The Master stops the fight before ordering his minions (not those ones) to tie Mavis to the pole in order to be sacrificed whilst Torgo awaits his fate from a handy stone bed.

And what a fate it is, as the remaining wives jump on the poor sod and pretend to eat him before The Master, using his mysterious hairy lipped powers severs Torgo's hand before setting fire to it.

Or at least to a crudely made wax replica.

Torgo, hoping to still be around for the planned sequel (seriously) escapes into the darkness, waving his burning stump as he goes whilst The Master laughs uncomfortably as he sinisterly approaches his first wife.

Whilst all this burning, blundering and back stabbing is going down, Michael and family have managed to barricade themselves into the pantry in the hope of either hiding till morning or that The Master might get bored.

But alas, The Master is a, um, past master at hide and seek (and from what I've heard the double entry) and he's soon looming over the family, a tin of peaches in one hand and a corncob in the other confronting Michael.

Being a true American tho' Michael has no time (or concept of) conversation and promptly empties his weapon into The Master's face at point-blank range but alas to no avail.

The screen fades to black.

The viewer loses the will to live.

And bladder control.

Jamiroquai, up the casino, Tenby, 1997....Yesch!


Time passes and much, much later two more travellers arrive at the house to be greeted by Michael, clad in Torgo's shit stained suit and 'kiss me quick' hat.

Her turns to camera and says - well someone does and from the dubbing it ain't him - "I take care of the place while the Master is away."

And so it goes.






Let us, dear reader, travel back in time to the mid 60's and to El Paso, Texas, where Hal Warren, manager of the American Founder's Life Insurance Co. came across (tho' not in a sexual way) famed screenwriter Stirling (In the Heat of the Night, The Towering Inferno, The Poseidon Adventure, Shaft in Africa and The Swarm amongst others) Silliphant, who was visiting the town to scout out film locations.

After several meetings (and even more booze), Warren decided that this movie making lark seemed a piece of piss and after a few more drinks reckoned he could do as good a job himself.

Within a week he had a script (The Lodge of Sins), a few boyscouts to be his crew and the local theatre group, alongside and a few 'hand' models to be his cast.

Armed with a third hand 16mm Bell and Howell silent camera, a garden shed, some Hula Hoops and 60 Woodbines a legend was born.

The 16mm Bell & Howell silent camera: Witness to more porn and real life atrocities than your granddad during the war.

Shot within 4 hours, edited in 2 and dubbed over a quiet Bank Holiday weekend, Manos (as it was now known) premièred at the El Paso Odeon on 15 November 1966 to non-stop audience laughter and howls of derision that prompted a shell shocked cast and crew to escape from the cinema via underground tunnels dug during the interval.

A chilling footnote to this is that the cleaning woman who's job it was to bin the Coke cups and burito packets after the show discovered that the audience had laughed so much that over 13000 gallons of piss had been unwittingly released into the main auditorium causing the cinema to collapse killing 47 people and spraying urine into the local fields, killing farmer Morton J Blithe's prized heard of bullocks as well as his lame son, 12 year old Morton Jnr, who was found drowned in a gully 2 weeks later.


Lying on it's back stinking of piss....and no it's not your mum surprisingly.

But forget the tales of deaths, suicide and heartache for a moment and just concentrate on the movie then ask yourself; Is it really the worst movie ever made or some proto-Lynchian work of subgenius trading on mans darkest fears as witnessed thru' the prism of Barthesian semiotics?

I mean you have to admit that certain aspects of the film invoke both intertextuality and Bertolt Brecht's theories of estrangement to explore the metafictional or parodic aspects of the idea of polygamy (or polygyny as is truer the case here).

Possibly.

Diane Mahree: Barthesian semiotics or terrifying tit wank?


And to all those naysayers, yes the editing is abysmal, the myriad of continuity flaws are an abomination to modern cinema and yes the soundtrack and visuals are so out of synchronization as to lead us to believe that they are being beamed from different parts of the world.

But surely, a friend of mine once asked of Manos; if viewing the film thru' the lens of intertextuality, taking onboard Freud's idea that the repression of fear and desire is the main cause of 'dream work' then the film's seriously tedious pacing, frankly terrifying non acting and  inexplicable inclusion of scenes and characters either disconnected or totally redundant from the actual plot begins to make sense.

Or does it?

Manos: The Hands of Fate: good shit or bad shit?

Who really cares tho' because when you get around to it a shit is still a shit and either way it's still gonna stink your house out.

Which, if I'm honest is fairly profound for this blog.

Be seeing you.






























*I've been informed by my solicitors to add that I did in fact receive a phone call this week from longtime reader David of Colchester informing me not to bother as it was utter shite.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

danny boy.

Noticed an acquaintance of mine had posted the This Is Your Life episode featuring the star of this movie on his Facebook wall earlier today so reckoned I'd revisit this criminally unloved classic of crossdressing cinema in tribute.

Plus I've been dead busy working so haven't watched anything new for an age.

Except  José Ramón Larraz's erotic masterpiece Black Candles but more on that later.

Well as soon as I've bleached my eyeballs.

But I digress.

As readers with long memories (and short fingernails) may remember whilst my dear old Granddad introduced me to the joys of Saturday night B & W horror double bills as a child it was my Nan (she of Cannibal Ferox and not murdering wee boys fame) who opened (some would say poisoned) my young mind to the joys of Dick Emery, Norman Wisdom, Lord Bruce of Forsyth and the fantastic Danny La Rue.

You see, in her younger days she worked at the local theatre cum 'entertainment' club and would often chat away to these Gods of British comedy whilst selling fags in a strange hat.

Which as a small child made summer trips to Blackpool interesting as you'd never guess who'd accost her in the street next.

One day it'd be Tarbie the next 'Mad' Max Bygraves.

Tho' I feel I must confess that none of them ever gave me sweets or commented on my kissy lips.

Bastards.

And you wonder why I grew up the way I did?

Our Miss Fred (AKA Beyond The Call of Duty, Operation: Fred. 1972).
Dir: Bob Kellett.
Cast: Danny La Rue, Alfred Marks, Lance Percival, Lally Bowers, Frances de la Tour, Walter Gotell, Jenny Twigge, Frank Thornton, Cyril Shaps and Barrie Gosney.

"You're all woman and something more!"
"You're right!"


Pretty of mouth and slender of hip Thespian Fred Wimbush (the worlds greatest female impersonator and my real Dad La Rue) is busy preparing what will undoubtedly be the greatest ever performance of Hamlet but, as is always the case in these situations, those pesky Germans decide to start the Second World War forcing our hero to do the right thing and join the army as a manly (albeit grease covered) mechanic type.

Your Granddad did. Twice.


Although Fred enjoys his oil covered antics, banging his tool and cracking his nuts all day, he misses the roar of the greasepaint and the smell of the crowd so decides to join one of the army's stage troupes.

Unfortunately the only place left is that of a female impersonator.

What are the chances?

Swallowing his pride (and tucking his ample tackle between his smooth thighs) Fred throws himself wholeheartedly into the role and soon finds himself shipped off to France to 'entertain' the troops.

Everything is going swimmingly until one night, halfway thru' Fred's rousing melody of Cher hits a squad of Jew hating, minority exterminating (yet incredibly well dressed) Nazis burst in and take every single one of the soldiers prisoner.

Everyone that is except Fred.

You see, his drag act is so convincing that the Germans have mistaken him for a real woman!

Seizing his chance, Fred totters out of the theatre in an attempt to evade capture - and possibly a severe arse shagging - by the nasty Nazi's and get back to dear old Blighty before his true gender is discovered and he's shot as a spy.

And then arse shagged.

"The gas bill's HOW much?"


Dodging totally non-racially stereotyped horny, garlic eating Frenchmen and randy, sausage guzzling German soldiers along the way, Fred finally joins forces with two upper crust English schoolteachers, Miss Flodden (Harry Worth sidekick Bowers) and Miss Lockhart (Rising Damps Ms. Jones, the horse faced yet vaguely erotic de la Tour) plus their group of sex starved schoolgirls (none of whom are under 25) stuck in Paris after a trip to the Louvre.

Or something.


Comme quoi se sent-il pour

être merde dans la bouche?"


This causes even more problems for poor Fred, you see even tho' he's camp as pants with scary blue rinsed man-gran hair he's actually the most heterosexual man on the planet and can barely control his almost Trump-like urges to jump on the schoolies, rip off their flimsy white cotton shirts and cup their smooth, budding breasts before knobbing them senseless.

Especially as the script has then continuously bending over and exposing their huge blue pants and formidable 1970's arses.

Which I'll admit had me fairly aroused but Danny La Rue?

Sometimes you just find it impossible to suspend your disbelief.

Somewhere to leave your Grifter.


Suddenly the movie veers from trannie-based action movie to tragically camp holiday sightseeing film as endless scenes of Fred and co. traveling thru war torn France on a lorry singing the classic schoolyard (well, it was if you attended Hogwarts like me) ditty Hitler Has Only Got One Ball play out ad infinitum before the pace suddenly picks up with the introduction of Fred's nemesis, the evil, Gerbil cheeked General Brincker (Brit Teevee stalwart Marks) who (not too surprisingly) falls for Fred's ample charms (and curvy buttocks) and invites our hero to join him for a romantic dinner in a scene so great that it was copied (sorry, homaged) in the criminally underrated 2001 Stefan Ruzowitzky movie All The Queen's Men.

Only this time the pairing was of a tarted up Matt LeBlanc (who actually looked hot as fuck) and the world's sexiest man, Dame Udo of Kier, dressed to the nines in a gorgeous white SS uniform.

My pants have never recovered.

But I digress.

"Believe us, you wouldn't survive the titwank!"


Discovering that the have a transvestite and a group of young girls trapped behind enemy lines (and needing a way to steer the movie to a climax that doesn't involve Fred being forced to fellate a Luger whilst a trouser-less and scarily aroused General Brincker orders his troops to violently deflower the defenceless schoolgirls), the British Army have no choice but to send their best man in to rescue them.

Enter (roughly from behind obviously) the Rat-faced upper crust air force officer Colonel Smallpiece (Percival) who, knowing Fred's true identity (if not his sexuality) rushes over to France to save his friend and hopefully score some underage tail for himself in the process.

But will he get to Fred before General Brincker discovers the truth?

What your Gran did during the War.



Written specifically as a vehicle to launch top Teevee 'comic in a frock' Danny La Rue onto the big screen (his only other movie role was in the Freddie and The Dreamers fiasco Every Day's A Holiday), Our Miss Fred is a gentle enough comedy that's as harmless as it is inconsequential.

At the time criticized due to the problem of tailoring an entire script around a man whose talent was the very theatre friendly art of female impersonation, La Rue does a good enough job of holding his own whilst the dependable TeeVee friendly cast fire a volley of sub Talbot Rothwell Carry On gags at all and sundry.

Plus good old Danny has a stunning set of pins that even the straightest of men would be hard pushed not to want to ski down.

And you can't say fairer that that.

Comedy Gold from a comely comedy God.

Bluray when please?