Thursday, January 17, 2019

forget me not.

Had shedloads of 'proper' work on recently (shocking I know) and usually when beavering away I like to have a movie on in the background to drown out the voices.

Unfortunately my oh-so slight (yeah right)  ASD tendencies mean that it usually has to be something I've already seen otherwise I end up getting way too interested in the movie and get fuck all done.

It's a hard life.

Anyway as rewatching that seminal shocker Burial Ground again this week and remembered that years ago I'd written probably THE most comprehensive account of the lead actors career ever, which would have been great had anyone ever read it.

So again for your enjoyment I give you - oiled up and naked - the story of the legend that is Peter Bark.

You may know him as as the freakish Michael in Andrea Bianchi's zombie opus Burial Ground: Nights of Terror but the greatest little man (with the old lady paunch) of Italian cinema has featured in a myriad of well regarded roles such as 'Boy Scout in Train' in the classic Via Alle Grande (1983) and the 'whistling guy' in 1979's Liquirizia.

Superb cinema each and every one of them.

Unfortunately due to the secrecy of the Vatican occult archives very little is known of the 64 year old Bark's early life and career except that his real name is Pietro Barzocchini, he is a native of Rome and that he originally he wanted to become a shopkeeper.

Unfortunately his lack of height made it impossible for him to see over the counter without the use of a box but the incident that made him turn his back on a life of retail was when a group of school children stole the Curly Wurly he was using as a ladder to reach the pornographic magazines on the top shelf leaving him stranded for 6 days with only a glossy picture of Anna Kanakis' breasts for company.

And it was seeing the beautiful star of The New Barbarians watching over him at night that convinced Bark to pursue his acting dream.

Dario Argento: The Grange Hill years.

But first he needed an English sounding stage name.

Choosing the first name - and the hairstyle - of his favourite musician Peter Tork (of The Monkees) and Bark after the noise he would make as the other children beat him on the way to school - scarily up until the age of 14, he was only an astounding 16" tall - he began to apply for auditions but to no avail.

You see he was unable to reach the letter box to post the letters

As he was walking home dejected and dragging an envelope behind him he was accosted by the famed director Salvatore Samperi, it seems that Bark's incredible whistling talents had entranced the film maker who swiftly rewrote the script of Liquirizia adding the character the of 'whistling boy' specifically for Bark.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Or his story if you prefer.

Tho' seeing as his entire filmography consists of only four movies, maybe the phrase 'and the rest is a small pamphlet' may be more precise.

"Aye son!"

But does quantity really matter when you've earned your place in horror history with your first foray into the genre?

I think not, as anyone who's seen Bark's unique performance as Michael, the little boy with the bad hair in Burial Ground will agree.

Especially when you realise that he wasn't even the top billing, that honour was reserved for the up and coming - usually quite loudly - starlet Karin Well.

But even when faced with such career defining performances from the likes of such cinema legends as Mariangela Giordano, Anna Valente, Simone Mattioli and Raimondo Barbieri, it was Bark who won the critics (and fans) appreciation for his scarily accurate take on puberty, Oedipus complexes and high waist trousers

"Hey there I'm a primate!"

The character of Michael was originally written for an actual 12-year old actor, however Italy's ultra-strict child labour laws forbid the participation of children in any film featuring sex, gore or hints of incestuous overtones (especially if the child character was indulging in both) except in cases of the films being funded by the Catholic church so Bianchi hatched the audacious plan of casting the then 25-year old Bark as Michael, who his make-up artists promised, could believably be transformed into a 12 year old boy.

And as viewers will attest, the effect is uncanny and so realistic that when the film was put forward for a special 'make an adult look like a wean' award, the judges threw out the nomination ad sentenced Bianchi to 15 years hard labour for flouting the law whilst Bark - forever typecast went on to be the original face - and wobbly tummy - of Kinder chocolate.

Bark today: still tiny.

Bark made one more film after Burial Ground, but found that he missed his old life so, using the money he'd made punting sugary snacks to kids opened a specialist 'short people friendly' hardware store in Rome which he runs to this day.

"Put it in me!"

As a bizarre aside, whilst I was on the phone to Mr Bark researching this piece he informed me that he'd have to cut our conversation short (snigger) as one of his regular customers had just arrived to buy a tiny tin of emulsion to paint their dollhouse with.

Cheekily asking if she wouldn't mind answering a few questions about the shop* I soon discovered that the customer in question was none other than the vacant eyed, button nosed, 80's breasted blonde star of many a lo-fi Euro epic ranging from Jess (the sandwiches cost how much?) Franco's classic Cannibals to the Fulci masterpiece Conquest via the sauciness of Blue Island.

Yes ladies and gentlemen (but mainly gentlemen) I was indeed chatting to Sabrina Siani.

What are the chances?

And for those of you unfamiliar with her work (there's a fair bit of it scattered around here if you can be arsed looking), she's usually to be found either naked or at the very least in a pair of tiny pants and was famously once referred to - by the aforementioned Franco no less - as "the stupidest person I've ever met".

And seeing as he had the pleasure of working with not only Manuel Gélin but also Bela B. Felsenheimer and Doris Regina that's something not to be taken lightly.

Anyway back to the potted history - I'm not getting paid by the word - and to the backstreets of Rome where Sabrina Seggiani - as she was originally known - was born - the first of 11 children - to a pair of performing circus midgets on a cold rainy night 13 August 1963.

After a freak big top accident involving a flare gun, an oiled seal and three primary school children Sabrina and her family were forced to flee the city for the nearby mountains where she spent her childhood attacking travelers for food and clothes in order to survive.

Things looked grim until, at the age of 16, she was caught rummaging thru' the bins of ace director Alfonso Brescia, who immediately he cast her as Maria in his Mafia vs. shopkeeper epic Napoli... la camorra sfida, la città risponde.

And no I have no idea what it means either.


It wasn't long before she was setting the screen alight (oh, hang on that was the audience) as the arse baring teen cannibal cutie in the fantastic  - well, I say fantastic but I really mean barely watchable = Mondo Cannibale and finding new ways to look slightly bored whilst stripping naked in a load of instantly forgettable Italian sex comedies.

Whilst other, lesser thesps would be happy to continue showing their breasts to wee bald Italian men for cash, Sabrina knew that there was more to her talents, if only a director would give her the chance to prove it.

That chance came sooner than she thought when professional liar and all round thin man Umberto Lenzi cast her as a scantily clad female Tarzan in his 1982 movie Incontro Nell'Ultimo Paradiso.

From that point there was no stopping Siani in her plan for cinematic domination as she wowed audiences with her chameleon like ability to play everything from a scantily clad sword-swinging siren in Joe D'Amato's Ator the Fighting Eagle to an even more scantily clad wicked witch in Fulci's sword and small pants epic Conquest.

How your Mum manages to pay for all those family holidays to Tenby.

Naked save for a market stall g-string and a drugged python and with her face hidden beneath a joke shop robot mask, Siani comes into her own - but not alas over the sofa - as the evil leader of a gang of marauding dog men with a penchant for snorting their vanquished victims brains thru' bendy straws and unconvincingly snapping nude women in half.

It says a lot for Siani's convincing portrayal of evil that at the films climax when her mask opens to reveal a rotting, putrid corpse face that the majority of the audience still would.

Twice if the truth be told.

But not me, oh no as I'm not remotely sexist.

Siani: sucking a lemon.

Siani's finest hour however was when she appeared as the Golden Goddess in Michele Massimo Taranti's arse numbing (and not in a good way) sub - Conan cash in Sword of the Barbarians.

Her entrance in the movie, emerging mysteriously from a fountain of party poppers and glitter whilst wearing only a plastic crown and bejeweled thong slowly making her way towards bearded beefcake Pietro Torrisi for a spot of hot barbarian bonking makes the proceeding car crash of badly staged swordplay and stilted dialogue all worthwhile.

After a couple of soft core/hard gore sleaze epics, Siani reunited with D'Amato (and her Mondo Cannibale dad Al Cliver) for the futuristic actioner 2020: Texas Gladiators before hitting the high brow groove as Berthilde in Dino Risi's medieval romp Le bon roi Dagobert, a surprisingly funny (and realistic) portrayal of the life of Good King Dagobert, the first French king to be buried in the royal tombs at Saint Denis Basilica.

See? this blog is educational too.

Then after appearing (nude of course) with Fred 'The Hammer' Williamson in the no-brainer Black Cobra she vanished leaving behind only a tiny diamante thong and a blink and miss it cameo in Fulci's Aenigma.

As well as about 600 saucy cover shoots for Skorpio magazine for us to enjoy obviously.

She'll catch her death in that outfit.

And then.....not a sausage.

But whatever she's up to now - apart from painting dolls houses obviously -  I hope that she's happy.

And not having to wear shite face paint like she did in Mondo Cannibales.

*She said that Mr Barzocchini is always very friendly and helpful, even allowing her to climb up to the high shelves herself whilst he holds the ladder.

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