Friday, April 19, 2024

spex factor.

Was Tweeting/X-ing/posting on Twitter/X t'other day about how important Starburst magazine was/is to film loving folk of a certain age, it was issue 48 (the infamous zombie issue) that introduced me to THE greatest lake-based zombie movie of all time Zombie(s) Lake, the late, great John Brosnan taught me to have fun and take the piss out of things I love plus the magazine (especially the genre God that is Alan Jones) gave me my first taste of all things Italian (including Bava and Argento) cementing my love of my favourite genre forever.

And for that I will always be eternally grateful.

 

Is that really how you spell morgue?



Bizarrely tho' it was the issue featured below that we're celebrating today as it was this very publication that introduced me to the wild world of Don Dohler, thanks in part to a mini interview with the brightly besuited, cherry red spectacled George Stover who was waxing lyrically about the upcoming horror opus he was starring in entitled Fiend.


 


 

 

Reading back thru' the article I was not only amazed at how brilliant he'd made the film sound but also by the fact that I'd never gotten around to reviewing it here.

Well I'll put that to rights as soon as.

Suffice to say I'm on a wee bit of a George Stover/Don Dohler rewatch at the moment and what better movie to start off with than....

 





 

The Alien Factor (1978).

Dir: Donald M. Dohler.

Cast: Don Leifert, Mary Mertens, Richard Dyszel, Tom Griffith, Anne Frith, George Stover, Richard Geiwitz and Eleanor Herman.

 


So when I knelt over the creature, my mind went momentarily blank, and then I was aware of a bright blue light, then thoughts began to enter my mind...





Opening with a fantastic children's BBC style animated space sequence that would shame the producers of Captain Zep - and with a plinky plonk synth score to boot - we're soon on planet earth where what looks like your mum and your Uncle Peter, after a drunken (and incredibly uncomfortable) fumble in a car are attacked by a gimp suited, shaved monkey.

Which is nice.

The frenzied - well I say frenzied - attack leaves Peter dead, your mum in a state of damp-knickered shock and the audience scratching their respective heads as we cut to so seriously out of focus driving footage as trusty small town sheriff and Dickie Davis alike Jack 'The Hat' Cinder (Griffith, who will reappear as this character in Nightbeast as well as essaying the role of Man with Beard in Fiend) arrives at the scene to investigate. 

 

Tunnel or funnel?

 

Bunging the remains in the boot of his car and the still shocked lady into the passenger seat Cinder Cinder heads over to the coroners office (cunningly played by the directors house where local coroner Dr Ruth (Dohler regular and family friend Frith) and her nephew Steve (Baltimore's most famous son Stover) chalk up the tragic death to a particularly vicious wild animal such as an angry bear or a goose with a flick knife.

And with that sorted Cinder heads back to town to debrief (but not in that way obviously) the town's Lego haired mayor 'Big' Al Wicker (Horror host Count Gore de Vol himself, Dyszel channeling How! star Fred Dinenage) who has spent the day panicking that the killing may have an adverse effect on a recent business deal to build a cheese themed amusement park just outside town. 

 

 

"It was a bad boy what done it....or maybe rats!"
 

 

Later that night at the local duck pond a pair of love-struck teens are enjoying some alone time in the romantic moonlight.

Well under a day for night filter.

And by alone time I mean the guy is desperately pawing at the girl as he vainly tries to touch her bra.

Ah, young love.

Annoyed by the constant feel of sweaty sausage fingers against her smooth lily white skin she soon stomps off into the woods where she soon stumbles across a pile of silver painted cardboard boxes hastily sellotaped together whilst a bobbled headed binman scrabbles about in the bushes.

Oh hang on, my mistake it's actually a spaceship and the binman is actually an alien astronaut.

Phew, glad that's sorted.

 

"Are you looking at my bra?"
 

 

Being a girl tho' she reacts by running away screaming only to be run over by a passing motorcyclist who, on discovering he's hit a pedestrian gets back on his bike and fucks off leaving her mud spattered and bleeding in a ditch.

But let's be honest we've all been there.

Luckily for her tho' the alien turns up and heals her wife his laser space eyes.

Seems legit.

Meanwhile back at the morgue, Ruth and Steve are working tirelessly to find out what kind of animal could have caused the injuries to Uncle Peter as the damage to his rectum alone would take a creature of unimaginable size and strength. 

Steve is still sure it was a goose (or very angry mallard) but the still traumatized girlfriend is adamant it was a monster. 

The shouts of "Monster!" "No goose!" are soon cut short by a call from ace reporter Edie Martin (Mertens in her only film role - surprise) in the hope of getting any information regarding what the fuck is going on.

Which would be nice for the audience too if I'm honest.

Not having a clue themselves Steve mumbles something about 'terrifying things' before hanging up.

 

"Put it in me!"

 

Whilst all this time wasting is going on the local bad boys have decided to take matters into their own hands and go into the woods to kill whatever is attacking the townsfolk, so with the gang leaders girlfriend in tow they grab their weapons and head out for a wee bit of hunting.

Unfortunately the beast has learned the useful skill of hiding in plain sight and jumps the gang as they wander passed an upturned tree, killing them all.

To death. 

Tired of missing cat stories and with the bodies piling up Edie decides to chase the story herself so she too heads off into the woods for a fairly embarrassing 20 minute scene of poor Mary Mertens attempting to walk across a snow covered hill in stack heels.

But let's be honest they've got to fill the running time somehow.

 

"Spice Girls number one for Christmas.....MONSTA!"


But for those of you expecting another top quality monster attack you'll be totally disappointed as rather than a lumbering beast Edie finds what looks for all the world like a pre-rehab Russ Tamblin out for a leisurely stroll after coming first in a pork pie eating contest.

But alas it is not he but eminent doctor of space type stuff Benjamin Zachary (actor, teacher, Vietnam vet, one time film historian and husband of Mertens, Leifert) who has been monitoring local UFO-based shenanigans from the nearby observatory and has arrived in town armed with the latest (home-made) alien killing technology in order to help the hunt.

You see, according to Zachary, an alien big game hunter on his way home with a cargo of wild (alien) animals has crashed landed in the woods and the cargo - which he refers to as Tony Inferbryce, Brian Zagatile and Alan Leemoid - have broken free.

So the scene is set for a dangerous game of cat and mouse between our human heroes and a trio of terrifying extra-terrestrial terrors.

But first there's just enough time to head back to the bar to watch Atlantis perform their hit single Maybe Someday.

No, really.




From Baltimore's very own Steven Spielberg - the late, great Don Dohler - comes his first, and best, bargain bucket blockbuster that kickstarted a career that took in everything from marauding aliens to undead fiends, sinister slashers and back to aliens over seven ever more ludicrous movies.

Saying that tho' you have to admire the sheer bravado of a director who, when working with a budget just under 80 quid decides to feature not one, not two, not three and not even four alien creatures but five in all - from the leather clad, rubber nippled space ant to a stilt wearing ape/arachnid hybrid to the bollock-faced stop motion marvel that is the Zagatile (let's not forget the wounded alien pilot) each one is a triumph of childlike creativity over cold hard cash and when one of our heroes (I'll not say which) reveals himself to be a friendly alien sent to aid humanity, his true googly-eyed, Spam sculptured skeleton form topped off with a Brillo pad wig is a joy to behold.


Laugh now.


And the (human) cast?

Well most of them can walk and talk fairly convincingly - some even at the same time - and let's be honest, they're doing their best and seem to be having fun so it'd be churlish not to join in too plus they must have done something right seeing as they all appear in Dohler's next movie.

And the one after that.....

But the true heroes here are soon to be Dohler stalwarts George Stover and Don Leifert.

By this point already a semi-John Waters regular, Stover had begun his film based career as the creator/editor/tea boy of the fanzines Black Oracle and Cinemacabre and as the acting bug bit, split his time (tho' not his lip) 'tween his job in local government and appearing in more and more Baltimore-based bargain bin barnstormers notching up an impressive 114 plus big screen appearances in the lost 40-odd years.

Which lets be honest is 112 more than me.

He even finds the time to indulge in his love of collecting G and Z scale trains too.

And building miniature stations and the like.

Frankly the man's a legend and should feature here much more often.

Tho' I'm not sure if that would be a good thing.



Look at the dog!


But what of Leifert?

Usually referred to as "Big, beefy, and often mustached" (well on IMDB at least), he actually studied 'proper' acting at the Douglas-Webber Academy of Dramatic Art in London but gave up the chance of a glittering career in Brit sitcoms and appearances in Crossroads for the bright(ish) lights of Maryland and unlimited access to Don Dohler's cookie cupboard.

And so impressed was the director with Leifert's uncanny - some would say ungodly - portrayal of ace academic cum monster hunter Benjamin Zachary in The Alien Factor that the pair went on to work together another five times - with Leifert portraying the unforgettable undead ghoul Eric Longfellow in Fiend, beer-bellied badboy 'Billy' Drago in Nightbeast (and reuniting with Tom Griffith back as Sheriff Jack Cinder), the amusing racist Frank Custer in The Galaxy Invader, the popcorn popping video clerk in Blood Massacre before finally returning to the role that made him famous in the Dohler scripted Crawler.

All of them modern(ish) classics.

As an aside it's interesting to note that out of these six movies four of them feature aliens crash-landing in Baltimore.

Well, if it ain't broken.


"Is it giro day?"


 

Whilst it's true that The Alien Factor (like much of Dohler's work) is terrifyingly cheap and plagued with nonsensical plotting, pound shop special effects, bad sound editing - and just bad editing in general as well as a myriad of amateurish performances, you can't help but be won over by its almost naive and innocent charm.

Especially after a bottle of wine.

Or two.

Plus the barmaid at the local pub played to scoop necked perfection by Ann Hanks has probably the greatest ginger beehive ever committed to celluloid.

And if that's not reason enough to watch I don't know what is.

Pure cinematic gold and I for one fucking love it.



Sunday, April 14, 2024

standby for action!

Celebrating the genius of Gerry Anderson on his birthday with 60 minutes of Spectrum Sounds and Terrahawk tunes in one mighty Mysteron mix.....

 


 

Friday, April 12, 2024

venus in furs.

Finally got around to watching this t'other night after it sitting unloved in a cupboard for fuck knows how long but to be honest it was well worth the wait as it's a work of utter genius.

Or fevered madness.

You decide.

Apologies if the review/write up goes a wee bit mental but I've actually watched it twice now and still have no idea what the fuck was going on.


"I think only what I said. Nothing more".

 

Star Pilot (AKA 2+5: Missione Hydra - 1966)

Dir: Pietro Francisci.

Cast: Leonora Ruffo, Mario Novelli, Roland Lesaffre, Kirk Morris, Alfio Caltabiano, Leontine Snell, Nando Angelini, Giovanni De Angelis, Gianni Solaro, Antonio Ho, John Chen and Gordon Mitchell.

 



It's the long hot summer of 1966 where on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia a lone horse rider returning from the local tavern is surprised to see a strange alien spaceship (cunningly disguised as a Thermos flask) crash land in a nearby field before disappearing into a convenient hole and causing his horse to shit itself.

Oh and make a small garden wall fall over.

No budget spared here then.

Later that week in sunny and scenic Rome top talc-headed science bloke Professor Bob Solmi (French film legend Lesaffre), his bouncy-haired babe-tastic ADHD raddled daughter Luisa (Actor, choreographer and all round vision of Italian feminine perfection made flesh Snell) and his hunky, spunky lab technician Paolo Nutini (Warriors of The Year 2072 'star' and Matt Berry from Wish Novelli) - after a thrilling and fairly dangerous car ride around the city courtesy of Luisa's complete lack of concentration - have been ordered by the governments top science man to investigate the sudden increase in radiation levels on the island as well as a mysterious patch of dead grass on the school playing fields, much to Luisa's chagrin seeing as she was planning to audition for a dog food commercial that very afternoon.

It's like an X Files/Beechgrove Garden/Corrie crossover but with way tighter Capri pants.

 

"Whoaaa! Bodyform!"

Unbeknown to our heroes there's a sinister gang of Oriental (but definitely NOT Chinese as the keep on explaining to anyone who'll listen) spies are on their tail after mistaking the radiation/dead grass/horse scaring/wall breaking stuff on Sardinia as the proof needed that Professor Solmi is developing a super weapon.

Sounds legit.

After another thrilling car ride (with the Orientals causing as crash in order to sneak one of their agents into the Professors car in order to find out their plans whilst pretending to be asleep (no really) and a scenic helicopter ride over Rome our terrific trio arrive in Sardinia where they meet up with fellow scientists cum beige clad hunks for hire Morelli and Giulio (Latter day documentary maker and  educational TV programmer Angelini and Churchill's Leopards star De Angelis) who proceed to lay the table for dinner as Luisa dances around the kitchen whilst forcing her (albeit peachy) arse into the faces of anyone nearby.

The group retire to bed in advance of a heavy day of science the next morn but their slumber is rudely interrupted by and earthquake opening up a massive cavern behind a nearby rosebush.

And on that bombshell the group hastily get dressed and prepare to investigate.

But not before Luisa has come into the kitchen to proclaim she's only wearing her underwear before returning to her room and coming back fully clothed.

Which is nice.

And to be fair they are very pretty pants.

"Oh Vic I've fallen!"

 

Heading into the cavern the group soon come across the buried spaceship and after moving a large piece of polystyrene out of the way uncover the crafts entrance hatch before excitedly exploring inside.

Finding all this excitement way to tiring everyone heads back for lunch but the feast of cheese and crisp sandwiches and Vimto is rudely interrupted by the evil Oriental spies who were lying in wait in the (fairly roomy it has to be said) wooden shed the scientists call home in order to kill them.

Or steal their secrets.

Or tell them off.

I have no idea.

Anyway the Professor persuades the spies that they haven't got a secret weapon but do in fact have a large alien thermos buried out the back and invite them to see it.

"I shoot you now!"

 

 

But all this banging about earlier has woken the spaceships crew and as the earth folk approach they prepare to attack.

And they do this by sending three milky-thighed Telletubbies (sorry androids) into the cave to, um lie down or something.

Surprisingly this trick seems to work and whilst the scientists and spies are distracted by the telletubbies undulating bellies the aliens attack with deadly sparkler guns, killing two of the spies before subduing Solmi, Luisa, Paolo, Morelli, Giulio, the not at all Chinese Chang and his unnamed pal we'll just call Phil and then politely introducing themselves to their captives.

Enter (yes please) the slinkily seductive commander of the Hydranian forces - the red wigged, fishnet bodysuited Commander Kaela (played to seductive perfection by Ruffo - star of among other things Mario Bava's Hercules in the Haunted World (1961) and your granddads dreams) and her swimming cap sporting, muscle-man cohorts Artie (actor, screenwriter and film director Caltabiano) and Belsy (Morris AKA Adriano Bellini - Italian bodybuilder cum actor and winner of Mr.Italia Bodybuilding contest 1961).

 

Time for Tubbie bye-byes!


The aliens explain that they were investigating reports the humans were capable of creating a doomsday bomb when they accidentally crashed their ship and now need help to repair it in order to get home and politely ask the humans for help before strapping all seeing eyes to them (with handy built-in molecular disrupters in case they try to escape/use the toilet etc) and taking Luisa hostage.

Which is a good excuse for her to strip down to a sheer bodysuit covered in feathers and try to seduce Belsy with a saucy dance whilst he talks about eugenics and murdering genetically inferior folk on his home planet.

To be fair tho' as first dates go that's pretty much perfect.

 

Plucking gorgeous

 

The humans quickly repair the ship (to be fair it's a fairly short movie) but not before Morelli (or the other one) has managed to sneakily send a message to their boss Dr. Chang (latter day ice cream Solaro - AKA John Sun - who is also bizarrely not Chinese) resulting in Commander Kaela electrocuting him (to death) and the army being mobilized to fight the alien horde.

Saying that tho' can three people actually constitute a horde?

Answers on a postcard please.

Anyway as the mighty military forces (well 6 guys and a jeep) advance on the cavern Kaela decides to change the deal and take the humans with her to the planet Hydra, partly because she's fascinated by their unique 'genetic material' (which I assume is shorthand for Paolo's peach arse) but mainly for the fact that they need extra crew members seeing as the androids where all killed meaning they have no-one to clean the toilets.

And with that they blast off into space.

 

Next stop....Button Moon!

 Cue 30 (very) odd minutes of flirting, bouncy space walks and cool dancing - and more flirting - on an alien planet before being attacked by space monkeys and all while Professor Solmi waxes lyrical about Einstein's theory of relativity and how, because they've been traveling so fast that Earth’s past  is now their future.

Or something.

And just to prove this theory a Russian (or more likely Bulgarian) space capsule floats by giving Paolo and Kaela an opportunity to play on a kiddies trampoline whilst pretending to be in space whilst holding silver-sprayed 'space snorkels' in the (albeit very pretty) mouths as they head to investigate.

How I met your mother.

 

Climbing aboard the pair quickly come across (but not in that way) a pair of motorcycle helmeted skeletons clutching a copy of the 1978 Readers Wives calendar proving Solmi's (and Einstein's) theory correct.

But just in case the audience are particularly thick they access the ships computer just to explain the situation again.

This leaves Kaela and the crew with a serious dilemma.

Do they continue on to the planet Hydra in the hope that it's still there and not abandoned after some heavy rainfall or something or do they head back to Earth in the hope that it hasn't been destroyed in a nuclear war.

There's a clue in the trailer by the way.

 


 


From the visionary director (as in he had eyes) Pietro Francisci - the man behind Hercules, Samson and Ulysses, Hercules Unchained and Sinbad and the Caliph of Baghdad among other classics - comes one of the most slap-dash, threadbare, nonsensical yet most entertaining movies - named Star Pilot or even 2+5: Missione Hydra obviously - ever made.

Taking its cues from the likes of World Without End (1956), Devil Girl from Mars (1951) and The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951) by way of the best of pulp sci-fi (Perry Rhodan* I'm looking at you) and Buster Crabbe's Flash Gordon,  2+5: Missione Hydra has everything we love about 60s Italiana - a cast decked out in arse-hugging leather thongs over spandex leggings (for the men) and sheer body stockings, eye gouging pointy bras and feathers (for the laydees) via talcum powered grey wigs and big quiffs and all set to a way out futuristic, big(ish) band score from Nico Fidenco (AKA Italian pop god, soundtrack ace and frequent Joe D'Amato collaborator Domenico Colarossi, best known for being the first Italian singer to sell one million copies of a single, the hit ditty What a Sky from the film Silver Spoon Set) and all played out on sets constructed entirely from old television sets, tin foil and MDF board.

And that's not even mentioning the fact that at the halfway point a group of flea infested ape men turn up and start fighting everyone.

See Kubrick that's how you do apes.

I mean what's not to love?

And that's even before mentioning the sheer playful sexiness that oozes thru' the celluloid every time Leonora Ruffo and Leontine Snell (oh go on then and Kirk Morris, who owns probably THE tightest arse I have ever seen - seriously he could crack walnuts with one flex of his buttocks) appear on screen.


Pure interplanetary perfection.

 

Obviously upon completion the director knew he had a sci-fi classic that was ahead of its time on his hands which is probably why it was dubbed into English and re-released in 1977 to show that pesky newcomer George Lucas how science fiction should be done.

So there.

I mean without this movie we'd have never been blessed with such classics as Alfonso Brescia's masterpiece Battaglie Negli Spazi Stellari (or his The Beast in Space so you can't have everything) as well as those old favourites Starcrash and The Humanoid.

Pure cinematic sci-fi perfection.




*Who even got his own movie with the 1967 release of Mission Stardust (AKA …4 ..3 ..2 ..1 …Morte, Perry Rhodan – SOS aus dem Weltall).

Thursday, April 4, 2024

people you fancy but shouldn't (part 111).

 

Leontine Snell - best known for her portrayal as shiny haired saucepot Luisa Solmi in Pietro Francisci's scifi epic Star Pilot (1966).















Monday, April 1, 2024

devil may care.

Well it's the first of April today meaning it's been a mad Bank Holiday weekend of clocks in the UK jumping forward an hour whilst simultaneously hurtling back to the 1950s in Scotland with the implementation of our utterly fantastic and in no way sinister and open to abuse Hate Crime law.

Seriously, screw the political implications as just on an abuse of grammar level this blog is fucked.

Saying that tho' maybe if I identify as a serious film blog I should be OK?

Definitely not
Humza Yousaf earlier today.


Anyway, no idea why but I reckoned this film just about summed up the whole sorry, shitshow that is modern society right now.

Enjoy.

 
Devil Story (1985).
Dir: Bernard Launois.
Cast: Véronique Renaud, Marcel Portier, Catherine Day, Nicole Desailly, Pascal Simon and a horse.

Tho' to be honest none of this matters seeing as none of them ever worked again outside the fast food industry.


'Screw that Mummy.... what I want is that goddamn horse!'



They say that you should always start as you mean to go on and the folk in charge here seem to agree seeing as the entire first 10 minutes of the movie seems to be made up of nothing but some poor bloke (Simon in his only film role who, I must add looks absolutely nothing like a certain Green Party minister with the initials PH, no not at all) clad in a comedy tramp mask from the pound shop, his sister's jodhpurs and an old SS jacket bombing around a kids play park pretending to stab people.

Seriously it's like a Saturday afternoon in Birmingham.

Only without the overbearing stench of fish obviously.

Firstly chibbing a man in a tent before stalking his unfortunate companion - who is busy skipping thru' the woods carrying a pile of wood, a pile of wood which it must be said will scarily give the best performance in the whole film - and then slashing her (admittedly harsh) face in a masterstroke of make-up effects which involves her being attacked with her back to the camera before clumsily turning around to reveal bloody make-up that had already been applied.

By a hook handed child.

Who is also legally blind.

Viewers of a nervous disposition (or with any taste) should turn off now tho' as the killing spree has only just begun as in a scene of bizarro fourth wall breaking bonkers who should turn up but the director himself accompanied by what I assume is his mum out for a leisurely drive in the country.

Unfortunately the fun is cut short when the car runs out of petrol meaning that the esteemed Mr Launois has to walk back to the nearest garage whilst grumpily shouting at his poor mother.

With all this ranting and raving going on he spectacularly fails to see wee Paddy Baw-heid crouching behind a roadside statue waiting to pounce.

Just as our dumpy director is walking by Paddy jumps out and starts growling whilst waving his arms about.

With a look of total disinterest Launois calmly asks him the way to the garage.

As you would when confronted by a gurning loon in a Nazi uniform.

You can guess what happens next.

Yup, Paddy stabs the man before stomping off and shooting Mrs Launois in the face.

And if that's not the state of Scottish politics in a nutshell I don't know what is.



"Laugh now!"




Anyway, with all those random killings out of the way - filmed it seems because when reviewing a first edit of the movie Launois realized he had less than an hour's worth of usable footage so got his pals together to shoot a whole new opening sequence - it's into the plot good and proper as we're introduced to some vacuous guy and his - even more vacuous - wife who are currently enjoying a nice drive in the country.

As far as I remember - to be honest by this point I was drunk - neither of them have names tho' I've since found out that Mrs Vacuous  (let's call her Brenda) is portrayed by the toothsome Véronique Renaud who was cast solely on the fact that she supplied her own Cammie knickers for the role.

Take from that what you will.

Unfortunately their enjoyment is cut short - unlike ours which never started - when the car suffers a - strangely invisible - puncture so whilst the by now grumpy man tries to fix it Brenda wanders off into the woods, summoned it seems by a black cat with bizarre psychic powers and the ability to make badly animated lightning appear on screen.

No really.

Toothsome....or French as we say around here.



But that's not all it can do for as it mysteriously makes what looks like slivers of  piss streak across the screen the beast attacks Brenda scratching her hands a wee bit and - being a woman - Brenda starts screaming for her hubbie before blaming him for her predicament.

But as he - uncomfortably - hugs her she gazes at her hands again, realising that the scratches were imaginary.

And with this, the poor put upon hubbie decides to call it a day and find a local hotel where hopefully he can get some peace from his mad missis.

Now sooner has day turned to night when they pull up outside an enormous Gothic castle* that, just to show how foreboding it actually is, is blasting Bach's Toccata in d-minor out of the windows.

Hurrying inside the couple are greeted by the owners - a hunting knife obsessed old fat man cradling a shotgun and his pie-obsessed wife who bizarrely seems to have a tray of booze permanently stuck to her hand.

It's like staying at your nan and granddads as a kid.

But without the late night bedroom visits and forced buggery obviously.


Pants.



As the foursome sit and sip wine the old lady begins to tell a spooky  local legend of days gone by and how during/before/after the equinox (take your pick) shit happens.

And as if by magic and to prove a point a horse suddenly gallops passed.

It seems that years ago a local tinker family used to lure passing ships to their doom with false signal fires on shore before stealing their cargo.

But one night when attempting to scupper a passing English ship (carrying a cargo of antiquities from Egypt (see? We used to trade with the world) a huge earthquake squashed the ship flat into the rocks and the family with it.

Yup, sounds legit.

Anyway it appears that three descendants of the family are still alive and reside in the village but because of their past crimes have been afflicted with a terrible curse.

And no, being French doesn't count as a curse.

Yet.

There's an old woman whom everyone thinks is a witch, her daughter that no-one has ever seen and her son who is described as being an inbred monster with a massive head and a love of cycling (probably).

Can you guess who that is?

"I'm from Dudley!"




Obviously all this talk of terrible deaths and huge heads has an upsetting effect on Brenda who retires to bed only to be kept awake by the constant tip-tapping of hooves from the horse who is still wandering about in the hotel car park leaving her only one option - to head outside in a flimsy nightie and a pair of bright yellow wellies and matching raincoat.

I'll give the film it's due tho' this is quite possibly one of the most erotic things I've ever seen on celluloid.

And that includes your kids birth video.

No sooner has she tiptoed outside tho' when she's roughly pushed aside by the old man who, after years of torment has decided that tonight's the night that he's going to shoot the horse and with a cry of  "I hate that duck!" runs out into the night.

And straight past the horse.

Obviously Brenda decides to go out after him.

Which would probably be OK if not for the fact that it appears she's suddenly shit scared of horses so as soon as she spots our four legged friend she starts to scream before running to her husbands car and driving away.

Leaving her husband stranded alone and asleep in a strange place.

What a lovely lady.

Unfortunately - for her that is, as a viewer I'm just happy something is finally happening tho' it's a pity that the film is so dark you can only guess as to what that is -  the scary horse seems capable of randomly teleporting places and suddenly appears in front of the car forcing our heroine to abandon it and run into the woods in the hope of something - anything - of note happening.



"Chase me now!"


 After interminable shots of the old man swearing whilst taking pot shots at out-takes from the title sequence to Black Beauty intercut with scenes of Brenda stumbling thru' bushes in various states of focus she soon - but not soon enough - bumps into the beast boy and his mum who appear to be pushing an apple cart around whilst tabbing on duty fee fags and discussing his recently dead sibling/her dead daughter.

Which kinda explains why no fucker has seen her of late.

Paying too much attention to the chat and not enough to where she's standing Brenda trips and falls into an open grave where she's soon spotted by the bad boy.

He doesn't kill her tho' as remarkably it turns out that Brenda is the spitting image of his dead sister.

Which isn't too surprising seeing she's also played by Renaud, only this time in a really shit wig.


Entranced by the resemblance he just sits and pokes her with a stick but his mother has other ideas, insisting that Brenda has no right to live if her daughter has died, so orders her son to bury Brenda alive.

Luckily the horse appears and kicks the son in the face giving Brenda ample time to escape and the viewer a chance to go for a piss safe in the knowledge that absolutely fuck all of note is actually going to happen.

Scarily at the very same time the horse is also still taunting the old bloke with the gun.

Ghost horse?

Twins?

Or just shite plotting?

You decide.



"You ain't seen me right?"


Just as the sheer ineptitude of the plotting feels like it's about to crush everything and everyone around it the film takes a bizarre turn as suddenly and without warning a nearby cliff face collapses exposing not only the missing British ship but also a mummy clad in an old body stocking and a gimp mask who totters off toward the graveyard and vomits in the dead sisters (albeit very pretty) mouth and brings her back to life before taking her hand a going for a walk.

And with that the scene is set for a confrontation of epic proportions 'tween a mummy, a spooky horse and an old man with a gun driven mad by the lack of a good nights sleep.

Tho' not between the mummy and mental boy tho' as they're played by the same actor.

Suffice to say that Brenda's night is about to get much worse....

...And one that doesn't involve Cécile Fournier.




Bloody hell that was rough.

Fuck only knows what Bernard Launois was injecting when he decided to make this movie but hopefully it's been totally banned under the UN human rights act by now, tho' it'd be nice to know exactly what he was thinking when he decided to throw away his fairly lucrative bit part career with Eurocine Films to try his hand at directing.

As an 'actor' he'd appeared briefly in 'Pigalle Crossways of Illusions', 'Racket on Pleasure' and the Rosalba Neri shagathon '2 Males for Alexa' but by the Eighties Launois was bitten - tho' more likely mercilessly buggered - by the directing bug, which after a few piss-poor comedies culminated with Devil Story.

Thanks for that Bernard.

Coming across like the painful results of an almost soulless scientific study into the equations of what makes a bad movie, Devil Story is badly shot, underwritten to a point of absurdity and cheaper than your mum with the added bonus of being shot thru' gauze on cracked lenses by a drunk blind man that manages to even  make scenes of a nubile French lass running around in her undies appear underwhelming and unappealing.

Or perhaps that's the point and Launois is in fact a cinematic genius who's actually intentionally fucking with our preconceptions of what constitutes a good film.

"Look over there! That's how many fucks I give!"




Only joshing, it's just shit.































































*In reality the famous Palais Bénédictine - a Gothic/renaissance venue built by Benedictine liqueur's founder, Ted Bénédictine and designed by Camille Albert and very pretty it is too.


Sunday, March 31, 2024

baked being.

It's Easter Sunday.

This film is set on Easter Sunday.

Result.

Oh and before we begin....




The Being (1983).
Dir: Jackie Kong.
Cast: Martin Landau, José Ferrer, Dorothy Malone, Ellen Blake, Kinky Friedman, Kent Perkins, Ruth Buzzi, Marianne Gordon, Bill Osco (as Rexx Coltrane), Roxanne Cybelle Osco and Jerry Marin.


Laurie: "But if this thing is actually killing people, then why is the mayor trying to keep it quiet? "
Detective Lutz: "Potatoes."



Welcome to Pottsville, the potato capital of the good ol' US of A where our story (well it's more of a sketch really) begins with a disheveled teen is busying running thru' a high-tech nuclear waste facility (impressively played by the old scrapyard behind the directors house) as he attempts to escape from an as yet unseen assailant.

The chase appears to go on for hours - seeing as it starts in broad daylight yet continues into night time -  but luckily it's not in real-time meaning it's only a few (on screen) minutes before  we can breathe a sigh of relief as the troubled teen finally finds an abandoned car (not too sure if that's nuclear too) and drives off into the night.

Unfortunately as he's tuning the radio for the local traffic news a huge claw rips thru' the roof and proceeds to tear the poor kids head off causing the car to crash into a nearby potato warehouse.

Obviously the police rush to investigate this spud-based bust up but can find no sign of the driver or his head.

What they do discover however is that the entire interior of the car is covered in blood and green slime.

The towns top tec - and our hero for the evening - Detective Mortimer Lutz (producer and husband of director Kong - Osco, which if nothing else goes to show exactly who he had to fuck to get in the picture) is baffled by the lack of evidence so heads off to the toilet leaving local mechanic Steve Soontodie to carry on examining the wreck.

Unfortunately he neglects to check in the boot which unsurprisingly is where a big monster (or 'The Being' as he's known to his pals) is hiding.

Ain't that always the way?

As you can guess he pops out and eats the mechanic whole.

And I've just realised that I can't do the 'they usually spit that bit out' shtick seeing as I worded the last sentence wrong.

Arse.

"Are you looking at my bra?"



After a few minutes (it obviously wasn't a poo) Lutz returns to find the boot open, a huge pile of slime on the floor and the mechanic nowhere to be seen save his tool belt lying discarded on the floor..

Being a great detective Lutz reckons Steve just got bored and went home and with a shrug of his shoulders decides to do the same.

Taggart this ain't.

Whom I kidding it's not even Scots Squad.

Anyway there's a murderous monster based mayhem to be getting on with so to this end we're quickly introduced to local lass Brenda Slagg who is all dolled up and waith for her boyfriend Jeff Studley to arrive so they can head to the local drive-in and rut like bunnies on the front seat of her car.

Who says romance is dead?

As the pair are getting down and getting it on as the kids say they singularly fail to notice the green slime oozing thru' the dashboard until it's too late and the gunk has manifested as a scaly clawed arm that tears the pair limb from limb, their screams drowned out by the screams on the big screen.

Within minutes the beast - sorry The Being - has ripped the head off a stoner, shouted out the ending of the film and shit in the popcorn before disappearing into the night leaving poor Lutz with yet another unexplained killing or three to investigate.

Sitting in the couples car to look for clues our hero ends up with his arse covered in slime yet none the wiser as to what is going on so with that he heads home for a tearful wank and a Pot Noodle in the hope of figuring out not only what or who is killing folk but how he ended up as sheriff of a town built on spuds and how he'll managed to get his jeans clean for the next day.

But he's not alone as something - or some being - is watching him from the shadows.

Hearing a strange noise as he slowly slips his tight bums out of his shrink to fit jeans Lutz heads outside to investigate only to be pounced on - OK pounced at - by the creature but Lutz is too quick the beast and manages to run away, jumping across a railroad track in front of an oncoming train to lose the beast.

Again I've no idea how long he was running as the scene begins in the dead of night yet ends in broad daylight.

The fucker must be really fit.

Or Pottsville has really short days.

Either works for me.

Martin Landau tries to count the cost of his divorce.



Now totally convinced that something bad is afoot Lutz heads to the local diner where his college sweetheart Laurie (ex Missis Kenny Rogers, Gordon from Rosemary's Baby) works alongside the toothsome yet scarily pillowed Jenny (Glasgow's own Blake from The Last Starfighter and Hill Street Blues who really should have way much more to do here as she's fab) in order to convince her to let him walk her home as he reckons that some crazy shit is going down.

She smiles at him with the smile of a mother to an idiot child and agrees, with a happy face and a skip in his step Lutz heads off to meet with Mayor Gordon Lane (Ferrer - paying for a new pool) to discuss how to deal with the killings.

Oh and to ask for a mop and bucket to clean up the slime.

Talking of cleaning up the slime he also has to contend with the mayor's wife Virginia (Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In legend Buzzi) and her "Clean up the town of pornography" campaign that she's started due to the fact that a massage parlour may be opening on the high street.

On arriving at the mayor's office Lutz is surprised to find him in the company of the famed toxic waste specialist and advisor to the state of Idaho on regional and environmental safety Dr. Garson Jones (Space: 1999’s Commander John Koenig himself, Landau, still paying a shit load of alimony to ex-wife Barbara Bain - hence his appearances in stuff like this and The Dark) who is currently explaining that the toxic gunk being empty into the local water supply is in no way harmful to the townsfolk or their potatoes.

Hmmm....I'm not too sure.

"Can I have a cup of coffee please?" "Neigh bother!"


Obviously writer/director Kong felt that there wasn't enough strange shit going on so later Lutz retires to bed early to catch a few ZZZZs before meeting up with Laurie only to experience a lucid dream of Pee Wee's Playhouse proportions as he imagines sharing a romantic plane journey with Dr Jones that's cut short not just by the mayor's wife flying by on a broomstick shouting "Arse!" but also by the beast/being dragging Jones out of the plane to his death.

Waking in a cold sweat and with a noticeable erection, Lutz realises he's overslept and quickly heads out to meet Laurie who by this time has decided to walk home alone, stopping only to stare at local crazy lady Marge Smith (Oscar winning star of Peyton Place Malone) who has taken to wandering the streets in a onesie since her son Michael has disappeared

Interestingly her son vanished just before the spate of killings started.

Could this be related?

Frankly by this point I don't care.

And to be honest I don't think the writer does either.

Back to the plot (and I use that term loosely) and Lutz has caught up with Laurie just as she reaches her car but as she's about to get in a large spunky cushion is thrown at her from off set, causing the pair to scream and run back to the diner.

No hang on I think that was meant to be the monster.

Never mind.

After a game of cat and mouse so tense it puts the bit in Alien with Dallas in the air vent to shame the pair finally trap the creature in the freezer next to the waffles before ringing the mayor to come and take a look but who'd have guessed it the beast liquefies and escapes down the drain before he arrives leaving him little choice but to berate Lutz for being a bit shit then returning home to the dinner party cum music recital organised by his wife.

Meanwhile the beast is busying itself eating three local men who've sneaked into the building earmarked for the massage parlour in order to torch it.

Which is nice.

If totally irrelevant to the plot.

"Put it in me!"



Anyway, arriving home the Mayor is shocked to find that the creature has hitched a ride on the roof of the car so as anyone would do in that situation he accelerates out of the garage (and thru' the doors) leaving his poor wife standing on the lawn looking bewildered as he drives away.

Bewilderment soon turns to horror tho' - or it may be ecstasy or trapped wind, I can't really tell - when the beast wraps its forked tongue around her skinny
bird-like neck and kills her.

To death.

Obviously bored with being sidetracked from the action Laurie decides to go have a chat with the aforementioned Marge at her house but is shocked to find the toilet seat covered in the same slime the creature leaves everywhere.

Marge however is unconcerned saying that it's just Michael making a mess around the house as kids do.

Could Michael be the beast after ingesting radioactive goo?

Was he mutated in the womb due to contaminated water?

Was he the creatures first victim?

Frankly we'll never know as this plot thread is quickly dropped in favour of Lutz, Garson and Laurie heading off to the dump to hunt the creature down before getting a wee bit scared and heading back to town for a quick snack and a chat.

Crisps eaten and fizzy pop drunk Lutz heroically locks Laurie in a jail cell before heading back out with Garson to hunt down the creature again, this time armed with guns.

Guns to kill a creature that can turn into liquid.

Go figure.

"Laugh now!"
 

After a bit more chasing around and shooting - and a moving speech about radioactive waste - the pair decide that they've definitely killed the creature so head off to a local warehouse to celebrate but, surprise surprise, the beast isn't dead and quickly kills Garson before biting Lutz's ankle.

Limping and alone our heroic cop must face down the beast armed only with some huge containers of sulphuric acid and a massive axe.....



Same shit, different smell.


The first movie from director/producer/screenwriter Jackie Kong The Being is a trashy, lo-fi throwback to the atomic monster movies of the 50s - with added gore and breasts - that makes up for its lack of logic and plot by just being great fun to watch.

I must be getting soft in my old age.

From Martin Landau's OTT scientist to Ruth Buzzi's uptight comedy conservative via Ferrer's drunken, potato obsessed mayor everyone plays it perfectly - true they may all appear to be in different movies but it actually works even Osco's charisma free  and obvious uncomfortable lead performance feels right, even down to the way he clumsily walks in his slightly too tight jeans.

But to be honest I think his character choices may have been intentional when you look closely at his career.

Originally a producer/director whose 1970 film Mona the Virgin Nymph was one of the first 'erotic art films' to receive a national theatrical release in the United States, he went on to produce Flesh Gordon (1974) as well as the comedy porn musical Alice in Wonderland: An X-Rated Musical Comedy (1976) as well as a stage version of the very same film in 2007.

In addition to his porn output he also produced Kong's output during the 1980s - and between this and the rather splendid Blood Diner is where his surreal - and sometimes downright silly - sensibilities totally compliment Kong's lo-fi John Waters-esque directing choices perfectly.

Tunnel or funnel?



To be honest the only thing that could make this any more enjoyable was if the kills were intercut with musical numbers but you can't have everything.

Plus any movie where the director casts her daughter as a toddler who may or may not get eaten by a slime encrusted monster during a cheerily scored Easter Egg hunt gets top marks as far as I'm concerned.

Sub-atomic bare arsed genius.