Thursday, January 31, 2019

dick miller.

25 December 1928 - 30 January 2019.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

If ray harryhausen designed playgrounds....

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.

Monday, January 14, 2019

cod only knows.

Yes I know I'm meant to be doing the whole 'films set in 2019' thing - oh yes and some work too - but just realised that this classic turns 40 this year so reckoned it's as good a time as ever to give it a rewatch.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which is nice.

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

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

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

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

"Is it in yet?"

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

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

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

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

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

No chance really but they can but dream.

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

Laugh now!

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe a wee bit like this one.

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

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

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

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

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

It's a living I guess.

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

Or at least his wallet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Answers to the normal address.

But Rackham has a secret.

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

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

Same shit, different smell.

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

Which sounds like damning with faint praise but heyho.

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

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

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

So swings and roundabouts really.

Barbara Carrera: hairy back and arse.

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

Which is nice.

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

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

Just slightly sexier obviously.

"I can see your house from here Peter"

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

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

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

Which just goes to show that nobodies perfect.

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

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

And for only 30 quid.

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

Unfortunately no-one bothered to go see it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And by default others too.

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

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

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


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

A record it still holds to this day.

And what of Jim Wynorski?

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

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

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

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

Under the sea and inside my mooth.

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

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

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

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

As you can probably guess it was utter shite, 

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

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


Friday, January 11, 2019

fest your eyes on this.

Yup it's that time of year when Team Frightfest make their way oop nerth to 'sunny' Glasgow for their annual weekend of blood, sweat and fears and I recycle the last god knows how many previews so I don't have to come up with any new patter.

It's not like anyone reads this so frankly I can't see the point.

Anyway on with the show.

And what a show it promises to be as this year the film choice spans four continents, with two world, two European and six UK premieres.

And all from the relative comfort of your GFT seat.

The silver fox himself, Mr Alan Jones commented huskily (but not to me obviously):  

“Currently at its most vibrant and popular, the horror fantasy genre is constantly garnering critical acclaim, pushing boundaries and asking tough questions of audiences by reflecting relevant political and social issues. The genre isn’t just about escapism but a key tool to make sense of the chaos and confusion swirling around our everyday lives and FrightFest has known this for 20 years now, so it’s fantastic the rest of the world has finally woken up and smelt the coffins.”

Which is fair enough I guess.

As is the norm, the fest kicks off in style on Thursday 28th February with a special screening of LORDS OF CHAOS.

Based on the bestseller Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground by Michael Moynihan and Didrik Soderlind (and not I assume the Amiga game of the same name), the film traces the story of ‘Mayhem’ who were at the vanguard of the underground Norwegian music scene in the late 1980s before it all went tits up and folk died.
Bohemian Rhapsody this ain't.

There'll be considerably less bollock tickling mustaches for one thing.

Not this one.

Then it's straight to bed so you can all be up bright and early Friday to sit back and enjoy the UK premiere of director Danishka Esterhazy's LEVEL 16, a skin-crawling dystopian thriller about the mysterious Vestalis Academy, where young, orphans are meticulously trained in the art of being “clean girls,” and the virtues of perfect femininity. 

But what exactly are they being trained for?

I've no idea to be honest as I was sold by the phrase 'clean girls' but I reckon that there'll be even fewer bollock tickling mustaches here than in Lords of Chaos.

Which is none obviously.

A clean girl yesterday.

Next up is the European premiere of THE DEAD CENTER. Billy Senese’s slow burn shocker that tells the tale of an unidentified suicide victim who suddenly returns to life in Metro General Hospital morgue before wandering off, luckily medical examiner Edward Graham knows the John Doe’s real name but on a downside has no idea where the reanimated body has gone.

Meanwhile ace psychiatrist Daniel Forrester has recently come across a catatonic amnesiac who has mysteriously turned up in his ward....

Could it be the same man?


There's just time for a quick wee before the World premiere of Jack McHenry's HERE COMES HELL, described by a man as ‘Downton Abbey meets The Evil Dead’ it tells the scary story of a sophisticated 1930s soiree at an isolated country mansion that descends into carnage, gore and demonic possession as  a gateway to Hell is accidentally opened.

Which is nice.

Hopefully alongside all the promised gore there may be at least one bollock tickling mustache on show.

A nice big 1930s style one.

Fingers crossed.


As day turns to night we have the UK premiere of Adrián García Bogliano’s BLACK CIRCLE  starring Swedish exploitation icon Christina Lindberg. Lindberg in a spooky story of 1970s vinyl albums and ghostly doppelgangers desperate to replace the originals.


Rounding off Friday is the UK premiere of Ron Carlson’s DEAD ANT, an irresistible dose of sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll and humongous insects that's been referred to as Spinal Tap meets Them! by (another) man.

Tho' that maybe the same man as before.

I don't know.

I don't even know if he has a mustache.

Or even if he enjoys bollock tickling.


 It's back to the hotel for a tearful wank and a Pot Noodle in order to prepare for Saturday's shockers which 'kicks off' (not literally mind) with the UK premiere of Perry Blackshear’s expressive and atmospheric mermaid terror, THE RUSALKA.

Which is about, um, mermaids.

And probably killings.

Don't know too much about it other than it's been described as 'a wonderfully elegant nightmare' which works for me.


There's just enough time to dry off before the World premiere of Lawrie Brewster's AUTOMATA which tells the story (thru' the medium of film obviously) of antique expert - as in he knows about old stuff, not that he's dead old) Brendon Cole who is summoned to authenticate a 300-year-old clockwork doll with a notoriously dark history known as The Inferno Princess.....

Mary doll.

We travel from Scotland to Denmark next (make the most of it as it'll be much harder post-Brexit) for the UK premiere of Søren Juul Petersen's FINALE.

Denmark has reached the finals of the European Championships of Football and everyone is glued to their TVs but at a small petrol station on the edge of town Agnes and Belinda have been chosen as players in a different altogether more gruesome game and no customers means no witnesses.

Expect blood, tears and a wee bit of deviant sexual behavior which may or may not involve bollock tickling.


After a soapy communal bath and a slice of orange we hurriedly head to Korea (the nice part I assume) for Hoon-jung Park's smash hit THE WITCH PART 1: THE SUBVERSION, a hellzaboppin' reinvention of  the action genre where a gene-spliced child with superpowers take on the sinister organisation responsible for he condition with shocking and spectacular results.


Following this is the UK premiere of FREAKS, Zack Lipovsky and Adam Stein’s sci-fi thriller that centres on Chloe, a seven-year-old poppet who never leaves her ramshackle suburban home unless under the watchful eye of her paranoid pop who spends his spare time training his daughter to adopt an assumed identity if she’s ever separated from him, or to hide in a well-provisioned panic room if he should not return from one of his infrequent forays outside....

But why? you may ask.

You'll need to see it to find out.


And rounding off this year’s feast of fearsome fancies is the UK premiere of spooky spoof THE HOARD, the latest from the team behind Pontypool and The Hexecutioners.

The ultimate reality show turns into the ultimate nightmare as a group of TV junk removers attempt to reform a legendary hoarder who owns four condemned and haunted properties.

What could possibly go wrong?

(Another more bloody) Scream.

FrightFest Passes are £75 and available from noon on Mon Jan 14, 2019. Passes cover all films on Fri 1 March and Sat 2 March ONLY.

Tickets for LORDS OF CHAOS, plus individual tickets for the Fri/Sat films are on sale Mon Jan 28 from 10am. Price: £11.00. £8.80 concessions.

And you can buy me a drink in the bar if you like.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

boxer beat.

You might remember (well I hope so as it was literally a few days ago) that I mentioned reviewing every film set in 2019 might be quite fun.

Obviously it was just a thought but a few folk seemed to think it was a good idea so I got a list together (well someone else got a list together) and decided to throw caution to the wind and go for it.

Then I realised I'd actually have to source some of the films so I did what any self-respecting cine-phile would do and headed straight over to Youtube to see which ones had been (il)legally uploaded.

That'll teach me.

Heatseeker (1995).
Dir: Albert Pyun.
Cast: Keith Cooke, Gary Daniels, Tina Cote, Tim Thomerson, Norbert Weisser and Thom Matthews.

“His style is a mutant version of outlaw shoot-fighting!” 

It is the year 2019 (obviously - I mean there's no fucking way I'd be watching this otherwise) and smooth-chested, square-jawed kickboxing king Chance O’Brien (Cooke, no me neither) is busy (literally)  kicking seven shades of shite out of his opponent Brian Xao (genuine kickboxer, part-time binman and magicians son Daniels) as his boy-haired girlfriend cum trainer Jo (Cote from, um stuff) watches from the sidelines.

It's at this point I realise that there's a good chance this film may be an excuse to feature endless scenes of kickboxing.

Filmed really badly.

Which is quite possibly my least favourite thing ever.

Well next to really badly scripted big, bad business deals obviously so let's hope that there aren't any of those.

Two men fighting or something, honestly I don't fucking care.

Meanwhile in Manila, the evil cyborg building Sianon Corporation are having a big bad business meeting regarding the fact that their patented cybernetic fighting implants are a bit shit when pitted against a real person, so to this end the companies head honcho, the evil Tsui Tung (Weisser - the voice of Farfegnuton in Aaahh!!! Real Monsters and Hitler in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus), has decided that the best way to improve Sianon's standing is to organise a massive kickboxing tournament that will pit a new and improved cybernetic Xao against loads of other - less expensively cybernetic obviously - cyborgs from around the world.

Because reasons.

As good as this idea sounds tho', one of the board - and bored - members
(Trancer's Thomerson appearing for beer money) soon points out that cyborgs fighting each other is a bit shit plus no-one will watch unless they get Chance to join up.

Because he's the world champion.

And not a cyborg obviously.

Tho' from his acting ability it's hard to be sure.

However, it seems that  Jo and Chance have just gotten engaged and our hero has no interest in joining in the big fight leaving the evil Sianon no choice but to kidnap Jo in order to force him to compete.

The rotters.

Cote: Head like a table.

 No doubt some exciting stuff goes down - as the kids say - but I wouldn't know as frankly the whole thing was utter arse-numbing bollocks so I got bored and started to browse the interweb instead.

 But if you really want to see it just imagine a shoestring version of Enter The Dragon shot in 11 days and with all the joy sucked out of it and you're about half-way to discovering how bad Heatseeker is.

It's a coma-inducing nightmare on celluloid sparsely populated by pastel-hued trousered, charisma free nonentities that either shuffle uncomfortably or jiggle erotically between ever more craply edited fight scenes with only Gary Daniels' smooth hairless chest and Tina Cote's strangely square visage offering anything in the way of comfort.

"Pull my finger!"

 Which is a shame because director Pyun's first movie - The Sword And The Sorcerer - is bloody marvelous.

I mean it has everything -  Simon McCorkindale being posh (with a sword), rugged rascal Lee Horsley as the hero Talon getting topless a lot (and with a - three bladed - sword), TeeVee stalwart Richard Lynch camping it up like Christmas and the lovely Kathleen Beller getting baby oil rubbed into her ample arse by slave girls.*

What's not to love?

Plus the majority of the cast went on to do stuff other than serve folk at McDonald's unlike the folk in this monstrosity.

Somewhere to park your bike.

I'm probably being a wee bit mean tho' as scarily 'star' Keith Cooke actually did go on to have a career in movies, first as Reptile in Mortal Kombat and then jumping sides - and characters - to portray the definitive Sub-Zero in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.

Hmmm.....seems to be a pattern forming.

And a friend of mine who likes such films excitedly informed me that blonde bad boy Gary Daniels is almost as famous as Arnold Schwarzenegger in the world of straight to video, Friday night wank-fest films.

Which let's be honest is a fuck more successful than I am.

*Look I was 12 at the time so sue me.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

maiden manhattan.

One of my Twitter chums - @LastFilmSeen - has been putting a list together of movies set in 2019 after a wee chat about that very subject on t'internet.

So as I set about finding and viewing them all I came across this gem on my shelves and realized that it'd a while since I viewed any Fulci so reckoned it was time for a rewatch.

And yes I know it doesn't fit into the whole this year in film thing but I've got 52 weeks to do that.

Plus I didn't get home till 3:30 this morning and couldn't sleep so fancied something comfy.


Manhattan Baby (AKA L' Occhio del male, Eye of the Evil Dead, Evil Eye, The Possessed. 1982).
Dir: Lucio Fulci.
Cast: Christopher Connelly, Laura Lenzi, Brigitta Boccoli, Carlo De Mejo, Giovanni Frezza and Cinzia de Ponti.

"You can take my life with stuffed birds,
but you shall not take my immortal soul!"

Somewhere in the deserts of Egypt the dashing professor of old foreign stuff, George Hackett (son of Jennifer and star of Peyton Place, Connelly) is busy collecting deadly scorpion's to give to his daughter as a gift.

Is she that annoying?

His Egyptian helper Alan is a wee bit concerned by this, pointing out that in his culture the scorpion is a symbol of evil and the like.

Thinking this over George, deciding that the information is a bit scary for a nine year old, paints the poor thing yellow before sprinkling some glitter over it and telling her that it's a new kind of Pokemon instead.

Fathers eh?, you gotta love them.

But not in a sneaking into your room and taking photo's of you with an infra-red camera kinda way obviously.

Now there's a mooth made for a shite-in.

And who is this lucky child?

Well, it's the precocious, tomb toothed blonde poppet Susie (former child star turned topless circus entertainer Boccoli), who's spending her time clothes shopping with her tussle haired mum Emily (freckled beauty and Uber-MiLF Lenzi).

Unfortunately mum has mistaken an old dilapidated building for one of those modern supermarkets and the only other person around is a blind eyed old hag who smells of vinegar.

A bit like Anniesland shops on a Tuesday then.

Whilst Emily is off taking photo's of the locals holding slightly malnourished babies in an attempt to look caring (or at least give her something to chat about over lunch at the hotel), the old blind tramp approaches Susie before uttering the words “Tombs are for the dead” and handing her a huge gold amulet with a big (boss) eye in the middle of it.

Eye son.

Meanwhile Indiana Dad is busy excavating the lost tomb of King Habibabsomething but the locals have warned him, the tomb holds a terrible curse.

A curse.....OF DEATH!

Curious George doesn't care tho' and prepares to go down with (but not on I hasten to add) his assistant into the undisturbed resting place of a once glorious king.

Stumbling and fumbling around in the dark cavernous chamber Alan discovers a stone tablet placed in the far wall which, on further inspection fires deadly cobra's across the room like slinky green Arrows.

Luckily George is a professional sharp shooter and manages to kill the snakes (for real, I mean this is 1980's Italian cinema after all) before taking a well deserved rest and leaning against an innocuous leaver marked 'do not press'.


"Touch my ring".

A gaping hole appears in the dirt covered stone floor and our unlucky pair suddenly find themselves plummeting into a stinky cobweb covered pit of death.

Luckily Alan's fall is broken by some rather large pointy spikes, enabling George to bounce of his companions ample arse and onto the relative safety of the crypt floor.

But our intrepid archaeologist barely has time to dust himself off before two supernaturally spooky blue laser beams fire out of the crypt wall and hit him square in the eyes (son).

And all this before breakfast.

Pa pa papa pa pa pa.....X Men!

Back home in New York, George is told that the blindness caused by the mysterious rays should only last a year or so and in the meantime he should go about his daily business with two Kotex sanitary pads taped to his face and held in position by a pair of Su Pollard's glasses.

Tho' why he should need glasses when he can't see shit is never explained.

Anyway life goes on as normal for George  - well as normal as it can be seeing as he has to carefully totter around his house looking like a twat in glasses George A Romero would knock back for being too large - Emily is busy juggling her photojournalist career with typing up her hubbies notes whilst shapely child-minder Jamie Lee (the yumsome de Ponti from The New York Ripper) looks after the ungodly Susie and her little brother Tommy (the legendary Frezza).

I did a Google search for Cinzia de Ponti,
this is the only pic that came up.
Frankly I don't even think it's her
but the scenery looks nice.

Everything seems to be going fine, until one day when out in the park Susie gets a Polaroid picture taken and, rather than a cute looking girl appearing on the photograph the amulet appears in her place.

Thinking it's a faulty film Jamie Lee chucks it away and takes the kids home for a quick game of hide and seek before tea.

With the kids running around and jumping into cupboards Jamie Lee takes time out to relax with the latest Skorpio magazine but just as she gets to the article on the love woes of Antonello Fassari the whole house is suddenly engulfed in shit scary noises.

Which is unusual to say the least.

But obviously not as unusual as the fact that there are snakes emerging from the fridge whilst a spooky light and fog starts to emanate from the pantry.

Who ya gonna call?

The concierge (unfortunately not played by Bobby Rhodes or Fred Williamson) obviously.


No sooner has she hung up the intercom that the kids re-appear and everything returns to normal.

Bizarre and chilling too.

Pity then that she forgets to tell Jeff Security who, even as we speak (well even as I type and you read or something but you get the gist) is slowly waddling his portly arse into the lift.

Munching on a bagel and jabbing the buttons with his chubby sausage fingers, Jeff hasn't even time to swallow (unlike your mum) before the spooky noises start up and the floor gives way causing the poor sod to fall to his death.

He leaves no immediate family but does leave a cupboard full of crisps and cake.

Jeff, we'll miss you buddy.

Other publications are available.

Meanwhile back at the plot some unknown woman approaches Emily (the hot mum, remember?) and hands her the Polaroid of the amulet from earlier in the movie.

Examining it closely she notices the name Adrian Marcato (not this one) written on it.

Being a girl and only knowing about shoes and make-up she gives it to her husband to examine but then remembers that he's blind (but not as blind as he was - it's getting better) so he in turn gives it to his pal professor Wiler to take a look at.

After much humming and aahing the professor confirms that the symbol is the crest of the great god Habibabsomething.

Coincidence or creepy craftiness?

"Look at me....I'm from Partick!"

Back at home things are going from bad to very bad via Spooksville City Arizona as not only does wee Susie keeps going missing all the time but doors are mysteriously locking themselves and Tommy spends all day trying to convince anyone who'll listen that there's a time/space portal that leads to Egypt in his toy cupboard.

Scratch very bad and make that very, very bad.

Being a caring mum Emily decides to ring an expert in such matters for help.


The Pope?

Yvette Fielding?

Nope, she calls he children's entertainer cum magician friend Luke (City of The Living Dead star and professional sexy beard De Mejo) to pop over and try to look in the toy cupboard mystery.

Arriving in his best suit and top hat Luke entertains the little uns with a few card tricks before heading up to the bedroom, standing in front of the cupboard door and with a chant of "Izzy whizzy let's get busy!" opening it.

Only to be zapped by a huge blue fireball before disappearing.

"Tonight Matthew I'm going to be Chris De Burgh!"

Hearing the commotion (and recognizing the acrid stench of fried magician) Emily bounds upstairs and opens the bedroom door only to find that the room stinks of camel shit and is covered in sand.

This is the final straw for Poor old Jamie Lee who sits in the corner weeing herself as Tommy recounts another tale of his trips to Egypt whilst Susie and her mum desperately try to get the scorpions out of the sock drawer before dad gets home.

George, now with working eyes arrives back at the apartment with a plan.

Yup, it's time to go visit Adrian Marcato, professional antique dealer, collector of stuffed birds and part-time warlock.

Luckily Marcato is well versed in the dark arts and recognises straight away that the amulet is actually the fabled the eye of evil and is using Susie as it's portal to our dimension.

Thinking on this for a minute and taking all the facts into consideration, George decides that it's all bollocks and that Susie is just jealous because her lips aren't as pretty as her brothers but Marcato is adamant (it's the white stripe across his nose and bouts of depression that give him away) that he's correct and offers, free of charge to come over and fix everything.

Including hopefully the lift floor.

Agreeing to this our intrepid trio head back to the Hackett apartment, the race is on to save not only poor Susie's soul (tho' looking at her dead eyes I'm pretty sure she never had one) but the family a huge amount in dry cleaning bills.

Wired for sound.

Armed with only his wits and a sexy beard, Marcato begins his exorcism ceremony as the movie transforms into a blur of eyes and silence, broken only by close-ups of Tommy's pouting lips as he whispers "punish me!" to anyone who'll listen.

Scary as hell does not do this justice.

With a cry of "Birds of darkness! consume me!" Marcato suddenly rolls to the floor, sexily writhing and wriggling like your nan after a stroke and talking in Susie's voice whilst the missing Jamie Lee (well her corpse) bursts out of the wall.

With Marcato inside Susie's body (but obviously not in that way, that would just be wrong) the curse is broken and Susie returns to normal leaving our psychic pal to re-enter his hairy frame and inform George that he must take the amulet and put it in the bin as only then will the family be safe.

And with that Marcato heads home for a small Sherry, a tearful wank and a well deserved Pot Noodle.


Without further ado, George grabs the deadly piece of jewellery, legs it out of the house (being careful to use the stars) and throws it into a nearby reservoir leaving it to sink to the bottom.

Double phew.

Watch out, watch out...John Leslie's about.

With everything back to normal George can get back to digging up dead foreigners and the lovely Emily takes a break from her photography to interview a new nanny (but not before removing the last one from between the cavity insulation mind) whilst the heroic Mercato takes a well deserved break, tidying and dusting his collection of stuffed birds.

Stuffed that is until they all come alive and murder him!

Meanwhile back in Egypt, the boss eyed woman is handing the amulet to another small girl....

Unfortunately Susie doesn't sport
anything this sexy in the movie.

Mad, bad and dangerous to view (but only if you're sitting directly under the TV and it's on a rickety shelf obviously), Manhattan Baby is a loving homage by a master film-maker to movies as far afield as of The Exorcist, Poltergeist, Rosemary's Baby and the Charlton Heston snoozefest The Awakening, all mixed up with that patented Fulci edge we all know and love and with a cast that seem to totally get what's expected of them.

And if there are any accusations of plagiarism to be aimed at the movie, they can surely be blamed on the frankly bonkers script by regular collaborators Elisa Briganti and the legendary Dardano Sacchetti that takes in not only the movies mentioned above but also The Birds and The Omen for good measure.

So obviously when you put this in the hands of a director whose main concern is to make everything look nice rather than building a conventional narrative coherence you can see how some (less educated) viewers could mistake it for a rambling mess rather than for the terrifying vision of bodily possession that it really is.

Or even the "terrible movie" its director accused it of being.

Go on, you know you want to.

If you haven't already that is.