Monday, June 29, 2020

titan!

Remembering the genius of Ray Harryhausen, Master of The Titans - born 100 years ago today.


Friday, June 19, 2020

hobly city.

Noticed that quite a few folk are just discovering this classic via Amazon Prime then saw that my rather well written review had originally been posted way back in 2015 and that no fucker had read it.

So I thought I'd drag it into the light, add a few more 'laugh nows' and pass it off as a new one.

I've kinda given the game away now tho.

Horror Hospital (AKA Computer Killers, Frankenstein's Horror-Klinik, 1973).
Dir: Anthony Balch.
Cast: Michael Gough, Robin Askwith, Vanessa Shaw, Ellen Pollock, Dennis Price, Kurt Christian, Barbara Wendy, Kenneth Benda and Skip Martin.

"Now make a clean job of it, Frederick, the car was washed this morning."



It's a grim, grey day in 1970s England, empty Smith's Crisps salt n' shake bags drift across an untidy bit of unkempt woodland as a couple of blood covered 'teens' fashionably decked in dirty, egg stained bandages run from an unseen assailant.

Or from someone attempting to wash their hair.

Meanwhile perched on a nearby hill snug in his shiny Rolls-Royce is the enigmatic (re: camp as pink pants) Dr. Christian Storm (the late, great Gough dressed as your nan) and his delightful dwarf assistant Frederick (genre stalwart and one time owner of Yorkshire's best stocked tobacconist Martin).

But why?

Are they dogging?

Taking in the scenery?

Or just taking it generally?

I mean I can never tell these days.

Noticing the car our dirty duo attempt to run for the hills  but as the Rolls-Royce approaches, huge plastic blades extend from the bodywork and slice off the unfortunate couples heads.

Which means they were either very short or the car is very tall.

"That’ll teach them to try and run away from us," says Frederick in a voice that suggests that the disc must be running at the wrong speed, pushing the heads into a Sainsbury's bag for life as he goes.

Cue the titles and a blast of the DeWolf library music used in Dawn of The Dead.

Which is fairly disconcerting if I'm honest.

"Oi Dom, are you sure this is the quickest way to Barnard Castle?"


Leaving Grimsville for swinging London, we soon come across (which makes a nice change seeing as it's usually him doing the coming) an angry young man with a lion's mane of hair, the sexy songwriter Jason (The great god that is Sir Robin of Askwith) who's decided to spend his evening drunkenly shouting (fairly) homophobic abuse at top prog-rock band Mystic (or are they actually just a mystic prog-rock band?) in revenge for them stealing one of his songs.

But not this one.

Unfortunately (for Jason) the 'silly red faggot' of a lead singer is actually hard as nails, answering the heckles by giving Jason a bloody good kicking.

Now even angrier and with a bloody nose to boot, Jason decides what he really needs is a break and noticing a flyer for Hairy Holidays - Sun and Fun For The Under 30s, decides to book one the very next day.

Visiting the local travel agency - run as it happens by the enigmatic Mr Jackson Pollack (an incredibly, ahem,  merry Pryce) - Jason excitedly rummages thru' the brochures for anything that tickles his fancy.

Jackson tho', being a totally non clichéd predatory old homosexualist is more interested in eyeing up our blond babe-magnets trouser area than sorting out a suitable break but after realizing he's backing a loser - as opposed to backing slowly yet steadily on his engorged member - in Jason, he packs our hero off to the world famous (it says here) Doctor Storm’s well-being clinic in the aforementioned Grimsville (see how it's all coming together? clever eh?) for a week of drizzle, grey skies and school dinners.

Being integral to the plot Jason agrees and is soon traveling to the clinic via some grainy British Rail stock footage.

It's not all bad weather and bad fashions tho',  as during the journey Jason meets up with the fantastically thighed Judy (button nosed beauty Shaw in her only starring role, tho' she does a great dance in the 1969 Yul Brynner thriller The File of the Golden Goose) and, after announcing that he isn't going to rape her, settles down to a nice chat and a chunk of cheese.

Chatting up 'the burds' was so much simpler in the 70s.

Judy explains that she’s going to the clinic to visit her Aunt Harris (a fantastically thin lipped performance from stage star Pollock) who originally ran a brothel in Holland but is now her sole relative.

No idea why or how these things are connected but there you go.

It seems that poor Judy was conceived out of wedlock causing her mother and aunt to fall out.

But the creepiest revelation is yet to come as it appears that Harris isn't even her aunts real name, yup she actually gets called that due of her love for Harris tweed.

No, really.

A pair of smooth Lilly white knees yesterday. No I'm not obsessed.



Anyway, arriving at Grimsville railway station (it's the stop just after Little Rimming and just before Cleft) they're greeted by a morose station master by the name of Linda Carter (the amusingly monickered Benda, best known as the minister in the Pertwee Who classic The Claws of Axos) who begrudgingly gives them directions to the clinic.

Halfway up the bumpy country road tho' it begins to rain but luckily two motorbikes bearing the number plates Storm 1 and Storm 2 - and complete with black, leather-clad riders - arrive to carry the delectable duo the rest of the way.

Greeted at the front door by a bemused (or is that just drunk?) Frederick, Jason and Judy are ushered along to the front desk where Aunt Harris issues the pair with a key to the only room available.

You can almost smell Jason's joy at this news.

And my jealousy obviously.

Introductions out of the way and it's back to more time consuming filler material as Frederick slowly takes them upstairs (ooeerr) with the haunted look of a man trying to remember his lines.

Cut to an open door and a blood soaked bed.

And an uncomfortably long silence before our tiny chum mutters "Nothing to worry about here, I mean we all have our little accidents, you know."

Which is fair enough I suppose.


"It's my anti-mooth shite-in helmet!"



So far we've had gruesome gore, groovy tunes and some top comedy turns.

Unfortunately there's been no nudity so it's lucky for us that the shapely Judy has decided to take an incredibly soapy shower.

But before you can make a grab for the pause button on the remote control, Jason appears clad in only a pair of  Y fronts and a knight’s helmet.

Despite all this cringe inducing helmet based malarkey (or maybe, shudder, because of it) Jason does, in fact get to have 'the sex' with a still visibly wet Judy.

First Liz Fraser then Linda Bellingham and now the voluptuous Vanessa Shaw.

How can us mere mortals ever compete?

"Is it in yet?"



Feeling a wee bit peckish after such hot lovin' the couple head down for dinner where Aunt Harris seats them at a huge table alongside about a dozen bowl haired, bright blue 'teens' resplendent with plastic scars stuck haphazardly to their brows.

"These are our advanced students". explains a helpful Harris. "Don't worry about the dribbling and farting, they won’t speak properly until they've been totally cured."

Before Jason can ask what the fuck she's on about the only other girl at the table, a Ms. Millie Peed (the Erika Blanc alike Wendy from Sex and the Other Woman) starts screaming (badly) before being carried out by a couple of bikers.

Five fingers - never touched the sides. The Matt Hancock lookalike failed to win any fans at the orphanage Christmas party.


Deciding to skip dessert, Judy and Jason he upstairs to retire to bed (and maybe a bit more sexiness) but any amorous thoughts are soon shattered when the tap starts gushing blood.

Judy screams as the door opens finally revealing the wheelchair bound form of Doctor Christian Storm, MD, BSc, RAC and Tufty Club member no. 465.

It seems he's made a special effort to come and meet his associates niece but can hardly disguise the anger he feels for poor Frederick who, it seems has not only stashed a couple of rotting heads in the cold water tank but he's also failed to post a letter to Judy telling her to stay at home.

"Women can be terribly troublesome, but then so can little men!" he creepily informs Jason just before he slaps Frederick in the face with his riding crop.

And with that he squeakily leaves the room.

Michael Gough: Tunnel or funnel?


As night descends upon Storm Manor Jason decides to go and explore leaving Judy alone in bed.

But not for long tho' as she's soon up and about giving it her best Nancy Drew impression, until that is she stumbles across a dormitory full of lobotomized youngsters clad only in greying Marks and Spencer vest and pants combo's.

Escaping this underwear nightmare our screaming sex kitten is suddenly overcome by what appears to be a man made from Plasticine skulking about in a corridor.

Hearing her screams, Jason jumps to the rescue but is soon overpowered by those shiny helmeted leather boys from earlier.

Your nan's cum face. Trust me, I should know.


Obviously there's not enough plot going on at the moment so let's welcome back the sleazy Mr. Pollack who turns up out of the blue in an attempt to blackmail Storm for more cash and a pair of Jason's undies.

Dirty man.

Unfortunately our bum fun loving chum finds himself on the wrong end of the blade wielding Rolls Royce (actually it's the right end if you think about it) adding not only a new meaning to the phrase 'giving head' but also giving Jason the rudest awakening he's had since he did Linda Bellingham in a sandpit.

His only choice now?

To grab little Frederick and attempt to pump him for information.

The Price is right.


Luckily (for both Fred and viewers of a nervous disposition) Doctor Storm arrives in the nick of time with the offer of showing Jason his army of lobotomized muscle men in the gym.

Homo-erotic subtext anyone?

That's not all tho' as within minutes of unveiling his creations, Storm is proving their might by punching them in the stomach as they do star jumps and making them do back flips by remote control.

Jason, no doubt feeling confused by all the male flesh on show makes a break for the woods followed by two of Storm's biker gang, a very slow fight ensues, ending when one of the leather boys falls into a convenient swamp.

Must admit I never saw that coming.

A wee bit like our hero who manages to not hear two more leatherette’s  squeaking up behind him ready to administer a fucking good kicking.


Confessions of a dangerous mind.

If getting beaten up by two members of The Village People wasn't enough of an indignity, Jason is thrown into the cellar and gassed to sleep, giving us the chance to see a recap of what's happened so far.

Which is very considerate of the producers if you think about it.

Meanwhile back in the main plot, Storm is sticking a kebab stick into the skull of one of his patients, trying not to be too upset that Aunt Harris has decided to go back to running a brothel.

You never get this kinda stuff on The Archers.

Realizing that there is in fact a distinct lack of bona fide male tottie on screen (as much as he tries Askwith can't manage alone), the producers introduce us to a funky young traveler named Abraham (Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger's Christian) who, by the way he's walking has sold more than his soul to be in this movie.

It appears that our exotic pal is looking for his girlfriend Millie (you remember) but before he even has a chance to flutter his cow-like eyelashes at Harris the poor sod is taken from behind and thrown into the cellar alongside a slowly recovering Jason.

"excuse me...I have a women's period".


Tired of seeing so many young men beaten off by Storm's henchmen, Aunt Harris goes back to packing her collection of market stall dildos and Russian dolls but is rudely interrupted by the plasticine man who appears to rub her face to death, whilst back in the cellar Abraham is explaining his character motivation to Jason.

Clicking seamlessly into Shatner mode - but without the hatred of Autistic folk obviously - Jason deduces that their only hope of escape is if Frederick has had a change of heart and decided to become a good guy.

Which, bizarrely enough is exactly what happens because at that very moment our pint sized pal is busy cooking our heroes some hearty porridge whilst spiking the guards’ Limeade.

Cue scenes of knockabout comedy gold that'd shame David Lynch as lil' Fred has to drag the comatose guards around before piling them up so he can reach the door handle, totally ignoring the handy bucket on the wall right next to him.

Escaping the cellar our buff boys (and Frederick) race to the gym to free Jenny (hands up if you'd forgotten about her too) only to bump into Doctor Storm (again) who appears to have been sitting there all night waiting patiently for our heroes to turn up so he can explain his motivation to them.

Nah....that'd be too silly even for this film.

Wouldn't it?

Cue even more flashbacks only this time they're in order to give us a wee bit of background on the doc.

She might look uncomfortable now but just you wait till the Karaoke starts.



Surprisingly he wasn't always a camp cripple but used to be a handsome womanizer with the dress sense of Peter Wyngarde, the hair of Martin Fry and a pair of working legs.

Tutored by Pavlov (but not alas his dog) and employed by Stalin, Storm soon became obsessed with the idea of raising an army of remote controlled circus performers and gymnasts in order to entertain - then maybe even take over - the world.

As one would.

Unfortunately a passing gypsy accidentally burned his laboratory down forcing him to move to the UK.

Illegally.

UKiP would have a field day.

Actually they probably wouldn't care because he's white.

Tho' he does sound a wee bit Polish so maybe they would.

But I digress.

Unimpressed with all this mindless small-talk and random footage of an ugly couple attempting to fuck in a kiddies sandpit Storm orders his men to give Jason and Abraham another kicking before locking them up, this time alongside Frederick.

That's the look, that's the look, the look of love.



But our by now terrific threesome, bored with the constant running away, getting captured and frightful beatings, reckon that enough is enough and decide that this time they're gonna fuck some shit up.

But first they need to escape.

If only they could find someone small enough to crawl out of the window, crawl along the ledge, climb in thru' the catflap, beat the guard and let them out.

All eyes on Frederick then.

Again.

Believe it or not he does indeed make his way thru' the window, round the ledge and back in the catflap, even beatings the pesky guard to death with an axe before freeing the boys.

His heroism is short lived (as well as short arsed) for no sooner have they started down the stairs when a sneaky leather guy throws the poor little sod over the balcony to his doom.

One Direction...and we all know where that is.


After rescuing Judy from the operating table, Jason and Abraham set out to find Millie but alas it's too late to save her seeing as whilst all this fighting and escaping has been going on the poor girl has been totally brainwashed by Storm.

And if that wasn't enough the pervy plasticine man from earlier has just sneaked into her room and fucked her to death before making his escape out of a window just as Jason and Abraham burst in.


But he's left something behind.

Lying on the bed covered in egg, sweat and semen stains is the remains of Doctor Storms full body latex suit.

Turns out he burned more than his fingers during the lab fire.

Abraham obviously upset by the fact that his girlfriend has been murdered starts to smash stuff, stopping only to piss in the doctor's filing cabinets and torching the place before getting chased away by the remaining staff.

Stealing the Rolls Royce Jason gives chase to the doctor, hoping at last for a wee taste of revenge...

Or at least a cheeky squeeze of his Playdoh-like man boobs.




After years in the cinematic wilderness, the release of Horror Hospital on shiny Bluray (quite) a few years back means that this lost gem from a talent hardly mentioned in serious film tomes will - hopefully - and deservedly take it's place in the annals of classic British Horror.

Quite possibly the first post-modern horror movie ever made, coming across as it does like Acorn Antiques directed by Sam Raimi or Casualty produced by David Cronenberg.

Yes it's that good.

Made at a time when British horror was floundering as it tried to match it's American counterparts after years of Hammer house based costume chills Horror Hospital perfectly encapsulating everything that's great about the genre at the time.

I mean what other country would counter the fearsome sight of Leatherface wielding a chainsaw with doddery old dear Sheila Keith brandishing a Woolworth's bought Black and Decker drill as the legendary Pete Walker did in Frightmare?

It's just a pity that unlike Walker, director Anthony Balch never became a household horror name.

Well apart from in our house anyway.

And for those of you scratching your collective heads here's a wee bit of background info on the great man.

But not too much obviously I mean you're not reading Sight And Sound.

Well if you're on this blog chances are you're struggling with the words and just looking at the pictures.

Anyway, a legend within the industry, Balch was well known for snapping up European arthouse and exploitation movies at cut down prices before re-releasing them in the UK with sexed up new titles.

What a guy.

Häxan: a load of old arse.



If that wasn't enough he was also the man behind the infamous sound version of Benjamin Christensen's brilliantly batshit documentary Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (1922), getting his old pal, the drug, lemur and arse obsessed genius William S. Burroughs (with whom he made two short movies in the early 60's) to write and record the commentary.

Suffice to say it's well worth finding a copy of.

Unfortunately Balch only ever completed two full length features in his career.

But luckily for us film aficionados the other one was the frankly bonkers Secrets of Sex (AKA Bizarre, 1970).

But it's Horror Hospital, unloved for years by all but the chosen few that shows what a loss not just to the horror genre but to cinema in general that Anthony Balch's death (and laziness when it came to making films) was.

Secrets of Sex: She's got something to put in you.



The movie has everything, from dwarves to death dealing melted cheese men via the casting of soft core comedy king Askwith in the role of a hero, coming across for all the world like a proto-Bruce Campbell from The Evil Dead saga.

More famous for his comedy turns that his horror heroics Askwith is a revelation as the put upon Jason and it's a pity he only made three excursions into horror.

Tho' the fact that the other two were the brilliant Tower of Evil and Pete Walker's classic Flesh And Blood Show (both alongside the sublime Candace Glendenning) should be enough for anyones CV.

I mean it's three more than I've starred in. 

I like to think that in some bizarro other dimension the movie was such a huge hit that an entire series sprung up around the character of Jason as he travels the country (and Europe - stock footage permitting) uncovering various vile plots and mad doctors as he attempts to enjoy a well deserved holiday, each time his vacation is interrupted by more outlandish monsters and dishy dolly birds.

As horror fans we were robbed.

But at least we have Horror Hospital to allow us to imagine what could have been.

Running the gamut from bloody body horror to out and out comedy caper without even stopping for breath whilst wearing it's ever more surreal plot and smartly self aware performances like a bold and shiny badge of honour this is everything Nicolas Winding Refn has ever wanted to achieve.

And so much more beside.

Burroughs: more cock than your sister.



One of the greatest British horror movies ever made?

Definitely.

One of the greatest films ever made?

Most certainly.

And if you don’t believe me, try it for yourself.

You'll soon come round to Doctor Storm's way of thinking.

              


  

Thursday, June 18, 2020

holy she-it.

It's about this time of year that I'm busy planning my yearly jaunt to the motherland so seeing as that's not going to happen any time soon I decided to watch a film about holidays to cheer me up.

The She Beast (AKA Il Lago di Satana, Revenge of the Blood Beast, Satan's Sister. 1966).
Dir: Michael Reeves.
Cast: Barbara Steele, John Karlsen, Ian Oglivy, Mel Welles, Jay Riley, Richard Watson, Edward B. Randolph, Tony Antonelli, Peter Grippe, Lucretia Love, Kevin Welles and Woody Welles.


"What's troubling you? For running over a chicken
you won't get more than two years."




It's sunny Transylvania in the year of our Lord 1765 (probably around teatime) where the Secretary of State for Health of the United Kingdom Matt Hancock (or at the very least a passable lookalike, poor sod) is stumbling thru' the bushes towards the local church.

It appears a wicked witch (with eyebrows that even angel voiced mentalist Susan Boyle would die for) has kidnapped his sister.

Goaded on by a pervy priest and a dwarf in what looks like a pound shop Santa suit, a squad of gypsies decide to confront the aforementioned witchy woman at her house.

By house I mean cave obviously.

No idea why I'm typing all of this, I could have just go back and deleted 'house' and replaced it with 'cave' and you'd be none the wiser of my mistake would you?

Anyway, Vardella (for it is she), is - quite rightly - bloody furious at having the Government Covid updates interrupted by a bunch of pikeys so decides to teach them a lesson by attempting to bite their faces off with her scabby, shite filled mouth.

But one - albeit crap-encrusted woman can only do so much.

Fighting a losing battle, our hairy eyed chum is dragged kicking and screaming to the local lake where she's tied to the unholy Seat of Chastisement (Ikea, $649) before having red hot nails hammered into her hands and finally being dunked repeatedly into the dark, icy water until she drowns.

A wee bit like Noel's House Party but funny.

But before she breaths her last, Vardella curses the villagers.

And their descendants.

Spooky.

And quite possibly fairly important later.

Oh go on then...."Shite in mah mooth!"


Jumping forward two hundred years (it's cheaper for the costume department) we join the newlywed groovers Veronica (Steele - meow) and Philip (Ogilvy - easy tiger) who are enjoying a honeymoon driving holiday in the by now evil Communist-controlled Transylvania.

A little bit of politics...right on!

A country if Veronica is to be believed is "full of weirdies and werewolves." tho' from the evidence on show it appears to be chock-a-block with old men riding bicycles.

Badly.

Studly Philip, feeling a steamer coming on decides that they should rest up at the local hotel - Veronica insists on this at least, she still has grass burns on her knees from the last lustful pit stop - and soon arrive at the world renowned - it says here -  Kereszteződésénél Motel.

Whilst Veronica carries the luggage to their room Philip gets chatting to the incredibly lecherous and slightly alcoholic motel owner, Mr. Ladislav Mortimer (Welles of The original Little Shop Of Horrors and Lady Frankenstein), asking those obvious holiday questions like what are the best local places to sight see, which of the town teens are the easiest to get drunk and molest plus what the motels dish of the day is.

Which any sane - or slightly sexist - reader will know is obviously Barbara Steele.

Suddenly the bar door bursts open and the whole place is overcome by the stale smell of egg, sweat and failure as the famed demon hunter and faded aristocrat Count Von Helsing (a pissed Karlsen) makes his grand entrance.

Taking a break from hanging around the local kiddies play park he spotted the car outside and decided to introduce himself to the holiday makers in order to regale them with tales of vampires and the like.

Well it's a living I guess.

Insert cock here.

All this talk of sex and violence (but mainly violence) is fairly entertaining but only goes to make Philip realize how long it's been since he experienced the real thing (3 hours but who's counting?) and, making his excuses drags his wife back to their room for a wee bit of the old in/out.

The romantic dog.

Cue dozens of luscious close-ups of Barbara's milky white and incredibly smooth topside of breast as he jiggles on the corner of the bed.

Unfortunately Philip and Veronica's sexy shenanigans (and ours) are rudely interrupted by Mortimer sweatily - and noisily - wanking outside their window.

Barbara Steele, up the casino, Wigan, 1967......YESCH!


Furious, Philip asserts his manliness by kicking the shite out of the hotel owner and leaving first thing the next day without paying the bill.

Driving along the deserted country roads and enjoying a giggle after seeing the funny side of someone sneakily cracking one off over a half dressed Barbara Steele (look we're all guilty of it) the couples Volkswagen inexplicably goes out of control, weaving from side to side before narrowly missing a lorry full of chickens and ending up in a lake.

The very lake that the angry villagers drowned Vardella centuries before.

Double spooky.


Steele: Your granddad did. Twice.


Philip, with the help of the lorry driver, manages to make it to shore, but Veronica is nowhere to be seen (hint: try the passenger seat or behind the sofa, that's where I usually find stuff) leaving Philip to pass out whilst sobbing like a wee lassie.

Aw bless.

Taken back to Mortimer's and put to bed, Philip is unaware that a second body has been dragged from the lake and is currently dripping all over the sprouts in the kitchen.

And it isn't Veronica.

Can you hazard a guess as to who it is?

Yup, it’s Vardella, back from her watery grave and all set for her revenge.

And a fair amount of mooth shite-in.

I can dream can't I?

Luckily schoolyard stalker and ghost buster Von Helsing (remember him?) is quick on the scene to fill Philip (phnarrr) in on the back story and point out to anyone who'll listen (which is no one frankly) that "Vardella has returned and she's chosen to possess Veronica's spirit".

Crikey.

"Put it in me!"


If this wasn't drama enough, back at the hotel Mortimer is drunkly attempting to molest his niece (Love, from the Pam Grier classic Naked Warriors in a blink and miss it cameo) whilst Fred the chicken van owner is worried the police will arrest him for causing the accident with the car in the first place.

Remembering that this is, in fact a horror movie and not the Archers the Count has a plan that will not only restore Veronica’s identity (and shapely figure) but also lift the witch’s curse once and for all.

All he has to do to accomplish this is stick his pinky finger in her eye which will  release the maggots trapped in her skull and therefore bring Veronica back to life.

Or something.

Honestly I couldn't really follow the plan partly because I was still recovering from the sight of a dripping wet Babs.

Anyway if the Count can manage this feat it means he can then chase her around town and hopefully persuade her to sit back on the big chair to get redunked in the lake.

Look I didn't write this shite so don't email me that it doesn't seem to make any sense whatsoever.


Savile: The return.



But with the local fascist (OK Communist) boot boys on their tail and Mortimer hungry for ass (man or otherwise) will our heroes be able to destroy the witch and repair the trusty VW before before Vardella does any bad stuff?


Some really shite artwork yesterday.



The first movie from boy genius director Michael (Witchfinder General, The Sorcerers) Reeves, The She Beast may look like a slipshod low budget shlocker but peel back the thin net curtain of shoddiness and there's a real gem underneath.

Unfairly dismissed by arsey Reeves fans and the type of folk that talk loudly about film in cinema foyers, it's true that the film is crudely made and cursed with a (occasionally misjudged) vein of comedy that is in danger of capsizing the whole proceedings at any moment, but as far as debuts go, it's gloriously watchable and hideously silly at the same time.

Steele: No excuse needed.



Shot on the cheap - and on the sly - in Italy after the wily producers had managed to convince the local authorities that they were making a documentary (therefore enabling them to apply for the lowest location rates) and with a screenplay (of sorts) written by Reeves but under the alias of Michael Byron (to make the crew look larger) the director cast his best mate in the lead role and shot all of Steele's footage in a single 22-hour-long period as to reduce the actress's cost, you must admit that it takes a director of rare talent to produce something as enjoyable as it is under those conditions.

And enjoyable it is, from it's camp as pants cast to it's moments of sly humour and gore that culminates in a 15 minute (!) car chase tribute to the Keystone Cops The She Beast never outstays it's welcome and, like the awkward best friend you only used for sex when you were younger or the local Tesco home shopping van, never fails to deliver.

Plus it's fairly short which is always a bonus.

Unlike lockdown.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

looking back.

RIP Alex Taylor - Shop Assistants.




uphill gardening.

Been whiling away the lockdown nights here by gorging ourselves on a variety of 60s/70s portmanteau horror movies to recover from endless days weeding in the garden.

Somehow this seemed apt for a rewatch.

Torture Garden (1967).
Director: Freddie Francis.
Cast: Burgess Meredith, Michael Bryant, Maurice Denham, Beverly Adams, Barbara Ewing, John Standing, Jack Palance, David Bauer, Robert Hutton, John Phillips, Clytie Jessop and Peter Cushing.

Did you know that there are ways to raise the dead?



Cabbage reeking carnie 'Doctor' Dave Diablo (Meredith, dressed in his - unwashed - Penguin hand me downs) has a frightening exhibit to share with the few lucky punters that can fit inside his frankly embarrassingly studio bound tent, an exhibit that fully exposes the depths of man's inherent inhumanity and badness and is guaranteed to make even the bravest of souls fill his trousers.

But all of this fades into insignificance when compared the terrifyingly piss poor waxworks that anyone unlucky enough to enter his tent has to endure first.

Five B-list celebs are persuaded to enter his den of delights of which the centrepiece is, disappointingly a dining chair with some wires attached to the base upon which sits a scabby shop window dummy in polyester flares.

Luckily for Diablo either they're all easily amused or there must have been nowt on the telly that night because the crowd are utterly captivated by his over the top musings, marvelous hat and homemade 'electric chair' and are more than happy to part with a fiver each for the once in a lifetime chance to travel up his dingy back passage and experience (as Dr. D puts it) the most horrific thing they will ever see.

Which it turns out is a rather harsh faced, pendulous breasted wax gypsy wielding a pair of gardening shears (the fantastically named actor, painter, gallerist and film director Clytie Jessop who also features in The Innocents and Hammers 1964 snoozefest Nightmare alongside big screen Doctor Who tottie Jennie Linden).

Each to there own I guess.


"Come clap the goat!"




But, the Doc explains, this is no ordinary waxwork pikey oh no, because it can in fact predict the future.

But who will be brave enough to face it's blades?

Leather jacketed beige bad boy about town Colin (Brit Teevee stalwart Bryant) is the first to volunteer, and after a mysterious dose of sweaty sex face and crash zooms finds himself outside the cottage of his ailing, wheelchair bound and urine stained Uncle Roger (alcoholic Time Lord Azmael himself, Denham).

It appears that Colin is your typical ne'er do well; jobless, skint and obsessed with pub lunches, fondue parties and tottie whose only interest in his uncle is to get his smooth, almost ladylike hands on the old man's inheritance.

Uncle Roger has other ideas tho' and is insistent that money isn't everything and all Colin needs to do to be happy is to live his life more considerately and maybe even get a job.

Tho' being a rich old sod he would say that wouldn't he?

Desperate for the cash, our Colin starts to stamp his feet and shout a bit, causing poor Roger to clutch his chest whilst making vaguely erotic (for an old man that is) 'love you long time five dollar' sucky mouth movements.

Seems poor Rog has a weak heart (but fantastic rectal muscles) and is trying to get his nephew to give him his medicine but Colin, either thru' badness or thru' being hypnotised by the sight of an elderly cripples blow job face just stands there and watches him die.


A sexy old man
(possibly named Roger) yesterday.


Even more angry than normal plus now sexually frustrated after his uncle's impromptu sex show and still desperate for the money, Colin starts to ransack the house looking for the hidden loot.

After what seems like an eternity of watching his smash china tea sets, rummage thru' hundreds of pairs of skid marked big pants and empty old copies of Razzle onto the floor Colin comes across a hidden cellar entrance under his uncle's bed.

Descending into the darkness he finds a dirty spade lying across a fresh mound of earth taking this as a sign of where the cash is hidden Colin begins to dig, soon finding a battered old coffin.

With pound signs ker-chinging in his eyes and thoughts of silk cravats filling his head Colin excitedly pries open the lid expecting to find a massive wad of money inside. Imagine his surprise then when out pops a boss eyed black cat called Raymond (or something).
 

But this is no ordinary cat, turns out this moggy has devilish mind powers (no, really) and has a proposition to make to Colin.

It seems that Uncle Roger was employed by the cat to do certain tasks for him in return for money (it's not what you think, unfortunately) and offers Colin the same deal.

All Colin has to do is murder a few passing punters to keep the cat supplied with his food of choice....

Human heads!

And no, I am not making any of this up.


"Suck mah Werthers!"





Intrigued by what Colin has experienced, bullet breasted wannabe actress Carla (one time arse revealing Dean Martin co-star Adams) stands before the dirty wax lady to see her future....

Cue that crash bang cum face effect.

Carla it seems will do anything to achieve fame and fortune in Hollywood, even if it means destroying her bubbly blonde flatmates party dress minutes before she's due to meet slick haired yet flaccid manbreasted director Mike Charles, and them going on the date herself.

He's about seventy so a lucky escape for her mate me thinks.

Arriving at the restaurant they immediately (well it is an anthology movie, time is of the essence) bump into movie God Bruce Benton (
pencil 'tached cousin of Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton and star of Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness? Robert Hutton) and his producer pal Eddie Storm (Phillips from The Onedin Line) and, seeing as it's Hollywood a big bitching session ensues between Storm and Charles over a few glasses of Babycham, leaving Bruce and Carla to get better acquainted.



"Let's get naked and play ping pong!"



Charles wants a new picture deal but Storm thinks he's past it (which is a wee bit rich seeing as he's about seventy three himself) but Charlie boy has an ace up his sleeve, you see he knows the secret of Bruce's success in the movies and he's threatening to tell anyone who'll listen.

With that he flounces off to a seedy bar to get drunk.

Predictably Charles is soon 'silenced' by a rat faced barman on orders from Eddie whilst Carla's luck seems to just get better and better seeing as she get's cast as the female lead in leathery Bruce's new movie without having to let an old man stick it in her.

Finding herself falling for the old fashioned charms (and wobbly turkey neck) of Bruce she becomes suspicious when he seems to cold shoulder her every attempt at seduction with a reply of "I'm not like other men....it's how I stay on top" before sneaking off for meetings with Eddie.

Now you or I might take that as a subtle way of him saying he's gay, but remember that this is the sixties, long before homosexuality was invented leaving Carla no alternative but to follow him home one night.

She only makes it as far as the car park tho' before some butch looking bruisers bundle Benton into the back of a car and drive off, stopping only to shoot him in the head and dump his body on a grass verge.

Yikes.

Eddie persuades Carla to help him get Bruce to a special hospital where he can get the best treatment but Carla isn't too sure that'll help. Maybe it's the huge fuck off hole in his temple or the fact that he's not breathing that has convinced her that he's actually dead.




Scab.




Imagine her surprise the next morning when he turns up to work on time and with no visible signs of injury.

Carla is determined to discover the bizarre truth at any cost....*

Excited by her friend Carla's sweaty face, doe eyed, chisel chinned yet strangely attractive Dorothy (posh totty Ewing) is next to stare into the shears of fate.

A plummy journalist for a high brow music Dorothy finds herself interviewing famous concert pianist and professional fop Leo Winston (Standing last seen in The Shadow in The North alongside Jared Harris and Phil Cornwell of all people).

Falling for his fey charms and smooth, ladylike hands, she soon has Leo tickling more than just the ivories, much to his butch managers chagrin.

Oh, and then his piano starts to get jealous culminating in possibly the most bizarre stalk and slash scene ever committed to celluloid when it leaps out on poor Dorothy after hiding behind a door then pushes her out of the window.

Whilst playing Chopin's Funeral March.

Honest guv.

"Roll up! Roll up! and give the Gypsy a
mooth shite-in she'll never forget!"




Lastly professional sexy bitch and rabid Edgar Allen Poe fan Ronald Wyatt (the mighty Sir Jack of Palance) approaches the stand (where the gypsy is situated, not the Stephen King book obviously).

Finding himself at a special viewing of rival Poe nut Lancelot Canning's (Cushing) private collection, all he can do is sweat over the books and fawn at Canning's feet (or is it the other way around?) whilst managing to wrangle an invite to Lance's house to get pissed and maybe if he's lucky, steal some stuff.

What follows is an incestuous tale of two middle aged men sitting in big comfy leather armchairs knocking back Sherry like there's no tomorrow, with each hoping the other gets sweaty and naked first.

Possibly.

After some top quality drunk acting from Cushing (who manages to make even a cravat and cable knit jumper sexy) Wyatt, high on love and cheap booze can't believe his luck when Canning allows him access to his secret chamber and thrusts something long and leathery into his sweaty sausages hands, an unpublished manuscript written by Poe.

On modern writing paper.

Confused, yet strangely aroused, Wyatt is determined to find the source of the text.

Could Poe still be alive, locked in a secret room just out of shot?




"Put it in me!"




Master of the threadbare anthology Freddie Francis brings his usual deft touch to this, the second (and little seen) of the Amicus horror cycle which, tho' lacking the flair (and budget) of the later Dr. Terrors House of Horrors or Tales From The Crypt is still an enjoyable way to waste an evening.

Which is nice for those of you who are easily pleased or enjoy the sight of an actor like Jack Palance sweatily leering over Peter Cushing's arse everytime he bends down, buxom posh birds being attacked by string instruments or tramps being run thru' with pitchforks for a laugh.

The script, knocked together in a few drunken hours by horror hack Robert Bloch skips along at such a pace, cramming in enough totally bonkers idea's into it's two hour running time that you can forgive the odd lapse in acting, effects or storytelling (of which there are many) and just go with the flow whilst the poverty row studio bound feel of the production actually add to it's dreamlike quality.

Except the Hollywood segment which frankly is just bollocks no matter how drunk you are.

Admit it tho', if you're reading this then you already own it don't you?








*They're all robots if you're wondering.

Friday, June 5, 2020

nun too happy.

It's Thursday which means it's the podlings day to pick the film up for review.

Seeing as the laydees are away at the shops it's left to Cassidy to choose.

Again.

Satan's Baby Doll (AKA La Bimba di Satana, A Girl For Satan. 1982)Dir: Mario Bianchi.
Cast: Jacqueline Dupré, Mariangela Giordano, Aldo Sambrell, Joe Davers, Giancarlo Del Duca, Alfonso Gaita and Marina Hedman.





Somewhere in the polyester hell that is seventies Spain, the wealthy yet scarily swarthy landowner Antonio Aguilar (Sambrell) is mourning the death of his wife Maria and trying to figure out how he can sneak young girls into the house now that he's got his teenage daughter Miria (Dupré, the 'actress' not the famous cellist) to look after.

Du Pré: Overjoyed to be featured on this blog.
Or she would be if she were alive.




Things begin to take a sinister (yet vaguely amusing) turn when, during the funeral service, just as Miria is gazing doe eyed at her mum, the body begins to shudder and shake in an alarming display of eurotrash style climax acting.

Obviously Miria finds this sight terrifying as do the majority of mourners tho' I must admit it was kinda sexy in an old lady stroke kind of way.*

Returning home to their ancestral castle we discover that disco dancing dead mums and sweat sodden dads are the least freaky of the family when compared to Antonio's paraplegic, four-wheeled brother Ignazio, his big haired, bold hipped carer and nun-in-training Sol (Amazonian thighed sleaze bucket Giordano from Nights of Terror) and the shiny headed wooden toothed servant Isidro.

Tensions are high between Sol and Antonio and to make matters worse Ignazio has the hots for Sol, taking any opportunity he can to squeakily follow her round the house (well, the downstairs rooms at least) and spy on her in the shower.

"Cock in mah mooth!"



Miria, not too surprisingly, seems to be quite depressed due to her mum's death and Isidro, with all his talk of Maria's spirit not being at rest and other superstitious bollocks isn't helping matters.

he's convinced that Miria's dead mum is attempting to possess her daughters body toward some foul act of revenge or maybe just for a laugh.

Who knows?

Late one night Miria is awoken by her mothers voice whispering softly in her ear and ordering the confused teen to visit the family crypt. Being a good girl, Miria obeys her mum only to come across Isidro frantically fiddling with a big cock whilst trying to invoke some nonsensical supernatural protection rite.


Max Wall: The final interview.



Drawn towards her mother's corpse as if pulled by some strange, talent draining force Miria is horrified to find Maria's cold dead eyes staring back at her.

Miria - being a lady - screams and faints.

Bless.

Concerned by his daughters behavior (but not, it seems by his handyman's predilection for choking chickens) Antonia arranges for a doctor friend to visit Miria.

Oh and to embalm Maria whilst he's at it.

Much to her dismay, the doctor recommends that Miria should go on holiday for a few weeks and try to forget the spooky voices and bird based violence she's been experiencing. Miria huffs and stamps her feet like a typical teen but Antonio and Sol agree with the doctor and begin to pack her bags.

Everything seems to be back to normal, Ignazio is following Sol around the house with what looks like a dead rat poking out of his lap, Sol is cutting Antonio filthy looks, Isidro is polishing a pair of gorgeous brass knockers and the doctor is embalming Maria in the crypt.

It's a wee bit like Eastenders only better scripted.

Especially when Maria returns to life and injects preserving fluid into his neck.

Miria was shocked to find that her real father was
the third, slightly less attractive Chuckle Brother.



Going down to the cellar with some crisps and a can of Fanta for the doctor, Antonio is shocked to see his friend lying stiff as a board with his dead wife's body astride him holding a big needle. In a bout of panic he decides that rather than call the police it would be easier to torch the car before dumping both it and the doc's body in the local canal.

Sol, either pissed off at the situation or annoyed that this is the longest she's ever gone in a movie without stripping to a pair of cream stockings and sharing her ample bush with the audience, finally loses it with Antonio shouting "You dirty old sod!" at him whilst waving her fists in the air.

But this only helps fan the fire of his insane lust for her and he storms out of the crypt shouting "I promise you this, you little whore....I will eventually have you!"

Oooeerr missis.

Is it in yet?



As the days go by it seems to all concerned that Isidro's hunch about Maria taking over her daughters body was correct (who knew?) as with each passing moment Miria is morphing more and more into her dead mum, revealing secrets about her life as yet unknown to poor Antonio.

You see, behind the safe, floral dressed mumsy exterior Maria was a sex obsessed pervert due, in part to Antonio's drug induced impotence but mainly because she was a dirty lady like the type your gran told you to stay away from. It seems that no one was safe from her ungodly desires and that she'd been shagging everyone from the recently deceased family doctor and a pre-accident Ignazio as well as having a long term lesbian tryst with Sol.

Each to their own.



Miria farted...and it was an eggy one.




Antonio, however has more important stuff to deal with and totally ignoring the fact that his nympho dead wife has return from the grave decides that this would be the best time to kill his brother and Sol. Coming up with a plan to wall them both up in the crypt.

For what reason I have no idea, I mean I've had girls knock me back before and I've never had the urge to bury them alive in my garden.

Well maybe just the once.
But whilst he puts his fiendish plan into action Maria has taken total control of Miria's (scarily gravy hued) body and is intent on revenge herself....



Malabimba - not you.



Dismissed by many as an inferior remake of the 1979 erotic horror classic Malabimba (albeit with nicer wallpaper), Satan's Baby Doll is a near perfect example of everything that's right (and in some cases so wrong) with the Eurotrash genre.

The film is virtually plotless, existing only to showcase a few cheap scares, some high fashion trousers, a couple of scenic locations plus a fair bit of female nudity from Mariangela Giordano (playing the same role in both films - tho' it would be nice to see her fully clothed for a change seeing as she resembles that drunken auntie you always see at weddings) and the flat faced, lazy eyed Jacqueline Dupré (in her only film role).

I almost feel sorry for her in a way, I mean, imagine being so charisma free as to make a sleazy lesbian love scene appear boring - at least Malabimba's Katell Laennec tried frowning every so often, tho' from the look of her she was thinking about cakes during the sex scenes.

Whatever she's asked to do her expression never changes from one of mild apathy.

You should be lusting after her yet all you want to do is give her a blanket to cover her modesty and a hug.

If you're still around Jacqueline please get in touch to say you're OK.

"Pull my nightie down when you're done".



At just over an hour and ten minutes in length Satan's Baby Doll is mercifully short and, if you're a fan of Mariangela Giordano (and frankly who isn't?) must be deemed an essential purchase.

And that, my friends is the scariest thing about it.






















*I miss Helen Daniels.