Tuesday, August 25, 2020

(pre) video tasties.

In those heady days before VHS - between 1961 and 1966 to be precise - those groovy Italians created the next best thing for rthose of us wanting to relive our favourite horror movies; the fantastic foto magazine Malìa.

Each issue retold a movies story in crisp B & W photo form over 60 pages and the series itself covered a remarkable array of horror films from across the globe taking in Italy, Mexico, Spain, dear old Blighty and the USA.

Enjoy and check out more at the DBCult Institute!























Sunday, August 23, 2020

mandate.

Kids are back at school so my days are now child free.

Unfortunately I've got bugger all work on right now.

Or for the foreseeable future.

At least there's some good stuff on Amazon Prime to keep me going.

Oh yes and this too.

The Super Inframan (中國超人. 1975).
Dir: Hua Shan.
Cast: Danny Lee, Wang Hsieh, Terry Lau, Yuan Man-tzu, Bruce Le, Kong Yeung,
Dana Shum, Lin Wen-wei, Lu Sheng and Fanny Leung.




Rayma, now you are filled with power and energy! For you, nothing will be an impossibility! Your senses are intensified, so you can even see and hear through walls!



It's the futuristic - for 1975 - year 2015 (which is now the past, spooky) and the  primary 2 class from the Mary Bell junior school are heading home after a hard days clipping 'up west' but as the excitedly look forward to snacks and pop their joyful bus-based songs are rudely interrupted when what looks like a huge, green plucked turkey drops from the sky onto the road in front of them shattering the concrete and causing the bus to screech to a halt and wee Jimmy to spill his Ribena.

As the fairly sexy supply teacher herds the kids to safety the crack-creating chicken attacks the bus sending it and its unfortunate driver off the edge of a cliff.

But that's not the only thing causing havoc on this wet Wednesday afternoon as all across Hong Kong - and maybe even the world - natural disasters are occurring: everything from earthquakes to previously dormant volcano exploding via your mum burning her souffle, the whole planet is in chaos.

Lucky for us, the bewigged and (pube) bearded boffin and part-time Dave Lee Travis alike Professor Brian Liu Ying De (A Better Tomorrow's Wang) and his world renowned - and silver jumpsuit clad - Super Science Headquarters team is on the case.
 

"Are you looking at my bra?"



 Scanning the local area for any clues as to what's happening the team are surprised when the nearby Devil's Mountain explodes revealing a huge carved dragon skull cum secret base entrance from which steps the sinisterly sexy sorceress resplendent in a huge silver dragon hat and matching bikini top, thigh boots and carrying a whip in her dragon headed right hand.

I don't know why but I think she may like dragons.

Demon Princess Elizebub (or Princess Dragon Mom as the dubbed version amusingly calls her and played to thigh slapping perfection by Terry Liu, best known for her performance as the tight uniformed and knee-high booted lesbian warden Mako in Bamboo House of Dolls) for this is she, shoutily informs the team that from this day forth she is the Earth’s new master and we must either surrender and live as her playthings or be destroyed.

Well I know which I'd choose.


Even thinking about it would probably kill you.


Anyway to prove her point she unleashes her leather-clad skeleton army and assorted mutant types including a huge Plasticine monstrosity with drills for hands,, a big red pompom with horns that can fire laser beams from its arse, a tentacled plant monster, the crab suit left over from Space Amoeba and a pair of metal men with spring loaded limbs to wreak havoc and cause general mayhem around the local area, pissing in phone boxes, tying the swings around the crossbar so no-one can use them and knocking on doors before running off - you get the idea.

Helping her to organise the attack - as well as keeping everyone fed and watered -  is her second-in-command, the sultry Ms Witch-Eye (Shum from Golgo 13: Assignment Kowloon), a kinda sexy space secretary cum junior despot in a cycling helmet and eyeballs in the palm of her hands that fire hypnotizing laser bolts when needed.

Which is nice.


"Eye hen!"


Is there anyone who can defeat these monsters?

Luckily in his spare time the Professor has been beavering away on a top secret project - code-named: BDX it has the ability to transform a normal human into a bionic, red latexed super-hero.

This can be achieved, he explains, by wiring the subjects arms and legs with powerful transistors and computerized parts, injecting them with a super serum and to top it off inserting a tiny nuclear reactor in their heads.

Unfortunately tho' the procedure is very painful.

Oh and may result in death.

Enter - roughly and from behind after jumping them in a dark alley - Jeff Rayma (Lee from the classic City On Fire) who eagerly volunteers to strip down to his pants and get tied to a table by a much older man in order to become the much more than human, if slightly less manly looking Infra-Man, defender of the Earth and scourge of all girl private schools everywhere.

"Put it in me!"


Cue 90 odd minutes of enough kicks and punches to make you want to sell your soul for a PaRappa the Rapper live action movie as Infra-Man and his pals battle everything from giant plant monsters whose massive foam vines attempt to smash the science base to brainwashed traitors in their midst via a bizarre subplot involving the Professor youngest daughters wish to become Infra-Woman when she's older.

And all performed by a cast of which the majority are wearing way too tight Bacofoil jumpsuits.


Here come the Belgians!



But it's not all fist fights tho' as after a couple of defeats at Infra-Man's hands, a fairly angry Elizebub sends the aforementioned brainwashed minion to steal the secrets of Infra-Man's power so that she too can build an invincible warrior prompting the Professor to upgrade our hero (nothing too fancy mind, just adding Thunderball Fists that can be launched from his wrists, alongside a deadly solar attack device that kills instantly, a 'lethal flame kick' embedded in his Cuban heels and lastly a set of mini-rockets place just above his tummy in the off-chance that anyone uses a freeze ray on him at any point - like that'll happen) in preparation for the final battle.

But whilst all this science shit is going down Elizebub has kidnapped the Professor's beautiful daughter Liu Mei-mei (the button-nosed Yuan Man-tzu from The Clones of Bruce Lee) and is threatening to kill her (to death) is the Professor doesn't surrender himself and his secrets.


Laugh now.


 As so begins a race against time (and good taste) to save not only the Professor and his daughter but humanity itself from the slender clutches of the Demon Princess Elizebub.

Will the traitor be uncovered?

Will Infra-Man lose his power when the sun is blocked out even tho' he's allegedly got a nuclear reactor embedded in his skull?

Will Demon Princess Elizebub turn back into a chicken for the stunning final battle?

Will there be a sequel? *

There's only one way to find out cos I'm not telling.




Obviously 'inspired' (you think?) by Tsuburaya Productions utterly fantastic Ultra series - even going so far as re-using Toru Fuyuki's score from Ultra Seven - as well as the daikaiju and kyodai hīro genres - still - so popular in Japan, this Shaw Brothers epic has the distinction of being not only the very first Superhero movie made in Hong Kong but the first film promoted there using a hot air balloon.

Which I'm sure you'll agree is a useful fact to know.

Brexit in a nutshell.


Confidently directed by HK cinema stalwart Hua Shan (who would later go on to give us such classic Fayre as Kung Fu Zombie, Jade Claw, Ghost Killer and Dreams of Eroticism) from a script by the prolific science fiction author and script writer Ni Kuang (responsible for, among other things, writing One-Armed Swordsman, The Assassin and Crippled Avengers as well as the Bruce Lee starrer Fist of Fury) and produced by the legendary Runme Shaw, Infra-Man works best because it unashamedly embraces it's Japanese inspirations rather than just blatantly ripping them off, even going as far as hiring Ekisu Productions - famed for their work on many a Toei superhero series - to supply the sets and monster costumes as well as designing and building Infra-Man himself which all adds a certain legitimacy to the proceedings that something like Juan Piquer Simón's 1980 superhero misfire Supersonic Man lacks plus the acting is top notch and played with eye-rolling conviction by everybody onscreen.

As a bizarre side-note, Bruce Le - who plays the brainwashed Lu Hsiao-Lung - has a cameo in Juan Piquer Simón's classic Pieces as a Kung Fu teacher with a dodgy tummy.

Tho' this coincidence may not be related to his later arrest for tax evasion.



"Put it in me!"

Talking of actors, kudos to not only the frankly fantastic Terry Liu but also to Wang Hsieh who manages to give his portrayal of Professor Liu Ying De a quiet dignity and earnest believability whilst all the time clad in a silver labcoat two sizes too small and wearing a pound shop Elvis wig and comedy beard. 

And as the eponymous hero himself Danny Lee is all bowl-haired, boys own bravado, holding his own against an evermore outlandish array of monsters or when being forced to lie naked - save for a big nappy - on a pool table whilst being injected with food colouring.

It's a job I suppose.

The Howard's Way remake looks a bit shit.


Top quality super-heroics lovingly wrapped in a big bow of brightly coloured goodness, I mean what's not to love?

Recommended.

Twice.






































*Unfortunately not.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

having a butchers.


 

Ended up watching this (again) last night.

To be honest we had a reason tho' - we'd recently rewatched Zombie Flesh Eaters and remembered that after filming they'd left Ian McCulloch behind on the island with no cash to get home but luckily Marino Girolami was staying at the same hotel so Ian persauded him to make a movie using the left over sets and employing him as the lead.

True story bro.

As the kids say.

Zombi Holocaust (AKA: Doctor Butcher M.D: Medical Deviate, Island of the Last Zombies, Queen of the Cannibals, La Regina dei cannibali, Zombie Holocaust, 1979).
Director: Marino Girolami (or if you prefer, Frank Martin).
Cast: Ian (the kids school fees are how much?!!?) McCulloch, Sherry Buchanan, Alexandra Delli Colli, Peter O'Neil, Dakar and Donald O'Brian.


"You nearly succeeded in ruining my life's work! I could easily kill you now. But I'm determined to have your brain!"





In a rain sodden (and badly lit) teaching hospital deep in the heart of New York City - the home from home for 80's lo-fi Italian movie makers, well at least for their films openings in order to convince folk that they're watching an American production - someone has been helping themselves to various body parts belonging to the cadavers marked for use in the daily anatomy class, much to the chagrin of the grumpy surgeon who uses the incidents as an excuse to shout "You've all failed!" at his students before fucking off down the pub.

Possibly.

"Fuck me! A wasp!"




The gorgeously glamorous (in an Kay's catalogue way) Lori Ridgway (the frighteningly fish lipped Delli Colli) and her colleagues are baffled by this spate of icky thefts and reckon that the answer must be prank playing students.

But lo, the truth is far more sinister - and it has to be said, oh so slightly racist - when they discover the token, bowl haired Asian doctor (who looks disturbingly like a porn movie version of Erik Estrada) is caught sitting in the dark eating a corpses heart.

Spooky.

Erik decides the best course of action is to evade capture by throwing himself out of a window then cunningly turning into a shop window mannequin before he hits the ground.
 
With a satisfying plastic echo it has to be said.
 

Noel Edmonds discovers his hand twin.




After a leisurely trip to street level in the lift Ridgway bags the body and returns to work to start her examination.


Of the corpse that is, she's not taking her driving test or anything.


And it's whilst examining the aforementioned corpse, that Ridgway — who also happens to be a student of anthropology, lucky that - recognizes a strange (for strange re: shite) tattoo on the dead man's chest.

A tattoo that just happens to be (are you paying attention?) exactly the same as a symbol found on a ceremonial dagger she was given on her sixth birthday by the family housemaid when she lived on the tropical island of Kitkatoo.


Which by a strange coincidence is also where the heart eating doc was from.

Phew!

And if that wasn't plot contrivance enough it turns out that the dagger has recently been stolen!

I mean what are the chances of that?



"This outbreak of cannibalism could
be related to the killing moon".





Feeling there's more to this than just an isolated incident, Lori decides to ask famous scientific 'investigator' and generally suave stud muffin Dr. Peter Chandler (genre god and owner of the worlds best ginger comb-over McCulloch) for help in solving the macabre mystery.

After much ooing and aahing, Chandler reckons the best way to get to the bottom of things is to organize an all expenses paid holiday, sorry expedition, to the island alongside a crack team of experts - and by experts I mean Lori, her assistant George (the credits say Peter O'Neal but I swear it's a pre-Dead Ringers Jon Culshaw) and tough tomboy reporter Susan (the lank haired, boy trousered but infinitely bonkable Buchanan from Starcrash II and Tentacoli).

Non-entities one and all but infinitely more charismatic than anyone featured on I'm A Celebrity or Love Island.
 
Mooooosssshhhhiiiiiiiii!!!!






Deciding to visit the big island next to Kitkatoo (Dogpoochone?) first our fantastic foursome spend a few days staying with the trampish Dr. Jeff Obrero (screen legend O'Brian, looking like Wilfrid Brambell's buffer brother), a piss stained and poo breathed gone to seed medical researcher with a great line in open neck shirts and too tight trousers who's been living among the natives for years.


Well in their bins by the look of him.





"Aye son!"





Although stinky as hell, Obero still has some manners and after tea, cakes and a severed head (tho' it may have been a moldy potato) in Laura's bed he offers not only the use of his boat but a trio of Beatle haired native bearers and his big cravated 'man friend' Terry Moloto (Dakar, essaying his role in Zombie Flesh Eaters but in a cheaper outfit), as their guide.

As is the way in such movies tho', nothing goes according to plan.

The boats engine overheats stranding the group not on the isle of Kitkatoo but on the smaller, slightly less dangerous and more like a playpark behind the director's house island of Kitkatoow...or so Moloto claims.


"Look at the dog!"





Chandler however is beginning to suspect that Moloto isn't being entirely honest about the situation but as he goes to confront the guide a loin-clothed band of scary cannibals jump out of the bushes and attack our heroes.

The native bearers are the first to fall (but isn't that always the way?) giving Chandler and co. time to leg it into the trees.

Contacting Dr. Obrero, the survivors are told to make their way to a handy abandoned church further inland and to lock themselves in whilst awaiting rescue.

Bunnet.






As Chandler and his merry (if slightly smaller than earlier) band make their way through the jungle - well, the producers garden - they seem surprised to find that the cannibals have been following them so react the way anyone would in that situation by standing around screaming as they wait for them to attack again.

After a particularly threadbare and school playground like struggle George ends up eyeless whilst slinky Susan (being the most attractive woman in the movie) is carried away by the arse bearing natives.

Suddenly (almost as if the director has remembered the films title) a gaggle of shuffling zombies turn up and scare the natives to buggery (not literally mind) and the survivors make it to the church - on time - to find Obrero waiting for them.



"Put it in me!"






Convincing the survivors that Susan is probably actually enjoying the attentions of the sausage fingered cannibals and that they should just forget about her, he hands Lori and Chandler a map showing the quickest way to New York and points them in the direction of a handy rubber dingy left on the beach and even tho' Chandler's suspicions of foul play are getting stronger by the second he decides that it probably would be safer to just head home and forget about everything.


Plus he realizes that it'll just be him and Lori in the dingy for weeks...the dirty wee dog.


His sinful thoughts of hot sea-based sex are interrupted tho when a zombie attacks them on the beach, leaving an angry (and no doubt sexually frustrated) Chandler to dispatch it with a handy outboard motor.

With a look of grim determination usually only seen in Sheepdogs our hero slowly realizes that the only way he's ever gonna pull Lori is to solve the island mystery so with a heavy heart – and a raging horn - Chandler heads back to the church to confront the mad doctor......











Available with - and in - more cuts than Richie Manic, Marino Girolami's cult classic is probably the only Italian gore-arama to feature not only cannibals but also zombies and a mad as a lorry doctor too, so you effectively get three movies for the price of one.

It's just a pity that none of them are any good.

On the plus side, Ian McCulloch is in it and as we all know he would never appear in anything too shady, so it's a pity that he's utterly wasted - as in they do bugger all with him, not that he's pissed - standing around in a selection of hand me down safari suits looking worriedly ginger (or is that gingerly worried) for most of the running time.

 But let's be honest, he could stand around in his undies painting a wall and he'd still be infinitely watchable.


McCulloch: Ginger.




Donald O'Brian on the other hand is the complete antitheses of McCulloch's subtle acting style, a perfect example of an eye rolling, scenery chewing and wee stained madman. His fantastically realized Dr. Obrero is an utter joy, so convincing is his performance that you can almost taste his fishy breath.

Tho' luckily not his cheesy Doritos.

Of the other cast members, the plump mouthed star of Fulci's New York Ripper Alexandra Delli Colli is only there to look good in her cream suspenders whilst pouting, her most difficult acting scene being when she's required to look vaguely scared whilst a group of Filipino tramps smear her naked body in face paint and strap her to a big paper mache wheel.

Tho' Mrs Unwell was convinced it was a rape table and that the natives diddled her (off screen).

I disagreed tho', reckoning that if there was any diddling to be done it would be up there on film in all it's glory.

Actually the discussion got rather heated and I ended up in the shed writing this on my phone.

The thing we did actually agree on tho' was the fact that Delli Colli managed all this table-based business with great aplomb and should be very proud of herself.

As should Sherry Buchanan, who comes across as a dirtier (but less mental and with more teeth) Margot Kidder, wearing her dads clothes and with hair that hasn't seen shampoo for about six months she still manages to exude an air of clumsy back alley sexual hi-jinks.

Even - well especially if I'm honest - when strapped to a table after being scalped which would be a tall order for most actresses.

The rest of the cast are kinda just there really, which is enough I guess.




Buchanan: Just wait till the shampooing starts.





As for the cannibal tribe, well it's the first time I've ever seen scary natives dressed only in thongs fashioned from rashers of bacon and mop top wigs but who's to say this isn't a realistic depiction of an ancient civilization?

Not me that's for sure.

Now to the zombies hordes (well I say hordes but there are only five of them, one of which is the directors mum) who, with make up that is a triumph for the seven year old hired to produce it using only the contents of the class arts and craft cupboard and accompanied at all times by a synth score that consists mainly of samples of a small boy farting whilst a dog with throat cancer barks backwards these undead terrors are guaranteed to strike mild apathy into the hearts of even the most hardened viewers.

Plus it's nice to see what the sets from Zombie Flesh Eaters would look like if shot by a myopic, hook-handed child.

Essential viewing.