Friday, September 30, 2022

davie says: warbeck, hide yourself.

Sad to hear that John Steiner has died, an undisputed cult hero who worked with everyone from Lucio Fulci, to Antonio Margheriti.


Been prepping the whole 31 Days of Horror thang but couldn't let his passing go without at least a quick rewatch of one of his best movies.

This is.

L’Ultimo cacciatore (AKA The Last Hunter, Hunter of the Apocalypse. 1980).
Dir. Antonio Margheriti
Cast: David Warbeck, Tisa Farrow, Tony King, Sir Bobby of Rhodes, John Steiner, some Chinamen and Margit Evelyn Newton.

The time: 1973, the place: a wee drinking club somewhere in downtown Saigon where the suave and sweaty Colonel Morris Minor (horror god and almost Bond, the late great Dame David Warbeck) has decided to spend his day off.

Enjoying warm booze and watching a bored Vietnamese whore trying to dance in an erotic manner (and failing miserably, poor cow) our heroes lazy day is rudely interrupted by his young male 'friend' Steve's sudden emotional breakdown.

Don't you hate it when that happens?

Steve, it seems, is rapidly approaching the tearful wank based Pot Noodle stage due in part to his missis leaving him but mainly because the scarily skinny prostitute lying across his bare chest is obsessed with stroking his hairy man breasts.

We've all been there.

After resigning himself to the fact that it's gonna be his job to clean up all the sweat, egg, semen and blood stains later whilst poor Steve dribbles in a ditch, you can imagine Morris' surprise when his forlorn pal suddenly sobers up and shoots some random GI in the face before offing himself.

And if that wasn't enough to ruin our heroes Saturday night somebody then decides to firebomb the club.

War it seems, is indeed hell.

Luckily for us (and for the film in general) Morris quickly legs it before the whole place goes up in cheap gin and piss soaked flames, watching in horror (or with mild apathy, I couldn't really tell) as everyone else is burnt to death.

Warbeck: You would
(tho' he'd probably not give you a choice).

There's no time for tears tho' because the top brass are sending Morris behind enemy lines.

As opposed to forcing him into the enemies mouth.

And his mission?

Jump out of what looks like the BBC outside broadcast helicopter into a small duck pond and meet up with the hard as nails 'Bastard Squad'.

This crack commando team, led by the badass Sgt. George Washington (king, from Cannibal Apocalypse and The Atlantis Interceptors) and his pal Carlos Santana (the legendary Rhodes) have orders to quietly traipse thru' the directors garden in order to 'silence' (they may mean blow up) a radio tower broadcasting evil propaganda messages telling the American soldiers to go home.

And it seems that they need Morris to join them as he once worked for Radio 2 as a continuity announcer or something.

So far so Heart of Darkness.

Throwing himself out of the plane and narrowly avoiding a rubber snake (or was that a real snake and a rubber Warbeck?) upon landing, Morris manages to find Washington and company without a hitch only to discover that they're dragging top lady reporter Jane Foster (Farrow, the slightly sleazier - not to say considerably more ginger sister of Mia) around with them for no other reason than that she must have been shooting another film nearby at the same time.

Which is fair enough I guess but does make you keep wondering when the zombies are going to attack.

Farrow: harsh.

Taking time to go the scenic route (and fill out the movie's length) our motley crew come across a small village populated by tiny, machine gun wielding Vietnamese woman with a nice line in exploding babies to shoot at.

Unfortunately Washington is wounded in the ensuing firefight meaning our heroes have to retreat into the jungle or face getting beaten by girls.

Cue twenty odd minutes of rotting corpses falling from trees, Tisa Farrow's sweaty nipples becoming more and more visible thru' her vest top and various members of the team getting pinned to trees by big spiky booby traps.

But alas still no zombies.

Or even cannibals for that matter.

But this lack of flesh eater action is the least of Warbeck's worries, seeing as the base camp (well base cave really) he has to report to on the final leg of his mission seems to be run by the scary bloke from Sparks (skinny legged Argento regular Steiner) and that all the soldiers under his command are off their tits on drugs.

To show how stoned they actually are  - and how the horrors of war can warp a man -  the entire camp start rubbing themselves up and wolf whistling when Tisa Farrow turns up.

I'd just like to point out that I'm in no way saying she's not attractive but she's standing next to a wet David Warbeck clad only in a vest and too tight combats.

And that's enough to turn anyones head.

Luckily for Tisa, Major Sparks - despite being camp as pants and having little thin rubber legs - is actually a rather nice man and at the first sign of any Donald Trump style behavior from his troops send those responsible pole vaulting behind enemy lines to fetch him a coconut or two.

"Look! a telescope with a mouse in it!"

But this jolly japery can't last forever and it's not too long before the oft-mentioned 'Charlie' (a character we never learn the true identity of) attack the cave system, kidnap Tisa and machine gun everyone inside.

Except for Morris and his buddies obviously.

Escaping to the local boating pond, Carlos is cruelly killed whilst stealing a junk (as opposed to firing it everywhere) whilst Washington clumsily trips over a corpse and snaps his leg in half, giving him and Morris a wee chance to discuss the futility of war and stuff.

After a series of meaningful glances Morris jumps overboard (either to continue his mission or because he can't stand anymore of the incredibly stilted and frighteningly clichéd dialogue), leaving Washington at the mercy of the Viet Cong machine gun nests serendipitously hidden around the next bend.

Which is a bit of a bastardy thing to do if you think about it.

"Aya! Mah BCG!"

With a look of grim determination (or constipation, it's hard to tell) Morris continues further into the jungle, alone and armed with only a kids spud gun and a sweat mottled pair of man breasts, determined to complete his mission before heading home for tea and crumpets.

Nice as this idea is it soon all goes tits up when he's captured by the ever present Charlie and dumped shoe-less in a rat infested water cage with only a man with a melted cheese face for company.

Can anyone help our hero?

Well Tisa's sitting sipping rice tea in a holiday chalet overlooking the prison (and the rent) so hopefully she'll get up off her fat arse and finally add something to the plot....

But will she be able to waddle down to rescue Morris before the rats begin to nibble on his man bits?

"Hey Tisa, is that your
brother in law shagging your niece?"

Genre busting genius Antonio (Bed of a Thousand Pleasures, Cannibal Apocalypse, Yor, the Hunter from the Future and Code Name: Wild Geese amongst others) Margheriti's The Last Hunter has everything Apocalypse Now! should have had (including a considerably shorter running time) and much more.

Except zombies unfortunately but you can't have everything.

It's pedigree is second to none featuring as it does star turns from Fulci faves David Warbeck and Tisa Farrow aided and abetted by a top cast of Italian icons including Bobby (Demoni) Rhodes, John (Tenebrae and the reason we are here) Steiner and Margit Evelyn (Zombie Creeping Flesh) Newton.

Behind the scenes it has cult composer Franco (everything from Black Demons to music featured on the Death Proof and Ren and Stimpy show soundtracks) Micalizzi's sexy synth sounds and craftily crude special effects from the Philipino Savini himself Apollonio Abadesa.

"Fuck me! a wasp!"

And although Margheriti's entire career seems to have consisted of making cheap knock offs of bigger, more famous movies the director didn't seem to mind, giving his all and making the most of the motley assortment of the clichéd characters and situations in evidence.

From the hard bitten soldiers to the snatches of inappropriate nudity via scenes of extreme violence, Margheriti also manages to fill the movie with just enough cod "war is hell" speeches to almost convince you that you're actually watching something worthwhile and meaningful as opposed to just sitting eagerly awaiting the next over the top death scene or the chance of a quick look at Tisa Farrow's (admittedly) rather shapely breasts.

And if that doesn't get you salivating then I don't know what will.

Quite possibly THE greatest Vietnam based war movie starring David Warbeck ever made.

And you can't get higher praise than that.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

doctor on call.


OK....Which one of you is it?

Thursday, September 8, 2022

keep on trekkin'


Celebrate Star Trek Day with a 60 minute trip across the final frontier of sound.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

naschy birthday!

Seeing as it's the late, great Paul Naschy's birthday today I thought I'd revisit an article I wrote for the late lamented Multitude of Movies magazine way back in 2015 which itself was based on (bits of) a review of the classic Curse of the Devil (AKA Return of the Werewolf, El Retorno de Walpurgis) for The yearly Paul Naschy Blogathon that used to run over at the frankly fantastic Mad Mad Mad Mad Movies site.

Plus it's worth a look just to see how much childish shite I have to cut out of stuff when I submit it for 'proper' publication.


And happy birthday Mr Naschy!

Back in the days before t'internet (and, gulp even video) the only way you could find out about new (ok let's be honest here, any) horror movies was from local library books (usually written by Leslie Halliwell, a writer whose own ideas of good horror once noted that Night of The Living Dead had killed the genre and nothing of any worth had been made since) or one of the very few genre magazines available (stand up and be counted House of Hammer and on the rare occasions it got imported to a wee newsagent nearby Famous Monsters).

As a precocious seven year old force fed a Saturday night teevee double bill of Universal and RKO classics these greats of film literature were a godsend to me and I would spent all my spare time pouring over grainy black and white shots of Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney Jr. as the tragic Lawrence Talbot.

I'll never forget though (I have a good memory) that one particular issue had a photo of the Wolfman I'd never seen before, true it was labeled 'the Werewolf' and although the accompanying picture of a fraught young man had a hint of Chaney about him his name wasn't Talbot. It was Daninsky. Like any curious kid of that age I examined the picture for a few minutes before completely forgetting about it and turning the page to reread an article on what looked like the greatest monster movie ever.

Ah Crater Lake Monster where are you now?*

The love of horror stayed with me (as did the love of Universal) and thanks to magazines like Starburst information became easier to find, the Saturday night double bills sometimes featured the films of Eddie Romero alongside the old faithfuls and movies like Dawn of The Dead and Phantasm had fueled my geek gene, forcing me to learn more about the directors and their influences. As a teenager you can probably tell I was never asked out on dates.


The strange sad faced man with the foreign name seemed to have disappeared without a trace though and whilst Coffin Joe was being photographed with Christopher Lee at swanky Parisian horror conventions it would take a controversial censorship bill of epic proportions to bring the legendary Paul Naschy to the attentions of young horror fans in dear old blighty.

Yup, I hate to admit it but it's thanks to the 1984 'video nasty' furore and the inadvertent banning of Naschy's 1975 monster mash The Werewolf and The Yeti that finally introduced me to the great man's work. And oh boy did I hate it.

Bizarrely enough, of all the films I devoured at the time this is one of those that I have only the vaguest recollections of; something about the infamous Abominable Snowman playing the bagpipes during a fight scene and being sent out of the room to get biscuits when Naschy got involved in a wee bit of threeway action comes to mind.

But the most upsetting thing about it, and I'll admit this stayed with me for years, wasn't the gore or the sex (or even the lack of decent biscuits at my nan's), it was because this young upstart seemed to be taking all the ideas, the drama and heartache (plus the dissolve effects) of my beloved Universal movies and trying to make them his own.

How very dare he.

So being the sensible and knowledgeable film connoisseur that I was (you know, the way you can only be when you're 14) there was only one thing I could do.

Yup, I laughed loudly at the screen and flounce back to my 'serious' horror movies, tutting audibly at anyone who even mentioned that film. Looking back I find myself dying a wee bit inside at the thought of being such a know all little brat, so caught up in my own (movie-based) importance that I totally failed to see the irony in the situation.

The whole fact that they reminded me of the Universal series was that Naschy was a fan too. It's just that he knew how to have fun with his 'fannishness'.

But who was this Paul Naschy fella and why is he so revered in the world of horror cinema?

Well herein lies a tale worthy of a movie itself.

Born Jacinto Molina Álvarez in Madrid, Spain on September 6, 1934 into a fairly well-to-do family - his father Enrique was a highly regarded furrier (as in he worked with fur not that he dressed up as a rabbit and attended conventions) – Naschy's first love was surprisingly, not cinema but weightlifting, a profession he actually pursued upon leaving college.

As he entered his 20's Naschy's career took a number of more and more eclectic turns, moving as he did between writing pulp western novels, illustrating comics, weightlifting and acting, his first on screen appearance being as a Mongol warlord in Luis Lucia's El Príncipe Encadenado in 1960.

No me neither.

More and more (albeit small) roles followed – including an uncredited appearance in the Jesus-tastic King Of Kings (1961) and as his understanding of the film making process grew so did his appreciation for cinema in general but it was a chance encounter in 1966 with horror legend Boris Karloff whilst appearing in an episode of the Bill Cosby starrer I Spy that set Naschy on the road that would finally lead him to success.

Reminiscing with the actor about his time at Universal, Naschy admitted his love for the character of The Wolf Man, a fascination that dated back to his viewing of Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) as a child.

Whatever Karloff said to him isn't on record but we can assume he didn't tell him to piss off and have him thrown off set, otherwise I reckon his career would have taken a more bizarre turn and you'd be sitting here reading about an actor who portrayed a nasty aging Thespian in a series of increasingly demented revenge flicks set in the twilight world of episodic TV.

Actually there may be a book in that.

Naschy spent the next few years working on his first screenplay and in 1968 La Marca Del Hombre Lobo hit the big screen, introducing the world to the tragic tale of the doomed lycanthrope Waldemar Daninsky, a character – or descendants of – that Naschy would go on to play 12 times between 1968 and 2004's direct to video Tomb Of The Werewolf.

Bizarrely though he never actually intended to play Daninsky, only stepping up to the role after original choice Lon Chaney Jr. proved too ill to travel and a suitable candidate couldn't be found.

And from such accidental beginnings a horror legend was born.

But portraying one iconic character was obviously not enough for Naschy who, as his career grew went on to give us his unique takes on several classic screen monsters including Count Dracula and Mr. Hyde, alongside assorted mummies and demons as well as a host of vile villains and black-hearted bad guys in a career that spanned over 100 movies and 4 decades.

Frequently writing the scripts for the movies he appeared in, he added directing to his list of not too inconsiderable talents with the 1976 Devil worshipping delight Inquisition (in which he also starred and wrote) and later, when the horror genre fell from favour within the Spanish film industry, Naschy became a producer, at one point bizarrely enough making documentaries for Japanese television resulting in a slew of Spanish-Japanese co-productions, including the frankly fantastic (if not slightly bonkers) La Bestia Y La Espada Majica (1983).

If you don't believe me then you try and name another film that features a werewolf taking on a (real) tiger as well as assorted Ninjas and a sub-plot featuring a magic monster slaying sword.

In 1984 Naschy faced a crisis in both his career and personal life, firstly with the death of his father – with whom he'd always had a close relationship and latterly when his production company, Aconito Films, filed for bankruptcy – partly due to the aforementioned lack of interest in horror movies but mainly due to the total commercial failure of the ahead of its time spy spoof Operacion Mantis.

Imagine a Spanish Austin Powers by way of The Naked Gun channelling Benny Hill via 70's Burt Reynolds and you're halfway there.

Things got worse for Naschy in 1991 when he too suffered a heart attack during a weightlifting session at his local gym, forcing the once seemingly indestructible star to take stock of his life leading to the publication in 1997 of an incredibly honest and deeply touching autobiography, Memorias De Un Hombre Loco.

As the new millennium dawned though so did a new found respect and interest in the masters work when in 2000 noted American horror magazine Fangoria inducted Naschy into its Horror Hall of Fame, thanks in part to his many – worldwide - fans championing his cause but his highest accolade was to follow when, in 2001 King Juan Carlos I presented Naschy with The Gold Medal Award for Fine Arts (the Spanish equivalent of a knighthood).

Paul Naschy passed away from cancer on 30th November 2009, still working away on new and more terrifying horror projects until his death, the lonely lycanthrope had finally come home to the love and affection he truly deserved.

Daninsky and his creator resting among the likes of Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney Jr. as true greats of horror and set to thrill and terrify fans of the fantastic of all ages for years to come.

*Scarily enough it took 40 years but I did finally get to see The Crater Lake Monster.