Lo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Deep Red, aka Profondo rosso

One guarantee for viewers of a Dario Argento film is a gorgeous experience. Argento is a master of the visual, with an artist’s sense of palette and a designer’s sense of space. His films take the ordinary streets of urban Italy, or wherever he has chosen to shoot, and turn them almost surreal, or liminal. The characters that occupy these worlds never seem to notice how uncanny their surroundings are. In Deep Red, Argento, along with cinematographer Luigi Kuveiller, takes the bustling city of Turin and turns it into a lonely, cavernous place seemingly built by giants, and now occupied sparsely by their diminutive descendants. Interior spaces are crowded not with people, but art, and none of it is remarkable to anyone who floats through these spaces. To them, the world might as well consist of blank walls. Everything shown on screen is not for them. It’s for us. Continue readingLo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Deep Red, aka Profondo rosso”

October Horrorshow: Feeders

The Polonia Brothers continue to impress, and not always in a good way. Their 1996 movie, Feeders, which they directed with Jon McBride, is a case in point. Shot over the course of a few days in 1994, the production came eight years and five movies after Hallucinations, yet one would be hard-pressed to point out where they have grown as filmmakers.

In plot, they have regressed. In their ability to direct acting talent, they have regressed. Worst of all, in special effects, they have regressed. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Feeders”

Lo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Demons 2, aka Dèmoni 2… l’incubo ritorna

Could lightning strike in the same place twice? Lamberto Bava and Dario Argento must have thought so. It only took them a few months after the release of Demons to start work on a sequel, hoping to mirror the success of the first film. How did they plan on doing so? By remaking the first film.

Released just a year after Demons, in 1986, Demons 2 sees the return of Lamberto Bava in the director’s chair, working from a screenplay credited to Argento, Franco Ferrini, Dardano Sacchetti, and Bava, himself. The previous film had set up a sequel at the end, where the demon-possessed zombies of the first film escaped the doomed theater and spread across the city of Berlin, and it is implied that civilization itself is collapsing. Bava and company decided not to build on this. Instead, Demons 2 takes place in an apartment building in Hamburg. The events of the first film are alluded to, but that’s about it. Continue readingLo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Demons 2, aka Dèmoni 2... l’incubo ritorna”

October Horrorshow: Evil Dead Trap, aka Shiryô no wana

This year’s Horrorshow theme is Italian horror flicks, and by coincidence, today’s non-themed movie happens to be a Japanese film that does all it can to resemble an Italian horror flick…and just about every big-time horror flick one can think of. It’s a good thing it does it well.

From 1988 comes Evil Dead Trap, directed by Toshiharu Ikeda from a screenplay by Takashi Ishii, both of whom had made their bones in adult movies. The film follows television presenter Nami Tsuchiya (Miyuki Ono) and her small crew as they investigate the origins of a snuff video that was sent to their office. Clues in the video lead the group to what looks like an abandoned military facility. After digging into some clues on my own, specifically some faded signage, it looks like Ikeda and company filmed the movie at Camp Drake, a location once used by the United States Air Force’s 1956th Information Systems Group, out of Yokota Air Base west of Tokyo. How’s that for some Google-fu? Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Evil Dead Trap, aka Shiryô no wana”

Lo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Demons, aka Dèmoni

I praised Lucio Fulci for his storytelling in Manhattan Baby. But, truth be told, I wouldn’t mind it at all if every film I watched for The Italian Horrorshow were as wild and unhinged as Lamberto Bava’s Demons, from 1985. Bava proved with his film that it isn’t necessary to have a complex, or even coherent, plot for a horror flick to be a success. In fact, this jumble of sensory overload is one of the most enjoyable films I’ve seen from one of horror’s golden ages. Continue readingLo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Demons, aka Dèmoni”

October Horrorshow: Night of the Beast, aka Lukas’ Child

Night of the Beast, aka Lukas' Child movie posterNight of the Beast, titled Lukas’ Child in some releases, has no business being as watchable as it is. Conceived by producer and star Robert Alden May, Night of the Beast has little in the way of production value, no gore, and only a few drops of blood. But, what it does have is a monster, and lots of breasts.

Written and directed by Troma stable member Eric Louzil, Beast follows May as Lukas Armand, an aging former freakshow owner from Florida who has moved to Hollywood and founded a devil-worshiping cult.

The cult, under Lukas’s direction, has lured every would-be buxom actress in Hollywood through its doors under the promise of a role in a horror movie. But, it’s a trick. Lukas really needs these young ladies to feed his insatiable son — a demonic, leather-winged monstrosity (played by John Theilade in a rubber suit). Is the son really deformed, or is he an actual demon? The script is never clear on that, but Lukas is capable of some supernatural shenanigans, so the cult is legit. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Night of the Beast, aka Lukas’ Child”

Lo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Manhattan Baby, aka Eye of the Evil Dead

According to the internet, so it must be true, director Lucio Fulci did not  like the title of Manhattan Baby, his second feature released in 1982. He preferred the title ‘Evil Eye.’ He had a point. ‘Manhattan Baby’ makes it sound like this movie is just a ripoff of Rosemary’s Baby, and it is not. If there is any horror movie this flick cribs from, it’s The Exorcist. 

Manhattan Baby stars Christopher Connelly as George Hacker, a professor of Egyptology. In an introduction featuring some beautiful location work in Egypt, Hacker is shown heading an archeological dig. A tomb is uncovered, and while Hacker is exploring it, he falls through a trapdoor into another chamber. There, a strange symbol carved into the wall, with a glowing jewel in its center, shoots blue lasers into his eyes, blinding him. Meanwhile, Hacker’s daughter, Susie (Brigitta Boccoli), and wife, Emily (Laura Lenzi), are nearby, having accompanied George for a vacation. At the same time George is being blinded, an old woman with clouded eyes is giving Susie a medallion just like the mysterious symbol George found in the tomb in miniature. Soon after George crawls forth from the tomb and collapses into the desert sand. That’s some setup. Continue readingLo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Manhattan Baby, aka Eye of the Evil Dead”

Lo spettacolo dell’orrore italiano

October has arrived. It’s a holy month for we fans of horror cinema. The mere presence of the spooky day at the end of the month has given us license to let loose, just like how some grandmas manage to turn the entire month of December into a celebration of Christmas. Halloween is not just one day. It is an entire month where the enjoyment of ersatz blood and death is considered just good, wholesome fun.

The return of October also means the return of the October Horrorshow, when Missile Test joins in the celebration of all that is scary and violent. This is the fifteenth Horrorshow, and the theme this year is Italian horror. The morning posts will be all horror flicks from the boot, while afternoon posts, if there is one, will be random horror flicks I felt like writing about.

There’s no particular order or significance to the films that were chosen for the Italian Horrorshow. It’s not a comprehensive list, nor is it a ranking of the very best. Rather, these are all films that I found available on streaming, ready to be seen by the masses. A good deal of these flicks are obscure, but in the Information Age, obscure does not mean hard to find. If one of these films piques interest, I can guarantee it’s only a few clicks away in the tubes.

Shitty Movie Sundays: The Beast of Yucca Flats

Pound for pound, Coleman Francis might be the worst filmmaker in the history of cinema. He wrote and directed only three movies, but all three are so bad, so devoid of quality, that they stand shoulder to shoulder with any of the giants of shitty movies. And not the watchable ones, either.

The first of Francis’s trilogy of futility is The Beast of Yucca Flats, in which Tor Johnson plays a scientist mutated by a nuclear test blast into a mumbling, stumbling monster with grabby hands who terrorizes the people of the southwestern desert. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: The Beast of Yucca Flats”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Deadman Apocalypse

What can one say about a movie that made £25,000 at the box office? That it was a blockbuster, that’s what!

Deadman Apocalypse, the first feature from writer, director, and producer Charlie Steeds, was made on the stringiest of shoestring budgets, only putting a £1,500 dent in Steeds’ bank account. That means Deadman Apocalypse made almost seventeen times its budget. Big Hollywood studios would kill, and have, for that kind of return on investment.

Of course, I’m being facetious. Box office returns are not the best measure of a film’s success. It’s the content of the film that counts. As for this film’s content? Well… Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Deadman Apocalypse”