Lo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Panic, aka Bakterion, aka Monster of Blood

Horror flicks from Italy are some of the most beloved films the genre has to offer. They have a style that is instantly recognizable. Names of auteurs — Argento, Bava, et al — are known and discussed with reverence by fans. But, like film industries all over the planet, there is a fair amount of chaff among the wheat. Case in point: Panic, a bottom-feeding horror flick released under a number of titles, including as an entry in the confusing Zombi series of films.

From screenwriters Victor Andrés Catena and Jaime Comas Gil, and directed by Tonino Ricci, Panic is quite a departure from other films featured in this year’s Horrorshow. It’s not gothic, nor is it a descendant of giallo. There are no supernatural elements and no lip service to the Catholic Church. If anything, this film, in tone and style, is reminiscent of 1950s and early 1960s British science fiction, along the lines of the Quatermass films. In other words, it’s talky. Continue readingLo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Panic, aka Bakterion, aka Monster of Blood”

October Horrorshow: Forbidden World

Roger Corman has caught a lot of heat in these pages for being a cheapskate. The man was, and still is, ruthless in his pursuit of efficiency in his productions. This has often been a detriment to his films. As a filmmaker, Corman could make better movies if he loosened the purse strings ever so slightly, but he always seems to err on the side of budget over art. That said, the man’s contributions to cinema, and shitty movies, cannot be overstated. Forbidden World, a Corman production from 1982, encapsulates just about everything that makes a movie shitty, and is an excellent example of the Corman style. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Forbidden World”

Lo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: The New York Ripper, aka Lo squartatore di New York

Is it giallo? Is it horror? Is it both? In Italian cinema, the line between giallo and horror is often blurred, to the point it becomes insignificant. Thus it is with The New York Ripper, one of Lucio Fulci’s 1982 films. It has the most important tropes of giallo — women in danger, a serial killer on the loose, lots of nudity, and more blood than American audiences are used to in thrillers. It also has the feel of a slasher flick. Shoving the film into one category or another doesn’t do the viewer any good. And, if it ain’t horror, it can’t be part of the October Horrorshow. Continue readingLo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: The New York Ripper, aka Lo squartatore di New York”

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”

Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Amityville II: The Possession

The Amityville Horror was a surprisingly competent horror flick from American International Pictures and Samuel Z. Arkoff, names not often covered in glory, except in the land of shitty movies. It made a pile of money, recouping about twenty times its budget at the box office. With a hot property like that, it’s no surprise there was a sequel. This time, however, it wasn’t Arkoff and company that were set to reap some of that sweet Amityville cash. Like a hyena scavenging a kill after the lions have had their fill, it was Dino De Laurentiis and his people who crept up to make Amityville II: The Possession. Things didn’t work out quite as well for Dino, as the production began with a rights dispute. That’s why this film is called Amityville II and not The Amityville Horror II. It also wasn’t the cash cow that De Laurentiis wanted. It’s still an Amityville flick, though. It was even filmed at the same house in New Jersey as the first film. Continue readingAttack of the Franchise Sequels: Amityville II: The Possession”

October Horrorshow: Nightbeast

Nightbeast movie posterBlood, gore, low production values, a little gratuitous nudity, and charm out the wazoo. That’s Nightbeast, the 1982 sci-fi/horror flick from b-movie filmmaker Don Dohler. It’s a simple film with a simple idea: an alien passing by Earth runs into a stray asteroid and crashes in rural Maryland. It’s an angry beast, and it wastes no time slaughtering the locals with its laser gun.

Trying to stop the massacre are the cops and the good citizens of Perry Hall, led by Sheriff Cinder (Tom Griffith). That’s all the plot one really needs to know. There’s very little setup to this flick, and very little character development. That’s a good thing, as Dohler didn’t round up the best talent for his opus. Besides Griffith, there’s Karin Kardian as Deputy Lisa Kent, Jamie Zemarel as local Jamie Lambert, and Don Leifert as local tough guy and murderer Drago (it’s a subplot). None of these performers, or the others listed in the credits, had much work outside of Don Dohler films, and none of them seemed like professionals. But, their lack of acting chops only adds to the appeal. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Nightbeast”

Shitty Movie Sundays: The Aftermath (1982)

Amazon Prime has a problem with dates on some movies. For films that have been re-released with a restored print or new cut, it’s not uncommon for them to use the date when the new print was released, rather than the year the film originally premiered. This caught me out with The Aftermath, which, according to Amazon, was released in 2018.

The print on Prime is close to pristine. Other than occasional pops and scratches, the picture is sharp and the colors are vibrant. Because of this, and the 2018 date attached to the film, I at first thought I was watching something fairly new. And it was a riot. From the cheap model work, the period costumes, the color reminiscent of a retro digital filter, the analog technology used in the sets, to the music and the cinematography, I thought I was watching a very clever recreation of a 1970s cheapie sci-fi flick or tv movie. Something inspired by Dark Star or any random Italian ripoff. Then I noticed Sid Haig, who plays the bad guy, and realized there was no way this movie was made in 2018. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: The Aftermath (1982)”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Battletruck, aka Warlords of the Twenty-First Century

When is a shitty Italian Mad Max ripoff not a shitty Italian Mad Max ripoff? When it’s a shitty American/New Zealand Mad Max ripoff!

Battletruck, also released under a number of different titles, comes to viewers from Roger Corman’s New World Pictures stable, although his name is nowhere in the credits. From 1982, it was written by Irving Austin, John Beech, and Harley Cokeliss, with Cokeliss also sitting in the director’s chair. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Battletruck, aka Warlords of the Twenty-First Century”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Double Exposure

Double Exposure movie posterFrom the murky realms of Hollywood anonymity comes Double Exposure, the 1982 film by writer/director William Byron Hillman. Basically a remake of an earlier Hillman film called The Photographer, Double Exposure is a psychological thriller wherein a fashion photographer, Adrian Wilde (Michael Callan), is plagued by dreams of bloody murder. Not his murder, mind. Rather, the brutal slayings of young models in his employ.

Are these dreams buried memories of his actions? Adrian doesn’t know, and neither does his shrink (Seymour Cassel). But, as bodies continue to pile up, Adrian can no longer deny that he might be a murderer.

In between, audiences are treated to the cringy relationship Adrian has with his stunt-car driving brother, B.J. (James Stacy), and some of the worst detective work ever placed on film.

Here’s what I mean by that.

Adrian and a young, eager model go to a secluded location for an ad shoot, and Adrian then kills the model. Only, he wakes up after and the audience sees it has all been a dream. But, soon after, two detectives right out of a shampoo commercial, Fontain and Buckhold (Pamela Hensley and David Young), arrive at a real murder scene that is identical to Adrian’s dream. This happens multiple times. Okay, so Adrian is killing these women while they are on a scheduled photo shoot, one that the models’ agencies would know about. And yet, cops are baffled until late in the film. That’s some shitty filmmaking. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Double Exposure”

October Horrorshow: Pieces

At first glance, Pieces, the 1982 slasher flick from shitty auteur Juan Piquer Simón, is just like every other bottom-feeding Italian film that flooded the American market in the 1980s. Except for one thing. Pieces is not an Italian flick. It’s from Spain. All the hallmarks of a Lucio Fulci or Enzo G. Castellari film are present. The cast is from all over the map. Many read their lines in their native tongue, everyone was dubbed in post, and there was a cavalier attitude towards making sure if any of it synced. The production is low rent, but there’s lots of blood, and it’s so bright one could use it to see by night. And, while it takes place in the United States, it was very clearly filmed in Europe. So, just why does this film have the appearance of cheap Italian cinema of the day? Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Pieces”