Shitty Movie Sundays: Hard Night Falling, or, Die Hard at a Villa

Let’s hear it for the Italian shitty movie industry. Decades-long and still going strong, when one has a yen for a ripoff of one’s favorite Hollywood action flicks, look no further than Italy.

Today’s shitty Italian ripoff is Hard Night Falling, from 2019. Dolph Lundgren plays Michael Anderson, an Interpol agent who is meeting his wife and daughter (Sinne Mutsaers and Chiara Arrigoni) at a villa owned by businessman Frank (Andrea Scarduzio), during a swanky dinner party. Things are a bit rocky in the Anderson household, and it has been many years since Michael has seen his daughter. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Hard Night Falling, or, Die Hard at a Villa”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Hands of Steel

The importance of the Italian contribution to Shitty Movie Sundays cannot be overstated. Many of the most outrageous and joyfully incompetent films featured in the Watchability Index hail from that land of ancient art and culture. I’m sure that way back in the day, before the miracle that is recorded media, there were countless shitty penny operas and circuses for the masses to enjoy. For all we know Verdi had a secret passion for sleaze. My point is, shitty Italian cinema didn’t just come from nowhere. The DNA had to be there already. For every master filmmaker such as Federico Fellini, there has been an Enzo G. Castellari. For every Lina Wertmuller, a Bruno Mattei. And for every Bernardo Bertolucci, there has been a Sergio Martino. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Hands of Steel”

October Horrorshow: Rats: Night of Terror

With a title like Rats: Night of Terror, I was expecting a horror flick. What I was not expecting was a horror flick combined with a 1980s Italian post-apocalyptic sci-fi flick, in the same milieu as 1990: The Bronx Warriors or The New Gladiators. But, shitty film auteurs Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragasso appeared to have no qualms in marrying two different genres, even if it added just about nothing to the plot.

In the near future, in the year 2015, civilization was consumed by atomic war. Survivors retreated underground, where they would attempt to rebuild society safely hidden from the irradiated wastes above. But, some people chose to reject a life in tunnels and caves, and returned to the surface to brave the danger. Now, 225 years after the bombs fell, descendants of the surface survivors are traveling the wasteland in search of food and water. They’re a fashionable bunch of post-apocalyptic bikers, clad in mismatched bits of military uniforms, accessorized with bandoliers and weapons of various calibers. Despite the trappings, they don’t look all that tough. Dressing like an extra in The Magnificent Seven seems to be de rigueur in this bleak future. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Rats: Night of Terror”

October Horrorshow: Inferno (1980)

Three years after horror auteur Dario Argento gave us the vibrant classic Suspiria, he waded back into brilliant color and dreamlike atmosphere by writing and directing Inferno. Described as a thematic sequel to Suspiria, Inferno is the second film of Argento’s Three Mothers trilogy. Whether this film was truly intended to be related to Suspiria or if such a decision was commercial in nature is debatable. Either way, sequel or thematic cousin or whatever, Inferno is clearly an Argento film. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Inferno (1980)”

October Horrorshow: Shock, aka Beyond the Door II

Mario Bava was a giant of horror. His Black Sunday is an atmospheric horror classic that should be on any horror fan’s list of films to see. Shock, released in the United States as Beyond the Door II (it bears no relation to Beyond the Door — the title was strictly promotional), was Bava’s last film before his death. It’s not a bad way to go out, but it’s also a workaday horror film, missing the weirdness that made Bava’s other works, and Italian horror films in general, so special. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Shock, aka Beyond the Door II”

October Horrorshow: City of the Living Dead

City of the Living DeadThis film has nothing to do with George Romero’s Dead films. In a bit of shameless commercialism, City of the Living Dead is another Italian film that tries to ride the coattails of a profitable American horror franchise. And it’s not a case of an American distribution company changing the name of the film. When it was released in Italy, this film was given the title Paura nella città die morti viventi, which, according to the internet, translates as Fear in the City of the Living Dead. Clear? Good. Compared to other low-budget Italian horror fare, these title shenanigans are nothing.

From writer/director Lucio Fulci, who shared screenwriting credits with Dardano Sacchetti, comes City of the Living Dead, released in 1980. The film tells the story of a cursed town in New England called Dunwich. There, the local priest, Father William Thomas (Fabrizio Jovine), hangs himself. For some reason that was either never explained or that I didn’t catch, the priest’s suicide opens a gateway to hell, allowing evil to pour forth into the world of man. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: City of the Living Dead”

Empty Balcony: The 10th Victim

The swinging ’60s have come to Missile Test, in the form of Italian/French production The 10th Victim. An absurdist bit of film whimsy from Italian director Elio Petri, The 10th Victim is notable for providing much of the inspiration for Mike Myers’s character Austin Powers. Indeed, one of the great gags in the first Austin Powers film, a bikini top that shoots bullets, was lifted from this film. Continue readingEmpty Balcony: The 10th Victim”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Cosmos: War of the Planets, or, Shit Trek

Should one not wish to be burdened by a sensible, interconnected plot, or by special effects that pass a minimum standard of acceptability, then has Missile Test got the movie for you. Cosmos: War of the Planets, also known by many other names, is one of the shittiest films to grace this site in a litany of shitty films. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Cosmos: War of the Planets, or, Shit Trek”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Strike Commando

Who wants to watch some bottom-feeding trash? I do! And we all should. Films like Strike Commando, the 1987 shitfest from Italian filmmaker Bruno Mattei, make serious film and art house fodder all the better. How would we be able to gauge excellence were it not for films like Strike Commando giving us a baseline of inferiority? Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Strike Commando”

October Horrorshow: Suspiria

A viewer would hard-pressed to find a more beautifully shot, atmospheric horror film than Dario Argento’s Suspiria. Argento’s, and cinematographer Luciano Tovoli’s, vivid production has become legend among horror fans, and for good reason. The film exists within a reality all its own, shifting back and forth between dreamlike and nightmarish, soft and menacing, as the situation requires. No study of horror films, and film in general, is complete without seeing this classic. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Suspiria”