Lo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Torso, aka I corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale

Viewers of gialli would be hard-pressed to find a film that ticks more of the genre’s boxes than 1973’s Torso, from writers Ernesto Gastaldi and Sergio Martino, with direction by Martino. It has copious amounts of gratuitous nudity, a killer who stalks women, a final reveal of the killer’s motivations that makes little sense, and enough blood and guts that the film bleeds over into the slasher horror genre.

In Perugia, Italy, a killer sets his sights on lovely female students of a local university. The women are stereotypical free spirits of the age; into drugs, sex, and nude sunbathing. They stand out amongst the stodgier parts of contemporary Italian society, not least because their miniskirts reach nowhere close to the knees. Martino seems to take glee in showing the clash between the prudes and the debauched. Continue readingLo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Torso, aka I corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale”

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: 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”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Detention (2003), or, Die Hard at a High School

Yep, it’s another low-budget Die Hard at a… flick, something that Dolph Lundgren has excelled at during his long and prolific career in shitty movies. Some are bad, some are awful, some are passable. I have yet to see a Die Hard at a… flick from Dolph that is excellent. But, the man has a lane, and he stays in it.

Released direct-to-video in 2003, Detention follows Dolph as Sam Decker, a former soldier who got fed up with soldiering after he witnessed American bombs destroy a building full of bad guys and child hostages in Bosnia. Now, ten years on, he’s a teacher at a rough and tumble inner city high school. He’s fed up with that gig, too, and hands in his resignation early one morning. Because he is leaving his principal in the lurch, Decker is assigned to supervise after school detention on his last day. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Detention (2003), or, Die Hard at a High School”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Territory 8

Yikes. We want to make it clear here at Missile Test: we will never shit on someone for making a movie. It’s one of the most difficult creative endeavors one can embark upon, and finishing production is something that any filmmaker should be proud of. We, as a culture, need more movies, not less. That said, sometimes a movie isn’t just shitty. Sometimes it’s bad, bad, bad.

From 2013, Territory 8 comes to us via writer, director, and producer Kelly Schwarze. It follows a pair of research scientists, Dr. Eli Dolton and Dr. Tao Xing (Michael Tushaus and Heung Wong), as they try to find a cure to a biological weapon that was accidentally released in the area. The weapon, a virus, was developed by Xing, and he’s got a case of the guilts. As he should, because he’s also been doing a little spying for the Chinese, who are holding his brother hostage in exchange for his secret research. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Territory 8″

Shitty Movie Sundays: Agent Red, or, Die Hard on a Submarine

According to the internet, so it must be true, Agent Red had an initial shoot of two weeks. Director Damian Lee’s assembly cut was rejected by the producers. One of the producers, prolific shitty movie filmmaker Jim Wynorski, then reshot about forty minutes of the movie in three days. That incredible effort still wasn’t enough to finish the film, so it was then stuffed with footage cut from other movies, including ’90s blockbusters Blown Away and Crimson Tide. I’m pretty sure there’s a sequence from Red Dawn in there, as well. Usually, when such extreme measures are taken to rescue a failed film, the result is an unwatchable mess. This dog actually remains coherent. Amazing. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Agent Red, or, Die Hard on a Submarine”

Empty Balcony: The French Sex Murders, aka Casa d’appuntamento

The French Sex Murders, the giallo from director Ferdinando Merighi, opens with a foot chase up the steps of the Eiffel Tower. Plainclothes police are chasing a fleeing suspect, who then leaps to his death, his identity hidden from the viewer. A detective, Inspector Fontaine (Robert Sacchi), peers over the railing, and reminisces about how this case, now closed, began on the first night of Carnival.

Antoine Gottvalles (Peter Martell) is an unsavory sort. He’s shifty and nervous, and has sticky fingers, stealing jewels and gold from a church. He celebrates his ill-gotten gains by visiting a house of ill-repute, run by Madame Colette (Anita Ekberg). Gottvalles made the mistake of falling in love with one of the girls, Francine (Barbara Bouchet), who, in turn, made the mistake of returning, and then spurning, said love. Enraged, Gottvalles slaps Francine around, and the next audiences see of him, he is leaving the house in a hurry. Soon after, a writer, Randall (Renato Romano), discovers Francine’s body, bludgeoned to death with a table lamp. Continue readingEmpty Balcony: The French Sex Murders, aka Casa d’appuntamento”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Nemesis (1992)

A true mark of quality in a shitty sci-fi flick from Hollywood in the 1980s and ’90s was use of the Kaiser Steel Mill in Fontana, California, as a shooting location. Just check out this list on IMDb. The more ruinous parts of the mill were a perfect location for a post-apocalyptic or dystopian landscape. Those portions have since been paved over for the Auto Club Speedway, but they live on in films like Robocop, The Running Man, and Nemesis, a 1992 cyberpunk, neo-noir action flick that, somehow, spawned a direct-to-video franchise.

Directed by Albert Pyun from a screenplay by Rebecca Charles, Nemesis stars Olivier Gruner as Alex Rain, a gritty detective in the LAPD. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Nemesis (1992)”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Retrograde

Dolph Lundgren has been in some low down dirty dogs in his time in the film business. We’re talking the kind of action movies so underfunded that most of the ‘action’ consists of exposition in barely-dressed sets, or whose plot involves a whole lot of walking in the desert. Often, Dolph is the only member of the cast with an extensive list of credits behind his name, telling a viewer just about all they need to know about a flick’s objective quality. But, fine objective quality is not what we’re after here at Shitty Movie Sundays. Dolph Lundgren is a prolific b-movie actor, and even the worst movie in which he’s ever appeared has something for the devoted connoisseur of substandard cinema. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Retrograde”

Shitty Movie Sundays: The Silencer (1992)

Here at Missile Test, we like a shitty movie that has ambitions. We appreciate when an auteur has a vision that far outstrips either resources or filmmaking ability. The result can be a film that flies off the rails, one that is a total head scratcher, or one that sits somewhere in between, sloshing back and forth between watchable absurdity, and unwatchable stupidity. Such is the case with The Silencer, the 1992 film from writer Scott Kraft, and writer/director Amy Goldstein.

Lynette Walden plays Angelica, a badass early ’90s chick who would have found a ready home in Twin Peaks. She dresses all in black, smokes cigarettes non-stop, rides motorcycles, and, oh yeah, is a contract assassin. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: The Silencer (1992)”