Return To Nuke ‘Em High Volume 1


Class of Nuke ‘Em High was never one of my fav Troma films.  I liked it well enough, but it didn’t fit into my topmost favs (even just of Troma films).  I saw part 2 (Subhumanoid Melrdown) which wasn’t too good, and I never saw part 3 (The Good, The Bad, and The Subhumanoid), which I heard was bad.
I was pretty excited to see that they were making a new one, tho- I enjoyed their last film (Poultygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead) which came out 8 years ago, and I was ready for some new Troma guts and insanity.
I used to be a huge Troma fan- I loved their movies like the Toxic Avenger, Troma’s War and Tromeo and Juliet as well as movies they sponsored (Street Trash and Redneck Zombies being two of my most favs).  The mix of slapstick and gore and over-the-top craziness really appealed to me.  Not everything they did was fantastic, but enough of it was (and even the stuff that wasn’t could at least not be called boring) that I’ve always been excited to see a new film by them.
I got to meet Lloyd Kaufman (producer, director, and actor of movies such as those listed above as well as countless others from Big Ass Spider! to, errr, Rocky) at a horror convention in 2009, and he was really cool and friendly, so that’s always a plus (truthfully, I’ve rarely met a horror personality who was a prick, but I’ve heard stories).
So I hate to say it, but I was a bit disappointed in Return To Nuke ‘Em High Volume 1.

The story starts out with narration explaining the back story (pretty much the story of Class of Nuke ‘Em High with a slight mention of parts 2 and 3, narrated by Stan Lee no less!), in which the Tromaville nuclear power plant’s improperly disposed of waste mutated a bunch of students into subhumans.  Now, many years later, an organic food processing plant was built on the ruins of the old nuclear power plant, and the owner (played by Lloyd Kaufman himself) is trying to get his food (which is also contaminated) into the local high school.
Meanwhile, at said school, new girl Lauren has moved into town.  She is met with hostility by the school’s local activist blogger Chrissy (who doesn’t like her because she’s rich), but they soon find that they are attracted to each other.
Trouble arises when the Glee Club (who were previously nerds) eat some contaminated tacos and mutate into a dangerous gang of punk psychopaths called The Cretins, and begin terrorizing the city.  Our two heroines must team up to defeat the Cretins and stop the food plant from doing the same thing to the whole country.
Features cameos by Lemmy, Debbie Rochon and Toxie as well as Rick Collins (who has been in all of the Nuke ‘Em High movies, as well as all the Toxic Avenger movies and a lot of other Troma films) as an ill fated science teacher showing off the laser from the first film.

The movie is not bad, and features all the sleaze, slapstick, gore, humor, and over-the-top insanity that Troma is known for.  It’s just that in this one, it all feels a bit forced.  Like they’re trying hard to capture something that should come naturally.  Most of the actors overact horribly all of the time.  In a Troma movie, bad acting and overacting is expected.  All their past movies have had it in spades, but it just doesn’t hit the right notes in this one (you can’t act over-the-top in the red for every scene- there’s times that it needs to be toned down, or it just looks awkward and forced).  It doesn’t always work in this one like it has in the past.  Besides the acting, some of the humor and slapstick seems forced as well.  You can’t really manufacture zaniness- it has to come naturally from the storyline.  Absurdity works best when not shoehorned in hamfistedly.  So tho this stuff works in this movie some of the time, other times it comes off more like those awful Aaron Seltzer/ Jason Friedberg parody movies (Epic Movie, Disaster Movie, Meet the Spartans, etc.)- trying too hard to be funny and zany, but not pulling it off.

The stuff that works, however, is great.  There are several classic Troma type clever, messed up and over-the-top scenes and situations.  I just wish the whole movie was like that.  I think the problem is that it was rushed- it seems that way.  If they could have taken just a little more time to flesh out some of the jokes, some of the slapstick and set ups.  Had a few of their actors bring it down a notch in some scenes (tho other actors do very well- there is an extra on the DVD going over the casting of it, and they used 99% amateur actors they found at drama classes and Hollywood extras, so I guess you get what you pay for.  Both of the leads do a good job, at least).

It ends on a cliffhanger, and there’s going to be a part 2, so hopefully it will be better.  As it stands this one is good for a rental or two, but I wouldn’t buy it.

Strip Nude For Your Killer (1975)


Tho most of my reviews do not, this review contains spoilers.  Read on if you wish…


For the much ballyhooed ‘Women In Horror Month’, I wanted to review a movie in which a woman was the killer.There’s not that many that I can think of- MayFriday the 13th, Scream 2, American Mary, a few more (most of which have been covered extensively).  Then there’s this little scoop of Eurotrash sleaze, which I hadn’t seen in ages, but re-watched for this review.  For some reason, I remember it being much better than it actually is.
Nude Per L’assassino (aka Strip Nude For Your Killer) is a color by numbers Italian Giallo that has a story full of great potential, but ultimately is directed and acted in such a bland way that it’s pretty damn underwhelming.

It starts out with an abortion that goes wrong, causing the young lady to have a heart attack.  The doctor and another man cover up the incident, but before too long the doctor is murdered by a black leather outfit and motorcycle helmet wearing killer.
It turns out that the girl who died during the abortion worked as a model at a modeling agency, and the cyclist begins killing off all the other people who worked with her.

In classic Giallo fashion, the killer is not revealed until the end, and most of the victims are bloodily stabbed to death with a switchblade (tho this movie has way more nudity than gore).  There are many cheesy sex scenes and a lot of full frontal nudity, but overall it’s a pretty tepid affair.  The direction is lackluster and without much style or atmosphere (tho the director does like to film people in mirrors a lot).  There is an attempt at building suspense in places, but it seems like the director is just going through the motions (there’s even one scene where it’s supposed to be intense and suspenseful but they play the goofy Euro-softcore sex music (heard in many ’70s Italian sex movies) over a good portion of it, which kind of ruins the mood they were going for).

The sad part is that the story is pretty decent, and it could have been a good movie.  Too bad it’s thrown together without much style, logic, or passion.  The dubbing is dubious at best, the dialogue is bad (sometimes humorously so), and there are way more men with giant mustaches lounging around in their underpants than I like to see in one setting.  Also, no one is made to strip nude for the killer.

Worst of all is the characterization- most of the male characters are beyond unlikable- repulsive would be a better word (the “hero” of the film is an overbearing, womanizing creep who likes to choke women for no reason.  He’s also the catalyst for the movie).  The female characters get off a little better, but they’re mostly there to show some skin and get stabbed.

Director Andrea Bianchi went on to direct the slow moving but pretty awesome zombie film Burial Ground (aka Burial Ground- The Nights of Terror, 1981), which was much better (but like Strip Nude For Your Killer,  it was a lot better to my memory than it was when I watched it last).

If you’re interested in Giallos, there are many films that are much better (I’d start with Fulci’s New York Ripper (my fav), then move on to more challenging fare like some of Argento’s films) , but this one is like an abridged book on cd version of the genre.  It follows all the rules but leaves out the style, passion, and talent.  Too bad.  It does fit in with Women In Horror month tho, because not only does it have a female killer (who mutilates male sexual organs), it’s also one of the only Giallos to have about as many men killed in it as women (which makes it positively feminist, for such a misogynistic genre as Giallos are).  Take that patriarchy!

The sad death of the chairman of the Harry Reems mustache club

The sad death of the chairman of the Harry Reems mustache club

The Sweet Movie (1974)


Back sometime in the late ’80s, when I was just a kid who taped and traded horror/ gore/ exploitation video tapes through the mail with other weirdos in the country, I requested a copy of Jess Franco’s Faceless from someone.  When I received it, it had about two thirds of another movie on the tape after it.  It was called The Sweet Movie.  I had never heard of it and didn’t know what to expect, however what I viewed baffled, intrigued and revolted me.

Many years later I actually got to see a complete version of it, and after all of this time and all the weird movies I’ve watched, it’s still one of the weirdest.
Anyone who’s taken a college class on art films know that there are a lot of weird films out there, and most of them are crap.  Pretentious, thrown together supposedly disturbing images, fast cuts, offbeat narrative, out of focus shots, ridiculous symbolism – there are a lot of tricks that hacks use to try to make you think they are making something deep- “art”. But for every person who can actually come up with something talented and interesting (such as Alejandro Jodorowsky or even David Lynch) there are a ton of bullshit peddlers slinging wank.

While The Sweet Movie is definitely weird- an art film, it’s not untalented drivel.  It has some wank to it, some quite overbearing symbolism and weirdness for weirdness’ sake (and gratuitous ‘disturbing’ imagery), but it truly is artistic as well, and is very well put together.  The cinematography is very nice, the acting decent, production fairly lush.  It actually does make me think a little of something Jodorowsky  would do.  But it’s also batshit crazy.


Unlike some art films, there is a story to it- two stories, actually.  It starts out at a sort of beauty pagent, where a gynecologist unicycles out and a creepy old woman extoles the virtues of virginity.  The beauty pagent is a contest to see who is the purest virgin in the world.  After examining Miss Canada’s crotch (which glows like the trunk in Repo Man and the briefcase in Pulp Fiction), the gynecologist proclaims her the winner, and she gets to marry a rich Texas businessman stereotype.  Their honeymoon does not go quite as well as she would have liked, and she ends up getting abducted by a massively built black man who takes her into a water tower shaped like a giant jug of milk, stuffs her into a suitcase, strips down, and starts jumping rope naked.
Somewhere around this point, the second story is introduced, in which a woman named Captain Anna pilots a small steamer with a large bust of Karl Marx’s face on the masthead down a river.  She allows a man to come aboard and ride with her, but warns him that if he falls in love with her, she will kill him.

The two storylines are told interspaced, tho they never connect, and involve everything from pissing, vomiting, murder, war atrocities, coprophagia, cults, infantilism, a woman stripping for a bunch of children, a flamboyant mariachi singer who gets his penis stuck in the above mentioned perfect virgin, communist propaganda, an orgy, and lots of nudity.  Oh yeah, and chocolate (masturbating in chocolate to be exact.  And sex in sugar.  Sex and murder in sugar.  With a mouse.  Is that enough for you?).  All wrapped up in a colorful, lighthearted, almost sketch comedy-esque format.

I recognized very few actors in this- the dude who plays the Dean in Animal House (who also played the warden in Chained Heat) has a small part, and Miss Canada is played by one of the girls who went on to be in Naked Massacre.

I’m pretty desensitized to weirdness and disturbing imagery, however at least one scene in this made me mildly uncomfortable.  The director, Dusan Makavejev, has made several disturbing movies in his time, and was actually exiled from his native country (Yugoslavia) for making disturbing films.  This is the only one I’ve seen of his.
Someone out there thinks it’s important, tho, because a Criterion Collection DVD was released in 2007, which means it’s right up there with 12 Angry Men, Rashomon, Bicycle Thieves, King of Kings, Spartacus, Pygmalion, The Last Picture Show, Rebecca, The Thief of Baghdad and other classic and groundbreaking films (plus Armageddon) in someone’s mind.

If you’re looking for something weird and perverse, this is the movie for you.  It’s not produced with near the level of talent as Jodorowsky  or others on his level, but still interesting enough to impress your uptight friends with.


Big Ass Spider! (2013)


This was quite an entertaining movie.  You don’t go into a movie called Big Ass Spider! expecting Citizen Kane Part 2, however this one was much better than I expected.  If you are expecting something like the Sci-Fi (errr… Sy Fy) Channel original movies (which this kind of resembles), this is far more entertaining, and much better in most every way.  It is quite campy (on purpose of course) but not really groan inducing, and the way it’s put together makes you want to go along on the fun ride.  Really more comedy than horror, it’s also a lot more clever than you’d expect it to be (this is where it really tops the brain dead Sy Fy movies).

The set up: a mutant spider accidently gets shipped to a hospital in L.A., and the military has to go in and try to stop it.  Meanwhile, down on his luck exterminator Alex (the likable Greg Grunberg- who played the psychic cop on Heroes) happens to get caught in the middle.

Also starring Ray Wise as the leader of the military group and Clare Kramer (rogue goddess Glory from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as the love interest, Lloyd Kaufman shows up as a jogger, Lin Shaye as a kindly cat woman who Alex exterminates for, and Fangoria/ Starlog producer Terry O Quinn as a hospital patient.
bas4 bas3

The only thing I’d change about it is make it R instead of PG-13, however that did not hurt it much- it’s still a lot of fun and very entertaining, racial stereotypes and predictable plot developments notwithstanding.
Just turn off your mind, make some popcorn, and settle in for some goofy creature feature fun.  bas6

A Christmas Carol (1984)


“I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me.  May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.

Their faithful Friend and Servant,
C. D.
December, 1843.”

The 170th anniversary of Charles Dicken’s classic Christmas tale has just passed, and there have been hundreds of versions of it produced in that time.  Everyone from Alastair Sim to Jim Carrey, Patrick Stewart, Albert Finney, Bill Murray, Mr. Magoo, Scrooge McDuck, and Michael Caine (in the Muppets version) have played the main character, miserly Ebinezer Scrooge.  It took Dickens just 6 weeks of intense writing to finish his little ghost story, but it’s one of the most adapted stories of all time.

“Marley was dead: To begin with.  There is no doubt whatever about that…”

To celebrate the 170th anniversary Neil Gaiman recently dressed up like Dickens and read the story to a crowd at the New York Public Library.  You can listen to it here.

Neal Gaiman as Charles Dickens

Neal Gaiman as Charles Dickens

My fav version of it comes from Britain, 1984.  A television production (tho it did play in theaters in Britain), it stars the awesomely talented George C. Scott as Scrooge.  If ever there was a person born for a role, this was it.  His Scrooge is a miserable, gruff, stingy old bastard, but not a monster.  Not a caricature or a cartoon, like many performers fall back on.  Scott’s Scrooge seems real, acts like a person with Scrooge’s past would act, like a very shrewd (and heartless) businessman.
The supporting roles are all also fantastic, featuring a bunch of talented British character actors lead by David Warner (one of my favs) as Bob Cratchit.  It also has Donald Pleasance’s daughter Angela as the ghost of Christmas Past, Edward Woodward (who got immolated in The Wicker Man) in a booming performance as the Ghost of Christmas Present, Frank (Lifeforce, The Deadly Bees) Finlay as Marley, and one of Tim Burton’s regulars Michael (The Horror of Dracula, Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors, Alfred in Batman (1989)) Gough in a small role.
The production is lush, with a lot of atmosphere and period feel.  You can almost smell the roast turkey and the smoke from the last burning embers in the fire in Scrooge’s workplace.  Feel the biting cold and snow.  They don’t shy away from getting creepy when it’s called for (after all, it is a ghost story), and the special effects are pretty good for it’s time and budget.  I’ve always been a sucker for a movie with great atmosphere.
The thing I like best about it is that it follows the book closer than any other version I’ve seen.  Most everyone knows the plot- Ebinezer Scrooge is a miserable old miser who thinks that love, sentimentality, and Christmas are a waste of time and money (“A poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every 25th of December”).  His one assistant, Bob Cratchit, has a large family including a sickly and disabled son, Tiny Tim.  On Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his old business partner Jacob Marley with a warning- change his ways or he’ll pay in the afterlife.  He is then visited by the spirits of Christmas past, present, and yet to come to help illuminate his choices, mistakes, and possibilities.

In this day and age, Scrooge would probably be considered a great businessman hero, and have his own show on Fox News.  Fortunately in the days this was written charity was viewed favorably and greed looked down upon, so the story comes to a satisfying conclusion.  It is a classic tale, and this version of it is told and performed perfectly.  Seek it out for your Christmas viewing pleasure.

Oldboy remake


While I’ve found most remakes of old Hollywood movies unnecessary at best (and for the most part dismal), I actually have enjoyed most of the recent Hollywood remakes of newer foreign films that I’ve seen- I found both Let Me In and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo just as good as the originals, and while Quarantine was not as good as [rec], I did still enjoy it more than most remakes.
When it comes to Asian films, tho, something often seems lost in translation.  When they try to Americanize them, they lose a lot of their impact.  I found The Ring to be hilariously ridiculous, and most of the others I’ve seen (Pulse, The Eye, Dark Water, etc.) are generally just dull.  For some reason The Grudge was the only one that translated fairly well, possibly because they actually attempted to keep the minimilistic story and hightened sense of dread less Hollywood-ized.

Now with Oldboy, they actually got a big name talent to bring it to U.S. audiences.  Spike Lee is known for his style and flair, and the original Korean film is also known for it’s style and flair.  So it would seem to be a match made in heaven, but once again something seems lost in translation.

The story is fairly similar to the original- a general waste of flesh (Josh Brolin) is kidnapped and imprisoned with no reason given for his imprisonment.  During this time he is framed for the murder of his ex-wife, falls into the depths of depresssion, then slowly pulls himself out of it and back together, ditching his alcoholism and working out, learning to fight and making himself into a new man while planning his escape.

He is inexplicably released after 20 years, and has to figure out why he was imprisoned as well as find his daughter (who believes he killed her Mother) with the help of a childhood buddy and a young therapist/ nurse (played by the Olsen twins younger sister, Elizabeth).

The first thing that needs to be gotten out of the way is this- the plot is preposterous, and relies on years of meticulous plans and lucky coincidences all flawlessly coming together without a hitch.  If you cannot accept that and go with it, this movie will bug the hell out of you.  The original was also like this, but executed more realistically and it seemed easier to go with it than in this one (in which the main reason everything works is evidently because the antagonist is incredibly rich, with Bond villain type connections. This doesn’t explain how a lot of the coincidences come together so perfectly, or how he seemed to be able to forsee so much of what will transpire).  I think the kinetic style and atmosphere of the original helped mask and distract from the ridiculousness of the plot (as well as not having as many of the most ridiculous plot threads of the remake), and the feel of Spike Lee’s ‘just going through the motions’ direction helped bring it out.
If you can accept this, and just go with it, this is an entertaining but ultimately styleless and lacking remake of a far superior movie.  The actors do fairly well (a couple of bits of overacting notwithstanding) despite the bland direction, but the movie seemed more like a bunch of scenes cut together, with some of the connective tissue missing (it was originally over 3 hours long, and got cut down to 100 minutes).  It takes away from the emotional value (and therefore makes the twist ending, which you can see coming pretty far ahead of time, have less of an impact).

I did like Samuel L. Jackson's mohawk

I did like Samuel L. Jackson’s mohawk

So while I did enjoy it somewhat while I was watching it, I couldn’t help comparing just about every scene to the original, and thinking how the original did it better.  Then after it was over, the crushing ridiculousness of it all began to weigh on my mind.  Perhaps I would have liked the full 3 hour version better, but the main word I keep coming up with in conjunction with this movie is ‘lacking’; in emotion, realism, and conviction.  At least we’ll always have the original.

Last House On Dead End Street


The 1970s is, without a doubt, the best era for horror movies.  From the big budget (Jaws, The Omen, The Exorcist, The Shining, Alien) to smaller, but no less well crafted films (Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Phantasm, Zombie, Halloween, Susperia, Dawn Of the Dead); they all stood out and many became classics.  Brewing beneath even the above mentioned lower budget films was an underbelly of even more nasty, mean spirited, dark and nihilistic ones shot on even smaller budgets, that went to the places that no other films wanted to go and none (with few exceptions) had gone before.  Movies like Last House On the Left, I Spit On Your Grave, Salo: The 120 Days Of Sodom, and (right at the end) Maniac and Cannibal Holocaust.  These were movies that made you feel almost degraded to watch- they were grungy, sleazy exposes of man’s darkest nature without much in the way of redeeming value.  Even the ones with (somewhat) happy endings still seemed desolate and depressing; nightmares caught on grainy film stock.
And if you dig even deeper, underneath those films, there was The Cuckoo Clocks of Hell.  A 175 minute forced march through the sleaziest and most depraved underbelly of ’70s mean spirited horror, made in 1972 (before most of the others) but not released until 1977 in an extremely trimmed down 78 minute version retitled Last House On Dead End Street.
The plot follows Terry Watkins, the sleaziest creep this side of Frank Zito, who gets out of prison with a mad on for the world.  He gathers together a group of lowlifes (including 2 Manson family-esque hippie chics, a porn editor, and a dude who went to the psych ward for having sex with a dead cow) with the intention of filming something unique the world has never seen before.
He films the girls in creepy masks murdering an old blind man, which he then shows to a bored porn producer who is looking for the next big thing.  Not knowing the murder is real, he enthusiastically steals it and passes it off as his own, which goes badly for him and his associates when Terry decides to make a new film, one even more gruesome and violent than his previous one.
Basically, a lot of stuff happens in this movie, however it lacks any semblance of subtlety or traditional cinematic narrative structure- it plays like a mildly psychedellic fever dream (or more accurately nightmare) we drop into seemingly at random.  We are assaulted by a bunch of sleazy, weird, and psychotic images, scenes of dialogue that circle the drain while trying to tie these images together into a somewhat cohesive narrative, then it just kind of grinds to a halt.  That’s not to say there’s no story at all, it’s just secondary to trying to film sweaty nihilism and release it to the public.
It’s kind of like what you’d get if you mixed something like Texas Chain Saw Massacre with the trashiness of a low budget 70s porn film, then added in some modern torture porn done on a budget with practical effects  I’ve heard a lot of people complain that the acting is bad, but it’s not really that bad (and is exactly how you would expect the acting to be in an amateur snuff film).  The voices are pretty horribly dubbed, tho, and the production values and dialogue are fairly dismal. For the longest time, no one knew who had made the film (leading a lot to think it really was a snuff film, with an official police investigation being held in New York to find out), and it was impossible to find except on bootleg tapes.  That all changed in the year 2000 when the main actor, Roger Watkins came out and admitted that he had written, directed, produced, edited, and starred in it (using fake names).
Among some of the revelations he made were that he had only spent $800.00 on the film (the rest of the budget went to his crystal meth habit), that he had not known that it had been released (in a small theatrical run) until someone recognized him on the street and mentioned it to him, and that one reason it took so long to come out is that one of the actresses (who had a nude scene in it) had sued because she was trying to start a career on Broadway.
He worked with the now defunct Barrel Entertainment to put out an extras-laden 2 disc dvd of the film in 2002, and planned to make a sequel to it (and was in preproduction and securing financing) when he died in 2007.
Unfortunately, the 175 minute version has never been released, much to the dismay of Roger Watkins (who detested the 78 minute version).  It’s supposedly locked away in some film lab in New York- hopefully it will be released someday, because despite all it’s flaws, this is still an important and influential film even in it’s truncated version.

The Fearless Vampire Killers


What can I say about this movie that hasn’t already been said?  Also known as Dance of the Vampires, it’s my favorite vampire movie, and I watch it every year around this time.  It’s a masterpiece of style and atmosphere, and very clever (particularly for it’s time (1967)).  It was written and directed by a young Roman Polanski (with help from his Repulsion co-writer Gérard Brach), and was his first big budget film.
The story focuses on Professor Abronsius (Jack McGowran, who played Burke “Your cunting daughter” Dennings in The Exorcist) a bumbling, elderly scholar who specializes in bats, and who is obsessed with the idea of hunting and confronting vampires.  He is aided by his naive young student/ assistant Alfred, played by director Polanski himself.  While traveling through Transylvania, they stumble across a cult of vampires living in a castle close to the inn they stop in when the head vampire (Ferdy Mayne) abducts the hotel owner’s daughter Sarah (Sharon Tate).
They follow him to the castle and end up as guests, while trying to figure out how to put a stop to his evil and rescue Sarah.

This movie is so filled with atmosphere it almost caves in on itself.  Every frame is chock full if lush, beautiful scenery; the homey country inn, the snowbound countryside, and the spooky, decaying castle, filled with spiderwebs and old paintings and moldy furniture- very few movies have such exquisite set dressing as this.  It gives it a fairy tale feel, very whimsical despite it’s horrific nature.  It’s almost like a Grimm Fairy Tale by way of Hammer studios (which, tho it’s not a Hammer production,  the atmosphere closely resembles.  However I would say The Fearless Vampire Killers is a bit more lavish and atmospheric than even Hammer’s gothic horrors) brought to life in sweeping anamorphic widescreen.

The balance between comedy and horror is done very well (it is primarily a comedy), and tho it borders on camp and slapstick at times, it never goes completely over to that level of ridiculousness.  The humor is very clever, and a lot of issues that you have about how vampires would actually work in the real world are confronted for the first time on screen (such as whether a cross would affect a Jewish vampire or not, and are there any gay vampires?).

The characters are all slightly bigger than life and very likable (even the bad guys).  The acting is old fashioned and superb; Polanski always manages to find interesting looking people to fill his movies with, and this one has them in spades (watch out for Ronald Lacey, who played the creepy Nazi who burned his hand on the medallion in Raiders of the Lost Ark, in a small role as a goose plucking village idiot who almost gives way that there’s a castle in the area).  Shagal, the lecherous old innkeeper and his wife are played over-the-top for comic relief, but never become crude stereotypes (tho they are obviously very Jewish).  Count von Krolock could easily have been played as a joke, but he’s probably one of the most down to Earth characters in the movie (despite being a vampire, of course).  Ferdy Mayne gives a great performance as the aristocratic, deep gravel voiced leader of the vampires.   His son (who is homosexual) could also have easily been done quite stereotypically flamboyant (this was 1967), but is handled with some subtlety.

The vampires in this don’t seem to have a lot of special powers, other than living forever, having fangs and drinking blood.  They’re almost more like zombies, decrepit and bored, and makeing it seem like being a vampire would be a real drag (and a lot of them look like they’ve literally lived forever).

Besides the incredible cinematography, atmosphere, and set dressings, the music is outstanding as well.  Enhancing the dark fairy tale feel, it’s playful and moody and very original.
Tho it was a critical and commercial failure, I definitely recommended it for Halloween viewing.  It’s a fun, dark  fantasy, and gets better each time you watch it.

Buio Omega (aka Beyond the Darkness)


Also known as Blue Holocaust and Buried Alive (which is the name I first saw it under, when I was a wee teenager), this mean little slice of Eurosleaze comes to us courtesy of Joe D’Amato, one of the more talented masters of Eurosleaze.

The story is about a young taxidermist named Frank who is madly in love with his ailing wife (played by the waifish Cinzia Monreale, who went on to be in The Beyond, The Stendhal Syndrome, and is still making movies to this day) , who is a victim of a Voodoo doll attack carried out by their jealous housekeeper Iris (Franca Stoppi, who went on to be in several nunsploitation movies).  Iris wants to be the woman of the (rather large, expensive) house which Frank inherited from his parents.  Unfortunately for her, the quite unbalanced Frank is not the type to let things go, including his deceased wife, who he digs up and taxidermies, so he can be with her forever.
Frank and Iris have quite an unhealthy relationship to say the least, however she is happy to clean up after him such as when a hitchhiker sees him embalming his wife (and eating her heart), insuring he has to kill her (after ripping all of her fingernails off).  Iris helps give her an acid bath (after dismembering her), and later helps Frank with another girl who he invites over to have sex with while fondling his dead wife in the bed beside them.  Eventually Iris grows tired of Frank’s obsession, and that’s when things go downhill for their relationship, culmination in a bloody, eye gouging climax before the cheap, illogical ending.
bo2 bo3
This movie is the very definition of sleazy Eurotrash gore flick.  There are several full frontal nude scenes, tons of blood and guts (I heard that D’Amato actually got ahold of a real corpse to chop up), bad dubbing (and dialogue- in one part, when Frank is running through the hospital to see his dying wife, he runs into an elderly man who shouts at him “Hey!  Who taught you how to drive?!”), and nonsensical scenes.  It also contains some pretty well done atmospheric cinematography, including some nice shadow work and camera angles (proving that D’Amato is not quite the hack a lot of people accuse him of being, at least not when it came to cinematography), lots of realistic looking gory effects, and an awesome soundtrack by the one and only GOBLIN (which the English Language version calls ‘The Goblins’ in the opening credits).  The pace is a little slow at first, but before long it picks up and you don’t go too long without some flesh or gore.
However, at heart this movie is a love story, about a man who loves his wife so much he’ll do anything to be with her forever, and the woman who’ll do anything to marry him.  How romantic- it should be a Valentine’s Day movie tradition.


Related to my earlier post (review of Vincent Price- A Daughter’s Biography), I’m sure most of you have seen this, but if it’s been awhile, it’s worth another view (one of the best shorts ever).

In 1982, Vincent Price received a phone call from an executive at Disney on behalf of an animator (who was a huge fan) who had made a short about a boy who thinks he’s Vincent Price.  The executive asked if Vincent would give his blessing to it, and maybe lend his voice.  Vincent was happy to do it, and it began a collaboration that lead to his final role in Edward Scissorhands, which came out December 1990 (and in which Vincent plays Edward’s creator, who dies before he can finish him).  It also began a friendship with director Tim Burton (who was the animator who made the short) and Johnny Depp that lasted until his death (20 years ago today).  But first there was this excellent short, Vincent (1982):