director Michele Lupo
The Weekend Murders brings together two terms that don’t usually collide, giallo and comedy.
Gastone Moschin’s Sgt. Aloisius Thorpeis is the kind of character that is usually really annoying but actually works rather well here. The bumbling policeman who turns out to have more on the ball than anyone thinks is quite charming and even funny.
It’s more an Agatha Christie style of mystery than your typical black-gloved killer slasher Italian crime flick. Because though it does technically meet the qualifications of the giallo genre, it’s much more a comedy and maybe better taken as such.
director Rafael Portillo
Little wonder that when Jerry Warren got his hands on the Mexican flick La Momia Azteca that he saw the possibilities of chopping and splicing it into a his eventual Attack of the Mayan Mummy (1964). The Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy had already cannibalized La Momia Azteca and its sequel La Maldición de la Momia Azteca as the first half of this one, the final in Rafael Portillo’s Aztec Mummy trilogy.
And frankly, I’m guessing that The Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy is the only original Aztec Mummy movie you really need. Parts one and two fill up via storytelling flashbacks and voiceovers what you might have needed to know.
Only, like Godzilla later, the Aztec Mummy goes from original villain to monster good guy over the period of his films. The Aztec Mummy is actually kinda cool and scary looking.
I’m not the first to notice that super villain The Bat is a magnificent Z movie Orson Welles. The whole pulp world of the Aztec Mummy feels like Dick Tracy serials. And let me tell you, nothing trudges slower than a mummy except a poorly designed robot.
The Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy is low grade pulp, but highly pleasing low grade pulp.
director Henrik Ruben Genz
Terribly Happy is more of a smolder than a slow burn crime picture set in Denmark’s Jutland region. One character describes Jutland as all “mud, cows, and rubber boots.” To which I say “But where are the cows?”
Jakob Cedergren plays Robert Hansen, a København cop relocated to the boonies for some untoward event. The people of the village of Skarrild are portrayed as many peoples of many a country’s boonies, as insular, suspicious, and odd. A thin thread of Wake In Fright struck me, a Danish to the Australian city slicker in purgatory in a small, isolated burg in said boonies.
The intrigue mainly involves the town bully’s hot to trot but cagey wife Ingelise (Lene Maria Christensen). There’s a bog in the picture and some suggestion that the locals take care of their own business by way of bog, but this unreels a bit differently than you might imagine.
For my money, it’s a well-made but not all that impressive Scandinavian crime picture.
director Tobe Hooper
Djinn, Tobe Hooper’s last feature film is also the first film I’ve ever seen from United Arab Emirates.
It’s a kind of Arabic Rosemary’s Baby for present day Abu Dhabi.
The odd vibe emanates from the inherent cross cultural nature of the thing. Conventions of an American horror film are also universal in many ways – how universal or not is why other country’s genre films are so interesting. Djinn is a U.A.E. product, but the brainchild of one David Tully and directed by Hooper. The cast speaks both Arabic and English.
Djinn is a true hybrid picture.
As a result, there’s a lot at play just in Hooper’s final film. The production is clearly not a super high budget, but it’s well made. The Djinn itself is kinda cool compared to a lot of digitally crafted evils.
It’s not the worst final film anyone ever made.
director David Wellington
Bizarrely edited and paced, The Carpenter wobbles along woozy lines of comedy, romance, and horror thriller. The film’s odd opening on a semi-dreamy woman in her house makes more sense when we come to understand that she was having a psychotic break at that moment.
Quirky by nature and design, The Carpenter is a kind of an “The Elves and the Shoemaker” turned horror film. After Alice (Lynne Adams) gets out of the funny farm, she finds herself in a newly purchased big old house with a lot of work going on in it. Only the contractors seem to be goofing off a lot and a mysterious carpenter appears at night getting all of the work done.
Luckily he’s also available to break up sexual assaults, literally disarming her attacker.
What ensues is both psychosis and love story, plus regular murders. The psychosis plays out in the film’s dreamlike tone, one that feels influenced by ineptitude perhaps more than intent (I wrote “Quaaludes” in my notes.)
Awkward a lot, fluid in bits, it’s also kind of charming in its way. Many attribute this to Wings Hauser, the carpenter, but I think Adams deserves some credit here too.
Mental breaks, philandering husband with Paul Bunyan inferiority complex, other sleazy types, it takes a good sister to rescue Alice from a dreamy killer who might be just as nightmarish as all the rest of the men.
director Terence Fisher
Christopher Lee and Leon Greene (an English Rod Taylor, am I right?), are demonic party poopers most foul in Terence Fisher’s The Devil Rides Out. Why do you guys want to spoil Mocata’s (Charles Gray) Satanic bacchanal? Even a pretty cool goat headed devil guy shows up.
Richard Matheson adapted the Dennis Wheatley novel from which this came, apparently a personal project for Lee for whom the film would continue to be a favorite of his own works.
Satanic movies continue to intrigue me as a subgenre, in part because growing up in Florida in the Seventies and Eighties, they were not part of the typical stuff shown on TV. Devil worhip flicks are also, ironically, the most Christian-themed horror genre, though potentially subversively. By having the embodiment of Christian evil as the realized horror, and by proxy the embodiment of Christian “good” as the power that conquers, really validates the Christian viewpoint, does it not?
But devil worship horror did not fly on the Southern TV channels in my day and area, I am pretty certain.
director Richard Franklin
Patrick is a dick. Comatose for 3 years with his eyes wide open and glaring, he killed his mother and her lover because of sex. He’ll spit apparently at random, and though his new nurse Kathie (Susan Penhaligon) takes a liking to him, he starts sexually harassing her with his psychic powers.
Patrick is a stylish Australian sci-fi tinged horror film from director Richard Franklin and writer Everett De Roche.
Toxic masculinity abound around Kathie. She’s separated from her abusive, alcoholic, rapey husband, given little respect at her new job due to her marital status, the doctor her friend tries to encourage her to date is not particularly great, and then there is Patrick. I mean, getting harassed and threatened and endangered by an obsessive abuser in a coma is just unfair.
Considered a key movie in the popularization of Ozsploitation, Patrick is deftly written, unique, and also perhaps a little overlong. I’m not sure it’s all about how awful men are to women or if that trope just stands out so glaringly in our current day and age.
director Alfredo Zacarías
“You have to listen to what the bees have to say!”
It’s really hard to tell where the intentional comedy stops and the unintentional begins in Alfredo Zacarías‘s The Bees. Really, it’s kind of a farce.
At least Johns Saxon and Carradine and co-star Angel Tompkins seem to enjoy themselves, not taking the killer bee invasion too seriously.
What’s also quite funny, alongside many hilarious reaction shots of people to the swarms, is the amount of stock footage employed by Zacarías. Possibly the most ever since the 1950s. Including shots of Pasadena Rose parade and Gerald Ford.
It’s funny that Irwin Allen’s competing bee disaster movie of 1978, The Swarm, ranks among the worst movies of all time. The Bees is just an also-ran. It’s quite amusing crap.
Yeah, John Carradine really leans into that German accent.
director Vernon Sewell
Prepare for disappointment. The Blood Beast Terror, while not entirely bloodless, does feature a beast, but assuredly evokes no terror.
Victorian Detective Peter Cushing investigates a series of intriguing murders on the outskirts of London. The victims, all young men, are found mutilated and drained of blood. And what would the killer turn out to be?
I’ll give you a hint: entomology.
(It’s a giant murderous moth lady.)
How do you market a killer moth? Ambiguity.
If you’ve prepared for disappointment, you’ll be met with what is certainly a decent if not overtly compelling monster movie, unusual for its conception of moth succubus and the potential bridegroom of the monster. Ace character actors turn in a number of fun moments. And odd interludes of theater and fishing pad this curiosity out.
director Sergio Martino
Many levels and layers of racism and exotica bedangle Sergio Martino’s The Great Alligator. Sri Lanka (and Sri Lankans) stand in for somewhere in Africa (and some people of Africa), depicting an isolated jungle and river spot converted over to a tourist attraction for Americans and Europeans. I mean in what particular part of the world do orangutans and hippos coexist?
Still, the costuming is pretty nicely done.
You think a rubber shark is bad? Try a plaster of Paris crocodile. Actually, it seems that there are a variety of crocodile models used for different shots. Mostly, it’s the clunky giant jaws grabbing people, but there are some very inanimate models for the miniatures.
And yet, it’s still tolerably fun.
And the old Chekovian tenet stands: If you show natives blowing up trees n the first act, you have to have some white folks blowing up gators in the final score.
Crunch crunch crunch.