directors Sergei Goncharoff, Ron Nicholas
The Blue Hour is sort of like the sexploitation Stranger Than Paradise. Not that it’s Jarmuschian but that it’s a sort of immigrant’s tale with arthouse vibe.
Of course, sexploitation means there’s always more “ploitation” than “sex”, and that is very much the case here.
Tania is new to America and experiencing the open sexual mores of the time, which trigger memories of her coming of age on an isolated Greek island. The Blue Hour is strange and inconsistent, but winds up being sort of evocative, feeling somehow very personal.
Not sure I know what to do with it, but it was not uninteresting.
director Curt Siodmak
“White people should not like be too long on the jungle.”
Curt Siodmak’s 1951 B-picture Bride of the Gorilla is pretty preposterous, pretty racist, and at the same time, pretty interesting. Possibly I would receive the most dissent over that final adjective.
Curt Siodmak might not be a major name in classic American horror films, but he certainly deserves a spot somewhere in the next tier. Best known for his original script for The Wolf Man (1941) and Donovan’s Brain (1953), he wrote numerous horror and science fiction scripts, mostly of the B-picture variety, and even got around to directing one or two. Bride of the Gorilla is his first.
It stars heavy Raymond Burr as an upstart on a rubber plantation, who sort of kills his boss and marries his boss’s wife, Barbara Payton, toot sweet. Only he’s got an even heavier Lon Chaney, Jr. as the local cop on his tail. And more worrisome, the local native gypsy who throws a curse on him.
What ensues is a psychological horror, in which Burr goes more than native. In fact, he goes full on ape. In his head, at least.
Siodmak churns out a poor man’s Val Lewton type of picture, and not the best of Val Lewton, but still interesting.
I also found it interesting to finally see a Barbara Payton picture. An interesting read on her here at Sunset Gun.
director Murray Mintz
Unheralded, probably because it’s not very good, Cardiac Arrest is a detective thriller on the streets of San Francisco. Going by the movie poster, it was marketed as a horror film, and sadly, that’s a guarantee for disappointment.
Clumsy writing and directing in this picture is probably a testament to why it’s one of very few Murray Mintz movies.
But one thing it does have going for it is that it’s very fucking local San Francisco crime horror picture. The locations are very neighborhoody, not places non-locals would know or recognize largely. And it’s a lot of a city that no longer exists.
The most recognizable star is Max Gail (then Detective Stan “Wojo” Wojciehowicz of Barney Miller). But it also features local actors Michael Paul Chan and Marjorie Eaton, as well as then local newscaster, David McElhatton.
It’s so local they even mention the Main Street in my neighborhood, Taraval. So it’s that local.
Yeah, it’s no great shakes, but the old San Francisco angle made it worth my while.
director David DeCoteau
“Well I believe in all kinds of kooky shit.”
If you like your sleaze sleazy or your gore gory, David DeCocteau may not be your guy. I guess I’m still trying to find that sweet spot for which DeCocteau holds with some folks. Witchouse may be the closest I’ve come yet to understanding.
And I’m still not quite sure why.
Witchouse adheres to a formula not terribly unlike Totem (also 1999), which I also recently watched. A bunch of young folks meet up in a location (here it’s a mansion of sorts, in Totem it was a cabin in the woods). They are quickly sketched types, not even really caricatures, and then horror stuff starts happening. In Totem it was evil creatures. Here, it’s a vengeful witch.
But in Witchouse, it’s all a bit better. I don’t exactly know why, but it is.
I continue to explore.
director Barry Mahon
“My, what a peculiar looking creature you are.”
Barry Mahon’s first foray into low-budget kiddie flicks, following a robust career in Exploitation movies of various stripes, The Wonderful Land of Oz is a fabulously bizarre creation. It stars his son, Chan at Tip in a relatively faithful interpretation of L. Frank Baum’s first sequel to the legendary The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (oddly enough, the only one of those books I’ve personally read.)
What makes this pretty largely demented is the production itself, cheaper and wackier than the lowest of community theater productions. It starts with a terrifying purple cow before introducing s Mombi, General Jinjur, Jack Pumpkinhead, H. M. Woggle-bug T. E., the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, Ozma, Glinda, and the Gump.
The quality of the musical numbers are oddly slightly above all else. Though, Ack, Chan Mahon’s singing.
Surely Oz has been done better, but this wonky, low budget fantasia is a marvel of chintz and accidental darkness.
director Roberto Rodríguez
“All the people that live in the witch’s house are really weird.”
Little Red Riding Hood and the Monsters was apparently a sequel to a couple of other Mexican children fantasy films, and so, it starts out running wild. The “Queen of Badness” as she is dubbed in American has a bevy of henchpeople from robots to Frankenstein and a vampire and even a pinhead. And she is ready to punish the wolf and the ogre for having helped Little Red Riding Hood (María Gracia) and the dickish Tom Thumb (Cesáreo Quezadas) in previous times. So those two heroes must come to her creepy forest and rescue the captives, with the help of Stinky, the skunk.
Little Red Riding Hood and the Monsters is demented and sublime with is mixed bag of knock-off villains and aesthetics and its nonchalant heightened danger. The evil witch prays to Satan. One of the generic villains is a kidnapper with a huge net. And on the more ribald side, the skunk farts in the kidnapper’s face.
Oh my goodness, I loved this.
director Joe D’Amato
The things we do for love…
Joe D’Amato’s Beyond the Darkness takes several elements of Hitchcock’s Psycho to their logical(?) extremes. With a few twists and turns. And a dead baboon.
Unlike fellow taxidermist Norman Bates, Frank Wyler (Kieran Canter) had a real life love. But she is killed via voodoo by Iris (Franca Stoppi), his housekeeper-cum-wet nurse. Frank and Iris’s relationship is far more wrought and perverse than Norman and his mother’s. Iris understands when she finds that Frank has uninterred his dead wife, pulled out her guts, has eaten her heart, and taxidermied her. She’s also cool with the killing and dissolving of other women Frank brings home.
At heart, Beyond the Darkness is a love story, or a twist of two love stories, mixed with hatred, jealousies, retributions, and an inevitable dance toward mutual death.
directors Willard Huyck, Gloria Katz
Beautifully shot, full-on surrealism, Messiah of Evil is David Lynch before David Lynch, through a Night Gallery prism. Cosmic horror on the California coast.
Marianna Hill is Arletty, a young woman who has come to the small burg of Point Dune to seek out her artist father. She finds his house empty, the interior covered from floor to ceiling in modernist murals, the likes of which Dario Argento might envy. And something dark and looming is afoot here at the edge of the world.
Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz’s semi-obscure cult film is a gorgeous nightmare infused with social commentary. The world is dead, and the people that roam the streets of Point Dune are as empty as the town itself. I noted an odd anti-consumerist message?
Elisha Cook Jr delivers a great scene in a hotel room, to the last living inhabitants of the world.
Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye indeed.
I need to see this film again.
director José Ramón Larraz
Director José Ramón Larraz’s 1980 horror flick Stigma is a walking ghostly bad dream. Actually, it’s Sebastian’s (Christian Borromeo) bad dream, psychic visions, or past life recollections.
Are his incest obsessions fantasies or tricks of repressed memories of a prior existence?
Larraz surprises at times with genuinely eerie images, somewhat surreal. Inflected as it is with a confused and violent sexual maturity, Stigma winds up being pretty interesting and evocative, even with a rough dubbing and a print in need of restoration.
director Ferdinando Baldi
Texas, Adios isn’t necessarily a vital Spaghetti Western. It’s an adequate one.
It does have prime age Franco Nero going for it. But this is no Django.
It does, as others have noted, feel at times more Hollywood than other Italian Westerns. But it shifts around in vibe, at times more typical of its Spaghetti brethren. But that shifting also denudes it of feeling particularly compelling as well.
I don’t know what else to say.