Sunday, January 30, 2011

Paula-Paula

Paula-Paula
Directed by: Jess Franco
Spain, 2010
Audiovisual Experience, 66min

It’s a well know fact that much of Jess Franco’s cinema is about voyeurism, forbidden urges, breaking taboos and weird beard wackiness. This may also be true in the case of the strange “Audiovisual Experience” Paula-Paula, but trying to make sense of this experimental short is a hard task which takes it’s time and will definitely polarize the fans.

Paula-Paula has me worried, confused and disoriented. I can’t make much out of it despite the guideline “inspired by Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde by R. L. Stephenson” and several hours of previous Franco movies behind me. I can definitely get behind previous movies that give an impression of Jesus loosing patience and almost walking away from hence leaving the movies with a gaping hole as there is no real climax or conclusion to the narrative… but Paula-Paula goes completely off track even before it get’s started… and that’s a shame, because Jess Franco can do better.
Paula [Carmen Montes who also starred in Franco’s Killer Barby’s vs. Dracula 2002 which starred Viktor Seastrom (aka Peter Söderström) who I used to sell Franco import tapes to some fifteen years ago before he fucked off to Spain saying that he was going to find Franco – he did, and ended up working for the man on several flicks!] sits rocking in a corner, a detective, Alma Pereira [Lina Romay] has her guided out of the corner and into something that looks like an office, obviously someone’s apartment, and Pereira starts asking about the other Paula, whom the first Paula claims to hate. The detective asks if Paula killed the other Paula who replies that she has done so several times, Paula is a hard one to kill… An almost noir-ish tone is set into action, but each time the narrative starts to pick up, it’s intercut with mirrored split screens of “the other Paula” [Paula Davis] dancing… and from there one it just get’s lost in itself. Paula makes a move on Sergeant Meliton, before he scampers off and Paula starts a little dance for herself.

Unfortunately all the Franco style voyeurism is lost, as Paula on more than one occasion stares right into the camera busting through the fourth wall. It’s not longer voyeurism, as Carmen is looking right at me, the audience. I claim that voyeurism lacks interaction, it’s the unknowing of the observed that makes the one is watching because then it’s not voyeurism it’s exhibitionism and that’s a completely different bag…. Don’t even for a second think to yourself “yeah but Romay stared so damned hard through the fourth wall that she bumped into the camera in Les avaleuses (Female Vampire) 1973, so what are you talking about…?” because that iconic moment in Franco cinema is metaphorical for her she vamp character seducing the audience. In Paula-Paula it means nothing, at least not to me.

If you are a returning reader, then you know that I hold the greatest respect for Franco. I’m not just going to rip him to parts here; I love his work way to much for that. So much that the first moment it was possible I pre-booked and eagerly awaited the “audiovisual Experience” of Paula-Paula, and if my (and all the other fan’s) pre-booking in anyway contributed to helping Jess Franco complete Paula-Paula and secure distribution, then I’m quite content. But looking at the movie I want more. No, I demand more. This is Jess Franco, but no matter how hard I'm willing to argue, debate and defend his genius, I have a hard time getting behind offerings like Paula-Paula. For me this was a complete waste of time. Hardly ten minutes of Franco scripted “plot” - an introduction of themes - and the remaining fifty minutes tedious, and seedy video footage of two naked women squirming around on his living room floor – which may be good enough for certain fans, - doesn’t qualify for me. I’m wanting some context and texture to the platform of my sleazy viewing, this was just boring and as mentioned earlier, tragic. Jess Franco can do so much better than this.

It’s a difficult task reading Paula-Paula, and it’s taken me almost a year to get round to putting my thoughts in writing even if the conclusions are minimal from the few notes I found a few days ago. I wanted to see something that I’d might have missed in there, but sadly no, it’s still a pretty poor movie.

Sure, as I’ve pointed out in previous posts on Franco, a lot of his movies are linked and connected through intertextuality and in referring themes, plots, character, names and visuals. There’s a few small referents here, the obvious being Paula & Paula’s seedy nightclub act - even if it’s only performed on the floor of that living room and not in an actual seedy nightclub as it normally would - the character of Al Pereira, here as Alma, the Jazzy score, and the voyeurism trait that’s commonly found in Franco’s work is kind of warped and fails as I mentioned above. But if one really searches the narrative for reason and story then the answer is in there even if it is a pretty dodgy storyline to start with. The question of Paula’s death is posed early on, Paula denies answering, and enters a kind of dreamlike state. This continues as she and Paula dance and slither their way though out the movie… Well we never see a corpse, so in a way the Paula-Paula is two personas in one character – keep the Jekyll & Hyde text from the start in mind, and remember that that story is about man’s (or as here woman’s) inner conflicts with their good side and evil side. Dark haired Paula is riddled with guilt, she’s a blubbering mess at the start of the film, I’d say she’s the good one. In an extension of the movie, it’s safe to guess that she’s cured, as she during the narrative of Paula-Paula actually kills off that counter part which she can’t cope with, Blonde Paula, the temptress, evil Paula. The long tedious dance on the treadmill… well that my mates is the transformation scene!

The metaphor of a detective story is established when Romay asks if Paula killed Paula… She replies that she’s a hard one to kill, implying that changing ones character isn’t something done easy. But as we know at the end of the movie, there’s a climax to that arc in the death scene. A death climax, and in a micro perspective the detective story comes to a climax too. Yes Paula did kill Paula, but at the same time she frees’ herself, which is further implied by the text card at the end; And no one heard about Paula-Paula’s show ever again.

It could be that Paula-Paula is Franco’s most anarchic movie ever. Despite awards for lifetime achievements he say’s screw the system and I’ll make movie in my very own way until the very end. And If I want to make a movie right fucking now, I will! Almost as if he’s making a point of showing the industry that he doesn’t need them, and if he wants’ he can shoot a movie (or experiment – as that is what this is) in his living room on DV, with two naked women, long-time muse Lina Romay and a soundtrack right off the stereo if he wants…

…and he certainly can, because if that is the case, then I’m right behind this movie, or artfuck experiment or what ever he wants’ to call it. Viva La Revolucion, because Jesus Franco never stopped revolting against the system that denied him the opportunity to prove exactly what a true master he was.

But it can’t end here. No way, this can't be the final Jess Franco movie, it just can't! At times, even on his bare knees, Franco pulled off some fascinating and stunning movies, and I’ve always claimed that the majority of his flicks all have at least one scene that will stick and make an impression. Be it a composition, a glance from one of his actors or a pure surreal moment that one comes to expect from a Jess Franco movie, there’s always something in there that sticks with you.

Although all is not lost, the best thing with the Paula-Paula 500piece special release is that there are some fantastic moments in the presence of Jess Franco himself, and it starts with the introduction to the movie where he claims to have just completed the film half an hour ago… there’s what I’d call that anarchy again and perhaps one of the moments that makes me enjoy the disk overall despite not really enjoying the movie.

Oh and I have number 29 of the original 500 batch if you are interested.


Image:
16x9

Audio:
Spanish Dialogue, English Subtitles optional.

Extras:
Introduction, About the film and interview with Jess Franco where he shares his thoughts on film, music, women and the industry, and smokes another hundred cigarettes whilst lounging on his couch.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Vampyres

Vampyres
(aka: Daughters of Darkness)
Directed by: José Ramón Larraz
England, 1974
Horror/Eroticism, 88min
Distributed by: Blue Underground.

It’s not a Hammer film, but it looks like one… It’s not a Jean Rollin film, but it looks like one… it’s not a vampire film, but it looks like one…

…it’s Spaniard José Ramón Larraz finest hour - Vampyres.


A shocking and violent initial attack that goes two ways, jumpstarts Vampyres, two women are feeding off a man, when a second off-screen character busts in and slays the two women with a series of gunshots.

A man, Ted [Murray Brown] arrives at a bed and breakfast, he checks in, and the night porter seems to recognize him from a previous visit…pretty soon he finds himself being picked up by a mysterious woman, Fran [Marianne Morris] and taken back to her simple abode – Oakley Court – where they get down and dirty. The next morning Ted is weak and finds a deep cut on his arm. Wandering the mansion he finally exits and comes upon a young couple who are “camping” in the near vicinity – this couple have been intercut with the action so far and I’ll return to them later. They tend to Ted’s cuts and send him on his way… but he doesn’t get far. Fran is awaiting him at the roadside and seduces him back to the mansion where Miriam [Anoushka] also has a “date” for the evening… another unsuspecting driver who has given her a lift. The women feed on their prey and finally end up engaging in a heavy lesbian petting session.
As the final act sets into motion, tension builds between Fran and Miriam due to Ted’s presence, the camping couple start to poke their nose into what is going on in the mansion and when a final “date” is invited to the castle the bloody climax comes rushing in at full speed delivering a gore filed and dark ending to a fascinating movie.

I love this movie, I really do. I’ve seen it several times through the years, and still enjoy it, as it’s a wonderful little piece that plays just like a mix of those three key words above, Hammer, Rollin and Vampires, even though not being any of them. I’ll get back to that later.

With a background as a comic book illustrator and fashion photographer, it’s no surprise that Larraz would get into movies and thank god, because Larraz brought some serious oomph to the otherwise pretty tame UK scene during this time period. It may look like a Hammer film, and as much as I love the Hammer films, Vampyres packs all the sexuality into one movie that is lacking from most Hammer films. It’s said that Larraz’s movies ”look” different to others due to his comic book background, but I don’t really see that Vampyres looks much more different than anything else, although it does has a magnificent atmosphere and sexuality that it almost gives off a potent odour of muddy landscapes, damp dusty castles and musky sex.

After having a minor success with his feature Symptoms (1974) – which actually got sent to Cannes as the official UK contribution – Larraz and his editor on Symptoms, Brian Smedley-Aston, clicked so well with each other that they decided to make a movie together. Smedley-Aston taking the role of producer and Larraz writing and directing what would become Vampyres. Shot in three weeks for just under 25.000 quid, the backdrop of Oakley Court gives the movie some great production value and the extra boost of magnificent set. And an obvious aura of Hammer lingers over the movie as they also used Oakley Court on many of their productions just as Amicus did with movies like Roy Ward Baker's And Now the Screaming Starts in 1973.

There’s a rather creative use of a subplot concerning the feeding habits of the girls. On more than one occasion we see police and ambulance taking care of the accident sites, and we the audience know what they are all about. It creates a threat for each driver that is stopped along the way. And also sets off something of an investigation plot that the "Campers" will develop further.
The red herring of Harriet [Sally Faulkner] and John [Brian Deacon] who for some daft reason have parked their caravan just outside the mansion is brilliant. It works for several reasons, and poses several rhetoric questions that add a layer to the drama, and also bring dimension to the narrative. What is the connection between Fran and Harriet? Fran reacts immensely strong when she stumbles upon Harriet during a stroll in the woods… Harriet is puzzled, but the question is how do they know each other? It’s questions that you have to take with you out from the film.
Several questions are posed throughout the narrative, questions that invite the audience to seek answers. What really happens in the shocking initial attack? Who’s point of view are we taking? Why does the porter at the hotel recognize Ted when he arrives on that dark night? What connects Harriet to the women of the mansion? And what does that ending really mean?

Vampyres had a rough time with the censors when it was released, which today may seem quite ironic as stuff like True Blood, Vampire Diaries and crap like that live off this shit – nudity and blood. But anyways back in the seventies UK this stuff was the censor’s nightmare and for each new release, the more of Larraz original vision was snipped… Thank god for “fan boy” distributors who take the time to restore movies to the way they where intended to be seen!

I started out by claiming that it’s not a vampire movie… well that’s a theory that could be right, but at the same time probably not. Although bare with me here, and you may see what I’m going for. The main body of the movie is indeed a film that toys with classic vampire themes. The women do seduce men and feed off their blood. But then there’s the several question marks that I keep coming back too… all of those “what’s” and “how comes”. With the movies last moments in mind, Ted awaking from a nap in his car and a real estate agent showing the empty mansion to an elderly couple who ask him about the “legend” of the place – there’s a final question concerning the narrative we have just seen unravel…. Did it really happen? Well no, in my interpretation of the film it didn’t happen, well at least not as the erotic vampire story Ted thinks he’s participated in. Instead what has happened is that two ghosts seduced him. Two ghosts who wander the countryside living out their revenge for being killed in that opening sequence. The legend that the estate agent and old couple wanting to buy a mansion – much like a scene found in Jean Rollin’s La Morte Vivante (The Living Dead Girl) 1982, concerns the bodies of two young women that where found in the mansion some years ago… Making sense of his drunken fantasy, Ted puts the two ghosts into in an erotic vampire setting.

Murray Brown previously portrayed Jonathan Harker in Dan Curtis magnificent Bram Stoker’s Dracula 1973 - the one with Jack Palance, the year before starring as Ted. It’s interesting as Ted definitely holds a lot similarity to the characteristics of Jonathan Harker, even if he’s not quite as driven as Harker. In an entertaining way it’s almost like an alternative Jonathan Harker that takes a different path, a path that leads him into a surreal addiction. Because that is a possible answer to what has been going on. Ted has obvious traits of an addict. He goes through withdrawal, he’s detoxing and when he wakes up in he car at the end, he’s clean. He may be dazed and confused, but he’s clean and had some pretty surreal erotic dreams along the way.

Image:
Widescreen 1.85:1

Audio:

Dolby Digital Mono, English dialogue,

Extras:
Blue Underground have given it all they can with this one, which is filled with loads extra features. International Trailer, American Trailer, image gallery’s Return of the Vampyres: where both Anulka and Morris talk about their time on set, about the movie and what they have been up to since then. A lost scene, gallery of Glamour shots featuring Anulka, Larraz biography and not to forget the great audio commentary with Larraz and producer Brian Smedley-Aston, who certainly have some hilarious stories to share on the movie.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Few Days 'till the Kill

In only a few days the polls close. On the 28th to be precise.

I still need you, your friends, your pets and neighbours to go to TOTAL FILM BEST FAN BLOG POLL, and cast a vote for ITALIAN FILM REVIEW.


If we win, I will be giving some stuff away here (i.e. competition time) to celebrate the happiness, and as you know I give a way fine shit when it comes around.

Cheers!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Velvet Razorblades - The Sounds of Dario Argento


If you liked the Fulci mix, then there's a damned good chance that you'll like the Argento mix.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Ironmaster

Ironmaster
Original Title: La Guerra del ferro - Ironmaster
Directed by: Umberto Lenzi
Italy/France, 1983
Action/Adventure, 93min
Distributed by: NjutaFilms


After shocking his audiences with gut-munching cannibals, freaky zombies chomping down on disco dancers, hardened cynical criminals blasting their way through coppers and surreal violent Gialli, Umberto Lenzi shifts focus, if only slightly, to cavemen, ape men and the odd mutant, bringing all those traits of his – especially the head bludgeoning that leaves a gaping bleeding scalp visible - to the dawn of time.

A small tribe of cavemen stand on the brink of a change as its time for tribe head Iksay [Benito Stefanelli] to pass on the prestigious position of leader to one of the younger hunters. Vood [George Eastman] and Ela [Sam Pesco] are the two main contenders, but where Vood may be the logic choice, Iksay is thinking of letting Ela take command. The two young and buff warriors antagonise each other until Vood takes matter into his own hands. During an attack of a rival tribe he smashes in the head of tribe leader Iksay, which is witnessed by Ela.

Ela spills the beans and a fight takes place that results in Vood being expelled from the tribe. The tribe declare Ela their new leader, and that outcast Vood be hunted like an animal, but soon the hunted will become the hunter!

After a freakish volcano eruption and heavy thunderstorm, where some really neat special effects and awesome matte paintings are part of the mix, Vood discovers a slab of iron in the shape of a naively drawn sword and after defeating a lion that attacks him, he realises he holds a new weapon of power in his hands. Wearing the Lions carcass as a totemic headpiece and with the lush Lith [Pamela Prati] Vood attacks his former tribe and convinces them to expel Ela who is forced out into the wild. There he faces a trial of endurance that has him fighting vicious ape men, raging herds of Bison and meeting Isa [Elivire Audray – from Mario Gariazzo’s Sciave bianche: violenza Amazzonia (Amazonia – The Catherine Miles Story) 1985] who becomes his “matter of affection” and it’s quit obvious that Ela/Isa are opposing counterparts to Vood and Lith.

With the knowledge of crafting iron into swords Vood and his cohorts attack and slay a nearby village which stand defenceless against the hard, cold iron of Vood’s weapons. With his new power, Vood is determined to exterminate all other tribes, rule the land and hopefully kill off Ela along the way. Isa takes Ela to hide out in her village – the Mogo tribe - and start to make a new life. The only problem is that they are a peaceful tribe and consider weapons to be evil hence no weapons in their village, which is an obvious problem when Vood learns that Ela lives amongst the Mogo tribe. The stage has been set for the rapidly approaching climax and I know whom I’m rooting for.

Ironmaster is a goddamned wonderful flick, and even though Lenzi, under the hilarious pseudonym Humphrey Milestone, set’s his tale in prehistoric times there’s still a sequence in the middle of the movie that has Ela fighting off infected scarred beasts in what they hope can be their new home – a cave in the mountains – which is very much reminiscent of previous Lenzi moments, this time it’s almost like a cavemen fighting zombies sequence which is awesome. A slow build, establish the threat and then attack. It’s a great moment, which simply oozes classic Italian cinema.

All in all, The Ironmaster is a pretty straightforward caveman/barbarian action flick, but there’s also a tale of morale in there – especially in dialogue like the one where Mogo [William Berger] points out to Ela that weapons may give him freedom, but one day may take it back again. Mogo wanders out into the woods turning his back on the tribe who want to take to arms, and obviously he falls victim to Vood’s men only moments later.

Following the final battle, Mogo's statement comes back to haunt them as the cavemen experience their first encounter with remorse as the words of Mogo finally make sense to them. They are now slaves to weapons, and will never be free again... You could also look at the movie as a metaphor for how new technology and inventions often are used for warfare and destruction, or you could just look at the movie as ninety minutes of great prehistoric conflict and just go along for the ride!

I love the subplot with Isa who quite possibly is the most evil of all the characters as she manipulates her way through each encounter with Vood or Ela and treats the audience to more than one spontaneous nipslip as she runs around in the skimpiest of all loincloths, and unfortunately is killed off way to easy and fast. I’d have loved to see Lith and Isa wrestle it out as an appetiser to the final battle between Ela and Vood.

Eastman gives a fantastic performance as Vood, there’s no understatement that he was doing his finest work at this time period, and he owns this movie completely. If I had one of those tiger headpieces that he wears here, I’d wear it all the time. There’s an interesting approach to character here. Early on the medicine man states that Vood is the natural first in line to take over, which says something about his characters status – he’s most likely the son of Iksay, tribe leader. During the boar hunt, despite Vood having the boar in his sights and his spear raised for the kill, Iksay “steals” the kill from under his nose. Aggravated Vood rams his spear into the ground. When he learns of the pending threat that Ela may take over, he takes things into his own hands, he off’s his father and tries to force a shift in leadership. But the tribe cast him out and Ela takes charge, although after discovering power in arms the tribe chose to follow Vood instead, but his reign isn’t going to be long as his quest for Ela drives him into his untimely death. In more than one way there’s a Shakespearean quality to the story of the neglected, disgruntled Vood and how power turns against him bringing with it his own downfall. Vood - a fascinating character and undoubtedly one of Eastman’s finest hours.

Eugenio Alabiso sticks with Lenzi on yet another movie but this time the pacing is slower and the cut’s more meditative. There’s no fast transitions and rapid cuts, and in some ways’ it’s a fitting end to a collaboration that lasted on more than twenty movies movies, from Attentato ait re grandi (Desert Commandos) 1967 to I cinque del Condor (Thunder Squad) 1985, curiously both war movies dealing with mercenaries!

Dardano Sacchetti’s participation on the team of writers is noteworthy but never the less hard to spot any of his traits as there where at least six other writers on the team, Lenzi and Luciano Martino amongst them.

The movie really looks great, apart from the location shots in Custer State Park, Usa, where the buffalo roam and give sense of authenticity to the flick; there are the splendid Special effects by Paolo Ricci and visual effects by Emilio Ruiz del Rio. Ricci, nowhere near as known as counterparts like Gino De Rossi, Gianetto De Rossi or Carlo Rambaldi did work on a lot of gore laden and freaky movies, Deodato’s Ultimo mondo cannibale (Last Cannibal World) 1977 Lenzi’s Mangiati vivi! (Eaten Alive) 1980, Lucio Fulci’s Gatto Nero (Black Cat) 1980, and Lamberto Bava’s Blastfighter 1984, and in-between them he worked on Andrei Tarkovsky’s Nostalghia 1983. Spaniard, del Rio’s work can be seen in stuff spanning from the old Mario Bonnard, Steve Reeves Gli ultimo giorno di Pompei (The Last days of Pompei) 1959 to Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth 2006. Just a few years ago there was a documentary made on the work of Emilio Ruiz de Rio and of the ten Goya awards for special effects he’s been nominated for he’s won three. His models, miniatures and mattes work like perfection for Lenzi in The Ironmaster

Maurizio & Guido De Angelis score is fitting, there’s a chanty sit-down-by-the-firey quality to it that works for the movie, and on repeated viewings that tune may very well stick in your head.

Ironmaster is an enjoyable prehistory action flick, with an engaging story and a great movie to waste a hung-over Sunday on. Ironmaster is due for Scandinavian release in mid February, and it’s presented in a glorious widescreen print that will blow you away!


Image:
Widescreen

Audio:
Dolby Digital 2.0

Extras:
Trailers for other NjutaFilm movies, and it’s an odd selection, because I’d definitely had put more Italian related flicks on there instead of the series of US soft-core sexploitation junk.


Saturday, January 08, 2011

Kilink Vs. The Flying Man / Kilink Strip & Kill

Kilink Vs. The Flying Man / Kilink Strip & Kill
Original Title: Kilink uçan adama karsi / Kilink soy ve öldür
Directed by: Yilmaz Atadeniz
Turkey, 1969
Action /Adventure, 49 min / 92min
Distributed by: OnarFilm

The more I see of Turkish Genre cinema the more I find myself draw into it’s naïve, cheap as dirt, but appealing and enthusiastic charm. It’s no understatement that the world seen through the eyes of a cineaste is happier place since so many passionate distributors and real enthusiasts are making sure that these movies become available in the best possible conditions.

The masked antihero is no stranger to those who have explored the alternative cinema treasures found around our great planet. From the wrestling rings of the Lucha Libre, to the Henchmen of Yakuza, although there’s still have the pleasure of discovering Kilink – The masked avenger from Istanbul!

If I didn’t know better, I’d say that the Kilink movies where cheap rip offs of Mario Bava’s iconic Diabolik (Danger Diabolik) 1968, just like the bigot morons who don't do their research. But actually the Killing comics where produced pre Diabolik, the Kilink books and movies are made before John Law Philip hid his face away behind the mask and are in many ways pretty dammed good counterparts to that later Italian entry to the masked anti hero.

Kilink is in some ways a take on the Italian antihero Satanik, which started out as photographic comic magazine aimed at an adult audience – just like those fabulous Mexican El Santo and Blue Demon comics that also where photographs with captions written in on the images, fantastic stuff. Although Kilink always took things a step further and really held no moral judgment at all, he was a one man crime wave who stopped at nothing to take out the other bandits that stood in his way – so in a fascinating irony he works on both sides of the law.

Three instalments are what make up this fabulous suite of Kilink movies directed by Yilmaz Atadeniz. Ten movies all in all make up the series, and it wastes no time to jump-start the action and roll out the melodrama.

The original film; Kilink Istanbul’da (Killing in Istanbul) 1967, was also directed by Yilmaz Atadeniz just like the first sequel Kilink uçan adama karsi (Kilink Vs. The Flying Man), which picks up right where the first one ended.

Kilink kills a professor in search for secret documents at the end of the first movie, and in the sequel the professors son Mr Orhan, is granted superpowers to claim his vengeance. By uttering the special words Shajam (Shazam…) he turns into “The Flying Man” who easily beats the crap out of Kilink’s men. But Kilink won’t take it and soon turns the tables on Mr. Orhan when he kidnaps the some other old geezer and his two daughters, one which happens to be Orhan’s girlfriend. Kilink takes them all to his “Devil’s Island” secret lair. And obviously it doesn’t take too long before Orhan is on his way to rescue them!

Hilarious dialogue likes the two henchmen bitching about the girls being to tired for them when they get off heir shift certainly holds something of a Austin Powers humor in it. Also the fisherman who helps the professor and daughters flee is very reminiscent of Ömer – the lad comedy character from Tourist Ömer Uzay Yolunda (Ömer the Tourist in Star Trek) the Turkish equivalent to the Carry on Gang or Swedens Åsa-Nisse.

This second movie is somewhat of an oddity – as they all are to be honest. First there’s an almost twenty minute recap of the original movie, which then leads up to the culmination of the “flyingman” stories, which at the same time set’s off the premise for the third movie. Kilink vs the Flyingman does miss some of the ending, but its been rebuilt with archive footage and stills to re-create the climax of the movie. Hey it worked for dear old Stroheim in Queen Kelly 1932 – supposedly one of film history’s finest movies, so why not here.

The final installment, or rather the third part available on DVD so far, picks up right where the second one ends – just like part two does, and is among the finest of the Turkish super hero action flicks ever. It’s moves fast and it’s quite possible that the print is missing some small scenes here and there, as it at times is kind of tricky to follow the plot at times.

Kilink soy ve öldür (Kilink – Strip & Kill) is outstanding and perhaps one of Kilink’s darkest entries ever. Two rival gangs of mobsters are both out to lay their grubby hands on a microfilm. Kilink finds himself wham bam in the middle of both fractions, and this gives him a great opportunity to confiuse and create mayhem as he sports a variation of disguises to infiltrate and confuse his foes. Not to mention the amount of women he seduces along his way. Throw in a few good car chases, some shootouts and the obligatory misogynistic torture scene here and there and you have a remarkablely entertaining Kilink flick.

Obviously the movies are cheap, cheesy, semi sleazy whenever they can be, but absolutely superb little oddities that will bring delight to any fan of obscure cinema. The movies have terrific soundtracks, with a score that is very reminiscent of John Barry’s theme to On Her Majestys Sectet Service 1969. It’s very catchy and very fitting for a catchy flick too.

Yilmaz Atadeniz, who also directed the fabulous Casus kiran (Spy Smasher) 1968, technically directed the first Turkish Superman movie as Kilink Vs. The Flyingman features Superman as Kilink’s force of antagonism… well perhaps a mixture of Batman and Superman then to be honest but it’s still the first Superman-ish villain, as Kunt Tulgar’s Süpermen dönüyor (The Return of Superman) wasn’t released until 1979.

Behind the mask there’s the talent of Yildirim Gencer who played the masked maniac in all three of Atadeniz Kilink Kilink entries, but also held leading parts in stuff like Atadeniz superhero flicks Casus Kiran (Spy Smasher) 1968 and Casus kiran – ydei canli adam (Spy Smasher: Man of 7 lives) 1970 which also saw him fighting out against Irfan Atasoy, the Flying man and Orhan of the first two Kilink movies.

Considering that they where shot back to back with each other it’s fitting that OnarFilms team up both Kilink Vs. The Flying Man and Kilink – Strip and Kill on this great disc and they make a great double feature. Also it has to be pointed out that Kilink Vs. The Flying Man was indeed a lost gem, because it hasn’t been available in any format at all since OnarFilms resurrected it from the dead. I can honestly say that these two films are all you need to make up a splendid night of Turkish Fantastic cinema!

You can still get your hands on this double shot of fantastic Turkish cinema from Onar Films, and for a very limited time they are even offering the very last of Yilmaz Atadeniz, rare original movie Kilink Isanbul’da (Killing in Istabul) 1967. It’s the last of the batch reclaimed by the one-man army at OnarFilms to once again make sure that the real fans of Turkish fantastic cinema get an opportunity to see these fantastic movies.

So go get some Kilink right now, you won’t regret it!

Image
Black and White, 4:3

Audio:
2.0 Stereo, Turkish with optional Greek or English subtitles.

Extras:
OnarFilms releases are always packed with great extras that will give you an insight into Turkish cinema and almost always feature interviews with directors and actors. Here you get written interviews with Yilmaz Atadeniz, a filmed interview with him and star, Irfan Atasoy, a photo gallery, and trailers for other Onarfilms releases.


ATTENZIONE!

OK!
So here's the deal! It's not CiNEZiLLA that's nominated, but the fantastic ITALIAN FILM REVIEW. Nigel Maskell's temple of Italiana, where I've had the privilege of being part of the team of contributors. Italian Film Review is to one of the most informative capsule review sites that specifically focuses on Italian Film out there. There's movies reviewed there that still haven't been reviewed anywhere else online. It's a mecca for fans of Italian Cinema, and now WE NEED YOUR VOTES!

Friday, January 07, 2011

Postcards From Hell - The Sounds of Lucio Fulci!

Do you like Fulci movies? Do you like great soundtracks?

Then this may be your poison of choice!

Enjoy!


Drop me a comment if you want more of this stuff in 2011.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

The Other Hell


The Other Hell
Original Title: L’altro inferno
Directed by: Bruno Mattei
Italy, 1981
Horror/Mystery, 88Min
Distributed by: Shriek Show

I’ve really not seen enough Bruno Mattei movies in my time and wish I'd get round to seeing more. But for some reason it’s only a handful of eighties flicks that I keep returning to over the years. It’s hard not to enjoy a movie like Virus - L'inferno dei morte viventi (Hell of the Living Dead) 1981, or Rats - Notte di terrore (Rats - Night of Terror) 1984. There’s a mesmerising eighties Italian low budget charm to those movies that I simply can’t resist. Trashy, dodgy and kind of corny, but that’s just the way I like them, and especially the ones penned by Mattei and long time collaborator Claudio Fragasso, because you know you are in for a treat when those two got together. Using one of his many pseudonyms, this time Stephen Oblowsky, Mattei serves up a rather intriguing, movie set in a nunnery starring Franca Stoppi, Carlo De Mejo and a score by progressive rockers Goblin.

Opening with a rather strange montage of a nun wandering the dark corridors of the catacombs searching for Sister Assunta, The Other Hell, establishing not only sister Assunta [Paola Montenero] but also Mother Vincenza [Franca Stoppi] and Boris, the gardener [Franco Garofalo – who you may recall from Mattei’s Hell of the Living Dead where he gave a show stopping performance as the psychotic Zantoro], both important characters, as we will see later. Then it gets into setting up the theme of the flick, when Sister Assunta conducts a savage autopsy and violently defiles the corpse of a dead nun whilst claiming that the genitals are the door to evil. After the glowing red eyes of a demon mesmerize Assunta, she goes insane and stabs her assistant to death! Father Inardo [Andrea Aureli] arrives to investigate the strange string of murders and deaths that have plagued the nunnery, and obviously peculiar shit starts to happen all staying true to demonic activity formula. Bibles burst into fire, lights explode and owls fly in slow motion – giving Mattei an opportunity to use some stock footage. Moments later an unfortunate sister is possessed and bleeds to death from her stigmata whist Father Inardo preaches the love of the lord.

Then the investigation plot takes off, and investigation plot with a dash of Nunsplotiation horror elements. Father Valerio [Carlo De Mejo], an obvious sceptic to demonic possession and believes strong in science. A fascinating conflict of interests for a priest to have and stuff that gives splendid dimension to Father Valerio. And it makes for a fascinating conflict between Father Valerio and Mother Vincenza when he arrives at the nunnery so see that she is profoundly convinced that the Devil is behind the all the deaths, whilst he is convinced they are murders.

The Other Hell is something of an odd little movie. A mystery murder piece with horror traits at the core – I’m a bit hesitant to actually call it a Nunsplotiation flick, because there’s practically no nudity or any sexual romps with Satan on screen at any time, and nothing ever really feels exploitative in any way. Which may seem somewhat strange considering the movies that Mattei made in the sexploitation field and the assemblies of stuff like Jess Franco’s 99 Women 1969 that he over saw. Although Mattei has said that he wasn’t interested in making that kind of movie with The Other Hell, but a straightforward mystery horror, which he also continued to claim enjoying the best.

There’s also an apparent influence of Dario Argento’s Suspiria 1977 and Inferno 1980 especially if you take a look at how the movie looks in it’s lighting and certain camera angles. There’s a lot of heavy lighting with reds, blues and greens and a lot of cheap laboratory/alchemy props in the foreground of many shots. Those movies have undoubtedly been an influence. And that may be a good thing as the movie is very entertaining and never really get’s too far out, and god knows there’s been some far out silly imitators of those two movies in their time. Instead it stays close to the mystic investigation plot and there are some really impressive scenes – like a full burning body suit, the strange masked woman in the attic, and the shocking reveal at the end.

The mystery at the core of the story is an interesting one and does have a decent surprise to it when it all comes to the surface. The mystery of the masked woman is revealed and the reason for the murders in the convent is understandable. They are motivated by a terrible act in the past – and that back-story is one of the best things with The Other Hell, I won’t bust it for you here, just in case you haven’t seen The Other Hell. But it’s a brilliant beat, because when you think about it its just mind blowing – especially if you take into mind the “horrific” opening and what Sister Assunta proposes there. In her opinion, children are the fruit of Satan and should be aborted before the womb is torn out!

Although The Other Hell at times is very tedious with a fair amount of filler scenes – just how many times can nuns run up and down staircases – but it’s still deep with atmosphere and does actually have one of the best stories and final twists penned by Fragasso. An ending that stays true to the usual downbeat climaxes I find seem to conclude the handful of Mattei/Fragasso movies that I’ve seen.

Carlo De Mejo is fantastic in The Other Hell; he feels as if he’s just walked right off Fulci’s City of the Living Dead 1980, into this one with a quick stop at wardrobe. And Franca Stoppi, although nowhere as outlandish as she is in Joe D’Amato’s Buio Omega 1979 makes a fabulous mother superior with a dark past and haunting secrets behind that stern façade.

The Goblin score doesn’t really do much for the movie. Once again it’s a reusing of previous tracks, this time mostly lifted from D’Amato’s Buio Omega, much like on Hell of the Living Dead. For editor Liliana Serra, who had previously worked on several Alfonso Brescia movies and was an assistant editor on a couple or Mario Bava flicks, The Other Hell was her final movie.
All in all, The Other Hell is a decent Mattei/Fragasso vehicle that entertains, entices and almost hits the most of the right spots. Don’t go there if you want randy nuns drinking she communion wine and having it off with old Nick, but if you want a lighter take on something like mix of Argento’s Suspiria, Inferno and say Norman Jewison’s Agnes of God 1985, then this is the ticket for you! It's gradually becoming a personal favourite of mine through the years.



Image:
1.85:1 Aspect Ratio

Audio:
Dolby Digital 2.0, English Dialogue, no subtitles.

Extras:
Interviews with the late Bruno Mattei and Carlo De Mejo. Trailers for other Shreik Show releases.