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Autopsy [1974] (NTSC) [DVD] [1975] [Region 1] [US Import]
Autopsy [1974] (NTSC) [DVD] [1975] [Region 1] [US Import]

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "You know your corpses, but I know my souls.", 29 July 2014
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Simona Sana is a young pathologist working in a morgue in Rome, Italy. When a huge heat wave leads to several shocking suicides, one corpse that is brought in is recognised by Simona and she becomes convinced that she was murdered. Her suspicions are backed up further when Father Paul Lennox identifies the body as that of his sister, and insists his sister would have never killed herself. As in all good gialli, Simona and Father Lennox team up to investigate the murder, but a determined killer has no intention of allowing them to solve the puzzle.

I really liked Mimsy Farmer as Simona, even if her character is a little difficult to warm to at first. Farmer is another actress where I don't really know any of her American films, but she did make several Italian films I really like, Four Flies on Grey Velvet, The Perfume of the Lady in Black, The Black Cat and Code Name: Wild Geese. Barry Primus is pretty good as Father Lennox, he's especially good at not letting us know whether he's good or evil. I don't know if he's friends with Robert De Niro, but he's appeared in at least six films with him, New York, New York, Guilty by Suspicion, Night and the City, 15 Minutes, Righteous Kill and Grudge Match. The great Ray Lovelock gives another good performance as Simona's sexually frustrated boyfriend, but I think Lovelock is always great. He'll be very familiar to Italian film fans for his roles in such films as Oasis of Fear, Almost Human, Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man, The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue and many more.

Autopsy was directed by Armando Crispino, he didn't make many films, but of the two that I've seen, I think he was pretty talented. I like the way he shot the film, there's some great scenes and the mystery is kept interesting throughout. My one major complaint is that the film is quite convoluted and I really wasn't sure what I'd seen after my first viewing, even on repeat viewings there's still parts of the film that seem confusing. The suicides at the beginning of the film are brilliantly done and quite shocking, but we're supposed to believe that the reason they killed themselves was because of sunspots or flares or something, and this is also given as the reason why Simona is having strange and creepy hallucinations along with exhaustion. The film seems really strange and confusing, but if you stick with it, the reason behind the killings made to look like suicides is explained quite well. It did take me a second viewing to really put the pieces together, and I found the film a lot more fun to watch the second time. The film contains some nudity and violence, but it's not nearly as gratuitous as many other similar films. There are moments during the film where we get to see some photographs, and some of the photographs are fairly shocking. Like many Italian films like this, there's some hilarious dialogue. At one point when there's an attempted rape, the boyfriend comforts her by saying "you can't blame the poor bastard for trying". The cinematography by Carlo Carlini is really nice, though it's hard to make Rome look bad. Carlini was a veteran of Italian cinema starting out in the late '40s, but it's perhaps many of his later works that are better known. The Big Gundown, Death Rides a Horse, The Blood-Stained Butterfly, Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eye and Street Law. The now legendary Ennio Morricone gives us yet another excellent soundtrack, after five Academy Award nominations, he was finally given a honorary award in 2007.

The Blue Underground DVD is as good as always, the picture quality is nice and crisp with very decent sound. Extras are extremely slim, there's just a US trailer and an International trailer where the film was called The Victim. The disc is region 0 and will play just fine on any UK player.

Autopsy aka The Victim, Sunspots, The Magician, Corpse and Tension, is essentially a giallo, but it's far stranger than what many people will be used to when approaching a giallo. There's the standard killings, and we follow people attempting to unravel the mystery, but the sunspots and hallucinations are something different. If you love gialli, especially the slightly stranger ones like Short Night of Glass Dolls, Footprints or The Fifth Cord, then I highly recommend it. First time viewers may be left scratching their head after a first viewing, I know I was, but it's a film that warrants and rewards further viewings.
Comment Comments (45) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 2, 2015 5:04 PM GMT


Unseen [DVD] [2013] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Unseen [DVD] [2013] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you've never been frightened by a movie before, you've never encountered the terror of THE UNSEEN!, 28 July 2014
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Jennifer Fast, a news reporter, sets off to cover a parade in a small town along with her sister, Karen, and a friend, Vicki. Due to some mix-up, the room at a hotel they believed they had, isn't available. In desperation, they drive around and find a run-down hotel just outside of town, but soon discover that it hasn't been used as a hotel for some time and is now a museum. The strange owner of the museum, Ernest Keller, takes pity on the women and offers them a room at his farmhouse. The girls accept Ernest's offer and then meet his "wife", who seems far stranger than he does. Accepting Ernest's offer is the worst mistake they could have made, as something unseen is lurking in the basement.

Barbara Bach is okay as Jennifer, she does everything she needed to do without really impressing. She's good, but I found her performance a little flat. Bach is best known as a Bond girl and for being the wife of Ringo Starr, but I know her far better for her regular appearances in Italian genre movies throughout the '70s. Black Belly of the Tarantula, Short Night of Glass Dolls and Street Law being the best, Island of the Fishmen which was later called Screamers with added gore scenes and Big Alligator River are also fun. Bach hasn't been in a film now since '86. Karen Lamm is also only okay as her sister, Karen. Lamm was supposedly abusing drugs quite heavily at the time. Lamm was a decent actress and appeared in the massively underrated Trackdown, and the TV movie, Ants. She only ever appeared in one more thing after making The Unseen, she was in an episode of The Dukes of Hazzard four years later. She died in 2001 aged just 49. Lois Young was pretty horrendous as Vicki, she was cute and likeable but her acting was woeful, she does go full frontal at one point which perhaps explains why she got the role. Lelia Goldoni was good as Virginia Keller, she acts the part of a bullied, scared, fragile, insecure woman remarkably well. Goldoni has appeared in films such as Shadows, The Day of the Locust, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and most recently a small role in The Devil Inside, a film I thought was atrocious. Douglas Barr is a bit stiff in his role of Tony Ross, Jennifer's ex-athlete boyfriend that got a bad leg injury. The role was initially offered to the great Carl Weathers but the producers panicked last minute and thought the world wasn't ready for an interracial screen couple quite yet and cast Barr instead. Barr made another horror film appearance the year later in Wes Craven's Deadly Blessing, but is perhaps best remembered for his role as Howie Munson in The Fall Guy. I've purposefully saved the best performances for last, Sydney Lassick and Stephen Furst. Lassick is fantastic as Ernest Keller, he's sweaty, childish, sinister, creepy, pathetic, funny and sad almost all at the same time, he's a man that's completely crazy. Lassick has a string of memorable roles that he left us with before his death in 2003 aged 80. Cheswick in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Mr Fromm in Carrie and Gutchel in Alligator. It's very difficult to go into any sort of detail about Stephen Furst's performance without giving away some major spoilers, so all I'll say is that he's terrific and really helped to bump the film from three stars to four in the last half an hour.

The film is well directed by Danny Steinmann despite the amount of on-set troubles that are documented in the extra features, in fact Steinmann was so incensed that certain scares were removed that he had his name taken off the film and it was replaced by the name Peter Foleg. Steinmann was apparently very difficult to work for and some of the actors barely spoke to him at all, one of the actors say that he had absolutely no idea how to talk to people, especially actors. Steinmann was born rich and never had to work which may account for the attitude, and before The Unseen he'd shot what I believe is a soft-core porno several years earlier. Despite any problems there were, watching the film today, it's a well directed film with some excellent performances, decent dialogue, a great tone and some very decent special effects. Steinmann would go on to direct a film I really like called Savage Streets starring Linda Blair, and then the fifth Friday the 13th film which I used to dislike but have grown quite fond of in recent years. He was never involved in another film after '85 and died in 2012. The story and screenplay has a weird history as well, the initial story seems to have been thought of by two people including Kim Henkel who wrote the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, then passed through to Tom Burman, Stan Winston and Danny Steinmann, with Steinmann getting the final screenplay credit. The script definitely went through several versions before the one we ended up with. The make-up effects on The Unseen are well done by Craig Reardon who went on to do films like Poltergeist and The Goonies.

The DVD from Scorpion Releasing/Records is very nice, the picture quality is a little grainy in certain scenes, but it mostly looks beautiful. It's a brand new 16x9 anamorphic widescreen HD master, and the sound is pretty good as well. There's no subtitles and strangely the disc says it's region 0 but wouldn't play on my region 2 player, I had to watch it on my region free player. All the other discs I've bought from the company have been region free and played fine, so perhaps I have a faulty disc that was accidentally region locked, but it might be worth checking into if you're going to buy it. Extras are good, there's the option to watch the film in the Katarina's Nightmare Theatre format where she speaks about the film before it starts and again at the end, there's a commentary by the producer Tony Unger and Stephen Furst which is extremely interesting, Kats Eyes: A 25 minute interview with Unger conducted by Katarina, make-up test slides, sketches and behind-the-scenes stills, trailers and another near 80 minutes of interviews with Doug Barr, Stephen Furst, Craig Reardon and Tom Burman who are all refreshingly open and honest, some of the most candid interviews I've seen. Extras are excellent.

As much as I thoroughly enjoy The Unseen, it's by no means a classic. The first hour drags a little and would be reasonably poor if it weren't for Lassick's brilliance, but the last half hour is great fun with an equally good performance from Furst. I also loved how the film basically plays Lassick's character as an older, sweatier, heavier Norman Bates, and the film also doesn't go the way I expected it to go in the final third. I think The Unseen is a really entertaining, fun slice of early '80s exploitation that is well worth owning, especially with the cleaned up print and wealth of extras.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 8, 2014 6:09 PM GMT


Midnight F.M. [DVD] [2010] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Midnight F.M. [DVD] [2010] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by RAREWAVES USA
Price: £4.67

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Run the show exactly as I say, 27 July 2014
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Ko Sun-young has worked for the last couple of years as a midnight DJ for a show that discusses movies and then plays selected songs from the soundtrack, she's recently announced that she's quitting her job and moving to the US so her daughter, Eun-soo, can get the operation she desperately needs. Just as Sun-young is preparing to begin her last ever show, a man, Dong-soo, breaks into Sun-young's apartment and attacks Ah-young, Sun-young's little sister who is babysitting Eun-soo. Dong-soo phones Sun-young and sends her pictures of her battered and tied up sister, and tells her that she's going to have to run the two hour show exactly as he says. It seems Dong-soo is a big fan of Sun-young and Taxi Driver's Travis Bickle and has taken something Sun-young said to heart, he's determined to clean the streets of all the filth and believes that he's some kind of hero, and Sun-young is to play a big part in his twisted game.

Soo Ae is very good as Ko Sun-young, her performance won her a Blue Dragon award in 2010 for best actress. Blue Dragon Film Awards is to Korea, what the Golden Globe Award is to America. Grand Bell Awards are the equivalent to the Academy Awards in case you were wondering. I felt her performance was extremely naturalistic and she quickly manages to move from happy, to angry, to sad, to scared very easily. She's a very good looking woman as well, and doesn't feel the need to resort to nudity to show it. Dong-soo is played by Yoo Ji-tae who is perhaps best known for playing the sympathetic yet creepy villain in Oldboy. He gets a lot more to do in this film and manages to bring real menace to the role, especially when he explodes into violence. I was hugely impressed by the young actress Lee Joon-ha, her performance as Eun-soo was brilliant, she shows real vulnerability and emotion in a performance that shows maturity well beyond her years. Ma Dong-seok is strange but amusing as a guest/obsessed fan that ends up being quite useful.

It's directed and co-written by Sang Man Kim, and considering his previous experience was a comedy called Girl Scout, he manages to ratchet the tension to almost unbearable levels at times. Sadly, that sort of tension is unbelievably difficult to maintain over an entire film, but it's really tense and suspenseful when it does work. There's not a lot of gore and violence which is something Korean thrillers have become well known for in recent years, but it's not a film that requires it. The acting, story, camerawork and music are all good enough to compensate, but that doesn't mean there isn't violence. A woman is repeatedly beaten, someone has a toe cut off, a pair of police officers are violently dispatched, a couple of other beatings and shootings happen as well. The film isn't far off two hours either, and it does start to feel like it's being dragged out a little towards the end, with the last twenty minutes or so being far more over-the-top than what came before it.

The DVD is a little disappointing from Cinema Asia Releasin, it's the film and nothing else. I have a few releases from this company and all the discs have been the same, no extras at all but it's been cheap to buy and the picture quality is very nice. Troubleshooter, Man of Vendetta, Outlaw and Heartbeat are some of the other Korean films they've released that are also worth a look. It has English subtitles but is region locked, you'll need a region free player to watch it.

Midnight FM is a very good thriller that kept me thoroughly entertained from start to finish, the performances are great and the action is done well. As a pretty big film fan, I also enjoyed the snippets we got from the show Sun-young works on, especially the references to Taxi Driver which is a film I've admired for a long time. There are much better Korean thrillers that I'd recommend before Midnight FM such as Park Chan-wook's Vengeance trilogy, Memories of Murder, The Chaser, Mother, I Saw the Devil, Bedevilled, The Yellow Sea, Man from Nowhere, Breathless and a few others, but if you've seen most of the better known films and liked them, this is a step down but still a very enjoyable, far less known thriller that gets a lot more right than it gets wrong.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 28, 2014 9:27 PM BST


Day of the Animals [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Day of the Animals [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I don't know what I'm doing here anyway, I should be in Beverly Hills where any civilised person would be.", 25 July 2014
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A group of mountain hikers head up into the Californian mountains lead by Steve Buckner, despite a warning from Ranger Tucker that all kinds of "accidents" have been happening in the last week or so. Not long after the helicopters have dropped the group off, it becomes clear that something isn't right, several big birds that normally stay away from humans are showing a lot of bravery and a bad temper. The group try to ignore it and set up camp, but one of them is attacked during the night by a wolf. Realising they're in serious danger, the group attempt to get down the mountain to safety. The problem is, the wolves, birds, bears, lions, snakes, dogs and other animals have no intention of letting the group leave, and it's not just the animals that are causing trouble, an unhinged ad executive goes completely nuts. The reason for the animals strange behaviour is explained at the beginning of the film, some preachy message about aerosol cans and the Ozone layer.

Christopher George is good as Buckner, he was never the greatest actor but he had two things, he was likeable and he was fun to watch. George did some really decent work from the mid '60s to the late '70s, but it's his early '80s work that I'm most familiar with and love. City of the Living Dead, The Exterminator, Graduation Day, Enter the Ninja, Pieces and Mortuary, all great for various reasons. Sadly he passed away aged just 52 in 1983. Christopher George's wife, Linda Day George stars as a news reporter and potential love interest for Buckner. She's pretty good as well, and this was one of many films she made with her husband. They're backed up by some very decent acting from one-time Oscar nominee Richard Jaeckel, Michael Ansara, Ruth Roman, Jon Cedar, Paul Mantee, Michelle Stacy and Susan Backlinie who interestingly played the first victim in Jaws a few years earlier. For me, the real standout in the film is Leslie Nielsen in a hilariously over-the-top performance as the ad exec who loses his mind. I've heard from several people who feel his performance actually ruins the film, while I think it makes it. Right from the off he's sarcastic, argumentative, uncooperative and arrogant, I felt it was actually quite realistic seeing that type of a person turn into a screaming, raping, murdering maniac with a God complex once all normal rules no longer apply, even if it was overplayed. Nielsen was known as a very serious actor throughout the '50s, '60s and most of the '70s, I wouldn't be surprised if it was this performance that showed people how funny he could be, whether it was intentional or not. He did briefly return to horror again with Prom Night and Creepshow, but is mostly now known for his comedies, the TV series Police Squad, the Airplane films and the Naked Gun films.

Day of the Animals was directed by William Girdler and was a sort of semi-sequel to his earlier film, Grizzly, which had the same producer and also starred Christopher George and Richard Jaeckel. Sadly this was Girdler's penultimate film as he died shortly after his 30th birthday in a helicopter crash in Manila, Philippines, while scouting locations for his next feature. Girdler managed to direct nine films over seven years before his death, the best of which is this and Grizzly, but he also made three Blaxploitation movies, The Zebra Killer, an Exorcist clone called Abby (Warner Bros. sued) and Sheba, Baby starring Pam Grier. What makes Girdler's death all the more tragic is that you can clearly see the progression of his directing talent through his films, the later films like Grizzly and Day of the Animals are clearly far better made than his earlier efforts, and I'm sure his films would have continued to improve over the years, or at the very least, he'd have continued giving us many more fun films.

The music is great from six time Oscar nominee Lalo Schifrin, he was nominated for films such as Cool Hand Luke, Voyage of the Damned and The Amityville Horror, and he also did the Mission Impossible theme that is recognisable to people that haven't even seen the show or films. I thought the cinematography was pretty good, plenty of nice shots of the mountains and the animals, so I was surprised to discover that the cinematographer, Robert Sorrentino, only ever did the one film. One thing that may disappoint viewers is that the actual animal attack scenes themselves aren't shot all that well, there tends to be lots of quick cutting and close-ups that make it hard to see what's really going on, and the animals themselves don't look all that aggressive when attacking in certain scenes, some of the dogs in one scene are wagging their tail with their tongue out, others are stood there doing nothing clearly waiting to be told what to do. Saying that though, the shots of the animals when they're simply watching the group are far more effective and quite tense. A mistake during the Alsatian attack near the end of the film means we see a crew member sat on a hill in the background of the scene, it's quite funny but removes all suspense from the scene.

The DVD from Scorpion Records is great, it's a brand new 16X9 anamorphic master in HD from the original interpositive, and a brand new 5.1 surround sound created from the film's original three stripe mag (whatever that means). There's two interviews with Jon Cedar and Paul Mantee, who have both sadly passed away since, fun facts and trivia segment with Katarina Leigh Waters and several trailers for other films released by Scorpion Records. The picture quality for the most part was excellent, the image is a little soft at times but it looks glorious compared to the last time I watched it around a decade ago. The DVD is region free, there are no subtitles. I bought the DVD over the Blu-ray (which is also region free) because the Blu-ray was selling for double the price which I think is too much, especially when the DVD has all the same features and looks mostly fantastic upscaled anyway. Also, if you don't particularly like the garish watercolour looking cover of the DVD, it's reversible and has the far better known artwork on the other side. Day of the Animals is recommended to all animal attack film lovers, especially as it's one of the few films that doesn't choose to focus on one specific animal or species.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 29, 2014 4:30 PM BST


Mad Dog Killer [DVD] [2008] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Mad Dog Killer [DVD] [2008] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Helmut Berger

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "You're a filthy hyena, and you have the courage of one.", 23 July 2014
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Nanni Vitali escapes from prison along with three other inmates and immediately sets out to get revenge on those that helped put him there. When Vitali finds the man that identified him, he kills him and rapes his girlfriend, Giuliana. With Commissioner Giulio Santini in hot pursuit of the escapees, he does a little research and realises that Vitali will more than likely attempt to find the man that identified him. Santini finds Giuliana and questions her, but she is now under Vitali's control and she tells Santini that she has no idea where her boyfriend is as they broke up. A few days later, Giuliana finally finds the courage to go to police headquarters and tell Santini everything, and she agrees to help the police capture Vitali. When the plan doesn't work and Vitali gets away, he goes after someone close to Santini, his father, who in a wonderful case of Italian filmmaking coincidence, is the same judge that sentenced Vitali in the first place.

Helmut Berger is fantastic as Vitali, he swears, robs, rapes, beats and kills his way through the film without ever showing even an ounce of remorse for his actions. He's a stone cold killer who can't be reasoned with, can't be bought off, he enjoys inflicting pain and killing. There's only one scene in the film where he briefly meets his sister as he needs money, he's probably just using her but in this one scene alone, he almost acts human. Berger plays the role perfectly, when he's backed by his gang or has a gun in his hand, he's a snarling, vicious piece of work. Whenever he hasn't got his back-up or his weapon, he's a cowardly, insecure, pathetic man. I also thought Berger looked a lot like James Remar from The Warriors as well, which I found amusing. Berger is best known for his work in several Luchino Visconti films such as The Damned, Ludwig and Conversation Piece. Sex-pot Marisa Mell provides the eye-candy as Giuliana, this is a '70s Italian exploitation film after all, so she doesn't really have to do all that much apart from look good. She does play the role well though, she's appropriately terrified and repulsed when Vitali is all over her, and she shows genuine emotion and bravery when she finally decides enough is enough. Mell is a good actress that starred in several other films I really like, Mario Bava's Danger: Diabolik, Lucio Fulci's Perversion Story and a pair of Umberto Lenzi films, Seven Blood-Stained Orchids and Gang War in Milan. Sadly Mell passed away in 1992 aged just 53. Richard Harrison rounds out the main cast as the wonderfully moustachioed Santini, he too excels as the dogged Commissioner determined to get his man. Harrison is an American who had nothing more than bit-parts until he was lured to Italy in the early '60s where he starred in many sword-and-sandal movies that were insanely popular at the time, he consistently made films in Italy until the '80s where he began to star in ninja movies, a lot of ninja movies. Ninja Thunderbolt, Ninja Champion, Ninja Terminator, Ninja Holocaust, Ninja the Protector, The Ninja Squad, Ninja Hunt, Ninja Dragon, Golden Ninja Warrior and over a dozen more.

Mad Dog Killer was the very last film directed by Sergio Grieco, who also wrote the screenplay. Grieco isn't really one of the well known Italian genre directors and spent most of his career making low-budget adventure movies, I feel this is comfortably his best film. Although this was the last film he directed, it's not the last film he has a credit on, he's credited as being one of five writers on Enzo G. Castellari's enormously fun film, The Inglorious Bastards. I think it's fair to say Grieco wasn't all that interested in making a really intense and realistic film when he made this, I think he wanted to make a fast, fun and violent movie, and measured that way, it's a winner. As fun as the film is, there are several silly moments that stop the film from reaching the same level as the similar but better Almost Human directed by Umberto Lenzi and starring Tomas Milian and Henry Silva as similar characters to Vitali and Santini. The prison escape seems far too easy at the beginning, Santini jumping from his car before it explodes is hilarious but daft, the police waiting several days to dig up a body they were told about, the police's embarrassing attempt to capture Vitali and his men during the robbery despite knowing the details of the robbery beforehand and having several of their men on the inside, Vitali escaping capture again by driving through two police cars and everyone just turns around and accepts that he's managed to escape without further pursuit, a character getting shot and without showing any pain whatsoever, they self-diagnose the wound as "not very serious". There's a lot of moments like these that don't spoil the film at all, they're genuinely funny scenes, and it's actually quite nice to laugh at these scenes in between the various violent acts of Vitali. The score by Umberto Smaila is very good, the film's main theme which is used regularly throughout is brilliant and really helps to set the tone. This was the first film he did the music for and he didn't go on to do many more, especially well-known films which is a real shame.

The DVD from Blue Underground has a very nice print, though it is slightly grainier than a lot of their other DVDs, certainly not intrusive at all. The sound is okay, the only extra is a trailer and it plays region free. Mad Dog Killer aka Beast with a Gun, Ferocious, Ferocious Beast with a Gun, Street Killers, The Human Beast and Wild Beasts with Machine Guns which is my personal favourite, is an extremely enjoyable and entertaining film that absolutely races by, but if you're looking for something with a little more substance, go for Almost Human, Rabid Dogs or any one of the many classic crime thrillers from Fernando Di Leo. As long as you know exactly what you're getting into, Mad Dog Killer is definitely recommended.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 26, 2014 12:14 AM BST


Short Night of Glass Dolls [DVD] [1971] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Short Night of Glass Dolls [DVD] [1971] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "There are both good and evil in crime, they're not seperate.", 21 July 2014
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The lifeless body of American journalist, Gregory Moore, is found by a cleaner in a Prague park. His body is taken to the morgue, but there's a problem, Gregory Moore is not dead. He can't speak or move, but he can hear and see everything that's going on around him. As he lies on a slab awaiting an autopsy, Moore desperately tries to remember the events that lead him to the morgue. He starts to regain his memories, and through flashbacks, we discover that his girlfriend, Mira, went missing. We follow Moore as he attempts to find out what happened to her, with the help of two fellow journalists, Jessica and Jacques.

Jean Sorel gives a good performance as Gregory Moore, he's likeable enough to really make us care about the character. Sorel is probably best remembered for his role as Pierre Serizy in Luis Buñuel's Belle de Jour. The French actor had been making films in Italy for a while before starring in Short Night of Glass Dolls, the most memorable being Romolo Guerrieri's The Sweet Body of Deborah, Umberto Lenzi's A Quiet Place to Kill and a pair of Lucio Fulci films, Perversion Story and Lizard in a Woman's Skin. Swedish actress Ingrid Thulin is somewhat strangely given top billing in the film, she isn't actually in it all that much. She plays Jessica, one of Moore's fellow journalists who once had more than just a working relationship with him. I found her character quite interesting, she's helping Moore look for his missing girlfriend, but makes absolutely no secret of her desire to reignite their relationship at the same time. I assume Thulin was by far the biggest name in the film at the time due to her work in many of Ingmar Bergman's best known films such as Wild Strawberries, So Close to Life, The Magician, Winter Light, The Silence and Hour of the Wolf, which probably fully explains why she was given top billing. She appeared in another Bergman film the following year, Cries and Whispers. Barbara Bach is beautiful as Mira, sadly she didn't get much to do as she soon disappears. The real standout performance came from Mario Adorf as Jacques, Moore's other friend and journalist. I happened to watch this film the day after I watched a pair of Fernando Di Leo films, Caliber 9 and The Italian Connection. I thought he was also the standout actor in both of those films, there's something about him that makes him incredibly fun to watch.

Short Night of Glass Dolls was the directorial debut of Aldo Lado, and I love the way he chose to shoot this movie. I suppose the film is a giallo, but it comes off more as a political thriller than a murder mystery. A typical giallo tends to be very stylish, often they have several grisly murders and the music can be outlandish. This film is very slowly paced, the music score by Ennio Morricone is extremely subtle and the few murders that we do have are either virtually bloodless or happen off screen. It does of course have one of the main things that you'll see in gialli again and again, we follow a character as they attempt to solve a mystery, thus putting themselves and the life of those close to them in danger. The film came out in 1971, so having our main character appear dead when they actually aren't was quite a new idea in film back then, it's been used so often by now that newer viewers of the film won't be anywhere near as intrigued by it as viewers were when it was released. That isn't to say that the film isn't suspenseful because it most certainly is, the scenes of Moore lying on a slab completely unable to move whilst people are examining him are very suspenseful, and the final scene of the movie is pure brilliance and keeps the tension so high that I found myself literally sitting on the edge of my seat. The screenplay was from the prolific Ernesto Gastaldi, some of his other writing credits are The Strange Vice Of Mrs. Wardh, Case Of The Scorpion's Tail, All The Colors Of The Dark, Your Vice Is A Locked Room And Only I Have The Key, The Case of the Bloody Iris, Torso, Almost Human and many, many more classic Italian films.

The DVD from Blue Underground is up to their usual high standards, the transfer is very nice, the sound is absolutely fine, it's region 0 and will play on any DVD player and there's no subtitles. There's a couple of extras, a theatrical trailer, an Aldo Lado filmography and Strange Days of the Short Night - An Interview with Aldo Lado that lasts 11 minutes and is very interesting. We learn about how he meant for the film to reflect some of his political beliefs, the reason for the strange title and some of the problems he had with important members of the crew.

Short Night of Glass Dolls isn't the best giallo out there, but it's certainly one of more ambitious and different. The acting is good, the Prague scenery is beautiful to look at, the mystery is involving and there's plenty of tension leading up to the brilliant ending. I'd definitely recommend the film to fans of gialli and also to people that enjoy films like The Tenant which has a similar feel to it. I'd also recommend two other Aldo Lado films that he made soon after, Who Saw Her Die? which is much closer to a traditional giallo and a great film, and Night Train Murders which is basically an even more disturbing take on The Last House on the Left, which itself was a take on Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring (not starring Ingrid Thulin).
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 21, 2014 4:06 PM BST


Bug [DVD] [1975] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Bug [DVD] [1975] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Picture You See With Your Eyes Closed., 16 July 2014
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When an earthquake hits a small Californian town, a large crack in a field opens up releasing thousands of prehistoric arsonist cockroaches. These mutations are able to cause fire by rubbing together their cerci, and waste no time at all in causing fires all over town. A scientist, James Parmiter, discovers that the bugs will soon die out as they can't survive in the low air pressure on the Earth's surface, but sadly for Parmiter, one of the bugs last victims is his wife, Carrie. It's fair to say that the death of his wife has an adverse effect on the man's sanity, and when he decides to try and mate one of the last surviving fire-roaches with a common cockroach, the effects are horrific.

Bradford Dillman is great fun to watch as James Parmiter, he starts out as a well-intentioned loving husband and slowly descends into a clichéd mad scientist, it's brilliant. He gives by far the best performance in the film and in the second half, we are almost exclusively in his company alone. Dillman spent most of his career on TV, but did appear in several well-known movies including Escape from the Planet of the Apes, The Iceman Cometh, The Way We Were, The Enforcer and another two animal attack/creature feature films in 1978, The Swarm and Piranha. Although this is clearly Dillman's film, there is pretty good support from Joanna Miles, Richard Gilliland, Jamie Smith-Jackson, Alan Fudge, Jesse Vint and Patty McCormack who is best known for playing the evil little girl in The Bad Seed from 1956.

Bug was directed by Jeannot Szwarc, a director that had mostly directed TV shows and TV movies up to that point, including 19 episodes of Night Gallery. I think he did a great job on Bug, it's well paced, the close-up shots of the bugs are fantastic, it's reasonably creepy and tense at times, and he directed Dillman in one of his best ever performances. Szwarc's next theatrical feature was the hugely underrated Jaws 2 three years later, a film I feel is very nearly as good as its brilliant predecessor. He spent the next decade making films of varying quality from the very good Somewhere in Time to the excruciatingly bad Supergirl. In recent years he's had a lot of success directing several episodes of shows such as JAG, The Practice, Without a Trace, Heroes, Cold Case, Smallville, Fringe, Grey's Anatomy and Bones.

Bug is based on the Thomas Page novel "The Hephaestus Plague", and the screenplay was co-written by Page and the film's producer, William Castle. Bug was the last ever film that Castle was involved with, he died of a heart-attack a few years later. Castle has gained legendary status over the years for his films such as House on Haunted Hill, The Tingler, 13 Ghosts, Mr Sardonicus and The Old Dark House. The music is mostly excellent by Charles Fox, though I did feel it was slightly overbearing in some scenes, and Michel Hugo's cinematography is nice. It's also probably worth noting that the Parmiter house in the film is the very same set that was used for the interior of the Brady home in the TV show The Brady Bunch. The effects are a little hit-and-miss, the bugs toward the very end of the film look pretty poor, but there's also a scene very early on where the bugs burn a cat to death, it's extremely realistic looking and some viewers may find it a little distressing.

In 2013, Paramount, using the Paramount Catalog label re-released dozens of films that had previously been released but had gone out-of-print, Bug was part of those releases. All of the Paramount Catalog films I've picked up so far have had no extras, have been very cheap to buy and have had excellent picture quality, Bug is no different. The picture quality is nice all the way through, it goes a little grainy during very dark scenes, but it also looks absolutely stunning at times as well. For what is a very fun film, very cheap to buy and with excellent picture quality, it's well worth picking up, especially if you're a big animal attack/creature feature fan like I am. There's English subtitles available. Just a word of warning, the disc is region 1 and you will need a region free player in order to watch it.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 26, 2014 10:41 PM BST


Yellow Fangs [DVD] [1990] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Yellow Fangs [DVD] [1990] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by RAREWAVES USA
Price: £5.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 900 pounds of ferocious terror!, 2 May 2014
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Yellow Fangs is based on actual events that occurred in Hokkaido, Japan, 1915. It tells the story of a group of bear hunters that are tracking a 900 pound brown bear nicknamed Red Spots that is terrorising the area, it attacks and kills men, but it feasts only on women. The film opens with the bear attacking a young couple in their home, killing the man and dragging the woman away. Angry and scared, several of the villagers set off after the bear, only to come across five bear hunters that ask the villagers to leave the killing of the bear to them. The hunters begin to track the bear into the snowy mountains where they briefly cross paths with Yuki, a young woman from the same village as the hunters whose family was killed by the bear a year earlier. We get to see this and Yuki's relationship with Eiji, one of the hunters, through an hour long flashback sequence, before we return to the present with our hunters in hot pursuit of Red Spots.

I thought the acting was very good, especially from the two leads that play Yuki and Eiji. Eiji is played by the only actor in the film whose other work I'm familiar with, Hiroyuki Sanada. Sanada is perhaps best known in Japan for playing Ryûji Takayama, the ex-husband of Reiko Asakawa in the very creepy Ringu aka The Ring. He's since gone on to appear in many Hollywood movies such as The Last Samurai, Sunshine, Rush Hour 3, Speed Racer, Wolverine and most recently, 47 Ronin. I also thought Mika Muramatsu was mostly excellent as Yuki, even if there is one or two scenes where she goes a little over-the-top. I enjoyed watching the relationship between the two of them, they played off each other really well. Yellow Fangs is the only film Muramatsu has made, which is a shame because she was mostly very good in it. I'm really not at all familiar with anyone in the supporting roles, but they all do a good job.

The film was the directorial debut of the legendary Sonny Chiba, who is best known for The Bodyguard, The Street Fighter films and the Kill Bill films where he played Hattori Hanzo. Pretty much a global superstar at the time he directed Yellow Fangs, many people would have been expecting a film about street thugs, gangsters and martial arts, not a period film about bear attacks based on real life events. One of the things that surprised me the most about Yellow Fangs is just how well directed the film is, Chiba definitely knows his way around a camera and some of the cinematography showing the snowy mountains are a joy to watch. He's also shot the film in a way that it looks like a '70s film, it's a bit grainy, it has a washed out look to it that suits the film perfectly, and it's paced much more like a '70s film than one shot in 1990. Chiba financed the film himself, and for reasons beyond me, the film was a huge flop in Japan and virtually ruined Chiba. He had to sell his mansion, his restaurant chain, and worst of all, he had to sell his beloved JAC (Japan Action Club) that he'd spent years creating. Yellow Fangs actually commemorates the 20th anniversary of the JAC at the beginning of the film, and it turned out it was this film that ultimately ended it. Perhaps another reason Chiba directed the film with such confidence was because he had Kinji Fukasaku on set as a special advisor, the man who would later direct the superb, Battle Royale.

Yellow Fangs is certainly not a typical animal attack film, the bear attacks actually take a backseat to the story and the characters. The film spends much more time allowing us to really get to know Yuki and Eiji than it does on showing the bear attack people, and I feel the film is all the better for it. The film also concentrates on other things such as the role that women played back in 1915, where they were expected to stay home and tend to the house, and also the encroachment of modern society with several scenes showing prospectors that are blowing up parts of the mountains mining for copper. I felt that adding in some social commentary really added depth to a kind of film where there's usually very little, and it definitely helped to keep the near two hour film interesting throughout. Despite the acting being mostly good, the direction being extremely competent, an interesting story and some beautiful cinematography, it's not all great. Some people will definitely feel that the flashback scene is far too long and will possibly get a little bored waiting for it to get back to where the film started, and the fact that there's even some smaller flashback scenes within the long flashback will definitely stretch the patience of some. The other thing that lets the film down a little is the bear itself, it's a man in a suit and it's fairly obvious most of the time. There's scenes where the bear isn't around anyone and a real bear is used, which is great, except that it makes it much more obvious then when the man in a suit appears. It really doesn't bother me at all, but it's something I can imagine would put off some other viewers.

Cinema Epoch's region free DVD boasts a new 16x9 anamorphic digital transfer made from the original 35mm elements, and for the most part, the film looks really nice. There's one or two scenes that are far grainier than the rest of the film, and at one point, the picture breaks up, though it only lasts for a second. The whole film has a slightly soft look to it as well, but that's much more down to how the film was shot rather than the transfer. There is a bit of a problem with the subtitles, it's all very easy to understand, but they're a bit off at times. He had to quite bear hunting instead of quit, Who own it now? Instead of who owns it now? Girls don't shot guns instead of girls don't shoot guns, and there's a couple more throughout the film. Again, it's not really something that bothers me all that much, but it shouldn't be there and makes the people at Cinema Epoch or whoever was hired to do the subtitles look a bit amateurish. The DVD is short on extras, there's only a trailer, stills gallery, an also available extra showing a few more films available from Cinema Epoch and a short essay by film critic Bill Gibron which is actually quite interesting.

Yellow Fangs is a very good film and I really can't fathom why the film flopped so badly on release, and even worse, I can't figure out why the film remains so unknown today. I love animal attack films and I also love Asian cinema, and the only reason I bought the film now was because I basically stumbled upon the film entirely by chance. Mine is the first review of the film on the UK Amazon site, and there's not a single review of it on the US Amazon site which is amazing considering it's a US release and has been out now on DVD for over five years. I'm sure Sonny Chiba looks back on this film now with some regret considering how much he lost when it flopped, but nevertheless, I'm glad he made it because I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. Highly recommended.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 23, 2014 7:14 PM BST


Madhouse [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Madhouse [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "It's been such a lovely game, I'm sorry it's over.", 18 Feb. 2014
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Madhouse opens with an incredibly creepy title sequence in which a horrible version of "Rock-a-bye Baby" plays. As the camera very slowly zooms in to reveal a young girl rocking a cradle, the girl then uses a rock to smash a realistic looking doll's face in. We then meet our protagonist, Julia, a young woman who works as a teacher at a school for deaf kids. She's recently received a phone call from her uncle, Father James, asking her to visit her identical sister, Mary, at the hospital, it's been many years since she saw her as she was terrified of her when they were young. Reluctantly, Julia goes to the hospital where her uncle is waiting for her. He tells her that she's developed a disease which has disfigured her face, and it could be fatal. Julia's meeting with Mary does not go well, with Mary telling her that she's going to make her suffer, as she has suffered. Horrified, Julia returns home and tells her boyfriend, Sam, about how bad her childhood was due to her sister, including Mary threatening her with a vicious dog that would do whatever she wanted. As their mutual birthday draws closer, Mary escapes the hospital. Soon Julia's neighbours and friends are attacked and killed by a Rottweiler, but is the weak and disfigured Mary really behind it?

Trish Everly is good as Julia, she's a likeable lead, she's pretty enough, her acting is of a reasonably high standard, but this was the only role she ever had. I've seen many worse actors that have consistently appeared in movies, so I can only assume it was her decision not to continue acting. Michael MacRae is also likeable as Julia's boyfriend, Sam. MacRae has mostly worked on TV during his long career, but has had small roles in films like Coma and Deadly Pursuit. He appears to have retired from acting shortly after appearing in Battlefield Earth in 2000. Dennis Robertson is extremely over-the-top but fun to watch as Father James, he kind of looks like a cross between Roddy McDowall and David Warner. Robertson is another actor that mostly worked on TV, he appeared in the excellent TV movie, Dark Night of the Scarecrow, the same year he made this film. Edith Ivey is ridiculously over-the-top as Julia's landlady, and Jerry Fujikawa injects a little humour into the film as an overworked handyman.

Madhouse was written, produced and directed by Egyptian, Ovidio G. Assonitis, under the pseudonym, Oliver Hellman. His first directed film was an Exorcist knock-off called Beyond the Door, and he followed it up a few years later with the mutated octopus film, Tentacles. Madhouse was his third directorial effort, and there's no denying that the man knew how to shoot a movie. For a film that's extremely low budget, it's actually really professionally shot. It's well paced, the lighting is well done, the cinematography is of a high standard, there's some great shots and some lovely fluid camera movements. It's also funny in places, sad in others and pretty creepy in several places. Assonitis' most well known films that he produced are Who Saw Her Die? starring George Lazenby, The Visitor starring Mel Ferrer and The Curse starring a young Wil Wheaton.

There's a lot of things I like about Madhouse, the creepy use of the song "Rock-a-bye Baby" is inspired, Father James regularly hums and sings "Old King Cole" which is also used to quite creepy effect in the film. The musical score by Riz Ortolani is really odd and wacky as well, some may feel it's totally out of place, I felt it was perfect and unsettling. The effects in the film are pretty good, the gore isn't as frequent as you may expect, with the film being one of those classed as a "video nasty" by the BBFC. The gore is done well when it's used, especially a very graphic scene where someone is struck in the back with an axe fourteen times. There's also a scene where a dog is killed by having an electric drill forced into its head, it's bloody, but the dog doesn't look all that real which lessens the impact, but it may still upset some people. A kid is killed as well, but this is done off-screen. Madhouse is an excellent slasher film where most of the murders are actually committed by the Rottweiler, but the Rottweiler is being used as a weapon, just like one would use a knife or a gun.

The DVD from Dark Sky Films is a revelation, the picture quality is superior to the Film 2000 DVD that was released in the UK, and the sound quality is on another planet. The sound on the Film 2000 DVD was absolutely appalling to the point where you struggled to hear a lot of the dialogue, at other times you had to turn the sound up to hear something and the next moment, your eardrums were nearly blown out. The sound has been massively improved on this DVD, but there are one or two moments near the end where dialogue is hard to hear. Considering it sounds great 99% of the time, I'm more than happy. There's a fourteen minute interview with Assonitis, which is fun as he's a pretty interesting guy. There's also a photo gallery. The only downside is that it's a region 1 DVD, and you will need a region free DVD player to watch it.

Technically, Madhouse aka There Was a Little Girl, And When She Was Bad, Flesh and the Beast and Scared to Death is an Italian film, as it was financed by Italians and most of the crew were Italians. It's every bit as stylish as most of the Italian films that were released in the '70s and early '80s, but as it was filmed on location in Savannah, Georgia, and with a mostly American cast, it doesn't suffer from the dubbing which does put a lot of people off. The ending is also very similar to another slasher film called Happy Birthday to Me, with Madhouse often accused of copying. As both films were released in 1981, it's almost impossible to say whether one took the idea from the other. It's most likely that it was nothing more than a coincidence. Madhouse is one of my favourite slasher films and it's very underrated, sadly it's also one of the least known as well.


Chaw [DVD]
Chaw [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tae-woong Eom
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £3.46

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "As you can see, this ain't an easy village.", 18 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: Chaw [DVD] (DVD)
A young cop working in Seoul has become disillusioned and is looking to move on, he ends up getting a transfer to a small village called Sam-mae-ri, "the crimeless village". It wasn't really the transfer he was looking for, but "anywhere" was put down as a joke as his second choice of location. Believing he's moving to a village where nothing ever happens and expecting to spend his days watching tractors and fishing, he's surprised to discover a murder investigation has just begun, when body parts are found in the mountains. It soon becomes clear that the killer is an animal, and it's confirmed when a huge boar drags away a man in front of witnesses. Pretty soon a big game hunter is called in to kill the boar, and he almost instantly kills one. With the village celebrating the death of the boar in a big barn, the real killer boar that is at least three times the size of the dead one crashes the party and wreaks havoc. After the barn attack, a group of five which includes the cop, a detective, the grandfather of one of the boar's victims, the hunter and a scientist, head into the mountains to kill the beast.

The acting is really quite good, some of them are very over-the-top, but it does appear to be purposeful. Je-mun Yun is probably the most recognisable member of the cast, he plays the hunter brought in to kill the boar, he's had pretty big roles in The Host, The Good, the Bad, the Weird and Mother, all three are great movies. What I really liked about this film was some of the very wacky characters in small roles, there's a crazy woman who has adopted a young boy that wanders around laughing hysterically, the cop's mother is also completely bonkers, the chief of police is a bumbling idiot, the friend of the scientist keeps getting injured, and then there's young women in a bar that think nothing of smashing a bottle over someone's head. I can definitely see why some people wouldn't like these characters, but I found them fascinating and enjoyed watching them. Most of the main characters start off quite unlikeable, but become much more likeable by the end of the movie.

Chaw is well directed by Jeong-won Shin, who earlier made his directorial debut with the hard to find, Sisily 2km. I consider myself to be reasonably well versed in Korean films, and know that a funny film can have horrific moments, and serious films can have moments of craziness, but I was still surprised how much comedy was in Chaw. The humour starts right from the first scene when the chief of police falls and then rolls down a hill, followed by an over-the-top scream when he sees a dead body. This kind of humour happens consistently throughout the film, and may turn some people off, though I thought most of it worked really well and was genuinely funny. The cinematography is great with plenty of beautiful shots of the village and the mountains, especially the daytime scenes earlier in the film. The CGI used to create the giant boar is well done, it doesn't always look and move completely realistically, but it always looks good. It's not a particularly gory film, but the blood and gore looks good when it is used.

Something that tends to annoy me a little when it comes to animal attack films, is that almost all of them are compared to Jaws, whether it's a sea based creature or a creature on land. Most of the time there's very little reason Jaws needs to be mentioned when talking about most animal attack films, but in this case, it does, as Jaws was clearly an inspiration for this film. We have someone killed just as the village is preparing to welcome many people which will earn the village a fortune, there's the officials that risk lives by refusing to have the mountains and festival shut down as the lure of money is more important to them, there's a much smaller boar that is killed originally which is thought to be the killer and the exact same process is done to prove that it isn't, and then there's the people that go and hunt the creature, a cop, a hunter, a scientist, it's all very similar to Jaws, including the actual ending as well. To back it up even further, the film was released in America as Chawz, in attempt to cash in on its similarities to Jaws. I also definitely see a clear homage to Predator with the end credits, the music is very similar and each main character is given a moment where they look at the camera and smile or laugh. I've always loved that ending in Predator, and I loved it here too. I've read other reviews that say the film was boring, at just under two hours long, it probably is twenty minutes longer than it needed to be, but it easily held my attention from beginning to end.

The DVD from Optimum Home Releasing is pretty good, the picture quality is great, but the only extra is a trailer. It's in Korean and has English subtitles. Chaw is a really fun, fast paced film that is very entertaining, but it isn't as good as Jaws which is a five star classic, and it's also not as good as the bigger, more famous Korean monster movie, The Host. It is however the best film about a killer boar that I've seen after Razorback, which still remains an underrated classic. It's better than the French film, Prey, and the American film, Pig Hunt. When I initially bought and watched Chaw about a year ago, I actually would have given it three stars, but having watched it again, I enjoyed it much more than I did the first time. It's probably something to do with me expecting a much more serious film and getting a black comedy, whereas this time I knew exactly what to expect. I had a lot of fun revisiting the film, and as long as you know what you're getting into, I'd definitely recommend it.
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