A young nude-model is stabbed to death with a pair of scissors, the third in a series of victims who had all had their photos taken by Parisi, a potentially mentally unhinged individual who claims that his camera can photograph people’s thoughts.
Director and writer Helia Colombo made one giallo and here it is, rarely seen outside of Italy until today. It really has the best title — The Police Are Blundering In the Dark — because if you think about it, the police never do a great job in these films.
Now, reporter Giorgio D’Amato meets his friend Enrichetta at the photographer’s villa, but when he arrives, he learns that she’s the model we watched die at the beginning of the movie.
She’d been begged by Parisi — who is in a wheelchair and looks quite frail — to come to speak to him about his magical camera. And just like Clue — you know, but with plenty of graphic murder and no short supply of nudity — we meet the suspects, ranging from Alberto the butler to the photographer’s lesbian wife Eleonora, his niece Sara and the sexed-up maid Lucia, who is the next to be killed.
I have no idea why that camera figures in, but maybe the filmmakers thought that Four Flies On Grey Velvet was going to force everyone to have science fiction photography as part of their plot, so they ripped it off. There’s also little police involvement, but it’s not like there’s an actual rule that giallo titles have to make sense. I prefer when they don’t.
A series of murders are happening — it’s a giallo, so go figure, right? — but in each case, there is decomposed flesh under the victims. There’s also a genius named Professor Helmut (Gordon Mitchell!) who is doing brain transplants from human to baboon and he thinks that could be the secret to cheating death.
That’s why this movie is really known asThe Skin Under the Claws, but it’s more romantic comedy with a giallo just begging to break though. Helmut dies early on and his organs disappear and the cops think the killer is a walking corpse, so there’s at least some horror in this one, but it takes forever to get there, what with Dr. Silivia and Dr. Gianni going to dinner, out sightseeing and anything and everything but solving the crimes that we came here for.
Alessandro Santini only directed three other movies — Beyond the Frontiers of Hate, Una Forca per 3 Vigliacchi (A Gallow for 3 Cowards) and Questa Libertà di Avere… le Ali Bagnate (The Freedom of Having…Wet Wings). He’s not shy with the nudity or the blood. And at least the ending is somewhat original and unexpected. Otherwise, as they say, for giallo lovers only.
As of December 20, 2020, if you can believe it, I’ve never seen Last House on the Left. But I have seen nearly every ripoff of it and movie that stole its ad campaign or title. I have no idea why. It just worked out that way.
This Aldo Lado-directed piece of Italian grime also went by the names Night Train Murders, The New House on The Left, Second House on The Left, Don’t Ride on Late Night Trains, Late Night Trains, Last House Part II and Xmas Massacre, depending on the whims of fate (and Hallmark Releasing).
Margaret (Irene Miracle, who was also in Midnight Express, Inferno and Puppet Master) and Lisa are set to taking the night train from Germany to Italy, but the train is full and they have to sit in a long corridor. They help Blackie (Flavio Bucci, Suspiria) and Curly (Gianfranco De Grassi, The Church) hide from the ticket taker as they board the train and hide from the cops. Of course, instead of saying thanks, they end up decimating the two girls, along with the help of an upper class blonde (Macha Méril, Deep Red) who has already turned the tables on Blackie’s attempts at assaulting her by seducing him. The two thugs really have no idea what they’re in for, because this mysterious blonde is more dangerous than both of them put together.
The whole time the girls are being victimized, murdered and forced into suicide, Lisa’s parents are hosting a Christmas dinner party where her doctor father speaks on the ills of a more violent society.
Later, when they arrive at the station to get the girls, they are worried when they don’t arrive. If you wonder, “Will they end up taking the people that killed them home?” then yes, you have seen your share of revenge movies. The most shocking thing is that the blonde may be the only survivor of the evil trio, as her fate is left open.
This video nasty is the kind of movie that I don’t put on when people come to visit.
While some decry the bumbling cop comedy in Craven’s film, this one jettisons any attempt at levity, adds some 1975 Italian style, gets a soundtrack from Morricone and gets way, way dark.
Lado also made Short Night of Glass Dolls and Who Saw Her Die?, two of the more original and downbeat giallo to follow in the wake of Argento. Even when he’s ripping someone off — not that Craven didn’t also rip off The Virgin Spring, so there are no innocents here — he can’t help outdoing his competition.
We’ve talked quite a bit about writer-director-producers Ferd and Beverly Sebastian in the paragraphs of our reviews for ‘Gator Bait and AC/DC: Let There Be Rock (which they imported and recut) and Rocktober Blood* (four times!). The drive-in oeuvre of their Sebastian International Pictures was a studio that was second-to-none in churning out one Roger Cormanesque ‘make ’em-fast-make ’em cheap hit film after another.
This crime caper tale — primarily written by Beverly with Ferd as her co-writer; she, in turn, served as a co-director to Ferd — we’ve got two reformed, California “Summer of Love” hippies in a tricked-out dune buggy pulling heists. Ah, but this is lighthearted caper, so if it sounds a lot like Smokey and the Bandit — two years before we knew anything about a gold eagle-blazed black Trans Ams — it probably is.
“The Flash” of these proceedings is the affable Tricia Sembera, who, while on her way to becoming the next Claudia Jennings (‘Gator Bait) courtesy of getting her start with the Sebastians, retired from the business after making this, her lone film. After continuing her 20-year successful overseas modeling career with Ford Models, she came out of retirement to do one more film: the 1980 ABC-TV movie The Ivory Ape starring Jack Palance.
“The Firecat” of these crime caper shenanigans is TV actor Roger Davis, who you know for his two year, 120-plus episode run as Charles Delaware Tate on TV’s Dark Shadows, as Jeff Clark in the 1970 House of Dark Shadows theatrical film, and the scuzzy redneck romp, 1976’s Nashville Girl. (And I remember him as the human-Cylon hybrid “Andromus” from the awful-dreadful Galactica: 1980. Sorry, Rog.)
Together, as the Flash and the Firecat, they concoct an idea to use The Flash’s blonde bombshell wiles to seduce Tracy Walley, the teen son (Tracy Sebastian, aka Trey Loren, aka Billy Eye Harper) of a bank manager (ubiquitous TV actor Phil Burns**), and ride the dopey, love-struck puppy around town in her “cool” dune buggy and buy him an Orange Fanta, etc. Meanwhile, The Firecat calls in a ransom demand and walks out of the bank with $30K large — without pulling a gun. Of course . . . Tracy Walley isn’t kidnapped because, going back to our Smokey and the Bandit analogy: he’s “Frog,” aka Sally Field, who was “kidnapped” by the Bandit. And, as we say often around here, “the chase” ensues.
Hey, wait a minute. I know this footage! It was used on The Fall Guy!
Yep! STOCK FOOTAGE ALERT!
The chase comes courtesy of Sheriff C.W. Thurston, played by the always welcomed Dub Taylor (known for 1972’s The Getaway and 1969’s The Wild Bunch, and too many other films — 260 — across film and TV to mention). Also on their trail is Milo Pewett, played by Richard “Jaws” Kiel (The Humanoid), who could care less about the kid and more about the cash.
Hey! There’s Newell Alexander (who also appears in 2012’s Easy Rider: The Ride Back, which we reviewed for our first “Fast & Furious Week”). And there’s George “Buck” Flowers! YEAH! So, basically all of the underdog actors from the ’60 and ’70s we care about here at B&S About Movies are in this movie.
You can watch Flash and the Firecat for free on You Tube, as well as a few other Sebastian International Pictures flicks on their official You Tube page.
* Yeah, we love Billy Eye and Rocktober Blood around here . . . a love only matched by our admiration for Sammy Curr in the other “No False Metal” classic of our youth: Trick or Treat.
** Sorry Sam: Don’t fire me, man. But Phil Burns was Marty Seinfeld, Jerry’s dad for one episode. He was soon fired and replaced by Barry Frank. So, you may want to ban Phil Burn and Barry Frank movies, so as to stop my Seinfeld insanity.
About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.
Alice Cespi (Florinda Bolkan, A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin) watched a strange film in her childhood called “Footprints on the Moon,” where astronauts were stranded on the moon’s surface. Now, as an adult, the only sleep she gets is from tranquilizers and she starts missing days of her life. Get ready for a giallo that skips the fashion and outlandish murders while going straight for pure weirdness.
After losing her job as a translator, Alice find a torn postcard for a resort area called Garma. That’s where she meets a little girl named Paula (Nicoletta Elmi, Demons, A Bay of Blood) who claims that Alice looks exactly like another woman she met named Nicole, who is also at the resort. Slowly but surely, our heroine starts to believe that a huge conspiracy is against her.
This is the last theatrical film of Luigi Bazzoni (he has directed some documentaries and wrote a few films since), who also directed The Fifth Cord. There are only two murders, but don’t let that hold you back. There are also abrupt shifts in color and a slow doomy mood to the entire proceedings. It’s unlike any other giallo I’ve seen and I mean that as a compliment.
Klaus Kinski also shows up as Blackman, the doctor who was behind the experiment that Alice saw as a child. He’s only in the film for a minute or so, but he makes the most of his time, chewing up the scenery as only he can. And cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, beyond working on The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, also was the DP on films like Apocalypse Now, Reds, Last Tango in Paris and Dick Tracy.
Shameless Films, who are the folks to order this from, referred to it as “the loneliest, most haunting and beautiful giallo you will ever see.” I have to agree — especially with its shocking ending. This isn’t like any of the films that came in the wake of The Bird with the Crystal Plumageand it’s a shame that its director didn’t make more films in the genre.
Kinji Fukasaku (Battles without Honor and Humanity, Battle Royale) adapted Goro Fujita’s gangster novel of the rise and fall of real-life gangster Rikio Ishikawa, a man who lives up to the lack of honor or humanity references by Fukasaku’s other film.
How horrible of a person is Ishikawa? Within minutes of the opening credits, he steals money from the Aoki gang, robs a Sangokujin gambling den with Imai, stashes his gun with a geisha named Cheiko, gets arrested and returns for his gun and to assault the girl.
Meanwhile, the leader of his gang is running for Japanese parliament and the out of control antics of the film’s protagonist are too much for them. Despite a talking to by the family boss, he blows up the leader’s car. This unpardonable crime leads to the gang telling him to slice his fingers off in the ritual of yubitsume. He refuses and goes to the cops before leaving Tokyo for 18 months, drifting to Osaka and a drug-filled haze.
Of course, the first thing he does when he heads back to Japan — ten-year exile or not — he comes back for a whole other round of mayhem, which includes battling two Yazuka families and the police all at the same time, followed by driving Cheiko to suicide and, inevitably, cannibalism, a sword battle in a graveyard and suicide.
Noboru Ando, who appears in this movie, was an actual mob figure for some time, saying “In Japanese, the only difference between yakuza and yakusha (actor) is one hiragana character.” Very noticeable by the knife scar on his cheek, he appeared in plenty of mob-related movies, including movies directly based on his life, such as his sexual experiences while hiding from the police (Ando Noboru no Waga Tobou to Sex no Kiroku) and life of crime in Takashi Miike’s Deadly Outlaw: Rekka.
You can get this movie as part of the Graveyards of Honor set recently released by Arrow Video. It comes with Takeshi Miike’s 2002 version of the movie, as well as new audio commentary by author and critic Mark Schilling, a new visual essay by critic and Projection Booth podcast host Mike White and an appreciation of the director. Like everything Arrow releases, this is a great set.
Taken from footage of Super Robot Mach Baron — the sequel to Super Robot Red Baron — this Hong Kong version predates the notion of using native actors within a Japanese show that Power Rangers would perfect a decade or more later.
Stranger still, this was released in Spain as Spain Mazinger Z – El robot de las Estrellas, even though Go Nagai’s famous robot is nowhere to be found.
The Universal Rescue team and their Super Iron Robot struggle to battle the evil that is within the Bermuda Triangle in a movie that smashes together an entire season of a TV show into 86 or so minutes. So you know that it’s going to make no sense — and therefore be awesome — before you even start playing it.
Stephan Yip, who directed Lady Exterminator, acts in this, as does Godfrey Ho, who is probably better known for his multiple ninja movies and insanity like Robo Vampire, Scorpion Thunderbolt and Kickboxer from Hell.
This was originally directed by Koichi Takano, who did the puppet effects in King Kong vs. Godzilla before doing the effects for several Ultraman series, including Ultraman: Tiga, Ultraman Towards the Future, Ultraman 80 and Ultraman Leo.
To see a modern version of this, the movie BraveStorm has recently come out in the U.S. on blu ray.
Honestly, this movie is crazy. I have no idea how Ken Russell talked people into giving him money for this.
Actually, I do. David Puttnam’s Goodtimes wanted to make six movies about composers with Russel, with the first being 1974’s Mahler. He also planned to make films of Vaughan Williams, Berlioz and Gershwin, which was to star Al Pacino.
There was just a 57-page script and Puttman and Russell weren’t always on the same page. Seeing Liszt as the first rock star — the term Lisztomania refers to the sexual mania that female fans felt when in his presence — led to Russell making a movie where he eventually felt that “The symbolism…is a bit too relentless and the fantasy sequences tend to submerge the reality of the characters.”
Based somewhat on the book Nélida, a story in which Marie d’Agoult — played by Fiona Lewis in the movie — wrote a barely hidden confession about her affair with Liszt, the movie is barely a narrative and more a series of misadventures, starting with d’Agoult’s husband catching her in bed with the composer and the duel that ensues. After leaving the two trapped inside a piano on the train tracks, the movie quickly moves to the start of his rivalry with Wagner (Paul Nicholas), who hates the showmanship that Liszt uses to win over crowds.
Liszt is now married to Marie and constantly battling with her over his infidelities, unable to write music. He hopes to meet Satan so that he can sell his soul to be inspired again, a fact that his daughter Cosima prays for.
This makes him to Russia, where Princess Carolyn and her court seduce him into growing a ten-foot-long erection, which is taken to a guillotine, where he must give up his carnal needs if he is to create again.
How does one explain what follows? That Wagner is a vampire that uses Superman for propaganda and attempts to suck the musical soul from Liszt? That the Pope is Ringo Starr, who demands that our hero — who has failed at being an abbott of the church because he sleeps around — must stop Wagner and his daughter Cosima and their Reichian zombie death cult? That Rick Wakeman plays Thor? That a zombified Wagner — armed with a symbolic electric guitar machine gun — kills all of the Jewish people while Cosima uses a voodoo doll to kill Liszt, who goes to Heaven and reunites with all of his lovers — as well as his daughter, who has a change of heart in the afterlife — and flies back to Earth where he destroys Wagner and flies into space in his spaceship?
I have no idea what I just watched, but I loved it.
In the future, music is banned from TV. That leads to Hero (Peter Denyer) and his driver Mr. Rockbottom (Freddie Jones, The Baron from Son of Dracula, as well as appearances in Goodbye Gemini, The Satanic Rites of Dracula, Krull and many others) turn an ice cream truck into a Group Detector Van that can find pop groups that they want to play at a big concert that will save rock and roll.
If you’re a fan of the British glam scene of 1975 — including bands like Mud, Slik, Hello, The Glitter Band, Slide, The Rubettes, Scott Fitzgerald, Bob Kerr’s Whoopee band and The Silver Band — then you’re in the right place. In fact, Slik also has a very young Midge Ure before the days of Ultravox and Visage. Ure also wrote Thin Lizzy frontman Phil Lynott’s song “Yellow Pearl,” which was the theme for Top of the Pops, and co-wrote “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”
Mud are pretty fun, what with their wacky trousers and dance moves. And you may not know Hello, but you definitely know their song “New York Groove,” which was covered by Ace Frehley. The Glitter Band were also known as The Glittermen and were, of course, the back-up for Gary Glitter (the same creative team that made this movie also were behind Glitter’s film Remember Me This Way). The Rubettes were a studio band that had two hits, “Sugar Baby Love” and “Your Baby Ain’t Your Baby Anymore.” Their keyboard player Bil Hurd was in Suzi Quatro’s band. Bob Kerr’s Whoopee Band was an offshoot of the Bonzo Dog Band. Finally, Scott Fitzgerald represented the UK in the 1988 Eurovision contest — alongside Jigsaw’s Des Dyer, Julie Forsyth and her husband Dominic Grant — coming in second to Switzerland’s winning entry, “Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi” performed by Celine Dion. He’s best known for his song “If I Had Words,” which is in the film Babe.
This is one of those movies where my mother-in-law walks in and says, “What weird movie are you watching now?” and I find myself explaining how amazing mid-70’s British glam is to someone who has no idea what I’m talking about. Oh mama, weer all crazee now. And so crazee for it that we reviewed it twice, during our first “Rock ‘n’ Roll Week.” Yeah, it’s that fun!
The joy of Turkish cinema is that it allows you to relive movies that you already enjoyed, like Death Wish. And, well, Death Wish 2.
Orhan — the Turkish Paul Kersey — and his wife Filiz, along with his sister Sevgi and her boyfriend Jahit, have just come back to Istanbul from an escape to the country. Moments after that peaceful time ends, some drugged-up bad guys assault the women, killing Filiz and leacing Sevgi in a coma, much like Paul’s daughter Carol in the original. The police won’t be able to help outside of taking statements. Now, it’s up to Orhan to get the revenge that no one else will for him.
Director Memduh Ün may have been inspired by Michael Winner, but like all the best cover songs, he realizes that he has to put his own touch on the material. Serdar Gökhan seems more like an everyman than Charles Bronson. When Bronson’s Kersey pukes after his first night of being a vigilante, we’ve associated death and destruction so much with the actor that we realize he’s going to get over it. We want him to embrace the angel of death. Instead, we see Serdar’s take slowly descend from a man willing to attend to an injured dog in the midst of his vacation to someone willing to toss a man to his death. Somehow, this movie remakes the original and premakes the sequel, all with probably a tength of the budget.