EDITOR’S NOTE: This was originally on the site on April 10, 2021.

Cauldron Films has released this on blu ray with a 4K restoration from the original negative and  commentary by film historan Kat Ellinger, plus an image gallery with soundtrack. You can get it from MVD.

Written and directed by Tomás Aznar, this Spanish biker/slasher/occult freakout thrilled me with every single frame. It starts with one of a group of robbers posing as a prostitute before she brutally knifes a man, then she joins three others to rob a bar.

Taking a middle-class couple hostage and holding out in the home of an old woman and her grandson, they act just like you’d expect a home invasion biker gang to behave, killing everyone in their path when they’re not screwing in churches.

Before they kill her, the grandmother prays to Satan to destroy the bikers and from there on, they see ghastly visions of her dead grandson, you know, when they’re not having sex and killing more people or being chased by Ossorio-like Templars through a desiccated chapel. Oh yeah — there’s also supposedly a fortune guarded by those very same Blind Dead-ish mummies in the catacombs beneath the ruins.

It’s packed with menace, gore, sex and meanness — exactly the kind of Eurohorror that always played well over here. It has that glorious shot on film soft darkness that I love so much, as well as drugs, shootouts and a final twenty minutes that are a delirious thrill ride.

Más allá Del Terror was never released ever in the United States until now and I have no idea why.

PS – Fans of Warren Comics will spot the art that was lifted for the German VHS release. It’s the Frank Frazetta cover of Vampirella #11.


EDITOR’S NOTE: This originally ran on the site on March 1, 2018.

Cauldron Films has released this before, but this is a reissue without slipcover of their astounding looking release of Fulci’s gangster masterpiece. Along with a 4K restoration from the original negative, this has new interviews with writer Giorgio Mariuzzo, actress Ivana Monti and actor Saverio Marconi; archival Interviews with actors Fabrizio Jovine and Venantino Venantini, cinematographer Sergio Salvati and composer Fabio Frizzi; new commentary by film historians Troy Howarth, Nathaniel Thompson and Bruce Holecheck; an image gallery; trailers and a reversible cover with alternate artwork. You can get it from MVD.

Imagine Fulci making a cop movie. Imagine that the budget ran out two weeks in. Imagine that real mobsters paid for the film, asking for a title change and for more violence (like Fulci was going to say no). Don’t imagine. All of these things are wonderfully true and make Contraband such a weird addition to your Fulci collection.

Luca Di Angelo smuggles near Naples with his brother Mickey. They have a close call with the police and suspect a rival gangster, Scherino, of turning them in. After sharing their concerns with their boss Perlante, one of Mickey’s prize horses is killed and a fake police roadblock leads to Fulci paying homage (or straight up ripping off, depending on your perspective) to the scene where Sonny dies in The Godfather. Luca escapes death while his brother is not so lucky. Despite warnings that he should leave town, he has a speedboat funeral for his brother and vows revenge. Breaking into Scherino’s house, he almost kills the man before running into his henchmen. He gets his ass kicked, but his life is spared after the boss tells him he had no part in the death of his brother.

Adele, Luca’s wife, wants him to forget this life. But he’s in deep after discovering that a vicious French criminal named The Marsigliese is responsible. We meet this criminal during a drug deal, where he responds to a bad batch of heroin by burning a woman’s face with a blowtorch. If you haven’t realized that you are watching a Lucio Fulci movie, this would be the point in the film where you realize that fact.

The Marsigliese starts killing all of the Mafia leaders so that he can become the sole boss of Naples. Even Perlante is nearly killed, only being saved by the fact that his chief capo was having sex with his mistress and triggered a bomb under the bed. After a meeting between Luca, Perlante and The Marsigliese, where they discuss working together, Luca warns his fellow smugglers that if the French boss has his way, there will be more drugs, more overdoses and more problems — with less money for all of them.

The police are using all of the intercine battling to round up smugglers, but Scherino saves Luca and suggests they work together. They meet at Perlante’s house, but Luca smells The Marsigliese’s cologne. That’s when gunmen bust in and shoot everyone but Luca, who escapes by crashing through a window. Scherino is mortally wounded, but not before shooting Perlante in the neck, killing him.

Again, in case you wonder who directed this film, The Marsigliese kidnaps Adele and demands Luca turn over his smuggling operation over the phone…and then plays him the sounds of our hero’s wife being beaten and gang-raped. Luca unites all of the retired mob bosses and old guard bosses, who are sick of hearing about the Frenchman taking over. They take out most of his men and Luca guns him down in a garbage-strewn alley in a scene packed with blood spraying everywhere.

Adele and rescued and Morrone, the leader of the old school mob guys, tells the police that he has no idea who Luca is.

Contraband was made as Fulci was starting to claim his gore crown. It’s his only crime movie, but it’s not a bad effort. And if you’re looking for his trademark tics, as you’ve read above, this film is full of them. It has way more blood and guts than any film of this type and subverts the genre it should be in, so it’s quite similar to how Fulci treated sword and sorcery with Conquest. This may not be one of his best-known films, but it’s worth checking out.


EDITOR’S NOTE: This was originally on the site on August 31, 2017. If you want to know more about Night Train to Terror just read this.

Have you ever seen Night Train to Terror and wondered — what would one of that film’s portmanteau sequences be like if they were expanded to an entire movie? Good news! Well, maybe. Your wishes have come true.

The final story of Night Train, “The Case of Claire Hansen”, was really a film called The Nightmare Never Ends (alternatively known as Cataclysm and Satan’s Supper). It boasts three directors. Amazingly, it was written by Philip Yordan, who not only won the Academy Award for Broken Lance in 1954, but also provided a front for blacklisted Hollywood writers (he was Bernard Gordon’s front for The Day of the Triffids)!

This is my favorite of all kinds of movies — a film I discover at 5 AM when the rest of the world is asleep and wonder if it can really be true and if I am not still asleep. To say that this is a batshit insane film is to do a disservice to the phrase batshit insane. I feel ill-prepared to share its wonder with you, but I’m sure going to try.

There are two stories going on here:

Nobel Prize-winning author James Hansen (Richard Moll of TV’s Night Court and House) and his devoutly Catholic wife Claire (who is a surgeon, which totally comes into play later) decide to go to Vegas to both celebrate James’ new book and to get away from Claire’s nightmares. Wondering what James won the Nobel Prize for? He wrote a book that proved that God is dead. Now, he’s planning a TV special to tell the whole story to the whole world (he’s preaching the bad news!). Well, alright. And that Claire — seems that she’s been dreaming about volcanoes. They decide to go see a magician, who puts Claire into a trance in seconds.

That’s when we learn the real secret of what has been bothering Claire — Nazis! She dreams of a handsome young officer who kills a room of other officers and an all-female string orchestra. After the show, Claire invites him to dinner after he tells her that a demon is after her. He never makes it — he is killed and a 666 tattoo is left on his scalp.

Remember when I said there was a second story?

Mr. Weiss is super old and out of it, but totally recognizes a Nazi when he sees one. Pretty and rich Olivier is being interviewed during the intermission of the New York Ballet and he looks exactly like the Nazi officer who killed Weiss’ parents at Auschwitz (and he’s also the Nazi from Claire’s dream). Weiss is a Nazi hunter, believe it or not, and he calls in his neighbor Lieutenant Stern (Cameron Mitchell, who has been in more movies than there have been movies, but let’s call out Blood and Black Lace as one of the best of his films). They go to the ballet and follow Olivier to his extravagant mansion, all the while Stern tries to convince the old man that this cannot be the man who tormented his childhood. Weiss grabs his Luger and goes to kill Olivier, but an unseen demon kills him and leaves a 666 on his body.

Oh yeah, there’s also a priest named Papini who is a homeless man that tries to protect James and Claire, even telling her how to kill Olivier.

There are also numerous characters who show up and just die, like Stern’s partner and Claire’s nephew. Even better, there are numerous disco scenes, which feature some wonderfully horrid songs and Olivier seducing Claire’s nephew’s fiancee (so many degrees of separation) until he takes off his shoe to reveal a furry hoof!

As to not skip any exploitation genre — we’ve already had Nazis, tough cops, disco and the occult — Claire goes to visit a black spiritualist who unexpectedly goes off on a ramp, pushing the film toward blaxploitation!  “I am a black man–a (N WORD) in your country. You are a rich woman, I’m sure you have many powerful friends…but they couldn’t help you! You had to seek the help of a (N WORD)!” It’s so insane and doesn’t fit into the movie at all.

Neither does the scene where Papini is killed by Ishtar, Olivier’s assistant (who is only in this one scene). It’s the chance to add some skin to the film and even more blasphemy.

Seriously — this film has blasphemy in spades. If you’re in a metal band that needs samples about religion and the devil, you should totally give this a watch. You’re going to find tons of samples.

Every single actor in this film either reads their lines in monotone or screams them as loudly as possible — sometimes within the same sentence. The lone exceptions are Richard Moll, who is the best actor in here and Mitchell, who is the gruffest cop of all time.

Nearly everyone in this movie (and the related Night Train to Terror) was somehow also involved with another movie that destroyed my brain cells, Cry Wilderness — which was featured on the latest season of Mystery Science Theater. A Bigfoot meets E.T. epic of pure maniacal weirdness, it was also written by Yordan and was directed by Jay Schlossberg-Cohen, who created the wraparound story for Night Train to Terror. Seems that Visto International Inc., a small theatrical motion picture production and distribution company, produced these films in the early 80s magical era of cheaply made independent films. Plus, both films (or all three, if we can cross-over between Night TrainNightmare and Wildernessfeature the acting skills, if you will, of Tony Giorgio, Maurice Grandmaison and Faith Clift.

Let me see if I can summarize the ending of this — after Oliver kills everyone else, Claire hits him with her car. She throws the body in the trunk and takes him to surgery, where she and her nephew’s girlfriend give him open heart surgery, complete with blood spraying and puking. Oh yeah, there’s also stabbing and slapping and screaming. And the bad guy wins!

Holy fuck — this is certainly a slice of cinematic goofball awesome that I won’t soon forget. Make no mistake — it’s a horrible film. But at the same time, it’s also a great one!


EDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome to the first of this month’s Mill Creek box set articles. Up first — Luigi Cozzi’s Alien Contamination! This was first on the site on August 27, 2018.

As a large ship drifts into New York City, you may wonder, “Am I watching Zombi?” No, you’re watching Contamination or Alien Contamination, but the similarities may be international. Both films shared the same production offices and director Luigi Cozzi (Starcrash, Hercules) was so impressed that he wanted to hire the same cast, but only ended up with Ian McCulloch.

The ship is packed with large containers of coffee, which really hide green eggs that pulsate and make droning sounds. The crew of the ship is more than just dead. They’re in pieces and the rescue team soon discovers why. The eggs tend to explode, spraying acid all over the place that’s toxic to anything human. As soon as it touches them, they explode in glorious slow motion bursts of red food color and Karo syrup.

The military soon links the green eggs with a recent mission to Mars that caused one astronaut to disappear and the other, Commander Hubbard (there’s Ian McCulloch!) to become a drunk. He joins Colonel Stella Holmes and New York cop Tony Aris (Marino Masé, The Red Queen Kills Seven Times) on the case, which takes them all the way to a Columbian coffee plantation (well, the movie was funded by Columbia cocaine dealers) and Hubbard’s old partner, who is now in the thrall of a gigantic alien cyclops (!).

Originally intended as a straight sequel to Alien, this movie enters James Bond territory at times and is not afraid — at all — to wipe out characters left and right. It also has a scene where a green egg menaces a girl in the shower, which should be frightening yet comes off as hilarious. That said, this has a loud Goblin soundtrack that makes this seem like a much better movie than it is.

But hey — who can hate a movie with dialogue like this?

NYPD Lt. Tony Aris: Jesus Christ, the whole world is going to be wiped out and all this broad’s worried about is getting changed!

Colonel Stella Holmes: Listen, Aris, if I have to die with the rest of the world then I want to have a proper dress on and clean underwear.

That’s better than the first few minutes of the film, where almost the entire dialogue is muffled. But hey — you can either choose great dialogue or awesome gore. Guess which one you get here?

Want to see it for yourself? Shudder and Amazon Prime both have this streaming and you can get the Arrow blu ray at Diabolik DVD. You can also watch Contamination with commentary from Joe Bob Briggs on Shudder.


22. A Horror Film that Michele Soavi Appears In.

I’m trying to do all new movies for this challenge which makes this hard because I’ve already had so many Michele Soavi movies that he acted in on the site, like Alien 2: On EarthCity of the Living DeadAbsurdThe New York RipperTenebre, Caligula…The Untold StoryA Blade In the DarkEndgameAtlantis InterceptorsBlastfighterPhenomenaDemons, Stage FrightThe ChurchThe Mask of SatanThe SectThe Black Cat and Cemetery Man.

Franco Nero is private eye Larry “Cobra” Stanziani, who even gets his own song that says, “I don’t give a damn, I am the Cobra.” He returns to Italy hired to discover who killed a narcotics agent and reconnect with his young son who — spoiler warning — gets murdered and then we get to see lots of people get killed by Cobra.

Enzo G. Castellari wanted to make this as a tribute to Chandler. That’s not why it has a fistfight in a disco, but I’m good with it. Also this movie was selected specifically because — in addition to Soavi — it has Sybil Danning in it.

I can watch Franco Nero lose his mind and murder criminals all day. I am a very simple film watcher.


17. A Horror Film From the Hong Kong New Wave(1979-1984).

Did Italian horror cinema have an influence on director Tsui Hark? Well, between the title of this movie — which comes from the tagline for Zombie — and the fact that it stole its soundtrack from Suspiria, I would say yes. There’s also a fair bit taken from Sacrifice! and Cannibal Holocaust as well as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Also called Hell Has No Gates, No Door to Hell and Kung Fu Cannibal, this is about Agent 999 (Norman Chu) who is after Rolex (Melvin Wong), a thief, all the way to a cannibal village. Yet Rolex ends up saving him from the cannibals just in time for he himself to get chowed down on.

This is like a film noir detective against flesh eating ghouls mixed with comedy and ill-advised transvestite comedy. It doesn’t work as much as you’d hope, but Hark would move on from thie and The Butterfly Murders to Dangerous Encounters of the First Kind and Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain.

Di san lei da dou (1980)

Heaven and Hell has it all. Director Chang Cheh. Nearly all of the Venom Mob. Angels and humans falling in love. A battle between heaven and hell. The martial arts you demand and also the weirdness you hope is coming too as the Venoms escape a hell that looks like a combination of Hong Kong and Mario Bava but somehow more neon and all the fog in the world.

Yi-Min Li ‘s character gets kicked out of Heaven for helping David Chiang and Maggie Li fall in love and sent down to Earth as a Hong Kong cab driver who is killed when he can’t stop connecting lonely hearts like Alexander Fu Sheng and Jenny Tseng. He then gets sent to gambler’s hell, a place where he should not be, and the demons just sigh as if to let us know that there is no worse job than working in the punishing world of fire.

The Buddha of Mercy shows up and helps him assemble three of the four Venoms, who all share exactly how they ended up in Hell, and then they fight their way out in battles that are impossibly perfect and have a sheer joy of punches and kicks despite being in the eternal despair of souls. They must face the men that killed them on Earth, now demons, and make their way to be reincarnated.

This movie started shooting in 1975 and saw stops and starts along the way, as well as the money running out. There are also musical numbers. I can only imagine that serious martial arts fans hate this as they wanted fight scenes and instead, they got an exploration of the many levels of the afterworld.

Basically if Alejandro Jodorowsky got hired by Shaw Brothers, this would have been the film he made.

Hex vs. Witchcraft (1980)

Released the same year as Hex, this sorta sequel is less frightening and more gambling. And sex. Lots of sex. Sex where characters break the fourth wall and speak directly to you while they’re having it.

Chih-Hung Kuei directed this yet there are hardly any of the maggots and worms and murder and weirdness that you want. Instead, it’s about a compulsive gambler by the name of Cai Tou (James Yi Lui) whose bad luck is fixed when a mysterious elderly man fixes him up with the ghost of his daughter.

I mean, his last plan was to get his wife to sleep with the gangster he owed money to, which ended up with her decimating his scrotum and then leaving Cai Tou. Now, he has a spectral wife who is jealous of other women yet is only able to make love to her husband by possessing them.

We live in a weird world where some cultures have gambling movies as an actual genre. Let’s love the fact that so many odd and fascinating subcultures exist.

Hex (1980)

Chan Sau Ying (Ni Tien) is going to die from tuberculosis and even then her husband Chun Yu (Wong Yung) can’t stop abusing her. Her new servant Leung Yi Wah (Chan Sze Ka) takes pity on her and they work together to drown Chun Yu in a pond, but then Sau Ying watches as her husband rises from the swamp and seeks revenge.

Kuei Chih-Hung was making his version of Diabolique here but that movie didn’t end with a naked woman having blood slowly spit all over her and her entire nude body covered by painted spells.

Ghosts that spit green vomit, animal guts falling like rain and a grime and rain filled swamp location make this movie just feel messy and gross, which quite often is how I like it. Sure, it moves slow in parts — it is forty years old, after all — and some of the acting leans toward silly humor when the movie seems deadly serious, but when the last ten minutes give you the sleaziest exorcism you’ve even seen, there are no complaints.

Shen wei san meng long (1980)

Bruce Lee only made four movies but the number of movies made by his imitators could be incalculable.

The Clones of Bruce Lee may be among the strangest of those movies.

Seconds after the death of Bruce Lee in Hong Kong, Colonel Colin (Andy Hannah) of the Special Branch of Investigations and Professor Lucas (Jon T. Benn, who was the bad guy in Lee’s Way of the Dragon) take the samples of the actor’s DNA needed to create three crimefighting remakes, played by Bruce Lai, Bruce Le and Dragon Lee.

While Dragon Lee becomes an actor battling corruption on the sets of the movies that he makes, Bruce Lai and Bruce Le meet up with Chuck, who is played by Bruce Thai and yes, looks just like Bruce Lee. Their job: defeat Dr. Ngai, who has harnessed the secret of the Shaw Brothers bronzemen through scientific means. This isn’t new for director Joseph Velasco, who as Joseph Kong also made Bruce and the Shaolin Bronzemen and Enter the Game of Shaolin Bronzemen.

This movie is as wild as you hoped it would be, from Bolo Yeung (who was Bruce’s enemy in Enter the Dragon) and Chiang Tao training the clones to Professor Lucas turning heel when no one knows just how hard he worked to make these clones of the actor. He decides to kill them all and he’s 33% effective. He does so by making the clones fight one another kind of like a Capcom palette swap.

How exploitative is this movie? It uses footage from Lee’s funeral. It also has the gall to take the theme from Rocky by Bill Conti which you have to grudgingly respect. I mean, what better montage music is there?

You can watch this on Tubi.