JEAN ROLLIN-UARY: The Living Dead Girl (1982)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This first was posted on November 18, 2022.

Jean Rollin had such a rough introduction to film — being chased by the forces of Generalissimo Francisco Franco while making a documentary, running out of money, causing scandals, suffering an accident during the filming of  La Vampire Nue which left him traumatized — that the fact that his movies ever came out is nothing short of a marvel.

After 1971’s Requiem for a Vampire he finally became a success, making a movie that he called a naive film, one that had a simplified story, direction and cinematography. And yet he made movies he knew would fail, like La Rose de Fer (The Iron Rose) and would work in adult films as Michel Gentil to pay the bills. Yet he would keep making absolutely deranged movies like Les démoniaques — two women are assaulted and killed by pirates and then have sex with Satan to return and get their revenge — and Lèvres de sang in which a man is obsessed with a childhood memory that could really be a dream.

He’d go between getting close to success with movies like Les raisins de la mort and then having to go back to make adult films to pay the bills. Even the artistic success of Fascination was poorly distributed meaning more Michel Gentil or Robert Xavier porn films.

In 1982, however, he made La morte vivante which may be his most commercial and successful film.

Catherine Valmont (Françoise Blanchard) has been dead and buried in her family vault beneath the Valmont mansion before grave robbers, some dumped chemicals and a tremor awakens her. She can only live by drinking blood and fades in and out of reality — much like one of the director’s films — remembering her childhood friend Hélène (Marina Pierro) who ends up helping keep her alive. There’s also Barbara(Carina Barone), a photographer obsessed with the image of Catherine.

This movie is probably the most accessible Rollin movie. Sure, it moves at the same languid pace as his other films, but it has a story, one drenched in sadness and childhood nostalgia and perhaps even young love. It has more gore than much of his other movies and no small amount of nudity, yet the true reason this succeeds is that it’s the most potent of all strains of Eurohorror drugs. Watching Rollin is like finding out that joint has been laced and you keep waiting for the real drugs to kick in and before you know it, it’s too late and there’s nothing you can do to stop the slow creep of the high and before long you’re enveloped by it and love it but also unnerved at the very same second. By the end, that same love has destroyed everything. A woman has been set ablaze and Hélène has given of herself to Catherine’s unending need to drink blood, cracking her open like some kind of delicacy. Françoise Blanchard went so over the limit in this scene that the crew thought that she had really lost her mind.

Supposedly, there’s an English version that was shot with the same cast and crew, directed by Gregory Heller who would shoot his scene right after Rollin. It is a lost film.

You can watch this on Tubi or Kino Cult.

Cinematic Void January Giallo 2023: Tenebre (1982)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Cinematic Void will be playing one of my favorites — it’s really the last word in giallo in my opinion — on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023 at midnight at The Belcourt Theatre in Nashville, TN (tickets here) and Saturday, Jan. 27 at midnight at the Coolidge Corner Theatre in  Brookline, MA (tickets here). For more information, visit Cinematic Void.

By 1982, Dario Argento had moved beyond the constraints of the giallo genre he had helped popularize and started to explore the supernatural with Suspiria and Inferno. According to the documentary Yellow Fever: The Rise and Fall of the Giallo (which is on the Synapse blu ray of this film), the failure of Inferno led to Argento being kindly asked — or demanded — by his producer to return to the giallo with his next film.

Tenebre is the result and while on the surface it appears to be a return to form, the truth is that it’s perhaps one of the most multilayered and complicated films I’ve ever seen. And while I’ve always believed that Phenomena is Argento’s strangest film — a girl who can talk to bugs befriends a monkey to battle a cannibal child in a foreign country — I have learned that Tenebre just might be even stranger.

To start, Argento intended for the film to be almost science fiction, taking place five years after a cataclysmic event, in a world where there are less fewer people and as a result, cities are less crowded and the survivors are richer. Argento claims that if you watch Tenebre with this in mind, it’s very apparent. While he only hinted that the survivors wanted to forget some mystery event, in later interviews he claims that it takes place in an imaginary city where the people left behind try to forget a nuclear war.

In truth, this could be an attempt to explain why Argento decided to show an Italy that he never had in his films before. Whereas in the past he spent so much time showing the landmarks and crowded streets that make up The Eternal City, he would now move into a sleek futuristic look, a Rome that exists but that films had never shown its viewers before. This pushes this film away from past Argento giallo such as his animal trilogy and Deep Red, as well as the waves of imitators that he felt undermined and cheapened his work. There is no travelogue b-roll time wasters in this movie — the actual setting is there for a reason; stark, cold and alienating.

Argento had started that he “dreamed an imaginary city in which the most amazing things happen,” so he turned to the EUR district of Rome, which was created for the 1942 World’s Fair, and intended by  Mussolini to celebrate two decades of fascism. Therefore, more than showing a Rome that most filmgoers have never seen, he is showing us a Rome that never was or will be; a world where so many have died, yet fascism never succumbed.

Instead of the neon color palette that he’s established in Suspiria or the Bava-influenced blues and reds that lesser lights would use in their giallo, production designer Giuseppe Bassan and Argento invented a clean, cool look; the houses and apartments look sparse and bleached out. When the blood begins to flow — and it does, perhaps more than in any film he’d create before or since — the crimson makes that endless whiteness look even bleaker.

Tenebre may mean darkness or shadows in Latin, but Argento pushed for the film to be as bright as possible, without the shadowplay that made up much of his past work. In fact, unlike other giallo, much of the plot takes place in the daytime and one murder even takes place in broad daylight.

Again, I feel that this movie is one made of frustration. As Argento tried to escape the giallo box that he himself had made, he found himself pulled back into it in an attempt to have a success at the box office. In this, he finds himself split in two, the division between art and commerce.

As a result, the film is packed with duality. There are two killers: one who we know everything about and is initially heroic; another who we learn almost nothing about other than they are an evil killer. Plus, nearly everyone in this film has a mirror character and soon even everyday objects like phone booths and incidents like car crashes begin happening in pairs.

Peter Neal (Anthony Franciosa, Julie Darling) is set up from the beginning of the film as the traditional giallo hero: he is in a foreign place, deaths are happening all around him and he may be the inspiration or reason why they’re happening. He has more than one double in this film, but for most of it, his doppelganger is Detective Giermani. The policeman is a writer himself and a fan of Neal’s work, claiming that he can never figure out who the killer is in his books. Their cat and mouse game seems to set up a final battle; that finale is quick and brutal.

This conversation between the two men sums up the linguistic battle they engage in throughout the film:

Peter Neal: I’ve been charged, I’ve tried building a plot the same way you have. I’ve tried to figure it out; but, I just have this hunch that something is missing, a tiny piece of the jigsaw. Somebody who should be dead is alive, or somebody who should be alive is already dead.

Detective Germani: Explain that.

Peter Neal: You know, there’s a sentence in a Conan Doyle book, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

This last sentence is of great interest to me when it comes to giallo. Normally, these films are not based upon Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but instead, use Edgar Wallace as a touchpoint. They are also filled with red herrings and nonsensical endings where the impossible and improbable often becomes the final answer to the mystery.

Even the movie’s plot is split in half and mirrors itself. This next sentence gives away the narrative conceit of the film: the murders are solved in the first half, belonging to Christiano Berti (John Steiner, Shock), a TV critic who interviews Neal. The second murders are all Neal’s, who uses an axe instead of a straight razor, and his crimes are personal crimes of passion that aren’t filled with the sexual aggression of Berti’s; they are quick and to the point. Much of giallo is about long, complicated and ornate murder, as well as trying to identify the killer. As the film goes on, with the main killer revealed and the murders becoming less flashy, it’s as if Argento is commenting on the increasing brutality of the genre he helped midwife.

The movie itself starts with the book Tenebre being burnt in a fireplace with this voiceover: “The impulse had become irresistible. There was only one answer to the fury that tortured him. And so he committed his first act of murder. He had broken the most deep-rooted taboo and found not guilt, not anxiety or fear, but freedom. Any humiliation which stood in his way could be swept aside by the simple act of annihilation: Murder.”

That’s when we meet Neal, an American in Rome, here to promote his latest work of violent horror, Tenebre. This bit of metafiction is but the first bit of a film that fuses the real and fictional worlds. Joined by Anne (Fulci’s wife Daria Nicolodi) and agent Buller (John Saxon!), Neal begins his press tour.

Before he left, Neal’s fiancée Jane vandalized his suitcase. And moments prior to him landing in Rome, a shoplifter (Ania Pieroni, the babysitter from The House by the Cemetery) who stole his book has been murdered by a straight razor, with pages from said book — again, Tenebre — stuffed into her mouth. Neal has received an anonymous letter proclaiming that he did the murder to cleanse the world of perversion.

Throughout the film, we see flashbacks of a man being tormented, such as a woman chasing down a young man and forcing him to fellate her high heel while other men hold him down. Later, we see the stereotypical giallo black gloved POV sequence of her being stabbed to death.

Next, one of Neal’s friends, Tilde and her lover Marion are stalked and killed. This sequence nearly breaks the film because nothing can truly see to follow it. In fact, the distributor begged Argento to cut the shot down because it was meaningless, but the director demanded that it remain. Using a Louma crane, the camera darts over and above the couple’s home in a several-minutes-long tracking shot. Any other director would film these murders with quick cuts between the victim and listener in the other room or perhaps employ a split-screen. Not Argento, who continually sends his camera spiraling into the night sky, high above Rome, across a maze of scaffolding; a shot that took three days to capture and lasts but two and a half minutes. In one endless take, the camera goes from rooftop to window, making a fortress of a home seem simple to break into; it’s as if Argento wanted to push the Steadicam open of Halloween to the most ridiculous of directorial masturbation. It’s quite simply breathtaking.

Maria, the daughter of Neal’s landlord, who is presented to us as a pure woman (much of giallo, to use Argento’s own words in Yellow Fever: The Rise and Fall of the Giallo, is split between the good girl and the bad woman), is killed when she discovers the killer’s lair. Neal mentions that Berti, the TV personality, seemed obsessed with him and his words echoed the letters from the killer. As Neal has now become the giallo hero, he must do his own investigation, taking his assistant Gianni (Christian Borromeo, Murder Rock) to spy on the man. They discover him burning photos that prove he is the killer.

As Gianni watches, Berti says, “I killed them all!” before an axe crashes into his skull. Whomever the second murderer is, the young man can’t recall. He finds his boss, Neal, knocked out on the front yard and they escape.

That night, Neal and Anne make love, the first time this has ever happened between the two. And the next morning, Neal leaves his agent’s office and discovers his fiancée Jane is secretly sleeping with someone he once considered his best friend.

Giermani asks Neal to visit Berti’s apartment, where they find that the dead man was obsessed with the writer, but don’t discover any of the burnt evidence. The idea that someone could become so obsessed with your work that they’d kill comes directly from Argento’s life. In Los Angeles in the wake of Suspiria‘s surprising international success, an obsessed fan called Argento’s room again and again. While those calls started off nicely enough, by the end, the fan began explaining how he wanted “to harm Argento in a way that reflected how much the director’s work had affected him” and that in the same way that the director had ruined his life, he wanted to ruin his. Argento hid out in Santa Monica, but the caller found him, so he finally went back to Italy. He claimed that the incident was “symptomatic of that city of broken dreams.”

Back to the real story — or the movie story — at hand: Neal decides to leave Rome. Jane receives a pair of red shoes, like the ones we’ve seen in the flashbacks. Bullmer is waiting for Jane in public before he is murdered in broad daylight. And then Neal’s plane leaves for Paris.

Gianni, however, is haunted by the fact that he can’t remember the crime. He returns to Berti’s apartment and it all comes flooding back to him. This moment of visual blindness — and eventually recovery — suggests that Gianni will be pivotal in the resolution of the film and become a hero; ala Sam in The Bird with the Crystal Plumage or Marcus in Deep Red. Not so in the world of Tenebre, as he’s killed within moments.

Argento’s callbacks to his past films are not complete — Jane enters her apartment and walks past a sculpture, again directly and visually recalling The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. She’s called Anne and has a gun, so one assumes that she now knows that she’s not the only unfaithful one in her relationship. An axe shatters the scene and the window as Jane’s arm sprays blood everywhere, almost like some demented surrealist painting. This scene was the cause of numerous cuts with Italian censors and the uncut version still packs plenty of punch.

A quick note — for a movie where Argento was supposedly answering his critics that his work had become too violent and anti-female — the fact that he answers them with an inversion of even more gore and dead women is either the most metacomment of all time or he truly does not give a fuck.

Inspector Altieri enters and is also killed, revealing Neal as the murderer. Anne and Giermani arrive, just in time for Neal to testify to killing Berti and everyone afterward before he slits his own throat.

The flashbacks return and we realize they were Neal’s. While Argento never outright shows it in the film, the girl in the flashbacks was played by transgender actress Eva Robin’s (who got her name from Eva Kant from Danger: Diabolik and the author Harold Robbins), so this further adds to the mirrored theme, as one of Neal’s foremost sexual experiences was not just one of humiliation, but of sublimation and even the greatest heterosexual male fear, penetration. That repressed memory of his childhood sexual trauma and revenge, for some reason unlocked, restoked the bloodlust that he had kept in check for years.

As the detective returns inside, we’re gifted with one of Argento’s most arresting pieces of imagery: as Giermani studies the murder scene, his body contains the shape of Neal, who had faked his death. As he looks down and moves out of frame, the killer is revealed. In essence, the inverse doppelganger is revealed. Brian DePalma, a director who trods the same psychosexual violent domain as Argento, used –stole? — a similar shot in his 1992 film, Raising Cain.

Neal waits for Anne to return. When she opens the door, she knocks over the metal sculpture that referenced Argento’s past work and the sculpture impales the killer. This sequence was copied nearly shot for shot in Kenneth Branagh’s Dead Again, a movie just as influenced by Argento’s work, but also one that would receive much more critical praise.

Surrounded by unending horror, Anne simply screams into the rain, unable to stop. This is another meta moment that we can view on multiple levels:

A. Her character is reacting to the hopelessness of the film’s climax in the only way she has left.

B. Nicolodi, like the other Italians in the film, had little to no character to work with. Frustrated, she bonded with lead actor Franciosa over Tennessee Williams plays, leading to her husband Argento growing increasingly jealous as filming progressed (the couple would split three years later). Therefore, her screams are a genuine reaction to the hopelessness she was feeling for real and took the entire crew by surprise.

C. Asia Argento, the daughter of Dario and Nicolodi, has stated that this scene and her mother’s commitment to it, would prove to her that she should be an actress. As she matures in age, it’s notable that Argento’s films make a shift toward female protagonists (and even Asia in that lead role in his movies TraumaThe Stendhal SyndromeThe Phantom of the Opera and the final film in the Suspiria Three Mother’s cycle, The Mother of Tears).

I’ve written nearly three thousand words on this film and feel like I could type so many more. It strikes me on so many levels. According to the audio commentary on the Tenebre blu ray by Kim Newman and Alan Jones, one of Argento’s reoccurring theme is that art can kill. You can take this literally — certainly the sculpture at the end ends Neal’s life — or you can see how the darker art gets, the more it impacts the life of its creator (see Fulci’s Cat in the Brain and Craven’s New Nightmare for variations and mediations on this same theme).

Here, the critic Berti’s obsession with the creator Neal’s work compels him to kill in homage to the writer. Is this Argento’s metacommentary that critics — who have never been kind to his work — can only aspire to slavish devotion to his themes and no new creation of their own? That said, the artist isn’t presented as much worthier of a person. He believes that his violent acts of fiction and violent acts of reality are one and the same, all part of the same tapestry of unreality. When he’s finally confronted by what he’s done, all he can do is yell, “It was like a book … a book!”

The second event in Argento’s real life that informs this film comes from a Japanese tourist being shot dead in the lobby of the Beverly Hilton while the director stayed there. Combined with a drive-by shooting that he saw outside a local cinema — which has to feel like a killing outside of a church to a devotee like Argento — the sheer senselessness of murder in America was another reason that Dario left the country.

He would later remark, “To kill for nothing, that is the true horror of today … when that gesture has no meaning whatsoever it’s completely repugnant, and that’s the sort of atmosphere I wanted to put across in Tenebre.”

I can see some of that, but for someone who has presented murder as works of art — perfect preplanned symphonies of mayhem — the stunning realization that real life death is ugly and imperfect must have punched Argento right in the metaphorical face.

Cinematic Void January Giallo 2023: Deadly Games (1982)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Cinematic Void will be playing this American giallo on Saturday, January 14 at 9:30 PM at the Sie Film Center in Denver, CO with CV’s Jim Branscome in person (tickets here). For more information, visit Cinematic Void. There’s also a great blu ray of this movie from Arrow that you can get from MVD.

Deadly Games may have been sold as a slasher, but it’s more of a murder mystery. Sure, the killings are pretty intense — a long drowning, burying a victim alive — but it’s maybe even less a murder mystery and more a late 70s, early 80s small town romantic drama where lots of people swing and one of them — either a cop or Vietname vet — is a masked killer.

It’s interesting how little this movie cares about fitting into any neat and clean box.

Clarissa Jane Louise “Keegan” Lawrence (Jo Anne Harris) is a rock journalist back home after the death of her sister, a murder that she’s out to solve. After all, her sister didn’t jump out of a window like that, right? She had to have been thrown.

Dick Butkis, the Chicago Bears linebacker legend that had such a long career after that as a kid I just thought he was an actor, owns a coffee shop in town. That’s where a lot of the exposition happens, like how strange Billy Owens (Steve Railsback) is, a Vietnam soldier not back home all in one mental piece who is obsessed with monster movies and his horror-themed game of Chutes and Ladders and oh yeah, he also lives in an old movie theater and sounds like someone I’d go out of my way to be friends with. That said, it’s set up that he has to be the masked killer. Certainly the killer can’t be Sheriff Roger Lane (Sam Groom), because he’s nice and plays on the swings and romances Keegan.

Director and writer Scott Mansfield seems out to make a movie that makes you believe it’s a slasher and then pulls the rug out from under you with an ending that completely predates Scream — without spoilers, but man, that does feel like a spoiler.

The board hame in this is Universal monsters inspired and I love that Roger and Billy have been playing it for decades, as well as the killer somehow knowing way too much about it. I can only wish I still had friends ready to play a board game that often.

Coleen Camp and June Lockhart are in this as well, so my casting brain was quite impressed by who Mansfield got to be in this movie.

It’s not perfect, it’s probably too long and too talky, but I enjoyed the laid back vibe of Deadly Games. The last ten minutes are worth the time that it takes to get there and I was pretty surprised by the leap that the film makes.

A CHRISTMAS STORY: The Great American Fourth of July and Other Disasters (1982)

Directed by Richard Barlett and written by Jean Shepherd, who also wrote the original stories that these were based on. You will probably know A Christmas Story, but Ralphie Parker had several adventures before and after that film.

James Broderick returns as The Old Man, Barbara Bolton is back as mom and Shepherd again plays the older Ralphie, who starts the story visiting South of the Border and buying fireworks. In the actual movie, he’s played by Matt Dillon and Jay Ine is Randy.

Ralphie is high school aged here and excited to meet his friend’s attractive cousin named Pamela, a date he eventually botches. That said, the main part of the story is all about his father’s obsession with fireworks and his mother’s chain letter that keeps wash rags coming to their house.

If A Christmas Story has its holiday, so does this. The only downer is the repeated reference to fireworks as dago bombs, but I guess it was the 1940s and that’s how people referred to Italians. It was how my grandmother did until her death a year or so ago, despite my dad being, yes, Italian.

You can watch this on YouTube.

 

The Living Dead Girl (1982)

Jean Rollin had such a rough introduction to film — being chased by the forces of Generalissimo Francisco Franco while making a documentary, running out of money, causing scandals, suffering an accident during the filming of  La Vampire Nue which left him traumatized — that the fact that his movies ever came out is nothing short of a marvel.

After 1971’s Requiem for a Vampire he finally became a success, making a movie that he called a naive film, one that had a simplified story, direction and cinematography. And yet he made movies he knew would fail, like La Rose de Fer (The Iron Rose) and would work in adult films as Michel Gentil to pay the bills. Yet he would keep making absolutely deranged movies like Les démoniaques — two women are assaulted and killed by pirates and then have sex with Satan to return and get their revenge — and Lèvres de sang in which a man is obsessed with a childhood memory that could really be a dream.

He’d go between getting close to success with movies like Les raisins de la mort and then having to go back to make adult films to pay the bills. Even the artistic success of Fascination was poorly distributed meaning more Michel Gentil or Robert Xavier porn films.

In 1982, however, he made La morte vivante which may be his most commercial and successful film.

Catherine Valmont (Françoise Blanchard) has been dead and buried in her family vault beneath the Valmont mansion before grave robbers, some dumped chemicals and a tremor awakens her. She can only live by drinking blood and fades in and out of reality — much like one of the director’s films — remembering her childhood friend Hélène (Marina Pierro) who ends up helping keep her alive. There’s also Barbara(Carina Barone), a photographer obsessed with the image of Catherine.

This movie is probably the most accessible Rollin movie. Sure, it moves at the same languid pace as his other films, but it has a story, one drenched in sadness and childhood nostalgia and perhaps even young love. It has more gore than much of his other movies and no small amount of nudity, yet the true reason this succeeds is that it’s the most potent of all strains of Eurohorror drugs. Watching Rollin is like finding out that joint has been laced and you keep waiting for the real drugs to kick in and before you know it, it’s too late and there’s nothing you can do to stop the slow creep of the high and before long you’re enveloped by it and love it but also unnerved at the very same second. By the end, that same love has destroyed everything. A woman has been set ablaze and Hélène has given of herself to Catherine’s unending need to drink blood, cracking her open like some kind of delicacy. Françoise Blanchard went so over the limit in this scene that the crew thought that she had really lost her mind.

Supposedly, there’s an English version that was shot with the same cast and crew, directed by Gregory Heller who would shoot his scene right after Rollin. It is a lost film.

You can watch this on Tubi.

MILL CREEK NIGHTMARE WORLDS: Panic (1982)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was originally on the site on November 13, 2018.

Also known as Bakterion, Nightmare Killing and even Zombie 4 in Greece, this film was directed by Tonino Ricci, Fulci’s assistant director on White Fang and Challenge to White Fang.

It all starts with lab rats going nuts and killing one another, which was not what I was planning on watching while I ate my breakfast while watching this. What was I thinking?

Professor Adams has gone missing — maybe it was a fishing trip — but we all know that he’s behind all of the random killings. The government literally sends Captain Kirk (David Warbeck from The Beyond) to figure out what’s going on. He starts working with Jane (Janet Agren, Eaten Alive!Hands of Steel) to figure out how to stop the infection and save not just the town, but soon the entire world. Yep, there’s plenty of talk about how this mutant virus could end life as we know it, yet all we see is one rotting meatloaf looking doctor.

Will the military nuke the town? Can Captain Kirk stop the worst special effect you’ve ever seen this side of Curse of Bigfoot? Will Jane feel bad for the professor, whose face looks like the inside of a stuffed pepper? Did I laugh out loud at this end credit copy?

THE IMPORTANT CINEMA CLUB’S SUPER SCARY MOVIE CHALLENGE DAY 30: Curse of the Screaming Dead (1982)

30. A Horror Film Covered in the ShockMarathons Books.

In his book, All I Need to Know about Filmmaking I Learned from the Toxic Avenger, Troma president Lloyd Kaufman lists this among the five worst films in Troma’s library. Yet another reason for me to say it: Fuck Lloyd Kaufman.

Director Tony Malanowski and star Steve Sandkuhler had already made this movie a year before as Night of Horror. Yet the idea that a bunch of zombie Confederate soldiers could rise up and destroy some hippies in a Winnebego seemed to be too good of an idea to pass up. So they went back and made it again, this time putting six twenty-something teens — Wyatt (Sandkuhler), Mel (Christopher Gummer), Sarah (Rebecca Bach), Bill (Jim Ball), Blind Kiyomi (Mimi Ishikawa) and Lin (Judy Dixon) — up against the South as it rises once again.

Yes, who knew that deer hunting would lead to this? This movie is a lesson for us all. If you stay in an area that has a Confederate graveyard, don’t steal their stuff and don’t read the book they left behind. Nobody — not even the cops — can survive once those zombies come back and want back their stuff. That’s why the other title for this film, Curse of the Cannibal Confederates — is so truthful.

Look, I get that this movie is shot in complete darkness, no one knows how to act and the story has been done before. If that stopped me, I wouldn’t watch anything. There’s a hiss and echo on the bass heavy soundtrack to this movie that makes me convinced that somehow this movie exists on the same collective unconsciousness place as the second wave of black metal. Everything is as dark as it can be, day for night but night for day, and in the same way that some people laugh off corpsepaint and bad production on those albums, they are also filled with moments of drone drug floating out of our reality abilities that this finds and seizes on. I mean, the zombie attacks are legitimately unsettling, the sounds of zombies masticating their prey beyond disgusting. And that church set! In Norway, they would have burned it down. Here, we turn it into the setting for a zombie film.

If this came out today, it would have the tagline “We are going to eat y’all.”

Malanowski went on to edit Dr. Alien and Nightmare Sisters. He’s still at it.  and Nightmare Sisters. He’s still at it. I’d love if he made this one more time.

2022 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 21: House of Traps (1982)

21. TRAPS: To lay or be laid, that is the question.

Based on Shi Yukun’s The Seven Heroes and Five Gallants, this Shaw Brothers movie has the Venom Mob and a house of, well, traps. Not a trap house. That’s different.

Directed by Chang Cheh, this is the last Venom Mob movie. Lo Meng is already gone. Only Kuo Choi and Lu Feng get to fight. It seems odd. But then again, there is the house full of traps, which seems to be the main selling point.

Butterfly Chua (Lu Feng) has taken a priceless jade statue and hidden it inside his — do I have to say the title of this movie again? — which has spikes everywhere, steps that rip off feet, steel nets and archers ready to kill anyone who makes it close to the treasure.

Inspector Yuan (Lung Tien-Hsiang) is the person who will challenge the house, because that jade statue — and the other art treasures hidden within — have some great importance to the government. Both Yuan and Butterfly Chua end up employing entire armies of martial artists ready to kick, punch and brutalize one another.

The good guys are called the Rat Gang, which wouldn’t happen in America. There’s also a killer umbrella and some wild costumes. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it doesn’t have to. That’s why I love these movies, I can just put them on and they fill my eyes with so many images, my brain was so many visions and my heart with so much joy.

SLASHER MONTH: Death Valley (1982)

Wilfred Brimley was two years young than me when he made this movie and that’s kind of screwing me up right now.

Paul Stanton (Edward Herrman) has sent his son Billy (Peter Billingsly) into going to California to meet up with his mother Sally (Catherine Hicks) and her boyfriend Mike (Paul Le Mat) who are on the way to Arizona. As things usually occur, Billy accidentally walks across the crime scene of a serial killer, takes a turtle necklace and unleashes unwitting hell.

Directed by Dick Richards and written by Richard Rothstein, this movie puts a young child into the claws of a serial killer, which is scary now but had to be even worse in 1982 when we hadn’t really come to understand the evil around us.

A year later, Peter Billingsly would be in A Christmas Story in which he’d also dress like a cowboy and bring up Black Bart. What are the odds, I ask you?

Also: Wilfred Brimley was a bodyguard for Howard Hughes.

Also also: This is part of that most wonderful of horror genres, the RV movie.

If I saw this as a kid, I would have made sure that my parents never took us on vacation.

THE IMPORTANT CINEMA CLUB’S SUPER SCARY MOVIE CHALLENGE 19: The Last Horror Film (1982)

16. A Horror Film Featuring Caroline Munro.

The Last Horror Movie reunites those wacky lovebirds Joe Spinell and Caroline Munro from Starcrash and Maniac and makes another appearance for Joe on the video nasty section 3 list.

Director David Winters was one of the few stage actors and dancers in West Side Story to be in the film version. He then became a choreographer and was the first to choreograph the Watusi as well as the originator of the Freddie and helped Elvis and Ann-Margaret dance in Viva Las Vegas. His first directorial effort was the Alice Cooper film Welcome to My Nightmare and he produced everything from Linda Lovelace for President to Young Lady ChatterleyKiller Workout and owned Action International Pictures. He also dated Lovelace after she divorced Chuck Traynor. She credited him for introducing her to culture. The guy did so much! He directed Racquet, did the choreography for Roller Boogie, made Mission Kill with Robert Ginty and oh yeah, also directed Thrashin’!

Anyways, both Spinell and Munro are two people who make me love life the moment I see them. The blonde highlights in her hair in this movie got me through the rest of a very hard week. This film is very 1982 and therefore, it is very good.

Spinell is Vinny, a cab driver who lives with his mother (Filomena Spagnuolo, Spinell’s real mother, who ends the movie by asking if she can take a hit off his joint; that’s also Spinell’s real apartment) but dreams of making a horror movie with scream queen Jana Bates (Munro), who is going to be at Cannes to promote her latest film Scream along with her manager and ex-husband Bret Bates (Glenn Jacobson) and producer and current boyfriend Alan Cunningham (Judd Hamilton). She gets a note that says, “You’ve made your last horror film. Goodbye.” and finds Bret murdered, but the body disappears when the police come to investigate. This turns into more of a whodunnit than a slasher, but I mean, Spinell still gets to chainsaw someone to death.

Just like the movie within this movie, this was shot with no permits at the 1981 Cannes Film Festival. If you think it’s not realistic for an actress in a horror movie to win an award, that very year Isabelle Adjani won the Best Actress award for Possession

PS: In no way am I as obsession with Munro as Vinny was with Jana.