BRUNO MATTEI WEEK: Belle da Morire 2 (2005)

Pierre Le Blanc — also known as Bruno Mattei — is back with another journey into the world of modeling. Much like Sparkles once said, “Well I guess I just my first taste of the filthy side of this business.”

Also, only Bruno Mattei could get away with taking a big chunk of his movie Body and Soul, then adding new character names and redubbing the dialogue, then remixing it all as a brand new movie, much less a sequel to another of his films! Or maybe I’ve watched forty of Bruno’s movies in one week and they’re all starting to congeal together.

There are also scenes taken directly from Belle Da Morire and Snuff Trap, so at least this time, it’s only Perre Le Blanc stealing from Vincent Dawn. Which is, as you may have figured out by now, Bruno taking from Bruno to get me to watch another of his movies.

The really amazing thing is that Bruno was still making softcore movies in 2005, long after people had started renting actual pornography, much less being able to download it. You have to give the old master credit for that. Somewhere out there — well, there’s me at least — there are people who prefer the gymnastic and unrealistic wriggling that passes for aardvarking in the mondo de Mattei.

Funky Forest: The First Contact (2005)

Three brothers, Masaichi, Masaru and Masao*, struggle to be popular and get girlfriends. That’s the basic thread of this movie, which has 21 segments that may or may not make any sense to the overall narrative. Sometimes, the movie is content to be a science-fiction comedy and others, it just turns into dance battles and a tribute to Cronenberg’s eXistenZ where a girl plugs a wire for her stomach to a TV, at which point an open anus appears and another character shoves his fist into it, pulling out a miniature sushi chef.

The best way I can explain this movie is through some of the narration, which sounds like it came straight out of Prince of Darkness: “Only appearing in your dream. Distorting every sound to create a world like to other. This is what they live for; jumping from one person’s dream to another. Once you have been chosen, you will lose all control of your dreams.”

Co-written and co-directed by Katsuhito Ishii (The Taste of Tea, the animated parts of Kill Bill, Redline), Hajime Ishimine and Shunichiro Miki, I would describe this movie as watching five TV shows all constantly shifting channels while multiple people scream in your face. So yeah, I loved it.

*One brother is Guitar Brother, the other is constantly aroused and the third is a chubby American child. No, none of this is ever explained.

You can watch this on YouTube.

REPOST: Shadows in the Dark: The Val Lewton Legacy (2005)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This originally ran on March 12, 2021 on our site, but with Val Lewton’s birthday being today, we’ve re-running it.

Part of The Val Lewton Horror Collection, this documentary explains the magic of Val Lewton. Directed by Constantine Nasr (who has created many featurettes for DVDs), it unites William Friedkin, Joe Dante, John Landis, Mick Garris, Guillermo del Toro, Kim Newman, George Romero and many more to help tell the story.

Lewton was only alive for 47 years, but in that time — working late into the night — he created a shadow world of noir and suggestion that was the funhouse mirror of the Universal big monster shows. Lewton always wrote the final draft of the screenplays. Movies like Cat People, I Walked With A ZombieThe Body SnatcherThe Seventh VictimIsle of the DeadThe Curse of the Cat People and Bedlam are part of the language that we use to bring horror to film.

Lewton’s films may have been horror movies that only cost $150,000, but unlike many in Hollywood, he was giving artistic freedom within those confines. Before even starting to work at RKO, he said, “They may think I’m going to do the usual chiller stuff which’ll make a quick profit, be laughed at, and be forgotten, but I’m going to fool them…I’m going to do the kind of suspense movie I like.”

Unlike those aforementioned films, Lewton understood that true terror remained in the shadows and never showed its face. “If you make the screen dark enough,” he said, “the mind’s eye will read into it anything you want.”

Who else could have produced a film that featured the line “We’ve found that there is no Heaven on Earth, so we must worship evil for evil’s own sake.”?*

You’ll learn just enough about Lewton by watching this. You’ll get so much more actually watching his movies.

*The Seventh Victim, an astoundingly dark film.

Lee Majors Week: Hell to Pay (2005)

This movie promises ten legendary Western stars.

Those stars would be Buck Taylor (Newly on Gunsmoke), James Drury (The Virginian), Denny Miller (Duke Shannon from Wagon Train), Andrew Prine (who was on numerous cowboy shows but was also Simon King of the Witches), William Smith (who as we all know makes any movie better; he was also Joe Riley on Laredo), Bo Svenson, Peter Brown (Chad Cooper on Laredo), Tom Thomerson (who was Theodore Ogilvie on Gun Shy, the TV spinoff of The Apple Dumpling Gang) and our featured actor this week, Lee Majors (Heath from The Big Valley). And look out! It’s Stella Stevens!

Wait a second. That’s nine cowboys (and Stella). I guess maybe competitive shooter Gene Pearcey is another one? Or Rico Nance, who was an extra on Deadwood after this? Maybe Griff Furst, who was in the remake of The Magnificent Seven?

Any way you look at it, this is the cowboy version of the streaming slashers that come my way every day. It’s legitimately one of the worst-sounding movies I’ve ever heard and you know a movie is bad when it has William Smith, Lee Majors and Tim Thomerson in it and I still can’t stand it.

An utter failure on every level.

Director Chris McIntyre made a movie called Gang Warz with Chino XL and Coolio, as well as Captured Alive with Pat Morita, Backstreet Justice with Viveca Lindfors, Paul Sorvino and Hector Elizondo, plus Hammerlock, another Pat Morita project.

I shall watch none of these.

You can watch this on Tubi.

KAUJI DAY MARATHON: Kong: King of Atlantis (2005)

This film reunites the cast from Kong: The Animated Series and even had a Game Boy Advance video game made from it. It’s all about Queen Reptilla raising the kingdom of Atlantis back from the ocean floor and her trying to convince King Kong into becoming its ruler.

There’s a really great scene in the beginning as the shaman Lua has a nightmare about Kong climbing the Empire State Building and New York City flooding around him. Just as suddenly, black tar begins appearing all over Kong Island, taking many of the animals away with it.

Jason, the adopted human brother of Kong, and Lua argue between saving Kong Island and rescuing its animals. She refuses to tell him that a dark prophecy is here, which begins with an eclipse and will end with Kong bringing back the lizard race that once ruled the planet. Oh yeah — the original Kong, who this one is cloned from, is the one who sunk Atlantis in the first place.

This is a surprisingly dark entry in the Kong cartoon series, with the titular ape worrying about proving himself, dark elder gods returning to Earth and baby cubs watching their mothers be pulled into tar pits. I enjoyed it, but you may want to discuss it with your kids after they enjoy it. Or you know, just let them watch Jess Franco movies and let them become maniacs.

You can watch this on the official Kong: The Animated Series YouTube page or on Tubi.

Shadows in the Dark: The Val Lewton Legacy (2005)

Part of The Val Lewton Horror Collection, this documentary explains the magic of Val Lewton. Directed by Constantine Nasr (who has created many featurettes for DVDs), it unites William Friedkin, Joe Dante, John Landis, Mick Garris, Guillermo del Toro, Kim Newman, George Romero and many more to help tell the story.

Lewton was only alive for 47 years, but in that time — working late into the night — he created a shadow world of noir and suggestion that was the funhouse mirror of the Universal big monster shows. Lewton always wrote the final draft of the screenplays. Movies like Cat People, I Walked With A ZombieThe Body SnatcherThe Seventh VictimIsle of the DeadThe Curse of the Cat People and Bedlam are part of the language that we use to bring horror to film.

Lewton’s films may have been horror movies that only cost $150,000, but unlike many in Hollywood, he was giving artistic freedom within those confines. Before even starting to work at RKO, he said, “They may think I’m going to do the usual chiller stuff which’ll make a quick profit, be laughed at, and be forgotten, but I’m going to fool them…I’m going to do the kind of suspense movie I like.”

Unlike those aforementioned films, Lewton understood that true terror remained in the shadows and never showed its face. “If you make the screen dark enough,” he said, “the mind’s eye will read into it anything you want.”

Who else could have produced a film that featured the line “We’ve found that there is no Heaven on Earth, so we must worship evil for evil’s own sake.”?*

You’ll learn just enough about Lewton by watching this. You’ll get so much more actually watching his movies.

*The Seventh Victim, an astoundingly dark film.

Tomie: Revenge (2005)

Another Ataru Okiawa directed entry in the Tomie film series, this one is all about a young female doctor who hits a naked woman with her car one night. As she searches for the women through the woods, she finds an abandoned house filled with bodies and one unconscious girl. And oh yeah — the one she hit with her car just happened to have a mole under her eye.

This episode is based on Junji Ito’s manga Tomie Chapter 5:Revenge. In that story, a crew of hikers are looking for a missing man on a frozen mountain and, as often happens around frozen mountains, cannibalism ensues.

The same thing goes on here, except Tomie lives in a cabin with all her male servants, who she occasionally eats when she isn’t screaming stuff that sounds a lot like The Scum Manifesto.

I would advise not watching every Tomie movie in one week, but if you haven’t learned how strong my film-watching endurance is, you don’t know me.

Tomie: Beginning (2005)

Ataru Oikawa, who directed the first Tomie film, returns with the fifth installment, which is really the first direct sequel, just to prove that it isn’t just American and Italian film franchises that get screwy.

This is a sequel, sure, but also an explanation of what happened before the first film, with Tomie showing up as a transfer student and getting all the boys hotto under the collar. The difference this time is that one of the teachers has pledged to kill her, no matter how many times he has to murder her.

Unlike some of the Tomie films, this is told through the eyes of a female narrator, Matsubara Reiko, who befriends Tomie when she enters school as a new student. We start the film with her and another student — Yamamoto, who is missing an eye — as they stand in what was once their classroom.

Tomie is no victim in this one. Instead, she’s using the obsession that the boys feel to turn them into her servants while the fear that she radiates holds the girls in her sway too, forcing them to drink her cockroach-ridden tea.

It all ends the way it always does, but this time with uber-violence, as an entire class ritualistically murders Tomie, fondling her exposed organs and snapping her head clean off her body. It feels good, sure, but not as good as she feels the next day, showing up looking good as new.

This movie also tries to explain how Tomie can be centuries old by suggesting that she’s sentient blood or something. I really don’t need to know where this soliloquy spouting schoolgirl came from, to be perfectly frank. After all, I’m a big enough supporter of her work that I watched like six or seven of these so far.

Replica (2005)

Yes, they let James Nguyen, the man who made Birdemic, film another movie. Somehow, he stretched stock footage out to sixty-six minutes this time to tell the story of Joe, a computer chip salesman who gets a new kidney from Dr. Evelyn Tyler, who he soon becomes obsessed with before she dies. Then, he meets her exact double.

If Birdemic is The Birds, this is Vertigo. Sure. Whatever you say, James.

There’s also cloning, which has the weird meta result of Evelyn’s clone becoming an actress and getting a role in Nguyen’s Julie and Jack.

Honestly, this is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen and I watch Jess Franco movies on twenty-four hour binges and have a shrine to Joe D’Amato in my basement.

Trust me, whether or not you like riffing on movies, there’s no way you’re getting out of this without help. I recommend the Rifftrax version on Tubi if you feel that you absolutely need to see the most insipid movie ever made about cloning.

SLASHER MONTH: House of Wax (2005)

A remake of the 1953 Vincent Price movie, which is itself a remake of 1933’s Mystery of the Wax Museum, this is one of the few slashers this month that has moments that bother me, mainly because of the moment when a character nearly falls into the pit where all the highway’s roadkill is stacked up high.

It’s directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, whose Orphan has equally as upsetting moments. He’s also directed Liam Neeson in three movies (UnknownNon-Stop and The Commuter), as well as the COVID-19 delayed Disney movie Jungle Cruise and the upcoming Black Adam.

A group of friends — Carly (Elisha Cuthbert, 24), her brother Nick (Chad Michael Murray, One Tree Hill), her boyfriend Wade (Jared Padalecki, Supernatural) and friends Paige (Paris Hilton), Blake (Robert Ri’chard) and Dalton (Jon Abrahams) — are on their way to a football game when they decide to camp overnight. A truck comes to screw with them and leaves when Nick smashes out one of its lights.

The next morning, their truck can’t start and they’re stuck in the town of Ambrose, which doesn’t have much except for Trudy’s House of Wax, the home of formerly cojoined twins — and current maniacs — Bo and Vincent Sinclair (Brian Van Holt).

If you know the story of, well, any wax museum movie, you know what’s coming next. What the film does have that many of those are missing are incredible art direction and a willingness to fill the screen with gore, including impaling Paris Holton directly through the forehead (Becca said that when this happened during a teenage viewing of this in theater, there was a standing ovation). The end, as the entire museum melts*, is astounding.

Hilton won that year’s Golden Raspberry Award for worst actress, which really just feels like an attack on her for even making this movie. She’s not all that bad and really all she has to do is show up and get killed. It is a slasher, after all.**

*Village Roadshow Studios and Warner Brothers Movie World Australia sued special effects expert David Fletcher and Wax Productions because of a fire on the set during production, which destroyed part of the Gold Coast’s Warner Bros. Movie World studios.

**That said, it has one of the better soundtracks for a slasher this side of Dream Warriors, if you were into the newer metal of 2005. There’s “Mineva” by the Deftones, “Dried Up, Tied and Dead to the World” by Marilyn Manson and, in defiance of my previous statement, “New Dawn Fades” by Joy Division and “Dirt” by The Stooges.