JEAN ROLLIN-UARY: La nuit des horloges (2007)

Ovidie, who stars in this film, was a “very active militant feminist” when she started her adult career. At first, she thought that porn was filled with injustice for women but was shocked by how the women were powerful sexual beings. Seeing how that worked with her feminist ideals, she started acting and said, “I am interested in these sort of experiences not just because I am perverse, which as you have seen I can be when I want to be. No, it’s because not everyone can achieve them.” After a year as a performer, she started directing movies by women for women, just like the adult store that she owns, as well as crossing over to mainstream in movies like All About Anna, in which she performed explicit and unsimulated oral sex on mainstream actress/singer Gry Bay.

That’s who Jean Rollin picked to play Isabelle, the heroine of his next to last film and this makes sense, so much sense, as so much of his work has been about the juxtaposition and duality of the virginal and the sexual. He’s a man who strove to make fairy tales about vampires, castles and beaches and yet had to pay for them by changing his name and directing dirty movies. Yet no matter what he makes, there they exist, the innocent and the profane.

Isabelle has inherited a home from her uncle, who was a writer and filmmaker. Within that home, she discovers the lost memories of a dead man, a place forever haunted by not only his characters and fantasies but the movies and moments of Rollin.

So while this has a title that means The Night of the Clocks and that sounds vaguely Italian, you should also know that this is Rollin’s very own Cat In the Brain as he brings back the people and times and memories of a man who at the age of seventy is looking back at the struggles of attempting to create myth that can last.

So Ovidie steps into the shoes of Brigitte Lahaie, another actress that Rollin took from adult and found his perfect woman and then brings back so many images and feelings and yet also has so many new things, like the wax sculptures that show how the body decays, surely a fact that was weighing on him. Indeed, Rollin had but three years left on Earth when he made this movie. And that wax museum was to be all that he was to film, but he was so inspired when he saw it that this film came from it, financed all with his own money.

Between the moment when the clock coffin catches on fire and realizing that this was shot in the same cemetery as The Iron Rose, not to mention how much fun everyone seems to be having, I have to confess tearing up a few times. It’s disconcerting to watch someone’s entire film output within just a few days and then have this resolution, although Rollin would make one more movie. I have no idea what the word for this emotion is. It’s sadness mixed with happiness that it happened. Maybe it’s just life.

Il nascondiglio (2007)

Italian directors in America is one of my favorite subgenres, so imagine my joy at discovered that Pupi Averti made this haunted house giallo in Davenport, IA and the Warner Castle in Orion, IL.

Francesca Sainati (Laura Morante) moved to Iowa 15 years ago to open her own restaurant, but after the suicide death of her husband, she’s struggled at even being able to live a normal life, spending some time in an asylum. Now, as she attempts to open a second business, she learns of a fifty-year-old murder conspiracy.

Beyond its Italian cast — Giovanni Lombardo Radice and Sydne Rome (Some Girls DoThe Pumaman) made the trip to America — this also stars Treat Williams, Burt Young and Rita Tushingham, who played the grandmother in modern giallo Last Night In Soho and was also in Doctor Zhivago). A warning, however. Nearly every line in this movie is whispered, as if this were proto-ASMR. And there are also two orphans that have somehow — and this is a major spoiler, mind you — who stayed alive by drinking rainwater and eating rats within the walls of the decaying mansion where Francesca thinks people are going to come and eat. I mean, half of restaurants go out of business in the first year and she’s going to open hers in a place called Snake Castle?

While not a perfect film, Averti made The House With the Laughing Windows, so I will watch anything that he directs. And hey — it has a score by Riz Ortolani!

Cinematic Void January Giallo 2023: I Know Who Killed Me (2007)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Cinematic Void will be playing this American giallo on Wednesday, January 4 and Friday, January 7 at 7:00 PM at the Central Cinema in Knoxville, TN along with Dressed to Kill. It also is playing on January 21 at 9:30 PM at Sie Film Center, Denver, CO (tickets here) and January 30 at 7:00 PM PT at the Los Feliz 3 in Los Angeles (tickets here). For more information, visit Cinematic Void.

I’m going to start this off with an unpopular take. This is not a bad movie. When I first met my wife, she used to tell me how much she loved it and I thought she was crazy. Surely, everyone online that went out of their way to destroy it had to be right, right?

Wrong. Go with me on this alternative universe logic — if Lindsey Lohan were a disgraced movie star in 1967 instead of 2007, she would have gone to Italy to make movies for directors like Bava, Argento, Martino and Antonio Margheriti. She would have been in the same company as Anita Ekberg, Florinda Bolkan, Elke Somer and even Edwige Fenech.

The film has all the hallmarks of giallo: a serial killer is abducting, torturing and killing young women in the suburb of New Salem. An evening of fun for Aubrey Fleming (Lohan) turns into weeks of torture as she wakes up bound and gagged on an operating table, her hands deep in dry ice.

The FBI Task Force has already given up hope of finding the killer, but a driver discovers Aubrey on a deserted road in the middle of the night. To the shock of her parents, she declares that she’s really a stripper named Dakota Moss and has no idea who Aubrey Fleming is. And then she realizes that she’s missing her hand and half of her leg.

At this point, you’re either going to give up on this movie or dive in. I advise diving right in.

While the police, the doctors and her parents believe that this is all PTSD, Aubrey/Dakota insists that she is not who anyone thinks she is. Things get weirder when FBI agents discover a story on Aubrey’s laptop about a girl with an alter ego named Aubrey. And DNA confirms that Dakota really is Aubrey. This inversion of identity is key to the main tenets of classic giallo.

Dakota has a theory of her own: She’s Aubrey’s twin sister and her injuries are Corsican Brothers-like (or Tomax and Xamot, if you prefer) sympathetic wounds as she experiences the plight of her symbiotic sibling.

Sure, her mother has a pregnancy ultrasound that shows only one fetus. But Dakota confronts her father (or Aubrey’s, stay with me) as she believes that her mother lost that child soon after its birth and that she and Aubrey were the twin children of a crack addict named Virginia Sue Moss. Aubrey was taken to live in comfort city mouse style while she stayed with Moss, trailer park mouse style. The complication? Virginia Sue Moss was yet another character from Aubrey’s short story.

Richard Roeper claims that this is the worst movie of the 2000s, calling the film “a ridiculous thriller (minus the thrills)” and saying that it’s filled with a” nonsensical plot that grows sillier by the second, tawdry special effects, heavy-handed symbolism that’s big on electric-blue hues and mechanical performances are all culprits as far as the title’s concerned.” Has Roeper even seen a giallo? Because reading that sentence makes me want to watch this movie all over again!

Back to the movie: Dakota starts to see visions of the killer slicing up his captive which draws her to the cemetery. As she investigates the grave of another victim, Aubrey’s friend Jennifer, she finds a blue ribbon from a piano competition. Aubrey was a noted pianist and there’s a note attached from her (and Jennifer’s) piano teacher, Douglas Norquist. As her father (or Aubrey’s, look, it’s not a giallo if you don’t get confused) looks on, she declares, “I know who killed me.”

That’s because the ribbon says, “Blue Ribbons Are For Winners, Never Settle For The Red, Rest In Peace, Douglas.” It’s a metaphor for the lives of the twins: Aubrey is the blue chipper with a boyfriend that loves her, good grades, plenty of friends and a bright future. Dakota works in the red light district and faces a life of poverty.

Without any police backup — again, this happens all the time in giallo — they confront Norquist. Daniel is killed before Aubrey leaves the safety of the car and enters the house. She fights Norquist, cutting off his hand, before she’s tied up. He asks her why she returned after he buried her alive before she frees herself and kills him. She heads into the woods where she digs up Aubrey, verifying that she was not insane and had been right all along. Then, she lies on the ground with her twin sister.

Some of the few critics who liked this movie compared it to Brian DePalma or David Lynch films. Sure. Or you could go right to the source — Italy.

If you replaced the score of the film (that said, I love that The Sword and The Melvins are heard in this film) with some insane synth or orchestral music (someone get Claudio Simonetti, Piero Umiliani or Morricone on the line), if you made the homes space age lounges filled with improbable furniture and if you had more than one scene of Lohan stripping (any of the sex in this movie is honestly the unsexiest sex ever, they should have really studied Sergio Martino movies), this movie would fit perfectly into my DVD collection between Hatchet for the Honeymoon and Inferno. Who am I kidding? It’s on my shelf already!

This is not the first time Lohan played twins on film, thanks to starring in the remakes of Freaky Friday and The Parent Trap. Again, this is perfect giallo casting — not to mention pure exploitation — showing her gone to seed as two twins who couldn’t be more different.

However, this was not an easy movie to film for director Chris Sivertson, as Lohan had an appendix operation during shooting. Plus, there were times when she would not show up at all — necessitating a body double be used to film the end of the movie. Even worse, she was followed by paparazzi throughout the shoot and some of them are still in the background of a few shots!

There are giallo techniques used throughout the film, such as a neon sign outside the strip club that foreshadows Dakota’s injuries and the fact that Bava-esque blue and red lighting determines which character is on screen between Aubrey and Dakota.

While so many decry this film for not making any sense, if you’ve made it through any number of classics (sure, the director claims Hitchcock as a primary influence, but you can say that he’s the well from which all giallo flows) like The Bird With the Crystal Plumage or Deep Red or A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, you’re going to be just fine. The world was just ready to devour Lindsey Lohan and this film would be its sacrificial lamb. Oh if only there were an Italian film industry for her to turn to and appear alongside Ivan Rassimov!

American Pie Presents: Beta House (2007)

After The Naked Mile, Erik Stifler (John White) and his cousin Dwight (Steve Talley) are back as Erik finally makes it to college and, well, gets to be in cosplay Animal House. Erik has brought along his friend Mike “Cooze” Coozeman (Jake Siegel) and has already broken up with his girlfriend Tracy, so any of the reason for the last movie having tension are over. Now, it’s time to join Beta House and sleep with co-eds.

Unlike the other Stiflers, Erik is a nice guy and falls for Ashley Thomas (Meghan Heffern), a nice girl confirming that Erik is again not like everyone else. Cooze gets into her roommate Denise (Sarah Power) who gives handjobs instead of sex, so everyone thinks she’s transgender because 2007 was not all that very long ago. There’s also Bobby (Nick Nicotera), the gross-out friend who is supposed to have an equally non-attractive girlfriend, except that beauty standards have also changed since this was made and Margie (Christine Barger) is super cute and way more sex positive than any other woman in this movie.

Then the movie becomes Revenge of the Nerds and goes into a series of drunken games officiated by Noah Levenstein (Eugene Levy), reminding us that this is an American Pie movie.

This was directed by Andrew Waller and written by Erik Lindsay, who was also behind the script from The Naked Mile. Do you need to watch it? Do you have a Christopher McDonald Letterboxd list? Or are you just trying to watch bad sequels like me?

PITTSBURGH MADE: Diary of the Dead (2007)

While filming a horror movie about a mummy in a forest, some University of Pittsburgh — yet this was shot in Toronto — students and their professor learn from the news — with the soundtrack taken directly from Night of the Living Dead — that recently dead are awaking and walking.

The fifth film in Romero’s series of Living Dead films — it’s actually a prequel to Land of the Dead — Diary changed the way he shot films. It used computer-generated imagery which allowed for the film to be shot quickly with just a few handheld cameras instead of the multiple angles, long filming sessions and extensive editing he was known for. Personally, I understand the experiment, but I don’t want to see a master like Romero making a found footage movie.

Romero told Cinemablend, “I had this idea that I could use film students out shooting a school project and zombies begin to walk and they document it. I wanted to do this subjective camera thing before I knew anybody else was working on it. I didn’t know about Cloverfield or anything else. I thought we were going to be the first guys out there with one of these.” He still used a cinematographer to try and keep the shots looking less like the shakycam that most found footage makes me nauseated with.

I’d like to report that this film is good but I struggled through every scene. What always worked for me — at least in the first three Living Dead films — is that you find characters to feel for and get to root for. None of these students seem as if they can come close to that. If anything, the subtext has become full text and even more ham-fisted. Seriously, if you think that defibrillator to the zombie’s head is awesome, that’s what the messages in this movie are doing to your brain. Where Dawn hinted, this screams in your face, “Do you get it?”

The effects are pretty good but this whole thing just made me sad. I realize that people need to keep working, money needs to keep being made, but I started to feel like I do when I watch a later Argento movie. I want it to be great, I keep rooting for it and then I just feel this tremendous wave of sadness. I want more from the directors I love and I realize in no way is that fair. They’ve given me enough.

THANKSGIVING TERROR: ThanksKilling (2007)

This is without a doubt the dumbest — and therefore most awesome — Thanksgiving slasher I’ve seen. It starts with a topless pilgrim woman being murdered by a turkey. A turkey named Turkie who was reborn through necromacy by  Feathercloud, a Native American shaman dishonored by pilgrim Chuck Langston. Now, every five-hundred and five years, Turkie rises to kill every white man he sees.

If you see a miniature totem pole, don’t allow your dog to piss on it. That just releases undead talking and murder-loving turkeys from their dark sleep. I usually dislike movies that set out to be funny, but this is a movie that has a turkey wear Groucho glasses to sneak its way past someone who doesn’t even noticed that they are speaking with a zombie ghost turkey.

Shot during the summer break between director Jordan Downey and writer Kevin Stewart’s junior and senior year of college — Brad Schulz also wrote the script — the team went on to make The Head Hunter as well as an even wilder sequel.

This was to be called Death Turkey in countries that don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. I love that title more than I can even write here.

A turkey uses a handgun. If you need more from film, you should really just be a grumpy old man.

If you’re ready to get the holiday started right, watch this on Tubi.


11. A Thai Horror Film.

Life is cheap and Dr. Tar and his seven nurses have been sellingbodies on the black market, a scam that just might fall apart when he has an affair on one of the nurses with her sister. That girl, Tahwaan, tries to call the cops and gets killed by the doctor and other six caregivers, ending with her on dry ice in a black garbage bag.

All of the women have their own obsessions which Tahwaan uses to kill them, including a scene where a purse gets sewn to someone’s neck. Dr. Tar was totally into this scheme to kill off his staff and it turns out that — are you ready for this spoiler? — the dead girl was once a boy and she had a sex change to marry the doctor and is reborn into our world out of her sister’s ladyparts, then asks Tar to marry her.

Yeah, Thai horror does not care at all if you’re offended.

Anyways, this looks way better than the budget would suggest and it has some interesting kills. I mean, like I said above, a full-grown woman gets born again out of her sister’s privates and if you think that’s boring, I mean, I don’t know how to entertain you.

You can watch this on Tubi.



DAY 3: An Egyptian Horror Film.

Ahlam hakekya is an Egyptian film that takes one of the best giallo plots for its story: Mariam (Hanan Turk) is a painter married to Ahmed (Khaled Saleh) but her life is filled with strangeness, as every night she dreams of the car accident that took the lives of her daughter and first husband. Of course, as you can expect from a movie inspired by giallo, she also starts dreaming of murdering people and when she wakes up, those same people have died the same way as her sleeping visions.

The police get involved and suspect Mariam’s best friend Maay, which raises the question if Mariam is also part of the crimes or if she’s somehow connected to Maay within the world of dreams. This all makes Marian go female giallo crazy and decide that she’s never going to sleep again.

Ask Nancy Thompson how well that works.

Director Mohamed Gomaa also worked on the TV series Qariat El Fingan in which a fortune telling app’s prophecies start coming true. Real Dreams was written by Mohamed Diab, who directed four episodes of Marvel’s Moon Knight series.

FANTASTIC FEST 2022: Freaky Farley (2007)

Motern Media — Matt Farley and Charles Roxburgh — make movies that seem to be horror on the outside but are wonderfully strange movies on the inside, explorations of the darkness — and light — within small towns. Like here, in a small New Hampshire town, Farley Wilder (Farley) is the son of talk show host Rick Wilder (Kevin McGee), a near-universally beloved celebrity who spends his days ridiculing his son and forcing him to take constant tests.

Freaky Farley lost his mother at a young age and never found out why; that combined with how his father treats him — this is a comedy, even though everything in this sentence seems horrific — has left him stranded in adolescence, through puberty but still afraid of women, often just peeping around town yet not meaning anything wrong by it. He might have a love interest in Scarlet (Sharon Scalzo), who wants to be a reporter, if his father didn’t hate her. And oh yeah, the town also has a witch (Steff Deschenes), bullies like Air Force Ricky (Kyle Kochan), a ninja (Roxburgh) and woods that are so dangerous that Farley’s dad won’t even talk about them. Surprise — they’re filled with troglodytes.

There’s a dark omega to even town’s light alpha, the kind of clandestine meetings that find a young killer getting conscripted into battling prehistoric cave people. Or maybe there are just bribes in your town, I don’t know.

What I do know is that this movie is just right. It hits all my buttons — low budget horror as the Halloween mask under which a funny yet dramatic movie with heart beats inside — and made me laugh out loud at least twice. That’s more than a win.

Freaky Farley is playing as part of the Burnt Ends part of Fantastic Fest. This is part of Molten Media, which has produced independent feature films since the late 1990s. According to Fantastic Fest, “the idiosyncratic cinema of Charles Roxburgh and Matt Farley pay homage to the regional low budget horror films of the late 1970s and early 1980s as they unravel bizarre tales set in and around lightly-fictionalized small New England towns. Akin to the manner in which John Waters and Kevin Smith cultivated their cult universes out of tight-knit communities of vivid personalities, Charlie and Farley’s films imagine a unique portrait of Americana as they recruit an eccentric ensemble of folksy friends and family to endearingly perform the offbeat vernaculars and campy melodrama of their wittily verbose scripts.”

Fantastic Fest Burnt Ends has awarded the filmmakers with the first annual Golden Spatula in recognition of their creative spirit, and a partial retrospective of their inventive catalog which includes Local Legends and Metal Detector Maniac as well as more contemporary works which pursue a distinct, but just as wonderfully eclectic and wry comic sensibility.

You can get a virtual badge here.

You can also watch Freaky Farley on Tubi.

MILL CREEK DVD RELEASE: Through the Decades: 2000s Collection: The Hitcher (2007)

In the 2000s, Platinum Dunes seemed like they were on a mission to remake every movie I ever loved.

Their boss, Michael Bay, said, “I loved it as a kid, and we can add some cool twists and turn it into a rocking film.”

Well, he’d already messed with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Amityville Horror — and would also remake Friday the 13th and A Nightmare On Elm Street — so I guess anything was on the table.

Jim Halsey (Zachary Knighton) and Grace Andrews (Sophia Bush) are driving across the country when they meet hitchhiker John Ryder (Sean Bean) who they first nearly hit with their car, then pick up and are nearly killed when he goes wild with a knife.

There’s one difference between this remake and the original — beyond the fact that this movie is as unnecessary as the sequel and oh yeah, it sucks even worse — is that the protagonist and person torn in half by a truck are gender swapped.

I tell you that as to not spoil the movie but also there’s no reason why anyone should ever watch this.

The Mill Creek Through the Decades: 2000s Collection has some great movies for a great price like Nurse BettyOne Night at McCool’sSpy GameThe Emperor’s ClubThe Shape of Things21 GramsBaby MamaState of Play and Cry Wolf. You can order it from Deep Discount.