Good house and one good character: Roddy McDowall as a jaded, buttoned-up medium refusing to let the spirits in. He and some others are sent by a rich guy to live in the definitely haunted house to prove the existence of an afterlife. Arrogant scientist Clive Revill (CHUD II: Bud the Chud) almost sinks the movie, but fortunately the house wins, and Roddy outlives Clive. Roddy’s fellow medium is Pamela Franklin (Food of the Gods, The Nanny), the first to die, and Clive’s long-suffering wife Gayle Hunnicutt (Eye of the Cat) is allowed to live. Roddy defeats the ghost by taunting it relentlessly, which seems a bad strategy, but don’t underestimate the British weakness against taunting. Written by Twilight Zone vet Richard Matheson. Hough has made his share of cult faves, and also a Howling sequel, which I’ve probably seen but the sequels were all so shitty I’ve never tried to straighten out which movie was which.
I watched The Lost George Romero Movie just because it’s hot from being freshly rediscovered. Should’ve watched Two Evil Eyes instead, but I hit my Argento quota yesterday. This is a basic Twilight Zone scenario, but unconvincing and overlong, the time-loop plot being the one cool thing about it. If you set an industrial film in a heavy-metaphor theme park, you’re gonna get Carnival of Souls vibes.
Lincoln Maazel explains that he is an actor (it’s true, he’s in Martin), then healthy Link interviews a beaten-up, agonized Link wearing the same suit. We follow healthy Link through various scenarios outside until he eventually becomes his miserable beat-down version. How did this happen? The movie wants us to think it’s elder abuse, but it seems everyone is just selfish dicks and society favors the rich. Anyway, the only Romero movie where the grim reaper rides a merry-go-round.
American Sam witnesses a woman get attacked in an art gallery after hours, then gets stalked by the killer and suspected by the asshole cops, but seems fine just hanging around Italy and playing detective. He replays what he saw at the scene (nicely done, with freeze frames and zooms) and the Honeywell-brand police computer equipment prints statistics and an outline of the attacker. Sam follows some unusual leads, of course paintings are involved, while his friend gets killed and his girlfriend Giulia kidnapped. Turns out the killer is Monica, the apparent victim of the gallery incident, and we get neat psychological explanations of everything over the ending.
The bird > the poster > the movie. This was Dario’s debut feature. Sam is Tony Musante, who really is American despite the dubbing, has been in a couple James Gray movies. Giulia is British, a screamer in Berberian Sound Studio. The Inspector is from Hercules and the Captive Women, and murderess Eva Renzi from The Prodigal Daughter. DP Vittorio Storaro shot The Spider’s Stratagem and The Conformist, also in 1970, a productive year.
Sam, his girl Giulia, and their Black Power poster:
Victim Killer Monica:
This is the 500th horror movie in the blog, holy shit. We’ve been running for over 15 years, so that’s around 2.7 horror movies per month. We can do better, I know we can.
It’s just not SHOCKtober until we watch a crappy sequel, and this one was pretty crappy. The original was no great masterpiece, but Cohen made God Told Me To in between, so I hoped he’d upped his game. I showed Katy a scene where the boom mic played a supporting role, but she was busy noticing that we’ve got the same couch as the 70’s couple. My favorite bit was a pigeon flying around the house, overdubbed with bat sounds.
Motherhood not working out as planned:
The one great idea here is that the isolated incident from part one turns into a national conspiracy (Cohen loves a good conspiracy), dad John Ryan from that movie returning to covertly assist couples with new or expecting mutant killer babies. Arizona dad Frederic Forrest (a Coppola fave) is a real prick – why did anyone put up with guys in the 70’s? New mom Kathleen Lloyd and underground mutant baby-hunting org head John Marley had shared the screen the year before in The Car (he’s the sheriff, she’s the girl whose entire house got run over). The movie tries to build suspense for a full hour so it won’t have to do anything else, then one-by-one POV-camera killings begin. I don’t get why the vigilante “volunteers” tent and gas a house their leader is still inside. In postscript, Forrest becomes either the new underground mutant-baby-hunter or the new underground mutant-baby-rescuer, it’s not clear which, but it’s not important since he’s been replaced by some more likable actors in It’s Alive 3. Nice to see Eddie Constantine here, though.
Mutant Baby is wearing his 3D glasses wrong:
The audio and dialogue in this movie is so shitty, it should bring shame on the families of everyone involved. The zooms are cool. I looked up the director to make fun of him, but he was deaf, so I’m gonna credit Clouse with all the cool zooms and blame Warner Bros for the sound. Bruce is in this as much as The Big Boss, there’s much time wasted on the corny ensemble cast (I can’t help but compare this to the closest-to-1973 ensemble film I’ve seen lately, Cotton Comes to Harlem, which was 100x more convincing). Overall a sad Hollywood attempt at a Hong Kong movie. Bruce Lee innocent, and his delightfully unusual voice speaking English is a secondary highlight after the justly-acclaimed mirror/claw finale.
Han (Sek Kin, the Chinese Timothy Dalton but with iron fists) lures fighters to his island, including Lee, charismatic gambler John Saxon, and Jim Kelly (who would go on to star in/as Black Belt Jones and Black Samurai). Kelly is introduced beating up racist cops and stealing their car, so we know he’s a good guy – wonder if that was as clear in 1973. Muscley Bolo is Han’s protector, would go on to fight Jean-Claude Van Damme. There’s a female operative on the island, and Bruce’s secret mission is to avenge the death of his sister, but mainly it’s a man’s movie, baby.
Han shows Saxon his claw museum:
Bolo is unimpressed by Bruce until it’s too late:
Jim Kelly rockin’ out:
Double-featuring with Cotton Comes to Harlem, this is set in some of the same locations, driving past the Apollo during opening titles. And it’s a grim, joyless take on the same sort of story – cops and rival criminals all looking for stolen money, with a pair of cops as our heroes. This one replaces the humor and nudity with extra violence and racism, and yes it kills racist corrupt terrible cop Anthony Quinn in the final moments, but I got the feeling it wanted us to see this as a dark/unhappy ending.
Thieves dressed as cops rob a money room, killing everyone in it, and the Italians in charge want revenge – “We have to teach them a lesson, or we lose harlem.” Anthony Quinn is very mad that Yaphet Kotto is put in charge of his investigation, meanwhile Italian gangster Nick is reminding Black gangster Doc who pulls the strings, and the rest of the movie is Nick torturing the Black thieves and Anthony brutalizing Black suspects, while Yaphet and Doc stand by uncomfortably.
One weird thing about this movie: each character states their age aloud, I think the point being that everyone’s slightly desperate because they’re past the age when they should’ve been advancing in their organizations – or I’m giving the screenwriter too much credit.
I liked Paul Benjamin as the murderous lead robber (who throws his share of the cash to a playground full of kids as he’s dying) – he’d later play one of the three shit-talking corner guys in Do The Right Thing. His girl Gloria would play Maya Angelou’s sister in Poetic Justice, and Italian torturer Anthony Franciosa would star in Tenebre. Connections with Cotton: Doc’s enforcer Chevy led Cotton‘s five-man Black Berets group, and the robbers’ getaway driver Antonio Fargas (the first to die, after being extremely uncareful about throwing stolen money around) was in Putney Swope, which was shown playing on a marquee in Cotton. Shear followed up by replacing the fired Sam Fuller on The Deadly Trackers, which now I have even less incentive to watch.
Ossie’s feature debut, after screen acting throughout the 60’s, has great energy and is absolutely packed. Some clunky parts, but the nonstop motion and added comedy (unexpected after finding this in Criterion’s neo-noir section) easily win the day.
Just too much going on to address it all, or I’ll be up all night, but charismatic con man Reverend Deke is robbed, and it’s an inside job, the money stashed in a cotton bale. Deke ditches his girl Iris, who ditches the white cop guarding her by getting naked and pretending to seduce him, then she discovers Deke with another girl and spends the rest of the movie hunting him. The lead cops Grave Digger and Coffin Ed are trusted by the locals despite these nicknames, capably chasing Deke and Iris and the cotton and all the other mysterious characters. As in the next movie I watched, Across 110th Street, the Harlem Black mob guy has an Italian boss afraid of losing control. There’s a lot of punching and whacking and flying through the air, not too much shooting, a bit of blackface, and a surprising amount of bird tossing. The cotton ends up onstage at the Apollo, the centerpiece of a musical striptease act, junkman Uncle Bud gets away with the money and the Italian covers it, so the people get back the cash they were throwing at their beloved con man a couple days earlier.
The two lead cops (and the fool white cop) would return in sequel Come Back Charleston Blue. The Reverend Calvin Lockhart would quit acting after a couple David Lynch movies. Judy Pace (Iris) didn’t get a lot of roles, would costar in Frogs. Comedian Redd Foxx played Uncle Bud, would soon find steady work on Sanford & Son.
Photojournalist Jack Nicholson isn’t having a great time in Saharan Africa, sees an opportunity and grabs it, stealing the identity of his suddenly deceased hotel neighbor, the only other white guy in town. Jack’s abandoned wife Jenny Runacre (The Final Programme, Jarman’s Jubilee) investigates, while Jack faithfully follows the dead guy’s appointment book, even after learning that he was an arms dealer, and meets the same fate as the guy he’s impersonating, though he gets to hang out with Maria Schneider along the way.
Maria, Jack, Gaudi:
Thought I’d seen this a long time ago, but maybe I’ve confused it with The Conformist again. MA: “Actually, the entire story takes place in a short period of one day, from early morning until some time before sunset” – that’s not true, it’s set in four countries and we see a UK newspaper article about Jack’s death in Africa, and we see Jack’s appointments spread across a week in the book. Maybe he meant as the film was originally written. The fourth movie I’ve seen in the last few years to play in the 1975 competition at Cannes. Argh, the execution footage in this wasn’t faked.
Maybe Hitch has always wanted to be this explicit, and the times/censors just haven’t allowed it. This is his sweariest, nudiest, grimiest movie, starring nobody, about a woman-strangling sex maniac who frames his buddy for his crimes. Double featuring with Gun Crazy – this one is less naturalistic, or maybe people in Britain just talk like this.
Our guy Jon Finch (Polanski’s Macbeth the year before) is washed up and broke, tries to get cash from his ex (Barbara Leigh-Hunt, Lady Macbeth in a different production) right as she’s serial-killed, so Finch becomes the prime suspect. He’s caught but escapes, and the noble cops keep following leads even after his arrest, so justice is eventually served. Hitch’s particulars have changed, but the structure is standard. Some attempts at levity worked for me (Bob dumping a body in a potato truck, then getting taken for a potatoey ride while searching for an incriminating pin he dropped), and some did not (the lead detective’s wife serving trendy foreign cuisine to her crestfallen husband).
Necktie Killer Bob (Barry Foster of Twisted Nerve) and victim Barbara Leigh-Hunt:
Our guy Finch is also friendly with next victim Anna Massey (Peeping Tom):
The rare female non-victim with her cop hubby and Sgt Speerman: