An island murder mystery, so soon before Glass Onion comes out. Good lighting and fashion, the camera getting up in everyone’s business with help of a zoom lens, music going as big as possible… poor acting and dialogue and logic and dubbing.
The Professor has a secret formula, three other guys want him to sell it to them, then everybody starts turning up dead and being sent to the meat locker. The Professor (who also played a professor in Devil Fish) dies, of course, his widow Trudy scheming with Bad Hair Jack, then they shoot each other over the precious microfilm. I lost track of how the island-prowling loner girl was related to anyone else – played by the daughter who hung out with dangerous hippies in A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin – but she survives and gets all the money.
“Death’s a commercial necessity.”
This absurd murder conspiracy movie was the perfect follow-up to a Final Destination sequel. Logical movies are boring, illogical ones are stupid, but movies that follow their own dream logic, where a woman in a busy daylit park can suddenly, while lighting a cigarette, become all alone at twilight, then get chased through a hedge maze, ending up trapped between cobwebbed stone walls… what was I saying?
Drummer and Wife:
Drummer Roberto is being tailed by guy in suit, follows the follower into a theater, but it’s a setup, where he’s photographed killing the suit guy. Paranoid, he tells his blonde wife everything, . Detectives get involved, a terrible gay private eye is hired, the drummer’s cat gets kidnapped, he visits a coffin convention with “God” Godfrey and a wacky Professor. In the middle of all this, a hot cousin stays over and wants to give him a massage in the bath. After the cousin’s incredible death scene, her retinas are scanned to find an image of the last thing she saw, which leads to the drummer’s wife. The drummer and his wife are good in this (some side characters are very dubbed) but the wife’s last-minute psychological backstory keeps reverting to Italian before she fatally flees from the house.
God with his parrot Jerkoff:
Intense filmmaking, this worked better for me than Crystal Plumage or Deep Red. The lead guy was also in a Bea Arthur movie. His wife Mimsy Farmer has a great Italian horror career – Autopsy, Fulci’s Black Cat, The Perfume of the Lady in Black, and something from the Cannibal Holocaust guy. The cousin was in The Disappearance, Stuart Cooper’s followup to Overlord.
Dr. Robert Powell (Ken Russell’s Mahler) arrives at the titular asylum to work for Dr. Starr, but is met by his assistant Patrick Magee instead. Magee says Starr is now a patient, locked safely upstairs with a trusty electrical system controlled by this button (I’ve heard that one before), and challenges Mahler to correctly identify the doctor. Mahler heroically pads the film on the way upstairs, and the orderly (who I correctly/immediately guessed as the doctor) lets him into each room, one at a time… yes, it’s a corny anthology horror, the same year Magee and Cushing and Dr. Orderly appeared in Tales from the Crypt. 1972 would seem to be too late for this kinda thing, but British people such as Edgar Wright think all this is great.
Bonnie (Barbara Parkins of The Mephisto Waltz and A Taste of Evil) isn’t even the murderer in her story – her boyfriend Richard Todd (the least famous person in House of the Long Shadows) chops up his harpy wife (Sylvia Syms, appropriately of Victim) and puts her in the basement freezer, but her butcher-paper-wrapped body parts reanimate, strangling him and attacking the unwitting Bonnie with the hatchet until the police arrive to blame the whole mess on her.
Tailor Bruno (Barry Morse of The Changeling) was brought the Man in the White Suit material by mysterious customer Peter Cushing, who planned on using dark magick to resurrect his dead son with the suit, but the tailor’s wife puts the suit on a mannequin which comes to life instead.
Barbara (young Charlotte Rampling, whoa) seems the most culpable so far. She starts by blaming Lucy (Britt Ekland of Wicker Man) for murdering her brother (James Villiers of Mountains of the Moon) and the nurse (Megs Jenkins of The Innocents), but Lucy might be an invented personality of Barbara’s.
Dr. Byron (Herbert Lom of The Sect) is at least a doctor of something – I don’t know how we’re supposed to imagine that the previous three were actually psychologists based on their stories. But Lom’s specialty is transmitting his consciousness into sub-Puppet Master wind-up dolls. The new visitor must’ve inspired a rampage, since he and Dr. Orderly go on the attack.
Sexually explicit horror movie filmed in Galicia. The Bride imagines being raped by a closet dweller at her honeymoon hotel, so instead they go to his weirdo family’s place, where instead she fantasizes of joining with Creepy Carmilla and murdering the husband with a dagger that looks like a bathtub faucet handle. She keeps having visions, so I assumed the time he finds Carmilla naked, buried in the sand and breathing through a scuba mask would be one of those, but nope.
Carmilla appears to be the ageless vampire of a family ancestor. By the end, she’s killed a couple locals, and turned the bride and young Carol, who sounds dubbed by someone older. The husband figures it out and does some vampire slaying, but this looks bad to the local authorities.
Who could kill a child?
This guy could:
Main dude was in The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion (whoa) and Beyond Re-Animator. The Bride was a lead in The House That Screamed by Serrador, whose other movie I just watched, and Carmilla costarred with John Hurt and Peter Cushing in The Ghoul.
First I’ve seen by Aranda – his 1960’s proto-giallo Fata Morgana sounds good, and his murder mystery Exquisite Cadaver. The DP worked on Cannibal Apocalypse and Comin’ at Ya and the editor works with Carlos Saura. One of many adaptations of the Irish novel Carmilla – others include the previous year’s Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, Alucarda, the British Vampire Lovers, a Christopher Lee called Crypt of the Vampire, Roger Vadim’s Blood and Roses, and a three season youtube series.
Opens with a blood drinking ritual in a slaughterhouse, 1905.
Infighting in a gang of thieves, blonde guy takes a girl hostage to escape, she gets away immediately, he runs and discovers a manor draped in fog and ominous music. The thieves lurk outside, confident they can move in and take him and his stolen gold. Inside, the runaway finds two hot girls. He locks them in a room and they start making out and getting gratuitously naked – ah yes, this is from the director of Shiver of the Vampires. Even not knowing French I can tell the dialogue acting is dry and unconvincing, but the nudity is legit.
Thief (Jean-Marie Lemaire of the Anthony Hopkins Hitler movie) and blonde Brigitte Lahaie (Calvaire and Jesús Franco’s Faceless) and brunette Franca Maï (whose wiki includes among her career achievements “co-creator of a website”) take turns threatening each other. Brigitte breaks the standoff by calmly delivering the gold to the people outside, then grabs the scythe from the poster art and dispatches a bunch of murderous thieves.
New woman arrives – this is Fanny Magier of Jesús Franco’s Hitler movie Convoy of Girls, which also stars Marc who is apparently a Hitler movie regular – and speaks of satanic rituals, everyone being calm and cool. I put this movie on because it’s short, but I’m the kid who held his breath in The Jaunt right now, as they play hilarious 1900’s blindfolded party games. Finally Brigitte is shot and the others devour her blood – I saw this turn coming since it’s in Criterion’s vampire collection.
This opens with scenes of death camp nazis bulldozing bodies… Indian starvation camps… mutilated Korean War orphans, and so on, a Faces of Death montage. Feels like an poor way to set the tone for your stupid horror movie, but it turns out they’re making a more socially conscious version of Village of the Damned, and the kids’ psychic murder rampage is payback for all the needless child death caused by adult decisions.
English couple travels to a Spanish island for vacation, having never heard of the Spanish language or culture before, and they happen to arrive on the day the kids rise up against adults. A good British person, he’s obsessed with never telling his pregnant wife what’s happening – when he witnesses the kids string up an adult as a human piñata and attack it with a scythe, he insists to her that it’s nothing, and everything’s fine. This is his fatal flaw, since he becomes convinced that the kids are monsters and she doesn’t, so she wrecks the car when he tries to run them down while escaping. Her own baby attacks her from inside, and he gets a Night of the Living Dead ending when a postman from the mainland sees him killing a kid and shoots him.
Serrador made The House That Screamed, which I didn’t love, but this was on some horror lists and proved to be good and messed-up. The lead guy was in Dr. Phibes Rises Again and his wife in The Secret of Seagull Island. DP José Luis Alcaine has been an Almodóvar regular since Volver.
It was instructive to watch a perfect 35mm print of a 1970’s movie at the Plaza the night after watching a 4k DCP restoration of a 1980’s movie from the same seat. The 35mm cost more to attend, since screenings are increasingly rare – this is probably my first time seeing a movie on film since The Grand Bizarre 3.5 years ago. I forget who it was who said digital projection is just watching television in public but… I couldn’t really tell the difference?
I remembered the very end of this – Hackman playing sax in his ruined apartment after failing to discover how he’s being surveilled – but not most of the rest, and especially not that his secretive rich client Robert Duvall is the one who gets murdered in the hotel – presumably by the client’s wife and bf whom Hackman’s group was recording in the park at the beginning.
Hackman’s character is especially memorable here – he’s catholic, lives by a strict code, appears to be a master of his craft, but keeps taking jobs that end in murders, getting tricked and betrayed and spied on. Nice spy-movie construction too – we never learn everything, like what the Director’s assistant Harrison Ford was up to. If this was influenced by Blowup, then Blow Out is kinda a remake of both movies.
Barbara Hershey, who also appears in two (but not all) of Scorsese’s movies where someone gets crucified, sees her cropduster daddy die then hits the Depression-era road. She and family friend Von (Bernie Casey of The Man Who Fell to Earth, In the Mouth of Madness) and railworker Bill (David Carradine, whose dad plays a railroad bigwig) meet up in various places and get into hijinks. Good performances, especially in the second half, and some sharp editing, but this is more a Roger Corman period adventure story than anything else.
Bertha caught between two Carradines:
The cops and strikebreakers in this are real pieces of shit. She meets a moneyman called Rake, she shoots a guy who calls everyone he dislikes a red, and she jailbreaks her friends… there’s a nice classic car wreck off a cliff, another gets smashed by a train, there are some shotgun murders, and Bertha and friends become professional bank robbers. She’s freed from a whorehouse by Von, but both guys finally get busted.
Von taking care of business:
Strikebreaker on the left would become a Scorsese regular, mustache guy would disappear.
Grungy camera work, uneven sound mixing, very Cassavetes-ish dialogue and behavior though apparently it’s an entirely May-created work, based on small-time gangsters she’d grown up around. It’s part 358 in my ongoing series “What Do People See in the Cinema of the 1970’s?” though it’s easy to admire after it’s over. Cassavetes is unpleasant to be around – racist, sexist, prone to fits of destruction and paranoia – and everyone wants him dead, including his friend Falk, who is informing hit man Ned Beatty of their movements across the city. As the peripheral women, we’ve got Joyce Van Patten (Monkey Shines mom) as John’s unamused wife, May regular Rose Arrick as Peter’s complicit wife, and the unknown Carol Grace as their lonely plaything/victim.
On Letterboxd: “Boyfriends and Girlfriends” by Low
Our happy boys, everything going great:
Ned, reflecting a marquee showing The Laughing Policeman and Fist of Fury: