The last thing I’d ever like to see or hear is some on intellectualize this film. I am sure one could find all sorts of meaning and significance in the film, but what a bore. There are far better films to think about and then there is Suspiria.
It’s a Halloween treat. Pure eye candy. The film still does not make a lot of sense, then again neither does injesting high levels of sugar and chemicals. All the same this looks and sounds great. It’s a tasty film for the senses, if not the brain.
To see it treated as anything other than a fun little flick makes my blood turn red, as red as the blood in this film. Though my ire would not be as fake.
Jack Hill’s work is always strong, but it always borders on camp. There’s nothing wrong with that, but those looking for straight forward horror mistake the comedy for clumsiness and he gets pegged as a poor director. Not so.
Spider Baby is as much funhouse as it is haunted house. Lon Cheney sings the opening theme song, a tune that is as goofy as it is ghastly. If one needed further proof that it is okay to laugh along with Spider Baby all they have to do is watch Sid Haig dance about. His get-up and appearance place him squarely between skinhead and pinhead.
Edward Ulmer directs Lugosi and Karloff in the same film. The Black Cat is an amazing 66 minute long feature and not for bad reasons. Usually a film that short is cutting itself short. This one could stand to be long, if only to revel in it’s low budget psychological horror.
Is the this the first film to have two characters playing a life and death game of chess? Where did this symoblic game come from, is it some literary reference I should know?
The Fabulous Baron Munchausen jumps to the top of my list of must screen films for Basement Cinema, but for strange reasons. The film is an amazingly stylish and well made Czech film. We’ve show well made films in Basement Cinema before, but I really have to think hard to remember a film this splendid.
Full of live action and animation, this flight of fantasy is far better than the well known Terry Gilliam film. I am not disrespecting Gilliam’s work, if anything his animation work with Monty Python seems highly influenced by this film. Rather, the benefit this film has over Gilliam’s is the freedom to mingle experimental techniques, silent era special effects, and unknown actors. The last of these three is probably the most important. Not knowing the faces of the actors helps expand the suspension of disbelief. For a group of students at an experimental film school, most of whom I imagine have seen Gilliam’s Munchausen, this film might be of great interest. My only concern is that it is not bad enough, and it’s the bad films that bring out the most kids.
For me, watching this film puts me in a state of disbelief. This was made in 1961? It seemingly comes from another time, another planet…perhaps, the moon.
I picked up this curiosity at a mom and pop video store that was selling off their VHS tapes. The disinterested teenagers working, if you could call it that, there looked at me rather oddly when I approached the counter with my arms full of VHS boxes. They looked at me like I look at old women who hold up grocery store lines while they write out checks.
Ya, I know DVD’s are in. It’s the digital age. VHS is foreign to these kids. But, I didn’t bother explaining that some films still haven’t made it to DVD. Since all the Chris Farley films are on DVD, these yokels think everything is on DVD. Fine with me. It leaves the out-of-print VHS tapes ripe for my picking.
Slaughterhouse Rock was something I had never heard of before I wandered into the store. One look at the faded cover made me realize it was worth snatching up. Toni Basil (“Oh Mikey” singer) stars as a rockstar who’s ghost is trapped on Alcatraz Island. The island is haunted by sadistic ghost. It’s up to braindead college kids to save the day, natch. Best of all Devo does the soundtrack. It’s that last one that made me guess this was OOP.
Turns out the film is not that great, not that bad. The dialog is drop dead hilarious, but the scenarios and effects are run of the mill. Certainly it was worth picking up and it’s fun to laugh at, probably even more so with others in the room. However, should have been far wilder or dumber or both.
It’s not a movie. It’s a command.
It’s also a film that’s long overdue for a DVD release. Of course, a DVD release might devalue this eccentric title. Part of the joy in Hoochie Coochie Man makes the film doubly special.
Get Crazy is not a 10. It’s neither crazy enough or convoluted enough to really make the mark. It’s well made, full of smart laughs, and good music. There are plenty of off beat jokes, but it is still as if something is missing from the film, something that would make it a true classic, something that would cause someone to cough up the dough to get it on DVD. Perhaps, this lack of ‘something’ is what saves the film from being re-released thus making it a footnote – a film worth seeking out.
So what if this water-starved post-apocalyptic seven-samurai rip-off has Bruce Dern and Adam Ant in the same film. The same film is somewhat of a lame film. A great afternoon eater, filled with laugh enducing dialog, World Gone Wild really ain’t all that wild. It’s more like every other film about life after the bomb. There’s some resource that’s in great deman – here it is water – and you have good guys and bad guys fighting each other for it. There’s also a lot of rock music. Cockroaches, rock music and shitty films are three things guarnateed to live on after the bomb.
I will say this, there doesn’t seem to be much originality in the future or in the late 80′s That’s when a lot of this rag-tag, ripped to shreds, plutonium-punk swill came out. For all of today’s nostalgia over the 80′s it might be good to remember just how fearful everyone was of nuclear holocaust and losing our natural resources. It’s almost shocking that today similiar films are not being produced.
It’s easy to try and see The House Where Evil Dwells as some sort of forerunner to the recent rash of Japanese horror films that have more recently been remade for American audiences (i.e. The Grudge, Dark Water). A family recently moved to Japan finds that they are not welcome in their new home which is inhabited with ghosts. This blending of American filmmaking with Japanese ghost stories puts The House Where Evil Dwells somewhere between Onibaba and Ringu by way of Los Angeles.
So, why is it that more than anything The House Where Evil Dwells reminds me most of Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners or vice versa? Was there a stopover in New Zealand?
While admittedly I am no longer the biggest fan of fantasy films I do have a weak spot for the Brother’s Quay. Where once, I used to adore the works of Burton, Gilliam, and the like, I now yawn and feel disaffected by their flights of fancy. But, the Brother’s Quay have always astounded me with their animations. Until now.
Piano Tuner of Earthquakes did little more than make me regret going to see it. Either expectations were too high or something in the film was amiss. Beautiful to look at and wonderful to lose yourself inside of, the film as a whole fails only because it tries to inject a narrative where perhaps one is not needed. Clunky narration that only repeats action seen on the screen does not help bring light to a dark and confusing plot. I would have rather forgone all narration and even most of the dialog for a dreamscape where I must fend for myself and weave my own narrative.
Due to poor sound during the screening, there were many such moments when I was unable to tell if the dialog was in English or a foreign tongue. Those were the most splended moments and that is in some ways a rather sad statement. By the end of the night I wish I eithe shown up early and watched the screening of short Quay Brothers’ films or gone out to see the new Scorsese film, not that I’m looking that forward to a remake.
Udo Kier is back and this time he’s an emaciated vampire. Egged on by his servant, Anton (Arno Juerging), the famous bloodsucker agrees to make the journey in the hopes of find many virgins amongst the highly religious people of the Italian country side. As the count rests, Anton seeks out possible blood donors. Learning of a family that has four unwed daughters the Count seeks refuge in their villa. Impressed with the regal sounding name of Dracula the father consents. It’s not long after the Count moves in before he realizes that the daughters are not as innocent as they look.
Working as a companion piece to Flesh for Frankenstein this X rated reworking of the Bram Stoker vampire tale ratchets up the sex and violence. Joe Dallesandro returns as yet another farm hand with an overeager libido. However, this time Dallesandro’s motives are not only sexual, but political. A communist flag hangs in his shed and he persistently talks of revolution and the spoiled life of the bourgeoisie daughters. All the while, he is making it with most of them and longing to make it with the others.
Working his way from one girl to the next Dracula sinks his teeth in each girl only to find himself violently ill from their non-virgin blood. The scenes of Udo Kier thrashing about the latrine, vomiting up blood are as gruesome as they are hilarious. Once again the comedy pushes the limits visually, but when Dallesandro’s politically incorrect character starts talking about his desires to rape the families youngest daughter and when actually does so to save her from Dracula’s fangs the film may slip over the line of good taste. At least that’s how it felt in a large audience that contained a healthy number of female viewers – something we rarely had at the summer screenings.
Personally, I’ve never had a problem with these moments, but then again I have a sense of humor that could certainly qualify me for a seat next to Satan. I sensed that others in the audience were more a gasp as their sensitive eyes and minds had not encountered a film like Blood For Dracula. The act of rape certainly is not a funny thing and what happens afterwards is too much of a spoiler to share here, but when you consider that Dallesandro’s farm boy forcefully has sex with this woman to save her from the fangs of a vampire there is an absurd twist of logic at play. Of course, the farm hand could have done a better job of explaining the situation to the daughter, thus giving her a choice, but that would be outside of his character, who is not the nicest guy in the world.
For those that felt shocked by Blood For Dracula, I almost felt the need to apologize, but then again, what do you expect? The point of the films we are showing is to drop a few jaws. If people don’t leave scratching their heads then I’ve done a poor job of picking the films. These films push the boundaries of good taste. They blur the lines between good and bad. They call into question the reasons we go to the movies. From dark fantasies to warped personal visions to bungled moral statements the films championed by Underground Cinema are always going to leave audiences perplexed, bewildered, and slightly offended. If you try to analyze these films and what the hell was going through the heads of those that made them you’ll just sprain your brain. Leave that kind of thinking for the classroom.