Nov

Burial Ground
“The earth shall tremble…. graves shall open…. they shall come among the living as messengers of death and there shall be the nights of terror…. “Profecy of the Black Spider”

1981 – Unrated – 86 Minutes – Shriek Show
Starring Karin Well, Gianluigi Chirizzi, Peter Bark – Directed by Andrea Bianchi

If there is one thing I love about Italiansploitation films (that’s Italian made exploitation films, which I’m sure you were able to figure out), it’s that they would take a preposterous idea seriously while having fun with it. Sometimes without even knowing that’s what they are doing. The producers tell them that the Dawn of the Dead movie is popular, so crank out a zombie flick as fast as you can. Someone writes a script over a lonely, drunken weekend, turns it in and the first director that says they can make it on the lowest budget wins. The gore is ramped up, a few quirky and disturbing character traits are added and the film is cast. Everything is turned up to ten. The actors take their roles very seriously and put their heart and soul into it. Of course, sometimes it’s hard to notice once these films are atrociously dubbed. The film is then haphazardly cut together in a short amount of time and released to your local grindhouse theater the next day for your viewing pleasure. Nethertheless, once those credits start rolling, you aren’t sure what the hell you just experienced, but you loved it.

I have no evidence to back this up, mind you. It’s something I’ve gathered from watching bonus features, reading stories and the overall impression I’m left with once the film is over.

Burial Ground comes to mind as a perfect example of this. Everything about this film is poorly executed, so why do I love it so much? I should hate this film by all accounts, but I don’t. It’s a film that you can’t really talk about or review without putting it under a microscope and fully analyzing it. So hunker down, this is gonna be a long review. I know what you are thinking, “Didn’t you already review a movie called Nights of Terror?” Well, no. That movie was Rats: Night of Terror. This movie’s subtitle is Nights, with an ’s’, plural, which is actually quite stupid since the film only takes place during one night. But seeing as how Night was already taken… or maybe they are being extremely technical since the opening of the film does take place on the evening before, but I don’t think they took that into consideration.

bg_2Mall Santa by day, back up ZZ Top member by night, Professor… ? (they just call him Professor or “the” Professor if they are being polite or perhaps in some cruel ironic ploy, his name actually was Professor) has just discovered the secret! A secret so secretive that it will be never be revealed what it is or even brought up by anyone again. He then wanders out to some tomb not to far from his mansion where zombies begin to rise and immediately eat him and by eat him I mean they rub identifiable lumps of gore all over their faces to mimic eating, even after his pleas that he is their friend.

First thing you are gonna notice about these zombies is that there seems to be a mix of pretty decent zombie makeup and some of the worst looking zombies you’ve seen. The makeup job can get so bad, that you can see the actors eyes and lips through the masks, even on a low quality VHS. The second thing you’ll notice is how slow they are are. And when I say slow, I mean S-L-O-O-O-O-W. Crawling doesn’t even define it. These zombies move so slow, you’ll think you’re watching a scene in slow motion. You have to wonder how they ever catch their victims to eat, but luckily we have a smorgasbord of daft idiots for them to feast on and I’m not sure where any of these people are in relation to the Professor, since it’s never really addressed (maybe as colleagues in passing, but I can’t recall). The stand out character from this group is Michael, played by Peter Bark, for a reason that will become glaringly obvious the split second he is on screen; he’s a dwarf in his mid 20’s with a bad toupee playing a ten year old. And if that isn’t creepy enough for you, he also has sexual feelings toward his mother.

Anyway, this evenly matched man to woman crew has returned after six months and what’s the first thing they do? Sex! Yeah, the film certainly knows how to maintain your attention, as you watch each of the three couples foreplay, until Michael interrupts his mother, Evelyn’s. She stands there totally nude, inquisiting the young lad about what he is doing, which I’m sure is in no way sexually confusing to the already sexually confused deviant. Without getting to far ahead of myself or psychoanalyzing the character, Evelyn seems to be sexually confused about her son as well, but it’s (surprisingly) more subtle.

The useless blonde archetype of the group, Janet, can’t help but feel that they are all in danger and wants to warn the others, but is discouraged by her lover Mark. The good ol’ ‘Prophet of Doom’. Most of these Italian films had them, even if they don’t fit into the story, like why is she suddenly getting these feelings? It’s never explained, so let’s move on to the next morning, where after some finely placed J&B Scotch product placement, we are finally giving a brief, but not open ended explanation as to why the zombies have risen.

bg_3The Professor was studying ‘the black arts’. There ya go.

And this is why all of the characters are here. This is what the Professor wanted to tell them. A simple phone call or letter would not do. Well, we needed a reason to group a bunch of dimwits together for a zombie, gut munching gore fest, so now we have one.

Now that all (and I do mean all) of the exposition is out of the way, we can move on to more exploitation! Each of the couples separate to do their own hobbies, like sketching, photography or George teaching Evelyn to fire a handgun (which, again, never comes back in the film, so take that, Chekhov’s gun!) Ultimately, all of these activities lead to heavy petting, leaving these fools to be distracted as the zombies emerge from the tomb and attack the profusely stupid and conveniently distracted couples. Janet and Mark are the first two to be attacked and although they aren’t sure what to make of the creatures, Mark intelligently states that, “Whatever they are, they aren’t human!” Thanks Mark, I wasn’t able to figure that out. As they escape, Janet runs around screaming and flailing, making Olive Oil look dignified, manages to get herself caught in a bear trap. Wait, why the hell is there a bear trap randomly placed there. Did I say bear? I mean’t nimrod trap.

Meanwhile, George is trying to seduce Evelyn, even while Michael is in the room (which I’m sure seeing random dudes grind on his mom is in no way adding to those sexual feelings toward her…). In a disturbing turn of the scene, Michael manages to gain his mother’s attention by finding a cloth, commenting that it smells like death, then showing George how to really seduce a woman as he kisses his mom’s hand all over while staring right into George’s eyes as if saying, “Yeah punk, let me show you how it’s done. I know what my mom likes!” I can’t believe I had to write that. This movie is making me feel ill.

Luckily before things go any further and turns into some weird fetish films, the zombies attack, killing George leaving Evelyn and Michael to defend themselves by throwing paint on the zombies and setting them on fire. James and Leslie, the other couple (sorry, that’s the best description I have for them) manage to save them in time, as they also previously saved Mark and Janet. They group takes shelter inside the house, with what looks like very helpful stage direction from a zombie who points for them to run in a certain direction. Finally inside with the butler and maid, Nicholas and Kathleen, they decide it’s best to check out the rest of the house to make sure it’s safe. Mark heroically volunteers defenseless Kathleen to go search the entire house by herself. Sorry lady, but we can’t spare any of these several people sitting around. After searching the house for a bit, Kathleen finds an open window to close on the second floor, but that doesn’t stop these zombies. These zombies are ninja like experts with their precise accuracy as one throws a tent spike right into her hand, pinning her in her spot and leaving them time to slowly cut off her head with a scythe, making this what could be the best zombie kill in a movie.

bg_4These zombies may look laughably stupid, but they know how to organize. Arming themselves with weapons from a nearby and conveniently placed tool shed, they march to the front door and begin smashing on it with tools. However James, who inexplicably now has a shotgun, starts blowing their heads off from an open window. Even these zombies aren’t that stupid, as after about a dozen of them have their brains reduced to mush, they begin to retreat. The group feels they are now safe for the night and Leslie heads off to find some bandages for Janet’s wounded leg, only to be jumped from a zombie outside as she passes a window, who uses a broken shard of glass to push through her brain. This calls for all the other zombies to infiltrate like a SWAT team and attack helpless Janet in a scene that feels like it goes on forever, until the others reappear and fight back.

That was pretty tense! I think everyone needs a break. As they all sit around and rest up, Michael uses this time to make a move on his mom by kissing her and groping, adding a whole new definition to breastfeeding, which she sickly seems to be going with, but snaps out of it and slaps him across the face and immediately apologizes. Yeah this kid is gonna be messed up for the rest of his life, which coincidentally isn’t too much longer. He darts off only to have his arm devoured by a zombie Leslie, who I thought had glass stabbed through her brain (but, how did she turn if she wasn’t bit?). Evelyn finds the now dead Michael and bashes zombie Leslie’s head up against a bathtub, leaking all kinds of grossly colored juices.

No time for mourning your weirdo son, lady. The zombies have made a homemade battering ram (holy moly, they are resourceful) and have broken down the door! If only they were really slow moving and weak, then maybe they would have a chance of escaping… instead the remaining survivors hide until morning when Janet spots what looks like a monk heading inside the tomb. Monks? Sure why not! I’m sure they are down right neighborly and will offer shelter and help or, as it turns out, they are zombies and kill James upon seeing him, who almost immediately rises from the dead.

So what are the qualifications for becoming a zombie in this movie? Do you or don’t you have to get bit? How long does it take? Who cares! Zombies, right?

The final three realize they are locked in the tomb’s… workshed? Yeah, why does this place have a workshed? I guess when monks and the Professor aren’t studying the black arts, they are heavy into home repair. I’m sure a workshed is in no way a setup for the final act and our remaining victim’s fate (wow, I am using a lot of sarcasm in this review). Michael returns as a zombie, with a whole new arm somehow and a nipple bite later, Janet and Mark are being surrounded and being pushed headfirst into saw blades. The movie closes on a freeze frame, telling of a “profecy” of a “nigths” and that’s not a typo on my part.

So the movie ends about as well as you thought it would. With obviously glaring typos over the survivors’ demise.

bg_5If it weren’t for the time that this movie was made, I would have sworn this is a spoof, otherwise there would be no explanation as to how bad things are in this movie. Complaints about some of the terrible and revealing makeup aside (at least during the close ups), these zombies are incredibly slow moving and weak. In order to make them a menace, the characters in this film are written to a point of stupidity so insane, that it is fiction. Nothing anyone does is something anything with a pulse would do. They stand around looking puzzled as zombies slowly shuffle toward them, then while escaping, they run head first into the undead, even though they have plenty of space to run around them. Of course, most zombie films are guilty of this, but here it’s overplayed. Thankfully, it plays for laughs and sheer entertainment. With the exception of Michael, I can’t say anything positive about the other characters. There is simply nothing to them, except to be a meal for the zombies. I’m not expecting deep character development, but literally all of these characters are the same. The guys are all faux masculine and the women just cry. In some sort of sick ironic sense, if it weren’t for Michael, there wouldn’t be any reason to watch these buffoons.

Playful jabs aside, the film isn’t horribly directed. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t consider it to be beautiful like a Mario Bava film or something like Fulci’s The Beyond, but mood is well established and the shots frame everything well to capture what is going on. The soundtrack is… interesting to say the least. It’s no Harry Manfredini score, but it’s odd keyboard ‘pokes’ and tense violin strings do accompany the film extremely well. And the gore. Oh yes, the gore. There is more than enough here to satisfy any like minded horror fan as these poor chumps are ripped apart and have their guts devoured, body parts torn or cut off and even the zombies themselves get their head smashed to bits. Also, I know I joked about some of the makeup looking pretty bad and it can be, but there are some good looking zombies thrown in, complete with maggot covered faces and all. And I do have to say, it’s refreshing to see zombies use some tools for a change and instead of mindlessly lumbering around, these zombies actually had something of a plan and did what they could to do it. I was often reminded of the first zombie encountered in Night of the Living Dead who uses a brick. There are very few breaks in between the carnage for you to sit back and relax, as something is always out to get you. Even the dubbing is fitting for the film. It’s as atrocious as you would expect (especially Peter Bark’s voice over) from an Italiansploitation film, yet it somehow fits into all of this.

Ever hear the phrase ’so bad it’s good?’ Well, this is what the are referring to when they say that. This is a movie that by all accounts (the special effects, acting, directing, etc.) should be a bad film, but it isn’t. Everything that is bad is what makes this film good. Laying beneath its serious demeanor is a smirk of devilish charm, a film that is (or at least it must be) self aware and having some fun with you. Underneath all the layers of cheese is a delicious blend of fun and hokiness. Burial Ground is what I consider to be the definitive example of the Italian zombie genre of the 80’s. It’s not revered as a classic in the way that George Romero’s earlier zombie flicks are, but the film is looked as a classic in terms of what to expect from an exploitation film of this genre.

Burial Ground
I really could go on forever about Burial Ground, but I think it’s easiest, and probably the best, to say you need to see it. I don’t think you can consider yourself to be a zombie fan or Italian film fan until you do.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • ZZ Top devoured.
  • Michael.
  • Sexy sexiness sex.
  • Bear trap troubles.
  • Maid decap attack.
  • Better Home and Garden, zombie edition.
  • Mother lover.
  • Home improvement, monk edition.
totals

10

blood

BLOOD

Guts are eaten, heads are cut off, limbs are devoured, flesh is rotten… has the world gone mad!?

7

blood

BREASTS

Lots of nudity and sex… and the most uncomfortable breastfeeding.

5

beast

BEASTS

Slow moving, but not entirely braindead.

7.3 OVERALL
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trailers

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Nov

Werewolf Woman
“A true story so brutal and horrifying it was kept from the public for over a century!”

1976 – NR – 79 Minutes – Raro Video
Starring Annik Borel, Howard Ross, Dagmar Lassander – Directed by Rino Di Silvestro

You know what I think of when I think ‘werewolf’? Freakishly long nipples. That’s right, the kind you can hang coat hangers from. Yeah, Werewolf Woman isn’t your typical werewolf movie in the slightest. For starters, there isn’t really a werewolf in it or anything that would really qualify being of lycanthrope, definitely nothing you would consider especially by today’s standards. No hunky, shirtless teen dudes that travel with a pack of other shirtless hunky dudes battling for the love of an emotionless plank of wood (my apologies to planks of wood everywhere). Instead, what is presented here is a woman out of her gord, biting the neck of just about everyone she encounters for the first half of the movie. The movie has plenty of throat rips that put Patrick Swayze to shame. Then it becomes an odd amalgamation of other genres and goes back to kind of being a werewolf movie.

I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you all about it!

Daniela can’t stop having feverish dreams of an ancestor she believes to be a werewolf. She believes this, because in her dreams she sees her (or herself) dancing, fully nekkid, in a way that can only be described as losing your balance while trying to avoid a bee. She then transforms into a werewolf! Or at least what $20 worth of cheap Halloween store makeup and dog shavings will get you. Seriously, the werewolf effect here is passible for the world’s best Chewbacca costume on the smallest budget. As the narrator goes on about how a werewolf hunts during the full moon, as she pounces on a torch carrying villager and bites his throat. The rest of the villagers capture her and torch her at the stake. Was that the answer to every problem back then? Just burn it on a stake?

ww_2Daniela’s father, Count Neseri, is keeping a close eye on her since she was traumatically raped and she happened upon an ancestor’s journal, detailing the previously told events and believing herself to curse. Daniela, in her shocked state, believed every word of it. You see, back then, reading something in a journal was like believing everything you read on the internet.

As if believing you are a werewolf wasn’t a big enough problem, her sister Elena (played by Dagmar Lassander, the grouchy real estate lady from The House by the Cemetery) and husband Fabian visit from school where she studies nuclear physics. Seriously, that’s what she says. At first I thought she was going to turn her sister in to some sort of radioactive werewolf monster, but I’m going to crush that dream for all of us right now and tell you that doesn’t happen. That evening, Daniela flashbacks to the villagers burning (and iguanas… because it all ties together?) her at the stake and one of them looks just like Fabian. Daniela peeks in on the Elena and Fabian knocking boots and becomes aroused by it and takes care of ‘business’.

So at this point, you’re watching a woman masturbate while she watches her sister have sex. Feeling dirty, yet?

Fabian catches her and darts off to find her, which I have to wonder what kind of questions he has for her or do you think… no, that would be gross! He finds her outside where she successfully seduces him, taps into her werewolf ancestry and bites his throat out!

ww_3Daniela’s constant hallucinations land her strapped to a bed in the looney bin, where a nymphotic patient wanders about trying to mount everything that walks by. Well, even if it doesn’t walk. I guess it just needs a pulse (which is a good thing, because I just reviewed NEKRomantik) as she begins groping and kissing Daniela, who manages to convince the patient to unstrap her from the bed and repays her by biting her throat out.

The film wanders into slasher territory for a moment when she spies on a young couple then kills the girl by (would anyone like to guess?) biting her throat. Later, police begin to see a connection between this murder and Fabian’s, along with Daniela’s escape and the murdered patient, making these police look more competent than Chief Wiggum. Knowing that someone would notice a woman covered in blood a mile away, Daniela steals some clothes only to get spotted a moment later and murdering a few other sleaze bags that try to pick her up. Well, so much for that plan!

But not all guys are sleazy, as friendly Luca offers her a home cooked meal and a bed to sleep in without sex, which is odd considering he is played by Howard Ross who played the sleaziest character of all time, Mickey Scellenda, in The New York Ripper. As it turns out, this is just what Daniela needs to overcome her trauma, as she and Luca fall in love and do romantic things like laugh, eat dinner and reenact getting shot on a bell tower and falling on a crash mat… oh, I forgot to mention that he’s a stuntman, so it makes sense.

She realizes she can never leave Luca or their quaint little home, so she calls her father and apologizes for the murders and is never coming home. Since she apologized, I guess that means it’s okay to move on with her life, but history has a tragic way of repeating itself. A group of greasy, disgusting mean have been following her around, breaking into her home at night while Luca is away, raping her and killing Luca upon his return while trying to fight them off.

ww_4Being that it’s the 70’s and the rape/revenge genre is popular, Daniela doesn’t take this sitting down. She tracks her tormentors down, not unlike a feral creature would do and gives them their comeuppance. Maybe that’s the werewolf tie-in to this section? At first I was rooting for her to get her revenge, but then I remembered this was the woman who murdered innocent people by biting them to death. I’m not saying what she did here isn’t justified nor was what happened deserved, but it’s hard to see her as an anti-hero instead of a murderer. The police put all of this together and finally track Daniela down and things end rather, eh, anti-climatically, leaving you without a bang, but not exactly a whimper. It just doesn’t feel like it was all paid off.

So, you may have some questions. The main and most obvious one being, why was this called Werewolf Woman when it didn’t predominantly feature said werewolf? To possibly offer an answer, because it’s an Italian exploitation film that wanted to exploit several genres so it could be marketed to several different audiences. It feels like the same story is being told through several different genres that doesn’t blend well together. It starts off as a werewolf movie, moving on to slasher, then adds a rape/revenge element. Heck, there are even possession type elements thrown in (after all, The Exorcist was popular at the time). It doesn’t become a mess or incoherent to the point where it’s unwatchable or not understandable, which is odd since it does seem to be able to tell the same story without making it confusing, although at times you will have the thought, “wasn’t this a werewolf movie?” from time to time. The plot about her ancestor being a werewolf is enough of a story to base an entire film on, but this movie tends to overcompensate that, leading into several other side plots that, honestly, it could do without. It’s like the filmmakers wanted to exploit several of the exploitation genres at once, instead of making several different movies. The Howling or An American Werewolf in London this ain’t. Although instead of Sybil Danning dancing around a fire nude, you get Annik Borel, which is a fair trade.

Raro Video offers this new Blu-ray transfer, which does look pretty dang good, but not the best a transfer could be. Some parts still are quite noticeably grainy and scenes look dull at times, but luckily the cinematography is really nice to distract you from that. The audio, however, is nicely cleaned in 2.0 Mono in both Italian and English. Believe it or not, this can offer you two different viewing experiences, since the dubbing in English is laughably atrocious, it’s best to watch in Italian with the English dubs. There isn’t much in the way of bonus features, just about a twenty minute interview with director Rino Di Silvestro in Italian, but dubbed in English and a theatrical trailer.

Werewolf Woman
This is a film with just enough sleaze to make only make you feel uncomfortable when you stop and think about it. It’s a very well told story, even if it can’t decide which genre it wants to be. Maybe that was the way to go about it though. It leaves several different impressions in my head, all of them pretty good. I should also point out that the foxy Annik Borel spends a good amount of time in the movie completely nekkid. It’s the right kind of Euro-trash that’s got enough nudity, blood and a bizarre storyline that never reaches a ludicrous point, but just enough to make it satisfactory. However, this makes it unappealing to your average movie goer, since they now all expect werewolves to be shirtless, hunky dudes tied up in a love triangle (well, this story offers some of those).

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Werewolf on a were-budget.
  • Dirty sister secrets.
  • Lunatic throat lunging lycanthrope!
  • Never a never-nude.
  • Patrick Swayze Throat Rip Fan Club.
  • Werewolf revenge.
  • Naked fire dancing.
totals

5

blood

BLOOD

Teeth marks, chunks of flesh ripped and a man set on fire, but no mangled corpses.

9

blood

BREASTS

Annik Borel fully nude for a good portion of the film is more than enough for any creep.

6

beast

BEASTS

Sure that werewolf is laughably silly, but Daniela is a woman scorned with a deadly bite.

6.6 OVERALL
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Nov

posted by Barry Goodall | November 9, 2014 | 80's b-movies, 80's movies, B-movie Reviews, B-movies, Review by Barry Goodall

Seems you can’t swing a dead cat and not hit a dwarf in a b-movie these day….or toss a dwarf and hit a dead cat. It really depends on your upper body strength. Don’t get me wrong, I love the little people, the elves, dwarfs, those vertically-challenged and consider myself an outstanding midgetarian. I even know all the lyrics to the lollie-pop gang song and think Tom Cruise is actually quite statuesque. It only makes sense that I’d really dig the movie Troll which features not one but two midgets! It’s probably the most dwarf friendly movie since Return of the Jedi.

Troll is the story of a family that moves into an apartment where a devious troll name Torok has been co-leasing their laundry room. Torok  possesses the body of their their annoying daughter Wendy when she loses her toy ball in the basement. She starts acting like a overdosed crack head in front of her family and the parents just think she needs to ease off the Godzilla movies. They don’t realize she’s started a door-to-door campaign of turning everyone into giant avocados by stabbing them with her Green Lantern ring. Sonny Bono in his finest wife beater shirt ends up being the first victim when he gets turned into a potted plant. Then Julia Louis-Dreyfus morphs into a forrest nymph who runs around half naked in an ivy swimsuit (Jerry would be appauled.) Wendy’s brother “Harry Potter Jr.” becomes suspicious when she flings him against the wall like a rag doll. House of Slytherin may be involved until he learns from a neighbor witch, Eunice that his sister is actually a troll in disguise.

Meanwhile, Wendy becomes friends with a real dwarf, Malcolm, and invites him over for dinner to keep her company at the kid’s table. His refusal of chocolate milk confounds the parents who don’t seem to understand their daughter’s behavior or her choice in friends with mustaches. Wendy-Troll feels sorry for Malcolm who’s been dying of a bone disease and out of sympathy turns him into a frolicking Disney elf instead. Death would have been better. Meanwhile Harry Potter Jr. gets a magic spear from Eunice who has changed into a younger version of herself to go troll hunting but gets zapped into a talking tree stump instead. B-Movie violation…too many shapeshifter on the field! She tells Harry to find his sister deep inside the apartments which have now turned into a magical fairlyland.

Harry frees Wendy from an action figure display case with his Antique Roadshow spear when a giant winged troll shows up and attacks them. Torok has a change of heart and throws a steel pipe in the giant’s chest killing it instantly and helps them escape. Harry and Wendy find their parents and move from their greenhouse apartment complex to some place with fewer plants and much taller people. New Jersey probably. Turok takes a bit role in the Wolf of Wall Street and is currently living in Soho.

Troll isn’t a great movie, heck I’m not even sure you can classify it as a film but it sure grows on you. Check it out, and don’t forget to keep your Sonny Bono tree watered daily.

roadside attractions

  • Chia-pet apartment dwellers
  • Extreme Indoor plant growers
  • Epileptic seizure dancing
  • talking stumps
  • Spear-fu
  • Dwarf-fu
  • Troll puppets
  • mushroom table lamps
  • giant bean pods
  • Harry Potter copyright lawyers
totals

6

blood BLOOD
There’s about 2 quarts of the red stuff and lots of green fertilizer goo.

2

blood BREASTS
2 breasts, but only Jerry Senfield can see them.

9

beast BEASTS
plenty of icky sock puppets left over from the FX guys filming Ghoulies.
8.2 OVERALL
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Nov

posted by deadman | November 5, 2014 | B-movie Reviews, B-movies, Comedy, New Releases, Reviews by Deadman

Tucker and Dale

What if all horror movie redneck killer stories were just big misunderstandings? I bet a lot of us would feel bad when the alleged antagonist bites it in the end, huh? No? Just me? Okay, then. However, it is a fun premise to think about. So fun, in fact, that someone made a movie out of it: “Tucker and Dale versus Evil.”

It begins like any other horror movie with drunken, stoned, idiot college kids heading into the woods with every intention of having sex, taking drugs, and….listening to whatever music college kids do nowadays. They meet EVERY SINGLE CLICHÉ of horror movies. There’s the strong woman, the bimbo, the token black guy, the stoner, the coward, and the “hero” of the group. Usually here’s where I’d say, “Let’s get to the murdering!” but there’s another aspect of the movie that comes along: actual characters we care about!

Tucker DaleEnter Tucker and Dale, two rednecks who just bought their dream summer home in the middle of the woods. Woods, according to the local police, that contain nothing but pain and death. Is that police department funded by Stephen King? I bet their motto is “To strike fear and forebode.” After a brief encounter at a gas station between Tucker, Dale, and the college kids, which includes a clever little jab at classism and stereotypes, both groups are off. One group to party, the other to fix up their new cabin in the woods. (Somebody pay Joss Whedon his 25 cents for that.)

After tons of attempted foreshadowing, each disarmed by the characters (some in hilarious fashion), the movie continues on while we smile smugly. My favorite moment is the newspaper clippings of killers in the woods, and disappearing folks completely overlooked for a “Buy one, get two free chili dogs” coupon with no expiration. But what’s this? A horror movie this far in and no murders? Hold on. That’ll get fixed.

The would-be hero of the college group is related to someone who survived a group of killer hillbillies in those very woods. And he went back into the woods! You could strangle these kids with a cordless phone! As I’ve said before: Going into the woods is a bad idea, no matter the scenario. Now that we’ve established the characters and scenarios, let’s get to the action! Tucker and Dale go night fishing, while the college kids go skinny dipping. We should turn this into a drinking game: For every cliché, take a drink!

One of the college girls knocks herself out, and the two rednecks save her, trying to reunite her with her friends, but there’s that misunderstanding. The college kids think they were attempting to kill her. For collegegoers they aren’t very bright. Michigan State must’ve lowered the entry standards, again. While the kids regroup and brainstorm ideas on how to get their friend back, Tucker and Dale are left with an unconscious girl, and have to take her back to their cabin in the woods to recover. Played-up dramatic music and camera shots lead into possibly the best confrontation between a would-be killer and their victim ever caught on film.

Now we delve into character development, that’s actually kind of sweet and funny, but not for too long. Begin the murders! Bees and a chainsaw combination send both Dale and the college kids running and screaming into the woods, which gives us our first death. Hey! The black guy doesn’t die first! More misunderstandings! More gore! This includes a woodchipper, a pointy stick, and gravity. The reactions of all the characters involved in these scenes are gold. Plus, let’s hear it for practical effects!

A few more deaths, a gun safety lesson, and a shootout with a nail gun later, Dale gets captured by the college kids. More misunderstandings lead to hijinks and…tea…and…a sit-down to discuss emotions? Can’t say I saw that coming. Quick! More gore and murder! Ah. That’s better. A showdown between Tucker and the last college kid gives us our wrap-up, save for a few minutes at the end of the movie. And even those are hilarious. Sorry, folks, no spoilers here.

“Tucker and Dale versus Evil” is a horror comedy with awesome practical effects, hilarious performances, and twists on old, favorite clichés that are fresh and appealing to a newer audience as well as an old horror hound like myself. Check it out and get ready for some fun. But not in the woods. Never go in the woods. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more reviews!

roadside attractions

  • Gore Money Shot
  • Nailed In The Face
  • Finger Sandwiches
  • Hatchet Physics
  • Tucker Explains It All
totals

0

blood

BLOOD

Gore, gore, everywhere.

1

blood

BREASTS

One pair exposed, two if you count Tucker’s

3

beast

BEASTS

There’s a dog. That’s it.

8.5 OVERALL
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Nov

posted by Blake | November 1, 2014 | 60's b-movies, 60's movies, B-movie Reviews, B-movies, Reviews by Blake

I was born in 1966, so growing up as a kid October always meant two things: Halloween and a yearly reminder of the genesis of the Red Menace.  Starting in October, 1917, the Soviets under Lenin’s leadership began seizing power in Russia and would not stop until they had control a year later.  While this had dire consequences for Russia and many other nations throughout the next 80 years, it did make for some pretty decent film-making, particularly in the realm of science fiction.

Unfortunately, some of the coolest sci-fi films to come out of the Soviet era only made it to U.S. markets in butchered form, with ludicrous dubs and hamfisted cuts perpetrated by bargain-basement distribution companies.  Even worse (from an artistic viewpoint, at any rate), they often added content by schlocky or inexperienced directors, further eroding the quality of what had originally been a good film.  Such was the fate of two Soviet films that fell into the hands of the great Roger Corman and his Filmgroup production and distribution company: Nebo Zovyot (1959) and Planeta Bur (1962).  Before moving on to the film at hand, a brief intro to these two efforts is necessary.

Nebo Zovyot was directed by Mikhail Karyukov and Aleksandr Kozyr and had some of the best modelling sequences of its era, as well as an honest and fairly successful attempt to pay lip service to the scientific realities of space travel.  “Sputnik I” had reached orbit the previous year, so in the Soviet Union the space program and its possibilities was on everyone’s mind and a film about the first manned trip to Mars was just the thing the average Ivan-in-the-street was looking for.  There are some really great sequences in the original, many of which are preserved in the U.S. release.  Unfortunately, the original Russian script was very heavy-handed and painted an unflattering portrait of the space program of the “American imperialists,” so when legendary schlock-film hucksters American International Pictures acquired the rights for U.S. distribution of the film in 1962, they hired Roger Corman and film student Francis Ford Coppola to gut and “re-envision” it.  Coppola re-wrote the script, “Americanized” all names in the credits, then slipped in some cheesy space-monster footage he and Jack Hill had shot on a sound-stage in Hollywood; apparently, Coppola wanted one monster to look like a penis, and the other a vagina (not touching that one…).  It was renamed Battle Beyond the Sun and released later that year.  Corman would use footage from the re-worked version in several films of his own on a cut-and-paste basis, including Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women.

Planeta Bur is a far better film and has stood the test of time quite well.  Directed by Pavel Klushantsev, the film was far ahead of its time when compared to Western fare, and a lot of the design work in it is still as cool as it was in ‘62 (including a “space car” that looks like many of the nuclear-powered concept vehicles that had been floating around since the late 50s).  The story was imaginative, paying quite a bit of attention to scientific reality, both in space and on the surface of Venus.  The film also features one of the coolest and most complex film robots—Robot John— ever designed.  Corman’s Filmgroup acquired the distribution rights to it in 1965, then proceeded to “re-envision” it as Corman/Coppola had done with Nebo Zovyot three years previously.  The film was given to director Curtis Harrington who would also do another film for Corman, the classic Queen of Blood.  Harrington added some newly-minted scenes starring the fading and obviously-desperate Basil Rathbone and Faith Domergue who had starred in the sci-fi classic This Island Earth ten years before, retitling the film Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet.  As with the earlier movie, most traces of the film’s Soviet origin were obscured or obliterated.  Thankfully, the film was not butchered as badly as it could have been (and certainly less than Nebo Zovyot had been), but it was never released theatrically, going straight to tv.  The majority of the cut-and-paste time in Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women is from Harrington’s movie.

The film at hand is actually a tremendous bargain matinee of a movie, comprised as it is of work from five different films.  In addition to the four listed above, Corman hired fledgeling director Peter Bogdanovich in 1968 to make what would be Filmgroup’s final effort.  Unfortunately, Corman had a problem: American International Pictures wouldn’t buy the film unless it had women in it.  Bogdanovich decided to film a bunch of “prehistoric women” cavorting on the beaches of Venus (it was actually Leo Carillo State Park in Malibu) and use it as an arc to tie the fragments of the other films together.  He cast former blonde bombshell Mamie Van Doren in the role of Moana, the leader of the group. Unfortunately, at age 37, Van Doren was looking less like a Hollywood Marilyn Monroe wannabe and more like a threadbare cocktail waitress shilling drinks to the hard-luck crowd at a casino in Winnemucca.  Her “career” was ten years past its peak and was already well into a long downward slide, and Bogdanovich surrounded her with younger no-names to cushion the effect, most of them looking like Malibu beach chicks he’d met at D-list parties.  He dressed them all in latex bell-bottoms, leis, and plastic sea-shells for bikini-tops, then gave them all peroxide-platinum hair and let them roam and swim Carillo in silence.  In one of his few good directorial decisions, Bogdanovich had no dialogue in his scenes, allowing the viewer to assume some wild, alien intelligence on the part of Van Doren and her posse, rather than having them speak and making such an illusion impossible to maintain.  Alas, he would later decide to add voiceovers (“telepathy”) as he thought his segments were otherwise incomprehensible, and we get the bimboesque voices of his Venusians in all of their glory.  To add to this dismal performance, Bogdanovich, himself provides a badly-written, poorly-read narration that runs from the beginning to the bitter end of the film. He was trying for some sort of Beat profundity, but he just ends up sounding like a drunken Berkeley sophomore spewing nonsense at a beach party.

To give his project some tie-in with the Americanized Soviet films, Bogdanovich constructed a papier-mache pteranodon “idol” to match one seen in Planeta Bur; this was “Ptera,” the god whom the Venusians kept close to their breasts (or their hearts…whatever), and had a large rubber Ptera made to match.  The rubber dino was a serious mistake; I had more convincing rubber dinosaurs in my toy box when I was a kid, and a couple of Bogdanovich’s amateurish close-up shots only make the effect worse (it’s no wonder that Bogdanovich would later flame out after Paper Moon, a film more notable for the profound cinematography of Laszlo Kovacs than for Boggie’s lackluster direction).

Mercifully, Bogdonovich’s segment was only about 15 minutes of total film time, lasting only long enough to prove that ‘his work was both good and original, but those parts which were good were not original, and those which were original were not good.’  And that paraphrase of Samuel Johnson best describes the entire film, with the only decent parts coming from the Soviet originals.  I found it telling that Corman’s Filmgroup folded soon after completing this dog, although Corman himself had many years of awesome projects afterwards.  Still, it’s worth an idle afternoon’s viewing, more for the value of seeing the Soviet bits or a late-career treat for Van Doren buffs than anything else.

roadside attractions

  • Five films in one
  • The sagging Mamie Van Doren
  • The People’s Committee for Science Fictionski
  • Vintage Corman/AIP
totals

0

blood

BLOOD

Bloodless combat

1

blood

BREASTS

seashells (sigh)

3

beast

BEASTS

“Ptera,” dinos, carnivorous plants

1.5 OVERALL
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