Archive for the '60’s movies' Category

Jul

posted by admin | July 16, 2016 | 60's movies, B-movie Reviews, B-movies, Guest Review, Horror movies

Comments Off on Black Sabbath: A guest review by Paul Counelis

paul

Paul Counelis writes the “Monster Kid Corner” column for Rue Morgue, is the editor of Halloween Machine magazine, sings for the scary band Lords of October and is a member of the Flint Horror Collective, bringing events to sunny Flint, Michigan for years. FACEBOOK and LIKE all that stuff, willya? In his free time

he writes incredible books about scary stuff, does a bi-weekly podcast with his pals (Ghoul Cast), raises 9 kids with his gorgeous (and patient) wife Crystal, and runs a home haunt called Scarriage Town with family and friends (and daughter’s consistent imaginary(?) friend Hallie).
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Toward the end of his amazing career, the legend Boris Karloff was so intent on working well into his late seventies that he often accepted roles in films that…well, to put it nicely, just weren’t worthy of his presence. He finished his remarkable career with a few real duds; therefore most Karloff fans just pretend that his last film was 1968’s excellent and challenging Targets, a movie that contrasted the horrors of the great Universal Monsters era with the modern horror of the real world.

But a few years before that, betwixt career reviving turns with Vincent Price in The Raven and The Comedy of Terrors, our buddy Uncle Uncanny found himself in maybe the most unique role he had ever played; a vampire in The Wurdulak segment of the Mario Bava anthology Black Sabbath.

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Karloff’s segment (aside from his strange “hosting” turn, complete with Italian overdubs) is really atmospheric, unusual and worth watching all on its own, and the same can be said for another spooky portion of the film, The Telephone, about a…ahem…call girl who receives disturbing, Scream-like, rape-y phone messages from a client of hers who just happens to be imprisoned. I won’t give away the twist… yeah, very Scream indeed.

But it’s the segment titled The Drop of Water that most people who’ve seen this film tend to remember the most…because it’s really freaking creepy.

I watched the film for the first time one night by myself, not really expecting much other than the charms of the era and the pleasure of watching Uncle Boris do his thing. However, The Drop of Water honestly and truly gave me something that I hadn’t gotten from a horror movie in quite a few years: a nightmare.

I felt giddy as I watched the tale unfold, about a nurse who makes the rather unwise decision of stealing the ring from the corpse of a medium (who passed away during a séance) while preparing the body. Why someone would do such a thing, after all the years of hearing the multiple campfire stories that revolve around that particular set of circumstances (“Bloody bones, bloody bones…”) is anyone’s guess. BUT, she did it anyway.

And in the moment when the countess rises from the bed and floats toward her, hovering a couple feet from the ground while she stares deep into her soul from unmoving, sunken eyes…I’m sure the nurse had a quick series of regrets.

I realized that I was laughing giddily during that scene; the kind of laughter that would be referred to as “nervous”. This is something that doesn’t happen to a hardened, desensitized horror fan very often. In fact, the most recent time it happened to me before watching Black Sabbath was during an ill-advised late night screening of The Exorcist III, another film that I wrongly anticipated watching easily by myself. Most people who have seen Exorcist III can probably guess at the scene in which I nearly fell off of the couch. But anyway…

Black Sabbath is one of those kinda sorta “under the radar” type classics, full of Bava’s best directorial tricks and plenty of mood and atmosphere. It’s also home to one REALLY freaky lookin’ living dead girl, and remains one of the top movies in the latter stage of the outstanding film career of our dear, old Uncle Karloff.

 

roadside attractions

  • Multi-colored rotary dial phone, NWO Wolfpack style
  • Nude bronze Cupid statue
  • Stonehenge like relics in an open field
  • Brooding but cabin-like castle
  • Boris Karloff’s afro
totals

7

blood  

BLOOD

– Some extremely questionable paint-like substance under the jagged end of a dagger

– A suspiciously rubbery head that Karloff gleefully pulls from a bag and hangs outside

– Oddly realistic small splatters on neck bite marks

– Seeping through white shirts after off-screen violence

2

blood  

BREASTS

Surprisingly few for a film with a segment about a call girl. NONE in the Drop of

Water story. Thankfully. THANKFULLY.

 

8

beast  

BEASTS

– Spotted horses galore

– Freaky ass zombie girl

– Incessantly howling wolf

– Wurdulak…er, corpse that wants blood…er, VAMPIRE

– Disturbing child Halfling who says “Momma” outside the window with a reverb-y voice


7.7 OVERALL
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Jan

Comments Off on The Long Hair of Death

The Long Hair of Death
1964 – NR – 100 Minutes – Raro Video
Starring Barbara Steele, George Ardisson, Halina Zalewska – by Antonio Margheriti

Anytime something bad is happening in the world, it’s probably because of a witch’s curse and to get rid of it, you have to burn her on a cross. If she cries out for her maker and dies, she wasn’t a witch after all, but if she shrieks out hexes and curses those who wronged her, she is a witch, but she is burning, so the curse is gone! Everybody wins. Except the witch. These are all scientific facts.

But you better hope that witch doesn’t curse you and cry out for vengeance upon her execution. It will haunt you for the rest of your life, which will come to an end unexpectedly, just as you think you are on top of the world. The Long Hair of Death is such an example. It’s dark and shadowy trip down a cold, chilling hallway of treachery, murder and revenge from Antonio Margheriti, the director of cult classics like Castle of Blood and Yor, Hunter From the Future. Ok, that last one maybe not so much, but the guy knows how to create mood and tension.

lhd_2And what way better way to open up a movie? Count Humboldt and his rather douchy son Curt are burning a witch at the stake, but this isn’t your regular kind of tie-them-to-a-cross burning. It’s some sort of torcherous haystack maze that is set on fire! As the accused witch is trying to escape the hellfire, her hot daughter (no pun intended) Helen, played by the gorgeous Barbara Steele, is attempting to plead with the Count to save her by any means necessary… any, if you catch my drift. So while the Count is grinding on her, he promises her that her mother will be safe, but then Curt sets a torch to the maze and the old woman catches fire while her youngest daughter watches and she shouts curses on her tormentors. Jeez, the guy couldn’t even wait til morning to break his promise. Helen vows that she will have her revenge, but there may be a change of plans. The Count tosses her off a cliff and into a river, leaving her younger sister Lisabeth as the sole survivor. Helen is buried with the old witch’s ashes, which you know is going to be a combination more deadly than peanut butter and chocolate.

Some years pass and Lisabeth is now a young woman, being stalked by the even creepier Curt, who basically forces her into marriage. Of course, this is back in the day when you could just say you’re going to marry someone and claim them. That’s basically what happens, but even though she’s his wife now, he will never have her heart. He doesn’t truly love her and she hates him and they spend a good amount of time loathing each other and staring daggers as she plots her revenge against Curt while avoiding him. So, it’s your basic run of the mill marriage. Lisabeth begs for vengeance and vengeance she shall have!

lhd_3As the plague is claiming the lives of the villagers, Curt and his father stay safely in their castle until an old, familiar face returns! Could it be Helen? She certainly looks like her, but doesn’t act like her… The woman says her name is Mary and has been separated from her group. Upon seeing her face, the count dies from guilt and Curt greaves in Helen’s magnificent bosom. But don’t think Lisabeth doesn’t notice some other floozy making moves on her man! She soon becomes jealous and suspects Curt of adultery and she should, because he is totally hitting that behind her back. Even as Helen tries to leave, Curt goes as far as to poison a messenger sent out to find her party. Now, if that isn’t the sign of someone who loves you, I don’t know what is.

Deceit, treachery and murder are all part of this marriage (I guess each couple has to keep their relationship “fresh”), as Curt plots Lisabeth’s death and she patiently awaits for revenge, but will she ever get it? And why is it hard to advert my eyes away from Helen’s cleavage? Curt soon brings Helen into the mix, turning her against Lisabeth and soon paranoia sets in and there is nobody they can trust, not even the priest! Well, if you can’t trust the priest, then who can you? It’s a devilish story about getting even that leads up to an ending that will ring of The Wicker Man.

Talk about an exciting, little murder mystery! There are plenty of moments in the film where anything seems possible and you aren’t sure what’s going to happen, but you’re certainly there, wide eyed in anticipation waiting for it. Sure, you’ve seen this plot probably about a dozen times and maybe it’s the way it’s presented here, but it doesn’t feel old. Those Italians sure do know how to create some genuine suspense. It does take some time getting to the revenge, but everything is a slow build, so you have enough time to get to know these characters and despise them enough so that any type of revenge is justified, no matter how cruel and unusual it may be. And boy, does it get cruel and unusual.

lhd_4But that’s just the start. There is a lot of sexualization in the film and dealing into darker matters with rape and abuse, which may seem unheard of for films from the 60’s, but this is when European Gothic horror films were really starting to become just what they were meant to be; dark. Yes, there was a time when goth was more than whatever was trending down at the Hot Topic and The Long Hair of Death represents that. Presenting the spousal abuse, adultery, death and plague is some beautifully lit set pieces, highly contrasting the lights and shadows within the castle, something Italian filmmakers seem to have a knack for. The film has some seriously beautiful images.

And I have to give praise to the performances in the film. Curt is that villain you love to hate. He’s always up to something that will only further his desires while hurting someone else. Everything he says seems to be there to shine light on his greed, selfishness and his treacherous scheming. Even against his own father, who starts off as the most detestable person in the film, but later accepts his own fate. I did find it odd that Curt would later come to mourn his passing, especially after Curt admits to the reason behind the Count’s brother’s disappearance. Countering that is Lisabeth, the sympathetic female unwillingly caught in the middle of all of this. At times she seems a little weak, because you want her to extract the revenge, but that is lent a more supernatural hand. I also felt that her jealousy was a bit unwarranted, since adultery was met with execution back in the day and that could have solved her problem right there, but I guess she wanted to do it herself. And of course we have to mention the gothic bombshell Barbara Steele in a dual role. This woman does the unimaginable in an attempt to save her mother’s life as Helen and as Mary, she flaunts was she was born with and expresses what a sexual beast she can be.

For those of you always looking for the greatest quality out there, Raro really came through for you. The picture is sharp and smooth, although sometimes too smooth, delivering a pretty crisp picture with little leftover scratches. The same can be said about the audio, which seems to be flawless here. That score will get stuck in your head for days and both Italian and English dialogue tracks are here. I recommend the Italian track with the English subs, since the English dub seems to be a bit sillier and some of the dialogue is omitted, like an inner voice speaking to Lisabeth.

The Long Hair of Death
Sure, you could choose from one of the many Hammer Horror films if the mood strikes you for something gothic, but I say reach a little further for The Long Hair of Death. Something about it feels more natural than something in the Hammer series (not saying anything bad about Hammer), especially within the scenery. It’s a dreary good time that is remarkable to look at and will keep you in suspense as wave after wave of tension keep slamming into you.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Barbara Steele will steal your heart.
  • Curt, lord douche.
  • Murder, deception and betrayal! Oh my!
  • Gothic interior decorating.
  • Man, The Wicker.
totals

3

blood

BLOOD

Nuttin’ but a rotten corpse.

6

blood

BREASTS

Two words. Barbara and Steele.

7

beast

BEASTS

Curt needs a mustache to twirl while lightening strikes behind him.

5.3 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

Comments Off on Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women

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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Jul

posted by admin | July 21, 2014 | 60's b-movies, 60's movies, B-movie Reviews, B-movies, Guest Review

Comments Off on The Monitors: A guest review by Blake Lindsey

“We are here to serve humanity.” Thus states one of the hippest title sequences ever done in my opinion, something that sticks with you long after the rest of the film ends up in the Recycle Bin on your mental desktop.

It’s the tail-end of the Groove Era—psychedelics, calf-boots, turtlenecks, and breezy free-form jazz. The United States is run by a beneficent race of humanoid aliens of unknown origin who have striven to end war, hatred, political and social corruption, sexual tension, and obesity. They call themselves The Monitors, and the civilization they are trying to push the country into accepting is the kind of maternalistic, overly-intrusive nanny state envisioned by genial Swedish socialists. As the film’s tagline declares, “If you don’t like air pollution, war, body odor, hard pizza rolls, exercise, hairy musicians, sexy blonds, tooth decay, smiling heroes, population explosion….you’ll love The Monitors.” All is not well in Paradise, however; there are those who rebel against the flaccid, Wonderbread norms of the new society and long for the good ol’ days of promiscuity, liquor, kickbacks, and the Missile Gap.

This is the conflict at the heart of this film, based very loosely on the 1966 novel of the same name by science-fiction author Keith Laumer. I have done both, and I found this to be one of those rare instances where the film is more entertaining than the novel, mainly due to Laumer’s stilted writing style and excessive sobriety. The film’s main problem is that it careens around like an unmedicated bi-polar patient, unable to decide whether it is a witty, stinging commentary on American conservatism or a slapstick Stoogefest.

Directed by Jack Shea and filmed entirely on location in Chicago, the film featured the first screen appearance of Chicago’s Second City comedy troupe, which radically changes the balance of the film from being a Sober Warning of Excessive State Interference to one of Zany, Promiscuous Drunks Trying to Get Away from Daddy’s Rules. Veteran comics Avery Schreiber, Larry Storch, and Keenan Wynn have major roles, and cameos of late-60s contemporary comedians and pop culture figures are frequent.
The film is an odd period piece in several ways, and was a spectacular flop. It was produced on a small budget by camera manufacturers Bell & Howell to showcase a new cinematic camera system they had recently developed, and to draw attention to Chicago as a hip alternative place to shoot movies. They failed on both counts; Bell & Howell stopped producing cinematic equipment within two years, and no-one would film in Chicago for decades after the film’s failure.

From my perspective, the film’s main flaw is that is goes way overboard on the Zany/Madcap Humor. For instance, Larry Storch (of “F-Troop” fame) is always funny, but only in small doses; like watching Lindsay Lohan at a bar, you might get a laugh for the first 10 minutes or so, but after that you just want the bouncer to club her over the head and drag her away. A New York Times review from October of 1969 agrees, defecating on the film by stating “The movie is neither as funny nor as stinging as it was intended to be….The endless wisecracks seem none too wise or witty, or, for that matter, new.” For a film that features a well-known comedy troupe, that’s a major “ouch.”

Overall, the acting is pretty decent. Guy Stockwell (older brother of Dean Stockwell) plays Harry, a kind of generic All-American Guy who nevertheless comes across as likeable; Susan Oliver (who looks good in green as an Orion slavegirl in the Star Trek episode “The Menagerie”) plays Barbara, a chick who never quite makes up her mind about the Monitors, working first as their agent then joining (sort of) the resistance; the sober but likable Shepperd Strudwick plays the leader of the Monitors, Tersh Jeterax, and, when the film comes to its conclusion, leaves the viewer feeling as though they have disappointed Dad; and Sherry Jackson (of the classic biker-B “The Mini-Skirt Mob”) who flounces into Harry’s life as Mona, the girl who helps him escape from the Monitors’ re-education facility and has a great wet-tee scene in a fountain.

The cinematography is remarkably good with many really well-composed shots; director of photography was Vilmos Zsigmond who would go on to shoot classics like Deliverance, The Deer Hunter, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and The Black Dahlia. Its amazing to see such talent at work on such a low-budget project, like having Ansel Adams photographing piles of dog crap.
The story progresses pretty much the way you’d expect, with almost no surprises; the resistance (let by a pair of batshit officers played by Storch and Wynne) plans to bomb Monitor HQ, thus rendering the excessively-structured Monitors leaderless and impotent. Although he dislikes Monitor rule, Harry is not quite prepared to go that far and he contacts the mothballed President to help foil them. They do, but Jeterax and the other Monitors are so disappointed by the antics of the Earthmen they have come to save that they withdraw from the planet, like disappointed parents leaving their wayward teens to face the consequences of their actions.

And that is one of the crazy things about the film. Yes, they can be annoyingly overbearing, like impeccably-well-dressed high-tech hall monitors tasked with keeping order in the unruly Human High School and issuing detentions accordingly, but they are so well-meaning and so damned polite about it that you can’t really dislike them. By the end of the film, you find yourself sympathizing with them instead of with the idiotic yahoos who have spent the movie trying to bring them down. Nevertheless, life without booze, sex, corruption, and fast-food would be a serious drag, so you still—paradoxically—are glad to see them go. I don’t know whether the film intended to have that dual effect or whether it was something I brought into it.

In any case, if you’re looking for a groovy, late-60s ride in a sci-fi convertible, with a few laughs and a brace of martinis and miniskirts along for the ride, this is a pretty good film to check out.

roadside attractions

  • Groovy soundtrack
  • Psychedelia
  • Miniskirts
  • Alien Puritanism
  • Cameos by actual, sitting U.S. Senators (well, one at least)
  • More miniskirts
totals

0

blood

BLOOD

Some action, but no gore

1

blood

BREASTS

Monda’s wet-mini foundation scene

0

beast

BEASTS

0 monsters, just anal-retentive aliens

7.0 OVERALL
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Dec

posted by admin | December 21, 2013 | 60's movies, foreign, Horror movies, Reviews by the Goon, screeners, Suspense

Comments Off on The Whip and the Body

The Whip and the Body
1963 – Unrated – Kino Lorber

Mario Bava has a unique way of building suspense, creating an eerie mood and combining it all into a bone chilling tale. His films mix that moody atmosphere filled with sounds of the night, illuminating objects with odd florescent lights and drawing tension out so thin, you could cut it with a whisper. If Dario Argento is considered as “The Italian Hitchcock,” then what does that make Bava? To be honest, Bava’s style is so unique, that there is no comparing him to anyone else. He’s just as important to cinema as filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick or Michael Bay… No wait, not that last one.

Let’s take a look at his Gothic suspense thriller The Whip and the Body for example. It’s not exactly your traditional murder mystery. You mix in a castle and a ghost… now it’s starting to sound like Scooby and the gang should be in this.

wab_2As the sun rises… or sets, either way the sky is fading from a dark blue to a purple as waves crash against a beach and then suddenly a castle appears atop of a cliff in the background! At first I thought it was a ghost castle or would play a part later on in the movie (hint: it doesn’t). So, hmm… chalk that up to continuity? We see a man named Kurt, played devilishly by Christopher Lee, who has returned home to wish his brother well on his new marriage to his own old flame, the smoking hot Nevenka. Something about that seems sour. Of course if you cast Christopher Lee, you may as well have a large neon sign that says, “I AM THE VILLAIN!” following him around. However Kurt doesn’t get the warm welcome he… or you… you know what, no one was expecting, especially the maid, Georgia. Georgia’s daughter fell in love with Kurt after he seduced her, so when he left, she had stabbed herself in the neck. His father, The Count, has also turned Kurt’s estate over to his brother Christian. He’s a vile, sinister and untrustworthy man, but regardless, Christian allows him to stay. Welcome home, Kurt!

So you say goth, sleaze and murder isn’t enough for you? Kurt reveals he knows that his cousin Katia is secretly in love with Christian, throwing the taboo of incest into the mix. He feels her pain, as he is still infatuated with Nevenka and plans to take her back. After all, women are property. But that’s not his only diabolical plan. After entering his father’s room via hidden rotating wall behind a fireplace (which is a total villain move, how can you not know this guy is evil?), he tell his dying father that he plans to take back his estate as well, who in turn tells Kurt that will never happen. Kurt then storms off in a very sophisticated and formal temper tantrum.

wab_3He huffs and puffs his daddy issues away to the beach where he finds Nevenka and brings up the good ol’ times, which seems to spark up some fiery passion, since he takes her whip and lashes it across her back (oh, so that’s where the title comes from!). Since he’s a sadist and she’s a masochist (this is starting to sound like a sitcom), they embrace and make love or “boink” on the beach. He leaves her there, unconscious and delusional for Christian and groundskeeper Losat (who reminds me of Smolkin from The Undead) to find. Kurt’s a “hump and dump” kind of guy. Yeah, things seem to be going according to Kurt’s plan, until somebody puts the kibosh on it by stabbing him in the neck with the same knife that Georgia’s daughter committed suicide with.

After putting Kurt to rest, the family decides they should probably find out who done it, with The Count being the prime suspect and he doesn’t take kindly to this accusation. To make things worse, Christian’s marriage with Nevenka seems to be falling apart as they have a lover’s spat. That night, Nevenka has a haunting vision of Kurt, brought attractively to life with the Giallo style lighting and eerie cinematography, as he lashes into her with the whip. Meanwhile, The Count is found murdered in the same fashion, stabbed through the neck. All signs for the murders point to Georgia, but her love for The Count would prevent her from doing such things. So who else could it be? Katia? The creepy Losat? Or as Christian is becoming to believe, the ghost of Kurt? Wait, what?! As Nevenka is becoming more seemingly delusional, seeing footprints and more visions of Kurt, she convinces Christian that it may not be a completely crazy idea. The ghost of his dead brother, coming back to haunt those that have taken from him, betrayed him and murdered him. Crazier things have happened (take the plot of Baby Geniuses for example).

wab_4As Kurt’s laugh echoes through the castle, Nevenka further spirals into insanity and Christian must find out what exactly is going on, as they chase a cloaked figure through the cold stone walls of their home. And seeing as how he can’t call the Ghostbusters, he’ll have to uncover the identity of the murderer and lay the specter to rest with the help of Losat to stop the madness!

The Whip and the Body is a dark and moody film, and I don’t mean primarily the tone. Kino Lorber’s new transfer from the original 35mm showcases this magnificent CMYK color palette, as they corrected the color and contrast, but seem to have left the rest of the print as is. Some of the darker scenes can seem out of focus and grainy, but for a print being as old as it is, it still looks pretty sharp. The overall look is something out of a lucid nightmare. The colors are lambent, vibrant hues of a Giallo film, all seemingly fitting the mood of the scene. Blues and magenta’s highlight the darkness and danger that lurk around the corner. The sound blasts through in true traditional 2.0 mono with either English, French or Italian dialogue (subtitles are provided). However, as beautiful as it is, you probably will grow tired of the string and piano theme that seems to constantly play. Also, another actor dubbed the voice of Christopher Lee in the English track, who as you all know has a very distinct voice, so it will throw you off at first. Unfortunately, no extras are to be found here, but just enjoy the damn movie, you brat!

The Whip and the Body
You don’t have to be a fan of Bava to enjoy The Whip and the Body. It’s a daunting tale of sadism and treachery, spun with murder and madness. This film is one of the prime examples to enjoy or be introduced to Mario Bava (possibly even giving some of you your first ” Bava Boner”). If that’s your bag, then pick up a copy of the Blu-ray or Christopher Lee will break in to your house in the middle of the night and whip you with your car antenna. Dude’s got issues.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • The Amazing Appearing out of Thin Air Castle!
  • Christopher Lee glare of death.
  • You don’t have to go to the South for some good ol’ cousin loving.
  • Pain in the neck.
  • Corpse burning.
  • Crazy castle.
totals

6

blood

BLOOD

Little bit of running blood and a burning corpse, but it’s more about the suspense.

4

blood

BREASTS

Daliah Lavi keeps her wonderful pair covered for the most part… mostly.

9

beast

BEASTS

When Christopher isn’t walking around like the menacing presence he is, Daliah Lavi is running around mad.

6.3 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the trailer for “The Whip and the Body”!

trailers

dripper

About the Highway

Lost Highway is your satirical detour down the twisted back roads of b-movies and cult films reviews. learn more >>


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