Archive for the '70's movies' Category

Mar

The Flesh and Blood Show
1972 – R – Redemption Films
96 Minutes – Starring Ray Brooks, Luan Peters – Directed by Pete Walker

Who doesn’t love a good a good murder mystery? In fact, one of the most popular television shows is about an elderly woman who is a writer/detective and the old people love it! When that show comes on, it’s like ecstasy being broadcast over an unseen signal, like in They Live only in a retirement home. Old people aside, I’ve always loved the idea of a ‘who-done-it,’ playing along with the movie as I mentally collect clues and try to solve the puzzle of the murders that will lead to the identity of the killer. Mario Bava’s A Bay of Blood is a perfect example (especially with that set up), but others can fall kind of flat, like Pete Walker’s The Flesh and Blood Show.

Of course you don’t realize this until it’s over, but it’s not a completely bad experience, nor will it leave a sour aftertaste in your mouth. For the most part, it seems to keep everything at a good pace, although feeling like it’s dragging out from time to time until you reach the film’s climax when it feels like it should have been over for some time. Perhaps one of the biggest flaws it has is its plot that has not aged well. Sure, in the early 70’s it probably wasn’t all that common, but now audiences may find that it’s been done to death, especially when parts of it resemble April Fool’s Day. It’s comprised of part mystery, part proto-slasher and part sleazy go-go. Sounds good on paper, but the execution…

fbs_2Like most slashers, there is an obnoxious character, John, and for whatever bizarre reason, decides to go to his friend Carol’s flat with a knife in his belly, but it’s nothing more than a prank. Maybe John and Shelly from Friday the 13th Part 3 are pen pals. Anyway, he stopped by… at 2 o’clock in the morning… waking Carol, who is completely nude and shares a bed with her flatmate Jane (do they have your attention now?) to tell them he has just been offered to have a role in the improv theater show The Flesh and Blood Show at Dome Theater, which has been closed for a very long time after a horrible event took place. Coincidentally, Carol and Jane also have been invited to participate in the show, so off they go to the creepy old abandoned theater where horrible things await them.

They meet up with the rest of the crew comprised of bad 70’s haircuts; Tony the Aussie, Simon, who you will swear is a miniature Mick Jagger stunt double, sexy blonde Angela and Mike, the show’s producer. By a first glance at this place, you should know better not to go in, as it is plagued with all the run down theme park cliches and probably has the actual plague floating around. But that doesn’t stop them from going about their rehearsal or sleeping there. Too cheap to cough up the quid for a hotel, the cast and crew decide to sleep there and it doesn’t take long for things to get sleazy. One of the girls instantly jumps in the sack with Tony for knowing him all of about several minutes and another girl decides to rub Carol down topless as John watches from afar. As if this theater wasn’t caked in enough filth and grime, here’s some more.

I won’t lie. It’s an awesome scene.

fbs_3Immediately following that scene, a scream is heard and the lesbian girl (sorry, I forgot her name and I’m forced to identify her by her character trait) has gone missing. After searching the theater, Mike finds her head on top of a shelf and her body next to a guillotine, but keeps it from the others. I’m actually kinda stunned that a theater has a properly working guillotine. He does, however, get the fuzz involved, but upon inspecting the “crime scene,” all evidence of any murder has been hidden, which is impressive to not leave any trace of a recent decapitation. Everyone chalks it up to John and one of his practical jokes, but soon they find a note that stating why she left… but the note was actually left behind by the killer! Oh well, time to find her replacement. This is showbiz, after all. Enter up and coming film actress Julie!

The town may be as dead as our recently departed blonde, but a local nearby restaurant is still open and probably the only clean thing in town. This is where we meet an elderly man, Major Bell, who you can guess is the killer if you have any deductive powers. The cast crew occasionally pays visit to him and his wife (played by Sheila Keith from Frightmare) in between their rehearsals. Nothing much really happens, until Carol decides she wants to go for a stroll alone one night along the dock. John follows her out, unbeknownst to her, when she is attacked and nearly raped by what appears to be a hobo, until her screams are heard and the gang, minus John, find her. They all come to realize he wasn’t around and becomes the prime suspect… until his body is found a few days later by the police and in a twist, has been dead since that night he followed Carol outside? So if not him, then who?

Like I said earlier, it’s pretty obvious.

fbs_4After some more rehearsals of random things, spiced up with plenty of nudity, they eventually notice someone is running the spotlight (face palm) and another of the crew is killed. As the lights go dim, the Major shows up spewing lines from a play as he confesses to the murders and that it was him who committed the horrible acts long ago and tells us the tale in flashback form. Even after, he still prances about, regurgitating lines from the previous play, to which the remaining members of the crew use to their advantage and cleverly, and oddly somehow, reenact the events of his crime. Since he’s bonkers and his lid has clearly flipped, that same evening from long ago is playing out in his mind. The 5-0 shows up in time, arrest the Major and the crew comes to the realization that in order to kill some of their actors, he must’ve had help… from his daughter… who may be with them at this moment!

As you can gather, The Flesh and Blood Show resembles the Scooby Doo cartoon, only with boobs and wieners (yeah, you get full frontal… ladies). Overall, it feels very stiff and as if you’ve seen it a hundred of times before (which you have, but for the time this wasn’t that common of a plot), it teeters slightly over the edge of sleaze, just enough to keep you watching. It’s self aware of how voluptuous the females are in this movie and will often parade them around fully nude. As you realized, the slasher and mystery bits, in retrospect, seem very cut and paste and tired by today’s standards. The film itself now is considered to be very tame, but at its time, it’s one that could spark a bit of controversy. Maybe it’s the title, but I can’t help but feel this should have been a Herschell Gordon Lewis film, who could have truly brought the sleaziness and violence that the title provokes.

One pretty interesting thing The Flesh and Blood Show does is present the flashback sequence in 3-D in black and white (Pete Walker sure loved his black and white flashbacks, huh?) The scene during the film is standard, but you do have the option in the bonus features of watching the ten minute sequence in anaglyphic red-blue process (for those of you who don’t know, anaglyphic works better in black and white) or if you have a 3D TV, you can check it out in stereoscopic as well. I was able to watch the scene in anaglyphic (make sure you have the classic red and blue glasses, they aren’t included) and it worked pretty well, except for when things are supposed to really pop out at you, like when a character points something directly at the lens, the image seems to split apart. Other special features on the disc are a theatrical trailer and another interview with Pete Walker.

The Flesh and Blood Show
In the end, it’s a little underwhelming and hard to believe that it also received an X rating. Lacking in genuine scares and gore (again like Frightmare, most kills take place off camera), The Flesh and Blood Show has little to offer, but it does have some of that old fashioned grindhouse, go-go sleaziness to it. So if you ever wanted to see what an episode of Scooby Doo would look like with sex and murder, then you should give it a watch.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • John’s jokes are a real punch in the gut.
  • Go-Go full frontal nudity.
  • She lost her head over this play.
  • “Old man Withers!”
  • 3D Flashback Revenge.
  • Daughter secrets.
totals

4

blood

BLOOD

Most of the death occurs off screen making it a mystery… as to why the hell they didn’t show it!

9

blood

BREASTS

These voluptuous, curvy ladies show you why the theater is awesome. Minus a point for 70’s bush and dong.

3

beast

BEASTS

You have to be more useless than lint in a couch cushion to be killed by this old man.

5.3 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the trailer for “The Flesh and Blood Show!”

trailers

dripper
Mar

Frightmare
1974 – R – Redemption Films
86 Minutes – Starring Rupert Davies, Sheila Keith – Directed by Pete Walker

Let’s be all serious for a moment and think; does censorship really protect us? Throughout the 70’s and 80’s, the UK was severely bringing the hammer down on horror films, believing they made sadists, psychopaths and bullies out of the everyday normal Joe. The solution? To excise all sex and violence out of the film, often leaving the final cut incomprehensible. I recently talked about My Bloody Valentine and how the R rated cut of the film’s finale left you puzzled as you saw Axel running away holding his arm. But what you didn’t see was him sawing his own arm off, thus explaining why he was holding his arm. So maybe it wasn’t always incomprehensible, but you certainly were left with a product that was lackluster and taking away elements as to why you are watching the film. In horror’s case; the aforementioned sex and violence.

The BBFC (now apparently at it again) became so notorious for this, that horror films unjustifiably became targeted and heavily censored or downright banned just because of the fact that it was a horror film! Whether it was advertising (via posters or reviews) or because a filmmaker became notorious for having made controversial horror films, it would seem that the BBFC would demand severe cuts or ban the film without actually having taking a look at the film. Now, we know this doesn’t keep the material out of the wrong hands, like children, but that’s a different topic for a different day.

fm_2After years pass, possibly many years, this controversy can actually work in favor of the film. Take Frightmare, for example. Although never a Video Nasty, I always heard so much controversy about this film and all the graphic content that got it banned, so in my head I built this movie up to be an exploitation film filled with blood, guts, nudity and every other fun filled nightmare that I could think of. However, if you’ve seen the film… Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that content makes a film good, but you can see how controversy can create a different movie in your head.

Frightmare opens in a black and white sequence during 1957 as a straggler happens upon a farmhouse. He’s welcomed inside, all shot in POV and within moments, a good chunk of his face has been removed and the assailant, now revealed to be Dorothy Yates, is institutionalized in the following scene for having butchered and eaten several people along with her husband Edmund, who had been faking his insanity so that he may be locked up with his wife that he loved so much. Ladies, how many of your guys would take that vow?

Cut to present day 1974 where the daughter of Edmund from a previous marriage, Jackie, is having dinner with some friends all while her stepsister Debbie is out causing a ruckus at a bar. She’s what you would call a “wild card” or “hangs out with a rough crowd.” Don’t believe me? She and her rowdy friends, a biker gang with The Monkee’s style haircuts, beat a bartender within inches of his life just for not serving her a drink for being underage. That’ll teach you to obey the law!

fm_3Dorothy and Edmund have also been declared sane and released, living back in their remote farmhouse. Now, I’m no expert, but wouldn’t they be under probation of some kind or under supervision temporarily? Or maybe I’m wrong and convicted cannibals are free to roam willy nilly once they get that stamp of approval. Jackie puts her love life on hold and keeping her family’s secret to the persistent Graham, who looks like a British Peter Parker, to keep an eye on her father and stepmother. Edmund tells Jackie that he fears Dorothy is already lapsing and up to her old deeds and he has every right to be, because she is. It doesn’t take Dorothy long before she is luring in loners without families or loved ones with tea and tarot card readings that result in their (most of the time) off screen deaths. I have no idea how she fooled such clever doctors.

After several visits from the fuzz, Jackie has had it with Debbie and demands she leave, but newly psychiatrist Graham tells Jackie she needs to be more caring to her sister, because if there is one thing that girl needs it’s negative reinforcement for her bad behavior. But Debbie is beyond a simple scolding, as she claims to have “found” the barkeep from the fight dead and has stored him in her trunk. It’s actually pretty sneaky, since you aren’t sure whether or not Debbie is directly involved in his death, but soon all suspicions are laid to rest, as she has a secret of her own…

Coming home from work one day, Edmund discovers Dorothy in the midst of one of her murders and although he’s shocked and terrified, vows to help her cover it up. Because of his loyalty, Dorothy lets him in on her little secret, that she has been having a little help with her murders from her daughter! Hey, you may as well keep it in the family. Edmund comes to the conclusion that Dorothy will never stop, but Jackie will be a thorn in their side. Hmm, what are crazed murderous cannibals to do?

fm_4After learning of Dorothy’s illness, Graham sets out really figure out what is going on, so I’m sure he will be alright. Jackie heads out to the old farmhouse to bring things to a close, but she may already be too late and discovers the shocking and grisly truth that Dorothy is still murdering… with a little help. Now lacking protection from her father, Jackie is walking into a trap and she may not make it out alive!

After viewing the film, you may have noticed that there is quite a lack of gore. Most of the bloody effects are an aftermath, someone’s face sliced halfway off, but there are a few scenes of Dorothy stabbing someone to death. This is what I meant earlier about a film’s censorship unrealistically boosting your expectations, as I went in expecting murder and mayhem, but what I got was actually a mild, violent filled, shocking and suspenseful tale of a cannibalistic woman that is very well paced. In a way, it reminds me of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It doesn’t need to show you graphic details, but lets your mind make it up for you. Even though most of the butchering is never seen and we never actually see her eat anyone (the implication is more scary, but clearly not as grotesque), Dorothy is a well developed and truly frightening antagonist. Every moment on screen, you are never sure which way her personality is going to take her, so much so, that I was expecting her to kill Edmund at any moment.

As usual, Redemption did a stellar job restoring the film from its original 35mm prints. Although slight discoloration and grain is present, the overall image quality is clean and sharp, revealing beautiful detail to the visceral imagery. As for the audio, there isn’t a whole lot you can do with something that’s 2.0, but it’s never muffled and the dialogue is clear and understandable and really, you can’t ask for more. It’s almost impossible to restore a forty year old film without some remaining damage, but Redemption manages to make it the best it will ever be. On a special features note, there is an interview with director Pete Walker as he recalls the film and talks about how the censorship was a help to the publicity, a look at the work of Sheila Keith, the actress who played Dorothy, a trailer and a commentary track.

Frightmare
If the sight of pulling out intestines, eating splines and feasting upon the organs of people, as blood spews like a faucet isn’t your thing… then you’ll probably enjoy Frightmare, as I’ve said, it doesn’t show much gore, but rather pulls the punches in the suspense. Although not quite living up to its famous controversy, Frightmare is still a bloody good time that’s good for a scare with plenty of secrets.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • My Step Mother is a Cannibal next on Maury.
  • Not the WB Sister/Sister that you remember.
  • Some death with your tea?
  • For England, they have some nice teeth.
  • Husband of the year.
  • Driller killer.
totals

5

blood

BLOOD

Some squirts, some sprays and some eyeball removal.

5

blood

BREASTS

Jackie sports some cleavage making you want to see more.

8

beast

BEASTS

Debbie will break your heart and Dorothy will eat it!

6 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the trailer for “Frightmare!”

trailers

dripper
Jul

Tremors

Sexcula is one of those rare movies where I didn’t know what to expect and when I saw it, it was nothing that I expected… although that’s not necessarily a good thing. For starters, Sexcula could be classified as porn or horror spoof (although not a comedy, at least intentionally), which should have been evident from the classy, vague tagline, “She’ll suck more than your blood.” I have no idea what they could mean… Not to say my expectations were high with this film.

It begins, strangely enough, with a scenic drive, accompanied by some soft, light hearted jazz. I notice that this was kind of a theme in the seventies. Anything to establish how mellow that generation was. Anyone ever seen The Touch of Satan? Anyway, it follows that stale formula of someone inherits a creepy old house and they find an old diary of the previous owner (I’m sure you’re more than familiar with it). So after some girl tells her boyfriend with some serious mutton chops that she, “Heard some stories that would curl your pubes,” about the house (classy dialogue, nothing short of poetry), they decide to go on a picnic and read from the diary. Come along, shall we?

As he begins to read, we learn that Dr. Fallatingstein (…really) created a man. This comes as no shock to the man reading the diary, by the way. Not as an incredible discovery in science or reading the ramblings scribbled in a book by a raving lunatic. Since I have it stopped right here, let’s take a look at the plot so far. A mad scientist that created life; sounds more like Frankenstein than Dracula to me. Oh, the guys name is Frank. Huh. I guess Sexenstein doesn’t sound as good. This reminds me of how The Howling 2 confused vampires with werewolves. I know it’s stupid to complain about acting in a porno spoof, but her line delivery is like a third grade reading aloud, trying to learn to read. I’m sorry, but I’m supposed to buy that this person can craft arteries, but can’t convincingly sell me on how ecstatic she should be that she just created life? Seriously, I’m not asking for an Oscar clip, but ANY emotion would do.

So she created man and what for? To have sex with, what else? Only problem is, he can’t get it up. And being a doctor, she clearly can’t help with this situation. Only her cousin, the Countess Sexcula can fix it (and yes, this is all the exposition). And so, we are surprisingly unexpectedly thrown right into the middle of a sex scene. The film actually cuts to her as she is halfway performing filatio. If you weren’t sure this was porn, like I was, considering this a rude awaking.

Sexcula spends the remainder of the film cutting back and forth between trying to have sex with Frank to out of place sex scenes. One of the most odd and probably the most unsexy thing in a film I have ever seen is when this film’s version of Igor, name Orgie (again… really?) tries to have sex with this robotic woman laying on a table in the basement, tied to some mad scientist concoction, when out of nowhere, a gorilla, or a man in a gorilla suit, chases Orgie and deflowers his buttocks. Okay, I have no idea what is going on. Were people watching this to be turned on or did the filmmakers think that the movie was getting too serious and needed some comic relief?

So back to the drawing board as the Dr. Fallatingstein and Sexcula try to figure out what’s wrong with Frank. They do this, of course, by “Putting more science into it.” Yes, actual line of dialogue. This is back when anything could be done with the vague description of ‘science.’ They do this by injecting him with sex cells. Huh, guess you learn something new every day.

Then there is this. Out of nowhere (seems to be a theme in this movie), there is a twenty minute sex scene, taking place during a wedding at a church. Even after it’s done, they rely heavily on this as filler, because it keeps cutting back to it. This brings to light all the production issues that plagued this movie, which is totally surprising that production issues were even a problem in porn spoofs. They try to add some narration over it, a desperate final editing trick to try and tie everything together. If you’re watching this for plot, like I was, do yourself a favor and disregard this part. The film will actually make more sense.

So guess how the movie ends? Sexcula ‘fixes’ Frank’s problem and everyone has sex. Everyone. Frank, Dr. Fallatingstein, Sexcula, Orgie, the robot chick, those other people from the other porn that were spliced in… the gorilla. It’s tugs at the heart strings and gives one a feeling of inner peace, like everything will work out and be ok.

This is one of those cases where the filmmakers know that their audience isn’t watching the movie for a plot and only for sex scenes, which is usually fine in this genre, but that’s where the problem is; the sex scenes aren’t sexy! So by plot and porno standards, Sexcula misses the mark, big time. One thing I can say positively about the movie is that the set design is actually pretty well done and very gothic influenced of the films it’s trying to knock off. The castle is dark and creepy, littered with dust covered machinery with wires everywhere hooked up to all sort of things. The lighting is like something out of a Giallo, with bright fluorescent color painting most of the scenes.

For being a porno, it sure didn’t feel like one. After all, aren’t they supposed to be sexy or arousing? This came off more as awkward and honest, kinda unappealing. Even for a horror spoof, there was nothing ‘horror’ about it, other than her name is a sexual derivation of Dracula… which is another misconception about the film. Sexcula actually follows the plot of Frankenstein closer than it does Dracula! Well I can say for certain this is a film that can deliver on its tagline.

roadside attractions

  • Mutton chop madness.
  • The names are punny!
  • Take a shot every time you think a different porno was spliced in.
  • Unsexy sex.
  • Monkeying around.
totals

0

blood

BLOOD

Not a single drop of that particular fluid… This movie doesn’t suck blood, but it sucks… yeah, you get the point.

7

blood

BREASTS

If there is one thing in this film, it’s certainly that.

4

beast

BEASTS

A gorilla, Orgie, seventies body hair and the acting.

3.6 OVERALL
dripper

I can’t find an appropriate trailer for “Sexcula,” so enjoy this Synapse Films bumper instead!

trailers

dripper
Jul

suspiria

Very few things come together so perfectly, mixing vibrant colors and vivid violence like Suspiria. Most films can’t hold a moment of tension, making you feel uneasy with every moment that passes on screen as you’re too terrified to move or look away and a soundtrack that is so fierce, it pierces your nerves, pumping your blood faster and faster. With Suspiria, Dario Argento tried something a little different, doing away with his usual murder mysteries and opted for something a little more supernatural, both in sound and vision. Deep Red may have put Dario Argento on the map, but Suspiria is what kept him there.

During the opening credits, before any visuals are shown, we are sharply jolted into attention by the hammering of a what could be a rusty steel drum and a shrieking woman accompanied by dreadful whispering. Right before there is any plot or visuals, Dario Argento welcomes you into his world with music from Goblin. This stringing, energetic music only amplifies the blood soaked carnage to follow, which is also more amplified than his previous work. Seriously, what follows, what you will see in Suspiria, will get under your skin.

Arriving in Munich, Germany from the USA on a dreary, stormy evening is ballet student Suzy Bannion (anyone else think of bunion? Yuck.). Upon arriving at the prestigious dance academy she was newly enrolled in, a young woman, an expelled student flees into the storm, shouting something inaudible. This young woman, Pat, takes shelter at a friend’s place in town, where she believes it to be safe. But how naive of Pat, as an intruder’s arm crashes through a window in the bathroom, grabbing her. Pat’s shouts alarm her friend, who frantically runs downstairs, pounding on doors for help. After an awkward cut (she appears in a different hallway), Pat is stabbed, exposing her still beating heart and has a cord tied around her neck. She crashes through the large stained glass ceiling, hanging her as the shattered pieces of glass impale her friend on the ground floor below. If you look up ‘overkill’ in the dictionary, it will say, “See Suspiria.” And this is just the opening…

HBTMBusiness resumes as usual the next day and Suzy starts getting settled into the school after meeting with Madame Blanc and the rather mannish Ms. Tanner and these two don’t seem creepy or suspicious at all… Speaking of suspicious, Suzy starts becoming dizzy and faints during a lesson. The doctor tells Suzy that she is to take medicated wine… medicated wine. Now I’m no doctor, but I’m fairly certain you don’t need a prescription for wine.

I should also mention that this school is full of the most pompous, snobbish girls you would ever cross. They only seem interested in money, whether it’s trying to manipulate money out of each other or boys with big… wallets (what did you think I was going to say). However, Suzy does meet one peach among all the rotten fruit, Sarah. The two become friends and room together. It’s also later this evening while preparing for dinner, it begins to seemingly rain (or drop down from the ceiling in masses) unwanted dinner guests; maggots. Hey, if you thought your school’s cooking was bad! This forces the girls to have the creepiest campout in cinema history (this entire scene draped in an alarming red light) as they all gather in the practice hall. Sarah over hears the nightmarish wheezing of the school’s director… who is not due to return to the school for several more week, so what is she doing there?

Further growing more suspicious of the faculty, Sarah tells Suzy Pat was her friend and they were gathering clues on this mistrustful staff. Suzy, in stylish Argento fashion, recalls clues in flashback form, recalling Pat shouting the words ‘secret’ and ‘iris’ amidst the storm before skeptically passing out. Sarah frantically tries to wake Suzy, informing her Pat’s notes are missing, but she decides to investigate anyway. This happens in time as an unknown figure starts to stalk her. Sarah flees for her life, believing she found shelter through a window in a dark room, but what is waiting for her on the other side will leave her, dare I say ‘tangled?’

HBTMBeing told that Sarah abruptly left the school, Suzy doesn’t buy that bologna and heads out to meet with her psychiatrist Dr. Mandel, who is played by the poorly dubbed Udo Kier (seriously, the dude speaks perfect English and they dub him with that generic white guy voice?). It’s interesting to note Udo received top billing and he’s just now making an appearance as we reach the final act of the movie. It’s not an unnecessary cameo, however. Dr. Mandel provides us with the biggest piece of exposition. It turns out the school was founded by a depraved Greek refugee who was, in all probability, a witch. Udo exits as his time is becoming too costly, so his colleague steps in to finish the dialogue with Suzy, informing her that the coven cannot survive without their queen. Thank you, Mr. Kier. Your check is in the mail.

The film’s conclusion has timid Suzy filling in all the blanks, recalling all the clues and discovering the truth behind this unholy academy. This eerie ending is actually quite frightening and unnerving to say the very least. Hope you have a change of drawers.

Suspiria is like watching a twisted, infernal fairytale come to life. Every scene is masterfully lit with electrifying hues of reds, greens and blues making the scenery seem like a character, but never crossing into the realm of cartoonish. It’s actually quite brilliant and adds to the moody and iconic sound of Goblin, whose score only heightens the level of terror. Suspiria is the kind of film that could have come off as unbelievable and ludicrous, but mixed with the aforementioned ingredients and Dario Argento’s sense of stylized and prodigious direction, everything plays out magnificently. It’s a film that without a doubt has earned its title as one of the most shocking and terrifying pieces of not only Italian cinema, but as horror cinema as well.

roadside attractions

  • High dive hanging.
  • Stained glass impalement.
  • Hallelujah, it’s raining maggots!
  • Medicated wine.
  • Creepy campout.
  • Razor wire rumble.
  • Which is witch?
  • Secrets, secrets and more secrets.
totals

8

blood

BLOOD

More than Argento’s later works, but about as much as his earlier.

7

blood

BREASTS

If there were any bare breasts in this film, I’d be too afraid to look.

10

beast

BEASTS

Unknown assailants, monsterish servants, old hags, witches… and rich, snobby white women.

8.3 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the entire movie here!

trailers

dripper
Jun

Deep Red

Dario Argento, also known as the Italian Hitchcock. Not because he is a white, overweight, sexual deviant harassing his stars, but because he understands what makes a horror/thriller really good: suspense. The man really knows how to keep you on the edge of your seat (or in my case, a cheap, broken futon) and when it builds up until it can’t build up anymore, it knocks the breath out of you and kicks you back, but you come back for more. It’s a rush. Furthermore, both Hitchcock and Argento’s stories focus on a protagonist who is trying to solve a murder on their own. There’s something people don’t do anymore. Nowadays people just call the police. Boring.

I thought it would be appropriate if we took a look at the film that put Dario Argento on the radar, Profondo Rosso a.k.a. Deep Red or The Hatchet Murders (yeah, Italian films usually had at least eight or nine different titles). The movie starts off heartwarmingly terrifying enough with a struggle between two characters we can’t see, until one of them is stabbed to death and we hear a child scream, over a creepy child’s tune. It’s a familiar set up, but it’s Dario Argento’s execution throughout the film that makes this shocking and unique.

The LampThat was just the title credits, by the way. The film follows pianist (tee hee) Marcus, who one day heading home after visiting his friend Carlo, who has some rather odd jokes about rape and is involved with a transvestite (because, why not?), witnesses the death of a medium, Helga Ulmann. Earlier that day, Helga was using her sweet Professor X type powers (ok, they weren’t that cool) and begins to hear that child’s tune we heard at the beginning. Upon reading into this, she fingers a dark and twisted mind in the audience and then in a very stylish (and later to become Argento’s trademark) POV shot, that person gets up and leaves the lecture to kill Helga for being ousted. Or maybe they really had to pee.

Anyway, Marcus fails to save the medium and remembers a painting of several faces missing from the apartment, which will come into play later. But for now, we are introduced to what is probably the Italian film industry’s favorite occupation, reporter. This reporter, Gianna, is played by Daria Nicolodi, who will go on to collaborate with Dario Argento in many other films. She’s one of those no nonsense, women’s lib kinda girl (by the way, we here at The Lost Highway are down with the whole Women’s Lib thing…). Marcus can’t let go of this mystery. He searches for Carlo to ask him what he remembers from the night of the murder and we meet Carlo’s mother, who makes Angela’s Aunt from Sleepaway Camp look subtle and sane. Later, Marcus hears that same tune, only he is able to save his own skin. He and Gianna decide to look into this tune with the help of psychiatrist Dr. Giordani, who was an associate of Helga’s. This brings them to writer Amanda Righetti, who is murdered before Marcus can talk to her, but she leaves a very clever message written on her bathroom wall that is uncovered when Girodani later visits the crime scene and steams up the room (I just read how bad that sounds…)!

The LampThis turns out to be unfortunate for him, however. He basically put a giant bullseye on his back and partakes in what is one of the creepiest scenes to involve a doll. Perhaps influencing the Billy puppet from Saw, a two-foot-something puppet runs out from behind a curtain scaring the poop out of him! His reaction is that he is quite startled, but I think I would have screamed and ran around setting fire to the room. Meanwhile, Marcus and Gianna continue their end of the investigation in a deserted house, with plenty of close calls and thrills, tying all the previous clues together, bringing them to more clues. Only this time, the clues seem to point at Carlo as the culprit, who stabs Gianna and holds Marcus at gunpoint… but he couldn’t have been the killer, could he? Marcus was talking to him when Helga was killed. Hmm, further and further down the rabbit hole… It’s now in the final act that Marcus remembers what was in that painting he saw: The face of the killer! But who could it be? So many odd, colorful characters that it could be.

The movie concludes nicely, tying up all loose ends while making it look good, all in a grisly, gory, good old fashioned death scene with plenty of blood and gore. Deep Red doesn’t skip in that department, so all you sickos can get your fix here.

All of this stretches out over a two hour run time, which does seem a bit long for this. Being one of Dario Argento’s earlier works, as good as the suspense and tension is, it can feel drawn out. Deep Red definitely takes it time getting from one point to another, which can turn off some viewers (although they certainly would be missing an excellent movie). And if you are watching the Director’s Cut that Blue Underground put out back in 2007, the dialogue goes from English dubbed to Italian dubbed with English subtitles, since a fully dubbed Director’s Cut does not exist, it can be distracting to those who don’t want to read their movie during certain scenes.

Deep Red is intense, shocking and violent. It’s a mystery that will keep you guessing and you’ll get excited with each clue toward to reveal of the killer. No matter how many times I see this, sometimes I forget who the killer is and it’s like I’m watching it for the very first time. So, turn off the lights and lock the doors, and watch one of the more suspenseful movies from the 70’s. But, get the hell out of there if you start to hear any creepy children’s music.

roadside attractions

  • Take a shot every time you hear that children’s tune.
  • Take another shot every time there is atrocious dubbing.
  • Shaved with Glass!
  • Tranny Troubles.
  • Dolly Dearest.
  • Steaming up the bathroom.
  • Elevator Decapitation!
  • Pianist.
totals

9

blood

BLOOD

For a giallo, you see plenty of hacking, slashing and even a decapitation!

4

blood

BREASTS

Closest we get is a tranny and a psychic in robes.

8

beast

BEASTS

A tranny, a psychic, a pianist, a reporter and a crazy killer.

7 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the entire movie here.

trailers

dripper
Meat Spider
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About the Highway

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