Archive for the 'Cult movies' Category

Sep

Comments Off on Army of Darkness

It’s 1991, director Sam Raimi now has the approval for a third movie in The Evil Dead series. So how does he capitalize on the cult success of the previous two films? Change the name to Army of Darkness and make it a horror-comedy. Because that’s worked out for so many franchises before it! See any of the Nightmare on Elm Street sequels, if you don’t know what I mean. Now does that mean it’s a bad movie? No, absolutely not. This movie brought a lot of folks into the fold of The Chin, Sam Raimi, and the fact that practical effects and good acting will always beat out CGI.
The movie starts out with Bruce Campbell as Ash narrating his current situation. There’s really no need for the narration, as it’s pretty apparent what’s going on. However, Bruce Campbell narrating anything is epic. We find out a little back story and why Ash is in the situation he’s in, flashback style, though the cuts and bruises he receives later in the movie are on his face. That’s why the right side of his face is filmed in this scene, to hide actual cuts and bruises sustained during filming. Just like the last movie, Evil Dead 2, we get a quick recap with some scenes redone to save on time. Ash is sucked into the vortex and now we begin our medieval escapade.
Through that awesome narration we now know that the movie takes place in 1200 AD and our hero has landed smack dab in the middle of not only a war, but a cursed land befouled by the evil that came from the book. Talk about bad luck. Some camera play and exposition, we come to the first real action of the movie: Ash versus the Pit Witch (and her bloated friend). Even up to this point, with lines such as “Well hello, Mister Fancypants!” to his fellow captor Henry the Red, who leads the other guys, this could still work as a horror movie. However, the next particular scene, is where we get the tone for the rest of the film.
If you never knew that the director was a fan of The Three Stooges, you will, now. Ash’s fight with the Pit Witch, while somewhat violent, is packed with goofy angles, over the top screams, and comedic timing. Escaping said pit Ash proceeds to establish himself as the alpha dog amongst these people, giving us one of his most quoted lines ever. “This is my…BOOMSTICK!” as well as some helpful information about what said boomstick is made of, where it’s made, and how much it retails for. Say it with me, kids, “Shop smart. Shop S-Mart! Ya got that?!?” Why do I keep involving children saying lines from horror movies in my reviews?
After Ash gets the only rest and relaxation he’s gotten in the last 72 hours interrupted by a deadite witch and the plot, we now get some classic Raimi montage footage. And let’s add in a ‘Groovy.’ for good measure. With the magic words ‘Klatu verata nictu’ (See The Day The Earth Stood Still) in hand Ash begins his quest for the book, and a stuntman that can pull of that chin. A chase scene and a really wide camera shot later we come to what might be either the most hilarious or most disturbing scenes the dream team has ever put to celluloid. And they filmed a woman biting her own hand off, mind you.
Our hero finds himself in familiar surroundings as he locks himself inside a windmill in the woods to hide from the evil chasing him. Because it worked so well the last time he barricaded himself in a wood shack in the woods with evil chasing him. However, I’m pretty sure if some looming force of darkness was on my heels making that howling sound I’d suddenly develop the ability to swim up a mountain side. A smashed mirror leads us to some Stooges type comedy and miniature cannibalism. Which results in an eyeball poking through the flesh on Ash’s shoulder, complete with a muffled voice to let us know it’s alive. Told you it was disturbing. But it doesn’t stop there, folks, oh no.
The thing begins to grow. First into another head, then into another person from the waist up, then into another person entirely. And here, about the half way mark of the movie, we have our antagonist. Seems the writing team figured they couldn’t have a movie with a hero and no villain. More disturbing imagery! Ash shoots then dismembers his evil twin, in one of the darkest Raimi montages, ever, and proceeds to bury the remains, and the doubt that we’ll never see that character again. After receiving a warning about the book he quests for, The Chin presses on.
Can’t have a medieval movie without a medieval graveyard filled with gothic, medieval tombstones. Ash finds the book, and a twist, to both lengthen the movie and torture Bruce Campbell with special effects makeup. Right before getting the book, however, Ash channels every person that’s ever had to remember something, ever. The humor in this scene is simple, and in that, hilarious. My favorite line being the final one when Ash decides a cough with an ‘N’ sound in front of it would suffice for ancient, evil magic. Again. Ash not so big in the brains department.
The equivalent of ‘Password not accepted’ turns the graveyard into a fireworks factory and awakens the dead, giving us another chance to witness another slapstick tribute to the stooges. We see Evil Ash resurrected, and soon afterwards, his army of the dead. Or darkness, you know, given the movie title and all. But all is not well when The Chin returns and delivers the news that he may have upset some folks back in the medieval graveyard. I couldn’t help one more ‘medieval’, sorry. Things happen! The love interest is taken away! Ash vows to stand and fight! Enter the final scenes!
The men of the castle send word to Henry the Red, the big brute earlier in the movie, that they need help. They also take part in a training montage, because reasons. Ash, being from the future and all, arms them with gunpowder. The formula which he found in a physics book which just happened to be in his trunk. For extra points try to find the issue of Fangoria. When all is said and done we enter what has to be some of the most epic battle scenes since Clash of the Titans. Or Jason and the Argonauts. Depends on your preference.
The army of the dead attack and go after the book! The men at the castle try to defend! Things aren’t going so well for our heroes, who seem to be dropping like flies. Now we see the Ashmobile! The classic that has been made over to be a steam powered (I’m guessing) contraption of death. The Chin meets up with former love interest now turned deadite, which he ends up tossing over the side of a wall like yesterday’s leftovers. And now, an exercise in duality. Evil Ash and Ash face off to fight for the book and the fate of all involved.
I will, once again, skip the ending because I don’t believe in spoilers. So let’s wrap up. This movie set a tone that Sam Raimi would reuse in other movies like Darkman and even further up like Spider-Man. It’s filled with flaws and production fails, try to count the air-rams badly hidden behind scenery, and some big plot holes. And where I’d usually pick apart a movie for them, this time I’m able to overlook them. Not because of fanboy-ism, okay, partly because of fanboy-ism, but mainly because the movie is just plain fun! Big sets, big action, big actor, and big one liners all add up for a horror comedy that is still just as fun today.

Thanks for reading, folks! Also check out the alternate ending and the extended windmill scene in various rereleases of the movie. So I have a question for all our loyal readers: Should I review the reboot of the series? Head to our Facebook or Twitter page to vote! Thanks again, folks. Stay tuned!

roadside attractions

  • The chin 3.0?
  • Hail to the King?
  • Wires and air-rams Galore
  • ?Ash’s Changing Hair Lengths
  • ?Xena’s war cry
  • ?Evil Ash Muppet
totals

4

blood

BLOOD

A lot of action, not a lot of gore.

3

blood

BREASTS

One full pair and a couple covered with hair. Not much to howl about.

10

beast

BEASTS

An entire army of the dead. Nuff said.

9.2 OVERALL
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Jul

Comments Off on Curtains

Curtains
1983 – R – 90 Minutes – Synapse Films
Starring John Vernon, Samantha Eggar, Linda Thorson – Directed by Richard Ciupka (as Jonathan Stryker)

Klondike brings up the most provocative question of all time by asking you, “What would you do for a Klondike bar?” Or in Curtains‘ case, “What would you do for the perfect role?” Me personally, I would audition and send a gift basket with one really pricey gift in the middle of fine cheeses and jams, but some people are actually willing to kill for it! In the early days of all the shlocky Friday the 13th clones, this little diddy from Canada cuts to the top and shows that bacon and Rush aren’t the only good things to come from our neighbors to the North.

Samantha (Samantha Eggar, The Brood) rehearses on stage as the director of the film Audra, Stryker (John Vernon, Animal House), isn’t quite convinced of her performance. I, however, am not convinced that a man named Stryker should be directing, but instead should be a cop who doesn’t play by the rules or a man who spends most of his time selling homemade potato cannons to school kids. You see, the character of Audra is absolutely mad and if Samantha, a dedicated and methodical actress, is gonna pull it off convincingly it’s gonna take some serious… um, convincing.

It’s not long before they are sitting in front of a doctor with Stryker detailing Samantha’s violent history and threatening to end her film career altogether, so Samantha lunges at him with a prison shank, screaming in pure rage! She is quickly restrained and slapped in a straightjacket, but as the doctor and the orderlies leave the two of them in the room (wait, they are just gonna leave her in the room with him after she came at him with a knife?) Stryker and Samantha begin laughing, revealing this was all a ruse. Faking insanity for a starring role; that’s dedication.

cur_2Samantha is now institutionalized, living among the insane and observing them. Stryker visits occasionally for progress and for support, but that only goes so far, as the madness seems to be getting to Samantha. She’s constantly pointed at and laughed at. The girl she shares a room with every night wakes up screaming, until one day she is taken away in the middle of the night after a fit and Samantha wakes to find her lobotomized. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all, as everything seemingly starts to be cracking Samantha. On his final visit, Stryker and Samantha don’t exchange any dialogue, but sit in silence until he slowly gets up and leaves. And he doesn’t just leave the room… he leaves her there for good.

Rather than do the right thing by telling the doctor it was a ploy and give the actress the role he promised her, Stryker decides to have himself a casting couch session at his remote home with six hot ladies who are all eager to play the role of Audra. This is cleverly told through the styling of stand-up comedy from Patti (Lynne Griffin, Black Christmas), one of the girls auditioning for the part. So we have our comedic relief, who else might we have? Filling out the roles of horror stereotypes, we have the snooty veteran actress Brooke, Laurian the rich girl, Tara the musician, Christie the young promising skater and Amanda. Amanda would have a description, but after having a nightmare about a melancholy looking doll in her room, she is stabbed in the stomach by someone in the shadows after spending the evening with her boyfriend, discussing all the kinky ways he can tap that. Meanwhile, at some other location, Samantha has escaped! All Bond villains, step aside and let Samantha show you how to film a sinister scene! Fireplace: check. Sipping on a fine alcoholic drink: check. Plotting your revenge and vowing to do whatever it takes to someone in the room whose identity is obscured: Oh yeah, big check. But there is no need to worry. The film has more surprises hidden away.

Now at Stryker’s home, the girls get acquainted and have themselves some girl talk. You know, who would do the dirtiest thing to Stryker. This is when he makes his grand entrance and circles the table, introducing each girl with a sentence that sums up their character, like they are all henchman to his Bond villain. It’s classic. I just imagine Stryker hiding behind the door eavesdropping and getting excited as the girls discuss what they would do for him sexually to get the roll. Then quietly he does a fist pump, then psyches himself to get back in the game, practices his lines about each one of the ladies and waits for the right cue to burst into the room. It all pays off. This dude is smooth. He then tells them that acting is only half of the audition, but they need to prove they are right for the role through dedication and sacrifice, setting the precursor to reality TV shows. Damn you, Stryker!

cur_3Guess who decides to show up for dinner? That’s right, Samantha! Later that night, Christie overhears Samantha and Stryker arguing about what happened in the looney bin, but before she can make sense of it, Stryker’s Spidey-Sense tingles and he rips the door open, surprising her. He quickly feeds Christie some BS about it being a scene from an old play and then coaxes her into sleeping with him (no doubt with a promise of the role and not to speak of what she overheard) and leaving her looking smug as she spends the rest of the night crying from guilt. Told you this guy was smooth.

Maybe what Christie needs is some therapeutic ice-skating to get her mind off the previous night’s dirty deed. As Christie skates her troubles away the next morning, she sees a familiar looking doll, partially hidden away in the snow. Suddenly in slo-motion, a figure decked head to toe in black careening toward her disguised with a hag mask and armed with a sharp sickle raised in the air. This sets up one of the most iconic slasher movie scenes of all time as the killer skates after Christie (yes, SKATES) in a cat and mouse game until she is finally done in. This is one of those scenes you really have to see to experience. It’s unintentionally memorable in almost a dream quality looking shot, complete with the image of a witch like looking figure. This scene easily could have been farcical, but everything I mentioned composed together makes it frightening wide awake nightmare.

Of course this is easily written off by Stryker as he tells the other girls that a note was left under his door and she left, but the show must go on! During the auditions, Stryker places the hag mask on Samantha and demands her to seduce him! After she fails at it, he humiliates her acting and moves along in his audition. Could Stryker be the murderer since he is in possession of the mask or is that too obvious? Soon after ridiculing Patti and taunting her into giving him a convincing audition, the hag mask goes missing… You get the feeling this guy isn’t so nice? In case you aren’t sure about Stryker’s motives, how about him using Brooke in a state of hysteria after she finds Christie’s head in the toilet (which vanishes after Stryker comes in the room and nothing is found)?

As the night closes in, the body count rises. Tara is next on the list, as she dances like what can only be described as a drunk robot trying to swim in molasses. Brooke and Stryker, embracing each other as she pleads for the role, are interrupted as someone bursts through the door with a revolver, firing a few shots! Laurian is chased endlessly through a nightmare maze of bizarre set pieces and props and Patti is approached and confronted by Samantha. The killer is revealed in not so much of a shocking twist, but more of a somewhat lackluster and questionable twist that you seem to go along with.

cur_4When all is said and done, two things about Curtains is glaringly obvious. The first being the some of the plot holes, while nothing major to deter you from the film, they will leave you with questions. The killer’s motive is ultimately weak, given that not much time is spent with them, but the biggest hole being the unknown person in the room with Samantha early on in the film after she escaped. We never find out who this person is, what their relation to Samantha is or what role they play in the movie. It was so mysterious and seemed to have set up a big reveal, but this character is never seen or heard from again. I have a sneaking suspicion that somewhere out there that there is a deleted scene explaining this and unfortunately there are no deleted scenes to be found on Synapse’s newly released Blu-ray.

This doesn’t mean the movie is terrible, mind you. In fact, it’s quite good. As I said previously, these questions and holes in the plot are absolutely minor and this is actually quite a suspenseful little horror film. Although not entirely heavy on violence, there is enough to keep all blood thirsty cretins at bay with just enough sleaze added to fill in the void for those craving more gore. There is plenty of titillating scenes showing off the naked skin of our beautiful leading ladies, who all pull in solid performances, by the way. The movie is tense when it should be and during the downtime, dialogue scenes, there is plenty of treachery and filth to keep you interested, but not too much to turn you off. There is enough mystery to keep you curious and overall, it’s a damn fine experience. Curtains is comprised of quite a few memorable, vivid scenes to ever be seen in a slasher film. Who knew these things could be somewhat artistic?

Which finally brings us to the newly restored Blu-ray from Synapse. I see a lot of films restored from the original 35mm prints, but I have yet to see one that looks as defined as this. All the lines are crisp and sharp and very little grain and scratch is detected and when there is, it feels like a part of the scene. Synapse’s painstaking 2k restoration paid off beautifully and was well worth the wait. Of course, the film’s audio is presented in newly remastered 5.1 for the young blood’s or original mono for the OGs. Not pops, no hiss, it’s as clean as you get, but even if you are having trouble hearing, English subs are available. There is even an audio commentary track from actresses Lesleh Donaldson and Lynne Griffin moderated by Edwin Samuelson that focuses on the their experiences on set. It makes for a good listen as they recall stories from filming. There are two other bonus features if you are looking for something a little more on the tech side, one being a six minute vintage video called Ciupka: A Film-Maker In Transition that gives you a look at director Richard Ciupka working and interacting with the cast and crew. The other is a new 35-minute documentary that chronicles the making of the film as the cast and crew recalls their experiences. Believe me, there is enough to keep you busy. You haven’t seen Curtains until you have seen this release from Synapse.

Curtains
So even though at times Curtains can be untenable, it does take itself very seriously and that’s for the better. Solid performances, amazing set pieces, a memorable killer and an overall enjoyable film all put together and presented handsomely by Synapse. I would put Curtains up there with poutine. It’s that simple of an idea and it’s that good.

Images courtesy of Rock! Shock! Pop!

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Stand up comedy plot.
  • Dirty talk.
  • Stomach cramps.
  • Ice-skating of death!
  • Stryker the playa.
  • Get your head out of the toilet!
  • Samantha be cray.
  • Who done it? Ehhh.
totals

6

blood

BLOOD

A lot of stabbing and slashing, but nothing to lose your head about!

5

blood

BREASTS

The film is filled with fine, sexy ladies.

8

beast

BEASTS

Among a room full of people willing to backstab each other, someone is running around in a hag mask killing them!

6.3 OVERALL
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Jul

Comments Off on Don’t Go in the Woods

Don't Go in the Woods
1981 – R – Code Red
Starring – Jack McClelland, Mary Gail Artz, James P. Hayden – Directed by James Bryan

There’s a title that also works as warning sign in life; Don’t Go in the Woods or Don’t Go in the Woods… Alone if you are one of the many people that confused the oddly placed tagline right next to the title (the actual title card in the movie reads Don’t Go in the Woods). I won’t go on a tangent or anything, but this little issue has been confusing horror fans for years, but director James Bryan cleared the issue up on the DVD’s special features and even IMDB credits the movie as Don’t Go in the Woods and if it’s on IMDB, then it’s 100% accurate…

Camp slashers in the early 80’s had a dark and somewhat serious tone to them, whether it be Friday the 13th or (as silly as it was) Madman, but then comes along Don’t Go in the Woods and says, “We’re here to have fun!” And there’s a fun little analogy: if this film were a character in an 80’s slasher, it would be the beer drinking, pot smoking, prank playing, one liner spewing character. However, don’t mistake this for a comedy or a spoof. The tone is definitely horror, but the delivery is pure lovable cheese.

dgitw_2Right out the door, this film doesn’t hold back. A young woman dashes through the woods, screaming her lungs out and tripping and falling into a shallow river to soak her white shirt as blood begins to pool. Another poor sap who is enjoying the most boring hobby of all time, bird watching, has his arm is hacked off (which only seems to slightly knock him off balance) and clobbered over the head. In the first few minutes, the film let’s you know it’s going to be sleazy and filthy with ridiculous levels of violence and less than average acting… which is exactly what we are tuning in for!

While the happy campers of… whatever the name of this place is, are being hacked into pieces, let’s meet our group of four adventurers, Ingrid, Joanne, the misfit Peter and led by the lecturing outdoor connoisseur Craig. When you get down to it, they ultimately have no other goal than to just be camping in the woods. That’s no stretch of the imagination and from what I understand, people actually do that. No reason to bog this plot down with pointless exposition like, they are looking for a secret treasure, or it’s a getaway from the daily grind or claiming inherited property. They are just there to camp, so deal with it. Peter doesn’t take camping too seriously, dangerously leaping from a log and stomping on the ground as Craig scolds him about how risky and stupid that was. He could have been injured or there could have been snakes!

As they frolic about, our killer stalks more random prey, this time a chubby photographer and his wife. He drags her off and does who knows what to it and the husband is thrown off the side of a cliff for the crime of wearing too much pink. He clearly won’t be missed, as a group of teens splashes about in the water literally feet from where his bloated, lifeless body now defecates itself.

dgitw_2So what are the police going to do about this? Surely all of these people disappearing is pretty suspicious. Nah, it’s probably bears assumes our heroic law enforcement, as they brush it off with around of some office putt-putt. These men sure know how to prioritize.

It’s been several minutes since someone has been savagely torn apart, so who better to volunteer themselves as victims than a couple of randy, um, middle aged people? Huh, usually in this scenario it’s teenagers, but here it looks like mom and dad don’t have the kids for weekend and need to drive miles away from civilization in an RV to do the no pants dance. Our killer, not having premium basic cable packages provided out in his area (probably due to coverage), decides to catch the live Skinemax show. Dad isn’t having any of that and grabs his pea shooter, shouting into the night in a random direction, which upsets the maniac. He dispatches dad pretty quickly and rolls mom in the RV down a hill, which explodes at bottom after settling there for a few moments, which all vehicles were known for doing in the 80’s.

Well perhaps the portly Sheriff should look into things, as he takes to the sky in a helicopter, although he doesn’t seem too concerned with looking for anything suspicious… meanwhile, a young mother gets stabbed to death while painting, posing for the cover art and her baby is stolen and a poor helpless man in a wheelchair is decapitated. Yeah, nothing odd going on around here, just people vanishing by the handful. No need to concern yourself or exert any energy that isn’t going in to eating ham.

You’re probably starting to see a pattern happening. But to break the mold (and to kick some plot into gear), Peter decides he’s a bad enough dude to rescue the President from Ninjas go camping on his own and wanders off from his group, which is the best thing you can do when you’re in the wilderness, with little food and water and no knowledge in survival and first aid. It goes about as well as you think. He’s cold, hungry, miserable… the classics. I was expecting a montage of the silly mishaps that could happen to him, like getting his hand stuck in a toaster, a bucket stuck on his head, butt caught in a mousetrap all while slapstick music plays. But no, morning finally comes and he witnesses a fisherman get murdered by the now revealed crazy, bearded, homeless looking bear guy with beads on his face. Typical.

dgitw_3Before looking for Peter, the rest of the gang decide to play ineffectual pranks, as Craig strings up Joanne in her sleeping bag, just as the crazed woodsman stumbles upon them and kills Craig. Ingrid (now that I’m thinking of it, who the hell is named Ingrid that wasn’t born in the 20’s?) bolts the scene, leaving Joanne to be strung up like a pinata. Peter, now armed with a sharp stick, bumps into Ingrid and the two dash frantically through the woods, running smack into Rope Face Guy’s crazy kill shack, littered with garbage and dead bodies. Upon surviving an attack from the killer, Ingrid and Peter escape (but not before accidentally killing a hiker by mistake… which is oddly never brought up or seems to have an effect on either of their mental health) and check in to the local hospital, where the police FINALLY decide to do something about it and round up a posse for a good ol’ fashioned manhunt! Believing Joanne to still be out there, Peter sets forth on his own manhunt, against the wishes of the law enforcement.

Peter races against the posse to find this backwoods killer and stop him once and for all. And also to make sure his friend is still alive. It all boils down to a duel, with Ingrid somehow running out of the middle of nowhere and finding Peter to help him stop the maniac once and for all. I guess GPS tracking devices were invented while they were in the hospital and the doctors implanted one inside Peter without him knowing… or it’s just a coincidence.

Although the gore may not be the most amazing practical effects and at times laughable (although given the tone of the film, it’s a safe assumption it was intentional), it was enough to land this film a spot on the notorious Video Nasties list. Even though it was later removed (in 2007) because the effects are so laughable, it’s still noteworthy. The film has a certain sleaze feel to it and I get that feeling like I’m watching something that I shouldn’t be every time I view this and it makes me giddy, which is what I think was the reaction the James Bryan was looking for. It’s not a film to be taken seriously, so loosen up and have a good time with it. It’s actually surprising to read that there was quite a bit of controversy surrounding this film upon its release. Being an over the top slasher flick from the 80’s, depicting horrific death scenes makes it a perfect target I suppose. Some of the deaths feel like possibly the intent was to cause controversy, such as the woman being killed in front of her child and the man in the wheelchair having his head cut off, but the fact that the acting is so hokey, if you want to call that acting and the crew most likely intended to do it so. The film even has its share of pointless scenes, like where a roller skater (in the woods…) bumps into the Sherrif and they both go about their day. Why was she rollerskating in the woods? Where was she headed? Was that supposed to be a jump scare? I can’t believe people were so up in arms about this, even back then. Silly people looking for things to be upset about. Sigh.

Don't Go in the Woods
Don’t Go in the Woods is a simple, silly slasher flick not to be taken seriously. Sure, the acting is so cheesy that it’s stinkier than Munster cheese, but the kills are so entertaining! Sure, none of the characters are really likeable in a realistic since, but they are so goofy that you don’t mind hanging out with them for the duration of the movie. You’ll have more fun watching this movie than you would actually going camping. Plus you don’t have worry about getting killed by some crazy woodsman.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Don’t go in the woods alone, but you do anyway.
  • Bird watching costs an arm…
  • Peter of the jungle… or woods, whatever.
  • Bear trap headache.
  • Painting the canvas red.
  • Mountain man Ewok.
  • Lazy law enforcement.
  • Sleeping bag pinata.
totals

8

blood

BLOOD

Mutilations galore in a spectacle of over the top blood, made from BBQ sauce!

0

blood

BREASTS

I don’t even think we get any cleavage and coming from a director of adult movies, that is shocking.

6

beast

BEASTS

The grizzle killer is pretty scary, but I take away points for his weird Ewok costume and beads on the face.

4.6 OVERALL
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Apr

Comments Off on SS Girls (aka Private House of the SS)

SS Girls
1977 – Not Rated – Shriek Show
Starring Gabriele Carrara, Marina Daunia – Directed by Bruno Mattei

Oh Bruno Mattei, is there anything you won’t rip off? Although to be fair, he has made quite a name and career for himself doing so, ranging in different genres from horror with Hell of the Living Dead, action with Strike Commando (read my review here), sci-fi with Robowar and Terminator 2… no not THE Terminator 2, but rather an Aliens/Terminator hybrid rip off, better known to the world as Shocking Dark. This is a man that has broadened his resume by exploring every form of exploitation, including the unappealing Nun-sploitation. Bruno also dipped his mitts into the Nazi-sploitation genre with a few films, most notably the Salon Kitty clone, SS Girls, also known as Private House of the SS.

This whole genre, ripoff-sploitation, gets a bad rap for one glaring, obvious reason; filmmakers, especially foreign filmmakers, are basically stealing the idea of a successful film, adding a simple change here and there and calling it there own. Well believe it or not, it’s actually quite a popular genre. Don’t believe me? Just look at the huge library of films from the Italian and Turkish filmmakers out there. While some are more subtle than others (there are a ton out there), Bruno isn’t the only one who blatantly copies idea. It was a quick, cheap way for the Italian film industry to make a buck and it worked rather well. Unfortunately for their Turkish counterparts, it didn’t work out well, most likely due to even lower budgets and somehow worse acting and special effects, that their films are watched more for laughs or a “you have to see this to believe it exists” factor. Having said all of that, not all of these films are bad. Cheesy… absolutely, but each one of them has something about it you can find enthralling or hypnotic and some of them are actually very well made and told. SS Girls is the fine line between all that.

ssg_2Taking place at the tail end of World War II, Hitler is losing the war and becoming suspicious of unloyal officers in his army. Worried (or paranoid may be a better word) that these conspirators will betray him, SS officer Hans Schellenberg, a man dedicated to bringing back the Moe Howard haircut, is given the task of setting up a brothel with a select group of highly trained prostitutes to seduce and weed out these narcs.

Hookers trained to seduce and kill? Sold!

I hope you are prepared to see lots of boobs and 70’s bush, because there is a lot of it. I mean A LOT. Ladies, you get to see some hairy junk, so don’t feel left out. After Hans and Frau Inge, his right hand man, er… woman who rocks a scar on her face, inspect the ladies bodies and selecting his prime hookers down to an elite ten, a training montage begins! I think this is the precursor to action 80’s montage. All we need to do is sync up some ‘Eye of the Tiger’ and this scene would be gold, rivaling that of Rocky IV for best montage. During this montage, the girls get down in dirty, in many ways. Learning the basics of hand to hand combat, they slap each other around and roll around on the ground. The only thing missing is mud wrestling and pillow fighting to make it erotic. Speaking of erotic, ever seen a half naked Nazi chick unload an MP-40 machine gun? Gotta say, it’s pretty hot. However, all this hotness is instantly diluted when the girls “train” in the art of sex by getting ravaged by drooling, sweaty, hairy soldiers that are so out of shape and doughy, it’s like watching a woman wrestle with a moist loaf of unbaked bread covered in animal hair. It’s like taking a hammer to your nards in the middle of winter; cold, stingy and painful. All sexiness just vaporized in an instant.

ssg_3Now that the girls are all primed and ready for action (in more ways than one), the cat house is open and ready for business. Several officers, who are rather unkempt, with longish hair that looks uncombed, stubble, plenty of back hair and sweating grease so thick, you could cook with it, are invited to stay to feast on the finest foods and wine and fornicate to their heart’s desire. Sounds like a good ol’ time, but unfortunately this is a house with many flies on the wall and lots of ears. As they drink and womanize, the festivities reach orgy levels and the officers talk of the fuhrer being mad (gee, ya think?) and betraying him. All this information is relayed back to Hans and Inge, who spring their trap on the back stabbers that evening. As the officers sit, mocking the Third Reich, Hans enters the room dressed in the most hilarious ceremonial garb I’ve ever seen. Imagine, if you will, if the Pillsbury Dough boy were the pope of the Third Reich. The officers reasonably laugh their arses off, but Hans silences them, makes a big speech and has them executed. Hazing at this fraternity is harsh, bro.

While other officers fall to their exotic trap, other subplots emerge, like a soldier falling for one of the hookers and their secret love, Hans’ love with a woman, which in turn makes Inge jealous as she wants him all to herself. I don’t know why she’s getting jealous. Hans can’t seem to get excited, because his love for his country and the Third Reich is so strong, that he believes he should be the ruler of Germany and not Hitler. Inge overhears this and plots to use it to her advantage to get what she wants. There is more drama and plotting to betray than in a Game of Thrones episode. But not nearly as many floppy weiners.

ssg_4But like all good things, they must come to an end. After being rejected by Hans, being told she is disgusting, Igne rats out Hans and his officer and soldiers come to shut down the brothel. Too much power apparently has gone to his head and it’s time to put a stop to it… but not before one last PAR-TAY! This is the big bash, the end to all ends. During the festivities, Hans whimpers in his office, sad and questioning as to why his country no longer wants him. It’s kinda depressing to watch, like looking at yourself when your girlfriend breaks up with you. But interesting news comes over the radio… Hitler is dead. The war is over. Hans, either rejoicing or out of his mind (perhaps both), plays the radio for everyone to hear. Needless to say, it kills the party, literally. Upon hearing the news, a wave of sadness absorbs the crowd. If it weren’t Hitler, you’d almost feel bad. Nonetheless, what better way to go out than with a bang. They spend their time getting drunk, having sex and committing mass suicide, just like every good cult.

It’s a film that can seem slow at times, since a majority of it is filled with scenes of guys maniacally laughing like cartoon horn dogs and ladies giggling like Asian school girls. After several minutes of this, you’ll probably unconsciously find your fingers on the fast forward button. Although I have said that it is hypnotic, which it is, these scenes can feel unbearably dragged out and endless. Aside from that, you will be totally mesmerized by what is going on, as there is always something in this S & M fetish eroticism that will keep you enthralled or something sinister in each character’s betrayal. It’s also helps that the girls are fully nude in just about every scene. Regardless of being a total ripoff of Salon Kitty (even using several of the same cast members), SS Girls is a riot. Nazi-sploitation is a genre you don’t necesarilly need an interest in, although it helps. Not that you need to understand Nazi history, since these films aren’t exactly known for historical accuracy. But if you’re watching this kind of film for a history lessing, then something is wrong with your neural net processor.

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SS Girls
Clearly, you wouldn’t be watching this film for historical purposes, but after viewing it, you can see the type of influence it had on current “grindhouse” filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino. Throughout watching the film, you undoubtedly noticed that all of the characters are rather cartoonish, larger than life. While at first they seem laughably silly, within moments they become menacing and you realize just what type of characters directors like Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino are trying to create. There’s something enchanting about this type of film. You really have to see to understand. There’s no other way I can explain this film other than it’s primium entertaining Eurotrash. Anyway, if softcore Nazi porn with goofy, oddball characters is your thing, than Achtung!

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Moe Howard of the Third Reich.
  • SS must stand for Sexy Slags.
  • Hate to say it, but this movie makes Nazi’s look sexy.
  • Scarface, The Wicked Warden.
  • Nazi House! I’m revoking your charter!
  • As Andrew WK would say, “PARTY! PARTY! PARTY!”
totals

3

blood  

BLOOD

No shocking amount, but this movie doesn’t need blood to shock you.

8

blood  

BREASTS

In the spirit of ripoffs, I shall use a Staples ad: “Boobs? Yeah, we got that!”

 

8

beast  

BEASTS

 

Hans and Inge are not to be crossed!

6.3 OVERALL
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The House by the Cemetery
1981 – Unrated – Blue Underground
Starring Catriona MacColl, Paolo Malco, Giovanni Frezza – Directed by Lucio Fulci

Finding a new home isn’t always easy. Most of the time if it seems to good to be true, it most likely is. Sometimes there is mold damage or the foundation isn’t sturdy… or sometimes there is an evil doctor turned creature living in the basement that murders people for blood and body parts. That’s usually something they keep off the record, so it isn’t until you buy the home that you have to deal with that pest yourself or hire an exterminator, as the Boyle’s find out in Lucio Fulci’s The House by the Cemetery. As the tagline says, “Read the fine print. You may have just mortgaged your life!” which is one of my favorites of all time and sets up the events that you are in store for. Of course other taglines read, “Can anyone survive the demented marauding zombies in…” and “BEWARE THE DEMON FORCES OF THE… BLOOD BEASTS,” misdirecting and implying that there is more than one monster, but I guess it wouldn’t be a Fulci film if something weren’t mildly confusing.

Like most Fulci films, The House by the Cemetery‘s plot isn’t the most logical, having a few glaring holes here and there and the ending of the film making little or no sense, but not as incomprehensible as some of his other work, say Manhattan Baby. Apparently in early releases of the VHS, some of the reels are edited out of order, making the story even more confusing. This was made in the early 80’s when Fulci was really serving up some well told, nasty horror flicks, sometimes so nasty the movie would earn a well deserved spot on the Video Nasties list. Alongside City of the Living Dead and The Beyond, The House by the Cemetery is considered to be the third in his unofficial “Gates of Hell Trilogy.” Since I already discussed the film in a Goon Reviews video, (WATCH IT HERE!) why would I be talking about it again? Because it’s that good. Read on.

hbtc_2The House by the Cemetery opens up quite literally in the very definition, as we see a house that is next to a cemetery. It’s a relieving feeling, knowing you can trust the film to be true to the title, unlike some others (I’m looking at you, I Drink Your Blood). A young couple has finished using the uninhabited property as a secluded place to boink. This scene like catching the tail end of a horror movie cliche, as we don’t see the sex act, but the young girl who vomited her guts out (literally) in City of the Living Dead calls out for her boyfriend about a thousand times before finding his mutilated body nailed to a door, then getting a knife driven through the back of her skull and out her mouth. As the unseen murderer that is made up of rotting body parts, as indicated by one of his hands, I can’t help but wonder… did Pieces copy that exact same stabbing scene, or did this film rip off Pieces? With Italian filmmakers, sometimes it’s hard to tell who ripped off who.

Enter the Boyles, who are moving to this Boston home from New York City, where every Italian movie seems to center. The man of the house, Dr. Norman Boyle, is continuing the research of his colleague who was working in the house when he mysteriously murdered his mistress and committed suicide, so obviously this is the dream home to bring your wife Lucy (played by Fulci regular Catroina MacColl), who has previously heard voices and hallucinated on meds and your effeminate son, Bob, who claims a girl in one of the photos of the house has been warning his family not to come. Clearly the ideal Norman Rockwell painted family.

But first, a little disclaimer about Bob.

hbtc_3Bob is going to freak you out, thanks to the magic of dubbing. He may look like a normal child, but just wait til he starts speaking and you hear one of the oddest voice acting choices for dubbing. Bob’s voice is something of a middle aged woman who hasn’t quite reached puberty yet. It will catch you off guard.

Even with all these flashing red warnings, the Boyle’s move in anyway, giving further material for the Wayans that “white people be tripping.” Within moments of moving and establishing that Lucy might be slightly off her rocker, the babysitter, Ann, arrives, played by that creepy staring chick with the thick eyebrows that is strangely attractive from Dario Argento’s Inferno. The actress decided to reach slightly outside of her acting safe zone of staring ominously past the camera and actually have a speaking role… while staring ominously past the camera.

As if the company the Boyle’s are keeping isn’t disturbing them enough, it doesn’t take long for the house to being making all kinds of Spencer’s Gifts haunted house CD noises, with the creaking floorboards and childish crying. These sounds drive Norman to pause his research and investigate to find, to his shocking horror, Ann trying to pry open the boarded up basement door. At like, two in the morning. Huh? Why would she be doing that at an ungodly hour? Maybe she got home from the bar and still had some leftover Red Bull and vodka energy.

And the next morning, it’s brushed off like it never happened. Bob meets this ghost girl from the photo, named Mae, who is not only a ghostly figure that warns Bob of the dangers to come, but also plays hide and seek with him! Norman goes about his research, beginning to uncover the odd disappearances of the townsfolk and more about his co-worker’s death, while Lucy finds a tombstone marked Jacob Tess Freudstein in the middle of their living area. Norman assures her that all the homes in the area have them and it’s nothing to worry about. And to prove she has nothing to worry about, he finally pries that damn cellar door open, after about a bajillion false delays and the Fulci trademark “close up on the eyes of people exchanging glances” shot. Upon investigating the basement, they realize there is nothing to be afraid of down there except BAAAAAAAT! The winged rat tangles itself in Lucy’s hair and bites Norman on the hand, which Norman then dispatches by stabbing it with a pair of scissors and the bat bleeds out of several pre-cut holes.

hbtc_4Well, that’s about enough of that! The Boyle’s immediately smash cut to the real estate place demanding to be re-housed, but are unfortunately they are told it would be a few days. A few days later (I think… or later that day?) when the Boyle’s are off doing… something, the real estate lady, Mrs. Gittelson, arrives to tell them about their new crib, but the monster living in the house likes his new tenants and stabs her to death with a fireplace poker and drags her into the basement. By now you’re thinking, “A Fulci film without an eyeball gouging? What the hell!?” Well, you may notice that as Mr. Gittelson is being dragged off, one of her eye’s is torn apart. Apparently, there was a shot of her death scene in which her eye gets ripped out of its socket, but was cut because Fulci felt it didn’t look authentic enough. Man, given the caliber of effects in Italian horror films, your effect must have really sucked if Fulci wanted to pass on an eyeball gouging.

The next morning, Ann is scrubbing away at the giant bloodstain that Lucy barely questions and then shrugs off. Ann stares at Lucy, unblinking and silent, as Lucy’s questions go unanswered and all she can say afterwards is, “that girl Ann is a real weirdo.” Understatement of the year. Norman is all like, “whatevs” and glosses over some background history on their resident in the tomb, Dr. Freudstein. Apparently, he was a mad scientist of sorts. This prompts Norman to get away from his family for awhile and head back to New York City. Norman bails on his family while Lucy goes shopping, leaving Ann with the increasingly annoying Bob, who she thinks she hears crying in the basement. Ah, she fell for an old horror movie cliche! There’s no way she’ll get “a head” that way… wink!

hbtc_5Arming himself with a toy gun and a teddy bear, Bob heads into the basement to save Ann (or what’s left of her), but is saved from a monster hiding in the shadows when his mother comes home. Bob tries to tell her about Ann’s rotting corpse in their basement that’s littered with body parts, but Lucy isn’t having any of that nonsense and sends Bob to bed. But Bob, now being convinced by his mother that Ann isn’t dead, sneaks down into the basement only to be confronted by the monstrous Dr. Freudstein, who looks like a half melted, rotting corpse with fresh new limbs, which turns out that’s what he does with his victims. Norman has just discovered this and rushed home to help Lucy rescue Bob and quickly get out all this exposition, that Freudstein needs new limbs and fresh blood to stay alive (um, don’t regular people need that too?). Norman hacks off Freudstein’s fresh new arm while breaching the door with an axe and freeing Bob from the mad doctor’s clutches, reuniting them all in the basement. But rather than immediately dashing out and escaping to somewhere safe or torching the place, they stay in the basement, listening to the child like cries of the doctor (now that I think of it, why does he cry like that?). Dr. Freudstein slowly approaches the family and getting prison shanked by Norman, which he could argue was in “self defense.” However, Freudstein is a hardcore fan (and probably the only fan) of the MacGruber movie and tears out Norman’s throat, spilling gallons of blood! Lucy and Bob try to run up the stairs under the tomb, attempting to shove the heavy slab of concrete blocking their only exit.

It’s actually a well paced, tense scene. The monster slowly approaches them, making his way up the stairs and just when you think they are going to make it, Dr. Freudstein grabs Lucy’s ankles and drags her down the stairs as we hear her scream in the darkness and then silence. Bob is now all alone and orphaned as he sees Freudstein make his way back up the stairs. Bob frantically tries to push open what he and a full grown, panicky women couldn’t open and as the doctor inches his way toward Bob, within his grasps. Suddenly, a pair of tiny hands rip open the tomb with Hulk like strength and free Bob, who is revealed to be Mae. Wait, what? Apparently Mae can summon “mother saving a trapped baby” strength and not only rip open a couple hundred pound slab on concrete, but yank Bob out of there so fast that if she let go, he would have shot into the atmosphere. But the confusion only begins there. Throughout the film, Mae is accompanied by an older woman whose face we never see, until now, when it’s revealed to be Freudstein’s wife, making her at least a hundred years old… so, are they ghosts? As the kids and Mrs. Freudstein wonder off, you can’t help but to be puzzled by the ending, but it’s not going sour the experience of the movie for you.

Of all the movies that could have been named Don’t Go in the Basement, this should have been it.The House by the Cemetery, while in traditional Fulci form by not being entirely coherent, is one of his more strongly structured stories. In exchange for that, it’s also not his bloodiest or nastiest… but it is in no way tame. The film is packed with plenty of stomach turning moments of brutality and gore, that is sure to make you toss up your lunch. Something that is often overlooked in these kinds of films is the beauty of the cinematography. While it may not be as artistic as his Italian counterpart Dario Argento, Fulci’s shots in this film are often open when outdoors, sometimes feeling colorless, which leaves with the feeling of dread and becoming more claustrophobic as we go further down into the house and into the basement where the reds start to run. Right from the opening shot of the fog rolling over the graves and over to the empty, dilapidated house, you feel at unease, but there is something gorgeous about what you are looking at.

The House by the Cemetery
This film is a staple for horror fans and a pillar for Italian horror flicks. For all the fun I had nit picking a few things here and there, it’s a without a doubt pretty solid horror film with, for the most part, pretty decent acting, dreary mood and atmosphere, splattered with all kinds of guts and gore making this a must have for fanatics of the macabre cinema.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Fornicators be damned.
  • Bob.
  • Exciting and thrilling real estate!
  • Not the goddamn Batman.
  • Ann demonstrates how to lose your head.
  • This doctor makes house calls!
  • Road House-style throat rip!
  • Are they ghosts?
totals

9

blood

BLOOD

Stabbings, decapitations, guttings… it wouldn’t be a Fulci film without the pretty red stuff!

5

blood

BREASTS

Right in your face at the start, but that’s it in the boobies department. Not even cleavage afterwards.

10

beast

BEASTS

Don’t be fooled by his sissy cry, Dr. Freudstein is a beast! Is Bob’s atrociously dubbed voice a match for him? And don’t forget about large, oddly square-shaped bats!

8 OVERALL
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About the Highway

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