Evil Ed (1995)

directed by anders jacobsson
smart egg pictures
“An evil ed production”

An over-the-top satirical spoof, this Swedish production ladles on the cartoonish violence and gore to an extent its most obvious influence, Evil Dead 2, scarcely dared dream. A multilayered, multi-level meta statement about cinematic sex and violence and censorship thereof, it could just as easily be taken to represent the flipside of its intended aim. I call that effective satire, don’t know about you. Focused on the deteriorating mental condition of the editor charged with abridging the “Loose Limbs” franchise, this flick should entertain splatter fans, people with questionable taste, opponents of moral crusades, moral crusaders who don’t understand irony, and so forth. The last 20 minutes or so drag significantly … turns out the filmmakers thought they were done, only the runtime wasn’t nearly sufficient. Revamped, it ends with a bang and a whimper.

why did i watch this movie?

“Guy goes nuts from too much exposure to gore films, mayhem ensues,” is a pretty good come-on.


should you watch this movie?

Depends how you view the shibboleth of horror fandom. Director also made 2010’s Insane, which was … not very good.


highlight and low point

I mean, look, Ed’s boss, the head of the “Splatter & Gore” division, is named “Sam Campbell” and a couple scenes basically replicate ones from “Dead By Dawn.” The soundtrack similarly imitates those of animated films. Ed himself is originally                                                                              outraged:

Ninety minutes of condensed sex and violence! Do you call that a great movie? Do you have the slightest idea of what a moral and ethical principle is?

Later, Ed ONLY includes the sex and violence in one of his edits. A “wife and child” subplot is the first indication they may have been making this up as they went along.

rating from outer space: B

Beware My Brethren aka The Fiend (1972)

produced and directed by robert hartford-davis
world arts media (uk) Ltd.

Allegedly expurgated of at least 10 minutes of footage, this not very convincing religious psychodrama actually gets better as it goes along, which I’ve found is often a rarity in this field. Then again, it couldn’t have gotten much worse without being rejected, so that’s maybe not such a compliment, all told. Often reminiscent of a stage play in its dialogue and blocking and static cinematography, there’s a paradox at work here. Before the script opens up to encompass more than the stultifying world of the religious cult at its center, it’s tiresome, but without focusing more clearly on the dynamics within that cult later in the picture, it wouldn’t have been able to reach any sort of definitive point. Taken altogether – the proof of the pudding, perhaps, as regards the purported excisions – it’s a feature with a few loose ends and not a whole lot to say. Middling, at best.

why did i watch this movie?

I guess the allure of a religious cult leading to madness and death? I seem to recall thinking this flick would be more lurid than it was, though I don’t know where I got that idea.

should you watch this movie?

On websites that cater to low-budget productions that nobody remembers, you may occasionally find testimony to this film’s worthiness. But I don’t know.

highlight and low point

During services, the proceedings occasionally suggest it’s about to turn into a musical, which is definitely a different feel. The Brethren don’t feel all that outrageous to me in their demands, but I myself was raised in a religious cult (the Roman Catholic Church), so my perspective may be skewed. Certainly, ensuing sectarian events would make their actions seem tame.

rating from outer space: C

Diabolicamente… Letizia aka Sex, Demons and Death (1975)

directed by salvatore bugnatelli
b.r.c. international films

An incoherent mess, badly restored from scraps and thus chock-full of abrupt transitions and missing moments – and clumsily subtitled to boot – it’s doubtful this picture could have been any better in pristine original condition. Letizia is supposed to be a boarding school student; she clearly isn’t. She exercises some sort of nefarious mind control, mainly to direct others’ sexual urges while someone takes blackmail photos, but also occasionally to create terrifying visions to torment her prey. Not even a hint of why she may be doing any of this is given until the very end, and it seems made up out of whole cloth. Despite the titillating alternate title, no demons seem to be involved, and the deaths are all extremely unconvincing. Sex there’s plenty of, and we could have a healthy debate about the apparent (offscreen) gangbang scene, how it may tie into the leitmotif of Letizia’s methods of control, and whether it’s related to the climactic niteclub dosing … but that would be giving this rubbish way more credit – and thought – than it deserves, by a long chalk. One may as well have a semiotic debate centered on Bert & Ernie.

why did i watch this movie?

Look, I try to keep things as high-minded as possible around here, given that all I do is scribble out 300-word capsule reviews of the products of a typically lowbrow art form, but you know I’m not ignoring a title like this one.


should you watch this movie?

I mean, I can’t stop you.


highlight and low point

The delicate interplay between Magda Konopka’s overacting and Franca Gonella’s somnambulant performance is a study in contrasts. Fittingly, that sentence means nothing. Oh, I neglected to mention Letizia’s occultist trainer? That’s too bad.

rating from outer space: f

Prophecy (1979)

directed by john frankenheimer
paramount pictures
a robert l. rosen production

Boy, does this one feel like a missed opportunity. Compelling despite itself for the majority of its running time, this cautionary eco-terror tale collapses drastically once the “monster” is revealed. Because it’s a bear. Sure, it’s an ursine that appears kinda acid-damaged (no, not that kind), but it’s a bear nonetheless. Which is quite a letdown, given all the Science-y gobbledygook promising mutations and devastation of the food chain and so forth, and renders this production not unlike a handful of other such endeavors about rampaging animals. Until that reveal, however, it’s an engrossing flick that works pretty well. The usual caveat applies about giving the details of the story too much thought. Especially those that are glossed over in the first place.

why did i watch this movie?

I had just finished the David Seltzer novel and felt it must have been filmed at some point. It turns out he wrote the script first.

should you watch this movie?

If you plan to, I’d recommend reading the novelization beforehand. It helps fill in a lot of backstory. Of course, it may also contribute to a feeling of disappointment with the screen version.

highlight and low point

The bear monster is supposed to be humongous – some of the promotional material specifies “15 feet tall” – and it isn’t. It’s, you know, bear-sized. Except when it’s smaller, because it’s a guy in a bear monster suit. Other than that, this picture’s biggest problem is that it pares away the relationships intended to give events their gravitas. The allusion to Minamata disease is indeed frightening, even if the source material fails to note the outbreak amongst First Nations people in Ontario, Canada, that must have inspired the proceedings.

rating from outer space: C−

Baba Yaga aka Baba Yaga, The Devil Witch aka The Devil Witch aka Kiss Me, Kill Me aka Black Magic (1973)

directed by corrado farina
14 luglio cinematografica s.r.l./simone allouche productions

Definitely the first film I’ve seen based on the erotically charged comics of Guido Crepax, this Italian tale of intrigue – and, you know, deadly puppets dressed in S&M gear that can manifest in fleshly human form – is, first and foremost, an examination of artful-nude studio photography vis-à-vis commercial filmmaking. And an attempted meditation on taste and the merits of artistic forms. Plus, of course, chic fashion, lots of chic fashion. Events never get very frightening, although the ending scenes contain some interesting and eerie moments, and the big reveal that sets them up isn’t without impact. The way things wrap up renders much of the story really kind of pointless, though because of the multiple erotic death dream sequences, at least you could toss “questions of conscience” into the list up above. Don’t know what to make of the Nazis or the other military imagery.

why did i watch this movie?

I mean, I saw the title “Baba Yaga, The Devil Witch.” I didn’t even know about the Crepax connection until the title cards showed.


should you watch this movie?

It’s amusing in a kitschy way, but apparently impossible to see in its intended form. (Footage that may or may not contribute to the film’s cohesion was excised without the director’s consent.) The version I watched contained some scenes inserted from work prints.

highlight and low point

There are dandy pseudophilosophical musings such as “If you don’t use the means that the system provides, what other possibilities have you got?” Mind you, the characters sharing this exchange are pretty far from revolutionary types. It’s also pretty moving when the pseudo heroine, Valentina, icily exclaims, “I couldn’t care less about … power and riches and your cosmic secrets!”

rating from outer space: C−

And Soon The Darkness (1970)

directed by robert fuest
associated british productions ltd.

The sort of very British suspense film wherein almost nothing is revealed straightaway until very far along in the programme, where events suggest the audience’s guesswork is the main impetus, the most effective thing this production had going for it was that its tale of English ladies touring the French countryside exhibited no translation. Hence, the viewer was not to be informed of what the natives were saying, rendering that viewer as helpless – and perhaps as clueless – as the protagonist. Unless said viewer were to possess some command of the French language, that is, in which case he or she likely deduced where this case of mysterious identities and shifting suspicions would conclude. Pacing presented the major problem – though establishing a setting and a mood is important, those factors probably didn’t need quite so much development, especially in the interminably plodding final third. I mean, here’s the plot: A girl goes missing.

why did i watch this movie?

A while back I was scanning blurbs for ’70s flicks and saw this one described as an atmospheric something something with a chilling blah blah blah, and I was persuaded.


should you watch this movie?

I did not find it particularly noteworthy.


highlight and low point

I’ll tip my cap to the almost completely pointless diversion in the middle of this muddle, where the lead encounters a deaf war veteran in a farmyard of sorts, to no apparent purpose. It was also intriguing that for a movie contrived around birds on a bicycle trip, neither young lady seemed particularly adept at riding. The ongoing attempts to cast doubt as to the perpetrator’s identity eventually approached crisis proportions. A potent moment: when the whereabouts of the missing companion were revealed.

rating from outer space: C+

I Dismember Mama aka Poor Albert and Little Annie aka Crazed (1972)

directed by paul leder
romal films

Although much more of a serious psychodrama than I had expected, this eerie picture contains in the early going some pretty grating moments; later events become tinged with some sobering unease. There’s even a kind of bitter, defeatist humor on the part of the lead detective character, although I suppose that may be projection on my part. At a certain point, this venture nearly goes off the rails completely, and had it done so, it would probably now be much more well known than it remains. But as a friend of mine once admonished, “Notorious is not the same as famous, Billy.” And had the inscrutable relationship that’s established between a twentysomething guy and a nine- or 10-year-old girl proceeded much differently, that discernment would be starkly pronounced. All in all, an effectively unsettling little flick about an institutionalized individual who breaks out and heads home to see his dear mother. Wisely, very little is ultimately explained; those questions, and the perplexing motives, lend an enigmatic nature to the murk.

why did i watch this movie?

Naturally, I found the title provocative. Plus, it was Mother’s Day weekend.

should you watch this movie?

I must warn you, no maternal figures are discerped in the course of this film.

highlight and low point

So, seriously, another one of Leder’s movies (The Eleventh Commandment) bears the following tagline:
“A murderous psycho breaks out of a mental hospital and goes after his uncle.” Now, I wouldn’t want to suggest that this filmmaker is content to revisit old territory – gosh, no – but in 1994 he also produced a sequel to Mama called Killing Obsession. We will of course be screening that one in good time, though I
don’t have high hopes for its credibility.

rating from outer space: B

I corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale aka Torso aka Carnal Violence (1973)

regia di sergio martino
compagnia cinematografica champion s.p.a.

When you select una giallo for your viewing pleasure, you might reasonably expect a stylish (and quite possibly stylized) engagement, with at least a veneer of sleek sophistication, plus of course sex appeal and suspense and suspicious activity in some proportion. This offering from “Island of the Fishmen” regista Martino tries to achieve most of these, failing for the most part to derive much brivido, lacking as his film is in that other important category, any actual story. While it’s not uncommon for the whodunit part of these films to conclude with headscratchers, this time around the unveiling of the culprit provokes mostly confusion as to the identity of the character. Once he’s placed, it scarcely suffices to validate the operation. In addition, little is done to asperse alternate potential perpetrators, although at least one other excellent option is extant. È quello che è.

why did i watch this movie?

I’m kinda a sucker for gialli, although they often irritate me. Their air of absurdist mystery always beckons, however.

should you watch this movie?

If you’re in dire need of visions of nubile actresses either in spogliarsi or in vestaglia – or in moda 1970s chic, for that matter – you might appreciate it.

highlight and low point

Well, the title translates to “The bodies display signs of carnal violence,” and that may be my favorite thing about this flick … even though it’s kind of misleading in and of itself. What appear to be squalid ruins host some sort of bacchanal. An extended section where our unknown malefactor decides he needs to hacksaw the corpses of three of his female victims, which action was unimportant to him with prior unfortunates, is typical of this feature’s scattershot approach.

rating from outer space: c−

Mardi Gras Massacre (1978)

written, produced & directed by jack weis

It takes a special kind of vision to make a tribute or hommage to a notoriously fly-by-night production such as Herschell Gordon Lewis’s Blood Feast by seemingly attempting to replicate that movie’s infamously wooden acting, but such is the attention doted upon this awesomely ’70s affair. I mean, one of the characters obviously reads his lines from the important papers he carries, just as one did in the original. Now that’s dedication. This picture is also replete with practically nonstop boogie music, a lot of which kinda sounds not unlike disco variations of Steely Dan’s oeuvre. Oh, and buckets of sleaze, don’t forget that. Practically every other scene features strippers or naked prostitutes; if the latter, they’re subject to the sacrificial ritual that is deliberately repeated, step by step, each and every time. Now that’s dedication.

why did i watch this movie?

This is yet another title that I’ve thought about checking out many, many times; this time around I just decided to finally go ahead with it.

should you watch this movie?

I’m not sure how to respond to that. On one hand, it’s fairly fascinating for a number of different reasons, but on the other hand, none of those reasons correlates to anything particularly admirable.


highlight and low point

As the lead weirdo, credit must be given William Metzo for never deviating from his modulated speech and mannerisms, a performance truly reminiscent of Mal Arnold as “Fuad Ramses” in the 1963 precursor. (Did I unfairly discredit the 2016 version, or was it jumping the same claim?) The scenes of heart removal are pretty gnarly. A significant sequence takes place during an actual Mardi Gras parade, and it’s amusing to watch the people who notice the camera mugging for it.

rating from outer space: c

Three on a Meathook aka 3 on a Meathook! (1972)

written and directed by william girdler
studio 1 productions

Like, wow, man, what a trip. What a far-out trip, man. A meandering picture about a young man coming of age and finding love, about a young woman trying to find her place in life, and their getting together almost by fate … to barely survive the young man’s homicidal father, who’s turned their farm into a meat-processing smokehouse, you might say. AND THE REASON WHY WILL SHOCK YOU! If it doesn’t make you guffaw, that is, especially once the psychiatrist’s psychobabble “explains” the whole affair. Oh, and if you don’t immediately think “Psycho” at the SURPRISE TWIST climactic scene, you must’ve missed it. Seemingly a precursor to Axe or Shriek of the Mutilated or any other semiprofessional production. Hilariously odd at times.

why did i watch this movie?

Didn’t “Chainsaw” and “Dave” mention this title in Summer School, or am I imagining that? Whatever the case,  I’ve wanted to see it for a very long time – since I found out it was a real film.


should you watch this movie?

You THINK from its moniker that it’s a no-wit, lowbrow exploitation fleshfest shamelessly aping any other chop-’em-up, but it’s just kinda an unremarkable crummy movie with a few hints of tentative gore.

 
highlight and low point

Oh, where to begin … the interminable bar scene where we’re treated to the performance of “American Xpress”? The credits for same, which read “singer: EDWARD DEMPLEY”? The out-of-nowhere, fourth-wall-breaking antiwar speech from “Becky”? The excessive establishing shots? The recorder-laden score, also by producer/director/writer Girdler? The fact that the auteur was also responsible for the same year’s equally inspired Asylum of Satan? The boating-and-skinny-dipping scene that leads to our introduction to “Billy”? And how about that fine name for a lead role?

rating from outer space: C+