Monday, May 16, 2011


(Giuseppe Bennati, 1974)
Eight wealthy socialites are invited to party held in an abandoned theater owned by the family of their host, Paul. A sleazy lot they are, what with their many indiscretions and mutual financial reliance on Paul. When an attempt is made on Paul's life and one of the guests is found with a knife in her back, the others attempt to leave, only to find the doors locked and the keys missing. Patrick then tells the guests of the theater's dark history, that one hundred years prior another group had been locked in overnight and were all found mutilated the following morning.
To add to their confusion, an uninvited, enigmatic man in black appears to the group, only to disappear moments later. Then a disembodied voice performs to the empty theater as a draft blows the curtains about, despite the lack of windows or open doors. Furthermore, an assassin clad in a black cape and rubber Halloween mask starts offing the guests in often grisly (and misogynist) fashions.
TKR9S, though sleazy in the extreme, is a fascinating little giallo oddity in the vein of Something Creeping In The Dark. Yes, the characters all share a common idiocy and tend to split up when they know there's a madman on the loose, but what delightful deaths await them! Especially when one of the females is stabbed repeatedly in the crotch and she just writhes and looks like she's enjoying it, despite the fact that her hands are untied! Yup, brilliant.
On the technical side, TKR9S is a highly atmospheric, therefore creepy, film thanks to the obscured lighting and soundtrack. I had noticed, while watching, that Dario Argento must have seen this prior to making Inferno, as a few of the images in Inferno look eerily similar to those in TKR9S. Furthermore, George Eastman, who wrote Michele Soavi's Stagefright, must have seen it as well as the story seems to have been a little... "inspired" by Bennati's film. Recommended, but unreleased at this point. DL away!

Monday, May 9, 2011

In the late 80s, Lucio Fulci oversaw / produced a handful of films for the home video market. Though his name is properly credited on some of them, he has denied any involvement on a few, and was reportedly surprised to find his name attached to those productions. When the films fared poorly upon release, Fulci cannibalized the best gore scenes from this collection and a couple of his other films to create one of his most entertaining efforts, A Cat In The Brain aka Nightmare Concert. Though his involvement is dubious on some of these titles, here they are anyway:

*The Curse (David Keith, 1987) - Fulci was credited as assistant producer & sfx
*The Murder Secret (Mario Bianchi, 1988)
*The Red Monks (Gianni Martucci, 1988)
*Bloody Psycho aka The Snake House (Leandro Lucchetti, 1989)
*Bloody Moon (Enzo Milioni, 1989)
*Hansel e Gretel (Giovanni Simonelli, 1989)
*Massacre (Andrea Bianchi, 1989)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

BLOODY PSYCHO aka The Snake House

(Leandro Lucchetti, 1989)
Dr Vogler is brought in to provide pranotherapy (think Reiki) to the slightly sadistic, wheelchair-bound Mrs Rezzori at her castle. A vagrant outside the gates warns Vogler of evil spirits residing in the unused parts of the castle, but the doctor foolishly ignores him.
From the get-go Vogler is afflicted with visions of murder. True to the vagrant's words, there's a rotting corpse stalking the uninhabited halls, murdering anyone who...well, anyone! Dr Vogler undertakes an investigation into the matter, only to find the menace more bizarre than he'd ever imagined.
This is one of the best of the Fulci Presents series, crummy as most of those films are. It's loaded with atmosphere and memorable visuals, but there's not a lot of suspense. There IS, however, a decent amount of blood and slime. After all, Fulci DID have his finger in this, and his trademarks are all present: close-ups of eyes, gooshy slimy bits, and scenes repeated over and over (for what effect, I'm not sure).
The camerawork is pretty lazy, but the minimal lighting and interesting shot compositions somewhat make up for it. The electronic soundtrack is quite fitting, with the exception of one hokey country tune used in an equestrian scene. I might also mention that there's more than a couple scenes that are completely unrelated to the goings-on at hand. Like the Tai Chi bit... or the sensuous cream drinking scene. Watch it if only for that, it's right up there with the sensuous cob of corn bit in Troll 2. Recommended for completists and fans of haunted house horror, though one may be hard-pressed to find a copy outside of Italy.


(Vittorio Rambaldi, 1988)
Sam and Duffy, university paper photographer and journalist respectively, hear of a case of animal abuse in one of the uni's laboratories. Duffy rashly decides to break in and document the abuse, only to be bitten by a savagely enraged monkey that was recently injected with an experimental serum that both restores damaged brain tissue, and drives the subject utterly bonkers.
Before long, the infection spreads to Duffy's love interest Debbie, as well as a trio of date-raping hooligans, all of whom go on a murderous rampage. Unlike traditional zombie or demonic possession films, the infected herein attack anyone, including each other. They also become incredibly strong and resistant to pain. Sam and his girlfriend Lauren soon find themselves targeted by the infected, which culminates in an all-out massacre at the yearly Halloween dance!
Written by Umberto Lenzi and directed by Carlo Rambaldi's son Vittorio, Primal Rage is truly entertaining. And with Carlo himself (and other son Alex) on makeup and special effects, one needn't contemplate viewing this for long. The story takes a while to get going, but once it does it's nonstop action and mayhem!
It was a good choice of the director's to cast Actual Real Life American actors instead of using the usual overdubbed Euro trash. It's much less distracting, and the acting's not terrible, all considered. As previously mentioned, there's a great deal of blood, oozing sores, crushed heads, etc, and even an almost life-like robotic monkey. Not bad for the usual low budget, I'd say. Now, about the music... late 80's. That's all I need to say *shudder*. Recommended for intermediate viewers as it lacks the style and finesse of earlier Italian horror efforts, but a lot of fun nonetheless. It had a DVD release not long ago, but seems to be OOP again. Buy used copies here.