Wednesday, February 29, 2012

PERVERSION STORY aka One On Top Of The Other

(Lucio Fulci, 1969)
Dr George Dumurrier's (Jean Sorel) asthmatic wife Susan (Marisa Mell) is found dead, and to complicate matters, he's been named sole beneficiary of her will. Having a mistress and lying about the operations performed in his clinic don't really add to the Dr's credibilty, and he soon finds himself under the scrutiny of the police.
The stress really starts to sink in on the newly liberated George when, at a topless go-go bar with his girlfriend, he meets a stripper, Monica (Marisa Mell again), who looks uncannily like a blonde version of his deceased wife. The freakish resemblance leads the police to believe it's an elaborate case of insurance fraud, which doesn't bode well for poor George.
I was not prepared to enjoy this as much as I did, knowing what I thought I did about Fulci. Here he's at the top of his game, at his arty best. This was early in his career, well before he became disillusioned and bitter with the film industry, and it really shows. True to the time it came out, Perversion Story is a 60's experimental experience with sharp editing, creative compositions and opticals, split-screen effects, and ,of course, nudity. To top it all off, it has a fan-funkin-tastic jazz score by Riz Ortolani.
There's little violence and gore in this early giallo, two post-Bird With The Crystal Plumage genre requirements, but the story's compelling enough to maintain interest. And there's the sex scenes too. Lots of 'em. Once again though, they're done quite tastefully and artistically. Oh Lucio, why couldn't you have maintained this standard with all of your films?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

BLOODY MOON aka Luna Di Sangue

(Enzo Milioni, 1989)
Ahh, another ultra low-budget Lucio Fulci Presents film. This is one of the least-interesting titles in the series, and a giallo to boot. It's one saving grace is the violent, gory set-pieces that pop up just as the viewer is starting to nod off. Readers, please keep in mind I watched the unsubbed Italian version (and my Italian is pretty basic), so feel free to correct me if there's anything I misinterpreted!
After an afternoon of horseback riding, heiress Ann Moffett discovers the bloody, almost faceless corpse of her husband Larry in the stable. No one, including her psychiatrist, believes her when no body is found. A letter found by Larry's secretary Mary informs them that he's left for a long vacation.
Not long after, a man claiming to be Larry arrives at the villa. This freaks Ann out badly, as he even resembles her missing husband. Things get worse for Ann from there when she gets creepy midnight phone calls from someone else claiming to be Larry, sees maggots and worms where they shouldn't be, and encounters Larry's reanimated, bloodied corpse. Is Ann's dead husband tormenting her, or is there something more sinister afoot?
Well, it's a giallo, so it's obviously the latter. Despite the awesomely bloody death scenes, Bloody Moon is a dull, tiresome affair. Everything was pretty standard. The music, cinematography, and acting were all passable, but nothing more. On the other hand, there's some amusingly unsavory elements, the worst of the lot being the incestuous relationship between the stablehand and his somewhat retarded daughter. In probably the most cringe-inducing scene in the film, the daughter gives her dad a bj... shortly before she's shot in the back of the head and his penis is shot off (in closeup no less!). Gruesome, I must say. There's also a nifty beheading by scythe, which was reused in Fulci's A Cat In The Brain, and a face-shooting awaiting the extremely patient viewer. I definitely wouldn't recommend this to the average viewer.

Monday, February 20, 2012


(Claudio Latanzi/ Joe D'Amato, 1987)
Wow. With those two titles, one would expect to see either zombie hordes or hordes of zombies killing birds, or at very least zombie-killing birds. We don't get any of the above, I'm afraid.
Prologue: A soldier returns home to find his wife with another man, so he kills them, his in-laws, and their pet bird, but spares his infant son. The other birds in the aviary freak out and claw out the fellow's eye. He goes to the hospital and his son is taken away.
Skip ahead to college life in 1987: pleated pants, frizzy hair, and prehistoric computers. And really cheesy music. A group of students and a school newspaper reporter (Lara Wendel) are sent to study the rare ivory-billed woodpeckers, most recently seen near an abandoned rural property.
They come across a house and find it's inhabited by a blind man (Robert Vaughn) who could only be the killer from the beginning. After a brief, pointless exchange of words, the crew explore the neighboring property, and stumble across the original murder house, now uninhabited. They also discover a corpse in an old truck in the bush, but rather than leave and alert the authorities, they decide to hole up in the house for the night...??? They're then picked off gradually by dark forces and a couple of not-so-realistic-looking zombies. That's about it.
Zombie 5 is actually a mislabeled cursed/haunted house movie. In that sense, it's not actually as awful as wold be expected. No...I lied. It IS pretty bad. The dialogue and acting are craptastic, the plot riddled with holes and cliches, and D'Amato even copied the attic death scene from his earlier film, Anthropophagus. For the most part, the cinematography is pretty dull, with the exception of the scenes shot in spoooooky soft-focus (that was sarcasm). To be fair, the shots and lighting do improve in the last third, but too little too late.
As in other films produced by D'Amato's Filmirage (Witchery, Troll 2, etc), there doesn't seem to have been any kind of budget for lighting as the first two-thirds were shot in daylight. The makeup and special effects leave something to be desired, as does the soundtrack by Carlo Maria Cordio and his cursed Casio. Save this one for later... much later.