Horror On TV: Tales From The Crypt 2.1 “Dead Right” (dir by Howard Deutch)


For tonight’s excursion into televised horror, we present the first episode of the 2nd season of HBO’s Tales From The Crypt!

In Dead Right, Demi Moore plays a secretary named Cathy who is told two things by a psychic.  First, she’ll lose her job.  Next, she’ll marry a man who will inherit a fortune and then violently die shortly afterward.  After losing her job, Cathy meets the grotesque Charlie (Jeffrey Tambor) and she marries him when she finds out that he comes from a wealthy family.

Of course, since this is Tales From The Crypt, there’s a twist.  The medium’s prediction turns out to be true but not quite in the way that Cathy was expecting…

Dead Right is pretty good.  Demi Moore is almost too plausible as a golddigger and Jeffrey Tambor turns Charlie into a truly memorable character, one who is both pathetic and intimidating.  And the story’s twist ending carries a properly nasty punch, as well.

Dead Right originally aired on April 21st, 1990.

Enjoy!

The TSL’s Daily Horror Grindhouse: Werewolf Woman (dir by Rino Di Silvestro)


hqdefault

Since I earlier reviewed The Wolf Man, it only made sense to me that tonight’s entry in daily horror grindhouse should be the 1976 Italian horror film, Werewolf Woman.  I’d had Werewolf Woman on DVD for a while now but I had yet to get around to watching it.  I actually knew next to nothing about it.  The only reason why I bought the DVD was because of the title.

So, last night, I watched the movie and I quickly discovered that, in the best tradition of grindhouse cinema, Werewolf Woman‘s title actually had very little do with the actual film.  The title character may go around ripping out throats with her teeth but it’s not because Daniella Neseri (Annik Borel) is a werewolf.  Instead, it’s just because she’s gone insane.

When Daniella was thirteen years old, she was raped by a family friend.  She has now grown up to be a young woman who fears sex and rarely leaves her family’s decaying estate.  Her aging father, Count Neseri (Tino Carraro), is extremely protective of Daniella but, at the same time, he also tells her stories about how one of her ancestors was rumored to be a werewolf so you really have to wonder how good of a father he actually is.

When Daniella’s younger sister, Elena (Dagmar Lassander), comes home with her fiancée, Daniella hides out in the hallway and listens while they make love.  Later that night, Daniella is wandering around outside when she runs into the fiancée.  She proceeds to rip out his throat with her teeth and then leave him for dead.  The police are convinced that he was murdered by a wild animal but Elena and Count Neseri both believe that Daniella was responsible.

So, Daniella ends up in an insane asylum but it takes more than just four walls and a locked door to hold Daniella prisoner.  One of her fellow patients is a predatory lesbian (yes, this is very much a 70s movie) who tries to seduce Daniella.  Unfortunately, any and all sexual thoughts cause Daniella to mentally (if not physically) transform into a werewolf.  Soon, the patient has had her throat ripped out and Daniella has escaped.

The rest of the film follows Daniella as she makes her way across the Italian countryside, stopping to kill anyone who causes her to become aroused or to even think about sex.  Or, at least, that is until she meets Luca (Howard Ross), who is a sensitive man and lover.  Daniella and Luca have a falling in love montage.  They make love without Daniella feeling the urge to rip out his throat.  Things are going to be okay, right?

Nope.  Inevitably, a biker gang shows up and violently destroys their happiness.  In the spirit and style of I Spit On Your Grave, it’s up to Daniella to get revenge.

Now, when talking about a movie like Werewolf Woman — one that links lycanthropy with both sexual repression and a sexual awakening — it’s easy to read too much into the plot.  I’ve been tempted to do just that while writing this review.  Whether it was what the director’s intended it or not, there is a potentially intriguing theme running through Werewolf Woman, in which Daniella imagines herself as a werewolf because it’s the only way that she can survive in a world that is determined to sexually exploit, demean, and oppress her.  Daniella’s mental transformation is ultimately the result of her own repressed emotions and fears and I’m sure that many would argue that Werewolf Woman, in the tradition of Repulsion and Ms. 45, is taking a stand against a patriarchal and repressive society (never mind that Daniella ultimately kills almost as many women as men).

And you know what?  If this was a Jess Franco film, I’d give it the benefit of the doubt.

But ultimately, Werewolf Woman is no Ginger Snaps.  Instead, it’s a somewhat slow soft core flick that doesn’t really add up to much.  (Any and all subtext is definitely present by accident only.)  That said, Annik Borel does a good job in the lead role and loves of Euroshock will enjoy seeing familiar faces like Howard Ross and Dagmar Lassander in the cast.  Add to that, I always enjoy any film the features a woman getting bloody revenge on misogynists, even if this film ultimately left me feeling more icky than empowered.

Late Night Cable Movie Review: Model For Murder (2016, dir. Dean McKendrick)


vlcsnap-2016-09-30-15h39m26s936

I am not sure why McKendrick didn’t just make this a sequel to Deadly Pickup (2016). I can take a guess and say that he knows HBO likes to rotate up films from Cinemax, which could cause one of the two to be brought up there, and leave viewers confused. Still, it’s shot in the same area. It has Billy Snow basically playing the same character as Deputy Randall. Sarah Hunter is back. Jon Fleming who played Rick in Deadly Pickup is also back. Sal V. Miers himself even makes a small appearance in the film having been the producer of both this and Deadly Pickup. Also, it is once again a procedural to find a killer while injecting sex here and there into the story.

The movie starts off…and welcome back to the world of the living, Rick!

vlcsnap-2016-09-30-15h39m30s852

Meanwhile, Sarah Hunter is standing in the background giving away the ending of the movie by looking very disapproving of this photo shoot. It’s not Rick’s fault the credits didn’t want to be placed over shots of the beach and birds flying this time around. That still doesn’t stop Hunter from getting a great look on her face.

vlcsnap-2016-09-30-15h53m41s945

That’s the look someone who is into you gives when you basically ask them to leave so you can have sex with someone else.

After that is completed, we cut to…whoa, whoa, whoa…

vlcsnap-2016-09-30-16h07m33s892

I’m pretty sure this is where you got killed by Carter Cruise in Deadly Pickup, Rick.

Deadly Pickup (2016, dir. Dean McKendrick)

Deadly Pickup (2016, dir. Dean McKendrick)

Hmmm…I would say that Sarah Hunter resurrected Rick, but she was also killed off in Deadly Pickup. This completely breaks the continuity of the Dean McKendrick movies since I am pretty sure Sarah Hunter was killed off in Erotic Vampires of Beverly Hills (2015) too. I guess when all else fails, just blame Frankie Dell for creating another one of his mystery concoctions that brought Hunter and Rick back to life between movies.

During the photo shoot, Rick uses the excuse that the lighting isn’t right anymore, so they will have to shoot down on the beach a little later. This does not sit well with the model named Audrey (August Ames) who is already jealous of the other model named Jocelyn (Christiana Cinn), and was just arguing with her own manager David (Justin Berti) about it.

vlcsnap-2016-09-30-16h13m35s642

She proceeds to walk along the beach when it cuts to a seagull.

vlcsnap-2016-09-30-16h18m14s760

We know what that means.

vlcsnap-2016-09-30-16h21m09s290

Killed by a phallic shaped rock.

vlcsnap-2016-09-30-16h21m21s143

That’s when our heroes show up on the scene.

vlcsnap-2016-09-30-16h19m24s014

Deputy Randall got a promotion to Detective and has been partnered with Erika Jordan. They are legitimately good in this movie together. I could go for a series of movies where the two of them hunt down killers.

Considering this manager was arguing with Audrey next to a sign about “Conserving California’s Coastal Treasures”,…

vlcsnap-2016-09-30-16h08m32s612

that means we need Detective Randall and Erika Jordan to uncover a sex scene with Audrey from his past.

vlcsnap-2016-09-30-16h27m46s107

After the standard procedural scene of people standing around talking to each other, it’s time for Randall and Jordan to go check in with the producer–Sal V. Miers–about the body.

vlcsnap-2016-09-30-16h47m29s299

This is when Jordan makes sure to mention information that a woman could have killed Audrey.

Now we cut to Sarah Hunter trying to drop less than subtle hints to Rick that she is in to him. Then Jocelyn comes in to make Sarah Hunter leave, and comfort Rick by sticking one of her heels high in the air.

Once that is over, the good acting brigade shows up to question Rick as Jocelyn sneaks out the back-way. Hunter tells them that Audrey knew some things about Jocelyn that could hurt her modeling career, such as being a stripper on the side.

vlcsnap-2016-09-30-17h02m49s047

Now it’s off to the Mötley Crüe soundalike strip club so that Jocelyn can point suspicion back at the red herring of the shady manager from earlier. They also make sure to say that Detective Randall is having a bad break up with his wife. That way they have an excuse for a sex scene later.

Now our dynamic duo go and confront the sleazy manager at the house of the couple from Deadly Pickup.

vlcsnap-2016-09-30-17h19m36s830

They acquired enough evidence between scenes to arrest him just in time for Sarah Hunter to take a shower. After that, Hunter and Rick agree to meet later on, before we cut to Detective Randall drinking when Erika Jordan comes in to see him.

vlcsnap-2016-09-30-17h29m35s923

I’m amazed Detective Randall would want to return to the bar where he had to put down Carter Cruise.

Deadly Pickup (2016, dir. Dean McKendrick)

Deadly Pickup (2016, dir. Dean McKendrick)

She takes him home since he is drunk, and they have sex. This one felt genuine like their characters had real feelings for each other. That was nice.

Now we go to Rick’s place where Sarah Hunter is in her best red dress. They have sex of course, but since Rick is suicidal, he essentially tries to kick her to the curb afterwards. Rick isn’t the brightest of people.

vlcsnap-2016-09-30-17h52m14s257

Lucky for Rick, our detectives get a hit that Sarah Hunter’s DNA was on the rock. You’d think Hunter would get Rick in the end, but she didn’t count on Detective Randall.

vlcsnap-2016-09-30-17h52m44s953

vlcsnap-2016-09-30-17h53m30s989

No one gets the final shot, but Detective Randall! Well, Erika Jordan gets in a shot too. I can’t think of any way to tie that in with Hunter playing Jade Empress in Bikini Avengers (2015). I’ve failed you.

Let’s wrap this up, Sal!

Detective Randall and Erika Jordan tell Sal the backstory on Hunter before getting a call for another case. Hunter was obsessive, which is what led her to become so attached to Rick that she killed to have him for herself.

“Pleasant dreams, my dear.”

vlcsnap-2016-09-30-17h55m13s199

This isn’t one of the best of these late night cable movies floating around. However, if you have to choose between this and Deadly Pickup, then this is definitely the one to watch. Billy Snow, Erika Jordan, and Sarah Hunter are three of the best actors in this movie. They carry the film. Deadly Pickup is dragged down by Carter Cruise trying to play a ditz when it really doesn’t seem to be in her wheelhouse. It’s noteworthy that this movie contains no girl-on-girl sex scenes. I was surprised. They always seem to find some way of working that in. I’m glad they didn’t though because it wouldn’t have made sense in this film, and they really do try to have a coherent story. The flashback sex scene is the only thing that stood out at me as not being necessary. You also get to see Jon Fleming do some acting instead of just showing up as a walking dead meat puppet in Deadly Pickup.

Still, I am waiting for one of these crime late night cable movies to measure up to Carnal Wishes (2015). Deadly Pickup is at the bottom, Wicked Deeds (2016) is in the middle, and this is the closest so far that I have seen.

Review of Berberian Sound Studio, ALT Title: Huh? I mean, Huh?


bsstudio

I was considering posting this review later in the month because I didn’t want to do two negative reviews in a row. I’m starting to feel like an old curmudgeon with a sciatica issue, but here we are.  I didn’t write, direct, or produce this steaming pile of shit, but again… here we are.  I’m not writing that every film should have three distinct acts that are easily defined and understood, but this film sure could have used some structure or a beginning, a middle, or (if they really felt wild) an ending.

We open with Gilderoy (Tobey Jones) starting a job as a foley artist for a Giallo film.  He is immediately shocked at the graphic nature of the film that he will be looping.  This is where the movie grinds to a halt – minute 7.  Either through a lack of budget or imagination, the film takes place in the sound studio, his apartment, and a hallway – that’s it.  You’d think that this would establish tension…nope; no more than sitting in the DMV for 90 minutes establishes tension.  There are no subtitles and everyone’s speaking Italian and screaming a lot to loop the spooky film that you never see.  Again, you’d think that perhaps this would create tension or alienation because we don’t know what’s being said in 85% of the film….nope; no more than watching Raiuno (Italian Basic Cable).   Keep in mind, I’m very proud of my very sexy Italian roots, but not everything we make is a winner- even our towers lean over sometimes.

Gilderoy proceeds to obsess over getting reimbursed for his travel and when he doesn’t get reimbursed, he mopes … a lot and smashes fruit to mimic bludgeoning sounds. At one point he does get upset about it, but then goes back to doing what he does best – moping and fruit smashing.  There are two producers Francesco and Santini who spend the majority of the film bullying Gilderoy around and just when you think he’ll snap, he doesn’t because his moping around and fruit smashing won’t get done by itself.

Gilderoy slowly makes a quasi-friendship with Elena a voiceover artist who hints at something sinister being afoot, but it never materializes. Snore.  Later in the film, Santini sexually assaults her off-screen and she wrecks the studio this is also off-screen.  Since all of the action takes place off-camera, it really makes you wonder if they ever wanted to film a movie.  Elena’s departure necessitates the need to hire new voiceover actress to replace her.

This is where the film takes an absurdist left turn – Gilderoy starts speaking Italian.  As someone who has taken some formal Italian language instruction- it’s a challenging language, but not for Gilderoy because he just starts spouting it – damn it!  Then, Elena’s replacement tries to kill Gilderoy, but he manages to kill her.  He then wanders into the sound studio and for some reason he sees the self-defense killing on the screen.  This causes the need for yet another voiceover actress to be hired and he uses mild sound torture to get a better performance out of her – it’s both weird and stupid because she could just take the headphones off, but she doesn’t.  She does quit and we don’t have to see them go to Central Casting again.  Maybe they get a stamp on a card for every voiceover actress they hire?  If so, they are all due a free sammich!!!  The movie ends.  Yep, that’s it.

This film proved that there are two big losers in Giallo pictures: voiceover actresses and fruit!  Enjoy the horror month!  My next review will be one of my favorite movies of ALL TIME: Ginger Snaps!  Ginger Snaps is a werewolf movie that is an allegory for a girl’s menarche! Tagline: They don’t call it the curse for nothing!  It’s awesome!

 

 

The Films of Dario Argento: The Cat o’Nine Tails


(I’m using this year’s horrorthon as an excuse to watch and review all of the films of Dario Argento.  Yesterday, I reviewed The Bird With The Crystal Plumage.  Today, I take a look at The Cat o’Nine Tails.)

gatto_a_nove_code

In 1971, Dario Argento followed up the massive success of The Bird With The Crystal Plumage with his second film as a director, The Cat o’Nine Tails.  While The Cat o’Nine Tails was another huge financial success, it’s never been as a critically acclaimed as Argento’s first film.  Argento, himself, regularly cites The Cat o’Nine Tails as being his least favorite of all of the films that he’s directed.

Much like The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, The Cat o’Nine Tails is a giallo that uses it’s rather complicated mystery as an excuse (a MacGuffin, to quote Hitchcock) for several suspenseful set pieces, the majority of which end with someone suffering some sort of terrible fate.  In this case, a series of murders are taking place around a mysterious medical complex, the Terzi Institute.  The murders are connected to some research being done at the institute.  I’m not going to spoil things by revealing what exactly is being researched but I will say that the key to the mystery is vaguely ludicrous, even by the typically flamboyant standards of the giallo genre.

But, then again, so what?  The fact that the genre’s mysteries are often overly complex and feature solutions that don’t always make sense is actually one of the appeals of the giallo film.  You don’t really watch a giallo for the mystery.  You watch it to see how the story will be told.  Perhaps more than any other genre, giallo requires a director with a strong vision.

And, if nothing else, Argento has always had a strong directorial vision.  Even when you may disagree with the choices that he makes (and I’m sure we all wonder why, in his later films, Argento grew so obsessed with telepathic insects), you can’t deny that they’re always uniquely Argento.  Though the film never reaches the delirious heights of The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, The Cat o’Nine Tails still has several strong set pieces.  There’s a sequence involving a poisoned glass of milk that I particularly appreciate.  And then there’s the long scene at the crypt, in which our two protagonists realize that they don’t really trust each other all that much.  And, of course, there’s the ending.  For a film that’s often dismissed as being lesser Argento, The Cat o’Nine Tails features one of Argento’s darkest endings.

The Cat o’Nine Tails is unique as being one of the only Argento films to regularly show up on TCM.  A lot of that is because The Cat o’Nine Tails is perhaps the least gory of all the films that Argento has made.  That doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty of death and mayhem.  There is.  Blood is spilled but it never exactly flows.  The Cat o’Nine Tails is an Argento film that you could probably safely watch with an elderly relative.  That’s not necessarily meant as a complaint.  It’s just an observation that, when compared to the panty murder in The Bird With The Crystal Plumage or the skewering in The Mother of Tears, Cat o’Nine Tails is definitely a toned down Argento film.

The other reason why The Cat o’Nine Tails is popular on TCM is because it stars none other than that classic film mainstay, Karl Malden.  Continuing the Argento tradition of featuring protagonists who aren’t sure what they’ve witnessed, Malden plays a former newspaper reporter who is now blind.  He teams up with another reporter (played by James Franciscus, who may not have been a great actor but who did have perfect hair) to solve the murders.  Franciscus has the eyes.  Malden has the brains.  And Malden’s niece, Lori (Cinzia De Carolis), is largely present to provide the film with its final ironic twist.

Malden does a pretty good job in the role, too.  I’ve read some reviews that have complained that Malden overacts but actually, he gives the perfect performance for the material.  In fact, Malden’s unapologetically hammy performance contrasts nicely with the work of James Franciscus, which could  charitably be called subdued.  (Perhaps a better description would be dull…)

Cat o’Nine Tails may not be Argento’s best but I still like it.  If for no other reason, watch it for Malden and that wonderfully dark ending.

 

Halloween Havoc!: Boris Karloff in THE WALKING DEAD (Warner Brothers 1936)


cracked rear viewer

twd1

1936’s THE WALKING DEAD has absolutely nothing to do with the wildly popular AMC TV series. This WALKING DEAD stars Boris Karloff , making the first of a five-picture deal he signed with Warners, an interesting hybrid of the gangster and horror genres about an unjustly executed man who’s revived by science exacting vengeance on those who set him up. The result was a fast paced (clocked at 66 minutes) entry in the first horror cycle, and one of the last horror films made until their 1939 revival (more about that later).

twd2

Boris stars as John Ellman, newly released from a stretch in prison. A gangland cartel, looking to get rid of a law-and-order judge, set Ellman up as a patsy, hiring him to stake out the judge’s home, murdering the guy, and dumping the body in Ellman’s car. He goes on trial, defended by crooked lawyer Nolan, and sentenced to death…

View original post 608 more words

6 Scary Trailers For October 2nd


Well, it’s October!  It’s horror month!  It’s a freaking horrorthon!

And that means that it’s time for the return of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Film trailers!  And yes, it’s a horror edition!

Let’s see what trailers we have this week:

The House On Haunted Hill (1959)

The House On Haunted Hill (1999)

Return to House On Haunted Hill (2007)

The Haunting (1963)

The Haunting (1999)

The Others (2001)

What do you think, Halloween Possum?

(Picture Taken By The Dazzling Erin Nicole)

(Picture Taken By The Dazzling Erin Nicole)