Book Review: David Warbeck: The Man and His Movies by Raymond J. Slater and Harvey Fenton

David Warbeck

Anyone who is a fan of Italian exploitation films will knows the name and the face of actor David Warbeck.  Warbeck was the handsome, rugged, and surprisingly likable New Zealand-born actor who went from studying at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts to appearing in films that were directed by everyone from Russ Meyer to Antonio Margheritti to Lucio Fulci.  He played a small but pivotal roles in Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dynamite and then went on to star in The Beyond, The Black Cat, The Last Hunter, Rat Man, and so many others.  While his films may never have been critical favorites at the time of their release (though several have been positively reevaluated), Warbeck’s movie did well enough at the box office that he was even considered for the role of James Bond,  Warbeck was one of those actors who was consistently good, regardless of the quality of the film in which he was appearing.

Sadly, Warbeck passed away in 1997, before many of his films were rediscovered.  It’s a shame because — as the commentary track that he and Catriona MacColl recorded for The Beyond shows — he was a charming raconteur who had a way with a story.  Fortunately, in 1996, Warbeck did sit down and gave a lengthy interview to Jason J. Slater, in which he discussed his career and shared many anecdotes about his life as an international exploitation superstar.  That interview is at the center of a short but interesting book called David Warbeck: The Man And His Movies.

The book not only features the interview with Warbeck but it also takes a detailed look at his filmography, reviewing some of his more interesting (and, in some cases, infamous) films.  The reviews are well-written by people who obviously love these often underappreciated films.

If you’re a fan of Italian exploitation, this book is simply a must-have.  Admittedly, it’s not an easy book to find.  I ordered a copy off of Amazon and it wasn’t cheap.  But it was worth it!

Italian Horror Showcase: The Beyond (dir by Lucio Fulci)

David Lynch reportedly once described Eraserhead as being a “dream of dark and disturbing things” and the same description can easily be applied to Lucio Fulci’s 1981 masterpiece, The Beyond.

The second part of Fulci’s Beyond trilogy, The Beyond sits between City of the Living Dead and The House By The Cemetery.  With its portrayal of naive humans getting an unwanted look at the inexplicable reality that hides just a little beyond ours, it’s a film that very much calls to the mind the work of H.P. Lovecraft.  While insanity was often the punishment for gaining knowledge of Cthulhu and the Great Old Ones, the punishment for discovering the Beyond often seems to be blindness.

(Ocular damage was one of Fulci’s trademarks.  Starting with Zombi 2, almost every Fulci film seemed to feature someone losing an eye.  In The Beyond, a plumber played by Giovanni De Nova loses an eye while wandering about a flooded basement and, over the course of the narrative, several character are rendered blind, making them incapable of seeing the true horror of what they’re experiencing.  Fulci struggled with diabetes and the threat of blindness runs through almost all of his horror films.)

The Beyond starts with a striking, sepia-toned sequence that’s set in the year 1927.  While a young woman named Emily (played Cinzia Monreale) reads from a book, a mob attacks a painter named Schweik.  They believe Schweik to be a warlock and they view his grotesque paintings as being proof.  (In many ways, the mob is comparable to the critics who insisted on judging Fulci solely based on the subject matter of his films while ignoring the skill with which Fulci directed them.)  Schweik is tortured and left crucified in the basement of the Seven Doors Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Jump forward 54 years.  A woman named Liza (Catriona MacColl, who appeared in different roles in all three of the Beyond films) has inherited the long-closed Seven Doors Hotel and she’s moved down to New Orleans to reopen it.  Unfortunately, her efforts to renovate the place aren’t going smoothly.  It’s been one disaster after another, almost as if someone or something is trying to keep her from reopening the place.  The latest was the flooded basement and the plumber who lost both his eye and his life.  Of course, Liza would probably be even more concerned if she knew just what exactly it was that attacked the plumber in the first place.

While driving down one of Louisiana’s many bridges to nowhere, Liza is forced to come to a stop when she sees a blind woman and her guide dog standing in front of her car.  The woman is Emily, who doesn’t appear to have aged at all since we last saw her.  Emily is now blind.  She tells Liza that her hotel was once home to an evil warlock and she warns her to stay out Room 36.

Meanwhile, the plumber’s wife and his daughter visit the plumber’s corpse in the morgue.  This not only leads to the plumber and several other dead people coming to life but it also leads to an accident with a beaker of acid that was, for some reason, sitting on a desk.  Soon, the daughter is blind herself.  On the plus side, all of the drama at the hospital does give Liza a chance to meet Dr. John McCabe (played by the always welcome David Warbeck).

Fulci never got much credit for his work with actors.  (Some of that, of course, is due to the fact that most of Fulci’s film were atrociously dubbed for overseas release.)  However, The Beyond is definitely one of the best-acted of all of his films.  In fact, one reason why we stick with the film even when things start to get really, really weird is because we genuinely like Liza and John.  Warbeck and MacColl had a lot of chemistry and, in the midst of all the mayhem, they created two very real characters.  Cinzia Monreale is also impressive in the role of Emily.  Fulci made good use of her other-worldly beauty and Monreale keeps us wondering whether Emily is trying to help of Liza or if she has a secret agenda of her own.

(Towards the end of the film, during a zombie siege, there’s a scene where John and Liza get in an elevator and, as the doors close, Warbeck tries to reload a gun by forcing a bullet down the gun’s barrel.  MacColl sees what he’s doing and breaks character, laughing as the doors close.  The Italian crew apparently did not realize that Warbeck was playing a joke because this was the take that they used in the film.  Needless to say, it temporarily takes you out of the film and yet it’s such a charming moment that you can’t help but love it.  It’s nice to see that with all the grotesque insanity going on around them, Warbeck and MacColl were having fun.)

The Beyond gets progressively more bizarre as it continues.  It doesn’t take long for Fulci to abandon any pretense of traditional narrative and the film soon becomes a collection of vaguely connected, increasingly surreal set pieces.  A man goes to a library and ends up getting eaten by an army of spiders.  Ghouls suddenly roam through the hallways of the hospital.  Yet another person loses an eye, this time to a loose nail.  Another relatively minor character suddenly has a hole in her head.  A chase through the hospital’s basement leads to the characters somehow finding themselves back in the hotel.  And finally, we go to the Beyond….

This is going to be heresy to some but, as much as I appreciate it, The Beyond is actually not my favorite Fulci film.  Overall, Zombi 2 is my favorite and, as far as the trilogy goes, I actually prefer The House By The Cemetery.  That said, The Beyond is the film that best exemplifies Fulci’s cinematic philosophy.  Fulci called it pure cinema, the idea that if your visuals are strong and properly edited together, the audience will use them to supply their own narrative.  That’s certainly the case in The Beyond.  A lot happens in The Beyond and it’s not always clear how everything’s related.  But since every scene is full of Fulci’s trademark style, the viewers builds the necessary connections in their own mind.  The end result is a film that, perhaps more than any other Fulci film, capture the feel of having a dream.  It’s not a film that will be appreciated by everyone.  Fulci’s work rarely is.  Still, for fans of Italian horror, The Beyond is one of the key films.

Fulci followed The Beyond with one of his best-known movies, The House By The Cemetery.  I’ll look at that film tomorrow.

Italian Horror Spotlight: Ratman (dir by Giuliano Carnimeo)

This October, along with with everything else, I want to highlight Italian horror!  Today, we start things off with a look at 1988’s Ratman!

Terry (Janet Agren) has come to a Caribbean island, not for a vacation but instead to collect the remains of her sister, Marlis (Eva Grimaldi).  Marlis was an up-and-coming model who came to the island with a photographer named Mark (Werner Pochath) and another model named Peggy (Luisa Menon).  Marlis had her entire life ahead of her but apparently, someone murdered her on the island and then left her body in an abandoned building where it was eaten by a rat.

Obviously, identifying a dead sibling would be a difficult task for anyone.  Fortunately, no sooner has Terry arrived on the island than she runs into Fred (David Warbeck).  Fred is a true crime writer, a man who knows the island and who is always ready with a quip or a joke.  For reasons that are never quite clear, Fred invites himself to accompany Terry down to the morgue.  Why does Terry allow a complete stranger to go with her to identify her sister’s body?  Who knows?  Maybe it’s because Fred is played by David Warbeck, who was one of the more likable actors to regularly appear in Italian horror films.

It turns out to be a good thing that Fred came along because, when they arrive at the morgue, it turns out that the police don’t actually have Marlis’s body!  Instead, they have Peggy’s body.  Peggy was murdered while wearing Marlis’s dress, which led to a case of mistaken identity.  But, if Marlis isn’t dead, where is she?

Could she and Mark have gone deeper into the jungles of the island, hoping to find the perfect place to take the pictures that will turn Marlis into a superstar?  Of course, they have!  Unfortunately, what they did not take into account is that the island is also the home of the Ratman!

Who is the Ratman?  Well, his name is actually Mousey (Nelson de la Rosa), despite the fact that he doesn’t really act like a mouse.  Mousey was created a mad scientist who wanted to see what would happen if he crossed the genes of a monkey and a rat.  The end result was a 2’4 sociopath with really sharp teeth and an insatiable urge to kill.  The scientist thinks that he’ll win the Nobel Prize for this creation but Mousey seems to be more concerned with killing people.  As soon as he gets out of his cage, he goes on a killing spree….

Mostly because of the presence of Nelson de la Rosa (who, until his death in 2016, was the world’s shortest man), Ratman has a cult following.  And it must be admitted that de la Rosa makes for a memorable ratman.  Unfortunately, he’s not really in the film that much.  The majority of the film is made up of filler.  For instance, we spend a lot of time watching Mark take pictures.  A lot of time is also devoted to Fred and Terry having to deal with the incompetent island police.  (The police are convinced that Marlis is dead and are apparently willing to force Terry to look at every dead body on the island to prove it.)

Fortunately, this film also features David Warbeck and, as any fan of Italian horror can tell you, Warbeck was one of those actors who improved any film in which he appeared.  Warbeck always approached his roles with a sense of humor and a likable joie de vivre and he’s probably as convincing as anyone could hope to be when appearing in a film like Ratman.  Warbeck delivers his lines with just enough of a smile to not only let you know that he’s in on the joke but to also invite you to play along with him.

Reportedly, Ratman was a troubled production and the film’s producer stepped in to take over from the credited director.  That perhaps explains why the film itself sometimes feels rather disjointed.  There is one undeniably effective sequence, in which a model is stalked by a knife-wielding maniac just to then be attacked by Mousey instead.  Otherwise, by the standards of most Italian horror films, it’s a visually bland movie.  I would have liked to have seen what someone like Lamberto Bava and Lucio Fulci could have done with Ratman.

Ratman exists in several different version.  The version I saw was dubbed into French and it was obvious that a good deal of gore had been cut from the film.  (The “official” Italian version has a running time of 82 minutes.  The version I saw only ran 76 minutes.)  Still, even in an edited form, this film has an undeniable “What did I just see” appeal to it and it’s always worth watching anything that features David Warbeck.

Celebrate National Trivia Day With The Actors Who Could Have Been James Bond!


Today is National Trivia Day so I thought why not share some trivia?  I love film trivia.  I especially love trivia about who was considered for certain films.  Hell, one of my most popular posts on the Shattered Lens dealt with all of the actors who were considered for the Godfather!

(I even came up with an alternative cast for The Godfather, even though I consider the actual film to be the best cast film in history.)

I also happen to love the James Bond films.  (Well, not so much the recent Bond films.  I’ve made my feelings on SPECTRE clear.)  As a franchise, I absolutely love them.  So, with all that in mind, here is a look at the actors who could have been Bond.  I’ve compiled this article from many sources.  And yes, you could probably just find a lot of the information on Wikipedia but then you’d miss out on my editorial commentary.

Hoagy Carmichael

Ian Fleming himself always said that his pick for Bond would have been the musician, Hoagy Carmichael.  He even made a point, in Casino Royale, of having Vesper Lynd exclaim that Bond looked like Hoagy Carmichael.  Of course, the first actor to actually play Bond was Barry Nelson in a 1954 television adaptation of Casino Royale.  Nelson is probably best remembered for playing Mr. Ullman in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.

Barry Nelson, the first James Bond

When Dr. No went into production in 1961, many actors were considered for the role before Sean Connery was eventually cast.  Many of them were very well-known actors and, had they been cast, Dr. No would not have been remembered as a Bond movie.  Instead, it would be remembered as a star vehicle for … well, let’s take a look at some of the better-known possibilities:

Among the famous actors who were mentioned for Bond in 1961: Cary Grant, Richard Burton, James Mason, Trevor Howard, Stanley Baker, George Baker, Jimmy Stewart, Rex Harrison, and David Niven.  (Of that list, I think Burton would have made for an interesting Bond.  If the Bond films had been made in the 1940s, Grant would have been my first choice.  Trying to imagine Jimmy Stewart as a British secret agent is … interesting.)

Once it became obvious that a star was not going to play Bond, the role was offered to Patrick McGoohan and Rod Taylor.  McGoohan had moral objections to the character.  Rod Taylor reportedly felt that the film would flop.  Steve Reeves, the American body builder who became famous for playing Hercules in Italy, was reportedly strongly considered.  At one point, director Terrence Young wanted to offer the role to Richard Johnson, who later played Dr. Menard in Lucio Fulci’s Zombi 2.

Of course, the role went to Sean Connery and made Connery a huge star.  In 1967, after Connery announced that he would no longer play the world’s most famous secret agent, there was a huge and widely publicized search for his replacement.  Some of the names that were considered are intriguing.  Others are just bizarre.

Oliver Reed

To me, perhaps the most intriguing name mentioned was that of Oliver Reed.  Reed definitely would have brought a rougher edge of the role than some of the other actors considered.  However, that’s one reason why Reed wasn’t picked.  Apparently, it was felt that he did not have the right public image to play the suave Mr. Bond.

Somewhat inevitably, Michael Caine was sought out for the role.  Caine, however, refused to consider it because he had already starred in three back-to-back spy thrillers and didn’t want to get typecast.  Caine’s former roommate, Terrence Stamp, was another possibility but wanted too much control over the future direction of the Bond films.  Future Bond Timothy Dalton was considered to be too young.  Another future Bond, Roger Moore, didn’t want to give up his television career.  Eric Braeden has the right look for Bond but was German.  Rumor has it that producer Cubby Broccoli even considered Dick Van Dyke for the role, though I find that hard to believe.  An even more surprising possibility was the nobleman Lord Lucan, who was offered a screen test in 1967 and who, ten years later, would vanish after being accused of murdering his children’s nanny.

Lord Lucan

Among the actors who auditioned before George Lazenby was cast in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: Michael Billington, Jeremy Brett, Peter Purves, Robert Campbell, Patrick Mower, Daniel Pilon, John Richardson, Anthony Rogers, Hans De Vries, and Peter Snow.

After the mixed reception of both Lazenby’s performance and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Lazenby was soon out as James Bond.  Even today, there’s a lot of controversy about what led to Lazenby being dismissed from the role.  Some say Lazenby demanded too much money.  Some say that Lazenby was merely used a pawn to try to get Sean Connery to return to the role.  Regardless, Lazenby only made one film as Bond.  (Of course, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service has retroactively been recognized as being one of the best of the series.)

With Connery still claiming that he would never return to the role, the film’s producers went through the motions of looking for a new Bond.  Once again, Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton were considered.  Connery suggested that a talk show host named Simon Dee should play the role.  An actor named Roger Green auditioned.  So did Michael Gambon, though he later said he was turned down because, in his own words, he “had tits like a woman.”  Interestingly, several Americans were mentioned.  Clint Eastwood as James Bond?  Burt Reynolds?  Adam “Batman” West? The mind boggles but their names were mentioned.

John Gavin

And interestingly enough, an American was cast.  John Gavin is best known for playing Sam Loomis in Psycho but he was also, briefly, James Bond.  After Gavin accepted he role and signed a contract, Sean Connery announced that he would be willing to return to the role.  Gavin was paid off and Connery went on to star in Diamonds are Forever.

After Diamonds, Connery left the role for a second time and, once again, Bond was recast.  This time, Roger Moore would finally accept the role.  However, before Moore was cast, several other actors were considered.  Some of the regular possibilities were mentioned again: John Gavin, Simon Oates, Timothy Dalton, and Michael Billington.  Others considered included Jon Finch, Ranulph Fiennes, Peter Laughton, and Guy Peters.  Some of those names are probably as unknown to you as they are to me but it’s intriguing to think that Guy Peters may not be a well-known name but, at one time, there was a possibility that he could suddenly become one of the biggest stars in the world.

Looking over the history of the Bond franchise, it’s interesting to see the number of times that Moore tried to leave the role, just to be talked into returning.  Every time that Moore considered quitting, a new group of actors would be considered for the role of Bond.  In 1979, when Moore said he might not return after Moonraker, Timothy Dalton, Michael Jayston, Patrick Mower (who was also considered for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service), and Michael Billington were all considered as replacements.  So was Julian Glover.  Ironically, when Moore did agree to return to the role, Glover was cast as the villain in For Your Eyes Only.

David Warbeck

To me, the most intriguing actor mentioned as a replacement for Roger Moore was David Warbeck.  Warbeck was a television actor and model who subsequently had a nearly legendary film career in Italy.  Not only did he play a key role in Sergio Leone’s Duck You Sucker!, but he also starred in Lucio Fulci’s The Black Cat and The Beyond.  He also appeared in the best of Italian Apocalypse Now rip-offs, The Last Hunter.  In interviews, Warbeck claimed that he was under contract to Cubby Broccoli to step into the role in case Roger Moore ever walked off the set.  The likable and rugged Warbeck would have been an interesting Bond.

In 1983, when Moore again said he might not return to the role, Michael Billington (who actually did appear in a Bond film when he played a KGB agent killed at the start of The Spy Who Loved Me) would be once more considered as a replacement.  British TV actors Lewis Collins and Ian Ogilvy were also considered for the role.  In a repeat of what happened with John Gavin in Diamonds are Forever, American actor James Brolin was actually put under contract until Moore agreed to play the role in Octopussy.

James Brolin, in a screen test for Octopussy

After A View To A Kill, Moore left the role for the final time.  Famously, future Bond Pierce Brosnan was actually cast as his replacement until the surge of interest created by his casting led to the renewal of Remington Steele, the American television show in which Brosnan was starring.  Once the show was renewed, Brosnan could no longer work the Bond films into his schedule.

Among the other names mentioned: Sean Bean, Simon MacCorkindale, Andrew Clarke, Finlay Light, Mark Greenstreet, Neil Dickson, Christopher Lambert, Mel Gibson, and Antony Hamilton.  Sam Neill was another possibility and reportedly came very close to getting the role.  Watch any of the films that Neill made when he was younger and you can definitely see hints of Bond.

Sam Neill

In the end, Timothy Dalton finally accepted the role.  Ironically, for an actor who spent 20 years being courted for the role, Dalton turned out to be a bit of a flop as Bond.  He made two movies (both of which were considered to be disappointing when compared to the previous Bond films) and then left the role.

Looking over the contemporary reviews of Dalton as Bond, one thing that comes through clearly is that a lot of people resented him for taking a role that they felt should have gone to Pierce Brosnan.  When the Bond films resumed production with Goldeneye in 1994, Brosnan finally stepped into the role.  Reportedly, if Brosnan had turned down the role, the second choice was Sean Bean.  Much like Julian Glover, Bean may have lost out on 007 but he did end up playing the villain.

Sean Bean

Among the other actors who were reportedly considered before Brosnan accepted the role: Mark Frankel, Paul McGann, Liam Neeson, Russell Crowe, and Lambert Wilson.  Ralph Fiennes, who has been M since Skyfall, was also considered.

As opposed to his predecessors, Brosnan seemed to be very comfortable with the idea of playing Bond and never threatened to leave the role.  Looking over the Bond-related articles that were published from 1995 to 2004, I found the occasional speculation about whether Rupert Everett would be the first gay James Bond or if Sharon Stone would be the first female James Bond but I found very little speculation about Brosnan actually leaving the role.  Indeed, when Brosnan officially retired as Bond in 2004, it was less his decision and more at the prodding of the franchise’s producers, who felt that the series needed to be rejuvenated with a new (and younger) actor.  After Brosnan left, the series was rebooted and Daniel Craig played the role in Casino Royale.

In the past, I’ve made it clear that Daniel Craig is hardly my favorite Bond.  I loved Skyfall (and I consider it to the 2nd best Bond film, after From Russia With Love) but, even in that case, I felt that the film succeeded despite Craig instead of because of him.  With Casino Royale, we were supposed to be seeing a young and inexperienced Bond.  That’s never come through to me, probably because Craig looked like he was nearly 50 years old when he made Casino Royale.

Among the actors who were mentioned for the role before Craig received the role: Ralph Fiennes (again), Colin Salmon, Ewan McGregor, Henry Cavill, Rupert Friend, Julian McMahon, Alex O’Laughlin, Clive Owen, Dougray Scott, and Goran Visjnic.  Dominic West, who I think would have been great in the role, reportedly ruled himself out because he heard a rumor that Brosnan would be returning to the role.

Dominic West

Daniel Craig, of course, has been talking about leaving the role ever since he was first cast.  I think Skyfall would have been a perfect movie for him to leave on.  (It would have saved the world from SPECTRE.)  However, Craig has apparently agreed to do at least one more Bond film.  Maybe two.

When Craig does leave, who will replace him?  Idris Elba, of course, is probably the most widely discussed possibility.  James Norton has also been named as a possibility.  Others that I’ve seen mentioned: Tom Hardy, Jack Huston, Aidan Turner, Tom Hiddleston, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell, and Henry Cavill (again).

My personal choice?  Dominic Cooper.  He’d be an off-center Bond but I think it would still be an intriguing pick.

Dominic Cooper

Who knows what the future may hold for 007?  All I know is that I look forward to the speculation.

Happy National Trivia Day, everyone!

6 Action-Filled Trailers For Memorial Day Weekend!


Well, it’s Memorial Day weekend!  As some of you may remember, I ran into some trouble last weekend when I got my dates mixed up and I was forced to post a hastily compiled, somewhat random edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Film Trailers!

Fortunately, I’ve got my dates correct this weekend!

Anyway, without further ado, here are 6 action-filled trailers for Memorial Day!

Inglorious Bastards (1978)

No, not the Quentin Tarantino Oscar winner!  This is the film that gave its name to Tarantino’s later work.  The 1978 version of Inglorious Bastards was directed by Enzo G. Castellari and stars Bo Svenson and Fred Williamson.

From Hell To Victory (1979)

This World War II film was directed by Umberto Lenzi and features a surprisingly impressive cast for a Lenzi epic.  (Surprisingly, for a Lenzi film of this period, it does not appear that Mel Ferrer is anywhere to be found in From Hell To Victory.)

The Last Hunter (1980)

This is actually one of the best Italian war films ever made.  It was directed by Antonio Margheriti (who was given a shout out in Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds) and stars David Warbeck, Tony King, John Steiner, and Mia Farrow’s sister, Tisa.  Tisa also starred in Lucio Fulci’s Zombi 2.

Tiger Joe (1982)

Margheriti followed up The Last Hunter with Tiger Joe.  Also returning (though in different roles from The Last Hunter): David Warbeck and Tony King.  The female lead was played by Annie Belle, who is probably best remembered for her co-starring role in Ruggero Deodato’s The House On The Edge of the Park.

Tornado (1983)

Tiger Joe was enough of a success that Margheriti made one more Vietnam-set film, Tornado.

Last Platoon (1988)

I’ve never seen this movie but the title was probably meant to fool audiences into thinking that it was a sequel to Oliver Stone’s Platoon.  I will say that, having watched the trailer, it’s interesting to see Donald Pleasence playing an American army officer.  This Italian film was directed by Ignazio Dolce.

To all of our readers in the U.S: Have a safe Memorial Day weekend!

Where has Lisa Marie Been? She’s Been Gathering 6 More Trailers!


I guess the first question I should ask is “Did anyone miss me?”

It’s been a week since I last posted anything and when’s the last time that happened?  Seriously, even when I went up to Baltimore last year, I still managed to put up three posts a day.  The only excuse I can give is that it’s just been a very busy week and I hope that y’all can forgive me and give me a second chance.  And hey — what about the great job that all of our contributors did keeping the site updated while I was on my unscheduled vacation for blogging last week?  That’s why I love this site.  Other sites gives you only one voice and only one view.  Through the Shattered Lens, however, celebrates the fact that everyone views things through his or her own individual lens.

Anyway, now that I’m back and running totally behind, I probably better get started on making up for missing last week.  So, let’s start with the latest edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Film Trailers?

1) Dark Universe (1993)

From director Fred Olen Ray comes this film that was apparently the inspiration for Prometheus.  I love how low-budget movies about spaceships and airplanes always feature some heavy-set guy going, “You are coming in too fast!”

2) House of the Devil (2009)

I’m cheating a little because this film was released just a few years ago and therefore, it’s not technically a grindhouse film.  However, it’s a film that was definitely inspired by the great low-budget horror films of the past.  And, yes, that is Greta Gerwig, who is like in every other worthwhile film scheduled to be released this year and who will win an Oscar in the next five years.

3) House of Wax (1953)

My sister included this film’s poster in her last artist’s profile so it seems only appropriate that I include its trailer her.  I love how bombastic these old horror trailers used to get.  “YOU’VE HEARD ABOUT IT!”

4) A Fistful of Dynamite (1971)

This film is better known by the title Duck, You Sucker.  Though he’s not seen in the trailer, this film also features future Fulci leading man David Warbeck.

5) Twice Dead (1988)

“It’s a dream house … for nightmares!”

6) Amityville 2: The Possession (1982)

This film is part of a grand tradition of cheap Italian sequels to hit American films.  I actually own this one on DVD and I had to stop watching after about an 1 hour because it was just too disturbing.  Considering some of the films that I’ve sat all the way through (and if you think that I’m referring to Cannibal Ferox and Cannibal Holocaust, you might be right), that’s saying something.

6 Trailers For A Happy Memorial Day Weekend

Hi there!

To all of our readers in the USA, Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

To all of our readers elsewhere in the world, happy weekend!

Suddenly, after typing that, I realize that — with typical American arrogance — I have just assigned the majority of the world to elsewhere.  Agck!  Those obnoxious (but cute) German Marxists that I got into all those arguments with when I went to Italy were right!

But you know what?  A weekend like this is a good time to acknowledge that film is an international art form.  Today’s edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation trailers features an early test run for Captain America, two films from Italy, and two films starring one of my international stars, the late David Warbeck.  (Did you know that Warbeck came close to being cast in the role of James Bond?  Daniel Craig could learn a lot from watching a few Warbeck films.)


1) Captain America (1990)

What better way to start off this memorial day edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Film trailer than by featuring the trailer for Captain America?  No, this is not the trailer for the film that we all went and saw last year.  This, apparently, was that film’s low-budget ancestor.  In this version, Capt. America is played by Matt Salinger, the son of writer J.D. Salinger.

2) The Last Hunter (1981)

This Viet Nam War film from Antonio Margheriti is surprisingly good and features an excellent lead performance from one of my favorite of the old exploitation veterans, David Warbeck.

3) Black Snake (1973)

Speaking of David Warbeck, he’s also featured in this rather uncomfortable trailer for Black Snake, a 1973 film from Russ Meyer.

4) Track of The Moonbeast (1976)

This one is included in my 50 Chilling Classics Boxset from Mill Creek so I’ll probably be watching it sometime next week.

5) Trick Baby (1972)

After I saw this trailer, I called up everyone I knew and I whispered, “Trick baby, trick baby…” to them.  Most of the reactions were positive.

6) Blood and Black Lace (1963)

Finally, what better way to welcome a holiday than with a little Mario Bava?  This is the trailer for his classic giallo, Blood and Black Lace.

Horror Scenes I Love: The Beyond

The good thing about AMC’s The Walking Dead is that it puts zombies on the forefront of the public’s cultural consciousness. They’ve become the monster that still remains scary. The show has also allowed for new fans of the genre to seek out other classic zombie films and stories that they wouldn’t have bothered to check out if it hadn’t been for this show. One such classic zombie film would be another of Lucio Fulci’s gorefests from the early 80’s. It is a film which also has my latest “Scenes I Love” and one that continues this month’s horror theme.

Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond (aka Seven Doors of Death) has one of my favorite scenes in horror. It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say that I love pretty much everything Fulci has done and each of those films always have several memorable scenes that would imprint themselves on fans. My favorite scene from The Beyond has to be when the film’s two protagonists (played by regular Fulci actors in Catriona McColl and David Warbeck) find themselves under siege by zombies in a hospital. Warbeck’s character tries to fend them off with his trusty six-shooter, but seems to have forgotten to read the memo about shooting them in the head.

Every miss lessens their chance and when the creepy little red-haired girl suddenly makes her appearance as she attacks McColl’s Liza then the payoff in the scene finally happens. It looks like Warbeck’s character suddenly remembered what will kill them undead and decides to test it out on the little red-haired girl. To say that this scene was shocking when seen by a 9 year-old boy would be an understatement. I think even now that soon to turn 38 years of age young boy would still react with utter shock at this scene.

A Quickie Horror Review: The Black Cat (dir. by Lucio Fulci)

For my first horror review of October, I want to tell you about a movie that was directed by one of my favorite Italian filmmakers, Lucio Fulci.  That movie is the unjustly neglected Gato nero, or the Black Cat

In The Black Cat (loosely — and I do mean loosely — based on Edgar Allan Poe’s short story), the great David Warbeck plays a detective who is  sent to a small English village to investigate a series of mysterious deaths.  Corpses are turning up covered in scratches.  A man crashes his car after a black cat suddenly shows up in the passenger’s seat.  A young couple is found dead in a locked-up boathouse.  Evidence suggests that the killer entered through a small air vent.  No human could fit through that vent but…how about a cat?  Warbeck enlists the aid of a visiting American photographer (Mimsy Farmer) to investigate the crimes and he soon comes across a half-crazed medium (Patrick Magee) who just happens to own an adorable, if ill-tempered, black cat…

Fulci is well-known for directing such seminal (and gory) horror films as Zombi 2 and The Beyond trilogy.  The Black Cat was made during the same period of time as his more infamous films but it has never received as much attention.  Perhaps that’s because The Black Cat almost doesn’t feel like a Fulci film.  The gore is played down, the plot is coherent and (for a Fulci film) surprisingly linear, and the film even has a playful sense of humor to it.  Indeed, this often feels more like a minor, if entertaining, Hammer film than a Fulci film.  However, visually, this film is clearly the work of Lucio Fulci.  With his constantly prowling camera following isolated characters through dark streets and passageways, Fulci manages to make a small English village feel just as menacing as the dying Caribbean island from Zombi 2.  For all the attention given to Fulci as a “master of gore,” the true strength of his best films came from Fulci’s ability to create a palpable atmosphere of dread.  Fulci used gore as a tool but not as a crutch and if The Black Cat is a minor Fulci film, it’s still a film that proves that he was a far better director than even many of his fans give him credit for.

The Black Cat is surprisingly well-acted by a cast that’s made up of an appealing  combination of Fulci regulars and English B-movie veterans.  I read an old interview in which Warbeck complained that he felt his performance here was “boring,” but actually he was the perfect lead for this type of film, likable and with enough of a sense of humor to keep you watching.  Al Cliver may not be a household name but he and his blonde mustache seemed to show up in just about every movie Fulci made and he shows up here as well.  This time, he’s playing a local English constable and he’s no more believable here than he was playing a scientist in The Beyond or a boat captain in Zombi 2.  Still, any true Fulci fan will always be happy to see Cliver show up in a Fulci film because — much like familiar but bland wall paper — he lets us know that we’re home.  Patrick Magee is probably best known for his over-the-top performance as Mr. Alexander in A Clockwork Orange.  Magee goes just as much over-the-top here but, just as in A Clockwork Orange, Magee’s performance fits in perfectly with the film he’s appearing in.  Much as Stanley Kubrick contrasted Magee’s performance with Malcolm McDowell’s more subtle work, Fulci contrasts Magee’s theatrical approach with the more relaxed performances of Warbeck and Farmer.  Did I just compare Lucio Fulci to Stanley Kubrick?  Yes, I did and I stand by it.

However, the real star of this film is the black cat.  Trust me, this black cat (or black cats as I imagine several were used) is both adorable and blood-thirsty.  I still say that our cat Doc is the cutest black cat in the world but this film’s murderous feline comes in a very close second.

Doc, the greatest black cat ever!

6 Trailers For America

Flag (Erin Nicole Bowman, 2010)

Seeing as how its the July 4th weekend, this latest edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Trailers is dedicated to America.

1) American Ninja (1985)

Let’s start out with this celebration of the fact that Americans always do it better.  Yes, the film was originally titled American Warrior.  Apparently, ninjas are more appealing than just plain old warriors.

2) The Last Hunter (1984)

From director Antonio Margheriti comes one of the best Namsploitation films ever.  How can you go wrong with David Warbeck?

3) Fighting Mad (1976)

What could possibly be more American than Peter Fonda getting mad and killing people?  This was an early film from future “mainstream” director Jonathan Demme.

4) Thunder Alley (1967)

Well, there might be one thing more American than Peter Fonda killing people and that would have to be Nascar.  I’m not sure if they called Nascar Nascar back in 1967 but the idea appears to be the same.

5) Blood Beach (1981)

Let’s celebrate another piece of pure Americana: the beach movie.  John Saxon and Burt Young apparently battle a big hole in the sand.

6) Django Against Sartana (1970)

Finally, what could be more American than a western from Italy?