International Horror Film Review: Body Count (dir by Ruggero Deodato)


Sitting in the middle of the forest, there’s a camp ground.  Rumor has it that the camp was built on the site of an ancient Native American burial ground and that’s why grouchy Robert Ritchie (David Hess) and his wife Julia (Mismy Farmer) were able to afford it as such as reasonable price.  I guess that could be true and maybe the part about the curse is true, too….  Well, no matter!  People love to camp and the forest is lovely and there’s no way that this camp ground won’t be a success!

In fact, the only thing that could stop it from being a popular vacation location would be if two teenagers were mysteriously murdered one night….

Which, of course, is exactly what happens!  The daughter of a local doctor (played by John Steiner, of all people) goes off with her boyfriend and both of them are murdered!  (Though we’re told that the two of them are high school students and, when we first see them, they’re at basketball practice, both victims appear to be in their early 30s.  When the actress playing the doctor’s daughter first approached him, I immediately assumed that she was playing his wife.  I was actually a little bit stunned when she said, “Bye, Daddy.”)

Anyway, the unsolved murder pretty much ruins any hope of the camp ground being successful.  15 years later, Robert is paranoid and convinced that a Native shaman is sneaking around the forest and looking for campers to kill.  Meanwhile, Julia is so frustrated with her increasingly unstable husband that she’s having an affair with the sheriff (Charles Napier).  The sheriff is so busy shtupping Julia that it often falls upon Deputy Ted (Ivan Rassimov, who had the best hair of all the Italian horror actors) to actually enforce the law.  Meanwhile, the doctor is still mourning the death of his daughter and wandering around the forest.

Eventually, a bunch of obnoxious 30-something teenagers arrive, looking for a place to park their camper and ride their dirt bikes.  Despite the history of murder and the general grouchiness of Robert Ritchie, they decide to say at the campground.  Soon, a masked killer is carving people up.  Is it the spirit of the Native shaman or is it something else?  Who will survive and what will be left of them?

This 1986 Italian film was directed by none other than Ruggero Deodato, the man behind films like Cannibal Holocaust and The House On The Edge of the Park (which starred Body Count’s David Hess).  As one might expect from a Deodato film, the emphasis is on blood and atmosphere.  Deodato, who always had a good eye for properly ominous locations, gets a lot of mileage out of that spooky forest, which really does look like exactly the place where a masked killer would chose to hang out.  While the kills are tame by Deodato standards, they’re still icky enough to make you cringe.  I’m sorry but if the scene involving the body hanging from the hook doesn’t freak you out, then you’ve obviously become dangerously desensitized and you probably should probably take a break from watching movies like this.

Of course, the main appeal of Body Count is to see a cast of Italian horror and exploitation veterans going through the motions of starring in an American-style slasher film.  David Hess, Ivan Rassimov, John Steiner, Charles Napier, and Mimsy Farmer are all such wonderfully eccentric performers that they’re worth watching even when they’re stuck in one-dimensional roles.  David Hess, especially, does a good job as the unhinged Robert Ritchie and the film makes good use of Hess’s image.  The film understand that we’re so used to watching David Hess kill people on screen that our natural instinct is to suspect the worst when we see him in Body Count.  I also liked the performance of John Steiner, largely because Steiner always came across like he couldn’t believe that, after a distinguished theatrical education, he somehow ended up an Italian horror mainstay.  And, of course, Ivan Rassimov had the best hair in the Italian horror genre.

Body Count is on Prime.  The story’s not great but it’s worth watching just for the horror vets in attendance.

4 Shots From 4 Ruggero Deodato Films: The House on the Edge of the Park, Raiders of Atlantis, Body Count, The Washing Machine


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

This October, we’ve been using 4 Shots From 4 Films to pay tribute to some of our favorite horror directors!  Today, we recognize one of the most controversial directors of all time, the master of Italian horror, Ruggero Deodato!

4 Shots From 4 Films

The House on the Edge of the Park (1980, dir by Ruggero Deodato)

The Raiders of Atlantis (1983, dir by Ruggero Deodato)

Body Count (1986, dir by Ruggero Deodato)

The Washing Machine (1993, dir by Ruggero Deodato)

 

4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Ruggero Deodato Edition


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

Today is the 81st birthday of the great Italian director, Ruggero Deodato!  And that, of course, means that it’s time for….

4 Shots From 4 Films

Live Like A Cop, Die Like A Man (1976, dir by Ruggero Deodato)

The House on The Edge of The Park (1980, dir by Ruggero Deodato)

Raiders of Atlantis (1983, dir by Ruggero Deodato)

Phantom of Death (1988, dir by Ruggero Deodato)

The Green Inferno’s Eye-Popping Red Band Clip


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It would be difficult to call Through the Shattered Lens a film blog that appreciates grindhouse filmmaking if we didn’t mention something about the cannibal subgenre of horror once in awhile.

Once a huge thing during the 70’s and right up to it’s demise during the early 1980’s, the cannibal films from Europe (especially by exploitation filmmakers from Italy) would compete with Italian giallo film and Euro-zombie knock-offs for on which one could be the most gory and grotesque. It was like a grand guignol royal rumble.

As founders of the site there’s one particular cannibal film that both Lisa and I have some sort of admiration for. This film is Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust. It would go down as one of the video nasties that kept the film as one that new fans of horror were told they must see if they were to complete their journey into the dark side.

After two years of distribution limbo, Eli Roth’s homage to the cannibal films of the 70’s and 80’s finally gets to show it’s wares up on the bigscreen and this red band clip will give audiences a brief taste of what to expect.

The Green Inferno is set for a September 25, 2015 release date.

The Daily Grindhouse: The Raiders of Atlantis (dir by Ruggero Deodato)


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It’s been a while since I’ve done an entry in the Daily Grindhouse here at the Shattered Lens.  (And please, no snarky comments about the definition of the word “daily.”  I’ve been doing such a good job of controlling my temper lately…)  So, I figured I’d correct that oversight by taking a few moments to tell you about The Raiders of Atlantis, an Italian film from 1983.

(If you’re a regular reader, you know how much I love Italian exploitation films.)

On many a Saturday night, I have gotten together with my fellow members of the Late Night Movie Crew (including TSL’s own Patrick Smith) and we’ve watched movies with titles like Samson Vs. The Vampire Women, Cruel Jawsand Space Raiders.  Whenever it’s my night to pick the movie, I’ve always been tempted to select The Raiders of Atlantis.  In many ways, it’s the perfect film to watch with a group of snarky and outspoken friends.  The film is action packed, it features a lot of over-the-top melodrama, the pace is relentless, and the film is so defiant in its refusal to follow any narrative logic that you can’t help but respect its defiant soul.

(If Raiders of Atlantis could talk, it would say, “I do what I want!” before giving the finger to anyone complaining about not being able to follow the plot.)

I’ve come very close to picking it on a few occasions but then I always remember just how violent this film can be.  By the standards of Italian exploitation, The Raiders of Atlantis is actually rather tame but it still features a lot of people dying in a lot of disturbingly graphic ways.  People are set on fire.  People are graphically shot in the face.  One unfortunate woman gets a dart fired into her neck.  Heads roll, literally.

The Raiders of Atlantis tells the story of what happens when a bunch of scientists on an oil rig accidentally cause the lost continent of Atlantis to rise up out of the ocean.  A Caribbean island is conquered by an army of heavily made up, motorcycle-riding, mohawk-sporting “interceptors,” who claim to be the descendants of the original inhabitants of Atlantis.  Led by the evil Crystal Skull (Bruce Baron), the Interceptors are determined to kill everyone who does not possess Atlantean blood.  When they’re not randomly killing, they’re searching for an artifact that will … well, to be honest, I’m not sure why they wanted that artifact but they certainly were determined to find it.

Who can stop the Interceptors?  Well, how about Mike (Christopher Connelly) and Washington (Tony King)?  They’re two mercenaries who just happened to be nearby when the continent of Atlantis rose out of the ocean.  Along with a group of scientists, an escaped convict, and a random bald guy in tuxedo, it’s up to Mike and Washington to save the world!

(Washington, incidentally, has just converted to Islam and spends most of the movie demanding that Mike call him by his new name, Mohammad.  I imagine this is one of those subplots that would be abandoned if the film were remade today.)*

So, as I said before, The Raiders of Atlantis makes absolutely no sense but that’s actually a huge part of the film’s charm.  This is one of those relentless action films that truly does seem to be making it up as it goes along.  There’s something very enjoyable about seeing how many movies The Raiders of Atlantis can rip-off in just 98 minutes and you soon find yourself thankful that the film didn’t waste any time trying to justify itself.  The film may not be traditionally “good” but it is flamboyantly bad and, in many ways, that’s even better.  Maybe you have to be a fan of Italian exploitation cinema to truly understand.

Speaking of which, if you have any experience at all with Italian exploitation, you will immediately recognize half the cast of The Raiders of Atlantis.  You may not know they’re names, because these actors frequently changed their Americanized screen names from film to film.  But you’ll definitely recognize the faces and one of the more enjoyable aspects of The Raiders of Atlantis is that you get to see all of these familiar faces together in one movie.

For instance, Christopher Connelly is best known for starring in Lucio Fulci’s ill-fated Manhattan Baby.  Tony King gave memorable performances in both The Last Hunter and Cannibal Apocalypse.  The cast also features giallo and spaghetti western mainstays George Hilton and Ivan Rassimov, along with Filipino Z-movie veteran Mike Monty.  Stefano Mingardo, who appeared in a handful of violent actions films, shows up as an escaped convict and livens up every scene in which he appears.  Even Michele Soavi, years before he would direct the brilliant Dellamorte Dellamore, appears in a small role.  Unfortunately, George Eastman is nowhere to be found but still, The Raiders of Atlantis is worth seeing for the cast alone.

The Raiders of Atlantis was directed by Ruggero Deodato, who is best known for directing such controversial films as Cannibal Holocaust and The House At The Edge of the Park.  Raiders of Atlantis is nowhere close to being as extreme as either one of those films.  If anything, it feels like a more violent than usual SyFy movie.

The Raiders of Atlantis has apparently slipped into the public domain and, as of this writing, it’s been uploaded to YouTube.  You can watch the trailer below.  This trailer not only captures the feel of the film but it also features the film’s enjoyably vapid theme music.

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*And why not remake it!?  Chris Pratt and Tyrese Gibson could play Mike and Washington.

Trailer: The Green Inferno (2nd Official)


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Ah, the Italian cannibal subgenre of grindhouse and exploitation films. It’s been awhile since we’ve had something like this. Sure, we’ve had cannibal-based films throughout the years with some even becoming cult hits (I look at Ravenous as an example), but not one that takes it’s setting and basic plot straight out of the cannibal films of the late 70’s and early 80’s from the Italian horror filmmakers of that era.

Eli Roth returns to directing after a seven years in hiatus to give horror fans a taste of the old-school cannibal flicks with his homage to Ruggero Deodato’s classic grindhouse film Cannibal Holocaust. The interesting bit about Roth’s film is how it’s title actually is part of the homage to Deodato’s film which was originally suppose to be called….The Green Inferno.

This is the second official trailer for The Green Inferno and it even uses a quaint, serene song to open it up the way Deodato’s film and trailer for said film does over thirty years ago. We don’t see much cannibal feasting going on, but it’s hinted at that it’s what’s for dinner.

Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno is set for an September 5, 2014 release date in the US.

Horror Daily Grindhouse: Cannibal Holocaust (dir. by Ruggero Deodato)


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“I wonder who the real cannibals are?”

The month of October here at Through the Shattered Lens wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t introduce one of the very films which this site was made for: Cannibal Holocaust.

This 1980 film by Italian exploitation filmmaker Ruggero Deodato remains of the best examples of grindhouse filmmaking. It continues to be many people’s teop ten grindhouse and exploitation films list. Cannibal Holocaust could be considered as the best of the cannibal subgenre films which first began with Umberto Lenzi’s 1972 The Man from the Deep River.

Cannibal Holocaust also remains one of the best found footage films which has regained a sort of come back the last couple years with such popular found footage horror films like the Paranormal Activity series right up to 2012’s The Bay from Barry Levinson. It’s no surprise that Deodato’s film has survived the test of time as new legions of horror fans discover his films and older fans return to watch it again.

The film itself has continued to gain notoriety as newer fans discover the film. Upon it’s release the film was censored or outright banned from many countries who thought it was an actual snuff film (an allegation that even got Deodato and the film’s producers arrested in Italy on charges of murder) or because of atual animal cruelty performed by the film crew on live animals during the shoot. While the notion of Cannibal Holocaust was an actual snuff film remains a sort of urban legend amongst the new and young horror fans discovering it for the first time it really was the allegations of animal cruelty that continues to haunt the film to this day as it remains banned it several countries.

While the film was finally removed from the UK’s “video nasties” list it still hasn’t been released fully uncut and unedited in that country unlike the rest of the world. Though with the global reach of the internet such censorship and banned lists have become irrelevant and thus has given Cannibal Holocaust a much wider reach than it has ever had.

Cannibal Holocaust may be over thirty years old now, but it remains one of the finest example of grindhouse and exploitation filmmaking. It will continue to live on for future generations of horror fans and gorehounds to discover.

Lisa Marie’s Grindhouse Trailers: The Supersized Richard Lynch Edition!


On June 20th, it was announced that the body of veteran character actor Richard Lynch had been found at his home.  Richard Lynch was never a household name but, if you’re a fan of exploitation and grindhouse cinema, you’ve probably seen him at least a few times.  He was the tall, blonde actor with the scarred face who was alway either killing people or having them killed.  Richard Lynch was one of those actors who, as soon as he showed up on-screen, you knew he was the bad guy. 

As an actor, Lynch always brought something special to even the simplest of his roles.  He was always the villain who you knew would probably easily kill the hero if the two of them ever met in the real world.  He was so good at being bad that you often couldn’t help but root for him. 

I first became aware of Richard Lynch when I bought a movie called Premonition on DVD.  This atmospheric 1976 film featured Richard Lynch in the role of a villainous yet oddly sympathetic carnival clown-turned-kidnapper.  When Lynch was on-screen, I literally could not look away.  Even better, the DVD included an interview with the now white-haired Richard Lynch in which he discussed his career.  Imagine my surprise to discover that this rather creepy and scary-looking actor was actually a very articulate and witty man.

A few days after I saw Premonition, I watched another 1976 film on DVD.  This one was Larry Cohen’s Gold Told Me To and, to my surprise, it also featured Richard Lynch. This time, he was cast as an alien messiah who inspired all sorts of mayhem in New York City.  From that moment on, Richard Lynch was one of my favorite of the old exploitation actors. 

After Richard Lynch’s body was found, there were several news stories that mentioned his passing.  Almost all of those stories repeated the story that Lynch’s distinctive facial scars were the result of him setting himself on fire as the result of bad LSD trip in 1967.  A few mentioned that he was a longtime friend of Al Pacino’s.  Most of them took a rather dismissive attitude towards the majority of Lynch’s films.

Over at the A.V. Club, a respectful article was posted and it was quickly followed by a bunch of snarky comments from the usual gang of toadsuckers, the majority of whom didn’t seem to know who Richard Lynch was (presumably because he never guest starred on Arrested Development).

In fact, it seemed like the only place that Richard Lynch got the proper amount of respect was on twitter.  And that’s a shame because an actor like Richard Lynch deserved a lot more.

The sad thing is that actors like Richard Lynch are rarely appreciated because elitist (and wannabe elitist) filmgoers and critics are rarely willing to admit that it does take a certain amount of talent to be an effective and memorable villain.  As an actor, Richard Lynch appeared in some good films and he also appeared in a lot of very bad films but he always gave a good performance.  Unlike so many other actors, he never used subpar material as an excuse to give a subpar performance.  Regardless of the films he found himself in, he always gave it his best and that’s why this super-sized edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Trailers is dedicated to Richard Lynch.

1) God Told Me To (1976)

Arguably, this film from director Larry Cohen was the best movie that Richard Lynch ever appeared in.  Though he doesn’t get a lot of screen time in either the film or the trailer, he easily dominates both, if just for the fact that Lynch plays the God of the title.

2) Deathsport (1978)

Richard Lynch vs. David Carradine.

3) The Sword and The Sorcerer (1982)

Though I haven’t seen it, this film is a favorite of many of my fellow contributors here at the Shattered Lens.

4) Cut and Run (1985)

This film was directed by Ruggero Deodato and apparently, it gained a certain amount of fame after it was banned in several countries.  I’ve seen it on DVD and all I can say is that this is one of the most misleading trailers ever made.  However, this film also features one of Richard Lynch’s most intimidating performances.

5) Savage Dawn (1985)

For some reason, I doubt that the character being played by Richard Lynch is a real priest.

6) Invasion USA (1985)

Judging from the response to Richard Lynch’s death on twitter, this Chuck Norris movie might be the film that he’s best known for.

7) The Barbarians (1987)

This film, which appears to feature Richard Lynch in full villain mode, was also directed by Ruggero Deodato.

8) Bad Dreams (1988)

Richard Lynch is all sorts of creepy in this trailer.  Knowing about his own true life story makes this trailer all the more odd to watch.

9) Trancers 2 (1992)

Helen Hunt’s in this?

10) Werewolf (1996)

This one looks like fun, to be honest.

11) Wedding Slashers (2006)

“Til death do us part…”

12) Mil Mascaras Vs. The Aztec Mummy (2006)

Finally, let’s finish things up with the trailer for this Mexican film in which Richard Lynch was cast as the President of the United States.

Richard Lynch, R.I.P.

Scenes I Love: The House On The Edge of the Park (dir. by Ruggero Deodato)


Don’t ask me why I love this scene from the 1980 grindhouse classic House on the Edge of the Park because I’ll go on and on.  I could say that I love dancing in general.  I could talk about how I own a red dress just like the one that Lorraine De Selle wears in this scene.  I could rave about how pretty Annie Bell and Christian Borromeo were when they made this movie or the time capsule appeal of David Hess’s canary yellow suit. 

But, in the end, I love this scene for two reasons:

1) The song playing in the background, composed by Riz Ortolani, is so bad yet so addictive and,

2) Giovanni Lombardo Radice is just so adorable doing his little dance.

6 Trailers That Will Save The World


Welcome to another edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation trailers.

1) Psychomania (1971)

Also known as the Death Wheelers.  This is one of those trailer that can pretty much speak for itself.  (Though I will point out that co-star George Sanders committed suicide shortly after filming completed.)

2) 10 Violent Women (1982)

Not surprisingly, this movie was directed by Ted V. Mikels.  What makes this trailer memorable (for me) is the blandly cheerful narration.  I don’t know who that is providing the narration but you hear his voice a lot as you explore the world of grindhouse trailers.

3) The Twilight People (1973)

Made in the Philippines (as were many exploitation films in the 60s and 70s — I always expect to hear someone say, “Made in the Philippines — where life is cheap!” whenever I watch one of these trailers), The Twilight People is best remembered for featuring Pam Grier as the Panther Woman.  I love how the trailers for Filipino exploitation films always seem to promise us that we’re in for “blood…blood…and more blood!” like some nightmarish 1950s feminine hygiene film.

4) Cop Killers (1973)

Do you think we killed niiiiiiine people for nuthin, maaaaan?”  This trailer plays like one of the many “fake” grindhouse trailers that every toadsucker on Youtube is making nowadays.  (And, by the way, that trend is getting increasingly obnoxious as it’s obvious that a lot of these trailers are being made by jerks who have never even seen a genuine grindhouse film.)  However, Cop Killers is a real film and this is a real trailer.  Every time I go down to Half-Price books, I come across the DVD for this movie.  They want $9.00 for it.  And every time, I end up grabbing this DVD, planning on buying it, just to then come across a movie or book that I want more.  So, I haven’t seen Cop Killers yet but I’m sure that eventually, I’ll break down and get it.

5) Convoy Busters (1978)

Feel bad for all those cops getting killed Cop Killers?  Don’t worry, the fraternity of blue meanies got their revenge in plenty of other films, including this 1978 Italian film.  Convoy Busters was directed by Ruggero Deodat0 (of Cannibal Holocaust and House On The Edge of the Park fame) and is also known as Cop on Fire.  (Apparently, it was retitled to take advantage of the international success of Sam Peckinpah’s Convoy.)

6) The Psychic (1977)

This is the (very) American trailer for Lucio Fulci’s Murder To The Tune of Seven Black Notes.  This film is actually one of Fulci’s more subtle and interesting films and, considering that it’s a Fulci film without zombies or a huge amount of gore —  it has a surprisingly large number of fans (including Quentin Tarantino).  At the time of its release, however, it failed at the box office and so hurt Fulci’s reputation that the producers of Zombi 2 were able to hire him cheap whereas previously, they wouldn’t have been able to afford him.  Hence, it can be argued that the success of Zombi 2 was directly the result of the failure of The Psychic.  (That’s what we call the circle of life.)