4 Shots From 4 Films: Ruggero Deodato, Rest in Peace


4 Or More Shots From 4 Or More 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!

Ruggero Deodato, RIP

4 Shots From 4 Ruggeo Deodato Films

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 Washing Machine (1993, dir by Ruggero Deodato)

International Horror Film: House On The Edge of the Park (dir by Ruggero Deodato)


Or is it House Of The Park On Edge?

When this Italian thriller was first released in the United States in 1980, the film’s title was mistranslated by whoever put together the film’s American trailer.  In Italy, it was known as La casa sperduta nel parco.  When it was released in the United States, it was meant to be known as The House On The Edge of the Park but the trailer famously referred to it as being….

That the trailer was sent out with the title incorrectly translated tells you a lot about the American grindhouse film scene.  If a similar mistake had been made a with a big studio production, someone would have lost their job and a lot of money would be spent to put together a new trailer.  In the world of the grindhouse, it was probably understood that people would come to the film regardless of whether they even knew what the title was.  According to the book Sleazoid Express, House on The Edge of the Park was very popular in the grindhouse theaters of New York’s 42nd Street, where audiences loved the violence, the nudity, and the misogynistic dialogue.

Today, House on the Edge of the Park is remembered for being the film that brought together Ruggero Deodato, David Hess, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Christian Borromeo, Annie Belle, and Lorraine De Selle.  (The Anchor Bay DVD release featured interviews with Deodato, Hess, and Radice.  Radice and Deodato seemed a bit surprised and, at times, horrified that the film still had fans.  Hess seemed considerably less shocked.)  House on the Edge of the Park was the film that Deodato made after the subversive and satirical Cannibal Holocaust.  Though House on the Edge of the Park retains a subversive edge, it’s a much more straight forward movie than Cannibal Holocaust.  No one has ever mistaken House on the Edge of the Park for a documentary.

David Hess, who may have written songs for Elvis and Pat Boone but who is destined to always be remembered for his performance as Krug in Last House On The Left, plays Alex.  Alex owns a New York City garage.  Alex owns a canary yellow suit.  Alex likes to dance.  Alex is also a serial killer who, when we first see him, is forcing a woman (played by Hess’s wife, who is credited as Karoline Mardek), off the road so that he can assault and murder her.  As the film begins, Alex and his sidekick, Ricky (Giovanni Lombardo Radice, appearing in one of his first films and stealing the show with his demented energy) are getting ready to go “boogie.”  Two rich kids, Tom (Christian Borromeo, my blonde Italian horror crush) and Lisa (Annie Belle), pull into the garage.  Ricky fixes their car.  Tom and Lisa, whose white dress is to die for, are insistent that Alex accompany them to a party at a house …. a house on the edge of the park!

Already at the house are Gloria (Lorraine De Selle), whose red dress is to die for, and Howard (Gabriele Di Giulio), who is apparently Gloria’s boyfriend.  Also waiting at the house is Glenda (Maria Claude Joseph), who appears to just be hanging out because she has nothing better to do.  (There’s a lot of talk about boredom and ennui, amongst the rich young people of House on the Edge of the Park.)  When Tom and Lisa show up with Alex and Ricky, a very familiar class dynamic plays out.  Alex and Ricky are very blue collar.  Alex is earthy and says whatever pops into his head.  Ricky is dependent on Alex to tell him what to do and is also too slow to realize that the rich people are talking down to him.  Ricky is taunted into dancing and then into playing poker.  Ricky loses his money.  Alex discovers that the game is fixed.  Violence follows, with Alex holding the house hostage with the help of the increasingly conflicted Ricky.

Of course, it turns out that there’s a twist and that it wasn’t just coincidence that led to Tom and Lisa pulling into Alex’s garage.  Of course, the twist itself never really makes sense.  The entire film centers around Tom finding time to retrieve something from his office.  It takes him forever to do it because Alex keeps watching him and beating him up.  But there’s actually several moments in the film in which Alex is distracted and he even leaves Tom alone at one point.  You have to wonder just what exactly Tom was doing during all that time.

It’s a deeply misogynistic film, one that features an inexcusable scene in which Gloria and Ricky have consensual sex just a few minutes after Ricky tries to rape her.  (Even if you can see beyond the idea of the sophisticated Gloria falling for a rapist, who stops to have sex while there’s a madman threatening to murder all of your friends?)  Before the party turns violent, Lisa flirts with Alex and, at one point, even showers in front of him.  Her actions make even less sense once it is revealed that Tom and Lisa always knew who Alex was and what he was capable of.  Indeed, the film is sometimes so offensive that it feels almost like a parody of an offensive film.

And yet, there are things to appreciate about the film.  Deodato plays up the class warfare aspect of the story, with Tom and his friends initially condescending to Alex and Ricky, just to discover how little power they actually had once Alex got the upper hand.  Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Lorraine De Selle, Annie Belle, and Christian Borromeo all give good performances, even when their characters are required to do things that don’t make any sense.  David Hess is a force of malevolent nature as Alex.  The house is lovely and I especially liked the pool, though I would suggest changing out the water before taking a swim.  The location shots of late 70s New York are interesting to look at, especially if you’re a history nerd like me.  Riz Ortolani’s soundtrack will get stuck in your head.  I defy you to watch this film and not end up singing that “Do It To Me Once More” song.

In the end, House on the Edge of the Park is not a film that I can really recommend, unless you’re a fan or a student of Italian horror.  In that case, you have to watch the film, if just because of the familiar faces in the cast and the fact that it was directed by Deodato.  Still, if anyone ever told me that this was their favorite film, I would probably immediately start eyeing the exit.  Towards the end of the movie, Gloria says that there has been enough violence and I agreed with her.  That said, violence against Alex is totally acceptable.

The film itself is destined to live forever as an internet meme, as a GIF of David Hess screaming in slow motion has recently become quite popular on Twitter.  There’s just no escaping the House of the Park on the Edge!

Scenes That I Love: Giovanni Lombardo Radice Dances in The House on The Edge of the Park


Today, the Shattered Lens wishes a happy 68th birthday to the great Italian actor, Giovanni Lombardo Radice!

I’ve shared this scene before but I’ll happily share it again.  In Ruggero Deodato’s The House On The Edge of the Park, Giovanni Lombardo Radice shows a bunch of rich jerks how he can dance.  Dancing with Radice is his frequent co-star, Lorraine De Selle.  And, wearing the yellow suit, is David Hess.

The TSL’s Grindhouse: Live Like A Cop, Die Like A Man (dir by Ruggero Deodato)


The 1976 film, Live Like A Cop Die Like A Man, takes place during the Christmas season.

We know this because the film opens with a man dressed like Santa Claus standing on a street corner in Rome and impotently watching as a woman is dragged behind a motorcycle by two men who were attempting to snatch her purse.  When she doesn’t let go of her purse, one of the men hops off the motorcycle and proceeds to kick her in the face until she stops moving.  Suddenly, two other men — our heroes, as it were — came driving up on a motorcycle of their own.  A chase ensues, through the streets of Rome, during which a blind man’s dog is graphically run over.  The chase which, it must be said, is very well-shot and directed, lasts for over 10 ten minutes and it ends with the two thieves being executed by, once again, our nominal heroes.

A lot of people are executed over the course of Live Like A Cop, Die Like A Man.  That’s because Detectives Fred (Marc Porel) and Tony (Ray Lovelock) have been given a license to kill anyone who breaks the law.  The film is a bit vague on just how exactly the license works and why, apparently, it’s only been given to Fred and Tony.  One major set piece features several dozen cops all waiting outside a house, powerless to get the three criminals within, until Fred and Tony arrive.  Fred and Tony, of course, solve the problem by killing everyone.  Why couldn’t the other cops have done that?  The film doesn’t really make that clear.

Admittedly, Fred and Tony aren’t the first movie cops to get results through unorthodox means.  The French Connection was a popular film in the 70s and it inspired a whole genre of Italian rip-offs, of which Live Like A Cop Die Like A Man is a definite example.  What sets Fred and Tony apart from cops like Popeye Doyle and Dirty Harry is the amount of joy that Fred and Tony seem to get out of killing people.  Early on, they show up at a party and proceed to set all of the cars on fire. They also set two criminals on fire, with Fred doing a happy little dance as the two men go up in flames.  It’s disturbing but there’s also a strange integrity to the film’s shameless embrace of violence.  Live Like A Cop, Die Like A Man doesn’t pretend to be about anything other than satisfying the vigilante fantasies of its audience.

And indeed, it should be considered that Live Like A Cop, Die Like A Man was released during the so-called Years of Lead, when a combination of political terrorism and open crime had made violence an almost daily part of Italian life.  When you’re living day-to-day with the knowledge that you could be blown up at any minute by the Red Brigade, the Ordine Nero, or the Mafia, I imagine that there would be something appealing about watching two young men who are perfectly willing to just shoot anyone who appears to be up to no-good.  It’s easy to imagine that, for audiences in 1976, the random violence of this episodic film mirrored the random violence of everyday life.  Though Live Like A Cop, Die Like A Man was obviously inspired by The French Connection, it perhaps has more in common with the original Death Wish, with the main difference being that Live Like A Cop’s vigilantes are officially sanctioned.

The film also places a good deal of importance on just how close Tony and Fred are supposed to be.  They live together in a ramshackle flat, they apparently spend all of their free time together, and, towards the end of the film, the only thing that keeps the two of them from taking part in a threesome is the sound of someone else being shot.  Unfortunately, Ray Lovelock and Marc Porel did not get along in real life and, as a result, there was never a Live Like A Cop Die Like A Man Part IILive Like A Cop would also be director Ruggero Deodato’s only stab at the polizieschi genre.  He went on, of course, to direct Cannibal Holocaust and The House on the Edge of the Park.  (Interestingly, Tony and Fred’s relationship is mirrored, to sinister effect, by the relationship between the characters played by David Hess and Giovanni Lombardo Radice in House On The Edge of the Park.)  Live Like A Cop, Die Like A Man has gone on to become a bit of a cult film and, as offensive as some will find it to be, it’s also so over-the-top in its violence and its celebration of officially sanctioned bad behavior that it becomes rather fascinating to watch.  It’s so without shame or apology that it’s hard to look away from it, even though you may want to.

6 Trailers For October 30th


 

Halloween comes closer and that means that it’s time for another holiday edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Film Trailers.  Today, we have 6 of my favorite Italian horror trailers!

  1. The Beyond (1981)

I’ve always liked the trailer for Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond.  It does a good job of capturing the dream-like amtosphere of Fulci’s classic film.

2. Raiders of Atlantis (1983)

Raiders of Atlantis is hardly my favorite Ruggero Deodato film but I do really like the trailer.  Add to that, I think this might be the only Deodato trailer that’s actually safe for work.  The trailer for Cannibal Holocaust features that body being found with the stake driven through it.  The House on the Edge of the Park trailer features the scene with straight razor.  Meanwhile, the trailer for Raiders of Atlantis has fun music and a laser-shooting statue!  It also has Tony King shouting, “Come on, come on, come on!”

3. Zombie 5: Killing Birds (1987)

This movie sucks but, for some reason, I’ve always found the trailer to be very effective.  I think it’s the scene with the woman smiling despite being pinned to the wall and apparently dead.  That’s pure nightmare fuel.

4. Spasmo (1974)

This is from director Umberto Lenzi.  I sometimes feel as if I’m the only person in the world who likes this film.  As for the trailer, I just enjoy the anguished cries of “Spasmo!  Spasmo!”

5. Lisa and the Devil (1973) 

This is one of my favorite Mario Bava films.  Yes, some of it is because the lead character is named Lisa.  I’ll admit it, I like my name.  However, it’s a really good film as well!

6. Tenebrae (1982)

And finally, here is the trailer for Dario Argento’s brilliant, Tenebrae!

Seriously, if you want to have a truly wonderful Halloween, watch some Italian horror!  If you haven’t already discovered Bava, Fulci, Argento, Lenzi, Soavi, D’Amato, and all the rest, now is the perfect time to do so!  Do it now before their work gets canceled by the online puritan mob.

(Always remember: invest in physical media.)

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


TheGreenInferno

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)


ROA

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.