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Thursday, December 29, 2016

THE CHINESE ROOM (1967) REVIEWED BY CHRIS CAMPBELL



I would say that Albert Zugsmith's The Chinese Room (1967) is the ultimate cult film.

I love crazy films that take a WTF approach in their execution, such as Blood Delirium (Bergonzelli), In the Folds of the Flesh ( Bergonzelli) and Top Sensation AKA The Seducers, to name only a few. The Chinese Room, from Mexico, pre-dates and I think even outdoes the previously mentioned schizo classics.

It plays like a Mexican soap opera having a bad fever while suffering a severe head injury.

It starts out with the maid Consuelo being rescued from a suicide attempt, hanging from a tree in the garden. The suicide attempt brought on by being in love with her employer, the rich and handsome bank owner Nicolas Vidal. It seems Consuelo had been receiving letters and, as the examining Dr. Saluby points out, letters that she possibly even wrote to herself. "It's quite possible" he explains to the wealthy couple. He challenges Mr. Vidal to try it out on himself. He accepts, promising to write hundreds of threatening letters to himself in an "experiment of self hypnosis". 

As Nicolas excuses himself to check on Consuelo, Dr. Saluby quickly assesses that Mrs. Vidal ( played by gorgeous and voluptuous Elizabeth Campbell)
is trapped in a loveless marriage and prescribes heavy doses of affection via regular injections of the good doctor's own throbbing gristle.

Nicholas, in the meantime, has his own set of problems. He also starts receiving threatening letters as well since he's been carrying on a secret affair with his secretary who has a bizarre, hidden deformity. We find out later that he has been having the affair for 2 f-in' years and just now notices that she basically has a flesh hoof for one of her feet!

Then we have eccentric Juan Cervantes, a longtime employee of Nicolas who introduces him to his "Chinese room". Cervantes, dressed in full Fu Manchu-type attire and quoting Confucius point out the evils of money. You have to ask yourself - how the hell could you construct such an elaborate and quite fancy room (giant gold Buddha statue!), without a shitload of that same evil money? Anyway, who cares. He encourages Nicolas' further visits to his Chinese room.



From there things get stranger. There are the most righteously groovy/gory dream sequences, Consuelo's eventual murder as she's found hanging from the same goddamned tree, and a mysteriously appearing and re-appearing deer hoof!

Then it's a race against time as Nicolas has to find Consuelo's murderer or he himself will go to prison, being the #1 suspect. With the clock ticking to prove his innocence, he proceeds to eat a bunch of psychedelic mushrooms, gets behind the wheel, trips out, wrecks his car and crashes Dr. Saluby's jumpin' house boat party.

Mrs. Vidal has a total psychotic breakdown that reminded me a lot of Rita Calderoni's multiple breakdowns in R. Polselli's Delirium, made years later. I may be wrong here but I noticed similarities in style, plot and acting w/ Delirium. Definitely not a blue print but I would not be surprised if Polselli had seen The Chinese Room prior to directing Delirium.

With that said, I strongly suggest that you seek this sucker out and partake in all of it's freaked out glory and screw all cult film pretenders. This is the real thing!

BUY A SUBTITLED COPY NOW!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Friday, June 10, 2016

HI-TECH TERROR #5

Some ideas sound good in the planning stages, but once they see the light of day, they turn out not so good. That's what happened with HTT 5. I thought, why not review a bunch of films with the word SISTER in the title. What a dumb ass idea. Just because they all shared one word in the title, I thought that would be enough to make an entertaining read. I finally decided that "all me all of the time" wasn't working, so with the next issue, I brought in outside writers. By doing this, I ended up not only making HTT better, but I gained the friendship of a bunch of amazing people.






Friday, June 3, 2016

HI-TECH TERROR #4

With the fourth issue of HTT, I expanded temporarily to 6 (really 5 and a half) pages and so included mainly reviews as satellite news was dropped due to apathy. Except for Harry Kumel's DAUGHTER OF DARKNESS, I pretty much hated all the other films I reviewed that issue. The fact that those reviled were all American films, was certainly a reflection of my state of mind at the time (and currently as well!).










Saturday, May 28, 2016

HI-TECH TERROR #3

This issue of HI-TECH TERROR leads off with paranoia in Hollywood about the VCR. They had designed an anti-copying signal that was supposed to save them from ruination. Talk about an industry full of "chicken littles"! Of course the VCR ended up saving their sorry asses. Technology is a two way street of course. You create something to defeat copying, and someone else will create a little black box that will defeat the anti-copying signal. In a preview of the future direction this zine would take, I review ZOMBIE LAKE. I hated it, and I still do! Enjoy HTT #3!





Thursday, May 19, 2016

HI-TECH TERROR #2

With the second issue of HTT I decided to add some graphics to try and make it halfway presentable. Kind of like putting lipstick on a pig. One of the stupidest things I did was to split the text with a picture on the first page. hard as Hell to read! Funny reading about VHS vs Beta, A lot of VHS releases news, along with satellite TV and other ephemera. Wrapped up with a review of fellow Texan SF Brownrigg's KEEP MY GRAVE OPEN.





Sunday, May 15, 2016

HI-TECH TERROR #1

Years before I started the newsletter/magazine EUROPEAN TRASH CINEMA, I published a very cheesy newsletter called HI-TECH TERROR. At the time, it was the first newsletter devoted to trashy films on video only. Before that time, film review newsletters were devoted to theatrical releases only. I published 43 issues before it mutated into ETC. If there's interest, I will republish all of them on the blog. Many of fandom's best writers contributed reviews, so it's not just me rambling on. You will see near the end where my interest in US crap wanes and the European influence takes over. Ok, below is the very first one. To view a larger image, just right click on it, open link in new tab and you can then make it larger and easier to read.