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Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Killer Must Kill Again

Director: Luigi Cozzi.
P: Giuseppe Torotella & Umberto Lenzi for Albione Cinematografica, GIT International Film & Paris Cannes Production//Sc: Luigi Cozzi, Daniele Del Guidice, Adriano Bolzoni DP: Riccardo Pallotini//E: Alberto Moro//M: Nando de Luca//Art D: Luciana Schiratti//Makeup: Giuseppe Ferrante
Cast: George Hilton, Michel Antoine, Christine Galbo, Femi Benussi, Alessio Orano, Eduardo Fajardo, Teresa Velasquez, Dario Griachi, Luigi Antonio Guerra, Carla Mancini.

Mainardi and his wife Norma are fighting again over money. It seems she makes it and he spends it. Later that night when he sees a killer disposing of one of his victims, he decides to enlist his aid in getting rid of his wife. Mainardi attends a party while the killer goes to his house and strangles his wife. He puts her body in the trunk of his car but it's stolen by two kids, Laura and Luca before he can dispose of the body. They drive to a deserted beach house where Luca is determined to take Laura's virginity. Meanwhile, the killer relentlessly pursues them and, while Luca is away in town getting supplies, he ruthlessly rapes Laura while waiting for Luca's return. Things go even more wrong for the couple while poor Mainardi is being hassled by a dogged police inspector who suspects something fishy is going on.

There is an air of morbidity to this film that has rarely been equaled in any other thriller. Michel Antoine wins, hands down, the award for creepiest villain, period! When he relentlessly and repeatedly brutalizes poor Christine Galbo, it almost forces you to turn away from the screen. Galbo is a fine actress and is best known for her portrayal in THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED. Alessio Orano is a scummy "hero" who is almost as scary looking as the villain. Due to the two separate story lines, George Hilton has more of a guest star role in this film. He's a suave debonair Bastard as usual. Eduardo Fajardo gives a Colombo- type spin to his part as the police detective who just won't leave Hilton alone. He will always be remembered as the psychotic Colonel Jackson in DJANGO. Lastly, there's poor, lovely (even in that awful blonde wig) Femi Benussi degrading herself in the cameo role of a floozy. Her entire part in this film is so she can be featured in an explicit nude scene and then be graphically slaughtered. It's roles like these that makes the Giallo films so politically incorrect.
Had Luigi Cozzi used this film as an indication of his true talents, instead of going on to direct utter shit like STARCRASH and HERCULES, he might have been regarded with respect, rather than as the guy who worked the counter at Dario Argento's Profundo Rosso's book store.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Scorpion with 2 Tails

Assassino Al Cimitero Etrusco
Sales Title: The Scorpion with two tails
Italy/France 1982
D: Sergio Martino

P: Luciano Martino for Dania Film, Medusa Distribuzione, Imp. Ex Cl. Sa, Les Filmes Jacques Leitienne (P Manager: Sergio Borelli, Maurizio Pastrovich)// St & Sc: Ernesto Gastaldi, Dardano Sachetti, Maria Chianetta & Jacques Leitienne//DP: Giancarlo Ferrando//E: Eugenio & Daniele Alabiso (Asst: Teresa Negozio)//M: Fabio Frizzi//Art D: Antonello Geleng// Make up: Franco & Giovanni Rufino//Color
Cast: Elvire Audray, Paolo Malco, Claudio Cassinelli, Marilu Tolo, Wandisa Guida, GianFranco Barra, Mario Cecchi, Franco Garofaolo, Maurizio Mattioli, Carlo Monni, Anita Sagnotti Laurenzi, Jacques Stany, Luigi Rossi and John Saxon and Van Johnson.

Joan is haunted by dreams of ancient Etruscan ceremonies. One night she receives a frantic phone call from her arcaeologist husband Arthur, informing her of a fantastic find involving an Etruscan tomb. Soon after he turns up dead, with his dead turned facing backwards. Meanwhile, Joan's father Mulligan, is waiting for a special crate Arthur was to deliver. Joan and her assistant Mike, soon head off to Italy to claim her husband's body and is led to the tomb by a mysterious man. She locates a crate full of heroin (her father is actually a drug smuggler) and is soon kidnapped by a gang looking for the drugs. Mulligan follows Joan to Italy and is involved in her rescue. Unfortunately he is killed during the melee, leaving Joan on her own to solve the crime. Everyone who comes in contact with her are soon found with their necks twisted around. She teams up with Paolo, a local archaelogist and together they locate the tomb's central burial chamber. The killer is also there and before he can kill Joan, she is saved by a mysterious figure (we only see his huge hands) who gives the murderer a taste of his own medicine.

Unlike the other Giallo directed by Martino with Scorpion in the title, this film comes no where close to that film's majesty. The Scorpion With Two Tails is mainly a crime/revenge film with the red herring of an "Etruscan" maniac possibly on the loose. Much like Armando Crispino's The Etruscan Kills Again, it's merely a plot device to hide the really boring concept of an all too human adversary. The film also appears to be a schizo affair (rumor has it that this film was originally a TV miniseries) as halfway into the film, most of the supporting cast is killed off and a brand new one introduced. Elvire Audray (star of Mario Gariazzo's entry into the Cannibal sweepstakes, Amazonia/White Slave) gets points for handling a pile of maggots, but she has microscopic appeal as a character. John Saxon & Van Johnson have little more than cameo appearances,and seem to have showed up just long enough to cash their paychecks. Paolo Malco (NY Ripper) and Claudio Cassinelli help out at the film's climax, but by then, it's too late. The score by Fabio Frizzi is comparable to the work he was doing on Fulci's The Beyond and Fear in the City of the Living Dead, which makes the fact that he also lifted huge portions of those films' scores for this effort, all the more disappointing. The true failing of this film was the decision to make it more of a crime film rather than a horror one. That's not what fans of this genre want to see.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Appointment in Black

Appuntamento in Nero
1990 italy
Sales Title:Appointment in Black
Cable TV Title:The Seductress
D: Anthony (Antonio) Bonifacio
P: Roberto De Laurentis for Real Film (P Manager: Vincent Gallo//St & Sc: Daniel Brados//DP: Pier Luigi Santis//E: Karl Pool (Asst: Flavius Ticcioni)//M: Mark Ross//Art D: Marius Ross//Costumes: Deborah Paganos & Mary Jean Dietrich//Make up: Lou Juistice//Color
Cast: Mireille Banthy, Andy J. Forest, Mary Lindstrom, Daniel Brados, Roxana Cox, Sophia Vivianson, Frank Citti.

A young girl is sexually molested by the local butcher. 15 years later, Angela Baldwin, wife of diplomat John Baldwin, is raped and beaten in a restroom at a movie theater. Her husband meanwhile is having an affair with Angela's best friend, top model Ava Marci. Together, they plot Angela's murder, hoping to use the fact that Angela is apparently being stalked by her bathroom attacker. That attack is thrown into doubt when the theater's projectionist claims she faked it and wants to blackmail her. Angela enlists her brother (who also killed Angela's attacker 15 years earlier) to run over the blackmailer with his car. Meanwhile, John Baldwin leaves town with plans to return that night and kill his wife. What John doesn't know is that Ava and Angela have their own plans on who will survive the night.

Appointment in Black is the debut film for director Antonio Bonifacio (born on April 21, 1957) and it's a slick, well made film. He worked as an assistant director to Aristide Massaccesi, Umberto Lenzi and Luciano Odorisio and appears to have learned their slick approach to the sexy horror genre. A lot of skin and very little blood are the key factors to keep in mind as you watch this one. The photography by Pier Luigi Santi reflects the upper crust lifestyle these characters inhabit, thus maintaining your interest in the less than likeable characters. Once again Henri Clouzot's Diabolique has a lot to answer for as the plot is cut from that film's mould. No real surprises here plot-wise so one must look elsewhere for entertainment. And look no further than blonde bombshell Mary Lindstrom (who looks like she could suck the chrome off a trailer hitch!) . Voluptuous and deadly, she seems right home either making love to you or plotting ways to bump you off. Andy Forest as the slime bag husband could play this role in his sleep. Screenwriter Daniel Brados also plays the part of Angela's psychotic brother in a role that only calls for him to look tough behind a pair of sunglasses. This film is no classic but because of the stunning presence of Ms. Lindstrom, is certainly worth a look.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Death in Haiti

Al Tropico Del Cancro
Death In Haiti
Italy 1973
D: Gian Paolo & Edward G. Muller (Edoardo Mulargia)
P: Pino De Martino & Andrea Di sangiuliano for 14 Luglio Cinematografica (P Manager: Marcello Tranchini)// St & Sc: Edoardo Mulargia, Antonio De Teffe & Antonio De La Loma//DP: Marcello Masciocchi//E: Cesare Bianchini//M: Piero Umiliani// Makeup: Carlo Renzini//Color
Cast: Anthony Steffen (Antonio De Teffe), Anita Strindberg, Gabriele Tinti, Umberto raho, Stelio Candelli, Gordon Felio, Kathie Witt, Richard Osborne, Bob Lemoine, Pierre Richard Merceron, Fred Adé.

Fred and Grace Ryan have arrived in Haiti to try and revitalize their marriage. At the same time, Fred wants to visit Dr. Williams, an old friend who is quite mysterious about his work. Before long strange things begin to happen to those who are associated with the good doctor. One of his assistants turns up dead while the other, Kratz, has disappeared. It seems Williams has discovered a new hallucinogen and several unscrupulous individuals will stop at nothing to get it. Fred uses his wife to locate the doctor's secret notes and tries to sell them, only to discover they are fake. A man claiming to be Kratz offers to sell Fred the real formula and so he sets off to an abandoned sugar cane mill to make the deal. Williams is also headed to the same place to discover who is imitating his assistant (Williams discovered Kratz's body earlier in the film) and the actual killer.

Without question, the real star of this film is the island of Haiti. Mulargia and Lomi use the mysterious voodoo rituals to create a constant state of uneasiness for both the actors (Strindberg's character is always uncomfortable whenever she's surrounded by the Haitian people) and viewers. The slaying of animals, either those used in the religious ceremonies or at a local slaughterhouse where the body of one of the characters is discovered, hammers home the primitiveness of the surroundings. Strindberg has her usual nude displays on view, but the hallucinations she suffers from midway into the film are both disturbing and visually stunning. The production took full of advantage of the decaying countryside, especially for a murder sequence that takes place at a rundown rum factory. No way money could buy you such production values. Anthony Steffen (who had a hand in the screenplay) is great as the shady but ultimately heroic Dr. Williams. As usual for a Steffen production, he makes sure there is at least one scene where he gets the Hell beat out of him. Was the guy a closet masochist? Director Edoardo Muller, born December 10, 1925, does a great job mixing both slick camera movements and hand-held frenzy when needed. Mainly known for his Westerns, he finished his career making two women in prison films (also with Steffen), Orinco, Prigioniere Del Sesso & Femmine Infernali. As with this film, those films benefitted from Mulargia's affinity for a tropical setting

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Love and Death in the Garden of the Gods

Amore E Morte Nel Giardino Degli Dei
Italy 1972
D: Sauro Scavolini
P: Armando Bertuccioli for Hermann Film//St & Sc: Anna Maria Gelli & Sauro Scavolini//DP: Romano Scavolini//E: Francesco Bertuccioli (Asst: Aldaberto Ciccarelli)//M: Giancarlo Chiaramello//Costumes: Hertha Schwarz//Color
Cast: Erika Blanc, Peter Lee Lawrence, Ezio Marano, Richard Melville, Orchidea De Santis, Franz Von Treuberg, Vittorio Duse.

A Professor goes to the country to study and record bird calls. While searching the grounds of the villa he's staying at, he discovers a pile of old audiotape. He plays it and discovers the villa housed a tale of perversion and death. Freddie was in love with his sister Irma causing her to attempt suicide. Rescued by the family doctor, she won't reveal the cause for her despair. Meanwhile Freddie tries to have an affair with a friend of Irma, but he's imp[otent and in a violent rage kills her. Obsessed with Irma, he knocks her out, makes love to her and slits her wrists. He kills her psychiatrist and lover before escaping. After playing the entire tape, the Professor discovers Freddie has returned to the scene of his crimes and must deal with this very real threat to himself.

Sauro Scavolini wrote many of the best Gialli, especially those for Sergio Martino. This, his directorial debut, shows he has as much talent behind the camera as he did on the printed page. He makes all the usual first time mistakes (too may handheld shots, weird, arty farty camera angles) however, his ambitious screenplay is realized to good effect. Erika Blanc is fantastic as a raven-haired beauty (brother Romano Scavolini was the cinematographer) torn between her lover and brother's affections. When the latter gets out of hand, she decides to stop it before it starts. Peter Lee Lawrence plays the tortured brother to perfection and when he goes nuts near the end, Scavolini allows the violence (up to this point it hasn't played much of a part) to also go over the top. Scavolini's screenplays have always involved violence as the result of sexual torment and with this film, he displays the last word on the subject.