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Thursday, July 23, 2015

European Trash Cinema #6.5!!

Most people don't realize that when I was producing ETC the magazine, I also produced a few newsletter editions! Well, thanks to the generosity of Joshua Thomas Gravel, I can offer folks a chance to download and read this rare blast from the past!! It's sad that even I didn't remember publishing this (I have another half issue in my possession, but not this one). So, if you're interested, here it is! ETC # 6.5

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Bloodsucker Leads the Dance

La Sanguisuga Conduce La Danza
Sales Title: The Bloodsucker Leads The Dance
Italy 1975
U.S.Video Title: The Passion Of Evelyn
D: Alfredo Rizzo
P: TO Ro Cinematografica//St & Sc: Alfredo Rizzo//DP: Aldo Greci//E: Pierra Bruni & Gianfranco Simonelli//M: Marcello Giombini//Art D: Vanni Castellani//Costume: Maria Luisa Panard.

Cast: Femi Benussi, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart, Krista Nell, Patrizia Di Rossi, Luciano Pigozzi, Mario Del Rosa, Barbara Marzano, Caterina Chiani.

It's Ireland, 1902, and a penniless troup of actors are invited to perform at Count Monarch's castle. The group of thespians consist of wimpy Samuel, nymphomaniac Cora, and the titular lead, Evelyn. They are given an inhospitable welcome from the castle's servants as they all seem to be hiding something. In a short time various members of the acting troup are murdered with everyone acting suspicious. Meanwhile, the Count has fallen in love with Evelyn as she reminds him of his long lost wife. More murderers occur before the police show up and discover the killer's identity.

It's not often I see a film with practically no redeeming features, but The Passion Of Evelyn comes close. The first murder doesn't even occur until an hour into this film's running time and by then, the vast majority of the audience may have already given up and gone home. While we are waiting we do get several sexual encounters between the various cast members but unless you get off to the pairing of Luciano Pigozzi and Femi Benussi (a ludicrous matchup not seen since Joe Spinell and Caroline Munroe in Maniac, 1980), even that bit of activity comes across as uninspired. The dubbing here is also excrutiating, in particular the voice actor used for Giacomo Rossi Stuart who sounds quite constipated. Patrizia De Rossi (who also goes by Patrizia Webley in her sexier roles) is the single attraction, but only to those of us who never quite got over the fact that we weren't breast fed as a child.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Hatchet For a Honeymoon

Il Rosso Segno Della Follia
Hatchet For A Honeymoon
Italy 1969
D: Mario Bava
P: Manuel CaƱo for Pan Latina Films, Mercury Films & Peliculas Ibarra & Cia SA//St & Sc: Santiago Moncada//DP: Mario Bava//E: Soledad Lopez//M: Sante Romitelli//Art D: Jesus Herrero//Costumes: Jose Tresserra//Makeup: Elisa Aspach & Piero Mecaccia.
Cast: Stephen Forsyth, Dagmar Lassander, Laura Betti, Jesus Puente, Femi Benussi, Antonio Mas, Alan Collins (Luciano Pigozzi), Gerard Tichy, Veronica Llimera, Fortunato Pascuale, Jose Ignacio Abadaz, Silvia Lienas, Monserrat Riba.

John Harrington has inherited his dress designing business from his mother. He is also a psychopath who has murdered 5 women on their wedding night. Each death allows him to relive a childhood trauma in more detail. He continues to kill until he meets Helen, a model at his shop. John's wife Mildred is a horrid shrew who won't give him a divorce, so he ends up murdering her too. Even after her death, Mildred continues to be seen by her friends as she haunts John and keeps her promise that she will never leave him. John only needs to kill one more woman to discover what it was he saw many years ago that has so affected him. Helen seems to be that final victim as the film reaches its haunting conclusion.

Often considered the runt of the litter when it comes to Mario Bava films, the problems can no doubt be traced to its Spanish production origins. Stephen Forsyth, who looks like John Phillip Law, plays the part of a guy who knows he's crazy but doesn't really care in a very effective manner. Because of Laura Betti's performance as the castrating bitch/wife so well, you almost feel sympathy for Forsythe and he's a killer! No doubt the reason for such fine performances is related to the script writer, Santiago Moncada. He was a prolific workhorse in the Spanish film industry writing screenplays for Jesus Franco, Javiar Bardem and many others.  Unlike most Giallli, the mystery relies not on who the killer is (that's revealed within the first five minutes), but why. Bava can't resist an in-joke or two (Forsyth is watching KILL BABY KILL on his TV set), but other than the effective cinematography, he's just going through the motions as far as direction goes.