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It's politics are coarse & obvious (what did you expect??) yet the spectacle CONQUEST achieves on a tight budget is remarkable. The final 20-or-so minutes of sustained brutality (the recipient of post-prod cuts) as riot troops (clad in imposing authoritarian outfits) take on the ape uprising must rank as the most violent sequence ever attempted within the restrictions of a "family audience" feature. In fact, while witnessing CONQUEST's conclusion, you can't help but ponder what a hoot it must have been participating in the making of this movie. The knives, assault weapons, flame-throwers, meat cleavers, broken glass, riot shields, tribal/psychedelic soundtrack & (above all) those nifty orange "Ape Management" uniforms, leave an overall impression of invention, risk & (believe it or not) FEAR. The bloodbath (without much blood...) betwixt (haha!!) Ape & Man staged against the pristine backdrop of a night-sky cityscape IS the icing on the cake, making CONQUEST The Best Of Five & one of THE most curious SF films of the '70s.
House on Haunted Hill (1999)
Original Versus Remake...
Kept some of the good bits - hearse drive to house, handguns in coffin(s), non-generic building - left out others - floating head narration & jolting scream in the darkness intro. By the way, the hearse procession is ruined by dreadful & pathetic Marilyn Manson cover of even worse Eurythmics toon. On the plus side - great intro that recalls the "video nasty" Euro-shockers of the '80s & pumping Simonetti-esque devil-disco during frantic house exploration.
Groom Of Re-animator...
For those who enjoyed David Gale in RE-ANIMATOR (and who didn't??) it would seem that SYNGENOR (that is SYNthesized GENetic ORganism) is required viewing. Hell, Gale even injects himself (IN THE NECK!!) with what appears to be a substance VERY SIMILAR to re-agent! In this sequel (?) to SCARED TO DEATH we have a corporation by the name of Norton Cyberdyne (rubbish logo by the way) who have created a series of "creatures" to act as "supersoldiers" in any upcoming conflict in "rain-free" (there's the catch...) environments, namely: The Middle East. Things go wrong (of course) resulting in a handful of Syngenors breaking free from their Cyberdyne basement confines to wreak havoc in true cheap-horror fashion. The creatures themselves (though obviously inspired by a certain Giger design) are the strong-point - I'd even go so far as to say that they're THE BEST low-bud monsters since INVASION OF THE SAUCER MEN, problem being there's too little running, blood & screaming to keep them occupied. When the "action" finally arrives we're treated - in one scene - to a selection of Cyberdyne guards - looking like they'd just fell out of an old (pre-flowerpot) DEVO promo - marching to the depths of the Cyberdyne 'scraper with such little conviction you'd swear the comedic angle was intentional. Perhaps this IS supposed to be funny: the "learned" screenwriters attempt to parody the perceived insanity of The Military Industrial Complex (TM) via both "Carter Brown" (Gale) & Cyberdyne's infommercial promo material. In the hands of an Italian director, SYNGENOR could have been a DEMONS style contender - as it stands, a reasonable stab at an SF/stalker/gore flick which attempts to recreate the intensity of a certain other film (yep, RE-ANIMATOR again) during in final minutes.
Terror Night (1987)
Night Of The Living Haywood
Standard no-bud horror set-up - group of young adults providing the body-count after trespassing in old mansion - given enough quirk & energy to sustain interest. Plot centres around "Lance Haywood" former screen idol presumed dead: Haywood kills each person according to different film roles. Great cast - Jamie Summers in bubblebath - Michelle Bauer running around naked - body ripped in half during opening minutes - sepia flashbacks to killer's past screen glories - slashed-up headbanger fights to death with Haywood in knight's armour - movie posters of Haywood's films & confusing/indifferent ending. It's like FADE TO BLACK with great sub-Priest Metal Cheese from Surgical Steel!!!
Dressed to Kill (1980)
The Next Step Is Surgery...
Two things took centre-stage upon the initial release of DRESSED: 1/ the disturbing poster, featuring an anonymous figure (intentions unknown) about to enter a bathroom inhabited by a woman denoted by pair of shapely legs. & 2/ the film's supposed exploitative content, in particular, it's "treatment of women". Seen today, DRESSED is the kind of film recommended to those too timid for the downmarket excess of MANIAC or NEW YORK RIPPER; more stalk than slash. The film has often been compared to PSYCHO & unfortunately shares it's flaws - after a brilliant half-hour (or so) DRESSED becomes too mundane as it's focus shifts from the individual to the ensemble. The masterful gallery sequence is some of De Palma's best work as non-verbal cues, expectations & perceptions take on subtle shifts of tempo; the visual equivalent of a good piece of music. However, counter to this brilliance (and a great performance by the under-appreciated Angie Dickinson...) is The Parade Of Predictables: selfless sexworker with heart-of-gold, inventive revenge-driven teen, cynical disco cop - blah. Far more interesting are the various subtexts - camera vs. reality, mirror as transitional cue, appearance as deception, split-screen as mental division & the various social "masks" we ALL assume. Has the same glove/blade fetishism as most of it's "type" & the longest "shock ending" in film history - though one element - the perfect bodied nurse in expensive lingerie - is a bit of a give-away. Highlight: Nancy Allen's strangely arousing restaurant conversation. Well worth the effort.
6 donne per l'assassino (1964)
Faceless killer stalks fashion-house Euro-beauties in visually arresting Italian murder/mystery. Brutal scenes of terror lit up like a psychopath's Christmas tree. Bathroom demise a veritable work of sadomasochistic ART. An hysterical delight; a bloody confectionary - with spikes. Uncut Version a must...
666: Mo gui fu huo (1996)
Hyped as China's "answer" to Fincher's SEVEN; there's a scene where The Law run down a rain-soaked alley, a killer making use of a Biblical Motive and - well, that's about where the "connection" ends. Occult Scholar (??) seeks series of women with 6/6/69 birthdates in order to remove their hearts - any victim who survives the surgery, proves herself to be The Devil's Daughter. Usual HK buffet: martial arts (snore...), slapstick, noxious women, and, when all else fails, throw in some genital humour. It must be said, that zombie cops cut apart via chainsaw & a nailgun crucifixion are a tad more exciting than Paltrow's head in a box. Plus, a bonus "shock" ending. Basically, a feature length indictment of Chinese Law Enforcement. As one subtitled villain quips "Damn It! Go Eat S***!" Translation: rent a Cat III title instead.
Till Death Do Us Part (1982)
Series of ritualistic murders sparked by marital therapy session held by post-Freudian at house deep in woods. Primal scream session and death via symbolism provide scant thrills in talky, grainy, shot-on-video "intellectual" comedy/slasher.
Tennis With Bullets.
It's a pity that a cache-load of post-noir crime efforts set their sights no higher than claims of a tradition shared by RESERVOIR DOGS, PULP FICTION and whatever else oozed from the pen of Tarantino. Thankfully, FACADE is much better than all that. Opening Moments: young woman, seemingly with large bug up backside, attempts to react to a murder, followed by credit tune that sounds as if lifted from some long-dead '70s cop drama. The Plot?? Well, anything more complex than a group of teens gathered at Camp Crystal Lake has yours truly scratching head. What I can report is - torpedo breasts, a genuinely arousing sex scene (you'll know it when you see it...), anti-racist rant made inaudible via Boeing noise, poolside wake hosted by asylum escapee priest who performs '60s hippie anthem, sushi dropped on suited stiff in funeral parlour during inspired marital infidelity speech, playing tennis with bullets...in fact, a whole smorgasbord of nice little touches that show Colpaert really cares - awwwwwww. Best Line(s): Hitperson One: "What's That Smell?" Hitperson Two: "It's Us..." Nun's Armpit: 9/10.
Looks like some kind of unofficial sequel to HELLRAISER. It's head & other things above the Barker horror, but The Cube itself resembles a huge internalized Lament Configuration & the opening scene of (strangely dispassionate) gore is straight-up Bradley & Co. Greatest achievement is the film's ability to hold the interest via sparse location, ensemble cast and (gulp...) mathematics!! Without getting too "media literate", it seems The Cube is a metaphor for life itself. Interesting sideline debate about whether blaming misfortune on a conspiracy provides a comfort absent from a reality in which no Responsible Party is behind "it". CUBE may owe an art-direction debt to THX-1138 & thematically to NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. Despite widespread critical claims of template characterization, CUBE adds a (minor) degree of ambiguity separate from (for example) Romero's "statement" figures. Best Character? Worth, without a doubt...