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Politically-correct weenies need not watch...
This is a brilliant, violent medieval film by Verhoeven. It's not as classy as John Boorman's Excalibur (1981) but I consider it a keeper that I will add to my DVD collection. It's also one of Rutger Hauer's best, before he sunk into mediocrity. The new widescreen, anamorphic MGM DVD released in 2004 is a stunner!! It's so much better than that washed-out, old Orion VHS tape that was on the shelves of your typical rental store back in the 90s. The Spanish countryside looks awesome, the colors are vivid and there's no print damage that I can see, anywhere in the film. The surround sound is also pretty good for a movie of it's time, and there's no stupid CGI anywhere in the film. Great story. I highly recommend FLESH + BLOOD! 8 out of 10
Good Lenzi does Argento gialli
(aka: SEVEN BLOOD STAINED ORCHIDS)
The half-moon killer is on a mission to kill the seven women who attended a seaside resort the night his brother was killed in an automobile accident with one of the women. He doesn't know which one (and doesn't really care) so all seven have to be murdered in serial killer-like fashion, including Gulia (Uschi Glas) who owned the hotel at the time.
She and her husband Mario (Antonio Sabato) then spend the next 90 minutes sleuthing the killer out after he attempts to kill Gulia on a train. The gore is restrained except for one murder where the killer uses an electric drill to dispatch his victim.
Lenzi did a pretty good job with this Edgar Wallace murder mystery and you never know what's going to happen next or what Mario and Gulia turn up as the clues mount. And the killer's identity is a surprise which makes it effective without giving away any clues before hand until it needs to be given away.
The Shreik/Media Blasters anamorphic DVD is excellent with nice widescreen colors and no damage to the film elements they used. Sound is dubbed in English although the original Italian with English subtitles would've be nice.
Extras include a brief poster gallery and interviews with Lenzi and Gabriella Giorgelli, who played the first victim, a hooker who is slashed to death at the beginning of the film. Giorgelli has aged quite a bit since the film's release in 1971. I didn't even recognize her.
If you're into giallo like I am, then this is a welcome addition to your collection. Fully recommended.
7 out of 10
Sette scialli di seta gialla (1972)
OK "Blood And Black Lace" clone
(aka: THE CRIMES OF THE BLACK CAT)
Filmed in Denmark with a largely Italian cast in a setting away from the usual Italian locations for this genre. So forget that these people are Danes speaking Italian. You can't be too specific with a film like this.
OK so you've seen this before and if you've seen BLOOD AND BLACK LACE, then you'll know how it turns out. Even so, this really isn't bad watching and the story is constructed well despite a couple of suspense contrivances for the audience like footsteps approaching a door, expecting the viewer to believe it's the killer when it turns out to be the hotel bellboy delivering breakfast.
Blind composer Peter Oliver (spaghetti western star, Anthony Steffen) helps sleuth the murders of fashion models in swanky Copenhagen after his close friend Paola is murdered. He suspects something is wrong when he overhears a conversation about a crime in a restaurant while waiting for Paola to show up. She never does. It turns out Paola is blackmailing Victor (Giacomo Rossi-Stuart), threatening to expose some incriminating photographs to his wife (Sylvia Koscina).
Of course when it comes to this genre, the murders can't always be done in a straightforward way and one particular device is using a black cat who's hands are dipped in curare, scratching the victims and causing them to have heart attacks. Strange, yes, but that's typical of the genre so one has to suspend disbelief if you want to watch films like this.
I won't reveal who the name of the killer is. You'll have to see that for yourself, but I will say that it ends in one of those typical freeze-frame endings that were popular in the 1970s.
The DVD by Degored is of poor quality, taken from videotape source with dropouts appearing occasionally and muffled sound, although the subtitles in English look pretty accurate.
There are worse out there.
5 out of 10
The Crazies (1973)
Better than a lot of other low budget horror for it's time, but NO zombies
A plane crashes near Pittsburgh carrying a bacteriological weapon called "Trixie". It gets into a nearby town's water supply causing it's citizen to go crazy, some of them homicidal maniacs. Some of the town's residents try to escape through a cordon around the town set up by the Army and shooting between the residents and soldiers (who go around wearing white contamination suits) and blood spurts ensue. That pretty much sums up the plot.
There's really no gore in this Romero film, but we do see plenty of gun battles that look cheap and amateurish. The only memorable character is Dr. Watts, played by Richard France, who's overacting is so bad that I actually liked his time on the screen. You can see he's trying real hard.
The Blue Underground anamorphic DVD looks nice and it contains a short interview with co-star Lynn Lowry who explains some of her experiences on the film as well as her failed film career. Also a decent commentary track by George Romero who wishes he could have done more with it if he had a bigger budget.
As long as one doesn't compare it to Romero's other films like the DEAD trilogy or MARTIN (1977), then it's better than most 70s low budget efforts in that cheap, charming way. I think it's worth a look.
6 out of 10
Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)
Will appeal to teenage dumb asses
This is the kind of movie that will appeal to 15 year olds addicted to video games and suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder. Any extended dialog beyond 30 seconds would lose them in confusion and slow the pace of the film down. Doh...
Jeez, this is even worse than the first one (which I thought had some potential had they not held back on the gore) with lousy CGI, bad dialog and hokey action sequences. In fact, what little dialog there is, is held to tired, smart-alecky remarks and the standard clichés that we've heard ka-zillion times before. Same old, same old.... (yawn....)
All the characters in the film are clichés themselves with the men acting either evil or irrelevant (and not terribly smart) while the action babes hold the show in an effort to get the horny teenage males juices going.
It's all part of that bogus "let's empower women" act that Hollywood's been hooked on the last few years, only they don't have Michelle Rodriguez in there to make it look convincing. She's one of the few out there who can carry off that kind of thing and make the action babe look entertaining, as far as I'm concerned. Too bad she was killed off in the first film.
There's nothing new about this. It's not even a particularly interesting story this time around, but with today's wigger generation, is there anything out there that is?
Lowest rating. If I could give it a zero, I would.
1 out of 10
The Legend of Hell House (1973)
Before POLTERGEIST, there was...
This film did pretty good box office back in '73, but it might be a little too slow for today's ADD crowd that can't sit still beyond five minutes unless bodies are spurting blood and MTV-like camera-work is dancing all over the place. Everything nowadays has to be instantaneous so 'we' throw out things little things like plot & character development and a gradual suspense buildup. This movie is full of things like that which makes it a classic in my book.
Rich multi-millionaire Rudolph Deutsch (Roland Culver) hires Lionel Barrett and his wife (Clive Revill & Gayle Hunnicutt) to investigate the hauntings that are taking place at the notorious Belasco manor. It seems plenty of atrocities took place in the mansion some 50 years previously by Emeric Belasco and their spirits are not at peace. Barrett takes along Benjamin Fisher (Roddy McDowell) and Florence Tanner (Pamela Franklin) as mediums to flesh out the spirits and find out how to dispel them from the property.
What THE HAUNTING was for the 60s, and POLTERGEIST was for the 80s, THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE is what I consider one of the definitive ghost stories (it ties with THE CHANGELING) of the 1970s. If you like a good story on top of some shocks that come from out of nowhere, then I would suggest you check this one out.
The Fox DVD looks good for a film of this age in widescreen anamorphic vivid color. The black levels look clean and there's no digital artifacts to be found. The DVD has no extras beyond a scratchy looking trailer and some previews for other Fox DVD releases.
Even so, it sends chills up my spine and the ending is a kicker. Recommended!
8 out of 10
The Sentinel (1977)
One of the best portals into hell
Man, I really love the new DVD that Universal put out. I've never seen THE SENTINEL look this good since I had to put up with crappy, grainy VHS tapes for years. Unfortunately there are no extras beyond a trailer that looks pretty worse for wear. And AVOID the Goodtimes DVD at all costs. It sucks.
Anyway, troubled fashion model Alison Parker (Cristina Raines) moves into haunted NYC brownstone, only it's more than just haunted. It's also a portal to hell and the Vatican keeps an old blind priest (John Carradine) to keep watch over it and make sure the devils and arch-angels don't escape.
This has an all star cast full of old-timey actors like Ava Gardner, Arthur Kennedy, Jose Ferrer etc... as well as cameos of upcoming 80s stars including Christopher Walken, Jeff Goldblum (who's voice was mysteriously overdubbed) and Tom Berenger. And you won't even recognize Jerry Orbach from LAW & ORDER. I had to do a double-take when I didn't quite place where I'd seen him before.
Nice gore scenes of Alison slicing the eye and nose off her dead father's rotting corpse that's been possessed by the devil. And there's a neat ending where disfigured, deformed people try to haunt Alison into committing suicide so she won't be the next one to guard the portal. It seems Alison's troubled past makes her a prime candidate by the Vatican to become the next sentinel.
An excellent, creepy 70s classic from director Michael Winner that shouldn't be missed. I also recommended it for those who want something a little more imaginative beyond the usual stupid teenager slashers and horror comedy.
7 out of 10
The Legacy (1978)
Katherine & Sam go to the devil
Another of Universal's recent 70s DVD horror releases, this one's about a woman (Katherine Ross) who goes to England with her cynical boyfriend (Sam Elliott) to take on an interior decorating assignment. On a motorcycle ride out in the countryside, they're 'accidentally' run off the road by Jason Mountolive and are invited to stay at his castle while repairs are done to their motorbike.
Once they get there, they encounter other strange guests including Roger Daltrey as a rock star and a creepy German industrialist (played by Charles Gray). Daltrey later dies from choking on a chicken bone while Gray dies after being burned by a fire. His pile of burnt remains are then scooped up by one of the house staff and fed to the dogs. Cool.
As the rest of the other guest die off through horrible ends designed to look like accidents, it slowly dawns on Ross that she is the chosen one to inherit the not-so-normal Mountolive's legacy.
I thought this one was entertaining with an intriguing plot that had me wondering what was going to happen next. Lots of excellent overhead shots and crane work add to the beautiful view of the castle where they filmed it.
More good English locations also add to the atmosphere.
If your not too demanding about horror films from the 70s, then you might like this one. I thought it was entertaining enough.
7 out of 10
Devil Doll (1964)
Possessed devil doll makes a nice little drive-in feature
I actually liked this b/w low budgeter that made the rounds at the drive-ins back in the early-60s. It deserves better than the MST3K treatment since the acting isn't bad at all.
The Great Vorelli (Bryant Haliday) knows the art of transferring souls into inanimate objects, in the case a ventriloquist's dummy Vorelli uses in his stage act. He runs into rich, beautiful Marianne Horn (Yvonne Romain) and seeks to hypnotize her into marrying her and gain her inheritance. William Sylvester plays the reporter (and boyfriend) of Romain who's investigating Vorelli.
The ending fight scene between the dummy and Vorelli is unintentionally hilarious so I can see why MST3K picked it for an episode, but the rest of the film isn't played for laughs. Nice little twist when Sylvester walks in at the end of the fight.
The widescreen anamorphic Image DVD has both the Euro print with topless scenes, as well as the censored U.S. version. The poster named "35541m" has a pretty good rundown over the differences between the two written below. However, I should add that the Euro print is sharper and in slightly better shape than the U.S. print.
6 out of 10
XXX sex + zombies = boring flop
(aka: EROTIC NIGHTS OF THE LIVING DEAD)
Just saw the un-cut, newly-remastered Shriek/Media Blasters DVD of this and I must say, I was bored by the whole thing. However, 'everybody else' must have liked it because the cast stuck around for D'Amato's next Caribbean offering, PORNO HOLOCAUST (1981)
OK, I admit I was turned on by the hardcore threesome between Manlio Cersosimo and the two Dominican whores he had up in his room, but the rest of the film was totally un-interesting, horror-wise or sex-wise. Gemser should have continued played Emmanuelle and I'm surprised she didn't here. Especially for a Joe D'Amato movie.
There's surprisingly little gore for a film of this scope, and the zombie plot looks like it was thrown in there as a pretext for the soft-core lesbian scenes between Gemser and Funari. There's also soft core sex scenes between Eastman and Gemser and between Cersosimo and Funari as well as the previously mentioned hard-core sex scene.
Plot concerns George Eastman taking Manlio Cersosimo and his girlfriend (Dirce Funari) to an island so he can scout locations for a new hotel resort. A female spirit (Laura Gemser) and an old man conjure up the dead buried on the island to go after these three and stop any development from taking place.
Some of the zombies get impaled on sticks by Eastman and some brown & green stuff (blood?) comes flowing out, and there's a couple of zombies who get torched, but that's pretty much all the action. Eastman and Funari wind up in a 'mental institution' after all this.
Shriek/Media Blasters did their usual, impeccable wide-screen treatment of this DVD, far more than the actual film deserves. Not much in the line of extras, though. There's also a half-way decent electronic score by Marcello Giombini.
Mostly deserves a yawn...
3 out of 10