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Amazing romantic horror tragedy
There are no vampires here, the synopsis given here is incorrect. What you get is a devastating film that details a love lost but never forgotten, and what happens when that lost love returns 10 years later resulting in murder, chaos and violence. Even more impressive, the film does not resort to nudity or gore to keep the viewer's attention. The cast is excellent, the script and story are fresh and inventive, and the direction hits all the right notes. Truly a one of a kind horror film, absolutely NOT for the slasher / torture porn crowd. The Magnetic video from 1980 contains the 85 min English dubbed version. The IMDb lists 100 min for the Spanish version, which is set for DVD release in June 2008. The dubbing is above average and nothing seems missing from the 85 min version, but I'm curious about the Spanish DVD when it comes out. This could be the ultimate art house horror!
Filmmakers shoot a porno to finance their Lenny Bruce biography
This early film from Fred Baker is fiction, but it plays like a documentary at times. Great NYC locations and atmosphere provides the backdrop, and the performances are very good. Joy Bang is a standout and she provides the film with it's emotional center. This was Bangs last East coast film before she went West to Hollywood. The plot concerns 2 filmmakers and their girlfriends, the guys decide to make a porno for some quick cash to finace their dream project about Lenny Bruce. This doesn't sit well with one of the girls, and as the project is put together and heads to the night of the shoot, tensions rise and relationships are stressed and strained. The movie climaxes with the porno shoot itself, where one girlfriend takes LSD and then takes part in the filming, while the other girlfriend ( Bang ) leaves, not sure if she wants to remain in her relationship anymore. While the film is low budget, it is very well made and a maintains a terrifc, authentic vibe throughout. Hard to see for years, the film is now available from the director himself at http://www.filmsbyfredbaker.com/ and is well worth a look, especially for fans of Joy Bang, who looks great and has a few nude scenes.
Man of Violence (1971)
Not bad early Pete walker caper
This was the final movie Walker made before moving into the horror field where he would make his name. The plot concerns rival gangs and a stash of gold being smuggled into the country. Several thieves have their plans to make the gold theirs, and much double crossing ensues. One crook, Moom, ends up in the middle of the rival groups and has plans to make off with the loot himself. Violence is not up to future Walker levels and is tame, but eye candy from Hammer girls Luan Peters and Virginia Wetherell helps pass the time with Luan revealing her ample charms a highlight. The ending hints at future Walker conclusions, bleak and downbeat.
Historia de una traición (1971)
Wonderful European Exploitation, above average sleaze
This is somewhat of a lost gem in the eurotrash world, made in 1971, it remained unreleased in the US until after the 1974's THE STING ( which is mentioned on the US poster art for THE GREAT SWINDLE ). This is not a giallo with violent murder set pieces, but instead a well acted mystery with an ever twisting plot that even saves a revelation for the final seconds. The cast is above average here with the gorgeous Mell and Koscina in a lesbian relationship and providing plenty of nudity. Stephen Boyd and Fernado Rey are solid and while Boyd's character is central, the film is mostly about Mell's tortured Carla and her love life with men and women. This is top notch eurotrash, with sleazy characters, murder and mystery. This is a movie where no one is who they seem and motivations are suspect and then surprisingly reversed. I had no idea what to expect going in and and was pleasantly surprised with THE GREAT SWINDLE. The English language widescreen VHS on review here comes from Greece, and has burnt in Greek subtitles. The print featured is in tatters, with splices and missing frames, heavy scratching and general massive damage. The credits are missing and dialog is obliterated throughout. Still, I enjoyed it and would love to see a better looking copy. With a cast like this surely it could be considered for DVD?
One of the better Spanish Giallos
JACK THE MANGLER ( 1971 ) starring Paul Naschy aka SEVEN CORPSES ( MURDERS ) FOR Scotland YARD This is a very hard to see film, but is worth the hunt for fans of Naschy and also giallo knock offs. It's a decent thriller with a mysterious Jack the Ripper wanna be who kills each victim with a distinctive blade, each from a different country. One by one, prostitutes are turning up dead and missing various body parts, a set of eyes here, a heart there. One of the early victims is Naschy's whore for hire wife, and he becomes a suspect in the early investigations, despite the fact that a younger, athletic man is the type sought, and Naschy has a gimpy leg from a high wire accident that ended his circus career. The local criminal element has it in for him as well, the murders bring the cops down on them and it's hurting business. The mystery of who the killer is and why he's so eager to carve up the local tarts is decent giallo fodder and satisfied me. Orchidea de Santis provides some hotness and Andres Resino ( the boyfriend in WEREWOLF SHADOW ) does OK as a friend of the cop running the investigation. The copy I watched is from VSoM and looks like a 3rd gen dub. It's in Italian with English subs that get the job done. Sadly, it's also the covered version of the film and not the nude version that was prepared for export. The film was dubbed into English had played the US in 1976, and this presumably was the uncovered variant, but it's whereabouts are unknown. A real shame as it's up there with a lot of the Italian giallos and without the nudity, it comes off as a bit tame considering it's subject matter. Here's hoping it turns up someday, it's on the list with a few others that really need their nude versions found so these films can be properly appreciated. The plot description that mentions Jack's a cannibal this time around is bogus BTW.
One of the better movies about the drug culture of the early 70's
It's a crying shame Warner's has never released this. I don't know if it's the subject matter or the classic packed soundtrack full of big acts that's preventing them from doing something with this one. The comment on the front page about the slugs seems to have been written by someone who has not seen the film. There is no Jimmy and NO SLUGS. What you do get is a very pro pot themed film about a guy who moves weed cross country for his dealer, seemingly just because he enjoys the thrill. Back in the early 70's you could get stuff in and out of airports without any effort too. The film does not advocate harder drugs though, and shows the pot dealer ( a terrific John Lithgow in his debut...with HAIR! ) and his friends to be the good guys, while the cops are corrupt and evil and the organized crime guys are flat out murderous. Fans of Barbara Hershey will not be let down either, she looks great and has nude scenes as the hippie girlfriend who gets mixed up in a deal gone bad.
Early obscure Israeli film with a very naked Melanie Griffith
This is a very hard film to find, but having seen it, I can understand why. It is rather difficult to say if it's any good or not. Melanie Griffith plays a mute character, who may or may not be an angel. The film does not make this point clear. The music is wildly off base most of the time, completely inappropriate to the on screen action. The acting seems decent, although the language is Hebrew and I was reading English subtitles, so that may have obscured the performances a bit. Also I am not Jewish, so it may be I missed some small meaning here and there as the story does deal with issues of faith. The plot concerns Abraham, who works a garden with his wife in the heart of Jerusalem. He uses sewer water to irrigate and the smell bothers people, and the land is so valuable, local builders want him to sell for a million and a half lira and move out. Abraham's son Issac want's his dad to sell too, as he will participate in the profits. This material is inter cut with Melanie Griffith wandering around the city, seemingly lost and speechless. She runs into 3 guys who follow her as they think they'll get sex from her, mostly because she won't say anything. She has a few run in's with them until they catch her in Abrahm's garden, where one of the males strips her naked. Abraham arrives and the boys flee, and the old man sees Melanie and believes her to be an angel. From this point on Mel romps around in the buff, which is certainly easy on the eyes, but the story kind of fizzles out and the wrap up had me scratching my head. Was Melanie's character real, imagined, an angel or a tourist with a mental disorder? I notice on her website, Melanie does not list this film. After spending 90 minutes in the garden, I think I may have an idea as to why she omits this one.
Hand of Death (1962)
A better print surfaces on AMC
AMC just ran HAND OF DEATH early Sunday morning at 5 am. The print was the same as what ran on Fox Movie Channel but with a major difference. The AMC print ( courtesy of Fox television ) was not a dark and muddy mess that obscured the monster make up. It was nice and bright with far better contrasts. So it was still a cruddy 16mm pan and scan print, but at least you could appreciate the effects and make up. If you are interested keep an eye on AMC as they are in the habit of running horror and sci-fi stuff late night on the weekends and this will undoubtedly get another broadcast over the coming months. As for the film itself, I'd agree with other comments that it is not a lost classic, but an entertaining way to pass 58 minutes if you are a fan of this genre. Fans of John Agar will certainly enjoy his performance, the guy played so many roles like this he could do them in his sleep ( and sometimes did ). Plus you get to see a young Eddie Munster almost menaced!
La furia del Hombre Lobo (1972)
Offbeat and very unusual werewolf film ( spoilers )
This movie catches a lot of flak, but this is usually based on the horrible looking and covered / clothed version of the film that played US television and has also been issued to death on VHS and DVD buy companies like Alpha, Unicorn, etc. This movie never had a theatrical release in the states, although it was picked up by Avco Embassy in 1973. In Spain at the time, when there was nudity involved, the filmmakers shot two versions, one with clothes and one with out. The fully uncut English dubbed export print was titled WEREWOLF NEVER SLEEPS and seems to have been released to home video only in Sweden back in the 80's. It can be found on Ebay and the likes and comes highly recommended. My guess is Avco cut the film down for a R rated release that never happened. In 1974 it was released by Avco to television titled FURY OF THE WOLFMAN and the clothed version was used for this TV print. Cut to 12 years later and FURY OF THE WOLFMAN pops up on home video on the Charter label. This version appears to be what Avco was going to release back in '73. It's the uncovered version, with some nudity that would never pass on TV or in a PG movie. There are several scenes on the Charter tape that play out with nudity that are clothed in the TV print ( the source for all those dollar Dud's and VHS editions ). But a comparison to the fully uncut WOLFMAN NEVER SLEEPS reveals that 2 scenes are cut on this version! ( spoilers in next paragraph ) The scene where Ilona has Waldermar chained to the wall and whips him after he transforms into the werewolf is incomplete. After whipping him into submission, she starts to remove her clothes and begins making love to the werewolf!!! The werewolf responds positively to these sexual shenanigans too. This scene certainly ranks as one of the most unusual in the history of horror films and is a delirious treat. It's not graphic but the implied bestiality was too much for US audiences, or more likely the MPAA. Ilona is desperately in love with Waldemar and could not possess him, hence her whole scheme to mind control Waldermar's wife and involve her in an affair. She wanted to wreck his marriage, and she accomplishes this while Waldemar is in Tibet. Unfortunately he returns a werewolf, but this does not slow her down a bit. If she can't physically have him as a man, she loves him enough to have sex with him as a werewolf. This also helps explain the later scene where the werewolf beds down with a woman he spots getting naked before bedtime while peeping through her window. This scene is presented sans nudity in the covered version and really makes no sense. In the uncut version, it would seem Ilona's affections have made the werewolf horny and in need of release, so he rapes the first woman he can after escaping. The other cut is a complete scene of Waldemar in bed with Karen and she is seen naked. A very similar bedroom scene was cut out of the US version of WEREWOLF SHADOW ( WEREWOLF VS THE VAMPIRE WOMAN ) as well. The film does have it's problems though, for certain. The director was drunk, the bad stand in for the werewolf at points, the atrocious English dubbing, the inclusion of sequences from the first Waldemar film MARK OF THE WOLFMAN aka FRANKENSTEIN'S BLOODY TERROR and the grotesque overuse of that film's music score throughout etc, but seen in it's original widescreen format and uncut ( ie: WEREWOLF NEVER SLEEPS ) it is one of the wildest and most outrageous of the Daninsky werewolf series, with a plot line unmatched in it's everything but the kitchen sink approach. The cut / clothed pan and scan full screen copies of this film do it no favors, and unfortunately that's the version almost everyone commenting on the film have seen. The film carries a 1970 copyright, and I'd bet the 1972 release date on the IMDb is incorrect. The film precedes WEREWOLF SHADOW ( aka WEREWOLF VS THE VAMPIRE WOMAN ) in the series and was certainly released before WEREWOLF SHADOW. The ending of WEREWOLF NEVER SLEEPS / FURY OF THE WOLFMAN dovetails directly into the opening of WEREWOLF SHADOW, offering concrete evidence of this. Sadly a complete version of this may never get a decent release. A perfect release would be the uncut English version but in Spanish with English subtitles. The English dubbing severely hurts the movie. But any Spanish language version would reflect the covered version as shown in Spain during the Franco era, where nudity was verboten.