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christopher-underwood

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1083 reviews in total 
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Great title for a film, 15 April 2014
4/10

Great title for a film, but just not this one. Over ambitious project inevitably leading to it becoming pretentious, silly and unforgivably, dull. It starts promisingly enough with a disparate group of dignitaries all masked at sat about a banqueting table as pretty girls in diaphanous gowns prepare to submit to their every whim in the name of the Marquis de Sade. Some of us will wish the film continued in this vein instead of lurching into post apocalyptic Twilight Zone territory, with blindness, zombieness and the threat of radiation and the end of the world. Paul Naschy is fine but looks a little more awkward than usual. I find he is usually better when working for himself.

Dark Bar (1988)
Much of this is very stylish, 15 April 2014
5/10

Much of this is very stylish and well done but equally, maybe more than that is not so stylish or well done. Great start with every chance this is going to turn out to be a stunning giallo. Unfortunately for the film and our viewing pleasure, the lovely Barbara Cupisti doesn't last too long and from her demise on the film falters. There are good scenes but there are so many really silly to bad sequences of people chasing each other and having weak fist fights. Wherever this was set must have had the plague at the time for all the streets and buildings seem deserted, but for our characters chasing each other again and again. One giant plus is that for an 80s film the music is surprisingly good. Instead of the usual, way over the top, anthem like shrieking this has a decent jazzy score. Even so nothing can save this very mixed bag.

Not a pleasant watch, 15 April 2014
8/10

Nasty, gripping, home invasion flick, directed by Peter Collinson who was always able to tell a tight, no nonsense tale. Known, I suppose for The Italian Job, although I prefer his, Straight On Till Morning, he had a background in TV and broke out with this film. Its a bit stylised with Pinteresque dialogue that seems to get in the way of the action at first. Gradually though these oafish clowns become far too sinister to dismiss and this really doesn't let up till the end, which isn't the end because we still have Martine Beswick to look forward to. Suzy Kendall had a mixed career, including several giallo, notably Bird With the Crystal Plumage and was apparently a 'guest screamer' in the recent, Berberian Sound Studio. Here she is majestic. It cannot have been an easy role but she does everything right as she veers from fear to seduction and rape aftermath. She looks fantastic throughout but even she is outshone when Beswick finally appears. An interesting actress, always referred to as 'the Bond girl' for her roles in From Russia With Love and Thunderball but I always think of her for Dr, Jekyll & Sister Hyde, Prehistoric Women and A Bullet For The General. Always good and in The Penthouse, she is at her very best. Not a pleasant watch and nobody comes out of this well but one of a kind and two great female performances.

Blow Job (1980)
the 'reality' of witchcraft, 11 April 2014
6/10

This bizarre film from Alberto Cavallone is from 1980 and that is after both Blue Movie (similarly misleadingly titled) and Man, Woman and Beast (aka: Spell) the only other films of his I have seen. All are interesting with graphic scenes and an emphasis on the animal side of man's nature or as more particularly here, the 'reality' of witchcraft. As with the other two films there is not too much emphasis on a linear narrative flow and more consideration given to a sensory involvement on an almost instinctive level. This would have been more irresistible had not the monetary restraints been so obvious (apparently a producer killed himself during the making of this, which is ironic considering the content). There are impressive scenes and one with naked girls, suited men and flaming torches that becomes balletic did remind of Eyes Wide Shut. Anna Massarelli is the young female lead here and she gives it her all despite the budget clearly not running to let her have any clothing for most of the film. For some reason I note this is the only film she ever made, hope that isn't for some unearthly reason because she does very well and helps to hold this together.

Blue Movie (1978)
we are disorientated from the start, 11 April 2014
7/10

As difficult to review as it is to view this is one hell of a bizarre movie. Not to be confused with the Warhol movie, this is from Alberto Cavallone and is probably aiming at the same sort of sub art house audience, or as it was in the late 70s. Extreme and confusing, this begins with happy hippy outdoor romance which rapidly becomes a prolonged rape sequence but all shot in such a way as we are disorientated from the start. This dream/nightmare pattern continues as first this first victim then another are sort of taken in by a photographer, of sorts. he has once taken photos of war torn events and seems to have become traumatised by these images which we see in occasional montage in much degraded quality. In a similar way he 'looks after' the women and seeks to similarly degrade them while he skips about taking crazy photos of bent up soft drink cans. When vomit and excrement join the menu we gather things will not end too well.

Stunning beginning, 10 April 2014
6/10

I watched this a couple of days ago and didn't quite know what to make of it. I still don't really. Stunning beginning as we find the 'Dead Girl', or at least someone that lives nearby does. And she has a terrible mother. Then as the film progresses we meet others affected by the death of the girl, until in the end we see the final day of the girl herself. So this is not a film of an incident seen differently by different people but, more simply a film made up of several short films, if you like, all dealing with one of the pertinent characters. A woman director has taken full on the contradictions and difficulties in being a mother, a daughter, a sister and a wife. It is meticulously done but I wasn't always convinced. I can tell this was meant well but did I really believe in the serial killer and his wife? The girl herself and her mother? Central problem , I think is because we do not see these people interacting we remain a little in the dark. I know its old fashioned but if this has had a more linear construction it might have been easier to connect and believe in these people for as it was there was a certain dislocation, a coolness and a separateness that allowed us the viewer off the hook. I had no feeling that the separate sequences added together to make anything more than the parts and I think they should have.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
the majestic Barbara Bouchet, 7 April 2014
7/10

From the way this film started and from its title, I felt maybe we were in giallo territory but as this develops it becomes a much more routine thriller. Albeit and interesting, involving and largely successful one complete with suspenseful ending (just a little over done as we count the minutes to midnight!) and gas chamber scene. Set in Albuquerque, New Mexico, we see various real locations so this may have been real too, it certainly looked it. Adriano Bolzoni is not very convincing as the harried reporter running round trying to sort things out but I guess he looks good. As, of course does the majestic Barbara Bouchet, who acts her socks off (and everything else) and makes the very most of a modest part. I suppose the storyline is a bit weak and there aren't too many thrills and spills but it kept me happy. Partly, I think, because the supporting cast are good and varied, there is some humour, the thing keeps moving forward, it is well shot and it is also much helped by a jaunty soundtrack.

Killer Joe (2011)
sensationally good start, 7 April 2014
7/10

I don't know why I didn't enjoy this more than I did. It seems to have all the right ingredients for a down and dirty post noir with fine performances all round and Friedkin's steady directorial hand. Actually for the most part I was engaged, even if the central premise regarding the life insurance is a little corny and the family just a little too cliché trailer trash. It is tough and it is amusing but as things proceed and begin to get a little silly it is the central performance of Matthew McConaughey, cooling pulling on and off his black leather gloves and giving his stare, that holds this together and hold you in its grip. Towards the end, things change and I can only assume this is the 'fault' of the original stage play, where the high drama might have worked better, within the film it jars and spoils the torrid but believable situation that has developed. There is little development of the characters, which is fine, but when we are asked to suddenly see things so differently, as here at the end, that lack of feeling for the characters matters a lot. So the inconclusive end is a bit of a mess, not to mention the chicken scene and in my view tends to spoil what had been a sensationally good start.

US TV movie but a pretty tough one, 4 April 2014
6/10

US TV movie but a pretty tough one from Paul Wedkos, who worked almost exclusively in such movies though he did make the interesting but much maligned, The Mephisto Waltz ten years before this. Leading lady, or lady who is lead on a lead for most of the movie, is Blanche Baker, who I was not aware of but who does very well here and is still working today. Big bad boy here is played very effectively by Cliff De Young and he is most convincing. Unfortunately this is very predictable at first and soon becomes annoying as the innocent couple go out of their way to prepare for disaster. Things change however, and we subsequently get, the best presentation of the 'Stockholm Syndrome' outside of the Patty Hearst. Even so the lighting is uninspired, the camera work dull and the dialogue struggling to stay this side of believable. We could have just done with a couple of sharp shocks or spine tingling moments to enliven this well meaning attempt to do something a little different.

Negresco (1968)
not really any sex but it certainly has that WTF? quality, 3 April 2014
4/10

This is one strange movie. German director, Klaus Lemke is at the helm for only his second film and though he went on to make more than forty, I don't seem to know of any of them. Italian actress, Ira von Furstenberg will be recognised (and enjoyed) from 5 Dolls For An August Moon and The Fifth Cord among many others and male lead Gerard Blain is best known for The American Friend. There are many odd things about this movie, the lack of sex scenes and any real action are two but this thing starts so well in full psychedelic mode and doesn't really let up and it seems best to just enjoy the strangeness, the great visuals and the super soundtrack. Acid is not directly referred to though we see cannabis and as I say not really any sex but it certainly has that WTF? quality and I'm certainly classifying it with my, Acid Erotica sub section.


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