Reviews

109 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
Murder Elite (1985)
7/10
More tea & biscuits than Troma & Jack Daniels!
1 March 2014
'Murder Elite' is somewhat of a curio piece; a British pseudo-slasher set in the bucolic countryside, that feels more like a particularly sedentary episode of 'Bergerac' than a lurid 80's horror. Thus far it sounds as if I am being condescending, but I'm merely try to place this rather obscure title in a truer perspective; while it concerns the murderous machinations of a provincial serial killer, 'Man Bites Dog' it 'aint!

All that said, and with its palpable lack of sanguinary violence, I really enjoyed it; and while it is definitely more tea & biscuits, than Troma & Jack Daniels; the fact that 'Murder Elite' takes a rather sedate, bucolic approach, which ultimately endeared the film to me greatly; and this was largely down to the largely excellent cast: Billie Whitelaw and Hywel Bennett were tremendous in the roles, and it was a joy to see Garfield 'The Sweeney' Morgan reprise his role of Detective Chief inspector Haskins (sort of!) and while he didn't get to do more than sneer, and regard everyone's paltry alibi with scorn; as expected, he did this with aplomb! This stoic fellow was born to play a TV copper, such verisimilitude, such perfect pitch of derision was never quite so pronounced in any other thespian. Again, this is a largely esoteric reason to enjoy a film, but there it is!

The one major suspension of disbelief has always been that Ali MacGraw was in any way,shape,or form a competent actor: she wasn't; and the energy expenditure it required to accept that she was Billie Whitelaw's sister took infinitely more creativity than N. J Crisp displayed in his somewhat piecemeal script. Watching Steve McQueen's main squeeze stumble-bum through her performance as a libidinous strumpet, was, in its own way hugely amusing. The weary plot would suit the yellowed pages of a pre-30's pulp pot boiler, and, along with MacGraw is definitely the last chicken in the shop; but the true gold is the woefully grandiose score by Hammer legend James Bernard; his heady, Gothic bombast raises this anodyne effort to that of magnificent folly with his HUGE overbearing score; let me just say this is no fault of his; he remains one of the all time greats; but this slender tale couldn't hold the cumbersome weight of his muscular score: a bit like slathering the most grandiose John Williams effort over a scratchy Doris Wishman effort: thereby creating a gravitas overload which soon escalates to unbound jocularity. If Christopher lee were creeping, swivel-eyed through the misty gloaming; repeatedly tearing nubile throats asunder, THIS would be a stupendously exhilarating score: Hywel Bennett repeatedly mucking out the stable is, frankly, too prosaic a visual, and requires considerably less orchestration, if any, really.

The film is absurd, hysterical, and rather pedestrian, and, still, I found much to enjoy here: I definitely prefer the European title of 'Elia Mordercow' to 'Murder Elite': 'Murder Elite'? Why? Because it's a far better moniker than 'bloodless killings on a somnolent, near- bankrupt farm'

Just remember to crank up the giddy James Bernard score! 'Elia Mordercow' will probably have its greatest appeal to Hywel Bennett fans, or those singular individuals who can glean inordinate amounts of pleasure from the kind of ragged, celluloid nonsense most sensible folk would cast violently from the village with bilious hue & cry, and raised, angered pitchfork.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
La puritana (1989)
8/10
All that doesn't glitter, might yet be gold!
22 February 2014
After many long, soul-withering years of trawling through the brackish, celluloid murk of Italian exploitation effluvium; one gets used to throwing much that is entirely indigestible back into the greasy void of cinematic spume; but, on those gloriously rare, and wholly exhilarating occasions, something quite unexpected glitters enticingly within the tawdry, oleaginous miasma of tepid euro-schlock.

All that doesn't glitter, might yet be gold; this little-appreciated maxim is given considerable verisimilitude by 'La Puritan's' generic, Joe D'Amato artwork: while its moribund vista of poodle-haired, pneumatic broad, and an oily, lascivious-looking cat in pensive pre- canoodle might initially appear about as enticing as Polish cuisine; beneath this prosaic veneer is a muscular, lurid masterpiece of palpating, gratuitous nudity; replete with merciless revenge; and a kaleidoscope of non-stop, soft-core ruttage; whereby all those craven, voyeuristic souls can enjoy the myriad charms of Margit Evelyn Newton; who zealously dispenses an especially carnal mode of retribution that invalidates the puritanical coda of less is more: no it isn't! More of Margit Evelyn Newton's deliciously pulchritudinous flesh is ALWAYS the best option. (fortunately the arch reprobate director, Grassia realizes that one should always butter one's movie muffin, breast side up) #Excuse the bungled mixed metaphor, but the delightful Ms. Newton's libidinous physiognomy has played havoc with my reeling noggin!#

It would be remiss of me to give away the plot, or any of the wondrous set pieces away, so I wont. Life is paltry enough without some callous internet scrivener dampening the possibility of someone enjoying myriads of mondo marvels that lurk betwixt the mountainous peaks of Margie newton's fecund flesh. I literally had no idea what to expect with 'La Puritana' which heightened the exponential excitement Nini Grassi's grease-palmed Giallo afforded me!

This glorious film suffers not by the wondrous inclusion of exploitation legends Gabriele Tinti, and the perma-smarmy Helmut Berger; both of whom deliver suitably scurrilous performances; twin burning sons of macho sleaze, desperately out-sleazing each other in this towering trash-babel of tantalizing teats; an ultra-prurient; giddy-glorious, grungy Giallo; and all of which, is, of course, entirely indefensible to those with an modicum of decency. Fortunately 25 years of incremental cinematic debasement has eroded all vestiges of good taste from my amoral palate!
6 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
Groovy, krimi-style Giallo with a suitably absurd premise!
22 February 2014
The undeniably groovy 'Las Trompetas Del Apocalipsis (1969) (aka) Murder by Music is somewhat of a curate's egg; as with most gialli it is positively agog with laboured McGuffins, and is, again, festooned with an atypically absurd premise; in this case the fug-headed scribe suggests that a certain piece of esoteric music is able to engender such a profoundly distressing malaise in the listener, that the desperate individual must immediately hurl himself bodily from the nearest window after listening to it. (this is clearly a prototype for Katy Perry's indigestible, saccharine horrors!) It must be noted that all said victims are fortuitously close to a high enough window that would cause a permanent case of death, should one take the final plunge,as it were. Much of the film has a gloomy, almost Edgar Wallace- style view of London: dingy backstreet's; even dingier bars enlivened with funky, ass-swinging psychedelic pop, and primordial-looking opium den lend the film a wildly expressionistic feel, which captures the tale end of the sixties as a beatnik apocalypse!

The welcome groove is supplied in mammoth doses by Gianni Ferrio's sublime score, a personal fave of mine, and he certainly doesn't disappoint with his wall-to-wall psyche-hippie-funk.

For those more jaded gialli fans who require their sleazy celluloid entertainments to include a plethora's of squeaky, be-gloved, ice-cool razor slashing into hot nubile flesh will be wholly disappointed, as this seems to be more of an anti-drugs polemic than a slinky extravaganza of high-octane misogyny.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
Absurd hoodoo-voodoo on Bali!
18 February 2014
Ugo Liberatore has fashioned a rather unusual confection in Bali. Part- murder mystery; part-existential melodrama; part-metaphysical erotika; part-exotic travelogue; that ultimately cannot help be be somewhat less than its rather exploitative parts. There is a bloody, giallo-esque murder at the beginning which engenders a rather clunky conceit of the ostensible wife-slayer, Umberto Orsini, relaying the heady Bali-bound tale of marital infidelity, Balinese hoodoo-voodoo; and the great, existential woes of the preternaturally sulky, blonde bombshell, John Steiner; who, unsatisfied with his two slinky, Asian honey-pot wives, finds the satiety he desires among the considerable, sun-warmed bosom of Orsini's voluptuous wife; played in rather somnambulist fashion by the super-sexy Antonelli; who does little more here than brood, and look inordinately delicious in her snug black bikini; which, as you might well imagine, is more than adequate compensation for her minuscule character development, and vapid stare. Again, highlighting the sterling plot; or lack thereof; or mentioning the spurious motivation of the comic book characters does the film no good deed at all: it is better to immerse the noggin with suitably robust libations, and then glory at this sunny bounty of giddy nonsense.

The story is hysterical, and palpably absurd, and can only be enjoyed if taken with an enormous pinch of hallucinogenics; but, miraculously, all the film's myriad faults do finally coalesce into a remarkably entertaining yarn; this is because A) it is all wholly, and unrelentingly absurd and B) The location and photography of the impossibly beautiful island paradise of Bali is truly sensational; and C) (a jolly good C it is too!) Giorgio Gaslini's score is lushness personified; slathering unctuously over the steamy proceedings like a sublime application of warm, slippery coconut oil, across the magnificently burnished busts of Laura Antonelli.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Violent Rape (1973)
8/10
Sleazy, oily pulchritude doesn't come much better than 'Island of Sin
17 February 2014
Island of Sin is a quite, special special. Now, that would be special in the sense of the film being both spectacularly goofy and wildly unsavoury in equal doses. This ignoble work is the absolute quintessence of true- blue Grindhouse madness; as the 'film' is little more than a palsied celluloid skeleton to hang on a veritable cornucopia of egregious acting; delightful amounts of gratuitous nudity; arbitrary acts of violence, and some monumentally poor attempts at disco dancing. (all the young people here are blessed with all the grace and physical coordination of an arthritic chicken recently shorn of its head) Any two of the latter ingredients is usually enough to keep someone like me watching with full-beam eyes, but having all this sleazoid bounty in one wholly insalubrious film is almost too good to be true! Sleazy, oily pulchritude doesn't come much better than 'Island of Sin'.

The perfunctory plot is yet another popular riff on the drive-in standard of: oily nut-balls who invade a bourgeois home, and proceed to wreak a fleshy tumult of grimy nastiness, and, frankly, this is achieved with aplomb via the preternaturally lurid film-making vernacular of Kostas Doukas. The dialogue and performances are uniformly atrocious, merely adding to the hysterical tone of this, quite literally insensible work of sun-bleached depravity. Life is simply too short NOT to experience the cinematic wonderment of 'Island of Sin'.
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
the appealing triumvirate of Merli, Milian and Saxon deliver euro crme gold!
24 January 2014
Gonzoid Euro-crime with the appealing triumvirate of Merli, Milian and Saxon; with so much scene chewing testosterone on display it's a blessed wonder that any celluloid remained for the final print. Saxon plays the boorish crim, Frank Di Maggio with charismatic muscularity, and there really can be only one avenging, fists first, thug-baiting copper up to the task of carving a crimson swathe of justice through the iniquitous backstreets of Rome, and that man is the icon of hep-cat poliziotto cool; an uber geezer with a mustache fashioned out of living granite; ladies and germs…give it up for, Maurizio Merli, the protean arch nemesis to douchebags, young and old, large, or small, bearded, or shaved. You cross that line on Merli's watch and you go home in a blood spattered, zip lock tuxedo! The swarthy, and perpetually balding, Saxon bites off more than he can chew, and ends up choking on a fist-sized, broken-jawed mound of Maurizio Merli! 'The cynic, the rat & the fist' isn't the greatest Merli/Lenzi pairing, but it's damn close, cupcake! And that means one thing…GOOD TIMES!
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
Methinks it it time for a Leroy retrospective!
24 January 2014
'La mano Spietata della legge' (1973) is sadly a little-known and poorly documented euro-crime that merits re-discovery. That said, any high- octane Italian actioner from the early 70's swollen with a typically phat-sounding, grooved-out score from Stelvio Cipriani, and festooned with an especially muscular performance from Philippe Leroy is going to be anything but a time waster. In addition this zesty euro-crime effort also features tyro screen-gobbler Klaus Kinski who, surprisingly, turns in a somewhat restrained performance here as a blow torch-wielding hit-man; nevertheless still cutting a dashing, violent swathe through the proceedings in his hep-cat sunspex.

It might well have been this film that got me to re-view many other titles starring that most swarthy of enigmatic actors, Philippe Leroy...Methinks it it time for a Leroy retrospective!
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Camorra (1972)
7/10
Robust entry in the violent euro-crime cannon
24 January 2014
For some inexplicable reason 'Gang War in Naples' (aka) Camorra remains an obscure cinematic prospect; and while the gifted director Pasquale Squitieri has fortified this undeniably robust mafiosi actioner with many zesty set pieces, it is, sadly, one of myriad unseen Italian Euro Crime efforts of th 1970's; which is a great shame, since the nifty, two-fisted charms of 'Camorra' are undiluted.

Admittedly the ubiquitous 'thug rising up the ranks of the cosa nostra' theme is a little uninspired; but the hackneyed narrative is emboldened considerably by the welcome inclusion of that most magnetic and handsome of Italian leading men, Fabio Testi; who plays the scheming and violent hoodlum, Tonino Rosso with great elan; thus far, I have yet to see a lackluster performance from this swarthy-eyed devil! 'Gang War in Naples' (aka) Camorra is an unashamed crowd-pleaser; with its success as solid late night entertainment due in no small part to the luminous charisma of Testi, and Pasquale injects much rigor in what is ostensibly a tired premise. Good stuff! And mine's a J&B rocks!
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
deserves much more recognition outside of the murky, cloistered world of the euro-crime cognoscenti
24 January 2014
Extremely stylish Italian crime outing from the grand magus of 70's euro-crime, Fernando Di Leo; sporting a great cast; a twisting plot, break-neck pacing, and an excess of cinematic flair, this cracking thriller really is as essential as 'Milano Calibro No 9' or 'Manhunt'. When two-bit con-man Nick Hezard (Luc Merenda) gets picked by a mob boss (Lee J. Cobb) to be the fall-guy for his insurance scam, he gets a bit more than he bargained for. Nick decides to do that one big scam that will set him up for life and get revenge at the same time by setting up an elaborate plot to not only swindle the Mobster for a ton of cash but smear his name and force him to leave the country. A truly spectacular addition to Di Leo's extraordinary CV with all the requisite action one expects from the genre plus a remarkably well crafted script; and engaging performances from both Cobb & Merenda. A definite must-see for fans of Di Leo's seemingly effortless cinematic cool. (And, again, Luc Merenda's luxurious coiffure remains a thing of transcendent beauty.) Nick the Sting is a genuinely exhilarating heist movie, and it's a real shame that such a laudable film seems to have been all-but forgotten; outstanding entertainment that deserves much more recognition outside of the murky, cloistered world of the euro-crime cognoscenti.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
'The Narc' (aka) 'Mark il Poliziotto is a euro crime classic!
24 January 2014
The first in Stelvio Massi's gloriously rumbustious Mark Trilogy. The cool and svelte Franco Gasparri makes for an engaging lead; while he lacks the brutish machismo of the legendary Maurizio Merli, he still cuts a handsome dash as the crusading maverick copper with a penchant for wayfarer sunglasses and high caliber weaponry; which he uses most expertly against a multifarious gallery of hideous criminality. Lee J. Cobb does his mean ol' guy routine and Stelvio Cipriani unleashes one of his most funky scores. 'The Narc' (aka) 'Mark il Poliziotto is a euro crime classic, proving yet again that Stelvio Massi remains one of the finest practitioners of this most exhilarating of genres.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
loading
An error has occured. Please try again.