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Black Cat (Gatto nero) (1981)
Beautiful and surprisingly good
I first saw THE BLACK CAT many years ago and it was the very first Fulci film I saw. While it is not as good as Fulci's ultimate achievements (ZOMBIE, CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE BEYOND) but it is MUCH better than the obnoxious HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY (of which all negatives and copies ought to be burned).
As usual with Fulci, the story doesn't make all that much sense but the film is really beautiful to look at thanks to remarkable cinematography. Pino Donaggio's score is perfect, making this one truly atmospheric film. As for the performances, they're a mixed bag. Leading stars Patrick Magee and Mimsy Farmer are excellent and probably way to good to be appearing in these sort of films but their presence really helps. David Warbeck on the other hand, gets too little to do even though he too is good. As for Dagmar Lassander, she still looks as unearthly divine as she did in the 1970s. Too bad her role isn't big enough. The other actors are not particularly interesting.
THE BLACK CAT lacks the amount of gore that can be found in Fulci's other early 1980s efforts but it is still a very good film that should not be missed by serious admirers of European horror cinema.
The Exterminator (1980)
Overrated, non-violent disappointment!
'The Exterminator' must be one of the most controversial American revenge movies of the 1980s but I truly wonder why it has gained such a reputation. Those who want to see a rough, violent action movie shouldn't bother to check out this one. Yes, many critics said it was violent and disgusting but if they deem this film violent, they obviously haven't seen many films.
'The Exterminator' starts during the Vietnam war. John Eastland (Robert Ginty) is nearly killed by evil Viet Cong warriors but his life is saved by his army buddy Michael Jefferson (Steve James). This pre-title sequence also includes a graphic (though fake looking) decapitation and is the best and most effective part of the film. Putting the scenes with the best impact first is never a good idea, though, and the rest of the film can't live up to this opening.
Anyway, the films picks up again some years later in New York. Michael gets beaten up and ends up paralyzed after he gets into trouble with some low-life punks. John swear revenge over his best friend and conducts a terrible revenge. He doesn't stop there, though; he also goes after mobsters, pimps, a gay phedofile etc.
His ways of murder are often brutal. They consist of (Oops! BEWARE OF SPOILERS!) flame thrower, letting punks get eaten by rats and most notoriously: a meat grinder. But those who hope for gore galore will be thoroughly disappointed as this films is not nearly as blood soaked as it is reputed to be. The killings are often just suggestive; we usually just see the wall while the victim screams in pain. So with most of the killings occurring off screen, this movie has little to recommend it by. It's just an average exploitation film, with the exception that it's not really very exploitative.
Relatively good cast, though. Robert Ginty gives an intense and believable performance and so does Christopher George as the cop on his trail. Steve James' part as the Nam buddy who dies is all too brief but good. At last there's Samantha Eggar as Christopher George's doctor-girlfriend. Eggar also gives a strong performance but her character serves no purpose in the plot what so ever. She is completely wasted and seem to be in the film only to fill up the time.
I guess, 'The Exterminator' is OK but it remains a big disappointment none the less. 4 1/2 out of 10.
Central Park West (1995)
10 times better than Melrose Place
Central Park West is quite simply one of the best soaps ever and it was really cheap of CBS to cancel it after only 21 episodes. This was such a terrific, trendy and very well-acted show with some of the most intriguing storylines ever. All the actors did remarkable jobs, especially Raquel Welch. Another thing that is so great about CPW is that it wasn't so completely wild, stupid, idiotic and over the top like Melrose often was. It was just one season, yes, but what a season! CPW had sophistication, style and great lines. I'm just waiting for a similar and equally entertaining TV series to show up.