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Main Entry: exclusion
Definition: expulsion; forbiddance
Synonyms: ban, bar, blackball, blockade, boycott, cut, debarment, debarring, discharge, dismissal, ejection, elimination, embargo, eviction, exception, excommunication, interdict, interdicting, interdiction, keeping out, lockout, nonadmission, occlusion, omission, ostracism, ousting, preclusion, prevention, prohibition, proscription, refusal, rejection, relegation, removal, repudiation, segregation, separation, suspension, veto
Antonyms: acceptance, addition, admittance, allowance, inclusion, incorporation, welcome
send to Coventry, to refuse to associate with; openly and pointedly ignore: His friends sent him to Coventry after he was court-martialed.
People from the music industry that I respect, idolize or just simply appreciate: Ennio Morricone, Amy McDonald, Daan, David Bowie, Therion, Pink Floyd, Leonard Cohen, Alice Cooper, Neil Diamond, Joy Division, Bobby Darin, the Everly Brothers, Bobby Vinton, Gene Pitney, Herman's Hermits, The Hollies, The Animals, The Byrds, Donovan, Vargoth, Drudkh, Behemoth, Triggerfinger, Falkenbach, Finntroll, Einherjer, The Smiths, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, BB King, Ministry, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rufus Wainwright, The Allman Brothers Band, Johnny Cash, Paul Simon, Raymond Lefèvre, Children of Bodom, Volbeat, Elvis Presley, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits, Anathema, Velvet Underground, Norah Jones, Fatboy Slim, Moloko, Angelo Badalmenti, Sarah Brightman, Lady Antebellum, Enigma, Muse, Army of Lovers, Chris Isaak, Lesley Gore, Kasabian, Pearl Jam, dEUS, Mumford & Sons, The Subs, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Cuff the Duke, Pulp, Oscar and the Wolf,
People from the movie industry that I respect, idolize or just simply appreciate: John Saxon, Mario Bava, Joe D'Amato, George Eastman, Darren Lynn Bousman, Boris Karloff, Enzo G. Castellari, Bo Svenson, Fred Williamson, Antonio Margheriti, Klaus Kinski, Lloyd Kaufman, James Gunn, Rob Zombie, Sid Haig, Matthew McGrory, Karen Black, Dennis Fimple, Irwin Keyes, Tom Towles, Bill Moseley, Wolfgang Petersen, Nicol Williamson, Fairuza Balk, Piper Laurie, Philippe Mora, Tom Holland, Ronny Cox, Lucio Fulci, Christopher George, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Catriona MacColl, Fabio Frizzi, Nicolas Cage, Todd Farmer, Tom Atkins, Paul Verhoeven, Kurtwood Smith, Miguel Ferrer, Ray Wise, Stuart Gordon, H.P. Lovecraft, Jeffrey Combs, David Gale, Barbara Crampton, Fernando Di Leo, Joe Dallesandro, Terence Fisher, Anton Diffring, Hazel Court, Christopher Lee, Robert Stevenson, William Girdler, Rebecca De Mornay, Mako, Ti West, Tom Noonan, Mary Woronov, Paul Bartel, David Carradine, Roger Corman, Adrian Hoven, Monte Hellman, Warren Oates, Harry Dean Stanton, Steve Railsback, Ed Begley Jr., Peter Fonda, Nathan Juran, Lionel Jeffries, James Glickenhaus, Ken Wahl, Joaquim de Almeida, Sam Peckinpah, William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Ben Johnson, Edmond O'Brien, Kurt Raab, Helene Cattet & Bruno Forzani, Karl Freund, Peter Lorre, Colin Clive, William Lustig, Joe Spinell, Caroline Munro, Tom Savini, Charles B. Pierce, Robert Wise, Fred Dekker, Fritz Lang, David Hemmings, Michael Ironside, Jan-Michael Vincent, Bette Davis, Joseph Cotten, Agnes Moorehead, Victor Buono, George Kennedy, Charles Bronson, Richard Fleischer, Elmore Leonard, Paul Koslo, Michael Winner, Brian Garfield, Lee Marvin, J. Lee Thompson, Riz Ortolani, Yul Brunner, Eli Wallach, Robert Vaughn, James Coburn, Steve McQueen, Michael Crichton, James Brolin, Mel Brooks, arry Cohen, Michael Moriarty, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Robin Hardy, Edward Woodward, Britt Ekland, Ingrid Pitt, Peter Cushing, Michael Gough, Herbert Lom, Udo Kier, Michael Reeves, Vincent Price, Ian Ogilvy, Dick Maas, Henri-Georges Clouzot, Paul Naschy, Paul Morrissey, Truman Capote, Peter Falk, Alec Guinness, David Niven, Elsa Lanchester, Peter Sellers, Gene Wilder, Patrick McGoohan, Herb Freed, Richard Kiel, John Landis, Tim Curry, Simon Pegg, Jenny Agutter, Frank Oz, Dario Argento, Quentin Tarantino, Everett De Roche, Stacy Keach, Russell Mulcahy, Brian Trenchard-Smith, Donald Pleasence, George Peppard, Simon Wincer, Narciso Ibáñez Serrador, Gary Sherman, Faith Domergue, Alexandre Aja, Ving Rhames, Christopher Lloyd, Eli Roth, Ishirô Honda, Greydon Clark, Cybill Shepherd, Neville Brand, Vincent Schiavelli, Martin Landau, Jack Palance, Alan Rudolph, Jonathan Demme, Pam Grier, Mark L. Lester, Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Kilpatrick, Don Dohler, Everett McGill, Corey Haim, Gary Busey, Jake Busey, Charlton Heston, Lorne Greene, Walter Matthau, Peter Bogdanovich, Woody Allen, John Milius, Franco Nero, Crispin Glover, Dennis Hopper, Dick Miller, Barbara Steele, Armando Crispino, Sergio Grieco, Helmut Berger, Lee Van Cleef, Robert Forster, John Huston, Melvyn Douglas, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., George Miller, Mel Gibson, Robert Rodriguez, George Hilton, Kane Hodder, Michael Madsen, Tony Todd, Nicolas Winding Refn, William Grefe, Cirio H. Santiago , Joe Dante, Don Coscarelli, Angus Schrimm, Tobe Hooper, Tiffany Shepis, Brad Dourif, George P. Cosmatos, John Boorman, Stephen Boyd, Tommy Lee Jones, Rod Steiger, Brian DePalma, Gunnar Hansen, George A. Romero, Simon Boyes, Adam Mason, Jack Arnold, M. Emmet Walsh, James Stewart, Darren McGavin, Kathleen Quinlan, Jack Lemmon, Robert Foxworth, Olivia De Havilland, Michael Pataki, Jerry Stiller, John Carradine, Julian Sands, Freddie Francis, Don Sharp, William Castle, Bill Rebane, John De Bello, Terry O'Quinn, Peter Sykes, Wes Craven, Michael Sarrazin, Lewis Teague, Yaphet Kotto, Sergio Stivaletti, John Phillip Law, Michele Soavi, Umberto Lenzi, Anna Falchi, Lon Chaney, Sergio Martino, Edwige Fenech, Ursula Andress, Michael Sopkiw, Edmund Purdom, Hal Yamanouchi, Barbara Bach, Cameron, Mitchell, Alberto De Martino, Ernesto Gastaldi, Maurizio Merli, John Steiner, Mel Ferrer, Barbara Bouchet, Marty Feldman, Tomas Milian, Bruno Mattei, Lamberto Bava, Luc Merenda, Anita Strindberg, Luigi Pistilli, Ivan Rassimov, Sergio Corbucci, Tito Carpi, David Warbeck, Luciano Pigozzi, Gianfranco Giagni, Florinda Balkan, Rosalba Neri, Mel Welles, Dagmar Lassander, Neil Jordan, Walter Huston, Ray Bradbury, Gregory Peck, Orson Welles, Bert I. Gordon, H.G. Wells, Ida Lupino, Kirk Douglas, David Lynch, Eddie Romero, Bela Lugosi, Al Adamson, Tor Johnson, Edward D. Wood Jr, David Cronenberg, Christopher Walken, Tom Skeritt, Martin Sheen, Dino De Laurentiis, James Wan, Anthonhy Perkins, Curtis Harrington, Julie Harris, Ornella Muti, Ray Lovelock
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Play Misty for Me (1971)
Don't you just LOVE psychotic women?
I surely do! And Jessica Walter definitely depicts one of the most psychotic women in cinema history here. By the way, this user comment is also a sort of homage to the wonderful actress, since she passed away recently, in March of 2021. Everyone who worshiped Mrs. Walter's role in "Arrested Development" - and I honestly cannot imagine anyone didn't - should see her as the disturbed and obsessive mistress in "Play Misty for Me".
The film also marks the directorial debut of Clint Eastwood, and I think it's safe to say that he (positively) surprised the entire world with it. Before this, Eastwood was only known for his tough, undefeatable macho-characters in Western movies, but here he plays a simple and ordinary laid-back guy, a radio DJ, and moreover a helpless victim rather than a courageous hero. Californian coast resident and natural born flirter David Garver enjoys the attention he receives from, and the wild nights he spends with, devoted fan Evelyn Draper, who calls his late-night radio show daily with the request to hear a song called "Misty". For Dave she's just a meaningless fling and what he really wants is to get back together with his former girlfriend Tobie. Too bad for Dave, Evelyn quickly turns into a dangerously obsessed stalker, and a menace not only to himself but also to the people around him.
"Play Misty for Me" is a gripping and original thriller, thriving mostly on the strong performances and a handful of really intense sequences. The second half is a tad bit overlong, with a tedious "we-are-in-love" montage and redundant footage of a jazz-festival. For the development of his own directorial style, Eastwood perhaps found some inspiration with Hitchcock and he undoubtedly received tutoring from Don Siegel (who has a fantastic cameo), but he clearly disposes of natural talent to direct. The plot and tension of this film got imitated numerous times, and for the next fifty years, Eastwood himself interchanged great acting roles with even more brilliant films as a director.
On Deadly Ground (1994)
I am the mighty Seagal! Your great director! Worship me!!
I'm certainly not an authority when it comes to the filmography of Steven Seagal. In fact, I don't think I've seen a single film of his made after the year 2000. And yet, me thinks it's safe to state that Seagal's best period was between 1992 and 1996, thanks to the really good "Under Siege" movies and "Executive Decision". During this brief period, Seagal apparently also was confident enough to make his directorial debut! I enjoyed "On Deadly Ground", but for all the wrong reasons. The film is nothing but a mediocre action vehicle, but Seagal takes it much too seriously. The plot is beyond preposterous, the environmental messages are shoved down our throats, and the characters are pure stereotypes and caricatures. Michael Caine is terrible as the mean and greedy oil tycoon, and John C. McGinley is even worse as his bodyguard/goon. Joan Chen is utterly redundant as the native love-interest, Shari Shattuck is pitiable as the supposedly heartless female businesswoman, and R. Lee Ermey depicts his umpteenth hard-shouting platoon leader role. Worst of all, though, Seagal grabs every possible opportunity to let literally ALL the other characters repeat how fantastic he - Forrest Taft - is. "Damn, this guy is good", "We are not dealing with a student here, we're dealing with the Professor", blah blah blah. How full of yourself are you, when you are the director who makes actors say these sorts of lines, about a characters that you depict yourself; - ha.
The Boys from Brazil (1978)
The Rotten Nazi-Boys are Back in Town
There weren't many regrets in my life thus far, but I have a major one now. I sincerely regret that I've waited all these long years to finally watch "The Boys from Brazil". Seriously, what an awesome film! The supposedly important film-critics burned it to the ground around its time of release, but all the more reason for genre fanatics to love it. In fact, together with Richard Fleischer's "Mandingo" and Tinto Brass' "Caligula", Franklin J. Schaffner's "The Boys from Brazil" forms a unique clique in the universe of 70s cinema. These films pose as grade-A productions, with luxurious budgets and prominent cast & crew members involved, but at heart they are mean & filthy exploitation trash-efforts! The gloriously preposterous plot, the atypical roles for once-beloved Hollywood monuments, the excessively campy violence, ... It's pure trash, but in a colorful and classy wrapping.
The script is based on a novel by Ira Levin. This was the third big hit in a row for Levin, after the successful adaptations of his novels "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Stepford Wives". Practically every review, whether by my fellow users here or elsewhere on the internet or even in film-magazines, reveals far too much of the plot, if you ask me. That's a shame, because "The Boys from Brazil" unfolds as a genuinely compelling mystery. Dr. Joseph Mengele, the sadist butcher from the SS who managed to escape towards South America after WWII, is brooding on a convoluted but diabolical plan to resurrect the Third Reich, but you are not supposed to know straight away what that plan exists of! You're supposed to discover bit by bit, together with Nazi-Hunter Ezra Liebermann, why Mengele sends out his minions all over the world to assassinate 94 seemingly random chosen 65-year-old middle-class family men. The answer to the enigma is absurd. Really, really absurd. And really awesome, too!
The performance by Gregory Peck ("To Kill a Mockingbird", "Cape Fear") as the loathsome Nazi worm Mengele is beyond perplexing! The harder he yells stuff like "He betrayed the Arian race!" in his phony German accent, the more I admire him. Laurence Olivier's German accent is just as phony, and he even received an Oscar nomination for it!
Das indische Tuch (1963)
Ten greedy little nobodies
What legendary author wrote the best murder mysteries/whodunits; - Agatha Christie or Edgar Wallace? For me, personally, the answer is undoubtedly Agatha Christie! And not just by a small mile, but with lightyears ahead. Nonetheless, I'm also a big fan of Wallace, and I'm eternally grateful to him, because his work kickstarted the German Krimi-films, and eventually the Italian giallo-boom.
"The Indian Scarf" is very reminiscent to Christie's most famous story, namely "And Then There Were None" aka "Ten Little Indians". It's the same old and traditional plot of greedy family members gathering in a gothic castle for the reading of a will, but then naturally get killed off one by one by someone whirling around scarves. It's a prototypic, but amusing and reasonably fast-paced Krimi, with familiar faces in the cast (Klaus Kinski, Eddi Arent, ...) and clichéd twists in the script. Whenever one of the characters is suspected by the others of being the killer, the suspect is killed him/herself. You know; - that sort of twists. I don't think I've ever seen a castle/mansion with SO many secret passageways and hidden doors, though...
Oh, and Eddi Arent - as the dry sarcastic butler - has a fully automated breakfast trolley, which results in a handful of subtle but hilarious comic-relief sequences.
Don't mess with the Irish! Not 20 years ago, not now, not ever!
Wow... judging by a large share of unfavorable comments submitted here, "Bloodlands" isn't very popular among the viewers. Then again, most of the reviews were written after barely one (out of four) episode, and restrict to just one or two sentences stating the series is boring and awful. How reliable are those opinions? Personally, I found "Bloodlands" a compelling and well-scripted thriller mini-series, albeit with a number of shortcomings.
The series is heavy on politics, but what else do you expect from a murder-and-kidnapping story set in Northern Ireland, and jumping back and forth between April 1998 (the period leading up to the Good Friday peace agreement) and present day, where the truce between Catholics and Protestants is still very vulnerable. The kidnapping of former IRA-militant (and thoroughly unpleasant) Pat Keenan also reopens the unresolved case of the so-called Goliath murders. Those murders were committed between February and April 1998, presumably by a member of the police force, but had to be covered up in favor of the approaching peace agreement. DCI Tom Brannick lost his wife to the Goliath killer, and is now confronted again with the cold case.
There's not a whole lot of action in "Bloodlands", but the script is intelligent and full of unforeseeable twists. Especially halfway and during the finale, there are some perplexing twists. James Nesbitt in the lead role is somewhat a mixed bag. I like him as an actor, especially since his powerful role in "The Missing", and he fits the character, but his performance is wickedly uneven. All of his facial expressions, whether its rage or frustration or sadness, make it look as if he's struggling with stomach aches. Strong supportive cast, though, including Lorcan Cranitch, Charlene McKenna and Peter Ballance. And, what I definitely enjoyed most about "Bloodlands" was the Irishness; - duh! The history lessons, the trivia, the accents, and even one sequence in genuine Irish language.
Blind Fear (1989)
Betrayed... by half a pizza with anchovies!
Disabled damsels in distress (blind damsels in particular) are thankful and often recurring protagonists in thrillers. It's not exactly original, but the premise already resulted in several successful film in the past, like "The Spiral Staircase", "Wait Until Dark", "See No Evil" and "Jennifer Eight". "A Long Dark Night" - also known as "Blind Fear" - is a lot lesser known, and also less good, but still a reasonably entertaining thriller with a good atmosphere and adequate performances. Young Erika (the stunningly beautiful Shelley Hack) and the elderly Lasky are the last remaining employees of little hotel in remote Maine that recently got declared bankrupt. On their final night, however, they receive unwelcome guests when the three fugitive robbers of a money transport entrench themselves in the hotel. Erika must hide and eventually fight back, but this is not easy for her since she's blind and - obviously - quite petrified. Director Tom Berry clearly didn't have a wide budget at his disposal, so he merely aims at generating atmosphere and tension via the claustrophobic setting and the unpredictable personality of lead villain Kim Coates. This works quite well at first, but eventually the film does become rather tedious and repetitive. Half of the footage is also too dark to follow, and I ensure you it's hasn't got to do with "putting the viewer in the heroine's shoes". The plot twists at the end are ambitious, but absurd and they feel very much forced.
Best part of the film: crazy robber Kim Coates unleashes his Sherlock Holmes deduction skills and figures out the presence of another person inside the hotel, based on the anchovies' toppings on half a pizza!
There are good cops. There are bad cops. And then, there are psychotic border patrol cops!
Once every blue moon, there's nothing I like to do more than dive into my old VHS-collection in search for obscure treasure gems exactly like "Jackals". Films like these are never shown on television anymore, and I sincerely doubt if they were ever released on DVD anywhere in the world. And yet, "Jackals" - as well as many more of these contemporary and rare thrillers - is genuinely worthwhile!
The film has a cool setting and ditto plot, a handful of harsh and violent bits and - most of all - a couple of crude & relentless villains (played by Dennis A. Pratt and especially Gerald McRaney). Former California copper Joe Case visits a befriended couple in small Arizonan border town, but witnesses the brutal execution of a young Mexican girl during a horse ride in the desert. When he reports to the local police, he recognizes deputy Jake Wheeler as the killer. For you see, instead of keeping illegal Mexican immigrants out, Wheeler moonshines with a profitable business to smuggle them in! The poor girl tried to escape, and Wheeler can't have that.
This dark, no-nonsense and gritty thriller is also known as "American Justice" and comes warmly recommended if you also enjoyed more mainstream thrillers like "Internal Affairs, "Flashpoint", "Q&A", etc...
Alison's Birthday (1981)
Satanists throw the worst birthday parties!
In case you are - like I was - somewhat reluctant to watch "Alison's Birthday", then hopefully this review can help persuade you to give it a fair chance! Admittedly, it looks and sounds rather boring at first sight, but it's a surprisingly good and intense piece of occult horror from the land of Oz. The Aussies were perhaps a little late with their cashing in on the success of "Rosemary's Baby", but at least their contribution is far better and more memorable than the vast majority of cheap & trashy rip-offs that were released throughout the 70s.
"Alison's Birthday" has a really powerful opening sequence and a staggeringly bleak climax. That's already more than other movies have to show for, and everything in between isn't too bad, neither, albeit a bit slow, derivative and predictable. The intro is fabulous! I usually don't like séance sequences or Ouija-board horror, but this particular scene knows quite a grisly and effectively shocking twist.
A few days prior to her 19th birthday, Alison is begged to come home to home to the aunt and uncle who brought her up since she became an orphan. The girl has doubts, because a nightmarish séance on her 16th birthday (the one from to the intro) forewarned her to stay away from there at all costs. Boyfriend Peter accompanies Alison, but he's unsubtly shut out by the overbearing aunt and uncle. With Alison further and further out of reach, Peter discovers strange and mystic occurrences, involving a demonic cult, Stonehenge rituals, modern Druids and a 103-year-old granny wandering about! "Alison's Birthday" is far from perfect, but it's one of those rare horror movies that manages to be atmospheric and genuinely unsettling without featuring a single drop of blood. And that final shot, oh man, ... magnificent!
Two-Lane Blacktop (1971)
Rest in peace, Mr. Cult-director. But I still don't like your road-movie.
Yours truly isn't a man of many traditions, but the few I have I try to keep intact, like paying my final respects to great directors and actors/actresses by watching one of their films within a week of their passing. Me watching and reviewing "Two-Lane Blacktop" is a direct consequence of Monte Hellman passing away on 20th of April 2021. Rest in peace, Mr. Hellman.
And yet, it's mainly out of respect and admiration that I'm including Hellman in my tradition (met him at a local festival once, and he was a really amiable man), because his films aren't necessarily my favorites. "Cockfighter" is a unique masterpiece, but all the other films by Monte Hellman I saw weren't exactly my cup of tea. Far too existential and self-destructive as far as I'm concerned. "Two-Lane Blacktop" was a genuine ordeal for me to sit through. I don't have anything with cars, or with road movies, let alone with road movies without a plot. The film is full of innovative and courageous ideas, though, most notably that Hellman cast two musicians without any acting experience whatsoever in the lead roles. Luckily for them, they don't have to do a lot of acting, since the "Driver" and the "Mechanic" - their characters don't even have names - don't communicate a lot.
Best thing about "Two-Lane Blacktop" is the presence of Warren Oates, for sure. Not only is Oates the most criminally underrated cult actor of the 70s, his character G. T. O (named after his car, or what else did you think?) is a delightfully eccentric loner who picks up hitch-hikers and tells them all sorts of random but untrue life-stories. I found that most amusing. The rural American filming locations are nice, the music playing on the radio is cool and I'm sure lots of philosophizing can be done about this film. But not by me.
Suddenly, Last Midsommar...
In case you are Swedish, or of Swedish descent, and you righteously worry that from now on everyone will avoid your company during summer, or just stares at you as if you were a disturbed pagan sect member, you can blame writer/director Ari Aster. Just saying...
This film required for me to slightly step out of my comfort zone. I have a natural aversion for horror/cult movies with a running time longer than 1h45 minutes; - let alone a running time of two and a half hours! Still, I really wanted to see "Midsommar", based on the recommendations of friends and fellow movie fanatics, and because it's inspired by (and paying tribute to) one of the greatest stories of all times; "The Wicker Man".
Undeniably, I expected more. More of everything. It's probably wrong of me to compare everything here with the unsurpassable genius of "The Wicker Man", but this film is far weaker in every possible compartment. My first and major complaint obviously comes back to the endless running time. "Midsommer" has awfully little subject matter to fill up such a long film. The director, together with all the fans, will naturally claim the long periods of showing scenic footage, folklore dance/chant rituals and the effects of hallucinating herbs are essential for the atmosphere of the film, but it's incredibly tedious to sit through. Especially because, let's be honest, everybody already knows what is coming. I honestly think you needn't have seen "The Wicker Man" in order to predict what'll happen.
And yet, there are many praiseworthy and qualitative aspects about "Midsommar" as well. I'm personally fascinated by the Scandinavian cultures and nature, so I was immediately enthusiast about a film taking place during Midsummer Festivities, and thus - in sheer contrast to practically every other horror movie ever made - in broad daylight! You simply must also admire that Ari Aster didn't turn his film into an open-air version of "Hostel", meaning the teenage protagonists aren't blatantly ignorant, or heading towards Europe without knowing anything about the local culture. Aster also put quite a lot of effort into providing the lead characters with a background and a personality.
Strictly horror-wise, the film is a mixed bag as well. "Midsommar" contains a few very graphical and shocking moments, but the killings that actually matter occur off-screen. Presumably for atmospheric reasons again, but it nonetheless makes my horror heart bleed. And, finally, a major disappointment compared to "The Wicker Man", I found the soundtrack. For a film that constantly features dancing and chanting, the music is unmemorable. "The Wicker Man" was practically half a musical, with legendary parts like "The Siren Song" and "Around the Maypole", and I at least expected something similar here.
The House of Exorcism (1975)
Come for the House, stay for the lovely Lisa and her Devils...
Mario Bava is my personal favorite director of all times. And not just via photo-finish, but literally with miles ahead of my second favorite director, which is Lucio Fulci. Back when I started to develop an interest for Bava's work, in 2004 or so, I vividly remember that "Lisa and the Devil" was difficult to find, while "The House of Exorcism" was the more easily available version for purchase. Via an obscure French label, however, I found Bava's original masterpiece (in an awesome boxset together with "Baron Blood" and "Hatchet for the Honeymoon"), so I never bothered to search for the much hacked-up version that the great Bava dissociated himself from.
Now, since it's more than 15 years later and time for an urgent re-watch, I figured to give "The House of Exorcism" a shot. The story behind both film versions is actually a very sad and tragic one, especially if you're an avid admirer of Italy's most visionary director. With "Lisa and the Devil", Mario Bava finally received complete freedom - artistically as well as financially - to make the film he wanted to make, but for some incomprehensible reason, the critics and audiences weren't enthusiast. Shame, because the film truly remains a superbly atmospheric and fascinating piece of gothic horror. Producer, and former friend, Alfredo Leone understandably wanted to recuperate a part of his unsuccessful investment, and since "The Exorcist" rip-offs were trending massively at the time, Leone directed some additional footage and re-released the film. Suddenly, as a result of her encounters in the strange mansion, Lisa is possessed with the devil (who may or not be Telly Savalas in the flesh) and Robert Alda joins the cast as the priest charged with the exorcism.
"The House of Exorcism" is a rehash, pure and simple. The original footage of "Lisa and the Devil" is still brilliant, but less powerful and a lot more incoherent. The additional footage represents everything what Bava despises: unoriginal plot, stolen ideas, gratuitous nudity and unnecessary profanity. A clash of styles is what this is.
The Dead Don't Die (2019)
Congratulations, Jarmusch, for ruining the ONE genre that practically cannot be ruined!
Films like "The Dead don't Die" make me feel dumb. And, of course, like every normal person in the world, I don't like it when something or someone makes me feel dumb. Why does it make you feel dumb? Because you can't help thinking that you're missing the point. That you're not seeing what everybody else must be seeing. Why else would so many great actors and actresses want to star in an ordinary horror movie with zombies if it wasn't great? Well, I can assure you, there's nothing wrong with us. Jim Jarmusch probably likes to think that his films are arthouse and that his humor is deadpan, but in reality, it's just a bunch of pretentious drivel.
Jarmusch did accomplish one thing, though. It's practically impossible to ruin a zombie movie, but somehow, he managed. Young, inexperienced and amateur film makers put together better zombie movies than Jarmusch does; - at least when it comes to plot and atmosphere. Not in terms of acting performances and budget for special effects, obviously. 90% of "The Dead don't Die" is dull and derivative of nearly every single zombie movie ever made previously. The remaining 10% is embarrassing beyond words, with the weakest attempt at "meta-horror" I've ever seen ("How do you know it's not going to end well? Because I read the script") and the totally random fate of Tilda Swinton's character.
Escape to Athena (1979)
This must be what they call a "Greek Tragedy"
"Escape to Athena" (although "My Big Fat Greek Film Disaster" would have been a much more accurate title) initially ended up on my wish list because of its marvelous ensemble cast, but it's honestly one of the most infuriating films I've seen in a long time. For starters, it's a comedy/crime-caper disguising as a serious WWII action movie. That's just plain awful. My high-school history classes, as well as tons of documentaries, always taught me that World War II was a miserably dreadful period for every country that was involved in it, but this movie looks like a joyous tourist brochure for the Greek islands; - so full of idyllic photography and traditional musical tunes.
POW-camps were horrific places, but in "Escape to Athena" they look like Mediterranean summer resorts where the "prisoners" dig for treasures and organize stage shows for their captors. Sir Roger Moore is terribly miscast as the camp's Austrian head warden, and he doesn't hide it. He depicts a Nazi Superior with as much disgust as Adolf Hitler would depict a Jew. I can, of course, respect that from a human perspective, but there are many great actors who played Nazi commanders without any professional objections. Director George Pan Cosmatos should have cast Donald Pleasance, Robert Vaughn or Herbert Lom instead. The script weakly tries to camouflage Moore's lack of loyalty to the Third Reich by portraying him as a semi-traitor who's only interested in stealing ancient treasures from a Greek monastery, but it's not very plausible. He even refuses to use the Hitler salute throughout the entire film. I'm pretty sure the Nazis wouldn't have tolerated that.
The tone of the film is wildly uneven. Most of the footage is pure slapstick, but there are also violent executions and secret missiles. In the cast, only Elliott Gould seems to enjoy himself, whereas David Niven clearly just did a favor to his son (who produced), and both Richard Roundtree and Sonny Bono look lost. The almighty Telly Savalas is on automatic pilot, but the poor guy even got forced to do a little traditional Greek dance at the end. What a travesty!
Norman! Yes, mother? Who's the hunky guy made of stone? It's a Golem, mother.
Overlooked and forgotten late 60s Brit-horror, starring the underrated but always reliable Roddy McDowell as a sort of Norman Bates with a day-job. Arthur Pimm is the assistant-curator of a historical treasures' museum, but when his long workdays are over, he goes home for lovely conversations with his dead and decomposed mother in her rocking chair. I honestly don't know why this weird and blatant "Psycho" imitation aspect is part of the film. It doesn't serve any purpose in the script, apart from stating clear that Arthur Pimm is completely cuckoo. Far more interesting is that Pimm gains control over a cursed but powerful statue - a Golem creature - that he recovered from a warehouse fire. The Golem mysteriously already killed a few people, and seems quite indestructible itself. "It!" - with exclamation mark to distinguish from Stephen Kings' evil clown movie - nearly isn't a classic horror film, but it's very entertaining while it lasts, especially thanks to McDowell's performance, the unusual type of monster, a handful of delicious Grand-Guignol moments, and a downright preposterous climax (even involving nuclear bombing). Worth watching at least one, and a major improvement over writer/director Herbert J. Leder's previous film; - the disastrous "The Frozen Dead".
Mercenary Fighters (1988)
When he plays the sleazy villain, I'm very Fond-a-Peter!
Big fan of the late Peter Fonda here, especially when he depicts stone-cold, merciless and downright nasty villains. In "Freedom Fighters" he plays such a character, more specifically a mercenary only interested in money and power, regardless whether or not the job demands innocent people to be slaughtered. He, Virelli, and his team are hired by a corrupt army general to wipe out a handful of small villages and native tribes that rebel against the construction of a giant dam in a Southern African country. Under the influence of a cute Human Rights Activist, however, one of Virelli's team members - TJ - realizes he's battling the wrong camp and switches sides. The cool thing is that Fonda's character also knows this, but he doesn't care about people, only money. I know you're supposed to cheer for TJ, but he's just a chomp of meat without charisma, whereas Fonda is a loathsome beast with greasy long hair and a walking cane. Apart from the cool cast (also starring James Mitchum, Ron O'Neal and Robert DoQui), "Freedom Fighters" is standard 80s jungle/mercenary action guff, with exploding helicopters, land mines blowing up jeeps, native tribes performing naked dance rituals and beefcake men firing with heavy artillery at unarmed women and children. Forgettable fun, if you are into 80s Rambo rip-offs.
De Dick Maas Methode (2020)
Nice salute to a hero of my youth!
I don't watch many documentaries about the people in the film industry I admire. Usually because the people I admire are not the kind of people documentaries are made of, but mostly because it largely ruins the magic about their personas, motivations and trademarks. I simply had to make an exception for this documentary about the Dutch writer/director (and pioneer!) Dick Maas, because I sincerely doubt if I would ever have become such a big horror/cult fanatic if it weren't for this man!
Maas' three most famous films were also crucial during my years as a horny and blood-crazed teenager. "De Lift" was the first commercially accessible horror movie in The Netherlands, and the Dutch-speaking part from Belgium where I'm from. It featured the first decapitation I ever saw (and still a mighty cool one), as well a thoroughly unsettling atmosphere, an oddly engaging plot, and great suspense. "Amsterdamned" is the only decent Giallo ever made in The Netherlands (although I wasn't yet familiar with the term or the sub-genre when I first saw it). And then there's "Flodder". Well, let's just say that every Dutch-speaking person knows the Flodder family, and every teenage boy who grew up in the 80s or early 90s is very familiar with one particular sequence involving the voluptuous blond daughter and her neighbor.
The documentary gives insightful information about Dick Maas' very first ventures into filmmaking, like his student films and music videos for the cool rock band Golden Earring. After his biggest successes (the aforementioned three titles), Maas apparently made a couple of bad business decisions, and the documentary - featuring interviews with Dick Maas himself - is brutally honest and transparent about this. In fact, the most praising comment I can give to "The Dick Maas Method" is that the entire production is honest. Many actors openly admit they found it difficult to work with the director, and some of the crew members even criticize the quality of his later films and nativity regarding special effects. Too often in this kind of portraits, you only hear compliments and sucking up.
All in all, the film accurately emphasizes the greatest characteristic of Dick Maas. He isn't a phony and pretentious artist, a wannabe intelligent storyteller or a cinematic diva who exclusively makes the movies he wants to make. He's a hard working and modest craftsman who makes entertaining movies for the masses. I didn't need to watch a documentary to tell me this, of course, but he deserve a little bit of recognition.
Psycho Goreman (2020)
What have you been smoking, Kostanski?!?
If anyone would ask me (but nobody ever does, of course) which person contributed the most to the horror genre during the decade 2010-2020, my immediate and doubtless response would be Steven Kostanski. First, still together with his buddies of the Astron-6 collective, with whom he made "Manborg" and "Father's Day" (still two of the most deliciously deranged films I ever saw), and then gradually developing further with a segment in "ABC's of Death", and co-directing the rather good "The Void". He then directed the refreshing and very welcome revival of the "Leprechaun" franchise (with "Leprechaun Returns"), before delivering this; - Steven Kostanski's ultimate and personal masterwork.
"Psycho Goreman" ranks among the most excessively eccentric and utterly demented horror movies ever made. It's unmatchable, and I don't think anyone will be able to deny that. The film is a sort of mishmash between "Star Wars", "Bad Taste", "E. T.", "The Toxic Avenger", "Demoni", "The Goonies" and "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers". In other words, a film exclusively intended for nerds, but nerds with an extreme taste for gore and bloodshed. I wouldn't even know where to start to write a short summary, honestly. The whole thing feels like a drunken sex-and-drug orgy taking place in the Mos Eisley Cantina, really.
Is "Psycho Goreman" a good film? Unfortunately, no ... I can't but admire and respect Kostanski's wild imagination, his twisted sense of humor and his pure craftsmanship for special effects, but there still is a lot missing. Would it really have hurt so much to make the human characters - and little Miss Mimi in particular - slightly less obnoxious and marginal? Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but in my humble opinion, you can't fully enjoy a movie if literally all the lead characters are loathsome. If, in the near future, he puts slightly more effort in character development, surely Steven Kostanski will do many great things.
For the love of "Troll 2", see "Cyst"! I in-cyst!
My rating for "Cyst" is probably too generous, and the praising words in the user-comment you are about to read are undoubtedly far too favorable. Please look elsewhere for a more objective review, because I have a giant weakness for genuine and authentic throwbacks to ancient B-movies. Nowadays, 50s Sci-Fi movies and 80s slashers are merely just being spoofed and ridiculed, while the pretentious directors have the nerves to call it meta-horror or homages. They are not! "Cyst" is a true homage. Writer/director Tyler Russell took the effort to come up with an actual plot (and a real good one, too), the gore and splatter effects are 200% handmade craftmanship, and some of the names in the cast are a dream come true for every fan of legendary bad cinema!
Set in 1961, the one and only George Hardy (a hero from "Troll 2) shines as Dr. Guy; - a medical authority for the removal of thick and icky bodily cysts chock-full of pus. His lifework is the Get-Gone; - a revolutionary medical device that vaporizes cysts via laser technology. There's only one minor problem, though... Dr. Guy can't get his machine patented because it always fails at critical times. For his last chance to persuade the medical committee, Dr. Guy saddles up his assistant with a gigantic cyst to give a proper demonstration, but the cyst develops into a monster and goes on a bloody rampage.
Everything about "Cyst" is exquisite! During its short & sweet running time (barely 70 minutes) there are great things happening. The gooey cyst-juice erupting out of human bodies, the giant tumor wiggling through the sinister hospital hallways, the old-school use of bright colors and extreme close-ups, ... It's simply delicious! Apart from George Hardy, there are also remarkable roles for Eva Habermann (who starred in a German sort of remake of "Troll 2"), Greg Sestero (known from Tommy Wiseau's "The Room") and Gene Jones (who even worked with Tarantino in "The Hateful Eight"). "Cyst" is a must-see for true fans of the horror genre, with a particularly big heart for low-budgeted but imaginative monstrosities.
I See You (2019)
And I see... a plastic version of the once-ravishing Helen Hunt?!?
Whatever happened to Helen Hunt? She was one of the greatest actresses of the 90s and early 2000s, thanks to "Mad About You" and a couple of glorious film roles like "As Good as it Gets" and "What Woman Want". And - moreover - she was a natural and charismatic beauty! Unfortunately, it's a commonly known fact that Hollywood hardly has interesting film roles for strong and talented women over forty. This is the first time I've seen her act again in almost 20 years, and sadly you can't but immediately notice her plastic surgery, or facial Botox-treatments, or whatever it was. It's a real shame, and even quite painful, because she can't even depict emotions or different facial expressions anymore with her plastic face. But hey, if that is what Mrs. Hunt wanted, fine then. And I'm only here to review the movie "I See You", anyways.
Speaking of which, it's praiseworthy - to say the least - that a film can alter my perception/opinion so drastically throughout its running time! Honestly, my overall thought of "I See You" during the first half was just a big giant "meh". Via a lot of pretentious but cheap tricks, like ominous music and short & abruptly edited interior shots, the inexperienced director Adam Randall too obviously tries to generate an ambiance of mystery and ambiguity, but it doesn't really work. In the house of the Harpers, a middle-aged couple with a rebellious teenage son and a giant martial crisis, there appears to be a strange supernatural entity at work. Meanwhile, the rest of the village is concerned with the disappearance of yet another young boy in the neighborhood. Halfway through, however, the same string of events is told again, but from a completely different and explicatory angle. This makes the film change from a seemingly dull supernatural horror movie into a raw and gritty survival thriller.
I must admit that, even though I've seen and reviewed more than 4000 horror/cult movies already, I didn't see the principal twist coming at all. Some of the other plot twists are more obvious and used before, but the story idea that clarifies the missing silverware, locked closet doors, etc., is very clever, innovative and effectively disturbing.
Surely Helen Hunt must have been very impressed when she first read the scenario, but I bet you couldn't tell by the expression on her face!
Stepfather III (1992)
Poppa got a brand-new face, but an old bag full of gory tricks!
Welcome to Deer View, CA, where police forces don't exist (or people don't ever call them), where locals can go missing without anyone ever looking for them, and where it's still perfectly normal for a young boy to be best friends with an elderly priest! All in all, the ideal spot for the serial killer with the weirdest modus operandi in the history of horror cinema to start over again. Terry O'Quinn didn't want to depict the crazed stepfather for the third time, but the script ingeniously resolves this little complication. During the sinister opening credits - shot through an odd blue filter - we witness how our escaped psycho undergoes clandestine plastic surgery by a clandestine surgeon. You can recognize clandestine surgeons because they smoke whilst operating.
Enter the utterly anti-charismatic Robert Wightman, who assumes the fake identity Keith Grant and rapidly finds fitting victims for his favorite game: courting a single mother and posing as the perfect stepfather for her children; - in this case a psychosomatic crippled boy. And if someone grows suspicious? Well, then stepdaddy murders them with a shovel.
There are two possible ways to look at "Stepfather III". As a lousy and redundant 90s sequel, in which the suspense and creativity of the 1987 semi-classic are replaced by extremely sick and gratuitous gore. Undeniably, the plot is full of holes, the script full of clichés and predictable twists (from the moment we learn the boy's illness is psychosomatic, you just know he will walk at the end. I don't even consider that a spoiler). On the other hand, you could also state it's an unscrupulous and incredibly amusing slasher with all the right ingredients. The latter is how I remember "Stepfather III", for sure! My advice would be to ignore all the dumb things the characters do and say, and just massively enjoy the vile and unhinged murder sequences. The climax, involving an industrial threshing machine, is so tremendously over-the-top I couldn't stop grinning. Try to plastic surgery yourself out of that, ha!
They were big shoes to fill ... but the shoes fit wondrously!
Fortunately I was blessed with a lousy memory, because I read the original Conan Doyle novel of this story, and watched at least 3 or 4 screen-adaptations already, but I still manage to get surprised by the denouement every single time! With regards to my expectations towards this 1983 made-for-TV version, they were merely just set on average. Not because I don't have faith in the skills of director Douglas Hickox and his crew, but rather because the older versions of "The Hound of the Baskervilles" are so phenomenal! Notably the 1939 version (with Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce and Lionel Atwill) and the 1959 version by Hammer studios (with Peter Cushing, André Morell and Christopher Lee) are awesome movies, and I simply assumed this TV-movie had few to nothing to add.
Well, I love to be proven wrong! This is a really solid and respectable interpretation or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's most legendary novel. It's a very faithful adaptation, and the overall macabre atmosphere of the story is done justice by the exquisite use of décors, scenery and filming locations. The nightly escapades in the Devon' moors are effectively unsettling, the flashback - with footage of a drowning horse - is haunting, and the sequences with the titular hound are spooky. If you like fog, eerie howling, sinister old mansions and more fog, you will LOVE this film! The only blemish I can give, perhaps, is that both the Holmes and the Watson characters are blindly modeled after how Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce depicted them. Ian Richardson and Donald Churchill, although both giving stellar performances, don't seem to bring any of their own input in their characters. Apart from that; - great movie! Very much recommended.
The Neighbor (2016)
Howdy neighbor, could I borrow a cup of sugar?
... the above phrase is a friendly piece of conversation between neighbors the protagonists of this movies will probably never have! Don't know if it exists also in English, but in my native language, the following expression exists: "better a good neighbor than a distant friend". In Cutter, Mississippi, where "The Neighbor" is set, this also doesn't count. John and his girlfriend Rosie work as low-profile drug couriers for John's criminal uncle Neil. During the night they intend to escape, however, they discover their next-door neighbor Troy is a sadist kidnapper and killer, and a wholly different battle for survival ensues.
In a good 10-15 years, writers Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton have built up quite a reputation within the horror movie industry. They scripted the later "Saw" sequels (parts 4 to 7), the three "Feast" movies, and both "The Collector" and "The Collection". All of these are simple but extremely brutal thrillers/slashers with graphic gore, merciless villains and far-fetched murder set pieces. "The Neighbor" is perhaps their least commercial effort, but it certainly delivers in terms of intensity, bloodshed and sadism. It's a no-nonsense and raw-to-the-core slasher, and I do mean that positively!
Sadly, though, it's also one of the least memorable films I've seen in a long time. For every strongpoint there's a weakness. I like how the female characters (Rosie and Sarah) are tough, but the truth is you can't really cheer for anyone here. I appreciate how Dunstan and Melton didn't include convoluted death traps, like in "Saw" or "The Collector", but this simultaneously also means the death sequences are dull and formulaic. There isn't any time wasted on long dialogues and character development, but nevertheless the first half hour is slow. Like these, I could easily list another handful of contradictions, but the message is clear: "The Neighbor" is worth watching but never rises above mediocrity.
Mother knows best; - even when she's dead!
The subject matter of this ingenious TZ-episode must be the worst nightmare of every married woman. I know for a fact it's the worst nightmare of my wife! "Young Man's Fancy" deals with a newlywed couple of which the man - aka the weakest sex - can't say goodbye to his mother's old house and belongings, even though she's dead since more than a year. The more his loving wife tries to persuade him to sell the place, the more he becomes melancholic. This continues until the poor woman senses the increasing presence of the dead mother still in the house. I don't know if it were writer Richard Matheson and director John Brahm's intentions, but this episode is actually quite creepy! The desolate look on the man's face, the desperation in the woman's eyes (splendid performance by Phyllis Thaxter, by the way) and the inevitable but nevertheless heart-wrenching climax. These aspects make "Young Man's Fancy" the most unexpected sleeper hit of the third season.
Paura in città (1976)
Even with Maurizio Merli on automatic pilot, it's still an entertaining Poliziotesschi!
Overnight, in Rome, 12 (!) criminals escape from prison and 4 police informants are brutally murdered. The DA reluctantly calls upon Commissioner Murri, who previously was suspended due to his unorthodox methods and "shoot-first-no-questions-asked" mentality. In between shooting gangsters in the back, Murri discovers that mob-boss Lettieri led the escape, and that one of the convicts was an elderly man who only had 40 days of his sentence left to serve. He was probably forced to join, and Merri gradually finds out why via his gorgeous niece Laura.
My fellow reviewers around here, some of them guys I usually always agree with, have referred to "Fear in the City" as a lesser Poliziotesschi outing and one of the weakest crime thrillers in which Maurizio Merli plays the heroic copper. Yours truly begs to differ. Well sure, if you watch "Fear in the City" straight after "Rome Armed to the Teeth" and right before "The Cynic, the Rat and the Fist", it'll definitely be the weakest link. But, as a stand-alone, this is a highly entertaining and action-packed thriller. It has brutal executions, bank robberies gone wrong, car chases, motorcycle chases, vigilante action and a virulent climax at the railway station. The best scene involves a nasty assassination attempt at a cemetery. James Mason stars as the obligatory prominent Hollywood star-on-his-return, but he clearly wasn't too enthusiast. Raymond Pellegrin and Fausto Tozzi, on the other hand, are excellent in their supportive roles, and the heavenly beautiful Silvia Dionisio decorates the film with her natural charm and her ravishing naked body.
Fair Trade (2021)
Marc Punt rips off his own success formula; - "Fair Trade" is "Matroesjka's" Light
With "Matroesjka's", in 2005, writer/director Marc Punt (co-)created - hands down - the greatest Belgian series ever! It's still by far my personal favorite piece of television work ever to come out of this country, and it more than obviously was groundbreaking as well. Ever since "Matroesjka's", all native series, films and even daily soap shows have become more brutal, violent and vulgar. Many series attempted to imitate the success of "Matroesjka's", evidently. Some of them were really cool, most notably Luk Wyns' "Crimi Clowns", but nothing could ever top the original. The last person who I ever expected to imitate "Matroesjka's" was Marc Punt himself, but he did with this absurdly over-the-top (*), excessively violent and hyper-narcissist saga of the corrupt Antwerp Police (narcotics' department) versus the organized crime syndicates and drug cartels active in the Port of Antwerp.
In the world of "Fair Trade", there aren't too many differences between the good guys and the bad guys (and girls). Police commissioner Walter "Wally" Wilson and his assistant, the tough lesbian cop Robin, are as corrupt as the pest. They collect large sums of cash from drug baron Patrick Paternoster in exchange for anonymous tips about his competitors' transactions. Commissioner Wilson is also addicted to East-European prostitutes and shoves industrial amounts of white snow up his nostrils; - a true role model, in other words. Paternoster's biggest rival, the psychotic Bob "Martino" Martens, returns from Thailand and reclaims his position in the Antwerp drug circuit. Moreover, Martino has an old score to settle with Robin and he becomes the informant of Wilson's arch enemy inside the narcotics' brigade. Of course, as you might reckon, this description is only the tip of iceberg. "Fair Trade" serves the regular crime-cocktail, with mandatory ingredients like Russian mobsters, savage executions, loathsome lawyers scavenging for procedural errors, kidnapping, double-crossing and Antwerp swearing. Lots and lots of Antwerp swearing.
"Fair Trade" can't hold a candle to "Matroesjka's". In fact, I found the first episode so embarrassing that I narrowly quit watching. Luckily, the series gets better along the way, mostly thanks to the non-stop spitfire of graphic violence and black humor. The plot twists and turns like a pretzel and the frame-ups grow more and more absurd. They better be working on a second season already, though, since the finale of last episode was downright terrible.
(*) I'm claiming to plot is far-fetched and absurd, but whilst the series was airing on television, another Belgian scandal came to the surface in which prominent lawyers and police officers are involved. It's probably more realistic than we think.