FIENDISH PICKINGS WEEKLY #2 4/9/17

articles

Blood and Beauties – An Interview with Death-Scort Service Part 2: The Naked Dead Director Sean Donohue

The beginner’s guide to Italian exploitation cinema by Den Of Geek (contributed by Mando Ayala)

The films of Radley Metzger

6 Reasons Why “Kagemusha” Is Akira Kurosawa’s Late Masterpiece by Panos Kotzathanasis

CGs Film Reviews

From a House on Willow Street (2016) yeah this was not a good film. There are some great practical effects and creature design but its mixed with laughable CGI effects and characters that are so paper thin and just plain stupid.

The films starts out introducing our characters and their backstories just so they can then be used against them later on. The first half of the film is mainly characters walking around in the dark followed by jump scares. We then get an exposition dump that slows the film to a crawl followed by a third act that ramps up the action and gore.

The last act is where the film is at its best but the characters are so underdeveloped and uninteresting that it just didn’t grab me. I could see some people really enjoying this but not me. 2.5/5 stars.

Galaxy of Horrors 1h 45min | Horror, Sci-Fi | 2017 (Amazon VOD)

A horror/scifi anthology that reminded me of the film released last year called Patient Seven which was created by grabbing international shorts and creating a wrap around story to loosely tie them all together. As with any anthology you will always have a mixed bag with some shorts being strong, some being okay and some being terrible. Here’s the breakdown:

Eden – 2.5/5, IRIS – 4/5, Pathos – 3/5, Flesh Computer – 2/5, Eveless – 1/5, They Will All Die in Space – 4/5, Entity – 3.5/5, Kings – 3/5, Wrap Around Story – 1/5

There are some really strong highs and some really low lows. So overall I had a fun time but each story is very different from each other. 3.5/5 stars.

Quarries 1h 23min | Drama, Horror, Thriller | 2017 (Amazon VOD)

This has to be one of the most generic backwoods horror films I’ve ever seen. Our group of women are all one note cliches and our villains are the most boring cookie cutter redneck family.

Everything just happens in the most boring way possible as there is no build of suspense and our so called threat is dispatched with relative ease. It doesn’t get more middle of the road than this. 2/5 stars.
Alleluia (film) 1h 33min | Crime, Horror, Romance | 12 November 2014 (Belgium)
A very disturbed woman goes on a date with a man who she discovers is a scam artist and has issues of his own. She quickly becomes obsessed and it all spirals out of control from there. Based on a true story this is a very dark and gritty film that has a very 1970s feel. 3.5/5 stars.

A Room to Die For 18A | 1h 24min | Horror, Thriller | 2017 (Amazon VOD)

This is a pretty terrible film. We then are given flashes of whats to come within the first 5 mins so this undercuts any suspense of what may happen. The performances are not good all around.

The young couple are pretty unlikable right from the start especially the boyfriend and the older couple are so uninteresting so we can’t engage with them either. What happens in the film is supposed to generate some kind of emotion but all I felt was sorry for the actors involved in this film.
Avoid! 1/5 stars.

videos

The Hills Have Eyes (1977) – Arrow Video Limited Edition Blu-Ray Set Unboxing! by deadbydawn93

DEATH-SCORT SERVICE PART 2: THE NAKED DEAD (2017) teaser trailer

Amy Heckerling’s Criterion Closet Picks

So’s Film Diaries #1 | TAKE ME INTO THE MATRIX | FILM VLOG by So’s Reel Thoughts

AllScreamingEye: The Greasy Strangler review by Gore Hounds

podcasts

Zach’s Ceremony, Ghost in the Shell and A Man Called Ove on Plato’s Cave – 03 April 2017

Dark Discussions Podcast Episode 278 – The Belko Experiment

THE LAST KNOCK presents: THE EYES OF MY MOTHER (2017)

POST MORTEM WITH MICK GARRIS with Walter Hill 3/29/17

sponsors

Gore Noir Magazine

Grindhouse Video Tampa

Cavity Colors

ASIAN FILM MONTH April 1st-30th 2017

Well, it is going to be a theme month once again in The Magnificent World of Dave K. As I attempt to watch 365 films this year (most of which that I have never seen before), in the month of April 2017, I will be viewing only Asian films of various genres, concentrating on more sleaze and exploitation this time out. Daily, I should be doing a round up of other links and reviews that catch my eye plus the films that some of my film buddies see. It’s pretty loose this time out, just let me know if you do a review, a video or just mention a film you have seen. Now a small round of film posters I gathered…

Follow me on Twitter: @AFiendOnFilm

A look at Cultographies: Ms. 45 by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas (2017)

I “met” Alexandra through her writing a couple of year back when I read one of her previous books, Rape Revenge Films: A Critical Study. To me, just that title alone is a home run but when I was about half way through I knew I was reading words from my “new” favorite film writer. While the book has that scholarly air about it, Alexandra shows she is a down to earth film fan first and writes so that dumb shulbs like me can understand. I found out about a couple of films she wrote about in a positive fashion and picked them up.

I later learned from her at the time, that she was working on two future books, both single film specific. One was about Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977) and the next, the one I was most interested in, Abel Ferrara’s 1981 Classic Ms. 45. Little that I knew it was going to be a bit for it to be released. The countdown began at that moment…

20170303_055613

^ Contents page…

Last week, the book arrived in my mailbox and I fast tracked it to the top of the pile. I was first surprised at the small size of the book and then realized it was perfect. Sized like a classic paperback you would find on the racks of seedy magazine shops (like Seven Star News in the city of Linden, New Jersey where I grew up), the subject material fits it like a glove. In a historical fashion, Alexandra breaks down the making/creation of the film, from it’s beginnings to the finished product hitting the screens.

She is a researcher who likes details and doesn’t skimp on them. While Alexandra doesn’t have a direct interview with any of the particulars, there are many referenced quotes from all who were involved with the proceedings. There is a big focus on Zoe Lund, from the acting in Ms. 45, her writings & collaborations with Abel on other productions, such as Bad Lieutenant (1992). Small details do not get unnoticed, it seems for one big scene in the film, Ferrara hired for day work, people hanging out in the Revolutionary Communist Party Bookstore on 18th Street/NYC, as his studios were upstairs. Weird, I was at that place a few times in the 80’s, who knew such greatness was up above! There is also words written about the recent “uncut” DVD release by Drafthouse Films. While I knew there were many versions of Ms. 45, I wasn’t aware that it was never released in full until 2013. Crazy.

Overall, as with much of her previous work, Alexandra writes for the “common folk” when it comes to film critique. I would say about 15% of the book would be considered psycho babble but the rest is hardcore film criticism and looking into the film’s production, the screenings and reactions afterward. Ms. 45, when you look at it at face value, is not an easy film to fully understand and everybody comes away from it differently. Even though I have seen the film a few times over the years, this book illuminated somethings I missed (again, I’m a dumb shulb, don’t sue me…). If you are like me and enjoy reading about movies, Cultographies: Ms. 45 is a sure pick-up.

20170303_055647

Find the book and Alexandra on the Web here:

https://www.amazon.com/Ms-45-Cultographies-Alexandra-Heller-Nicholas/dp/0231179855

http://www.thebluelenses.com/

https://twitter.com/suspirialex

COEURS NOIRS Day 18: Rififi (1955)

Rififi (1955) film thoughts… I had the opportunity to get this film on Criterion for a good price, so I didn’t hesitate to grab it as I heard this was one of the major films in international film noir. Tony is an older, weathered gent who has just returned from a 5 year prison sentence. It’s is noted that he took the fall for a younger guy who he was good friends with. As an ex-thief, he is broke and needs some kind of income. After declining a small robbery job, the younger guy tells him of a proposition that could be the biggest score of their lives but Tony has to take part, otherwise they don’t think it can be pulled off. So begins the planning of a jewel heist that is extremely detailed in nature. Will they pull it off? You will need to see Rififi to find out….

Seriously, if you haven’t seen Rififi and you like foreign films and noir, you need to find a way to see this immediately. The story, acting, cinematography…everything is tight. The centerpiece of the story, the robbery itself, is filmed in pin drop silence and is very suspenseful. The characters are extremely well defined. What I found most enjoyable is how they actually handle the extreme violence in the film. It’s all implied off screen, with the after effects shown minimally, like a hand hanging over something. That doesn’t lessen the impact, it’s intense.

I loved it. Like I said, I own the Criterion of this but do try to find a good print and add it to your collection soon.

COEURS NOIRS Day 16: Night and The City (1950) Guest review by Gene R. Hole

I only saw this film for the first time one year ago, but the romance has not yet worn off.  I’m still madly in love with this iconic noir masterpiece.  The shadows of noir are rarely inkier than in Night and the City, a film that crushes all hopes of a happy ending for every one of its characters…that is, unless you watch the alternate European cut, which has the slightest suggestion of hope for at least two characters.  The UK cut also has a different musical score!

But despite some really great foreign contemporaries, film noir was essentially an American movement, and in an interesting way, those difference between the two are a good example of what makes American noir such a unique phenomenon of its time and place. That is an idea that will have to remain unexplored for now.  I’ll leave that topic for another day- an alternate turn in the dark cavern of noir that shall be visited on some later spelunking expedition. I simply mention it now to explain that the American cut will be the one to which I refer in this appreciation (and not because the alternate is necessarily a bad/worse film for the changes made to it).

So, wow.  What a gut-punch of movie this is.  Even the innocent party gets no relief from the consequences of the protagonist’s mistakes.  Sort of like real life.  Our actions seldom affect just ourselves, no matter how hard we may argue to the contrary.  In that way, the scheming, dreaming small-time big-ideas grafter Harry Fabian (an outstanding Richard Widmark) is all of us who think we can do things the wrong way and get away with it while not hurt anyone.    Widmark’s performance is a whirlwind of manic, frenzied scrambling, from the first time we see him racing across an open street beneath the shadow of a dark and forbidding city, to the last moments of the picture as he fights with his last breath the “be somebody” and get that easy money that will provide for Mary Bristol (Gene Tierney), the girl he loves almost as much as he loves himself.

Tierney is also terrific at conveying a patient, faithful fiancée who finally has had enough but is too good to really let go of the man she loves.  The pain on her face when she discovers Fabian ransacking her things to find money to pay off one of his many failed “investors” is agonizing and so relatable.  This is real hurt that any viewer can understand.  “You won’t find any money in there, Harry.”  Such a subtly underplayed reaction, and so much more like real life than the more histrionic “hell hath no fury” performances we see so often.  But then that’s what makes Tierney the star she was (and not the first name, as much as I’d like the think so).

The supporting cast is equally to be praised, from Googie Withers and Francis L Sullivan as Mr. and Mrs. Nosseross, a barely-married nightclub running couple whose own story is equally wrenching as the main characters, and perhaps even more fraught with tension, greed, and ambition, and a tragedy that is all-too understandable despite the near-operatic scale of the betrayal and hurt between them.

There are knockout scenes with many of the more minor cast as well, from Mike Mazurki as the professional wrestler “The Strangler,” right down to James Hayter as Figler, king of the Beggars, and Maureen Delaney as Anna O’Leary, the black marketeer who briefly shelters the doomed man as the shadows come crushing in to smother the life out of him.

But my two favorite performances may be the gangster Kristo (Herbert Lom) and his retired Greco-Roman wrestling champion father Gregorious (Stanislaus Zbyszko).  First, if you only know Herbert Lom from the Peter Sellers starring Pink Panther series, you are missing out on the range and versatility of a remarkable, if largely unsung, talent.  IMDB him to see some of the many interesting and diverse roles he’s played.  Here he performs the remarkable feat of portraying a villain that we simultaneously sympathize with and alternately loath, dread and fear.  The pivotal scene that accomplishes that is also Zbyszko’s iconic big screen moment, his herculean showdown with The Strangler and his final gasping moments when his outsized heart breaks from the strain of that effort. Together these two actors create the single most compelling moment of a picture that is abounding in such evocative scenes.  At the sight of his father stumbling out of the ring with heavy perspiration all over his body and a pained, twisted look on his face, Kristo is suddenly shaken out of his cool, cruel attitude and is suddenly a frightened child wondering what he will do without a father.

Zbysko has up to this point made the character so warm (and, dare I say, Gregarious?) that his death scene is deeply heartbreaking for us as audience members. And his performance of those final moments of life is so believable and realistic that Kristo’s reaction reflects our own.  “Shut the window, please, it’s so cold,” has such a terribly chilling affect when we and Kristo see that the window in question is already closed.  But when he goes through the motion anyways, his humanity and even his humane-ity shows briefly. Not a thug or a boss, just a grief=stricken human losing maybe the one person he loves, and certainly the only one who loves him.  That glimmer of sorrow is reflected in the glistening tears that glow in Lom’s eyes.  Then, Gregorious’ breath stops. One could almost swear one sees his soul leave his body, so eloquently acted the moment is.  Then we see Kristo’s soul change too- he is suddenly more cold and alone, more vengeful and bitter than before, and is set quickly to the task of hunting down the one responsible for his father’s death.

Though this is absolutely Harry Fabian’s story and Widmark’s film, this is the standout scene for me, which of course, it must be, as it represents the turning point for all his plans and hopes.  There can be no escape now. The audience senses it, and understands why he must die, even as we hope against hope he can survive.  I believe that hope is the result of Tierney’s performance, and the sympathy we have for him is given to us by proxy as an extension of our sympathy for her.  We want him to survive for her sake.  But in this dark city, there is no such hope. This is the essence of noir.  Night and the City is noir at its most distilled and pure form, a pitch-dark tragedy that sucks us into its grasp with all the compulsion of a black hole.  This won’t be the last time I watch it.

 

See Gene’s Blog at: http://picksbygene.blogspot.com

Follow Gene on Twitter: https://twitter.com/generasputin

COEURS NOIRS Day 14: Black Widow (1987)

Black Widow (1987) film thoughts… This is another film that when it came out, I never had any real interest. 29 years later here I am watching it for Coeurs Noirs, go figure. Catherine, played by Theresa Russell, is a habitual husband killer. She meticulously finds a very wealthy unattached man, slinks into their lives and marries them. So after following the same pattern of things, the husband mysteriously die and she gets all the money via the husband’s will. Debra Winger’s Alex, is a single Federal Agent who gets obsessed with odd death cases that nobody else wants to handle. She stumbles across two husband deaths that Catherine is attached too and tries to track her down. Her boss is played deftly (slightly sleazy and obviously in love with Alex) by Terry O’Quinn, he wants her to stop “wasting her time” with this nowhere case, but once another rich corpse turns up on the network, Alex is given permission to go after her.

This neo-noir is extremely well done across the board. Each lady’s character is definitively complete, both very complex. Catherine, who seems to be all together, has bouts of weakness and crying fits when things don’t go her way. Her plans generally go perfectly each time, but they fail she goes into a dark place of failure. Alex, has her own problems. She basically ignores every good time or good personal possibility for her life in order to “do her job”. She is the opposite of Catherine in the fact, failure just makes her more bold and determined.

The film is beautifully shot but has a weird narrative. They don’t show you everything, it’s like there are entire scenes that you would think you would see. They just skip over them like they don’t matter, you already know what happened, let’s just cut to the chase. All that aside, it’s a very good film.

COEURS NOIRS Day 12: Strange Impersonation (1946)

Strange Impersonation (1946) film thoughts… I bought this DVD when Moviestop was going under, sadly I seemed to be the only one interested in. That is too bad because this is one really wild film that needs to be seen! The stunning Brenda Marshall is Nora Goodwich, is a well to do scientist who is working in anesthetics. Her lab underling, Arline, is very jealous of the relationship she has with another scientist. One evening, while Nora is “under” conducting an experiment, Arline mixes two chemicals, causing an explosion which scars Nora’s face. A couple of subplots come together, leading Nora to be able to have plastic surgery to become somebody else and plot a revenge…

I can’t go further on this as it will give away too much of this 68 minute tightly wound noir. The story is well done and some of the parts are wow moments. I’m really surprised I never heard of it before buying. The acting is great but I can’t really comment too much on the cinematography since I have the KINO DVD which is a restored version of the film. There are parts which I take they couldn’t fix, so the quality jumps around. In any case, Strange Impersonation is one to see. So much evil and jealous throughout this picture, I love it.