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

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New Blog Series: Fiendish Pickings Weekly!

Just a small post announcing a new series (as long as it lasts…) which will be posted every Sunday. I will be aggregating various genre film related articles, videos and podcasts from the previous week. The goal is to expose people to new things and the excellent work from film writers, podcasters and video content creators.

While the emphasis will be on horror, cult, exploitation, film noir films, you never know what might pop up each week.

-Dave K./A Fiend On Film

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

COEURS NOIRS Day 11: My Name is Julia Ross (1945)

My Name is Julia Ross (1945) film thoughts… I threw this one in the DVD player at random, not knowing anything about it. The very beautiful Nina Koch, plays the title character, a single London woman who is down on her luck and is about to get evicted from the slum she lives in. She answers a help wanted ad and viewed just right for the job, being in a live-in private secretary for a rich Mrs. Hughes. The only stipulation is she needs to accept right away and move in that night. Strangely, Mrs. Hughes, her son and the “Help Wanted” lady have ulterior moves and basically drug and kidnap her. She awakes in a seaside mansion and is told she is Marion Hughes, the wife of the son…and we are just getting started.

This was a neat little film (about 70 minutes), tightly scripted and well acted. The entire film after Julia’s abduction is her trying to come with ways to escape. The captors have their plan well in hand and each character is well defined. I was surprised to see such a dark depiction of the son, he is really screwed up. Sadly, this film is only currently available in the TCM Film Noir Classics 3 DVD set, which is a bit pricey, but worth the effort and cost to see it. I loved it.

COEURS NOIRS Day 9: RAW DEAL (1948)

Raw Deal (1948) film thoughts… Poor Joe (Dennis O’Keefe), he takes the fall for his mob boss and after it’s set up for him to escape from prison (and escape he does), everyone is out to kill him. You see, Joe was promised $50,000 from Rick the mob boss (played with delight by Raymond Burr) and Rick doesn’t want to pay. Joe also has another problem. Two women love him, his main (neglected) squeeze and a social worker from the prison who wants to “reform” him. Through a series of events, they all embark on a trip to go get the money. Little do they all know the money….is just not there.

Yup, Raw Deal was a real solid film. A very tight setup, great dialogue and acting & some innovating film work and shots. It was surprisingly very violent too. Not much of surprise at the end but the journey getting there was excellent. I loved this one and will definitely revisit.

COEURS NOIRS Day 6: Tension (1949) w/bonus review by Michael E. Wilson!

Tension (1949) film thoughts… I went into this one with absolutely no expectations and came away with one of my favorite film noirs. Richard Basehart plays probably the most cuckold man in cinema history. He runs a old fashioned pharmacy/soda shop and watches his wife each day leave with another man. She constantly makes demands on him and no matter all his efforts, she keeps putting him down. One day, she finds a real “winner” and actually leaves to shack up with him. Basehart goes to confront this guy and gets his ass kicked in front of his wife. It’s pretty much the straw that breaks the camels back as he puts together a plan to create a new identity for himself and plots to murder the guy, in the hopes of getting his wife back. There is a fly in the ointment, while under his secret identity, he meets a beautiful and fun woman more his speed. It all goes downhill from there.

Seriously, the film is just top notch from the acting, pacing, writing and visuals. I love the scenes in the pharmacy, with it’s different departments and hands on customer service. The head detective, played by Barry Sullivan, is so freaking sleazy being on both sides of the fence. The scenes with him and William Conrad are excellent. I don’t think I have seen Audrey Totter in a film before, but I need to see more, she play the “witch/bitch” role well. Also, loved Cyd Charisse, her opening scene was great, in a shot you don’t normally see in films like this.

Don’t want to say too much else. Experience this one for yourself, it’s a keeper.

and now DOUBLE THE “TENSION” with Michael’s review…

This MGM release, directed by John Berry, has a terrific opening. Police Lt. Collier Bonnabel (Barry Sullivan), standing outside of his office, looks at the camera and tells us how he solves a murder. He says he likes to keep questioning a suspect until they break from the tension. To emphasize his point, Bonnabel is playing with a rubber band, pulling it tighter and tighter, until it’s ready to snap. Then we see the film’s title, jammed into our faces.

Bonnabel continues as the narrator of the story. We are taken to an all-night drugstore in Los Angeles where we are introduced to Warren Quimby (Richard Basehart), the night manager who works long hours. Quimby is a mild mannered man who wants to save enough money to by a house for his beautiful wife, Claire (Audrey Totter), whom he adores. The couple lives in a modest apartment over the store. Claire treats her husband coldly and openly flirts with other men when she comes into the drugstore, even allowing herself to get picked up. One morning Warren comes home to find her packing her clothes, announcing that she’s leaving him to go and live with a wealthy acquaintance, Barney Daeger (Lloyd Gough). Warren begs her not to leave, but she tells him she’s finally found what she wants and she’s going to get it.

Warren is lost without Claire and eventually goes to Daeger’s beach house to plead with her to come back. Daeger beats Warren, knocking him down into the sand in front of Claire. Warren’s glasses get broken in the fight, so he goes to an optometrist for new ones. While there, he sees an advertisement for contact lenses. The doctor tells him they could change his life and make him feel like a new man. Warren decides to get revenge by planning to kill Daeger. He gets the contact lenses and changes his style of dress. He adopts a whole new persona and takes on a new name, Paul Sothern. He rents an apartment. He begins calling Daeger’s home, leaving threatening messages and calling himself Paul Sothern. His plan is to kill Daeger and make Sothern the prime suspect. Then Sothern will disappear without a trace and Quimby will be in the clear. His plan becomes more complicated when he becomes attracted to his new neighbor, Mary Chanler (Cyd Charisse), a lovely woman who treats him with the kind of affection and consideration he never received from his wife. When he finally goes to Daeger’s house to kill him, he changes his mind, realizing that Claire isn’t worth it, and that he’s enjoying his new life as Paul Sothern. But Daeger ends up dead anyway. And Warren Quimby’s deception begins to unravel when the case is being investigated by Bonnabel and his assistant, Lt. Edgar Gonsales (William Conrad).

Practically all of the known conventions of Film Noir are thrown into this enjoyable, involving mystery thriller. The Femme Fatale role is played expertly by Audrey Totter, a beautiful blonde MGM contract actress. Totter had an unusually hard, cold look about her, as if she were staring with contempt at the whole world. And she had a body to die for, shown off stunningly by the sexy wardrobe she’s given to wear. The music score by Andre Previn even provides Claire with her own theme. Every time we see her enter a scene we hear a wailing, sensuous saxophone. It’s almost as though the film is presenting her as a showgirl walking across a stage. You just know this dame is no good.

Warren Quimby’s use of an alter ego is another well used Noir plot point. Quimby is such a nice, gentle guy. And he’s obviously been wronged by his shrewish wife and her boyfriend. Therefore, the viewer is automatically on his side, even though he is plotting a murder. When he can’t go through with it, we feel as if our belief in him has been justified. What is fascinating about the story, and also one of it’s weak points, is how Warren changes so drastically after he starts wearing the contact lenses. In no time at all he truly appears to become a different person. He has more confidence and is at ease talking to women. he is also able to stand up to Daeger and Claire. Apparently, personalities can change very quickly in the Noir universe.

There’s another supporting character that adds a little twisted flavor to the film. Tom D’Andrea plays Freddie, the slightly over-the-hill soda jerk at Quimby’s drugstore. Freddie likes and respects his boss and resents Claires’ treatment of him. But he is just a little too close, to cloying around Warren. He even appears to be stalking him. Of course, this is 1950, so if there was any intention to show an attraction of one man toward another, it would have to be incredibly subtle. It’s a little difficult to figure Freddie out, but his inclusion in the story certainly adds interest. And D’Andrea is an affable actor and always a welcome face.

TENSION is put together with all of the available MGM gloss and standards of quality. The Black and White cinematography is beautifully done. The director made good use of LA locations and the drugstore setting is especially pleasing. One thing I always love about these Noirs from the 1940s and 1950s is the look of the cities with the neon lights that shine like jewels in the B & W landscape.

The film also makes good use of another MGM contract actress, Miss Cyd Charisse, one of the most talented dancers of the silver screen. only rarely was she given a chance at a straight dramatic part and she excels in the part of sympathetic Mary Chanler. Mary is the polar opposite of the icy Claire. As a film buff, I find it great fun to see the two actresses in their scenes together. A full on hair pulling bout would have been nice, but alas, it was not to be.

TENSION is a well worth seeing for anyone looking for a textbook example of classic Film Noir from the Golden Age of Hollywood.