Monday, October 31, 2011

Italian Horror Blogathon: Day Six

Happy Halloween, everyone! Check out my final post below. Keep sending in your links; I'll be updating this post throughout the day. Previous days contributions can be found after the jump.


Tim is back with his take on Demons 2. Check it out.

Simon Wright of Creatures of Light and Darkness returns with a great look at Italian soundtracks.

Stacia of She Blogs By Night takes a look at Argento's short films Jennifer and Pelts; two films he made for the television series "Masters of Horror." I have to admit, I haven't seen the made-for-Showtime series, but Stacia's coverage of these two short films makes me want to check it out.

Italian Horror Blogathon: The Sect (aka La setta, The Devil's Daughter)

I knew when I started this blogathon that I wanted to make sure I covered some stalwarts of the Italian horror subgenre. Everyone knows about Fulci and Argento (both have been covered with the first blogathon), but I always feel the urge to carry the torch for the lesser known, underappreciated Michele Soavi. Last blogathon I covered three of his four horror films – Stagefright, Cemetery Man, and The Church – and this year I knew I wanted to cover the other one: the much maligned The Sect. I also knew that I wanted some of these posts to coalesce a little bit more than the previous blogathon, and so I found it natural to talk about this film in light of my piece on Lamberto Bava’s Graveyard Disturbance, and how that film marked the end of bigger budget Italian horror movies. Made in 1991, The Sect had a budget of 2 million dollars (actually quite large at the time for Italian horror movies) and wasn’t much of a success. The film clocks in at almost two hours and seems to take itself way more seriously than Italian horror films of the past. However, I’ve always liked the film and feel that it is unfairly maligned when you compare to the weak attempts by contemporaries Argento (Trauma), Fulci (Demonia), Deodato (The Washing Machine), and Bava (Mask of the Demon) around that same time. Soavi, when compared to his contemporaries, was actually making the most interesting and innovative Italian horror films at that time and was reminding people why the subgenre had such an avid cult following to begin with.  In short: When Soavi came on the scene in 1987, he was the only making true Italian horror films (with one exception being Argento’s Opera which was released in 1987).

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Italian Horror Blogathon: Cannibal Apocalypse (aka Apocalypse domani)

Released a year after Cannibal Holocaust and a year before Cannibal Ferox (Jess Franco’s Cannibals was in there, too) it’s safe to say that the‘70s and early ‘80s belonged to the cannibal subgenre. Antonio Margheriti – working under the oft-used pseudonym Anthony Dawson – never had much use for the horror genre as this was his only foray into visceral, exploitation horror film. He was more of a Gothic horror filmmaker with one of his most well known films being the 1964 film Castle of Blood (It's also much rumored that he directed Andy Warhol's Frankenstein and not Paul Morrisey). He was more of a genre filmmaker who specialized in those great Italian action films that were just knockoffs of more popular American films. Marghertiti – who cut his teeth working as an assistant with Sergio Leone – isn’t up to the tricks that Deodato and Lenzi used in their cannibal films; in fact, the word ‘cannibal’ in the title is a bit of misnomer as Cannibal Apocalypse doesn’t contain any of the racial insensitivity or cruelty to animals (or gut munching) that those infamous cannibal film have. It’s a nice, underrated film, and one that I am completely baffled by the DPP’s inclusion of it on their Video Nasty list.  Cannibal Apocalypse is an interesting amalgam of cannibal movie, Vietnam movie (its Italian title translates to “Apocalypse Tomorrow”), and Euro crime picture; it’s a sneaky-good Italian horror movie that more people need to see.  

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Italian Horror Blogathon: The Perfume of the Lady in Black (aka Il profumo della signora in nero)

Here is a capsule review on the VASTLY underrated film The Perfume of the Lady in Black that I wrote for Wonders in the Dark for their top 100 Horror Films countdown last year. The full list of films can be found here. Enjoy...and make sure to watch that trailer!

[Originally posted 9/13/10 at Wonders in the Dark]

When I was approached by Jamie to participate in this countdown I knew I wanted to make sure Italian horror got its due. And when Jamie told me his intentions for the countdown – a numerical listing of films with the intent to raise awareness rather than rank one better than another – I knew I wanted to shed some light onto some Italian horror movies that weren’t as well known as the staples (read: Argento, Bava, and Fulci) of the subgenre. These are films like The Short Night of the Glass Dolls (Aldo Lado) or The House with Laughing Windows (Pupi Avati); films that have a cult following within a cult subgenre. One of the real joys about this particular sungenre is the hope that the more you watch the same old gialli over and over that just maybe this time you’ll un-mine some hidden gem. Case in point: Francesco Barilli’s The Perfume of the Lady in Black, a fantastic addition into the most hallowed halls of Italian horror.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Italian Horror Blogathon: Scorpion with Two Tails (aka Assassinio al cimitero Etrusco, Murder in an Etruscan Cemetery)

Trimmed down from a seven part mini-series, this extremely boring, late-era Sergio Martino film is a big disappointment. I can’t imagine this story being longer, but the fact that it was a part of a mini-series would explain the brief appearances by American genre actors John Saxon and Van Johnson. It also explains the inexplicable detour the film takes halfway through where it goes from supernatural horror movie to Italian crime movie. In the midst of all the heads being twisted every-which-way and maggots spewing from statues, there are drug film caricatures and heroine deals gone awry and all other kinds of exploitation film goodness. However, it never comes together for Martino and his longtime screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi as Scorpion with Two Tails (also known as Murder in an Etruscan Cemetery which sounds like the title for an episode of “Murder She Wrote”) is a crushing disappointment from one of my favorite Italian horror directors.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Italian Horror Blogathon: Graveyard Disturbance (aka A Night in a Cemetery, Una notte al cimitero)

Lamberto Bava’s Graveyard Disturbance is an interesting film in the history of Italian horror. Oh, not because it’s any good, but because it marks the death of quality, theatrical Italian horror films.  1987’s Graveyard Disturbance marked the first of four films that Lamberto Bava made (with the help of veteran genre screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti) for the Italian television series “Brivido Giallo.” What’s significant about this really, quite honestly, has nothing to do with Bava. Oh, Bava was a decent talent – a filmmaker who could obviously never live up to his father’s name – who worked early in his career as an apprentice (alongside Michele Soavi) for Dario Argento. Bava’s best film was the 1980 giallo Macabre; his Demons is a lot of fun, too. But back to what I was talking about: Italian horror circa 1987. Graveyard Disturbance came out the same year as Michele Soavi’s Stagefright and Dario Aregento’s Opera; two films that are wonderful examples of just what good Italian horror can accomplish; however, they also weren’t big success financially, and with the increasing popularity of television, the floundering Italian film business (American horror movies were making a ton more than the homemade products), and how cheap one could produce a movie for television, there would only be a couple more movies like them before we started getting more and more movies like Graveyard Disturbance.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Italian Horror Blogathon: Absurd (AKA Rosso Sangue, Anthropophagus II, Monster Hunter, The Grim Reaper 2)

One of the more notorious “Video Nasty” films that never made it off of the final list of 39 films banned by the DPP, Absurd is a film – like most Joe D’Amato films – where the viewer is left to wonder what all the fuss was about. Nothing about the film is particularly scary or obscene, and even though it is essentially a beat for beat remake of the first two Halloween pictures, there’s nothing remotely artistic or well-made about the film that warrants disgust at the fact that it was banned in the UK.  It is, however, helmed by the infamous Artistide Massacessi – better known to us Yanks as Joe D’Amato – and for that it has obtained a level of cult status as being inherently nasty because his name is attached to it. Now, sitting down to watch a Joe D’Amato film isn’t something you do all willy-nilly. It has to be pre-meditated, and, if you’re anything like me, this is an act that shows your unbridled love and enthusiasm for the genre. Because let’s face it: why else would one subject themselves to a D’Amato film? So it’s with that that I find it difficult to get a bead on Absurd. In no way is it good, but in the right frame of mind, it’s more than tolerable.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Italian Horror Blog-a-thon is tomorrow!

First post goes up around 7am Pacific. I'll also have a community post up for you to send links to; I'll update that post daily with what you all are writing about. Also, I'll be updating my own posts under the Italian Horror tab at towards the top of the page...check it out if you want to see what other Italian horror flicks I've written about.

I'm looking forward to reading what you all have to say.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

New Halloween-themed Quiz from SLATIFL

Dennis from Sergio Leone and the Inside Fly Rule has come up with another fun quiz...this time with a Halloween theme! This one is right up my alley.

First, a brief reminder that the Italian Horror Blog-a-thon is just a mere three days away. I hope you all have your posts ready. I'll be posting a community post here on Wednesday for everyone to send me links to their pieces via the comments section. Anyway, we're three days away. Should be fun!

My answers to the quiz follow the jump.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Color of Money

Head on over to Edward Copeland on Film to check out my latest on the 25th anniversary of The Color of Money:

The Color of Money is entertaining when it’s being a road picture instead of a derivative drama about the old versus the new; it’s at its best when we see it for what it really is: a story about a man’s soul being fed. Selling whiskey — “You’re sittin’ in it, and I’m wearing it” — has been very good to Eddie, but as he explains later in the film, “it’s tired.” Vincent awakens within him a chance to atone for 20 years of dormancy in the pool scene; a scene — a vocation, really — that truly defines Eddie and that gives him the most pleasure.