MURDER ELITE (aka) ELIA MORDERCOW(1985)

March 1st, 2014

‘Murder Elite’ is somewhat of a curio piece; a British pseudo-slasher set in the bucolic countryside, that feels more like a particularly sedentary episode of ‘Bergerac’ than a lurid 80’s horror. Thus far it sounds as if I am being condescending, but I’m merely try to place this rather obscure title in a truer perspective; while it concerns the murderous machinations of a provincial serial killer, ‘Man Bites Dog’ it ‘aint!

All that said, and with its palpable lack of sanguinary violence, I really enjoyed it; and while it is definitely more tea & biscuits, than Troma & Jack Daniels; the fact that ‘Murder Elite’ takes a rather sedate, bucolic approach, which ultimately endeared the film to me greatly; and this was largely down to the largely excellent cast: Billie Whitelaw and Hywel Bennett were tremendous in the roles, and it was a joy to see Garfield ‘The Sweeney’ Morgan reprise his role of Detective Chief inspector Haskins (sort of!) and while he didn’t get to do more than sneer, and regard everyone’s paltry alibi with scorn; as expected, he did this with aplomb! This stoic fellow was born to play a TV copper, such verisimilitude, such perfect pitch of derision was never quite so pronounced in any other thespian. Again, this is a largely esoteric reason to enjoy a film, but there it is! The one major suspension of disbelief has always been that Ali MacGraw was in any way,shape,or form a competent actor: she wasn’t; and the energy expenditure it required to accept that she was Billie Whitelaw’s sister took infinitely more creativity than N. J Crisp displayed in his somewhat piecemeal script. Watching Steve McQueen’s main squeeze stumble-bum through her performance as a libidinous strumpet, was, in its own way hugely amusing. The weary plot would suit the yellowed pages of a pre-30’s pulp pot boiler, and, along with MacGraw is definitely the last chicken in the shop; but the true gold is the woefully grandiose score by Hammer legend James Bernard; his heady, Gothic bombast raises this anodyne effort to that of magnificent folly with his HUGE overbearing score; let me just say this is no fault of his; he remains one of the all time greats; but this slender tale couldn’t hold the cumbersome weight of his muscular score: a bit like slathering the most grandiose John Williams effort over a scratchy Doris Wishman effort: thereby creating a gravitas overload which soon escalates to unbound jocularity. If Christopher lee were creeping, swivel-eyed through the misty gloaming; repeatedly tearing nubile throats asunder, THIS would be a stupendously exhilarating score: Hywel Bennett repeatedly mucking out the stable is, frankly, too prosaic a visual, and requires considerably less orchestration, if any, really.

The film is absurd, hysterical, and rather pedestrian, and, still, I found much to enjoy here: I definitely prefer the European title of ‘Elia Mordercow’ to ‘Murder Elite’: ‘Murder Elite’? Why? Because it’s a far better moniker than ‘bloodless killings on a near-bankrupt farm’ Just remember to crank up the giddy James Bernard score! ‘Elia Mordercow’ will probably have its greatest appeal to Hywel Bennett fans, or those singular individuals who can glean inordinate amounts of pleasure from the kind of ragged, celluloid nonsense most sensible folk would cast violently from the village with bilious hue & cry, and raised, angered pitchfork.

GANG WAR IN NAPLES (1972) #UPGRADE#

February 28th, 2014

For some inexplicable reason ‘Gang War in Naples’ (aka) Camorra remains an obscure cinematic prospect; and while the gifted director Pasquale Squitieri has fortified this undeniably robust mafiosi actioner with many zesty set pieces, it is, sadly, one of myriad unseen Italian Euro Crime efforts of th 1970’s; which is a great shame, since the nifty, two-fisted charms of ‘Camorra’ are undiluted.

Admittedly the ubiquitous ‘thug rising up the ranks of the cosa nostra’ theme is a little uninspired; but the hackneyed narrative is emboldened considerably by the welcome inclusion of that most magnetic and handsome of Italian leading men, Fabio Testi; who plays the scheming and violent hoodlum, Tonino Rosso with great elan; thus far, I have yet to see a lackluster performance from this swarthy-eyed devil! ‘Gang War in Naples’ (aka) Camorra is an unashamed crowd-pleaser; with its success as solid late night entertainment due in no small part to the luminous charisma of Testi, and Pasquale injects much rigor in what is ostensibly a tired premise. Good stuff! And mine’s a J&B rocks!

BALI (1970)

February 18th, 2014

Ugo Liberatore has fashioned a rather unusual confection in Bali. Part-murder mystery; part-existential melodrama; part-metaphysical erotika; part-exotic travelogue; that ultimately cannot help be be somewhat less than its rather exploitative parts. There is a bloody, giallo-esque murder at the beginning which engenders a rather clunky conceit of the ostensible wife-slayer, Umberto Orsini, relaying the heady Bali-bound tale of marital infidelity, Balinese hoodoo-voodoo; and the great, existential woes of the preternaturally sulky, blonde bombshell, John Steiner; who, unsatisfied with his two slinky, Asian honey-pot wives, finds the satiety he desires among the considerable, sun-warmed bosom of Orsini’s voluptuous wife; played in rather somnambulist fashion by the super-sexy Antonelli; who does little more here than brood, and look inordinately delicious in her snug black bikini; which, as you might well imagine, is more than adequate compensation for her minuscule character development, and vapid stare. Again, highlighting the sterling plot; or lack thereof; or mentioning the spurious motivation of the comic book characters does the film no good deed at all: it is better to immerse the noggin with suitably robust libations, and then glory at this sunny bounty of giddy nonsense.

The story is hysterical, and palpably absurd, and can only be enjoyed if taken with an enormous pinch of hallucinogenics; but, miraculously, all the film’s myriad faults do finally coalesce into a remarkably entertaining yarn; this is because A) it is all wholly, and unrelentingly absurd and B) The location and photography of the impossibly beautiful island paradise of Bali is truly sensational; and C) (a jolly good C it is too!) Giorgio Gaslini’s score is lushness personified; slathering unctuously over the steamy proceedings like a sublime application of warm, slippery coconut oil, across the magnificently burnished busts of Laura Antonelli.

ISLAND OF SIN (1973)

February 17th, 2014

Island of Sin is a quite, special special. Now, that would be special in the sense of the film being both spectacularly goofy and wildly unsavory in equal doses. This ignoble work is the absolute quintessence of true-blue Grindhouse madness; as the ‘film’ is little more than a palsied celluloid skeleton to hang on a veritable cornucopia of egregious acting; delightful amounts of gratuitous nudity; arbitrary acts of violence, and some monumentally poor attempts at disco dancing. (all the young people here are blessed with all the grace and physical coordination of an arthritic chicken recently shorn of its head) Any two of the latter ingredients is usually enough to keep someone like me watching with full-beam eyes, but having all this sleazoid bounty in one wholly insalubrious film is almost too good to be true! Sleazy, oily pulchritude doesn’t come much better than ‘Island of Sin’.

The perfunctory plot is yet another popular riff on the drive-in standard of: oily nut-balls who invade a bourgeois home, and proceed to wreak a fleshy tumult of grimy nastiness, and, frankly, this is achieved with aplomb via the preternaturally lurid film-making vernacular of Kostas Doukas. The dialogue and performances are uniformly atrocious, merely adding to the hysterical tone of this, quite literally insensible work of sun-bleached depravity. Life is simply too short NOT to experience the cinematic wonderment of ‘Island of Sin’.

LAS TROMPETAS DEL APOCALIPSIS (1969)

February 12th, 2014

The undeniably groovy ‘Las Trompetas Del Apocalipsis (1969) (aka) Murder by Music is somewhat of a curate’s egg; as with most gialli it is positively agog with labored Mcguffins, and is, again, festooned with an atypically absurd premise; in this case the soggle-headed scribe suggests that a certain piece of esoteric music is able to engender such a profoundly distressing malaise in the listener, that the desperate individual must immediately hurl himself bodily from the nearest window after listening to it. (this is clearly a prototype for Katy Perry’s indigestible, saccharine horrors!) It must be noted that all said victims are fortuitously close to a high enough window that would cause a permanent case of death, should one take the final plunge,as it were. Much of the film has a gloomy, almost Krimi-esque view of London: dingy backstreets; even dingier bars enlivened with heptone, super-frugging psychedelic pop, and primordial-looking opium den lend the film a wildly expressionistic feel, which captures the tale end of the sixties as a rather twee-looking, beatnik apocalypse!

The unbound grooviness is supplied in mammoth doses by Gianni Ferrio’s sublime score, a personal fave of mine, and he certainly doesn’t disappoint with his wall-to-wall psyche-hippie-funk.

For those more jaded gialli fans who require their sleazy cellulioid entertainments to include a plethoric of squeaky, be-gloved, ice-cool razor slashings into hot nubile flesh will be wholly disappointed, as this seems to be more of an anti-drugs polemic than a slinky extravaganza of high-octane misogyny. But it has the requisite hunk (Brett Halsey) and a suitably lissome gaggle of psychedelic euro-starlets that one might expect in such a wonderfully absurd affair! I loved it, but I can imagine it will prove to be a rather divisive affair.

LA PURITANA (aka) SCORPIONS KISS (1989)

February 7th, 2014

After many long, soul-withering years of trawling through the grimpen, celluloid murk of Italian exploitation effluvium; one gets used to throwing much that is entirely indigestible back into the greasy void of cinematic spume; but, on those gloriously rare, and wholly exhilarating occasions, something quite unexpected glitters enticingly within the tawdry, oleaginous miasma of tepid euro-schlock.

All that doesn’t glitter, might yet be gold; a little-appreciated maxim given considerable verisimilitude by ‘La Puritan’s’ generic, Joe D’Amato-style artwork, which proves to be enormously misleading: its moribund vista of poodle-haired, pneumatic broad, and an oily, lascivious-looking cat in pensive pre-canoodle, initially appears about as enticing as a murky commode full of Polish cuisine; but beneath this prosaic veneer is a lurid masterpiece of palpating, gratuitous nudity; merciless revenge, and non-stop, soft-core ruttage; whereby, all of those craven, voyeuristic souls in Utopian mondo-land can freely enjoy the multitudinous charms of Margit Evelyn Newton; who zealously dispenses an especially carnal mode of retribution that invalidates the puritanical coda of less is more: no it isn’t! An excess of Margit Evelyn Newton’s deliciously pulchritudinous flesh is ALWAYS the best option. (fortunately the arch reprobate director, Grassia is fully aware of this; making damn sure that he buttered this particular movie’s muffin, breast side up!) #Excuse the mixed metaphor, but the delightful Ms. Newton’s eye-watering Amazonian physiognomy has played merry havoc with my reeling noggin!#

And it would be remiss of me to give any of the plot, or wondrous set pieces away, so I wont. Life is paltry enough without some callous oaf dampening the possibility of someone enjoying myriads of mondo marvels that lurk betwixt the mountainous peaks of Margie newton’s fecund flesh.

I literally had no idea what to expect with ‘La Puritana’ which heightened the exponential excitement Nini Grassi’s grease-palmed Giallo afforded me! This glorious film suffers not by the wondrous inclusion of exploitation legends Gabriele Tinti, and the perma-smarmy Helmut Berger; both of whom deliver suitably scurrilous performances; twin burning sons of macho sleaze, desperately out-sleazing each other in this towering trash-babel of tantalizing teats; an ultra-prurient; giddy-glorious, grungey Giallo; and all of which, is, of course, entirely indefensible to those with an modicum of decency. Fortunately 25 years of incremental cinematic debasement has eroded all vestiges of good taste from my amoral palate!

THE CURIOUS FEMALE (1970)

January 22nd, 2014

Ribald exploitation with a bodacious bevvy of nubile sci-fi starlets, all doing what nubile starlets do  best: removing all their fab gear at the soonest opportunity, and, then, like, get it on to the super-fuzz, way-out beat sounds of Herr Stu Philips. While ‘The Curious Female’ isn’t on par with the work of Radley Metzger it is still hugely entertaining, and genuinely funny to boot!

Set in a not-so Orwellian future, the island of future Los Angeles is ruled by the omnipotent ‘Master Computer’ (little more than a sonorous baritone voice), and all the decadent youth must abstain from the dreadful calamity of monogamy; and it is expressly forbidden to watch stag reels from the early 20th century. Basically, one is encouraged to live a polymorphously perverse life, but should you cue up a Russ Meyer-type flick, ‘Master Computer’ blows a despotic diode and slams said errant voyeur into the clink. ‘The Curious Female’ is far more ‘The Schoolgirl Report’ than, say, ‘Silent Running’, so hardcore SF addicts would best look elsewhere (Theodore Sturgeon this ‘aint!) but fans of far-out slap and tickle will find much to enjoy in Paul Rapp’s effortlessly groovy ‘The Curious Female’.

I did enjoy seeing the nightclub Lothario do his oily schtick on one of the reluctant ‘virgins’, as he was also clearly the voice for ‘Master Computer’. There was an equally amusing sequence in a day-glo hippie ‘joint’ whereby another of the film’s ‘virgins’ was accosted by two idiotic, octogenarian bikers, and is then rescued by the most unconvincing martial artist since an especially irksome clutch of turtles took up Tai Chi. Apparently she was simply ‘looking for trouble’? Obviously this fellow was a seer, with a far more acute sense of perception than mere mortal man; as the girl in question was simply sitting in a bar huffing on a desultory fag! So, naturally, this being the late, and oh-so permissive  60’s, said lunkhead demanded the brutal sex from her that she so clearly craved, and gave her one beneath an epic, psychedelic light show worthy of ‘Holy Mountain’.

While this rather incongruous blend of clumsy SF and bawdy comedy is not exactly a masterpiece of erotica, it works brilliantly as a giddy microcosm of super-contrived 1960’s grooviness! and it would make a suitable pairing with the likes of ‘Valley of The Dolls’, or ‘Barberella’ etc.

ISABELLA DUCHESSA DEI DIABOLI (1969)

January 21st, 2014

‘Isabella Duchessa dei Diaboli’ is a camp, rambunctious yarn by stolid genre filmmaker Bruno ‘Assassination on The Tiber’ Corbucci based on a popular Fumetti (lurid comic strip) of the time. After the anguished young Duchess witnesses the brutal slaying of her parents, she is fortuitously spirited away by a loyal vassal, and is brought up as a bellicose, knife-thowing gypsy. (as an aside, I felt that Corbucci’s playful framing of this rather melodramatic sequence made for an especially effective scene) While the young duchess enjoys the open-air, free-for-all life of a rollicking Romany, deep inside her pert, pale bosom, she harbors a bitter revenge for the righteous slaying of the truly malefic Baron Eric Von Nutter; the braying, vainglorious despot, who so gleefully sacked her father’s lands and put him to the sword right before her tear-strewn eyes. And in the case of ‘Isabella Duchessa dei Diaboli’, her revenge proves to be a titillating dish, best served with liberal flashes of bravura, bare-breasted swordplay! Corbuccci’s direction is constantly nimble; and all the cast equip themselves admirably in the Swash & Buckle department, and our devilish heroine is both pretty, bellicose, and almost implausibly nubile;dispensing her singular breed of justice whilst in various states of undress. This is a hugely entertaining romp, and i’m so glad that I got a chance to see it at last. Tally Ho!

TANGO OF PERVERSION (1973)

January 18th, 2014

An absolutely stonking example of Jess-Franco-eque titillation from sun-splashed Greece. Director Kostas Karagiannis doesn’t appear to be a sleazoid neophyte, as he directs his feisty (and not too mention nubile) cast with great aplomb, and gets on with the sordid matters at hand with admirable alacrity. This especially lurid narrative concerns the exploitative, and overtly libidinous orbits of one especially Greek male animal, Stathis; a tall, handsome, and brooding manipulator, who finds little trouble oozing his way into the innumerable confines of many young ladies undergarments, but, sharing the fate of many a svelte-moving Lothario, seems unable to keep hold of the momentary bounty bestowed upon his by this legion of  This pulpy tale of arch sexual machinations is handled well by Karagiannis, and I found myself wholly absorbed, not only by the generous wealth of exposed nubile flesh, but by these seedy, amoral characters, all of whom spiral inexorably into a glorious, Giallo-esque vortex of fervid sex and hot, bloody violence. I must admit that my initial, pre-viewing interest was somewhat perfunctory, but mere seconds into the hep-cat title sequence my fears were allayed, and ‘Tango of Perversion’ proved to be a giddy foray into murderous decadence.

SENSUALITA (1973)

January 15th, 2014

A lissome collection of euro cult’s finest hotties: Ewa Thulin, Femi Bussi, Augustina Belli star in the little-known gem of oily-palmed erotica, which includes yet another delicious score by the insanely gifted Ennio Morricone.