3 days ago
Euroshock! I don't know what it is about Italian genre films and numbers, but those 8-bit plumbers sure do love to count, don't they? Calm yourselves; I'm part-Italian. I'm just saying. Four Flies on Grey Velvet, Seven Blood-Stained Orchids, Seven Notes in Black (a.k.a. The Psychic)...and then you have today's subject, 1973's Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eye. As you might have fathomed, it's an illicit giallo. Almost every character is culpable, but there are dotty, off-center measures taken to give this spaghetti slasher its own method of functioning, as it were. It's weird shit. Why don't we analyze this weird shit and try to determine if it helps or hinders Seven Deaths?
On the surface, the plot appears to be orderly. There is a killer killing people. Beneath the surface, this is a giallo itching to chip away at the confines of Italian horror filmmaking. A high-minded tenet, but the screenplay botches the spot (wrestling vernacular; I'm convinced I can make it a popular turn of phrase). Perimetric story details are so goddamn goofy, I can't imagine how the team of producers at the bottom of this sideshow ever expected it to be taken seriously. Maybe they didn't. Our heroine is visiting her family at their castle, and her cousin casually reveals to her that he has caged (you might as well say indentured) a circus orangutan. Also, he wants to fuck her. The cousin, not the ape.
The ape subplot is militantly useless. My guess is that the totally-not-a-guy-in-a-suit is supposed to be a suspect, but we know without a shadow of a doubt that the offender is human. Help? Hinder? Both. It's fucking ludicrous, but it has z-grade appeal. Hey, there's a cat. I'm trying to cross all of the "freaky feline" flicks off of my list. I'm getting close! Seven Deaths positions a tabby (?) at the scene of each crime. What does that mean? Is the pussy unhallowed? Oracular? Is it just a dumb dick coincidence? Well, the movie didn't tell me, so I don't know. I'm going with "hinder" on that one, as it adds absolutely nothing to the feature presentation.
I'm shitting on the celluloid, but I actually had fun with Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eye. I've done a masterfully poor job of interspersing positive comments, haven't I? Look, this is my first review. Ease up. The gothic atmosphere is refreshing, and there are several sweet exterior shots. Props to director Antonio Margheriti (credited here as David DeCoteau - I mean, Anthony Dawson). He had a firm grip on spooky stuff, as opposed to whatever the fuck The Snow Devils was. I'm eager to watch more of his analects, especially Castle of Blood. At any rate, I was entertained throughout. Despite ubiquitous flaws, I wanted to see how this puppy ended. Robert Z'Dar says, "I bet the killer did it. The son of a bitch."
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 8:04 PM
Is it possible to get exactly what you wanted and be disappointed? That's how I feel about 1992's Doctor Mordrid. It serves up the kind of flimsy, unreasonable frames of gossamer camp that one would crave from a Jeffrey Combs-starring Full Moon movie, but I was left with a sense of...incompleteness? I'm not sure that's a word. It fits, though! Co-directors Albert and Charles Band (I bet they date the same chicks) try to kick the football so hard, they miss it altogether. This was originally supposed to be Full Moon's Dr. Strange adaptation, but obviously, Marvel disengaged. Change the names, tweak certain items and blammo, baby! Your order of Doctor Mordrid is ready to be shipped.
If you haven't figured it out by now, Combs is Anton Mordrid, a blue-robed sorcerer committed to protecting the earth from forces of eeeeviiiil. Real quick - Combs looks ridiculous in his full costume, which incorporates a cape. The film opens with Mordrid standing (he may have been sitting) in space, and he's speaking to The Monitor. Who what huh? That's some omniscient fucker. A fucker god, I shall call him. The Monitor is represented by a pair of eyes hovering in space. I realize that I didn't need to use italics again, but c'mon, we're already in fucking space. Italics. Right, so Kabal - an eeeeviiiil sorcerer - has touched down on our cobalt pebble and needs to obtain stonework. Y'know, to help him rule the world.
The whole shebang is building up to a climactic blowoff. Sorry, that's a wrestling term. A battle! The problem is that the "blowoff" is abbreviated, and the exposition is a soft-sell approach to puffery. It's ordinary. It's mellow. Eh, I guess I was hoping for more action, more alchemy, more special effects. The effects that subsist are definitely monumental. We get a stop-motion fight between dinosaur fossils, and it's badass to the fucketh degree. I didn't need light shows on that scale. Just give me something other than Mordrid chatting up a forensic (or whatever) babe in an apartment hallway. The running time is a meager 74 minutes, but the first hour is a chore. Why couldn't The Monitor monitor the pace? When your fucker god hands you lemons, rub them in his eye sockets. That are floating in space. Italics.
Brian Thompson is keen as Kabal. Yvette Nipar gives a studied performance as Sam, the forensic (or whatever) babe. I like that she's legitimately intelligent, although I didn't buy her compulsory infatuation with the titular wizard. If there is a sci-fi/fantasy "epic" that didn't need romance, it's this one. There is plenty of plot as it is, and the Band blokes boggle it. I respect my readers enough to deflect spoilers, but suffice to squeak, the final conflict ignores logic. Actually, the crux of the entire storyline occludes oh-so-pesky details that would have made Doctor Mordrid easier to swallow. I'm making this flick sound dreadful, but it's not. It's fun and mediocre. See, this is what I meant by the first sentence of the review. Proceed with caution.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 11:58 PM
If you read yesterday's post, you know that I signed up for Full Moon Streaming (again, this isn't paid advertising). Well, I'm going to utilize it. The next five reviews (including a Blood Capsule) will cover films from said website. That doesn't necessarily mean I'll be spit-roasting five Full Moon flickies. FMS sports a healthy selection, though I can't see myself subscribing for any longer than six months, unless they continue to add libraries.
Am I taking requests from the Full Moon faithful among you? No. I don't need a bank of cocks in my kitchen. Uh, I may have razed an old adage. Never the fucking mind! I can't wait to review Totem. I'm not going to review Totem. Ever.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 6:59 PM
Everyone online is freaking out about Beyonce's new album and the Game of Thrones season premiere. Me? I'm freaking out because I signed up for Full Moon Streaming (no, this isn't a sponsored post...I wish it was!). Netflix just doesn't have enough stuff that suits my horrible tastes. I'm currently halfway through Head of the Family, but that's not the cover story. No, the cover story deals with a Moonbeam Entertainment feature entitled Demon in the Bottle. What was Moonbeam? It was Charles Band's family-oriented sci-fi/fantasy imprint. I know that Demon in the Bottle exists. I've seen the trailer (more on that in a cold minute). I've even read reviews! And yet, I've never found a single copy of the film.
I have reason to believe that Demon in the Bottle wasn't distributed on home video in the states. Full Moon Streaming is ballasted with b-doodads, and obviously, that includes the entire Full Moon catalog. Except for Demon in the Bottle. That leads me to the trailer, which transposed my goddamn faculties. The audio track is lifted from the trailer for David Cronenberg's Crash. !?!!?!???!? It syncs up beautifully, but why? WHY? Who did this? And why??? Who would...am I missing something? Is there an obvious link between a wholesome monster movie and a clinical character study that examines the fetishistic desire for auto accidents?
Demon in the Bottle is on YouTube. In Spanish. I'm convinced that I'll never watch it. I do need to finish Head of the Family, so if you don't mind, please get off my land.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 12:32 AM
SLAUGHTERHOUSE ROCK (1988)
Technically, you could throw this little number in the pile of "heavy metal" horror heavyweights that bulldozed the 80's. That's why I had to (HAD to) watch it. It is with a sad face emoji that I must report to you that the musical aspect of Slaughterhouse Rock is a mere shadow that jitterbugs in the background of the plot. Maybe it's doing the bunny hop; I can't be too sure. A guy (names escape me) has recurring nightmares of gruesome slayings being carried out at Alcatraz. They are getting more and more vivid, to the point that...um, Guy wakes up in flames. His psychologist beseeches him and his chums to visit the sequestered prison. That's precisely what he does. Demon possession, flaky wisenheimer dialogue and Toni Basil's headgear ensues.
I will say that I was entertained. The crew gave a shit, and everything looks nice. You know you've been watching a lot of cheese-grade bilge when you're pleasantly surprised that the movie you're viewing resembles a movie. In all fairness, Rock checked my horror boxes. The gore is fucking soggy, and all locations are steeped in fog. It really isn't until the last act that the script trips over itself. I was asking questions I shouldn't have been asking. Example? "Where did that monster come from?" If I wasn't a fan of random monsters, there is a chance I might abhor this flick. Spookies has spoiled me so.
18/33...worth a laserdisc rental.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 10:37 PM
I'm back. You'll notice the parades, the funfetti, the crying children, the hula dancers...personally, I thought the saturnalia was unnecessary. I'm just one horror blogger in a briny basin of undulating horror bloggers. But whatever, DEREK. I saw a movie the other day. A whole movie! It's called Hush, and it's generating a payload of buzz right now. When I first heard about it, I couldn't believe that a forgettable Gwyneth Paltrow vehicle from 1998 was being given a second chance at prominence. Then I realized that this was a more recent film, a near-slasher whose deaf lead is stalked by...well, the unsettling motherfucker pictured above.
Director Mike Flanagan is quietly assembling a stellar resume. 2011's Absentia far exceeded its gracile budget, and from what I understand, 2013's Oculus was a respectable joint. With Hush, he puts his stamp on the thriller subgenre. It's a good stamp. The tension is keyed up to levels of "oh shit" and "oh fuck." You want to see Maddie - our protagonist - survive this game. She is played to perfection by co-writer Kate Siegel (had no idea she was married to Flanagan...plot twist!). I recommend Hush full-sail, but it does have its faults. The killer takes off his mask in the first act where he is exposed as a minor-league douchebag. Up to that point, the "Myers-lite" gimmick was working for him. Why demystify it?
Still, Paltrow turns in a magic(k)al performance, and remember, this was right after Se7en. How the fuck did she regain her head? That's acting, my friends.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 5:27 AM