Sunday, June 12, 2011

Opera (1987)

Opera (1987)
Genre: Giallo
Country: Italy | Director: Dario Argento
Language: Italian | Subtitles: English (idx/sub files)
Aspect ratio: Cinemascope 2.35:1 | Length: 102mn
Dvdrip Xvid Avi - 640x272 - 25fps - 700mb

A young opera singer (Betty) gets her big chance when the previous star of a production of Verdi's Macbeth is run over by a car. Convinced the opera is bad luck she accepts, and becomes the target (in Argento's unmistakable style) of a psychopath - a man she has been dreaming of since childhood.

Italian horror master Argento's Opera is loosely based on The Phantom of the Opera. It's set in the 'Teatro Regio' in Parma, Italy, during the performance of Verdi's Macbeth. The opera is known to bring bad luck and the production of the film was indeed plagued by misfortunes, such as the death of Argento's father, while he was filming. The director returns here to the 'giallo' genre, after his so called 'supernatural years', during which he presented us with masterpieces such as Deep Red, Suspiria and Phenomena. The lead role is played by the Spanish newcomer Christina Marsillach, who Argento defined the hardest actress he ever had to direct.

The score was composed by Brian Eno and Claudio Simonetti, the latter being a regular contributor to Dario's films, and the heavy-metal music, which normally accompanies the murders in his movies, is one of the features that gained him heavy acclaim, and one of the reasons why his films have reached the status of cult. Probably, Opera is Dario Argento's last masterpiece, the following films to date revealing a mere shadow of his former glory, though still being high quality productions.

Argento is known for his cinematic flair, and we are not disappointed here; scenes beautifully composed, violent murders, accentuated here by the element of voyeurism, and some shots that will remain in the memory of the viewer, such as the key-hole murder shot. However, although Argento claimed that every shot and camera point of view were justified by a certain logic, we can't help suspecting that some of the visual choices in Opera are simply dictated by bravado. Nonetheless, the results are amazingly beautiful and proportioned, and the viewer will not be let down. Just think, doesn't it titillate you to watch bloody murders being committed right in front of you, while you are tied and have needles taped under your eyes, so you must watch? Yes, I thought so...

READ MORE - Opera (1987)

Zombie (1979)

Zombie (1979) aka Zombi 2
Genre: Horror
Country: Italy | Director: Lucio Fulci
Language: English | Subtitles: None
Aspect ratio: Cinemascope 2.35:1 | Length: 91mn
Dvdrip Xvid Avi - 720x304 - 29.970fps - 1.38gb

A Zombie is found aboard a boat off the New York coast which belongs to do a famous scientist. Peter West,a journalist, travels to the Antilles with Ann, the daughter of the scientist. On the way, they meet with with Brian, a ethnologist, and Susan. When they arrive at Matul Island, they find Dr. Menard, and discover a terrifying disease which is turning the Islanders into horrifying Zombies which devour human flesh and seem indestructable....

Now this is how a zombie film should be made! Whilst Lucio Fuci never had the creative genius of Dario Argento in Profondo Rosso, Tenebrae and Suspiria, he certainly knew how to make a good old fashioned zombie/gore movie. In Zombi 2 or Zombie Flesh Eaters (what a title!) as it was known in the UK, a ship drifts into New York with a very large, hungry zombie on board. This leads to two investigative journalists, including gore stalwart Ian McCulloch, with two holiday makers going to the Island of Matul. After meeting a shark wrestling zombie en route, they arrive at Matul where things are not going well. The hospital run by Dr. Menard has turned into a morgue where daily zombie killing has become the routine. Things go from bad to worse as the zombies grow in number and various dismemberment, eye gouging, jugular bites etc ensue. What makes this film so good are various factors. Apart from being one of the first gore films I ever saw, it has no social commentary or hidden meaning and does not try to be a comedy (although some may argue with this). It is a good, honest gore film. The special effects are nice and gruesome, with fantastic zombie make up, great zombie attacks and loads of maggots and worms. The crazy underwater battle between zombie and shark is totally original and not surprisingly has never been tried since. The infamous eye scene whilst a bit creaky still makes the viewer cringe. The acting and dubbing are dodgy but don't detract from the zombie mayhem, the music is great with calypso music to greet the heroes and throbbing effects to welcome the zombies. I cannot recommend this highly enough for good old fashioned zombie related thrills. Also look out for The Beyond and City of the Living Dead in a similar vein.

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Fairy Tales (1978)

Fairy Tales (1978)
Genre: Erotic | Comedy | Musical
Country: USA | Director: Harry Hurwitz
Language: English | Subtitles: None
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1 | Length: 87mn
Dvdrip Xvid Avi - 624x464 - 23.976fps - 700mb

On his twenty-first birthday, the Prince goes on a quest that takes him across the land searching for the one woman that gets him sexually excited, Princess Sleeping Beauty.

Nudity in a movie can be mere eye candy, no different to looking at the images on one of the magnificent ceilings painted by artists such as Fragonard, or it can be presented with a sexual significance. It can be shown in various ways, as a totally natural incident appropriate to the scene being sceened, as pure fun, as erotic stimulation, as downright dirty comedy, or as explicit sex - although this is generally regarded as making the film pornographic. It can also be presented musically, and with so many possibilities it is hardly surprising that many filmgoers will enjoy some, but not all, of these forms of presentation. All such material will however usually result in the film in question being classified as for adult viewers only. Back in the 1970's three films incorporating such material were released under titles commonly associated with children's literature. These were "Alice in Wonderland" (1976), "Cinderella" (1977) and "Fairy Tales" (1979). It is therefore particularly important that reviews of these films should make their contents quite clear, as there are reported to have been instances of video hire firms who were sued by irate parents inadvertently borrowing these films for their offspring's entertainment.

Both Cinderella and Fairy Story have been released through the same distributors (Astral) and can best be described as musical comedies for adults which makes liberal use of nudity in fun sequences; they do not fall into the dirty comedy category and, since many of the songs are more humorous and less suggestive than those often encountered in music videos, they are not likely to offend many of the viewers who know what to expect. Some of those who have commented on these films in the Imdb data base have expressed a preference for Cinderella, but I personally preferred Fairy Tales. Both these films are very similar in style, and choosing one in preference to the other is essentially a matter of taste. My preference is largely based on the impression that Fairy Story provides more variety, with new characters drawn from classic children's stories appearing at regular intervals throughout the film. By contrast the story of Cinderella is very well known and even when retold in adult form some of the element of surprise, which is important for films of this type, is lost.

The music and songs in both films are excellent and are such fun that it would be hard not to enjoy them, a sequence in Fairy Tales where Snow White is set upon by her seven little dwarfs is particularly enjoyable (probably it could not even be filmed today as the Society of Dwarfs, or some similar body, might protest forcibly about unflattering representation of those handicapped individuals which it represents), and the presentation of the house in a shoe as the local house of ill fame, with Robert Staats as a copybook ponce, is hilarious. Ultimately I usually find that the success of a film of this type is assured whenever it is very clear that all the cast had a whale of a good time whilst creating it. This is certainly the case here, and I have no hesitation in strongly recommending this film to anyone interested in seeing it.
READ MORE - Fairy Tales (1978)

Caligula (1979)

READ MORE - Caligula (1979)

Psychos in Love (1987) Gorman Bechard

Psychos in Love (1987)
Genre: Comedy | Horror
Country: USA | Director: Gorman Bechard
Language: English | Subtitles: None
Aspect ratio: 1.37:1 | Length: 82mn
Dvdrip Xvid Avi - 688x496 - 25fps - 704mb

Includes Audio commentary with Director Gorman Bechard and Actor Carmine Capobianco (separate audio track)

A strip-joint owner and a manicurist find that they have many things in common, the foremost being that they are psychotic serial killers. They fall in love and are happy being the family that slays together, until one day they come up against a plumber who also happens to be a cannibal.

This is really good fun. Clearly the two writers, Carmine Capobianco and Gorman Bechard, who also star and direct respectively knew they were on to a good idea and ran with it, barely making a false move. Sexy and gory by turns from the very beginning, it is also very knowing and mainly very amusing. Once or twice, particularly towards the end, I felt the humour become a little silly and the running joke barely amusing anyway. But let us not quibble, this is packed with sexy action and if the lovely leading lady, Debi Thibeault is a little shy about getting naked, nobody else seems to be. Uncompromising and funny, this film was a real surprise to me. I expected to have to ignore ropey acting and evidence of the low budget, but no, all is very competent and even the theme song is pretty decent. The best line has been nicked from Groucho Marx, but so what, let's call it an homage. There are indeed other movie references to enjoy as well as the flesh, the splatter and the joking about.

READ MORE - Psychos in Love (1987) Gorman Bechard

Jason Freeland - Brown's Requiem (1998)

Jason Freeland - Brown's Requiem (1998)

A former police detective and recovering alcoholic is hired by a shady golf caddy to investigate his sister's boyfriend, a wealthy old man with ties to the mob.
After Cop and L.A. Confidential, here is the third feature film based on a James Ellroy novel, his first, actually. This low-key film is surprising good (I like it better than Dark Blue, which is the fourth James Ellroy adaptation that came a few years later) and I really recommend it to any fan of film-noir.
Review from
Since many have grown to expect neo-noirs to be cable-ready wastes of time, Brown's Requiem comes as a refreshing surprise. Blissfully free of any attempts to one-up Tarantino, this straightforward adaptation of James Ellroy's hard-boiled novel is a must for fans of no-nonsense noir. Writer-director Jason Freeland displays a knack for narrative and a masterful sense of casting that make the first-time filmmaker someone to keep an eye on.
Fritz Brown (Michael Rooker) is ex-LAPD, currently paying the bills as a repo man and private eye, and trying not to drink away his new careers. In classic detective-movie fashion, his life is complicated by a strange client — this one's named Fat Dog (William Sasso), a filthy, racist caddy who apparently sleeps on golf course greens but has a huge roll of cash in his pocket. Fat Dog wants Fritz to follow his 17-year-old sister, Jane (Selma Blair), who, according to Fat Dog, is living in disgusting fashion with a Beverly Hills millionaire with a taste for jailbait (Harold Gould). As with many of Ellroy's antiheroes, Fritz's trail to the truth is sleazy, dangerous, complicated, and very possibly more trouble than it's worth. But before the ex-cop is done, he'll up-end the life of his cousin Walter (Kevin Corrigan), come face-to-face with the LAPD Internal Affairs chief (the late Brion James) who booted him off the force, and look more than one sexual deviant in the eye.

Freeland's most brilliant stroke is the casting of Rooker. Since his breakthrough in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, the tough-looking actor has mostly been delegated to bad guy supporting roles (e.g., Mallrats, etc.), but here he makes a most sympathetic hero. In true B-movie tradition, Rooker's gruff character-actor appearance is perfect for Fritz — no glamour-boy movie star could make this role work. He gives his character the hard-edged air of both exhaustion and excitement typical of an alcoholic who is trying to get his life back on track, but occasionally falls back into the sewer.

The rest of Requiem's players are equally strong, even if some only turn up in cameos (the appearances of Brad Dourif and The Limey's Barry Newman are far too brief). The sole flaw in the film is Blair, who, although reasonably talented, is miscast yet again as a teen ingenue. No amount of lollipops in her mouth, short skirts on her hips, or false innocence in her eyes is enough to convince the viewer that Blair — who was 26 years old when the film was shot — even remotely resembles a teenager. (Interestingly enough, Blair managed to evoke an adolescent air much more convincingly on the now-cancelled WB sitcom Zoe….)

Thankfully, despite the misleading one-sheet poster which features her prominently, Blair is barely in the film. This is Rooker's show, and Freeland knows it. With only one slightly over-the-top flourish — a disgusting and probably unnecessary moment of gore near the end — Freeland demonstrates the sort of calm, controlled storytelling prowess that's become very rare in Hollywood. His willingness to let characters and story hold the viewer's attention on their own is amazingly mature for such an fresh talent, and any studio executives worth their salt would sign this guy to a multi-picture deal. But if they want to see Requiem in the theater, they better hurry. After a short run in Los Angeles, this hard-boiled gem is, ironically, headed straight to video.

READ MORE - Jason Freeland - Brown's Requiem (1998)

Society (1989)

Society (1989)
Genre: Horror
Country: Italy | Director: Brian Yuzna
Language: English | Subtitles: None
Aspect ratio: Widescreen 1.85:1 | Length: 98mn
Dvdrip Xvid Avi - 624x336 - 23.976fps - 905mb

Bill is worried that he is 'different' to his sister and parents. They mix with other 'upper class' people while Bill is more down to earth. Even his girlfriend seems a bit odd. All is revealed when Bill returns home to find a party in full swing. Not for the weak of stomach.

Brian Yuzna established himself within the horror genre by producing splatter flicks such as the masterpiece Re-Animator and the pretty damn good From Beyond; but Society marks his first directorial project. It's a good one too! This film is unlike the likes of Re-Animator in that it doesn't work principally from lots of gore. There are some disgusting scenes on display; but the main focus of the film is always on the surreal element of the story. It definitely shares a Lovecraftian influence with Re-Animator. Bill Whitney is pretty much the normal teenage boy; but he's pretty sure his family aren't. He's paranoid that something unusual is going down with the society around him, but his psychiatrist is having none of it and puts it down simply to teenage paranoia. This is something more than paranoia, however, and after reviewing a tape his friend made, and having his friend die mysteriously, Bill is now certain that his fears are real. But it's hard to stand out from society; and society certainly isn't going to take his accusations lying down.

Society starts out like one of those teen comedies from the eighties; but somehow manages to build into a very surreal little film. I can definitely see why many didn't like it, but it certainly clicked for me! There are a lot of things that don't make perfect sense, the acting is terrible and the script is less than perfect - but it doesn't matter, because the imagination and inventiveness is here, and that is always the most important thing in horror. While there are films like this one in existence, there aren't any that are really similar to it; and that gives this film more standing in my view, as originality should be rewarded. Another positive element about this film is the way that it handles itself. The first hour is mainly concerned with the mystery behind 'society', but unlike many mystery flicks; this one always stays interesting. When it finally builds to it's effects-laden, disgusting finale - the audience really gets paid off, and if nothing else; you'll be captivated by what is on display. This film is a spoof on real 'society', but it keeps it's points close to it's chest and doesn't hit the audience in the face with them, thus giving this an element of intelligence.

READ MORE - Society (1989)
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