Ratings Key



★★★★
= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
★★★
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Blood (1974)

Directed by:
Andy Milligan

"A traditional Gothic Horror makes this film unsuitable for children and some scenes may be disturbing to some members of the public." Whaa? Oh it's you again Iver Film Services, the same people who called the Indian "Laughing Cow" on the back of your Shriek of the Mutilated VHS box. I should have known. In 1872, scientist Dr. Lawrence Orlofsky (Allan Berendt) returns to America from an extended stay in Budapest and fronts three months rent on a new home before telling the landlord to bugger off and leave him alone. His bitchy, pampered, vain wife Regina (Hope Stansbury) has an issue with her skin pigment and must be kept out of the sun at all costs. Maid Carrie (Patricia Gaul), who is loyal to the husband but hated by the wife (and vice versa), has a withered leg and hobbles up and down the staircase in a huge Victoria gown. Carrie's husband Orlando (Michael Fischetti) actually has no legs. And having it even worse than everyone else is Carlotta (Pichulina Hampi), an orphan the family adopted as a child who's now an anemic, jittery, clumsy and retarded old hag because she has spent her entire life as a blood pump. Lawrence conducts experiments on fast-growing, man-eating killer plants in his basement lab. After finding out he's been swindled by local banker Carl Root (John Wallowitch), he plots revenge and then begins an affair with Root's lovely young secretary Prudence Towers (Pamela Adams).

Regina is upset that hubby doesn't want to make love to her anymore and starts killing people with a meat cleaver and drinking their blood because she's actually (gasp!) a vampire. One of her first victims is Carrie's sailor brother Johnny (David Bevans), who stops by long enough to reveal an incestuous secret and get a meat cleaver stuck in his head. Regina also kills an old woman by chopping off her hand, goes after Prudence when she learns of the affair and (when she gets really desperate) chops a real mouse in half and eats it head! Meanwhile, Lawrence is revealed to be (gasp!) a werewolf. His transformations during the full moon can be halted with an injection of a special serum he has created. His wife also needs weekly injections of a formula or else she'll die. No wonder the two of them don't get along!

With its deranged plot, bizarre characters, non-stop overwrought dramatics and technical ineptitude on display in nearly every single out-of-focus shot, this is bargain cinema at its most entertaining and endearing. Truly terrible in nearly every way, from the woefully unconvincing period detail, costumes (designed by the director) and sets to the awful editing and sound-recordings to the cheap grease paint fright makeups and mannequin gore fx. The actors - unpolished as some may be - are actually better than usual, but how budget restraints force them to speed-read through their long, bitter dialogue passages is hysterically funny. Milligan fans are going to love every minute of this. His recurring obsessions; warped, dysfunctional families, some kind of money or inheritance issue, European monsters, etc., are all on full display here,

It runs just 60 minutes and, at just 20,000 dollars, is Milligan's highest-budgeted feature! Some reference books list the film as being made in 1971, but I'm not so sure about that.

SBIG

La venganza del sexo (1969)

... aka: Curious Case of Dr. Humpp, The
... aka: Curious Dr. Humpp, The
... aka: Vengeance of Sex, The

Directed by:
Emilio Vieyra

A teenage couple, four hippies, a drunk, a stripper, a housewife and a pair of lesbians are knocked out with ether and kidnapped by a disfigured, clawed fiend. The abductor takes the victims back to a secluded mansion / laboratory/ clinic where they're subjected to crazed Dr. Humpp's sex experiments. Power-mad Dr. Humpp (Aldo Barbero) seems obsessed with making all men more virile and all women nymphos, thinking this ability will help him control the world ("Sex dominates the world... and now I dominate sex!). He tries to accomplish all this with a special serum derived from an "aphrodisiac compound." Other than his monster servant, he's helped along by his dedicated nurse (Susana Beltran), a small army of automaton robot men and a living, talking, pulsating disembodied brain that orders the doctor around and is kept in a glass vat with wires running into it! Police Inspector Benedict (Hector Biuchet) and newspaper reporter George Foran (Ricardo Bauleo) are on the case. George manages to also get kidnapped and finds himself caught between his affections for the nurse and a stripper named Rachel (Gloria Prat). To make matters even wackier, the nurse also has the hots for Humpp (who could care less) and the scarred monster falls in love with Rachel, bringing her flowers and romantically strumming his guitar (?) for her.

I have no clue how the original Argentinian version plays out dialogue-wise, but the English-language dub is comedy gold, and this is the exact type of horror-sex hybrid I can personally stand behind and recommend to fans. No one expects these things to be anything more than sleazy, brainless entertainment, and that's precisely what this delivers. There's loads of soft sex and frontal nudity (which admittedly makes it drag at times), but there's also a nutty, entertaining and often hysterically funny sci-fi/horror story in here, too. And that's more than I can say for today's erotica, whether it be hard or soft. What other sex flick gives you robots, melancholy mutants, talking brains, hilarious dialogue and a completely over-the-top psycho doc? Not many I can think of. The acting is pretty much terrible and the whole thing is just plain silly, but it's wonderfully shot in black-and-white and surprisingly well-made in comparison to others of its type.

Filmed in 1967 but not released until two years later. Many of the sex scenes (nearly 20 minutes worth) were added later by the American distributor and were filmed by Jerald Intrator (who also added new footage to NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES for its U.S. release). Director Vieyra also made Stay Tuned for Terror (1965), Blood of the Virgins (1967), Feast of Flesh (1967; aka The Deadly Organ), The Naked Beast (1971) and others.

The DVD is from Something Weird.

★★1/2

Camping del terrore (1986)

...aka: Body Count
...aka: Bodycount
...aka: Camping della morte
...aka: Camping Ground

Directed by:
Ruggero Deodato

Italian-made imitation of FRIDAY THE 13TH et al has a few familiar faces in the cast and an excellent shooting location but is too predictable (and poorly made) to be of much interest to anyone other than very forgiving slasher enthusiasts. A little boy named Ben witnesses a young couple getting killed by an Indian shaman. Fifteen years later, a bunch of young folks arrive at the same location (rumored to have been built upon an Indian burial ground) to camp, fish, ride motorcycles, hike and generally goof off. They're greeted with hostility by camp owner Robert Ritchie (David Hess, star of the director's HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK), whose wife Julia (Mimsy Farmer) is having an affair with the local fuzz, Sheriff Charlie Barnes (Charles Napier). A now grown Ben (Nicola Farron), the son of Robert and Julia, also comes back for a visit. As expected, the Indian killer - who is either a human in disguise or a supernatural entity - begins killing everyone off one by one.

One could easily pick at the recycled premise, terrible dialogue or bad acting, but all that is pretty much expected of an 80s slasher flick. This one still fails because the usual irritations are coupled with unimaginative and weak murders, horrendous editing and bad lighting. What the hell is the point of one of these things if you can't even make the kills out clearly? Futhermore, what's the point of one of these things when you actually can see the kills and all you get is yet another dull knife stabbing? It's not scary, suspenseful or tense. It's not gory. And it's not even unintentionally funny. Just really bland. I also would have appreciated being able to tell what happened when our hero (Bruce Penhall) and heroine (Luisa Maneri) faced off against the killer toward the end but alas it was so damn dark and badly edited I couldn't tell what the hell was going on.

All of the problems are a true shame too, because this has the foundation of a decent enough film, starting with Claudio Simonetti's very 80s (and very great!) theme music over the opening credits. The outdoor setting itself (in Abruzzo, Italy), with its nice fall colors and mountainous backdrops, is an excellent location for one of these things. There are some horror vets in the cast, too. Aside from those mentioned, John Steiner (as a doctor) and Ivan Rassimov (as a deputy) show up in small roles, and 'B' fans may even recognize some of the lesser-knowns, such as Nancy Brilli (DEMONS 2), Cynthia Thompson (CAVEGIRL) and Valentina Forte (CUT AND RUN). Unfortunately, the pluses aren't nearly enough to overcome the negligent direction and ineptitude constantly on display here. Every single FRIDAY THE 13TH film released during the 1980s is better than this.

★1/2
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