Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Igor and the Lunatics (1985)

... aka: Bloodshed

Directed by:
Thomas Doran
Brendan Faulkner
Billy Parolini

There's a good reason this doesn't make much sense: It was filmed over the course of several years by three different directors. Apparently the bulk of the film was made by Billy Parolini, who either didn't finish it or didn't make it exciting enough. Executive producers Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz had Thomas Doran and Brendan Faulkner, who are credited with "directing the horror, action and suspense sequences," added new footage at a later junction. It starts with a scene set in the 1960s, jumps to present day, zips back to the 1960s, jumps ahead to 1983 and then finally catches back up to present day once again. You got that? Flashback, flash-forward, flashback, another flashback set 20 years later, back to present day. That several of the actors look identical in present day to how they looked in the 1960s footage causes some confusion but not as much as character names changing from scene to scene. Despite the title, no one is named "Igor," though the end credits have someone listed as playing "Ygor." The cult guru is named "Paul" and his maniacal right-hand-man is named "Byron." At the very end, they specify the latter's name as being "Paul Byron." Madness! But I guess "Paul and Lunatics" just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Things begin in present day with a guy named Tom Turner (Joseph Eero), who grabs a gun from the night stand and sneaks out of his home. He's left behind a note and a diary for his female friend Mary Ann Pierson (Mary Ann Schacht) to read that will explain things. Back in the early 60s, a bunch of brainwashed hippies led by Manson-like guru Paul (T.J. "Michaels" / Glenn) have relocated from a NYC tenement building to the country. Tom was reluctantly and briefly involved in the cult, but managed to get out just in time. One girl wasn't so lucky. After trying to flee, she's captured by Paul and two of his men. She calls them "impotent scum!" so they rip her top open, tie her down and then slice her in half long-ways using a table saw. The cult's days of free love, hallucinogenic drugs and murder are short-lived however after most are apprehended during a police raid. Sharon (Joan Ellen Delaney) was forced to leave her baby (fathered by Tom) behind in the woods. An Indian man named Hawk (Peter Dain) finds the baby and decides to raise it on his own.

Flash-forward to 1983, and a still stark raving mad Paul is finally being set free from prison. He's immediately picked up by Byron and Bernard, two former cult members who are still up to their old tricks. Right away, they pick up a hitchhiker, rip her top off and then slice her open with a scalpel. Byron then removes a few of her ribs then yanks out her heart while laughing maniacally. Tom returns to town after all those years to do some kind of conference and goes on the evening news to denounce the existence of cults. He bumps into Sharon, who's working as a prostitute, and asks about the baby. She tells him she'll get ahold of him later, but doesn't get the chance after Paul sneaks into her apartment and rips her head open with his bare hands. To get Tom to back off, Paul sends him an audio recording of the murder. Meanwhile, Mary Ann gets herself involved by going to a backwoods cabin the cult used to live in. When she returns to her apartment, a teenage boy has broken in. She chases him outside and he breaks his ankle, then asks her to go find his guardian, Hawk. It's Tom's long lost son.

Mary Ann's friend, who starts out being named Lucille then suddenly becomes Colette, goes out in the woods to paint and gets stabbed with an ice pick and then chopped up with a machete by Paul and his followers. Mary Ann goes to the police for help but they ignore her. She's luckily bumps into Tom and the two set out to find the teen boy and the cult. Meanwhile, the cult slash a little boy's throat, beat a guy's head in with a rock and kill a couple of cops. Things end with a clash in a barn, with Paul and Byron sneaking in and trying to make mince meat of Mary Ann, Tom, Tom's son and Hawk. Someone is hacked in the head with a machete, another is stabbed with a pitchfork and lifted off the ground and someone is shot with an arrow. Only a few manage to survive the night and there's a ridiculous twist at the very end. Too bad we never got the sequel: "Igor the Habachi Chef."

The acting is pretty bad, it's confusing and the continuity problems and editing are horrendous to put it mildly. The lengthy table saw death is repeated three different times; twice in its entirety. The only thing even remotely memorable about this one is the ridiculously over-the-top (and highly annoying) performance of Niola. I'd like the learn more about the production history of this one, though. According to the snippet below (taken from a mid-80s edition of Rick Sullivan's Gore Gazette), it was filmed in 1983 under the title Bloodshed and was released theatrically under the Igor title.

Doran and Faulkner also made SPOOKIES (1986), another troubled production which was taken from the directors, recut and had new scenes added.

Leptirica (1973)

... aka: Лептирица
... aka: Female Butterfly, The
... aka: Moth, The
... aka: She Butterfly, The

Directed by:
Djordje Kadijevic

Yugoslavia wasn't well-known for their horror output (or movie industry in general, really), but there were a handful of pre-1990 genre films produced there over the years. The Barbara Steele vehicle THE SHE-BEAST (1965) and Lucio Fulci's AENIGMA (1986) were Yugoslavian co-productions, and there was also STICENIK (1973), VARIOLA VERA (1982), STRANGLER VS. STRANGLER (1984), DEJA VU aka Reflections (1987) and A HOLY PLACE (1990), among others. Most of these were not released outside of Europe. Leptirica (which is translated on the subs as meaning "The Moth," though I also see it listed as "The Female Butterfly" or "The She Butterfly") is a 62-minute vampire tale which debuted on TV and was based on the story "Posle devedeset godina" by Milovan Glisic. It's set in the small, pastural, impoverished village of Zarosheje, where most of the townsfolk - even the priest! - seem to just lazily lie around getting drunk. The town depends heavily on a small water mill, where wheat is ground into flour, to provide them with food. Unfortunately, each miller they've hired has been mysteriously killed off. Since the victims have their necks gnawed up, everyone starts to believe that a "vukodlac" (vampire) is the one committing the murders. And, of course, they're correct.

The story revolves around three primary characters. The first is Zivan (Slobodan Perovic), a stern, antisocial, hard-working farmer who lives on the outskirts of town, does his own thing and doesn't really fraternize with the rest of the villagers (can't say I blame him because they're a bunch of loud drunks). The second is Radojka (Mirjana Nikolic), Zivan's sheltered, "beautiful as a butterfly" daughter, who spends most of her time in the fields tending to the sheep. The third is Strahinja (Petar Bozovic), a young man whose parents are dead. Strahinja has fallen in love with Radojka and wants to marry her, but Zivan refuses to offer up his blessing because he claims his potential son-in-law is too poor. Feeling he's fighting a losing battle, Strahinja decides to become the latest miller so he can save up enough money to leave the village. His first night at the mill, he's attacked by a cloaked, hairy-faced fiend with sharp fangs and claws, but manages to survive the attack by hiding under some bags of flour. He reports what happened to the villagers and they organize a posse to wipe out the vampire.

The killer may be Sava Savanovic, or connected with Sava. Despite being dead for centuries, Sava is still well known in those parts as having been a vampire and perhaps is now back from the dead via either reincarnation or possession (it's never quite explained). One major problem the villagers face is that no one knows exactly where Sava is buried. Customs state that a stallion can lead them there, so they get one and it indeed directs them to an unmarked grave. Instead of opening the casket, they drive a stake directly into it and then cover it with holy water. A butterfly, which seems to be representative of an evil force here, flies out. Despite not capturing or killing it, the villagers believe they have finally rid themselves of the curse. Some guys finally coerce Strahinja into going to Zivan's and taking what is rightfully his; Radojka. They storm into the home and run off with her, then plan a wedding. Things don't quite work out as planned for the groom.

Leptirica isn't particularly well-made or well-acted, has an unsteady tone (comedy elements often seem forced or completely out of place) and it really lacks visual punch, though it's watchable, has a few faintly eerie moments and the country setting provides an interesting backdrop to the action. The biggest problem is that the whole thing is just too predictable. We pretty much know where it's going from the beginning and the film offers up very few surprises along the way. The vampire make-up, with the hairy-face and mouth full of sharp fangs, and the fact the vampire makes chimpanzee-like noises, is a little unusual. Even more bizarre, a man supposedly "died of fright" while watching the premiere on TV, which had tabloids of the day labeling the director a "terrorist!"

Never released in the U.S., this currently has the ridiculous, excessively high rating of 8.1 on IMDb, which I attribute to nostalgic viewers, or patriotic ones. The film is more like a 5 or 6.

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