Archive for the 80’s Category

Zombie Holocaust – Marino Girolami – 1980

Posted in 80's with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2014 by bookofdread

zombie-holocaust

Marino Girolami’s Zombie Holocaust is hands down one of the most gleeful cinematic experiences one can have. It features powerful women, exciting adventure and enough gore and nudity to choke a cannibal.

Before we get into the mountains of good about this awesome, super fun film, let’s get to the bad. It’s a major rip off of Lucio Fulci’s Zombie, a film of which I am a great fan. However enjoying that film really only adds to the enjoyment of this vastly inferior, but goofier film. The film’s even share some of the same sets! Unlike Fulci’s Zombie, Zombie Holocaust is a crowd pleaser with a happy ending, instead of a twisted spiral of nightmare.

So, the plot is very unoriginal, Ian McCollouch and Alexandra Delli Colli book a trip to the West Andes to solve a mystery concerning missing body parts in a New York Hospital.

They team up with some meat puppet reporters and head out into the jungle. The reporters are plucky female writer and a beardo photographer who wears a Daily Planet T-shirt! This gal and our heroine are really the standout quality of this film.

In most adventure films, Zombie included, women are fairly marginalized and especially in euro-cine films of the time women were pretty useless on screen. Delli Colli is an anthropologist who is cool and intelligent, and who ends up saving the day at the end of the film.

After the four get to the island the reporters are quickly killed and the wig wearing detective and the tall drink of water are separated by the cannibalistic natives. We are sure the cannibals are going to eat the delicious Delli Colli but when she is placed upon the sacred stone grapefruit, it turns, revealing that a white woman from New York is the destined savior of their tribe and the rightful queen of their land. This is helpful when rescuing wig detective from the antics of the mad Dr. Obrero and an onslaught from a zombie horde, not so helpful when convincing other cultures that you don’t think a tall white woman is the answer to all their cultural needs.

It’s a pretty gross trope and one that hit its’ low point in John Guillermin’s Sheena, starring Tonya Roberts as a hot white woman who is the queen of an African tribe.

So pro woman, yet sadly harshly xenophobic, Zombie Holocaust isn’t liable to put a smile on Santa’s face. However with a case of your favorite beer or a bottle of wine or spirit you can really have a lot of fun with this one. I present to the world, for the first time in public:

THE ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST DRINKING GAME!!!!!

There are several rules that must always be obeyed.

Rule 1: Drink for gore.

Rule 2: Drink for nudity.

Rule 3: Drink for the sound of Kito (weeeeeeooooooweeeeeooooweeee)

Rule 4: Drink for the sign of Kito (the red oval sign, usually
accompanied by the sound of Kito)

Rule number 5 is the most important rule of all.

Rule 5: When you hear the Jungle bird, Drink.

I swear, they use the same canned jungle bird a thousand times, and I promise you, if you follow all of these rules, you will have a wonderful time with this film and end up drunk as skunk.

Zombie Holocaust has great acting, a silly plot, decent music, and loads of gore. If cannibal films are your thing, this one might come across as a bit weak sauce, but if you like fun and silly horror comedy, this is your ticket. Most films this gory don’t come with so many laughs, and I’d argue that most of them were intentional. This film isn’t a bad cannibal film, it’s one of the great, unheralded horror comedies. Dive in and drink up.

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Aenigma – Lucio Fulci – 1987

Posted in 80's with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 23, 2013 by bookofdread

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Lucio Fulci’s Aenigma is a parable about the impotence of sickness. When Fulci made this film, he wasn’t in the best health. He looks gaunt and ill in his typical cameo. He was having money troubles and troubles with producers. So here we have a story, very reminiscent of not only DePalma’s Carrrie, but even more so the Ozploitation classic Patrick. Essentially this is an astral-self attack movie, not a telekinesis movie. The differences are slight but basically make it so that the killers’ astral form can do just about anything.

Kathy is the frumpy daughter of St. Mary’s College cleaning lady, Maria. Maria’s daughter has a thing for the dance instructor. So, several of the college girls fix her up to go on a date with Mr. Hunktastic douche. Shitbag picks her up in a car and drives to remote spot where he starts to make out with her. She feels confident, kissing him back, divulging her innermost secrets and desires. But, he has placed a radio in his car. All around them, sitting in the dark, are individuals who judge her every word and mock her voice and desire. 

See, Fulci is that girl. Like most of his late films, the film distinctly echoes his disdain and insecurity. The faces in the dark? That’s the audience. Fulci gives, gives his heart, passionately to his love, and for what? To be mocked from afar? After a few moments the viewers turn on their headlights to reveal their presence. Kathy realizes she’s been had. Douchebag laughs in her face. She runs screaming from the car. 

The cars begin to pursue.

Women lean from the windows taunting Kathy. She runs frantically, headlong into the darkness as the cruel cries of beautiful faces chase her into the abyss. Then she runs into a busy street and is hit by an oncoming car.

Kathy is in a coma. Horrible machines keep her alive in a room of white light and dark blue walls. But her brain is awake, awake enough to transmit fear from afar. Awake enough to bring vengeance to those torturers who know no humanity. And this is Fulci. From even death he brings visions to our mind, through the ephemera. Though his is not a cruel spirit, this film finds him feeling very sorry for himself and very put upon. Though he is sick he is far from capable of expressing himself.

A new girl immediately arrives at the school. It could be that Kathy possesses this girl or that this girl is an Empath who funnels Kathy’s revenge. It’s hard to tell, but clearly the impulse influences the medium, not unlike the effect of watching a film has on its audience. Anywho, Eva is given Kathy’s old room and is attracted to all of her previous tormentors. The killing begins with gross dance teacher. He asks Eva out on a date, but before they meet, his reflection leaps from the mirror and destroys him. This scene, though cheaply done, very effective, and the message is clear. What do you see in the mirror? Does it create or destroy?

Fulci appears, briefly, as a stupefied police detective. There is no answer for the unreal. By appearing as this character, Fulci looks the audience in the face and basically says, “I don’t have the answers.” I don’t know how this works. I only know that it works.

A girl is killed by snails, and a doctor realizes that Kathy’s vitals have responded during the times of both of the deaths at the college. The snail death is not bloody, but there is a naked woman with tons of snails all over her, so if sexy snail stuff is your bag, then this is the film for you. Kathy’s respirator breaks and Eva has a coughing fit in class. No one puts two and two together. But here, Fulci does an interesting thing. He establishes that the two bodies share a vital link. That harm to one does harm to the other. Does this pull for the possession or ghost option? I’m not sure. Perhaps a ghost, couldn’t be harmed at all, so I guess, Eva really is possessed. And, why would you bother with possession if you could summon death snails to do your bidding?

To seduce the hot professor you were crushing on before you were in a coma, of course! That’s right! Eva comes on to the Prof, and they get it on! This is actually cool stuff, even if the scene isn’t terribly sexy. A comatose nerd uses psychic power to possess another woman and use her to seduce a man? That sounds a lot like Being John Malkovich. Just saying, that’s right, I’m comparing Aenigma to a Charlie Kaufman story.

A girl returns to an art gallery where a mock up of Rodin’s “The Thinker” comes to life and destroys the girl ultimately, by crushing her. The art comes to life and wreaks the havoc of the oppressed. The victim brings the art to life, issuing reprisal in a tangible way.

Professor dreamy begins to have a series of nightmares in which Eva, his girlfriend who is possessed by a coma girl, slays him after sex. Are his own dream visions protecting him. Fulci is know to both vilify and lionize the power of dreams and here it seems a clear case of the dreams acting as warning to the moral, (mostly?) professor.

Eva’s mother takes her home, but she bombards Professor Dreamy with love notes. Is this still Kathy in Eva’s body? Could she not just possess another gal? 

Another gal starts banging Dreamy, the only girl who feels sorry for Kathy’s condition. I love that these figures are only as moral a professor sleeping with his students. There is no moral high ground in this movie, except for perhaps Kathy’s aptly named mother, Maria.

The cleaning lady observes Eva sneak back onto the campus to murder two more students with mania set on by horrific visions. A girl sees her boyfriend beheaded at every turn and the terror sends her flying out of a third story window where she crashes to her death. Her boyfriend shows up moments later and looks out the window to see his dead gal. The windowpane falls, sending his head down to join his lover.

The ending is a fizzle. Eva threatens Jenny, Dr. Dreamy’s new fling, with a scalpel. After slashing the late arriving Dr., Eva falls dead to the floor. We ascend, Fight Club style, through the hospital. Above the trio is Maria, who has taken her own daughters life. The camera begins to ascend through the floors, (again, Panic Room style), until it pulls out from a beautiful model of a hospital in a large city. This final shot is very surreal and beautiful and Fulci acquiesces in this moment that peace is kinder than violence. Some spirits cannot be left to roam.

 

Manhattan Baby – Lucio Fulci – 1982

Posted in 80's with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 3, 2013 by bookofdread

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Lucio Fulci’s Manhattan Baby is a metaphysical horror film, which almost suggests pre-historical significance. A girl on a dig with her father, Dr. Hacker, an archeologist is given a 40,000-year-old amulet from Fulci standby, old, blind, disappearing woman. Throughout the film the totem begins to exude power over the girl allowing her and her young brother egress into another dimension.

As with all Fulci films, Manhattan Baby drips with atmosphere, and even though the music is a rehash of The Beyond, I like to think of the films as related. The amulet serves as one of the Seven Doors of Death. Though the film has much in common with Hooper’s Poltergeist, the films were released the same year, and honestly, the plot of this film is much cooler, though they made it for what seems like pennies.

The camera zooms and turns in typical Fulci fashion, constantly revealing as much information as possible before the cut. The cinematography by Guglielmo Mancori is solid but Fulci’s frequent collaborator Sergio Salvati is missed and his atmospheric work might have pushed the overall quality of the film up a notch or two. As it is, the film is filled with stark contrast and musty offices. Some of the shots are stunning such as the “Slithering Snake Cam”, and the high shot in Egypt where the old woman gives the child the amulet and disappears.

Christopher Connelly was likely cast because he looked much like Harrison Ford and Raiders of the Lost Ark had hit big a year earlier. The opening stuff in Egypt is some of the coolest stuff in the film. The locations are amazing and Fulci milks this stuff for all it is worth. Before long, Dr. Hacker descends into a newly discovered tomb and wild blue lasers strike him in the eye and make him blind. I’m going to dig a little deep here, but the text seems to read to me that the secrets of pre-history are blinding to man. This happens at the same time or right after his daughter has received the amulet. So not only are the secrets of pre-history blinding to academics and scientists, but corruptive to youth.

Flash forward to New York. Hacker must wear bandages over his eyes but a doctor tells him that in time he will heal. His daughter keeps the amulet a secret from her family but shares it with her brother and her babysitter Jamie Lee. Jamie Lee is obviously a reference to Jamie Lee Curtis who plays a babysitter in Halloween.

Pretty soon, all kinds of strange things happen. Dr. Hacker’s eyesight is returned through evil force and a mystic named Mercato is approached to help the Hacker family find out what is happening to them. The psychic phenomena are not limited to strange photographs and eye healings. There is one super racist scene where a black man in an elevator is attacked from the ether. He tries to pull the doors open, only losing his fingernails in super gory Fulci style. Eventually the floor falls out and the man plummets to his death. But here’s the deal. This character has no context. We never see him before or after this scene. He’s just here to die. Seriously. It’s pretty fucked up.

Eventually, Mercato is able to successfully suck the evil force from out of the little girl and into his soul, imprisoning the beast. So long as he retains the amulet he will trap the force in his body. But the evil has other plans. In a scene that can only be called an homage to both Psycho and The Birds, Mercato’s collection of stuffed birds come to life and attack him in the film’s goriest scene, with repeated shots of birds pulling bloody flesh from Mercato’s throat. It is a glorious scene, staged with absolute glee and surreal abandon.

The stinger at the end is an absolute classic, informing horror endings as diverse as Hellraiser and The Fallen. We return one last time to Egypt and a blind woman again bequeaths the amulet to a new little girl. These ancient evils can do the most damage through an innocent it seems. The cycle begins again. These ancient pre-historical entities may be shuffled about or prolonged, but they are destined to reveal their power eventually.

Manhattan Baby suffers greatly from it’s lack of budget, but the plot itself is not unlike many possessed child films. It frequently reminded me of James Wan’s Insidious, a fairly Fulci-esque Poltergeist rip. Turns out Fulci made his own possessed child story, but Sachetti and Briganti’s screenplay keeps the content fresh and unique. While other films may be like Manhattan Baby, Manhattan Baby is like no other. Recommended for fans of pre-history, child-possession, evil amulets, Egyptologists and fans of the maestro, Lucio Fulci.

 

 

The Golden Child – Michael Ritchie – 1986

Posted in 80's with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2013 by bookofdread

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Michael Ritchie was a brilliant director, helming such classics as Wildcats and Bad News Bears and the Chevy Chase Fletch films, but I honestly feel, all hyperbole aside his most entertaining film is The Golden Child starring Eddie Murphy. Here, genre material gets the kind of treatment you almost never see. The director is twenty years into his career and can handle all of the demands of a large studio production. He knows how to cut the film into what works, and isn’t precious about the process. Better still, we get Eddie Murphy, a star at the peak of his career, who re-writes his lines on set and elevates the material. He can do that. He’s also the producer.

All this lightning in a bottle wouldn’t be so amazing, except we are making a film about a kid being kidnapped by a demonic cult, trying to feed him blood, bone-daggers, snake-women, hellish communion and a freaking giant demon terrorizing Eddie Murphy. Usually this type of fare is relegated to either young blood filmmakers or very low budgets for older ones. But here is a film with a great package all the way around that just happens to be a production about all the things I find awesome.

Back-story is everything, and this film has a pretty simple yet great one. This cult needs to kill this kid in order to unleash hell on Earth. A woman has come to the city of Angels to find a finder of lost children to help them save the golden child.

Eddie Murphy gives a humanistic and hilarious performance a Chandler Jarrell, a, well, finder of lost children. The beautiful Charlotte Lewis plays Kee Nang, the woman sent to help him on his quest. After being harangued on the basketball court, Jarell tells the woman to “stop smoking scrolls” and declines her offer. But he soon finds that the case he is on and the disappearance of the Golden Child are connected.

Murphy makes this character so funny, usually what we get in these types of films are funny little professors or scientists, here we have a cocky, funny tough guy, who we love to root for. A particular favorite scene of mine is where Murphy leaps into a family’s backyard in order to sneak up on a gang house. The family is barbecuing and is disturbed by having a black man brandishing a pistol leap into their yard. Murphy looks at the woman and says: “I just want some chips. That’s all I want. Is some chips.” The grill begins to smoke. “Turn that shit over man, it’s burning turn it over!” And he’s gone. Brilliant.

Later after meeting the oracle flown in from Tibet to help them Murphy asks Kee Nang what that old broad’s deal is. Kee Nang replies, “One of her ancestors was raped by a dragon.” Murphy gives the driest reply possible. “That happen a lot where you’re from?”

Unlike most dour and dark films about demonology or black magic this film is light and fun!

There aren’t many shades of grey or degrees of varying morality. Mostly, good is good and bad is bad. The man and woman fall in love and save the day. But we are treated to incredible effects work and design. The work here by ILM is top-notch stuff, the kind of special effects that actually felt “special”. There’s one weird moment where the villain transforms from a rat in the alley to his human form that is super-impressive.

The story is both very classical and of it’s moment. In many ways I regard it as a sister film to Big Trouble In Little China which was released the same year.  Both films starred Victor Wong and James Hong in large supporting roles, and both films feature that dynamic of being a supernatural Chinese influenced adventure! In fact, John Carpenter turned down directing this film to make that one!

Here’s a huge thing. The second act where they go to Tibet? They could have not done that. They could have done it cheaper and had more detecting and that would have been boring. It is the fact that they go to and from Tibet in the film that makes it an adventure and not just a supernatural detective film.

Victor Wong is really quite great in this film, though not quite as good as he could be in the hands of John Carpenter. His gross eccentricities and solemn piety create a contradiction that any actor would call subtle work. He is funny and off-putting, inviting, yet, crude. I just wanted to note him and his small contribution.

The kid who plays the Golden Child is fine, but the role really doesn’t require much. I suppose the kid looks holy, but maybe they hired him for his ability to make an inanimate Pepsi can tap dance to “Putting On The Ritz”. This scene was really a favorite of mine as a child. It’s really amazing all the technique that went into this film. It wasn’t always necessary to do things the way that they did, but you can feel the love in every ounce of the film.

Sardo Numspa as portrayed by Charles Dance had me convinced at a very young age that we could shave this guy’s head and have the Lex Luthor we have always needed in a film. Dance is chilling and he’s the one guy who’s playing the film as though this were a Stuart Gordon film. The melodrama and menace is turned all the way up and the scene with him and Eddie Murphy in the airport is like watching a scenery chewing master class. You can’t take your eyes of either one of these guys!

I’m sure many of you remember this film, but many of you weren’t born before 1986. So, here’s my recommendation. Get together with your goofiest friend, get some junk food and beer and enjoy one the great paperback movies. *

 

 

*Paperback movies  – Movies that are under two hours, and contain pulpy content such as is found in dime store fictions, or weird magazines.

 

Time Masters – Rene Laloux – 1982

Posted in 80's with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 7, 2013 by bookofdread

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1982’s Time Masters marked the collaboration of two artistic giants, Jean Giraud and Rene Laloux. Giraud had been lauded for his work in Heavy Metal and his design work in Alien, and Laloux had made what is considered a masterpiece of science fiction, Fantastic Planet. Together these gentlemen, (along with novelist Stefan Wul who also wrote the novel Fantastic Planet was based on), would craft a stellar science-fiction children’s tale that is both thoughtful and heart warming. It is also crazy weird and tons of fun!

The film begins with a child stranded on a hostile planet with nothing left to his aid but a communicator. This radio allows him contact to his father’s friend Jaffar, many galaxies away. Piel, the child, does not understand how this contact works but the people on Jaffar’s ship are challenged with helping a kid survive on a hostile planet from a trillion miles away.

The planet Piel lands on is amazingly designed. The swaying and swooping plants are colorful and otherworldly. His alien experience is ours and the originality of the designs begs for our response to such an environment. Worse/better, our proxy on this other world is an innocent child, so our investment level is high. We worry about his welfare on this dangerous planet. The planet is called Perdide, or Perdition.

Jaffar must stop on the way and wait for some planetary alignment before he can continue after Piel. On the planet he stops lives an old man with vast personal knowledge of Perdide. This Old Man offers to help the folks find the boy.

Jaffar is on his ship with his lady friend, the old man, and a stowaway prince who ripped off his kingdom and paid Jaffar for a ticket to anywhere.  Also, there are these amazing characters that are gnomes, little robot looking fairies that fly around and get drunk on the emotions of others. I love the idea of super-empath gnomes and these guys are beautifully articulate and provide much of the comic relief in a Guildenstern and Rosencrantz sort of way.

A word about the planet Jaffar stops on. It’s practically Naboo from the Star Wars new trilogy. The designs here, the waterfront temple stuff, it is all here. Even the watercraft is the same. I’m just saying, Giraud does great work here that GL ripped off.

Back on the ship, the old man has taken up the mic and his helping Piel through the woods. He directs him to drink some mildly sedative berry juice and plays him a banjo song! The design of this scene is cool as well, as the old man sits on a glass floor with fish swimming around underneath while he picks and grins. As Jaffar presses him about the safety of the berry juice the old man tells him, “Believe me, I know from experience!”

Piel meets a funny creature and yells into its butt. The Suessian centaur picks up Piel and puts it astride it and they march through the forest. But before long Piel and his new friend are separated. He is alone again when the shitty prince begins to guide him to the lake and tell him to swim to the middle of the lake in an attempt to drown the kid. I guess this dickhole thinks that if the kid is dead they won’t go to Perdide anymore, but Jaffar catches him and throws his ass in the brig. Then after a long argument about the nature of values and concepts the gnomes decide to release the doomed prince to the one of the weirdest planets ever.  Gamma 10.

See, the gnomes shot Ol’ Princey down to Gamma 10 sure that he would be destroyed by the incredible psychic presence they felt and defined as “Pure Thought”. Only Jaffar thought the Prince was escaping so he chased after him like a fool. The subtext here is rich and I believe it to read that self-righteous actions lead to dangerous grounds of ideology. The inhabitants of Gamma 10 are faceless white Angels who preach unity and sameness. They take capture Jaffar and the prince and take them inside a crazy hive temple thing to feed them to a blob of protoplasm, that “thought” the gnomes were so fearful of.

The prince sacrifices himself and the gnomes help Jaffar escape. It is interesting that the film redeems the evil prince and even promotes self-sacrifice, two notions associated with Christianity, however he uses them as a mode of battle against same-thinking or autonomy. I like to think of Time Masters as the anti-Avatar. Allow me to elaborate.

In Avatar, those cat-giants plug their braids into the ground and animals creating a seamless organic network. Cameron creates an organic analog for what is technological autonomy. Social Networking becomes the hive mind, and Avatar cleverly disguises that “plug-me-in” mentality as something organic. On Gamma 10, once the prince defeats the blob of pure thought, all of those plugged in revert from blank faced angels into a host of alien and human individuals. One film represents a value of individuality over a vacuous host, and another preaches unity and oneness in a glamorous and sexy way.

Overtly satirical aside aside, the plot returns to our lost little boy, Piel. Piel is confronted by a legion of hornet creatures larger than a man. They attack and sting him.

Meanwhile the most stunning revelation of all has come. The old man has died as they arrive at the planet where they are to rescue Piel. The Time Masters purchased the planet. Their unique ability allows them to throw planets back in time and have them be developed and habitable for when they move in. Just as Piel would be killed a man rescues him. He lives a full life and has become the Old Man! The Old Man is Piel! No wonder he could help the kid with such personal knowledge of Perdide! It was he, talking to himself!

I’m not sure about the science of the movie, but the heart is more than in the right place. Great characters, great locations and design and a great adventure make up what I consider Rene Laloux’s masterpiece. Great for kids from 8 to 80!

Eyes Of A Stranger – Ken Weiderhorn – 1980

Posted in 80's with tags , , , , on November 28, 2012 by bookofdread

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The first time I saw Eyes of a Stranger, it was part of an all night slasher-fest that Quentin Tarantino was hosting in the early days of QT fest. The Alamo Drafthouse had but one location, on fourth and Colorado, and my at the time suite-mate at UT asked me if I’d like to go to a Quentin Tarantino film festival.

“But doesn’t he only have like, three films?”

“They’re not showing his films. He programs the festival from his collection.”

“He’s going to be there?”

“Yeah, and introduce all the films.”

So I went. I was eighteen, mind you. This night, there were other Austin luminaries in attendance, such as Robert Rodriguez, Mike Judge and Richard Linklater. I was pretty star-struck to see all these dudes together, but all that crap faded away when the films started playing. The first film was Black Christmas, a classic to be sure, but a film I had seen before. It was okay because the next 5 were all new to me and the very next one was Eyes Of A Stranger.

I was floored by this movie at the time, because I’d never seen a high rise horror film at the time, and this is one of the better ones, even though I’d say it benefits from the work done by both the previously re-viewed Someone’s Watching Me!, and the grimy classic Don’t Answer The Phone, not to mention the debts all these films owe to Rear Window. In any case, I like these films, and this was the first of them I saw. What this film really has different than those others is a blind, deaf, and beautifully vulnerable Jennifer Jason Leigh, who really must be the best actress out there for me. Her performance here is dynamite and she’s just a kid.

Lauren Tewes plays Jane Harris a local television lady who discovers that her neighbor is the rapist/murderer terrorizing the city. Jane cares for her young sister, (JJL), who is deaf and blind from some childhood trauma. Tewes plays Jane pretty plain, but like I said above Jennifer Jason Leigh makes the sister simultaneously capable and pitiable. Since Jane is taking care of this creature, we like her.

Clive Barker once said that your story is only as good as the villain, and in this tale, I have to say, this is the only real weak spot. Even though the killer is in Jane’s apartment at the end, she really seems one step ahead of him the whole film. I get that this is female empowerment, but we really don’t feel his full on creep factor until he’s fucking with a blind girl. And really, as far as characterization of the villain, we get nothing. He’s just kind of an old, fat guy.

But, man, the staging and suspense of the final ten minutes with JJL and the killer is great stuff! I mean, they stole the conceit from Wait Until Dark, but it works, and the ending is quite bloody and satisfying. Ken Weiderhorn’s Eyes Of A Stranger is a compelling genre exercise and front-runner for more femme-centric thrillers. Years lather Joe Ezsterhaus would make millions doing these same types of films.

I recommend this film to people who like sleazy movies about Miami or Jennifer Jason Leigh. 

Conquest – Lucio Fulci – 1983

Posted in 80's with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 26, 2012 by bookofdread

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I’ve seen Lucio Fulci’s Conquest three times now, and the plot remains the most convoluted plot of any fantasy film I have ever seen. This film is about eighty minutes long. It’s not that the story is bad. In fact, it is great! However, the film moves at such a break-neck pace and the visuals are consistently weird that you are constantly in a state of “what the fuck is going on?” Here is what seems to be going on.

Cronos gives Ilias a magical bow and arrow and he leaves for another dimension. In this dimension, Ocron, a sorceress, rules the land with hordes of werewolf soldiers. Ocron has a vision of her demise at the hands of the magical bow and sends her werewolf captain to go and find the boy. This reminds me of Willow or Legend in that the evil magical beings in these stories are aware from the beginning of the vessels of their destruction. In this classical form it seems that evil always knows that good has the upper hand, and only through treachery and wizardry can they hope to prevail.

The plot moves so fast there is little time for characterization. These people are archetypes only and the tale is basically told to give way to some of the stranger visions in Fulci’s mind. Before long the werewolves are upon young Ilias and it is up to Mace, the caveman with bone nunchucks to whip ass and save the young hero. Bone nunchucks, and he kicks ass with them, it is very unintentionally funny. Or maybe they knew how stupid bone nunchucks were.  Who knows?

When Fado, captain of the werewolves fails, Ocron burns him on a giant hotplate and summons Zora who lives in a white wolf form. She promises all her power to Zora if he can kill Ilias, thus saving her life. Geez, Ocron, it’s all about you.

It keeps going like this. Ilias gets poisoned. In the search for a cure Mace has to fight an onslaught of zombies. After Ilias gets better he quits to go home, but the spider-web people show up and crucify Mace. Ilias kills them but Mace falls on his cross into the ocean where dolphins save him. They re-unite and head out to get Ocron.

That night monsters take Ilias underground and behead him. Mace takes the bow and kills these monsters. He anoints himself with Ilias’ ashes to absorb the power Cronos gave him. The next day is the climax, with Mace killing a werewolf battalion, and shooting Ocron in the face. She becomes a wolf and runs off with Zora. Mace follows.

The film is the haziest film you will ever see, every scene is filled with smoke. Really. And the hazier your state of mind the more susceptible you will be to the films charms. The music by Claudio Simonetti is quite fun and scene to scene we are treated to luscious babes, lots of gore and more werewolves than you can shake a stick at.

I enjoy this film more every time I see it. I recommend it to any living, breathing person over the age of 9. Even though it’s a bit gory, it’s really a kid’s film, and even though I think he was cut out of the post-production of the film, his childlike glee in staging some of these sequences really comes through. Conquest is fun, and I’ll fight anyone who says differently!

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