Archive for category New Reviews

Red-eye special

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So, which of these three films of the same title will I be reviewing—

(A) An Oscar-bait drama about race relations in Los Angles?

(B) A controversy-bait drama about literal autoerotica?

or

(C) A low-budget, Hal Needham-esque, The-Exorcist-meets-The-Amazing-Dobermans horror film about a possessed key-ring?

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Pretty obvious when I put it like that, huh?

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CRASH! (1976)

…in which Charles Band takes his very first baby steps towards a killer doll film…

 

 

 

 

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Liz Kingsley is the insane genius behind And You Call Yourself a Scientist!

Race Revenge: I Spit On Your Grave

This might not be the movie you’re thinking of…

I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE

Cinematic adaptations of books have a long history of being derided by the source material’s author, but few have as dramatic a claim to this dubious honor as this adaptation of Boris Vian’s 1946 novel J’irai cracher sur vos tombes. Vian had been warring with the production team. He was so dissatisfied with the way his material was being adapted that he demanded his name be removed from the film. Despite railing against the film, he was gracious (or morbidly curious) enough to attend the premiere on June 23, 1959. As the now famous story goes, Vian stood up minutes into the screening to shout out his angry disapproval of what he was seeing. He then, suddenly, dropped dead.


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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I’ve got good news and bad news

The Mean SeasonIt’s kind of mystifying that The Mean Season eventually becomes really dumb and weak after starting off extremely smart and strong.

Keith Bailey is the proprietor of The Unknown Movies Page.

Happy Valentine’s Day: Strip Nude for Your Killer

Nothing says romance quite like the sleaziest giallo of the 1970s:

STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER

Signature murders include the stabbing of a woman who, upon realizing a prowler may be in the house and all her co-workers are getting murdered, investigates while completely nude except for a pair of clunky platform clogs; and then there’s the one where, after charmingly attempting to rape a co-worker before going impotent, we get ample shots of an enormously fat man in his sagging tighty whities and black dress socks, clutching a deflated blow-up doll in one hand and a kitchen knife in the other while he cries uncontrollably. Tasteful!


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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Giallo Prime Time: The Bird with the Crystal Plumage

We covered some of the early proto-giallo. Now it’s time to get into the full swing of things.

THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE

Dario Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, is the Goldfinger of giallo. Goldfinger wasn’t the first James Bond movie, but it was the one that synthesized all the elements into what was recognizable as the iconic “James Bond film.” It became and, in fact, remains, the template for subsequent Bond adventures and for what people stereotypically think of when they think of a James Bond film. In much the same way, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is the film in which all of the raw material pioneered during the 1960s was forged into the finished formula that would define giallo throughout the 1970s and beyond.


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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Nothing to shout about


ScreamersThe newly shot footage Roger Corman added to the Italian movie Island Of The Fishmen to make Screamers helps, but it’s not enough.

Keith Bailey is the proprietor of The Unknown Movies Page.

Tinto Brass Meets Antonioni in Swinging London

DEADLY SWEET

Before Salon Kitty redirected his career toward sex films and before Caligula became the most infamous movie in the world, Tinto Brass was just another idealistic young director looking to capture the zeitgeist of the 1960s. His 1967 film Deadly Sweet was inspired and influenced by Antonioni’s Blow-Up but also markedly different. For one, it lacks that film’s sense of disillusionment. It also lacks that film’s self-control. Deadly Sweet is experimental but still commercial. Bleak but still bubbly and colorful. Tinto Brass seems to think that Swinging London is still, you know, swinging.


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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Blow-Up

The next in our two-month long spotlight on giallo…

BLOW-UP

On the surface, Blow-Up is a simple enough film about a fashion photographer popular among London’s hip Soho crowd. David Hemmings stars as the photographer, Thomas. Though successful, his life is directionless and shallow. Similar people, artists who seem to have no meaning or desire for meaning in what they do, surround him. When he’s not earning a living shooting waifs for fashion spreads, he wanders the streets of London in search of art with some sort of meaning. He never finds it, or really, seems to look particularly hard. While wandering through a park snapping candid shots of people, he accidentally photographs a murder. He doesn’t realize this until later, when a frantic woman (Vanessa Redgrave) shows up demanding he turn the film over. This is the plot that serves as the basic description for the film, but anyone who goes in expecting a thriller is going to be either pleasantly surprised or severely disappointed.


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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Blood & Black Lace

Revised and revived on Mezzanotte for the two-month long giallo spotlight:

BLOOD & BLACK LACE

When it came time for Mario Bava to turn in his version of a Hitchcock movie, he picked up on that underlying current of malicious giddiness and ratcheted it up. In Blood and Black Lace, Bava is a peasant let loose to demolish a nobleman’s home during the Russian Revolution. There is unbridled celebration in the carnage, but there’s also unsettling tragedy. Bava employs a subtle absurdity, taking delight not just in demolishing the vacant aristocrats in his cast of characters but also in wreaking havoc with the language of cinema and expectations of what was, then and now, acceptable. Blood and Black Lace gave giallo the element that made it so much different from the early whodunits from which it evolved: the snarl.


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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E.S.P. here means Extra Slow Plotting

PsychicWith Zach Galligan being the star, it doesn’t take a sixth sense to figure out Psychic has to be very underwhelming.

Keith Bailey is the proprietor of The Unknown Movies Page.