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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Shemp's Ad-libs Delight Christine McIntyre In "Of Cash and Hash" (3 Stooges, 1955) (video)




"Of Cash and Hash" was Christine McIntyre's final appearance with the Three Stooges.

At the end, Shemp gets to demonstrate the boys' affection for her as a leading lady.

Although the shot is over, Shemp continues to ad-lib...
...much to Christine's obvious surprise and delight.

By the fadeout, Christine's genuine fondness for Shemp is apparent.


I neither own nor claim any rights to this material.  Just having some fun with it.  Thanks for watching!



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Monday, September 24, 2018

ANTHROPOPHAGOUS -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle




Italian goremeister Joe D'Amato does it again with the 1980 proto-slasher/thriller ANTHROPOPHAGOUS (aka "The Savage Island").  Like ABSURD, which he directed the following year, this bundle of blood-soaked chills doesn't pour on the gore non-stop, but when it does, it doesn't fool around.

Tisa Farrow (Mia's sister) stars as Julie, who's traveling to an island off the Italian coast to help care for a vacationing couple's blind daughter Henriette (Margaret Donnelly) in their opulent villa. 

She hitches a boat ride with a group of twenty-somethings out for some island-hopping fun themselves, but once they stop over at Julie's island to drop her off, things start going wrong.  And I mean really, really, gore-splatter-cannibalism wrong. 


It's strangely prescient of the 80s cliché of the group of young partiers cavorting off to some isolated location to be stalked and slashed by a psycho killer.  (A cliché that's still going strong today.)

Here, however, the premise hasn't yet become a tired trope, and the characters are mature enough so that their interactions, and later misfortunes, have a dramatic heft that makes them more than just subjects for fun gore effects.

D'Amato (BEYOND DARKNESS, EMANUELLE AND THE LAST CANNIBALS, THE ALCOVE) takes his time establishing all of this and letting us get to know such characters as the nervously expectant Maggie and her equally nervous husband, amorous Daniel who takes a liking to Julie right away, and brother-and-sister Andy and Carol, the former a level-headed good-guy type and the latter, a Tarot-reading flake whose unpredictable actions will eventually make a bad situation worse.


The bad situation in question, which they discover upon setting foot on the island, is an empty village in which (as we already know but they don't) the local population has been wiped out by a mysterious killer whose handiwork we saw in an earlier scene of a young couple getting meat-cleavered on the beach.

Taking up temporary residence in the villa of Julie's missing friends, the group makes a shocking discovery in the wine cellar that gets our own blood going as the story continues to build at a leisurely pace. 

More unrest within the social unit leads to creepy scenes within the big, dark house and its environs, including a crypt and a spooky foray into the shadow-strewn streets of the deserted village.  And before we know it, there's a sudden, cannibalistic attack that leaves one of them dead. 


To make a long story short, the character described in the title (if you can figure out what that title means, that is) finally makes himself known and proves a terrifying, stomach-churning force of un-nature with a voracious appetite for human flesh and one of the ugliest mugs in monster-guy history. 

Played by co-writer Luigi Montefiori (as "George Eastman"), who would portray a much less hideous killer in ABSURD a year later, the "Anthropophagous" dude is like something straight out of a nightmare, one of the most repellant stalkers ever to stalk. 

Blood 'n' guts sequences are few, but striking--the fetus scene alone is the stuff theater walkouts are made of. And D'Amato shows some style in unfolding the "dark, scary house", "deserted village", and "burial catacombs" scenes as well, giving us some genuine chills between the gouts of gore.  


The Blu-ray from Severin Films features a really nice-looking 2K scan from the original 16mm negative.  The film can be viewed either in Italian with subtitles or in English.

Severin doesn't disappoint with its usual ample menu of bonuses, here offering interviews with writer-star Luigi Montefiori, actor Saverio Vallone ("Andy"), FX artist Pietro Tenoglio, editor Bruno Micheli, and actress Zora Kerova ("Carol"). Three trailers for the film are also included.  The cover art is reversible.

ANTHROPOPHAGOUS has a simple, uncluttered plot that sets out to scare, startle, and sicken us, and it does exactly that with a singleminded determination.  It also boasts one of the ickiest cannibalistic creeps I've ever seen, whose final horrific act sets a standard of "WTF?" of which goggle-eyed gorehounds may never see the equal.


Special Features:
Don’t Fear The Man-Eater: Interview with Writer/Star Luigi Montefiori a.k.a. George Eastman
The Man Who Killed The Anthropophagus: Interview with Actor Saverio Vallone
Cannibal Frenzy: Interview with FX Artist Pietro Tenoglio
Brother And Sister In Editing: Interview With Editor Bruno Micheli
Inside Zora’s Mouth: Interview with Actress Zora Kerova
Trailers
Reversible Wrap


Buy it at Severin Films






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Shemp Gets Slapped Silly For Real In "Brideless Groom" (3 Stooges, 1947) (video)




A case of mistaken identity gets Shemp in trouble with Christine McIntyre.

The script called for her to lay into him, but she was afraid of hurting him.

Several takes with Christine's tentative slaps were wearing Shemp out.

So he finally told her to go for it without holding back, and get it over with.

Which she did!


I neither own nor claim any rights to this material.  Just having some fun with it.  Thanks for watching!




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Sunday, September 23, 2018

ABSURD (aka "Rosso sangue") -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle




Italian director Joe D'Amato's work ran the gamut from steamy sexploitation (THE ALCOVE with Laura Gemser) to graphic gorefests (ANTHROPOPHAGOUS, BEYOND DARKNESS and EMANUELLE AND THE LAST CANNIBALS, the latter also with Gemser).  But while his 1981 horror thriller ABSURD (aka "Rosso sangue") features an ample number of gory sequences, it has as much in common with John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN as with the usual wall-to-wall splatterfest.

The story begins with a family being menaced by an escaped madman (Luigi Montefiori, aka "George Eastman") who, as a result of a scientific experiment, is now both maniacally homicidal and practically indestructible.  Somehow making it from Greece to the U.S. with a priest (Edmund Perdom) hot on his trail, he suffers a serious injury and ends up killing a nurse before fleeing the hospital. 

"Absurd" is definitely the word when rumpled police detective Sgt. Engleman (Charles Borromel) finds out that he can't get anyone to help him look for the rampaging killer on the loose because there's a big football game on TV. Thus, in his words, the only people available to join the hunt are "a priest, a cop on the verge of retirement, and a rookie." He then gives the priest, whom he has just met, an unmarked patrol car and a gun.


The aforementioned family includes a mom and dad with a young son, Willy Bennett (Kasimir Berger) and a teenaged daughter, Katia (Katya Berger), who is confined to bed in some kind of highly-restrictive spinal traction.  When the 'rents run off to watch the football game at a friend's house, the kids are left alone with babysitter Emily (Annie Belle) until you-know-who shows up to turn ABSURD down the same alley where HALLOWEEN took us some years before.

The killer is even named Mikos after Michael Myers, but aside from that he has no distinguishing characteristics (mask, razor glove, personalized killing weapon) and is just a big, glowering crazy guy who's driven to homicide in a big way.  The priest character is similar to HALLOWEEN's Dr. Loomis, although once Mikos makes his way to the Bennett house the priest and cops pretty much disappear until the end of the movie.

Till then, D'Amato alternates the film's slower scenes with a nicely-wrought suspense that builds to some genuine thriller-level moments.  Again, the "babysitter protecting the kids from the madman" stuff is reminiscent of HALLOWEEN--some of the music even sounds as though John Carpenter might've written it--and when things get going nice and proper the tension is well maintained.


As for the more splattery moments, D'Amato doesn't let the gorehounds in his audience down.  While not quite Tom Savini quality, the effects are adequately effective when a nurse gets a power drill through the skull, a hapless janitor has his noggin pushed through an electric saw, and a nanny has her head fricaseed in a blazing oven. 

Various other blood 'n' guts moments pop up here and there as well, but not enough to qualify the film as a non-stop gorepalooza. (Still, ABSURD was one of the original 74 video nasties banned in 1984.)

The adult actors range from passable to good (prolific actor Purdom is a venerable presence), and the two kids deliver as well.  Much of the early action centers around Kasimir Berger as Willy, who's up to the challenge with his energetic performance.  Later, his real-life sister Katya comes through when the story hinges on her character's ability to tear off her restraints and struggle out of her sick bed. 


The 2-disc Blu-ray from Severin Films contains the film in two versions: the 94-minute English cut and the 88-minute Italian cut with English subtitles.  The amount of gore seemed about the same in both to me, so I couldn't really discern the differences between the two.  Both are 2K scans from the original negatives.

Bonuses include a new interview with Luigi Montefiori ("Mikos"), an archive interview with Joe D'Amato himself, an interview with filmmaker/extra Michele Soavi, and a trailer.  Disc two is a CD containing the film's score by composer Carlo Maria Cordio (first 2500 copies only).  The cover insert itself is reversible.

Although you won't mistake it for a Hitchcock flick, ABSURD has its share of chills and suspense along with the more giddily gruesome stuff.  It's D'Amato wielding his filmmaking abilities in fine form and entertaining us horror fans right up until the wickedly delightful fadeout. 


Special Features:Rosso Sangue: Alternate Italian cut (with optional English subtitles)
The Return of the Grim Reaper: Interview With Actor / Writer / Co-Producer Luigi Montefiore (George Eastman)
D’Amato on Video: Archive Interview With Director Aristide Massaccesi
A Biker (Uncredited): Interview With Michele Soavi
Trailer
First 2500 copies includes Bonus CD Soundtrack
Reversible Wrap

Available Sept. 25, 2018

Buy it at Severin Films





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Criswell's Nuttiest Moments From Ed Wood's "Orgy of the Dead" (1965) (video)




This bizarre 1965 horror/sexploitation film was written by Ed Wood.  

Famous faux psychic Criswell stars as the Emperor of the Night.

"Monsters to be pitied! Monsters to be despised!"


I neither own nor claim any rights to this material.  Just having some fun with it.  Thanks for watching!



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Saturday, September 22, 2018

MOLLY -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle




One thing zombie flicks and post-apocalyptic dystopia movies have in common is that, thanks to templates such as NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and MAD MAX, there's very little need for exposition. We're just suddenly there in these established worlds, and all that's required is to learn the specifics of the individual storyline being presented for us to follow.

This is true for the post-apocalyptic dystopia action-thriller MOLLY (Artsploitation Films, 2017), which comes to us by way of the Netherlands and brashly shoulders its way into the ranks of the best, or at least most brashly entertaining, films of that genre. 

An earlier trailer might've gone like this: "In a world...where society has been replaced by anarchy...and the innocent are injected with a drug that turns them into savage beasts pit-fighting to the death as gamblers cheer them on...one girl...with special powers and a fierce will to survive...fights to bring down an evil dictator while protecting an orphaned child she found alone in the wasteland...etc...etc..."


The girl with "special powers" (which I won't spoil here) is Molly (Julia Batelaan), who's like a cross between a myopic valley girl and Velma from "Scooby-Doo" (complete with glasses).  She looks like a normal teenaged nerd-girl all weighed down by a huge backpack and other gear, but circumstances have forced her to become a wandering warrior who must keep her guard up 24/7 against those who wish to either rob, kill, or capture her.

Local big-wig Deacon (Joost Bolt) wields the aforementioned drug and runs the pit fights, turning captives into vicious drug-fueled maniacs called "supplicants" and staging death battles during which he cleans up on the gambling front (with bullets as the main currency).  With Molly having become something of a legend in those parts, he orders his warriors to hunt her down and capture her for his fighting pit.

It took a while for me to settle in and "get" this movie.  At first, it looks like it's just going to be another mildly entertaining genre offering at best, albeit one with an intriguing main character.  The fight choreography seems a bit off at times, and the story seems a bit lean.


Gradually, however, the imagination and skill behind this above-average effort began make themselves more and more apparent until, by the second half, I was getting swept up in what was fast becoming a dazzling feat of modestly-budgeted filmmaking.

As soon as Molly befriends the little orphan girl Bailey (Emma de Paauw), who is then kidnapped as bait to lure Molly into the clutches of Deacon and his band of rough boys, our heroine's rescue mission in the bad guys' rusted-metal offshore lair becomes a dizzying non-stop assault of blazing action and breathtaking filmmaking.

Earlier fight scenes had a choppily edited shaky-cam look to them in order to convey Molly's fear and disorientation during sudden surprise attacks that came out of nowhere.  But during the extended finale, which takes place on several levels of iron walkways in a harsh industrial setting, the direction and cinematography suddenly shift into sort of a cinematic overdrive that had me goggle-eyed with amazement.


Fights still lack finesse, but this gives them the dirty, messy, awkward feel of real life-or-death battle. And when this mass of sweaty humanity starts plunging into fierce conflict in close quarters, directors Colinda Bongers and Thijs Meuwese shoot it all in amazing long takes with disguised edits that give the illusion of one unbroken action scene lasting a good 20-30 minutes or so.

(Molly's set-to with Deacon's main assassin Kimmy, played by Annelies Appelhof, is a real highlight, as is her final showdown with the Deacon himself.)

It's especially impressive in that the filmmakers don't have quick edits and jerky camerawork to use as a visual crutch.  The sequence boasts beautiful photography and camera moves (no shaky-cam, lens flares, etc.) and precision choreography that must've required both exhaustive practice and multiple retakes.

This is, to be honest, some of the best action filmmaking I've ever seen.  I was constantly reminded of a previous fave, HARD REVENGE MILLY, which this actually surpasses in my estimation.  Which, for me, is no small thing.  The hallway fight scene from OLDBOY also comes to mind.


Through it all, the character of freckled, bespectacled Molly is enigmatic but likable, and human enough to panic when she loses her glasses during a fight.  Where the heck did she come from, we wonder, and how did she become this fabled bow-wielding warrior who defeats opponents twice her size and ferociousness, with nothing more than a sort of frantically puckish resolve to survive? (Plus those special powers, of course, but I won't go into that.)

The Blu-ray from Artsploitation Films is in 1.78:1 widescreen with English 5.1 surround sound and optional English subtitles.  Bonus features consist of a directors' commentary, a half-hour "making of" featurette, and a trailer. 

I had a great time watching MOLLY, especially since so many films of this genre have been both blatantly derivative and inescapably dull.  Okay, this movie is sorta blatantly derivative too--but dull it ain't.  Following the satisfying resolution, there's an epilogue which promises a possible sequel, and, for once, I'm actually looking forward to it.




Artsploitation.com


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THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW 50TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL -- DVD Review by Porfle




If you grew up watching "The Carol Burnett Show", you know why so many people regard it with such warm nostalgia.  It was funny in a smart, yet comfortingly lowbrow sort of way, with a cast of likable and often brilliant performers we enjoyed spending time with. 

It has now been half a century since the show premiered, an occasion marked last year by a CBS-TV retrospective now available on DVD as THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW 50TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL (Time-Life). 

The most likable castmember of all, of course, is Carol herself, one of the brightest, funniest comediennes of all time and a genuine television icon.  Her famous rapport with her studio audiences is hinted at with some amusing exchanges that demonstrate how unassuming and down-to-earth the comic superstar has always been.


The show whisks us through a series of montages that give a hint of her versatility with brief snippets of skits in which Carol plays such characters as Scarlett O'Hara, Norma Desmond, and the ever-popular Eunice.

Likewise, the rest of the cast each gets the spotlight briefly with their own highlight clips.  Vicki Lawrence, who got her start on the show, appears in person to reminisce with Carol as we see some of her best moments as "Mama."  A white-haired Lyle Waggoner also drops by to bask in the shared nostalgia for these wonderful old times.

Some serious laughs come when the show focuses on the contributions of Harvey Korman and Tim Conway.  In addition to cracking each other up, these two had studio audiences in convulsions on a regular basis with such classic bits as "The Dentist", the "Family" (the infamous elephant outtake is shown), and the recurring sketch in which Conway played the befuddled Mr. Tudball to Carol's screamingly funny inept secretary Mrs. Wiggins.


Coming as a welcome sight are visits from some of Carol's old friends, including Steve Martin, Steve Lawrence, Martin Short, and Bernadette Peters, along with longtime costumer Bob Mackie.  (Tom Selleck and Pat Boone are in the audience.) Clips from past shows offer more familiar faces such as Jim Nabors, Eydie Gorme, Dick Van Dyke, and Jimmy Stewart.

Unfortunately, the roster of more current personalities assembled to help Carol celebrate her anniversary is hardly as stellar.  Getting things off to an icky start is Stephen Colbert, who introduces the show and later returns to, of all things, duet with Steve Lawrence. 

Jim Carrey shows up to creep everyone out.  Jay Leno and Harry Connick, Jr. are merely bland.  Various ex-SNL regulars and other mostly uninteresting personalities also parade past to amp up the show's "yawn" factor. 


Bonus features for the disc includes some red carpet footage, backstage interviews, and anniversary wishes from some of Carol's celebrity friends.  There's also an illustrated booklet as well. 

Carol Burnett's many fans can't help but derive some degree of pleasure from THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW 50TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL.  But I would like to have seen more of the classic performances in their entirety and less yakkity-yak from a bunch of  talking heads.


Type: DVD Single
Running Time: 95 mins.
Genre: TV DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 (16 x 9)
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1/Stereo 2.0

Captions


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Mirror POV Trick in "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde" (Fredric March, 1932) (video)




How do you shoot a POV mirror shot without showing the camera?

The camera lens represents Dr. Henry Jekyll's first-person point of view.
The "mirror" is actually a clear-glass window in the wall.

On cue, Fredric March (Jekyll) approaches it from the far side...
...in a reverse-duplicate room. 
Then his butler Poole (Edgar Norton) joins him in the mirror-room "reflection."

Later, the same window technique is used to give us another POV "mirror" view of Jekyll...
...and then, of his savage alter-ego, Hyde.


I neither own nor claim any rights to this material.  Just having some fun with it.  Thanks for watching!



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Friday, September 21, 2018

Opening Scene: "The Flesh Eaters" (1964) (video)




"The Flesh Eaters" is a low-budget horror flick starring Martin Kosleck.

The gore FX for this lurid thriller were pretty horrific for 1964.

But the first scene kicks the film off in pleasantly goofy (yet morbid) style.


I neither own nor claim any rights to this material.  Just having some fun with it.  Thanks for watching!




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