Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Cemetery Without Crosses

Ive really become a big Spaghetti Western fan lately. Ive always liked the genre, but i never really searched out titles until recently. Until the last several years or so its pretty much been the Leone films. But the more i dig into Italian genre films the more i find myself falling in love with the Spaghetti west.

Cemetery Without Crosses always seems to pop up on most peoples top 20 lists of favorite Spaghetti Westerns, so naturally ive been on the lookout for it. And after seeing it i can see why so many people hail it as an essential.

Cemetery Without Crosses is a French-Italian co-production. Released in 1969 and directed by Robert Hossein. Hossein also stars in the film as the expert gunman Manuel. Manuel is hired by a former lover to avenge the death of her husband, who was also his best friend.

I forgot i started this post! I put it aside to edit it and now its been a month or so..and i forgot. Oh well. Next up is my list of the best of 09.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Kevin Bacons Death Wish!!

Heres a total suprise of a film..Death Sentence staring Kevin Bacon and directed by James Wan. Wan is of course known for starting the awful Saw series. I think he only directed the first one!? Dont know; dont care. This is were its at! Death Sentence is loosly based on the novels Death Wish and its sequel Death Sentence. Ive never read them or have i even watched the Bronson film. Shame on me; i know. I want to see Death Wish, I just havn't done it yet.
The plot is typical, man seeks revenge on the street gang who murdered his son with vigilante justice. Bacon brings alot of emotion to the role. And when its time for him to be a bad ass, watch out. He seriously fucks up alot of people. John Goodman has a small role as a sleazy father of the leader of the gang. And Kelly Preston plays Bacons wife. All involved are good. Except the chick who plays the cop. I found her character to be the weak spot in this film. And truthfuly she was just plain annoying.

There is an incredible amount of graphic violence here. Throat slashings, lots of shotgun blasts blowing holes and severing limbs, fingers being shot off and bludgeonings with bats. Wan never shys away from the violence, he just doesnt linger upon it. Everything is seen in all its graphic glory.

The film isnt with out its faults thats for sure. Like i said the cop is annoying and there are time of just plain cheeseness. But its faults i can over look. Iam a total sucker for this crap. Death Sentence is a fun sleazy vigilante revenge thriller. Its fast paced and never boring. Wan brings style to the film. There is a great three minute tracking shot that takes place in a parking garage as the camera zooms through the levels. Wan is a young guy but he shows alot of promise with this film.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Michael Mann's Manhunter

Manhunter is the first film based on Thomas Harris's novel Manhunter. It was readapted years later as Red Dragon with Ed Norton and Ralph Fiennes. But Manhunter is a much better film than Red Dreagon. Now i really like Red Dragon but Manhunter has Michael Mann behind the camera. Its got style, an awsome Tangerine Dream-esque music and some descent Rock music tracks. Manns nack for incorporating songs into his films really pays off in Manhunter. The end climax blares a very long version of Iron Butterfly's In A Gadda Da Vidda as Will Graham invades the Tiith Fairys secluded house.
Released in 1986 to generaly postive reviews, Manhunter was a huge flop and has since become a cult classic. It is the first film to featur Dr. Hannibal Lecter, or in the film 'Lecktor.' Played by Brian Cox, his take on Lecter is equally on par with Hopkins performance of the cannibal killer. Playing intelligent psycho sicko all at once.
William Petersen of CSI fame plays FBI profiler Bill Graham, the man responsible for capturing Lecktor and almost losing his life in the process. For this he has retired from the agency until his former boss calls him up and asks him to help capture a serial killer who murders whole families known as the Tooth Fairy. The Tooth Fairy is played by the imposing Tom Noonan. Noonans was also the main villian in Robocop 2, The Frankenstein Monster in The Monster Squad and numerous T.V. shows including C.S.I. with costar William Peterson. Noonans performance is chilling. He becomes the role and is a towering presence when on screen. He is a much better Frances Dolarhyde than Fiennes in Red Dragon, although Fiennes definatly brings it to his performance too. But Noonan has the outcast looks and mannerisms that make him a much more believable serial killer. Noonan is brilliant in his role and is seriously one of the major elements in this film that makes it such a cult gem.William Petersen for that matter is great as the FBI agent who has the ability to get inside 'minds' of the people he's profiling. From what ive heard and read Petersen found his role to be totaly exhausting and needed to change his look by shaving his beard and dying his hair once filming wrapped to distance himself for sanities sake. This is a must see film for Mann fans or Lecter fans for that matter.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hammer time! The Mummy

When ever you put Terence Fisher, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee together in one film you can expect nothing less than greatness! Ive personaly never been into the Mummy monster films, but Hammer Horrors take on the classic story is pure gold! Everything about this film oozes greatness. Besides the three main players previously mentioned there is the fact that this IS a Hammer horror film. Right there you should already be sold on it. Hammer does not do bad films. They are sophisticated horror films with great actors, great directors and they nail the gothic feel better than anybody before and after them. Period!
Terence Fisher was Hammers best asset. More so than their actors. Fisher not only made stars out of Lee and Cushing but he reinvented all the major Universal monsters for Hammer including Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolfman and The Mummy. He is the one who put Hammer on the map. His visions of the old classics were spectacular. His Frankenstein series is the best Frankenstein series! His Werewolf movie is the best werewolf movie! And his Mummy movie is without a doubt the best Mummy movie!. Brandon Fraiser and his ass bag series can eat shit and apple sauce!

Hammers Mummy film has great sets. From green lit swamps to red and blue lit Egyptian tombs. Lee's Mummy is scary and menacing. He smashes through doors, busts bars and breaks through windows. He'll choke the life out of you with one hand and snap your back over his knee. And yet he's a real softy for a beautiful Egyptian princess..aww. Hes tall and menacing and he moves pretty fast when he's going in for the kill.
The story is the same one that youll find in a million Mummy movies but the visuals and performances make this well worth the time. Egyptian-gothic horror Hammer style!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Death Rides A Horse!! This is revenge... And there's nothing sweet about it!

"Somebody once wrote that revenge is a dish that has to be eaten cold. Hot as you are, you're liable to end up with indigestion."

Death Rides a Horse (Da uomo a uomo) is a spaghetti western made in 1967, directed by Giulio Petroni and stars Lee Van Cleef and John Philip Law. Law plays Bill Meceita who as a boy witnessed the brutal murder of his family, his mother and sister were also raped. 15 years go by and now the grown Meceita has revenge on his mind. When Van Cleef strolls into town with violent results, with his own agenda of revenge, Bill finds he has a lead as to the were abouts of the sadistic gang that murdered his family.

This is a great film and one of the very best in the genre. It feels like it had a decent budget behind it. Petroni is a very skillful director here with lots of great camera shoots and a very well paced film. Ive never heard of Petroni until i watched this and now I am curious about the rest of his filmography. Van Cleef and Law share great chemistry on screen. You can tell Van Cleef was having a blast. The dialogue is great and memorable. Van Cleef spouts lots of wisdom to the inexperienced Law. Van Cleef's gunfighter, Ryan, is mysteriously sympathetic and protective of Laws hot headed vengence seeker. Theres several great scenes were Ryan leaves Bill in the middle of nowere so that he is able to the gang first.

The film doesnt shy away from the violence either. Theres alot of great shoot outs. The end climax is a balls out shoot em up that lasts a good ten minutes or so. Petroni films the action well. Lots of great revealing camera shots and some seriously haunting locations.
All of that and Ennio Morricone contribute another classic spaghetti western score here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Five Deadly Venoms

Classic Shaw Bros. Kung-Fu flick has lots of colorful set pieces and action. Each of the deadly Poisons are great ranging from the wall crawling Lizard whos ability to fight with speed and agility from walls is ultra cool!

The super strong Toad is almost invincible in any form of attack. His skill lies in his defence

The Centipede is fast and wiggly! His ability to move fast makes him seem like he has 1000 legs and arms.
The double threat of the Scorpion. His kicking ability is as deadly as the tail of the scorpion and his hands are as deadly as pincers.

The Snake fights with percision. His one hand the deadly fangs the other hand the whipping rattling tail.
Although never referred to it in the film there is a 6th venom. He is a hybrid of the five venoms. But is the weakest of the five because he has never completely studied any of the five. He is also the one character that provides a bit of comedy relief as he bumbles his way around.
Released in 1978 and directed by Chang Cheh who directed several other legendary films like The One-Armed Swordsman.
The plot involves the Hybrid Venom being dispatched by his dying master to look out for a friends fortune. He is afraid that the venoms have been using their skills for evil and is afraid his friend is under threat. The Hybrid Venom is to track down the venoms and see if are an allie or a threat.
The film is stylish. Chang Cheh lights darkend dungeons with vibrant colors. Mario Bava would have been proud! Some of the best moment come during the first several minutes of the film when we are introduced to the Poison Clan. Cheh uses brilliant and memorable imagry for each of them.
The fights are pretty amazing. Especially the 5 man fight at the end. It has to be seen to be believed. And with a complex story the weaves all around The Five Deadly Venoms definatly deserves its cult status!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Big Racket = my favorite Poliziotteschi

The Big Racket is far and away my favorite Poliziotteschi. Poliziotteschi, for those not familiar, is the genre name of the Italian Crime Film that started around the late 60's. The prime time for this genre was during the 70's with titles like Rome Armed To The Teeth, Milano Calibro 9, Almost Human, Street Law, Beast With A Gun, The Sicillian Connection and Violent City. Some stared American actors like Charles Bronsan, Violent City. While Italian actors like Franco Nero, Ray Lovelock and Fabio Testi, all of whom acted in all genres of the Italian Exploitation field did some of their finest work in the Poliziatteschi.

While i covered just a small bit of Franco Nero's work in Street Law with one of my first posts, I am going to cover another film from the maestro of the Poliziotteschi, director Enzo G Castellari.
The Big Racket is Castellari at his finest. Although he has made countless gems like Street Law, High Crime and the mystical spaghetti western Keoma. The Big Racket stands as his greatest achievment in filmmaking in my humble opinion. Ive watched the film twice now and each time ive been blown away by the style. One scene in particular involves our hero, Testi, being attacked in his car by the ruthless and sleazy villians and having his car overturned and flipped down a hill side. All the while the camera catches all the action and destruction from inside the cab with Testi actually inside the automobile as it flips! Glass is shattering all over him as we see the ground rolling up and over him. I really dont know how this was done and it definatly makes for high entertainment! The edits in this film are fast and great too. Almost in the style of early George Romero when he was still editing his films. And the fights are coreographed with expertise. I think almost all of today filmmakers should study Castellari action to see how its done. Its never fast and and cut quick. We see why the badass hero is a badass hero....unlike Jason Bourne!!?

Although standard in story, tough cop takes the law into his own hands, Castellari adds the element of Testi getting together a sort of 'Dirty Dozen' of victims to take the law into their own hands. Add a villian that looks like Steve Perry from Journey and a incredible De Angelis Bros. Score and you have one of the most entertaining films in Euro history!

This sleazy action packed masterpiece is not to be missed and is defianatly the best place to start if just getting into these films. God bless Enzo G. Castellari!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Threads: as real as it gets!

Made fro British television in the early eighties during the Nuclear scare film boom, this is seriously one of the scariest films ive ever seen in my life. It will punch you in your gut then ass rape you while your down! Very well made account of what would happen in the event of a global holocaust. This film goes beyond what one could imagine. And ends with no hope what so ever. I imagine the way this movie plays out is what really would happen. This IS the best and most realistic nuclear survival film ever made. Itll stick with you and depress the hell out of you!
Its a rather hard to find film unless you live in the UK were it can be found on DVD. Or if you live else were and own a region free player or you still have the trusted VHS player ( it was available here on VHS) Its worth tracking down and being put through the hell this film puts you through.

Man Pride And Vengence!

Incredibly well made Spaghetti western from the director of highly stylish Giallo The 5th Cord, Luigi Bazzoni . Man, Pride & Vengence is not your typical Spaghetti western. For one thing it doesnt even take place in the states. It takes place in Spain. This is a tragic love story first and a western second. Tina Aumont plays a Gypsy whos charm even casts a spell on the viewer.
Franco Nero is a soldier who like the viewer falls for the seductive Aumont. Well photographed, great cast and a seriously cool score from Carlo Rustichelli. Also staring the ever reliable Klaus Kinski. This is a seriously damn fine film.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Before the Emerald Jungle, there was The Naked Prey!

I love survival films! The ones were the characters are stranded in the middle of nowere and they have to find theyre way to civilization. The Naked Prey is one of the best examples of this type of film. I watched it blindly with out any prior knowledge of what it was really about. Its freaking great. Cornel Wilde gives a tour-de-force performance as the "man"
there are some seriously disturbing images in The Naked Prey. One man gets covered in red clay, then baked over a fire by a tribe of cannibals! Theres also an amazing scene involving natives going inside and out of an Elephants carcass!! Like a big wet drippy meat tent! And i think it was a real Elephant carcass. Theres quite alot of Mondo footage here too. This is a great survival film. One were the hunted is respected by the hunters and vice versa. Cornel Wilde is a damn fine director. Shot on location, this one comes highly recomended!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Those Inglorious Basterds!

From a technical standpoint Inglorious Basterds is quite possibly Tarantinos masterpiece. Just the opening sequence alone solidifies this fact. Yes the man has studied the masters and injects his own unique charm into it. Basterds is Tarantino at his best. Wether or not i feel this is my favorite of his films, ive yet to determine. I acknowledge that Pulp Fiction is his masterpiece and is the film he will always be identified with. But Jackie Brown has been my personal favorite. And I dont think this is the hype talking because I wasnt sure what to expect from this other than being entertained. But Basterds may own it? A second veiwing will determine this for me.
Its damn near fucking flawless. No matter what little bits of random negative shit you hear from others, It tells its story perfectly. And Tarantinos ear for true movie scores only adds to the fun. I was having a blast picking out those cues of music from all types of shit. From poliziotteschi (Revolver) to spaghetti westerns (Death Rides A Horse) Tarantino knows that even if he had an original score for his films, they would in no way match the ultra coolness of the Euro Scores of the past! I read one reviewers comments on the Bowie song being out of place...fuck him.He should go hang himself and listen to his favorite Danny Ellfman score while he does it.
There is not one person in this that doesnt deliver.Christopher Waltz puts in a chilling performance. And of all people Mike Myers is fucking AWSOME! I almost wished there was more of him. Pitts Aldo Raine is like a cross between Sling Blades Carl and John Wayne. Truly halarious

Sunday, August 16, 2009

About this blog

Iam not the most proficient writer around. But i hope as this blog continues my writting will improve. And hopefully someone will read this little site and find something here they can find of use.

Street Law

Street Law starts out with a total fucking bang. Crime runs rampant in the streets of Rome were we see people being shot, mugged, dragged behind motorcycles. Theres a bank heist. Were we see monks, woman and average Joes being pistol whipped and beaten. Franco Nero happens to be one of those "Joes" and when the police dont bother to handle the situation that almost left him dead, he takes matters into his own hands.

Street Law is a gritty Poliziotteschi. One of the best of its kind. Director Enzo G. Castellari injects this film with alot of gritty action. The De'Angelis Brothers score is terrific and after the film youll be singing "Driving All Around...Looking For Someone..." Its a kick ass tune thats hard to get out of your head.
This film was basically my first introduction into the Poliziotteschi genre. It still stands as one of my favorites in a long list of great Italian crime thrillers.