Archive for anton diffring

FACELESS (1987) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in Film, France, horror, jess franco, movies, Spain with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 7, 2013 by goregirl

This weekend I had a serious 80s fixation! It started with Faceless than I moved to the excellent White of the Eye (1987), on to the hilarious Polyester (1981), a little hardcore porn (porn of the weirdest, funniest and most surrealistic variety possible) with Night Dreams (1981) and finished up with the wonderfully wacky Dr. Caligari (1989), It was a helluva fun weekend of movie watching! I also went to two documentaries as part of my DOXA experience; Casting By and Perverts Guide to Ideology. Wine was drank. It was a good weekend.

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Christmas in Paris; a man and two women, clearly well to do, are being driven around in a limousine. The man is a doctor named Frank Flamand. Flamand is confronted in a parking garage by an unhappy customer. Quicker than you can say The Awful Dr. Orlof the angry customer is throwing acid in the face of Ingrid Flamand. Forward to the immediate future and we meet model Barbara Hallen who decides to buy her coke from the wrong sort of people. People who in fact want to remove her face and affix it to someone else’s. Clearly it is the good Dr. Frank Flamand behind the shenanigans. Flamand along with the help of his assistant and lover Nathalie are stealing women’s faces to save Ingrid’s. Problem is Dr. Flamand is not a good enough doctor to pull it off. He seeks the aid of Dr. Orlof who hooks him up with a former Nazi doctor Dr. Karl Heinz Moser. Meanwhile Barbara Hallen’s father has hired private detective Sam Morgan to find her.

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The godawful 80s theme song played during the opening credits is played multiple times throughout the film. They repeat it so goddamn many times it got to be funny after a while. I enjoyed the hell out of Faceless but I am always going to think of that theme song when I recall it. It is featured in this trailer too; check it out…

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Faceless features a cast of familiar and talented European actors and actresses that is well worth noting. I’ll also add that this is one of the more coherent Franco films. The dialog is actually not bad, although there are a couple unintentional laughs. Nathalie is pretty gleeful about her acquisition of reluctant female face donors. Nathalie is a sadistic, horny, kleptomaniac played perfectly by Brigitte Lahaie. She is all sorts of fun! Helmut Berger is serious as cancer playing the mad doctor; that Helmut Berger guy is great. Sam Morgan the private dick takes a few good beatings and really steps up to the plate to rescue the damsel; Christopher Mitchum was well cast and looks plenty defectivey. That is one really bad-ass acid scar on poor Ingrid Flamand. Ingrid is upset a lot and is getting sick and tired of all the damn surgeries. Ingrid is not the most enviable role in the film, but Christiane Jean does just fine. The doctor’s handyman Gordon is an Igor type character Franco-style. He does whatever is asked of him but sometimes takes liberties with the face donors. He is a pretty creepy dude and Gerard Zalcberg gets that. Anton Diffring harnesses his inner-Nazi beautifully as Dr. Karl Heinz Moser the former Nazi doctor. Caroline Munro does a sweet job as the big-80s-haired coke snorting kidnapped model Barbara Hallen. Her father Terry Hallen is played by Telly Savalas who has a few brief scenes in an office. And finally, I loved the little cameo where Howard Vernon plays Dr. Orlof as he did for Franco previously in the titular role of The Awful Dr. Orlof (1962).

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Faceless is 100% pure Jess Franco and is without a doubt one of my favourite post 70s offerings. It is definitely one of Franco’s most energetically paced not to mention gorier films. Violence and action appear at regular intervals ranging from acid in the face and a drill to the head to a hilarious fist fight and an axe versus fire extinguisher battle. It’s all fun and games until someone loses their face! The story is not exactly original, Franco himself directed the aforementioned The Awful Dr. Orlof with a similar premise. But rest assured, this is clearly a product of the 1980s, the huge hair, big shoulder pads, bad music and graphic gore of the decade make this film shine.

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Faceless is screamingly 80s; sleazy, violent, funny, well-cast and a real riot! Highly recommended.

Dungeon Rating: 5/5

Directed By: Jesus Franco

Starring: Helmut Berger, Brigitte Lahaie, Telly Savalas, Christopher Mitchum, St├ęphane Audran, Caroline Munro, Christiane Jean, Anton Diffring, Tilda Thamar, Howard Vernon

CIRCUS OF HORRORS (1960) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, movies, UK with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2012 by goregirl

I’ve said it before and I will say it again; I am a huge sucker for a horror film with a carnival or circus theme! In Circus of Horrors a circus is merely a front for the demented Dr. Schuler. Dr. Schuler is a plastic surgeon and along with his two assistants is forced to flee when one of his surgeries goes horribly wrong. He meets a badly scarred child and he convinces her father who owns a broken down circus to let him operate on her. The child’s surgery is a success and in appreciation her father agrees to a partnership with Dr. Schuler. Immediately after their handshake the father has a drunken accident and Dr. Schuler becomes the sole owner. Schuler of course has a diabolical plan for the circus. All the performers will be badly scarred criminals whom he will operate on and make beautiful. If necessary he can blackmail the performers into staying by threatening to expose their criminal records. I realize this seems like a lot of information but we learn all this before we even get to the circus section which makes up the majority of the runtime. They stuff a lot of information in this introduction! When we get to the circus we just jump in head first.

We move ten years into the future and Dr. Schuler has clearly made the circus a huge success. But the circus Dr. Schuler dubbed “the circus of beauty” is now being dubbed by the media as the “jinx circus” on account of the number of “unfortunate accidents”. Circus of Horrors has all the familiar trappings one would expect; high-wire acts, acrobats, knife throwers, lion tamers, clowns. Circus of Horrors uses these accoutrements to their full effectiveness. I am going to give you a wee spoiler and tell you that the scarred girls father gets mauled to death by a bear. This bear scene is unintentionally hilarious! The death scenes otherwise are not graphic but are quite suspenseful and well-executed. I don’t want to spoil any more, but let’s just say the deaths have a circus theme. The performers scars pre-surgery are impressive and very believable. The excellent opening sequence where a hysterical woman smashes all the mirrors in her bedroom reveals to us the horror caused by Dr. Schuler. It’s not my fault baby; you shouldn’t have taken those bandages off so early. Dr. Schuler apologizes for nothing!

Dr. Schuler is a heartless, self-absorbed asswad that will stop at nothing in the name of self-preservation. His work means everything in that obsessive way that is required for any good mad movie scientist or doctor. He isn’t over-the-top with his antics playing it subdued but single-mindedly intense. Anton Diffring is perfect as the arrogant Dr. Schuler. He also completely looks the part. A young Donald Pleasance makes a brief appearance early in the film as the father of the scarred child. Pleasance is featured in the unfortunate bear scene but he is great just the same. His daughter Nicole grows up to be a beautiful woman with an equestrian act. Nicole is played by the lovely Yvonne Monlaur who is sweet and likable. Dr. Schuler’s assistant Martin is a bit of a sad sack. Martin assists in Schuler’s surgeries and is at the doctor’s beck and call for any number of other requests. Kenneth Griffith is decent enough in the role, and while I would not exactly say you feel sorry for the character there is the glimmer of hope that he will eventually grow a set. Martin’s sister Angela also assists in Dr. Schuler’s surgeries and also happens to be in love with Schuler. It is a mystery to me what she sees in this jerk. Angela is complicit in Dr. Schuler’s crimes but still manages to garner some sympathy. My favorite female character in the film is definitely the spicy and spirited Elissa Caro. Elissa is the show’s acrobat who ends her act each night with a noose around her neck as she frantically spins several dozen feet above the ground. Erika Remberg is top-notch as the confident Elissa Caro and it is a lot of fun seeing her give Dr. Schuler hell! Finally we have Inspector Arthur Ames. The circus is garnering some unwanted attention with its “accidents” and Inspector Ames is on the case. He is really “on”. The inspector is a real ladies man type who seduces the lovely performers for the answers he requires. Conrad Phillips who plays Inspector Ames is likable enough and he gets to have some fun whilst solving the crime.

Circus of Horrors’ story is rather on the crazy side. It really is a needlessly complicated plan this Dr. Schuler has concocted. The guy is a plastic surgeon and he is going to start a circus, find a bunch of criminals who will agree to be operated on, train them to be circus performers and oversee operations of said circus? Bloody hell that Dr. Schuler sure is ambitious! Great sets, lovely costumes, lush colors, a steady pace, strong performances and some well-executed moments of suspense make Circus of Horrors a very entertaining watch. Recommended!

Dungeon Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Sidney Hayers

Starring: Anton Diffring, Erika Remberg, Yvonne Monlaur, Donald Pleasence, Jane Hylton, Kenneth Griffith, Conrad Phillips, Jack Gwillim, Vanda Hudson, Yvonne Romain, Colette Wilde

Goregirl’s Werewolf Project: THE BEAST MUST DIE (1974)

Posted in horror, movies, UK with tags , , , , , , , , on April 26, 2012 by goregirl

The second werewolf film to not make the top ten shortlist is Amicus Production’s 1974 film The Beast Must Die, directed by Paul Annett.

The film opens with the following statement:

This film is a detective story in which you are the detective.

The question is not “Who is the murderer?” but “Who is the werewolf?”

After all the clues have been shown you will get a chance to give your answer.

Watch for the werewolf break!

This is a very William Castle-like gimmick. I was a bit surprised to see such a thing in a film from 1972. It is rather hokey, but I like hokey!

The film’s central character is millionaire Tom Newcliffe whose goal is to hunt the ultimate game; a werewolf! The opening scene sees Tom himself being hunted which we learn was merely a test of the security system he just had installed. Tom has invited five guests to his grand home and believes one of them is a werewolf.

The Beast Must Die has a splendid cast! The great Peter Cushing is here as the werewolf expert, along with Charles Gray (The Devil Rides Out, The Rocky Horror Picture Show), Marlene Clark (Ganja and Hess, The Jezebels), Anton Diffring (Circus of Horrors, Seven Deaths in the Cat’s Eye, and Calvin Lockhart (Cotton Comes to Harlem). It has got a funky 70s soundtrack too! The premise is unique and a lot of fun and they use all the classic werewolf props like wolfsbane, silver and of course the full moon! They also beef up the werewolf lore with a whole lot of lycanthropy trivia courtesy of Peter Cushing’s character.

There are two reasons The Beast Must Die failed to be top ten material. The film has pacing issues and drags in spots but more significant was a disappointing werewolf and transformation. A brief glimpse of a furry hand, a furry face and than a big dog! Woof! I am all about the half-human, half-animal aspect of werewolves. A dog or even an actual wolf just doesn’t cut it for me. Despite these feelings, I found The Beast Must Die entertaining. There is some nice build-up to the werewolf break and the finale is quite energetic. Add a great cast and a funky soundtrack to the mix and you have a watchable, but flawed bit of 70s cinema! If you have seen and enjoyed any of Amicus Productions other films, particularly their anthologies, I suspect you will enjoy The Beast Must Die. Recommended.