Archive for john vernon

SWEET MOVIE (1974) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in movies, Yugoslavia with tags , , , , , , , on March 12, 2013 by goregirl

The 1960s and the 1970s was such an exciting time for film. Film makers were pushing the boundaries of what was acceptable; the results of which were films like Sweet Movie. A film as whimsical, humorous and sexy as it is perverse, vile, and inaccessible. A Yugoslavian film that seems to be best known for its “banquet” scene (which I will speak more on later) than its dreamy beauty and uniqueness. There is no doubt with or without its infamously nasty scene Sweet Movie will appeal to a limited portion of the population. I now count myself among that populace; Sweet Movie is a film I intend to revisit again.

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If I had to summarize Sweet Movie in one sentence I would say it is the story of two women’s peculiar adventures through sexual liberation. The two stories run simultaneously and are otherwise unrelated. The film opens with a virgin beauty pageant sponsored by a chastity belt company run by Ms. Martha. The contest comes complete with a gynecological exam! The winner not only receives the prestigious (?!) title of Miss Virgin but she gets to marry Ms. Martha’s wealthy son Mr. Kapital. The winner is Mademoiselle Canada whose stunningly beautiful hymen is like a perfect little rosebud. Miss Canada and her new husband embark on their honeymoon. Mr. Kapital a germaphobe disinfects himself and his new bride; but what he does next causes her to scream in horror. Meanwhile an odd looking boat called “Survivor” passes by a harbor manned or more accurately wo-manned by Anna Planeta. The spunky Captain Anna has attracted the eye of a handsome young Potemkin sailor. The sailor eventually finds his way aboard and the two engage in some public fornication. In full view of all they pass Anna loudly exudes her pleasure with such utterances as “Oh Fascination” and “Optimistic Tragedy“. Um…Optimistic tragedy?! When we meet Mademoiselle Canada again it would seem her marriage is off to a bad start. She ends up in an empty milk silo with a well built and well hung black man. The man, who jumps rope naked, engages her in an odd conversation, is given a hand job and than packs Miss Canada in a suitcase and sends her away. On Anna Planeta’s vessel all appears to be well.

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Spliced between the two stories is grim war footage of people scavenging corpses for money and teaching infants gymnastics. I assume there was a political message intended although I am not clear what it was. I don’t know much about Yugoslavia but I know it has gone through some major changes between World War II and when this film was made in 1974. The Democratic Federal Yugoslavia became the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia under a communist government and in the 60s it was renamed The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Perhaps it was just director Dusan Makavejev giving the government and the censors the finger.

Sweet Movie

Mademoiselle Canada is traumatized after a lover gets his penis stuck inside her and medical help is required to wedge them apart. Assumingly, she had remained a virgin up to this point. The film takes a bit of a Marquis de Sade-esque turn. This is where the more unsavory stuff comes into play. There are two scenes in Sweet Movie that are going to challenge even seasoned viewer’s sensibilities. We will start with the “banquet” scene. Miss Canada ends up with a group of people with less than hygienic habits. A food fight breaks out and soon the group is vomiting on one another drinking each other’s piss and they top that off with a shitting contest. I hope these actors were paid well. I won’t lie; it was rather nauseating. At least these are adults voluntarily doing ugly shit to each other. Sensibility challenger number two is a scene involving pre-teen boys. Anna Planeta lures a group of boys onto her boat and invites them into the candy room. The candy room is just what it sounds like; a monstrous bed/vat of sugar sits in the middle of the room and the walls are lined with shelf after shelf of every candy you could imagine. After filling themselves greedy with treats the boys flake out while Captain Anna, strips, dances and flirts. Anna does a little more than flirt however and the scene lingers to the point of discomfort.

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Beautiful French Canadian Carole Laure who plays Miss Canada barely speaks a word and spends much of her time looking a little like a deer caught in headlights but she certainly looks good doing it. The lovely and spunky Anna Prucnal who plays Anna Planeta is just a whole lot of fun. Pierre Clémenti who plays the Potemkin Sailor is also a delight. All the other roles are fairly fleeting but Jane Mallett who plays Ms. Martha the owner of the chastity belt company had some priceless expressions that really cracked me up and her little “dance” had me roaring. John Vernon who plays her son Mr. Kapital leaves a lasting impression as the obnoxious, germaphobic, Karl Marx pipe-smoking oil baron. Director Dusan Makavejev is clearly looking to push the limits of political and sexual expression and this he definitely achieves. Sweet Movie is a strange, sexy, feverish, lewd, rude and often hilarious trip. The whole thing has this dreamy surrealness to it that I found very appealing. Sex in sugar, Chocolate masturbation, candy boats that lure boys and sailors, infantilism, virgin beauty pageants and hymens like rosebuds; they just don’t make them like this anymore. Sweet Movie is one of a kind and comes highly recommended for adventurous types.

Dungeon Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Dusan Makavejev

Starring: Carole Laure, Pierre Clémenti, Anna Prucnal, Sami Frey, Jane Mallett, Roy Callender, John Vernon

CURTAINS (1983) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in Canada, horror, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2012 by goregirl

I have been neglecting my own country and I thought it was time I should begin to remedy that. It won’t exactly be an avalanche of Canadiana but I will definitely be reviewing a couple more Canuck flicks before the month is over. Curtains is the second review I have done for a Canadian film starring Samantha Eggar. The other film being David Cronenberg’s The Brood. Eggar is brilliant in The Brood; she brings just the right amount of class to coo-coo. She gives another memorable performance in Curtains, but we’ll talk more on that later. I guess Curtains would be classified as a slasher, but it has a great gialloesque plot and twist that makes it rather special in my opinion.

This is my third viewing of Curtains which I picked up on VHS a while back. Unfortunately my TV crapped out on me recently so I had to ask a friend to let me bring my VCR over to their place to re-watch it. Before you get too excited about picking Curtains up for your collection, be warned, I have only been able to find Curtains on DVD included in one of those cheapie collections you find in Walmart dumpbins (The Midnight Horror Collection: Bloody Slashers). I do not believe Curtains has ever been released on DVD otherwise. What a shame!

Actress Samantha Sherwood is signed into a mental hospital by her director Jonathan Stryker. A precarious ruse concocted by Sherwood that will enable her to research for her next role as Audra. Stryker visits regularly at first but as time wears on Sherwood inevitably becomes affected by her environment. Instead of speaking to Sherwood’s doctor about their artful dodge, Stryker stops visiting and leaves Sherwood there to suffer her fate. Stryker begins recasting for the Audra role and invites six actresses to his estate to tryout. It is a role to die for as the sextet of actresses will soon find out.

The premise of Curtains is not exactly screamingly original even cliché may not be inappropriate. In the world of slashers there are no lack of young women gathered for the express purpose of their on-screen elimination. It is all in the execution as to whether a director can make it work and Richard Ciupka adds great twists, a big fat red herring not to mention a few delightful visual flourishes that put Curtains a cut above the competition. I love the ugly hag mask the killer wears. When the killer straps on some ice skates and goes whipping across a pond with sickle in hand you know you are watching a slasher with panache! The violence is considerably less graphic than most of its peers but Ciupka makes up for it quite nicely with some very stylish death scenes. Besides the aforementioned skating scene there is a fantastic dream sequence involving a creepy doll and a superb chase though a storage garage of movie props! There is a wee bit of sex and nudity although so little it is barely worth mentioning. The visuals overall are pretty terrific and its mystery unwinds in a nice steady manner giving you brow-raisers at regular intervals. Curtains does have a couple of scene changes that were a bit clumsy, but it is a minor quirk in the overall presentation. The film’s score is quite decent although I could have lived without the cheesy song played during the lengthy ice-skating scene. Curtains has a solid cast anchored by John Vernon and Samantha Eggar. John Vernon is good at playing the guy you love to hate and he is a first rate prick as the arrogant director Jonathan Stryker. Samantha Eggar is strong as the respected older actress who moves from slightly cracked to collected regularly throughout the film. The actresses are a collection of familiar Canadian faces that anyone my age would surely recognize including Linda Thorson, Anne Ditchburn, Sandra Warren, Lesleh Donaldson, Deborah Burgess and Lynne Griffin who played my favourite character comedianess Patti O’Connor. Michael Wincott makes a brief appearance as Matthew, a character whose inclusion was frankly a bit of a mystery to me and Maury Chaykin also has a quick in and out.

I really enjoyed Curtains! It is a great little mystery disguised as a slasher that is worth seeking out. With all the mucky-muck I’ve seen on DVD I can’t believe this nifty little film has not found a distribution company! Recommended!

Dungeon Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Richard Ciupka

Starring: John Vernon, Samantha Eggar, Linda Thorson, Anne Ditchburn, Lynne Griffin, Sandee Currie, Lesleh Donaldson, Deborah Burgess, Michael Wincott, Maury Chaykin