Archive for michele soavi

Goregirl’s TOP 10 Favourite Horror Films From 1994

Posted in horror, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 3, 2013 by goregirl

I have seen fewer films from 1994 than any year yet. I just did not have much luck finding a lot of the year’s titles. There were three big budget horror flicks from the year; Interview with the Vampire, Frankenstein and Wolf. Wolf had its moments, but overall it had too many issues to give it more than a 3/5. Whether justified or not, I do not like Tom Cruise. The very sight of the man rubs me the wrong way. He was a terrible choice for the lead role in Interview with the Vampire, but frankly I am not a fan of Anne Rice’s story anyway. If you read my review for Frankenstein than you already know my numerous issues with that one. No matter, 1994 did have some strong entries. I rated the top three films 5/5, I rated films four, five and six 4/5 and films seven through ten were rated 3.5/5. Every other title from the year were films I rated 3/5 or lower.

*Only feature-length films will be included on the top ten lists for the decade; I do not include shorts, documentaries or made for television movies.

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#10 DEATH MACHINE
Directed By: Stephen Norrington

The Chaank Corporation is conducting a top secret project for the military using cyborg technology. The cat is out of the bag after a malfunctioning cyborg soldier massacres a roadside diner full of customers. Public outcry and protests cause the company’s chief executive Hayden Cale to insist on full disclosure. She also wants the project’s creator Dante’s head on a platter. Dante however is working on a new top secret project that he refuses to submit reports for. Dante threatens Cale warning her that the last person who investigated him wound up dead. Meanwhile a trio of vigilantes intend on taking the Chaank Corporation down by eliminating the companies digital assets. An inevitable showdown arises and the lot are introduced to Dante’s deadly new experiment. I didn’t realize until I started this 90s project how many films from the decade had a cyborg plotline. Death Machine has all sorts of nods to other horror and sci-fi flicks and even has characters called Scott Ridley, Sam Raimi and John Carpenter. There is definitely a campy feel to the action and some laughs. Dante the child-like prodigy is the inventor of Chaank’s technology and is an eccentric sociopath played perfectly by Brad Dourif. Dourif steals every scene he is in. The visuals are okay, and there is a little bit of blood and gore although some of the film techniques used were a little corny. Death Machine is two hours long and I must admit it moved along fine. It takes a while before you see much action but the build up is not unappealing and there are some fun action sequences in the second half. Death Machine is not without its flaws but I found it an entertaining watch.

death machine

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#9 BRAINSCAN
Directed By: John Flynn

Michael is a teenager who lost his mother in a car accident as a child that left him with a nasty scar and a limp. Michael is also a huge fan of horror films and games which inspires him to order Brainscan. Brainscan is a virtual reality first person serial killer game that puts you in control. You guide the killer through an environment; you choose the weapon, the style of kill and what you should take from the scene as a souvenir. It’s all fun and games until Michael catches a news story the next day about a man who has been murdered. Michael not only recognizes the house but they state that a foot had been removed; the souvenir he chose to take in the game. Needless to say Michael is disturbed by the course of events and tries to call the toll-free Brainscan number to no avail. A few moments later he gets a call from a Brainscan representative. Not just a call, but a personal visit! A man materializes in his room calling himself The Trickster. The Trickster convinces Michael that he left behind a piece of evidence and he can only retrieve it by playing the second disc. Michael’s bad situation gets progressively worst with each disc. Brainscan is a fun little early 90s time capsule. It has a computer game premise. It has Edward Furlong. It has shameless advertising for Aerosmith’s 1993 album Get a Grip. It has a soundtrack featuring the likes of White Zombie, Butthole Surfers, Mudhoney and Primus. It makes me think about my record store days. The effects overall were passable but not great and sadly there is little blood and/or gore. The makeup however was pretty decent. The Trickster is definitely a creative looking character. He sports a red psuedo-mohawk, a nose ring, knife-like fingernails, waxy skin, deep sunken beady eyes and he seemed to have an abundance of teeth. He is a delightfully creepily comical character. T. Ryder Smith who plays The Trickster really throws himself into the role and is animated and full of energy. He is an outrageous, eccentric menace. Brainscan’s story isn’t going to blow your mind, but it is decent enough. I would not say it is scary at any point although there are a few tense moments and some good action. There are also some laughs which are mainly courtesy of The Trickster. Brainscan isn’t a great movie, but I thought it was a pretty fun one. To read the full review click here.

brainscan

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#8 SCHRAMM: INTO THE MIND OF A SERIAL KILLER
Directed By: Jörg Buttgereit

The film’s title really says it all; this is the story of a serial killer named Lothar Schramm. The story is told using flashbacks from a fallen Schramm. This is such an ugly and vile film I am almost embarrassed that I like it. Schramm: Into the Mind of a Serial Killer is directed by Jörg Buttgereit the German filmmaker best known for the nasty Nekromantik. Buttgereit’s films have generally been a hard watch for me, and yet I can’t say I have actually disliked any of them. Schramm: Into the Mind of a Serial Killer made me want to take a scalding hot shower afterwards which I highly suspect was Buttgereit’s intention. Lothar Schramm never exactly elicited any sympathy from me, but he is clearly a troubled and lonely man. He also has some very specific issues with women that seemed to inspire equal parts anger, violence and fear. The film is overflowing with violent and disturbing images that are hard to watch. The film has a raw gritty style that adds to the bleak and unrelenting brutal visuals. Schramm: Into the Mind of a Serial Killer really is a bleak and disturbing film and one of the more compelling serial killer flicks I’ve seen. I would not put this on par with Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer but it is in a similar class. I can not stress more strongly that Schramm: Into the Mind of a Serial Killer is not for the faint hearted.

schramm

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#7 THAT LITTLE MONSTER
Directed By: Paul Bunnell

Jamie takes a babysitting gig for the seriously weird Willock’s and discovers that their little monster is in fact, a little monster. That Little Monster is an odd little duck of a film that isn’t even quite one hour long. That Little Monster is filmed in black and white and as other reviewers have commented, the film does have an Eraserhead vibe. The whole black and white monster baby scenario hasn’t exactly been played out dozens of times so it is certainly understandable that Eraserhead should come to mind. That Little Monster boasts some pretty impressive visuals for its low budget which is definitely the films strongest asset. There are some really wild props in this little oddity including a baby mobile made from itty bitty plastic dolls that was so awesomely creepy! That Little Monster’s monster is a freaking ugly little bastard. There is a great dark humour to the story and a delightfully strange tone throughout. There are only a handful of characters in the film but they sure are a wacky bunch. The only name I recognized in the credits was Reggie Bannister who played Reggie in the Phantasm series. Everyone involved did wacky quite well as far as I was concerned. Unfortunately That Little Monster does have a couple scenes that linger too long. Considering its short run time it does hurt the film a bit. That Little Monster is a surreal, humorous, creepy little bit of bizarreness that despite a couple of overindulgent scenes was a lot of fun.

that little monster

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#6 GIORGINO
Directed By: Laurent Boutonnat

Giorgino is a soldier returning to civilian life after the war. Before he was sent to war he had intended to go into pediatrics and had become close with some special needs children. Giorgino buys a huge bag of candy and seeks out the hospital where he once worked. When he arrives the hospital is abandoned and he is directed by a woman to the home of Dr. Sébastien Degrâce. When he arrives at the home he is greeted by the housekeeper Marie who hurries him upstairs after he introduces himself as a doctor. Madame Degrâce lay dead on her bed and Giorgino makes a few attempts to start her heart to no avail. He announces the Madame’s death to Marie who is now accompanied by a young woman who he learns is the Madame’s daughter Catherine. Distraught Catherine runs to her mother’s room. Dr. Degrâce is apparently away on a trip so Giorgino goes into town to find a room for the night. He asks some local women about the children and is told they are all dead. The last person to see the children was Dr. Degrâce’s daughter Catherine. The beautiful fiery-haired Catherine is a troubled woman who has the mind of a child but may be the key to learning the circumstances surrounding the children’s untimely death. This was my first viewing of Giorgino, a mystery-drama which may or may not have a supernatural twist. It is left ambiguous as far as I am concerned. Giorgino is a slower-paced but intriguingly moody film. The village is entirely populated by women; with the exception of a priest and one man who seemed unwell. All the village’s men are away at war. The women keep candles lit in the church superstitiously believing that it will keep their men alive. To blow out the candles is to curse the men. It is a pretty bleak place full of grey and dour people. The Degrâce family is an unusual lot. The death of the children seems to have left a darkness on the entire household. Dr. Degrâce as Giorgino learns was institutionalized, the Madame hung herself which he learned upon examining her corpse when he first meets the family, and there is an unexplained sexual bond between Marie and Catherine. There is a scene early where Marie answers the door with her blouse buttons undone and she is bleeding from her nipple. And of course there is the little issue of the death of several young children under the Degrâce’s care. Wolves play a part in the story. Do the wolves exist or are they concocted by the imagination of a child? Perhaps the wolves only visit those who are about to die? Like I said, Giorgino is full of mystery. Giorgino has some fascinating characters and excellent performances. Giorgino also has some well executed intensity. There is one scene in particular where the town’s women are getting stinkingly drunk in celebration of the men coming home that had me seriously anxious! I shall not divulge, but you will recognize the scene when you see the film. Jeff Dahlgren is solid as Giorgino; a calm and determined man who seems to have a great deal of empathy. Mylène Farmer is superb as the mentally unstable child-like Catherine. The performances are great by all; Louise Fletcher as a bitter Innkeeper, Frances Barber as Marie and Joss Ackland as Father Glaise are particular standouts. Giorgino is a bleak, sad, tense, mysterious film that left me sweetly sated.

giorgino

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#5 MUTE WITNESS
Directed By: Anthony Waller

Billy Hughes is a mute special effects makeup artist on a shoot in Moscow for a low-budget horror film. One evening she is locked in the studio where unseen, she watches a porn film being made. Her mild amusement becomes horror when a woman is killed for the camera. After being discovered and chased through the studio she manages to escape and tells her story to her sister. The two go to the police but the porn filmmakers’ manage to convince the police that what Billy seen was merely part of the film. The plot thickens with the addition of a shadowy criminal who wants Billy dead. I kept a rated list of every film I seen through the 90s and had given Mute Witness a high score but didn’t remember many details. Mute Witness is yet another film I have been remiss in not re-watching. Mute Witness is a great, well-executed, intense and humorous horror film that has a spicy pace and some solid performances. Marina Zudina really is excellent as Billy. She is likable and although empathetic she doesn’t come off as a weak or helpless victim. Fay Ripley who plays Billy’s sister Karen is also an amiable sort although she does become a bit bumbling towards the end of the film. The same can be said for Evan Richards who plays Karen’s boyfriend Andy who is director of the low-budget horror film. Alec Guinness has a memorable cameo as The Reaper; he is the only star name to appear in the cast. The finale does go on a little longer than necessary but it was not unappealing. The film is light on the graphic violence but more than makes up for it with some excellent intensity, action, strong performances and great twists. Mute Witness is a nifty little lesser known horror film worth seeking out.

mute witness

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#4 NADJA
Directed By: Michael Almereyda

Nadja is a vampire who fully embraces her status but her brother Edgar fights against it. Hiding away in the day in their dark tombs and coming out at night to mingle among the revelers of New York’s underground scene. Bold Nadja seduces the niece and nephew of vampire hunter Dr. Van Helsing who easily falls under her spell. Van Helsing makes it his goal to eliminate the beautiful Nadja. Filmed in black and white with a rawness and graininess that is mucho appealing. It employs a peculiar almost clumsy effect when a character has fallen under the influence of a vampire, which somehow works quite well. It is dotted with flashbacks and jump cuts that all add to the quirky and surreal look. Nadja is dreamy, disorienting, moody, funny and even touching at times. The dialog is often delivered in a dry unemotional, matter of fact sort of way that gave the interaction a strange vibe. As vampire films tend to be, there is a fatalistic nature to the plot also. The performances are solid, although it is Elina Löwensohn who is really the highlight as the titular Nadja. She is gorgeous, sexy and utterly perfect as the exotic blood-sucker. The solid supporting cast includes Peter Fonda as Van Helsing, Karl Geary as Renfeld, Suzy Amis as Cassandra and Jared Harris as Nadja’s tormented brother Edgar. David Lynch has a small role as a morgue employee and was an executive producer on the project. While there are certainly elements of the classic vampire mystique included, Director Michael Almereyda adds plenty of artful florishes that make the film a unique entry in the vampire genre. The soundtrack featuring modern tracks that included Portishead, Space Hog and The Verve suits it quite well. I can only guess that perhaps Nadja is too artful for some horror fans as it seems to be woefully underappreciated. Personally I think Nadja is one of the more intriguing entries in the vampire genre and one I grow fonder of with every viewing.

nadja

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#3 IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS
Directed By: John Carpenter

When we first meet insurance investigator John Trent he is telling his story to Dr. Wrenn as a patient in a psychiatric hospital. Trent had been hired by a book publisher to investigate the disappearance of their most profitable horror author Sutter Cane and retrieve the manuscript for the final novel in his popular series. The publishing company tasks Cane’s editor Linda Styles to assist Trent. After reading a few of Cane’s novels Trent becomes plagued with nightmares, a common effect of the author’s work. Trent discovers that the fictional location of Hobb’s End featured in Cane’s stories may actually exist somewhere in New Hampshire. Trent and Styles set out to locate Hobb’s End and unfortunately find the horror-filled fictional town. In the Mouth of Madness is screamingly Lovecraftian with its nightmarish Cthulhu-esque monsters. The film has a delightfully bleak, horrifying and apocalyptic vibe that is beautifully executed. In the Mouth of Madness is actually the title of Sutter Cane’s final novel. Cane is nothing more than a messenger for his monstrous overlords. The visuals are superb and the effects are amazing. The monsters are truly a grotesque delight. The casting is perfect with my man Sam Neill as John Trent; his descent into hell and utter madness is a joy to watch. Julie Carmen, Jürgen Prochnow, David Warner, Bernie Casey, Peter Jason, Charleton Heston and Frances Bay all give solid support. In the Mouth of Madness is the final chapter in John Carpenter’s Apocalypse Trilogy which includes The Thing and Prince of Darkness. That is one hell of a trilogy ain’t it? In the Mouth of Madness is pure horror gold.

in the mouth of madness

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#2 NATURAL BORN KILLERS
Directed By: Oliver Stone

Mickey saves Mallory from her abusive father and together they travel across America killing randomly for kicks. The media turns the serial killer couple into superstars. A two sentence summary is all Natural Born Killers needs as an introduction. In keeping with my trend of including films not listed as horror on IMDB here is Natural Born Killers. It is about a pair of serial killers after all, and they do kill a hell of a lot of people. I love the films biting commentary and its parade of sleazy characters, but it is the criminally likable duo that makes it all work. In its way, Natural Born Killers is also a love story. The killer couple falls in love on sight. Mallory accompanies Mickey without hesitation. Before embarking on their journey they do kill Mallory’s sexually abusive father and complacent mother. Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis are perfectly cast here as Mickey and Mallory Knox. They do bad things and kill plenty of innocent people but are wholly fascinating. Their chemistry is undeniable. The sleazy characters they are forced to interact with are equally interesting. Robert Downey, Jr. plays tabloid television journalist Wayne Gale who has profiled Mickey and Mallory on his show American Maniacs and will do anything to get an interview with the couple. Tom Sizemore plays Detective Jack Scagnetti who as a child witnessed his own mother killed by a mass murderer. His intentions seem noble but he too is a violent sociopath. Tommy Lee Jones plays Warden Dwight McClusky who oversees the prison where Mickey and Mallory are being detained. He is a crooked, slimy weasel who is working in cahoots with Detective Scagnetti. Comedian Rodney Dangerfield plays Mallory’s abusive father. Thanks a lot Stone, I will never be able to completely erase the image of Dangerfield in that dirty, sweat-stained tank top, spitting as he yells and putting his hands all over his teenage daughter. Natural Born Killers is one of my favourite films from the decade and is well-acted, creatively-filmed, smart, violent, chaotic and surreal. “In the media circus of life, they were the main attraction.”

natural born killers

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#1 CEMETERY MAN
Directed By: Michele Soavi

Francesco Dellamorte oversees the Buffalora Cemetery where people don’t stay buried. The returners, as Dellamorte calls them are generally pretty easy targets; although a few do give Dellamorte some trouble. In the course of the story Dellamorte meets a beautiful widow whom he falls in love with on sight, he also meets and falls in love with a few of her doppelgangers, he buries and re-kills several returners and has a conversation with death himself. The makeup and effects are top notch! Each returner is unique in appearance which is determined by how they died. I particularly enjoyed the teeth clacking boy scouts! A returner’s bite hurts but it does not turn you into one of the undead. Everyone who dies does so twice; and a lot of people die in Cemetery Man. There is blood and gore but most of it isn’t particularly graphic. More die quickly with a shot to the head than by any other means. I love Cemetery Man’s look and feel. It is dark and gothic yet whimsical. It has an entertaining story and great humour that gets decidedly darker as the film rolls on. The film’s central character Francesco Dellamorte is equal parts charming, arrogant and awkward. I also found him kind of sexy! Among Dellamorte’s hobbies are reading outdated telephone books, clipping obituaries out of the newspaper and having sex with beautiful women in graveyards. Rupert Everett was a brilliant choice for Dellamorte; I can’t imagine anyone else in the role. Gnaghi, Dellamorte’s faithful, slow-witted assistant who speaks only in grunty sounds is a likable and empathetic bloke and is played perfectly by François Hadji-Lazaro. “She” is both the love of his life and the primary source of his pain and anxiety. The gorgeous Anna Falchi is as comely as they come. Cemetery Man is playful, funny, dark and strange. To read the full review click here.

cemetery man1

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DELLAMORTE DELLAMORE (aka CEMETERY MAN) (1994) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, Italy, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2012 by goregirl

I am writing this review as I sip a coffee on the balcony of my new apartment. It’s nice out here! I am going to buy some plants and flowers and shit to make it all secret gardeny. I love my new neighborhood too! I particularly like that the best video store in Vancouver is just minutes away from me! I can’t wait to dig into their catalog of goodies! I will definitely have an interesting mix of titles for reviews in September. I apologize for the thin postings for zombie month. I usually cover a lot more films for this feature. The whole moving thing really messed with my blogging. Since this is the last week of zombies I wanted to make sure I covered another flick from my favorite’s list. I figured there were more reviews out there for the other films on my list and Dellamorte Dellamore (Cemetery Man) could use more love. I happen to think Dellamorte Dellamore is one of the most original and entertaining films about the undead out there!

Dellamorte Dellamore’s DVD came with a bunch of trailers and an interesting interview/documentary thing on Michele Soavi. Soavi discusses his association with Dylan Dog creator Tiziano Sclavi who wrote the novel on which Dellamorte Dellamore is based. Soavi cites three directors as his teachers; Joe D’Amato, Dario Argento and Terry Gilliam. Soavi worked on films in Italy with both D’Amato and Argento in various capacities; he just seemed to greatly admire Gilliam who he referred to as a visionary poet (or something along those lines-I really should have written it down). In any case, it is a nice little documentary bonus.

Dellamorte Dellamore never calls its menace “zombie” therefore none of those classic zombie characteristics apply. The dead certainly look rotten enough when they come back but they are highly functional. In Dellamorte Dellamore those who rise from the dead are called “returners”; at least that is what Francesco Dellamorte, caretaker of the Buffalora Cemetery calls them. Within seven days of being buried in the Buffalora Cemetery the dead rise from their graves and it is Dellamorte’s job to make sure they get back to their final resting place permanently. He could lodge a formal complaint, but the amount of paperwork involved is such a hassle it is just easier for Dellamorte to shoot them in the head. Dellamorte also has an assistant named Gnaghi, a portly good natured man with child-like tendencies. The two live and work in the Buffalora Cemetery.

Dellamorte Dellamore opens with Francesco Dellamorte chatting on the phone to a friend in nothing but a towel. Dellamorte answers a knock at the door and is greeted by a reanimated corpse. He calmly shoots the corpse in the head and carries on with his conversation. Just another night in the Buffalora Cemetery for our Mr. Dellamorte. Dellamorte says to his friend “life goes on” and in his world it certainly does! The “returners” are generally pretty easy targets; although a few do give Dellamorte some trouble. There is an insane accident that kills several people at once; all of which will be buried in the Buffalora Cemetery. Dellamorte and Gnaghi have their work ahead of them! The makeup and effects are top notch! Each “returner” is unique in appearance which is determined by how they died. I particularly enjoyed the teeth clacking boy scouts! The “returners” seem to recollect loved ones, they speak, and one of them even rides a motorcycle. They do come back pretty pissed sometimes and they will bite you. It hurts like a sonofabitch but their bite does not turn you into the undead. Everyone who dies in this film dies twice; and a lot of people die in Dellamorte Dellamore. There is blood and gore but most of it isn’t particularly graphic. More die quickly with a shot to the head than by any other means. There are a couple special nuggets however that I will not tell you about.

While I would refer to Dellamorte Dellamore as a horror-comedy, it is also a gothic romantic tale. One of the film’s most important elements is “She” who goes by many names and none. He first meets “She” at her rich old husband’s funeral. I can not really go into details about “She” without spoiling a chunk of the film. But “She” shows up in several different scenarios all of which Dellamorte falls madly in love with her. Dellamorte spends the rest of the film in this love-death loop that is bound to take its toll on his psyche! The film does indeed take a strange turn after pieces of burned phonebook take the shape of death who speaks to Dellamorte. Dellamorte Dellamore’s finale is really something else! I love Dellamorte Dellamore’s look and feel. It is dark and gothic yet whimsical. I can see a touch of Gilliam influence in Soavi’s visuals. Dellamorte Dellamore has an entertaining story and great humour that gets decidedly darker as the films rolls on. The film’s central character Francesco Dellamorte is equal parts charming, arrogant and awkward. I also found him kind of sexy! Among Dellamorte’s hobbies are reading outdated telephone books, clipping obituaries out of the newspaper and having sex with beautiful women in graveyards. Rupert Everett was a brilliant choice for Dellamorte; I can’t imagine anyone else in the role. Gnaghi, Dellamorte’s faithful, slow-witted assistant who speaks only in grunty sounds is a likable and empathetic bloke and is played perfectly by François Hadji-Lazaro. “She” is both the love of his life and the primary source of his pain and anxiety. The gorgeous Anna Falchi is as comely as they come and it is not difficult to understand how Dellamorte falls in love with her on site!

Dellamorte Dellamore came out of one of horror’s most uninspired decades and was such a fantastic surprise! It is playful, funny, dark and strange. There was a rumour a year or so back that Michele Soavi was going to do a sequel to Dellamorte Dellamore. Sadly no such project is listed on Soavi’s IMDB page. If Soavi ever does do a sequel, I will be the first in line! Dellamorte Dellamore gets my highest of recommendations!

Dungeon Rating: 5/5

Directed By: Michele Soavi

Starring: Rupert Everett, François Hadji-Lazaro, Anna Falchi, Mickey Knox, Fabiana Formica, Clive Riche, Katja Anton, Barbara Cupisti, Anton Alexander

CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD (The Gates of Hell) (1980) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, Italy, movies with tags , , , , , , on March 15, 2010 by goregirl

Be sure to vote for your favourite Lucio Fulci film (poll is in my sidebar). The poll closes Thursday night (March 18th) and results will be posted on Friday.

A Priests suicide in the town of Dunwich, opens the gates of hell, now a psychic and a reporter must find a way to close them.

A priest hanging himself in an old graveyard sounds like trouble, but if that graveyard is in Dunwich and happens to be built over the old town of Salem, supernatural hi-jinx are bound to occur! What better place could there be for the gates of hell than a town famous for its witch burning trials? The film opens up with a séance where psychic Mary Woodhouse sees a priest hang himself in a graveyard and something in her vision literally scares her to death. It turns out Mary isn’t dead after all, as curious reporter Peter Bell soon finds out. Mary wakes up in the sealed coffin and begins banging and screaming. Lucky for Mary, Peter is nearby and thinks he hears a noise. Fulci really draws this scene out! It takes forever for Mr. Bell to finally realize and respond to the fact that the noise is coming from the freshly, barely covered coffin. He doesn’t attempt to pry the coffin open but instead swings a pickaxe into the top of the coffin barely missing Mary’s head…THRICE! A fairly bizarre and random way to link up two characters but it made for an interesting scene. Considering Fulci’s body of work, this is one of the more coherent storylines. Gates of Hell, open, must be shut. It’s pretty straightforward really. Although, with that said, Fulci doesn’t exactly go to a lot of trouble to explain anything in detail. The somewhat patchy story is trumped by some amazing visuals and memorable gore scenes.

The dead of City of The Living Dead are not your typical zombies. These guys and gals magically teleport and they can also make your eyes bleed when they stare at you. In fact, one of the best gore scenes in the entire film has dead priest, Father Thomas having a staring contest with a young woman who bleeds from the eyes and then ends up puking up her own entrails. Nasty! There is also a scene where someone gets a drill through the head that looks top notch. These zombies enjoy ripping the back of a person’s head off to expose the gooey brain matter inside. The zombies themselves look pretty gross and have these infected looking sores all over their faces. Of course, there are the trademark Fulci Worms and maggots to look forward to also! Overall, the gore in City of the Living Dead is super dandy and is its biggest plus.

Catriona MacColl plays Mary Woodhouse and I found her fairly likeable in the role. However, considering it was her damn idea to go to Dunwich and close the doors to hell she got pretty freaking useless in the end! MacColl would go on to star in two more Fulci films; The Beyond and The House by the Cemetery. Christopher George is somewhat comical in his delivery and adds a certain amount of levity. The duo hooks up with Dunwich psychiatrist Gerry played by Carlo De Mejo who ends up being the least useless of the three characters. He manages to save their asses more than once. Father Thomas played by Fabrizio Jovine is a believable badass priest but in fairness the man barely utters a word. Supporting characters Bob, played by Giovanni Lombardo Radice and Tommy, played by future director Michele Soavi both have brief but memorable roles.

The patchy story and some sloppy editing prevent me from giving City Of The Living Dead a perfect mark. Despite some flaws I enjoy the hell out of City of the Living Dead. Fulci stages some creative kills and the sets and props are great. He adds some stylish direction that conjures up some impressive atmosphere. The music is used to great effect, and you know when it lulls you into warm and comfy territory that it will suddenly rip your heart out. Highly Recommended.

Dungeon Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Lucio Fulci

Starring: Christopher George, Catriona MacColl, Carlo De Mejo, Antonella Interlenghi, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Daniela Doria, Fabrizio Jovine, Luca Venantini, Michele Soavi, Venantino Venantini

Deliria – STAGE FRIGHT – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, Italy, movies with tags , , , , , on October 21, 2009 by goregirl

stage fright dvd“The theatre of death”

One of my favorite horror films from the 90’s is Dellamorte Dellamore (aka Cemetary Man) directed by Michele Soavi. In 1985 Soavi completed the documentary ‘Dario Argento’s World of Horror’ and in 1987 he made his feature length film debut with ‘Stage Fright’. An impressive foray into the slasher genre.

The cast and crew of a stage play are locked inside a theatre with a recently escaped killer.

By no means does Soavi reinvent the wheel, but he definitely adds his own unique filming flair to ‘Stage Fright’. It’s easy to see the Argento influence. Following cables along the floor and through doorways, extended shots of inanimate objects. The production value and excellent direction from Soavi definitely elevates this film above many a slasher. The vast majority of the film takes place inside the theatre, so props are limited but what is used works extremely well. The theatre itself is a solid setting for a massacre and there are copious shadowed corners and hidden places for our killer. The owl head the killer wears is super cool. It is without a doubt my favorite thing about ‘Stage Fright’.

still from stage fright

The film doesn’t feel overly dated, but certainly the fashion and music is reflective of the decade. There is a variety of characterizations ranging from self-involved jerk, to those you might feel compelled to root for. The performances were generally pretty good, although not particularily memorable. The effects are decent and the gore is moderate. I would have liked to have seen some more creative kills but there are still a few memorable ones here. There is some decent moments of tension throughout. I particularily liked the scene of the owl-man just sitting calmly with a black cat in his lap on the stage. Also impressive is the scene where the female lead is searching underneath the stage floor for a key she seen poking through. It is a rather frustrating scenerio for the group locked inside the building. The body of a female crew member was found dead in their parking lot earlier that day, so the cops have posted a car right outside the theatre door. There is literally about 10 feet between the front door they spend time banging on, and the cop car outside. It is also a stormy night with torrential downpours and lightening. It probably would have been wiser to have called it a night. But it is a slasher after all, and it would have been a pretty short film if they had all went home. I found the DVD sound to be somewhat troublesome at times. There were a couple of scenes where the music is too loud for the dialog. Overall though, I would say that ‘Stage Fright’ is a damn solid Italian slasher. Anyone who enjoys Italian horror and/or slasher films from the 80’s should find much to like here. Recommended.

Dungeon Rating: 3.5/5

Directed By: Michele Soavi

Starring: David Brandon, Barbara Cupisti, Domenico Fiore, Robert Gligorov, Mickey Knox, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Clain Parker, Loredana Parrella and Martin Philips