Archive for sergio martino

DUNGEON DIRECTOR PROJECT: My 50 Favourite Directors #15 – #11

Posted in movies with tags , , , , , on August 5, 2012 by goregirl

My 50 Favourite Directors #15 – #11

My dungeon director project will be coming to its thrilling conclusion this week! Check in on Wednesday and Friday to see who made the top 10!

*NOTE: I did not include any made for TV movies in the numbers I used for each director’s full-length feature films.*

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#15. Sergio Martino

What I’ve Seen: The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh (1971), The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail (1971), All the Colors of the Dark (1972), Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972), Torso (1973), Gambling City (1975), A Man Called Blade (1977), The Mountain of the Cannibal God (1978), Screamers (1979), The Great Alligator (1979), 2019: After the Fall of New York (1983)

I have seen a mere 11 of Sergio Martino’s 42 full length feature films. Martino has directed a number of comedies, the one genre of Italian film I haven’t explored much. Martino makes this list thanks to his seriously outstanding Giallo entries which are absolutely among the best of their breed! I gave four of Martino’s films a perfect mark; The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh, The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail, All the Colors of the Dark and Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key. I also loved Torso, Gambling City and A Man Called Blade; actually I have enjoyed all 11 of the Martino films I’ve seen. Martino’s Giallo have all the important elements that make the sub-genre so bloody brilliant and beloved by me! The twists and red herrings, glove-wearing killers, beautiful women, amazing cinematography and sex and violence! Martino is also a big fan of Edwige Fenech and Anita Strindberg and so am I!! These two beautiful talented ladies are just another compliment to Martino’s great flicks! His thrilling puzzles are constructed by the great Ernesto Gastaldi who penned all my aforementioned faves. Seriously, you gotta check out Gastaldi’s resume; the man has written some seriously awesome shit! I’m ashamed I only discovered Sergio Martino’s films relatively recently. Martino is a Giallo master!

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#14. Roman Polanski

What I’ve Seen: Knife in the Water (1962), Repulsion (1965), Cul-de-sac (1966), Dance of the Vampires (1967), Rosemary’s Baby (1968), Chinatown (1974), The Tenant (1976), Tess (1979), Frantic (1988), Bitter Moon (1992), Death and the Maiden (1994), The Ninth Gate (1999), The Pianist (2002), The Ghost Writer (2010), Carnage (2011)

I have seen 15 of Roman Polanski’s 20 full length feature films (he also has a film in pre-production called D). I love several films on this list but Polanski has lifelong membership in the favourite’s club due to his “Apartment Trilogy”; Repulsion, Rosemary’s Baby and The Tenant. These are three of the best films I have ever seen in my life! Repulsion and Rosemary’s Baby have been on my top 100 favourite horror film list since I started keeping one! Although Repulsion is masterfully filmed I think Catherine Deneuve probably deserves equal credit. Deneuve’s performance as Carol in Repulsion was a freaking revelation! The woman is positively alarming! Mia Farrow’s performance in Rosemary’s Baby is also pretty bloody fantastic. And I do love my satanic-oriented shenanigans! The Tenant is more of a dramatic thriller and it is a wonderfully quirky and mysterious one! It stars Polanski who is not only a great director he is an actor and writer (along with Gérard Brach who collaborated on the writing of several of Polanski’s films). It also features the lovely Isabelle Adjani. I also love and adore Knife in the Water, Dance of the Vampires, Cul-de-sac and Chinatown. While I don’t actually dislike any of Polanski’s Post 70s films they don’t move me the same way as his earlier work. Beautifully-filmed, well-written, character-intensive and with a ribbon of black humour running through them; Roman Polanski’s films mesmerize me and fill me with wonderment.

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#13. Ishirô Honda

What I’ve Seen: Godzilla (1977), Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975), Mirâman (1973), Space Amoeba (1970), Destroy All Monsters (1968), The War of the Gargantuas (1968), King Kong Escapes (1967), Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965), Frankenstein vs. Baragon (1965), Monster of Monsters: Ghidorah (1964), Dagora, the Space Monster (1964), Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964), Atoragon: Flying Supersub (1963), Matango (Attack of the Mushroom People) (1963), King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), Mothra (1961), The Human Vapor (1960), Varan the Unbelievable (1958), Rodan (1956), Godzilla (1954)

20 is a significant number of titles to see from one director, but it is just a drop in the bucket of Ishirô Honda’s 52 full length feature films! Japanese director Ishirô Honda is maestro of the monsters and the undisputed king of the wildly fun sub-genre! I have enjoyed every single title on this list! Godzilla was the first film I ever seen and I have seen it countless times since! The film was a pretty monumental achievement for its time! His collaborations with special effects guru Eiji Tsuburaya are particularly grand! 100s of miniature structures smashed to bits for my entertainment! I am also a huge fan of Honda’s Destroy all Monsters, The War of the Gargantuas, Mothra Vs. Godzilla, Terror of Mechagodzilla, Matango, Mothra and Rodan!! A friend said “You can’t put Ishirô Honda in between Polanski and P.T. Anderson” and I said “To hell I can’t!” Seriously! For the pure joy Honda’s films have brought me over the years he really deserves to be in my top 10! Damn rankings! Ishirô Honda holds the key to my heart!

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#12. Paul Thomas Anderson

What I’ve Seen: There Will Be Blood (2007), Punch-Drunk Love (2002), Magnolia (1999), Boogie Nights (1997), Hard Eight (1996)

Paul Thomas Anderson has the teeniest resume in my entire list of 50 directors with just five full length feature films! I have seen every single one of his films in the theatre and gave four out of five of his films a perfect score! His deeply flawed characters and dysfunctional families appeal to me on a variety of levels. I was slightly horrified by the news that Adam Sandler was to star in Anderson’s follow up to Magnolia. I really am not fond of Adam Sandler but his turn here is magnificent! Anderson creates one of the most unlikeable-likable characters I have ever stumbled upon! Who the hell wouldn’t be a little “off” being the only male among a family of overbearing sisters constantly intruding in your life? Punch-Drunk Love has become one of my favourite love stories of all time! Generally speaking, Anderson employs many of my favourite actors and actresses; John C Reilly, William H. Macy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Emily Watson, Daniel Day-Lewis and Jason Robards among others. It can’t hurt your film having some of the most talented actors/actresses working today! All of Anderson’s projects feel like a new experience; Boogie Nights and Magnolia are these brilliant massive ensemble pieces with multiple key characters where Punch-Drunk Love and There will be Blood are more intimate looks at a central male character. In any case, the one thing all Anderson’s films have is intriguing wonderfully written characters! Anderson’s sad, lonely, angry, broken characters are a breath of fresh air in a sea of happy-ending sappy drivel. I would be hard pressed to choose which of Anderson’s films my favourite is; I like each one for different reasons. Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the most talented and intriguing directors working today and I am beside myself with excitement to check out The Master coming out soon.

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#11. Joel & Ethan Coen

What I’ve Seen: True Grit (2010), A Serious Man (2009), Burn After Reading (2008), No Country for Old Men (2007), The Ladykillers (2004), Intolerable Cruelty (2003), The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001), O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), The Big Lebowski (1998), Fargo (1996), The Hudsucker Proxy (1994), Barton Fink (1991), Miller’s Crossing (1990), Raising Arizona (1987), Blood Simple (1984)

I have seen all 15 full length feature films from the Coen brothers. I really struggled with Joel and Ethan Coens placing on this list! I have loved the Coens since seeing Raising Arizona in the theatre in the 80s. Up until recent years the Coens never ever disappointed. While I feel no less strongly about the films I love from the duo they have had a few “oopsies”; The Ladykillers, Intolerable Cruelty, and True Grit. The mighty Coens have five films I gave a perfect rating to; Blood Simple, Miller’s Crossing, Barton Fink, Fargo and The Big Lebowski; Raising Arizona, No Country for Old Men and Brother Where Art Thou? would not be far behind. From Crime to comedy Coen’s films have highly entertaining stories, characters and seriously fucking talented actors and actresses! Some of my all time favourite actors and actresses have appeared in the Coen’s films; William H. Macy, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Frances McDormand, John Turturro, Peter Stormare, and Albert Finney among others! I have seen just about every single one of the Coen’s film on the big screen and actually went to see Barton Fink at the theatre three times! The extraordinarily talented writing, production and directing team of Joel and Ethan Coen have already left their unique signature on cinematic history but I think they just might have a few more tricks up their collective sleeves. I look forward to checking out Inside Llewyn Davis which is in post-production. Despite a few broken eggs I look forward to the potential omelette of awesomeness these amazing multi-talented men might concoct next!

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Music from The Great Alligator (1979) & Suspiria (1977)

Posted in horror, movies with tags , , , , , on April 20, 2012 by goregirl

Happy Friday! I posted two pieces of music this week on ye olde YouTube channel from the soundtracks for Sergio Martino’s The Great Alligator (1979) and Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977).

Music & images from Sergio Martino’s The Great Alligator (1979), music by Stelvio Cipriani (Alligator Terror).

Goblin – Suspiria (Celesta and Bells)

THE STRANGE VICE OF MRS. WARDH (1971) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, Italy, movies with tags , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2010 by goregirl

I ended up watching The Strange Vice Of Mrs. Wardh on the last day of Italian horror month and didn’t get a review done. Since a month had passed, I decided I should watch it again. Despite knowing how it ends I actually enjoyed this film even more the second time around. Edwige Fenech may be the greatest female star of Giallo ever! This has been my favourite entry from Sergio Martino so far. It has all the elements that make these films so appealing to me; sex, sleaze and violence and Fenech is the cherry on top!

The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh opens with a prostitute getting into a car and being slashed to death by an unknown assailant. We then meet Neil and Julie Wardh as they arrive at the airport after a business trip to the US. Neil goes off to do some business sending Julie home by cab on her own. The cab is stopped on route by a cop and the driver and Julie are asked to hand over identification. It is revealed that a serial killer has been terrorizing the area and another woman’s body has just been found. As the cab continues on to Julie’s destination she has a flashback that reveals what her titular strange vice is. Apparently Julie likes her sex rough and bloody. Although this excites her in the moment she is also completely repulsed by this dark side of herself. In order to put this past behind her she has married Neil Wardh but her ex-lover is still obsessed with her. When a third man, the cousin of a close friend shows interest, she can’t seem to help herself. Julie has problems! Julie Wardh is a woman conflicted. She has an air of self-importance but also a serious self-loathing. The sight of blood excites and repulses her and she completely falls apart, breaking down completely and fainting in men’s arms. I wondered often if things could possibly end well for Julie Wardh.

Unlike her role in Your Vice Is A Locked Room and Only I have the Key where Edwige Fenech plays a confident, cheeky little minx, in this one she is definitely the woman in peril. Unlike many of her peers playing the victim, she never strikes me as an air-headed ditz. As always she gives an intriguing and memorable performance. Fenech is the cat’s ass! She gets some pretty solid support too. Martino regulars Ivan Rassimov and George Hilton are two of the men in Julie’s life. Rassimov, the man of a thousand hair don’ts always brings a sleazy charm to his roles. He plays Jean, Julie’s ex-lover, fellow vicer and giver of roses with creepy notes. Hilton plays the new lover, handsome cousin of her best friend Carol. That Coppertone tan, sideburns and swaggering confidence screams of the decade! This is the first I can recall seeing of Conchita Airoldi who plays Carol. Airoldi plays Carol as a hideously bitchy socialite type with a rather glib sense of humour. Finally Alberto de Mendoza who plays Julie’s hubby Neil Wardh gets a bit overshadowed by the bigger personalities here. Mendoza is seemingly the older and wiser of the players but acts as a pretty good leveller.

This is a pretty meaty film for the very early 70’s. In the first 15 minutes we see a woman slashed with a razor, Fenech naked and slapped around until she’s bleeding from the mouth and two women ripping the dresses off of each other at a party. Missing in The Strange Vice Of Mrs. Wardh is the dramatic drawn out classic chase and kill scene. The films serial killer makes pretty quick work of the ladies he slashes to death. Truth be told, the violence isn’t very graphic and certainly there are other Giallo that offer more in this regard. But what it might lack here it makes up for in so many other ways! There are almost as many red herrings as there are boobs and there is a twist ending, and then another twist and yet another! An unholy trinity of twists that was as satisfying as cold beer in a frosty glass on a sizzling hot day. There are absolutely amazing location shots in both Italy and Spain and kick ass sets and set pieces. The Wardh’s apartment with its spaceship doors and obnoxiously busy wallpaper is swingingly seventieslicous! Martino’s stylish filming and care for detail shines as bright as chrome. Amazing shots like Jean smashing a wine bottle that shatters and flies through the air onto Julie’s naked body; the two fucking as the broken fragments lacerate their flesh and blood trickles from their wounds is a thing of lavishly kinky beauty.

The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh is a perfect example of all the reasons I love Giallo and all things 1970’s. My highest of recommendations!

Dungeon Rating: 5/5

Directed By: Sergio Martino

Starring: George Hilton, Edwige Fenech, Conchita Airoldi, Manuel Gil, Carlo Alighiero, Ivan Rassimov, Alberto de Mendoza, Bruno Corazzari

THE CASE OF THE SCORPIONS TAIL (1971) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, Italy, movies with tags , , , , , , , on March 24, 2010 by goregirl

I’ve mentioned many times on this blog how much I love the films of the 1970’s. That is why I am completely mystified as to how I could have overlooked the films of Sergio Martino. ‘The Case of The Scorpion’s Tail’ is the second Martino directed film I’ve reviewed during Italian horror month and is another outstanding example of the mans work.

Lisa Baumer wastes no time cashing in her husbands million-dollar insurance policy after he dies in a plane accident. Insurance agent Peter Lynch is sent to investigate the case. Bodies begin piling up and the million-dollar bootie goes missing. Ambitious reporter Cleo Dupont hooks up with Peter and together they try to solve the puzzle.

The film opens with a couple having sex; during which we are shown flashes of an airplane flying and then exploding in mid-air. I found it really entertaining that the first piece of the puzzle does double duty as a visual for an orgasm. The airplane shots were created using a model airplane on a string and that’s exactly what it looked like. It was so damn cheesy I couldn’t help but be charmed. ‘The Case of The Scorpions Tale’ has a deliciously convoluted plot full of red herrings, violence and numerous suspects with twists and turns that keep you guessing. You are well rewarded with a dramatic reveal and an excellent chase sequence. The chase really is superb but Martino cuts it short in a rather blunt manner. It’s a minor detail but I would have liked to see this scene extended. A great plot is complimented by stylish and inventive photography, fantastic set pieces, and beautiful outdoor scenery. It is all set to an excellent score from Bruno Nicolai. Topping it all off are top-notch performances from Martino regulars Anita Strindberg and George Hilton. The two actors have amazing chemistry together. The stunning strindberg is perfect as the intelligent and confident reporter Cleo Dupont. Hilton is excellent playing charming insurance man Peter Lynch.

There’s a decent body count, a bit of the red stuff and some beautifully staged kills. My favourite was a woman whose throat is cut as she is approaching a sliding glass door. The blood sprays all over the door, she falls forward and her face meets glass. Martino shows this from the other side of the door so we can see her face squished against the bloody glass surface contorting as it slides slowly down. This is accompanied by the squeaking sound you hear when you wash your windows. Great stuff! Although ‘Case of the Scorpion’s Tail’ certainly wouldn’t qualify as gory, its scenes of violence are very effective.

‘Case Of The Scorpion’s Tail’ is an amazing film with all the classic Giallo elements served up with flare and style by one of my new favourite masters of the genre. I’m thinking the Sergio Martino Collection might be a DVD box set worth owning. The NO SHAME dvd I rented had a nifty short documentary on the making of the film featuring director Sergio Martino, screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi and actor George Hilton, not to mention a flawless transfer of the film. Pure 70’s Giallo gold! Highly recommended!

Dungeon Rating: 5/5

Directed By: Sergio Martino

Starring: George Hilton, Anita Strindberg, Alberto de Mendoza, Ida Galli, Janine Reynaud, Luigi Pistilli, Tom Felleghy, Luis Barboo

YOUR VICE IS A LOCKED ROOM AND ONLY I HAVE THE KEY (1972) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, Italy, movies with tags , , , on March 10, 2010 by goregirl

This is my first viewing of Sergio Martino’s ‘Your Vice Is A Locked Room And Only I have The Key’. The only other title I seen from Martino was ‘Torso’. I definitely need to check out more of Martino’s films! I will watch and review at least one more before the month is over. In the meantime, let me tell you about this little nugget with the ridiculously long name.

Oliviero Rouvigny is an author suffering from serious writers block. He is an abusive alcoholic in a loveless marriage to wife Irina and regularly seeks affection from other women. He arranges a rendezvous with a young woman working in a local bookstore. He learns from a police detective the next morning that the woman had been slashed to death. Suspicions run rampant and bodies begin to pile up. Oliviero’s life becomes even more complicated when a niece invites her self to stay with the unhappy couple.

‘Your Vice Is A Locked Room And Only I Have The Key’ is a twist on Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Black Cat’. The films strongest element is its incredible character development and performances by its three leads. ‘Your Vice’ is highly psychological and wallows in human cruelty. There is also a significant body count and a bit of the red stuff. The films weaker moments occur when it wanders off into territory that isn’t really relevant to the central plot. For instance, there is a lengthy motorcycle race scene that was really unnecessary. There is also a red herrings thrown in pertaining to the first two murders that I didn’t think worked all that well. It throws you off track, but it briefly messes with the films vibe. In the end however, these flaws felt pretty minor.

In the opening scene, Oliviero Rouvigny is hosting a party. He is going on yet another drunken rant about his dead mother. His wife Irina doesn’t feel like drinking, and in response Oliviero has the guests pour the remainder of their libations into a bowl, which he then forces her to drink. After Irina runs from the room he continues by making an unsavoury comment about their black maid. One of the guests starts singing and soon the room is singing along while a loan female dances naked on the dining table. The musical interlude scared the shit out of me; I thought I was about to watch the giallo version of ‘Hair’! Worry not; this is the films one and only musical interlude! The scene closes with Oliviero having sex with Irina on the floor while she wears his dead moms dress. So in the first brief scene we establish Oliviero has mom issues, he’s a bad host and an abusive drunk. But this is a Giallo, and all may not quite be as it appears. The relationship between Oliviero and Irina is impressively venomous and bitter. Their dialog and interactions are one of the films best features and they are a fascination to watch every minute they are on screen.

Anita Strindberg plays Irina nervous and twitchy and utterly distraught, while Luigi Pistilli plays the alcoholic and abusive husband somewhat reserved. The two play off each very well and carry the film beautifully. But as awesome as these two stand out performances are it is niece Floriana played by Edwige Fenech who steals the show. She invites herself to stay with the couple and seduces both Irina and Oliviero and plays them against each other. This sassy little minx owns the Floriana character and pulls off one of the most memorable performances I have ever seen in a giallo.

I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Your Vice Is A Locked Room And Only I have The Key’. It is a well-paced, moody, psychological head trip with a great score from Bruno Nicolai. The dialog is smart, biting and occasionally humorous and the outstanding character development really elevates this one! Viva Giallo! Highly recommended!

Dungeon Rating: 5/5

Directed By: Sergio Martino

Starring: Edwige Fenech, Anita Strindberg, Luigi Pistilli, Ivan Rassimov, Franco Nebbia, Riccardo Salvino, Angela La Vorgna, Enrica Bonaccorti, Daniela Giordano, Ermelinda De Felice, Marco Mariani, Nerina Montagnani