Archive for suzy kendall

CIRCUS OF FEAR (1966) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, movies, UK with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2012 by goregirl

Not all circus and carnival fare is created equally. I figured I was in pretty good hands with John Llewellyn Moxey who directed City of the Dead. Add the appearance of Christopher Lee and Klaus Kinski’s names in the credits and that always alluring circus theme and I was ready to be wowed! Are you familiar with the term Krimi? I was not until recently; although I had seen some films that are in fact “Krimi Classics” I was not familiar with the term. The Krimi film movement began during the silent era and was particularly active in the sixties thanks to Rialto Films. The Krimi film movement are German made films based on the work of crime writer Edgar Wallace. Circus of Fear is in fact a UK film but it is also based on the writing of Edgar Wallace. Circus of Fear certainly seemed to have a lot going for it, but sadly it is pretty mediocre.

Circus of Fear opens with a robbery sequence where a guard is shot and a lot of money goes missing. Clues lead Scotland Yard to investigate a travelling circus. The Barberini Circus provides a host of suspicious and eccentric characters. The sack-wearing lion tamer, a jealous knife-thrower and a ringmaster out for revenge are just a few of the suspects. Circus of Fear is messy and convoluted. Somewhere under the rubble is an interesting story that just did not quite materialize. The film is rather horror-less and seemed more like an Agatha Christie sort of thing. Some of the visuals were sloppy. You can tell at times when stock footage is used and the scenes shot in the dark are very difficult to see. Christopher Lee wears an awful, cheap, crappy looking sack for most of the film that irritated the hell out of me. The sack was ill-fitted and the mouth and eyeholes were all wrong! I really hated that damn sack! Is the sack hiding a horribly disfiguring scar or simply his real identity? You will have to watch the film to find out, but don’t expect anything terribly surprising here. Sound was also a problem; it was a challenge at times to make out what the characters were saying.

Circus of Fear does have some fun characters and the performances are good. I particularly enjoyed Margaret Lee who plays the circus’ naughty beauty Gina, Leo Genn is strong as Scotland Yard inspector Elliot, Klaus Kinski has a minor role and doesn’t speak much but still manages to leave an impression, Skip Martin is most amusing in his role as Mr. Big and despite that stupid bloody sack, Christopher Lee is great.

Circus of Fear is not without its entertaining moments. The robbery scene that opens the film is energetic and well-executed. It made for an intriguing introduction. There are also a couple of scenes that are effectively suspenseful; but since there are so few I will not divulge. There is also some humour in Circus of Fear that works quite well. Circus of Fear is rather messy to put it plainly, but it has enjoyable bits scattered throughout to make it watchable enough. Circus of Fear is lightly recommended.

Dungeon Rating: 3/5

Directed By: John Llewellyn Moxey

Starring: Christopher Lee, Leo Genn, Anthony Newlands, Heinz Drache, Eddi Arent, Klaus Kinski, Margaret Lee, Suzy Kendall, Cecil Parker, Victor Maddern, Maurice Kaufmann, Lawrence James, Tom Bowman, Skip Martin, Fred Powell

MORE GIALLO FEVER!

Posted in horror, Italy, movies with tags , , , , , , , on April 18, 2012 by goregirl

More sounds of Giallo with a focus on the films of Dario Argento…

Music and images from Dario Argento’s 1976 film Suspiria, composed by Goblin (Sighs).

Music and images from Dario Argento’s 1987 film Opera, composed by Claudio Simonetti.

Music and images from Dario Argento’s 1970 film The Bird With The Crystal Plumage composed by Ennio Morricone (Violenza inattesa).

Music from Dario Argento’s 1970 film The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, composed by Ennio Morricone (Non rimane piu’ ne). Featuring a Suzy Kendall slideshow!

THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE (1970) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, Italy, movies with tags , , , , , , , on March 30, 2010 by goregirl

Argento has long been one of my favourite Italian directors. Having seen several other Giallo from the early 70’s this month I decided it was high time I gave ‘The Bird With The Crystal Plumage’ a re-watch. As a bonus, I was able to rent the 2-disc Blue Underground DVD, which has more awesome extras, then you can shake a stick at! Seriously, if you buy DVD’s you need to have this one in your collection!

Sam Dalmas, an American writer visiting Italy witnesses a struggle in an art gallery on his way home one evening. He approaches the huge glass doors to get a better look and sees a woman has been stabbed. Another set of glass doors traps him inside and he is unable to help the pleading woman. Eventually someone passes by and the police are sent freeing Dalmas and saving the woman’s life. Dalmas plans of going back to America are cut short when the police detective takes away his passport, insisting he stay for questioning. Dalmas becomes obsessed with the idea he seen something that night he can’t recall. He begins his own investigation but when his life is threatened he begins to work more closely with the police. Together they race to find out the killers identity before another woman turns up dead.

‘The Bird With The Crystal Plumage’ is an early Giallo that became the blueprint for many that came after it. It is a tightly written story with an excellent climax/reveal and you won’t be left scratching your head at the end. It’s finale is one of the most logical I’ve seen, and the facts of the story actually support the conclusion. The story is light on horror leaning heavily towards the thriller-suspense. There are some remarkable moments throughout that are reminiscent of Hitchcock. But Argento worries too little about dialog. Chat in almost all his films is flat and his leads and supporting characters are often iffy. This has always been Argento’s weakness. Some of his films can rise above the weak dialog, where others end up being slightly lesser for it. Argento brings a bit of humour in to this one through some quirky and bizarre characterizations. The players are a real mixed bag of nuts. Tony Musante plays the main character Sam Dalmas and Suzy Kendall plays his girlfriend Julia. These two characters aren’t exactly unlikeable but didn’t have particularly good chemistry together. It is the supporting characters that end up leaving more of an impression. Certainly the killer in the delightfully diabolical finale is memorably psychotic! It’s only too bad the scene wasn’t longer! Other supports include a stuttering pimp, his wacky associate who “knows nothing” but can find you answers for a price, and a cat-eating artist. Overall, the performances are fine but it is really the story and the visuals that impress.

One of the most appealing aspects of ‘The Bird With The Crystal Plumage’ is its voyeurism. The viewer is made to feel complicit in the crimes they’re watching. There are countless images that would impress even the most cynical. One of the coolest bits takes place in an Art Gallery. A sterile white cavernous room with massive colourless sculptures. Argento has even outfitted the victim in a chic white outfit making the blood more brilliant. We see what Sam Dalmas sees as he is trapped between two massive glass doors and the bleeding victim is reaching out begging for help. I could literally watch an early Argento film without the sound and enjoy it. The cinematographer on the film was Vittorio Storaro who also worked on the film I reviewed yesterday ‘The Fifth Cord’. It was completely a fluke, but both discs had an interview with Storaro. I must admit to not knowing my cinematographers, but when I looked up Storaro on IMDB I couldn’t believe the impressive resume! You would have to expect this level of beautiful imagery and fantastic set pieces from the duo of Vittorio and Argento! Its beauty is well complimented by an amazing soundtrack from Ennio Morricone that uses lots of human voices in a really creepy and effective way. This is definitely one of my favourite Morricone soundtracks!

‘The Bird With The Crystal Plumage’ is a tightly crafted film with memorable images and amazing suspense that was slightly marred by ho-hum leads that don’t have much chemistry. There is far more to admire then criticize here and the perfect finale will leave you mucho satisfied. If you are a collector this two-Disc Blue Underground set is the one to buy! For starters the transfer looked perfect and the sound was flawless. There were a few different audio options including the original Italian with subtitles. There are interviews with Dario Argento, Vittorio Storaro, the great Ennio Morricone and late actress Eva Renzi (who was pretty bitter and may have been liquored up for this interview). There’s also commentary from author Alan Jones (Profondo Argento) and cult film scribe Kim Newman who give some interesting and detailed insight on the ‘The Bird with the Crystal Plumage’. Highly recommended!

Dungeon Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Dario Argento

Starring: Tony Musante, Suzy Kendall, Enrico Maria Salerno, Eva Renzi, Umberto Raho, Renato Romano

SPASMO (1974) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, Italy, movies with tags , , , , , , , on March 25, 2010 by goregirl

Before Lenzi got gory, he directed a handful of Giallo’s in the 1970’s that were pretty entertaining. Lenzi’s films ‘Seven Bloodstained Orchids’ and ‘Eyeball’ follow a classic Giallo formula but he refuses to play by the rules with ‘Spasmo’. ‘Spasmo’ has no gore, little nudity and a low body count. There isn’t even a maniac/stalker in black gloves attacking women! Not only is ‘Spasmo’ lacking the blood, gore and sex, it has glaring flaws in other areas. Despite this, it still managed to snare me in its trippy web.

Christian Bauman has a bizarre random encounter on the beach with a woman named Barbara who suddenly disappears. Later that evening he tracks her down and the two go back to Barbara’s motel room. Barbara insists he shave off his beard and Christian obeys. While in the bathroom an armed man breaks in and attacks him. A struggle occurs and Christian ends up shooting his attacker. This is the beginning of a strange and unsettling journey down a twisted path of mannequins in death poses, questionable sanity, disappearing corpses and of course, murder!

Clearly Lenzi was trying to make a horror film of a more psychological nature. However, if you are going for the cerebral, give your characters some intelligent things to say! The dialog in this film is pretty damn bad! My husband and I laughed a few times at the idiotic things the characters say to one another. And what is with Lenzi and the word whore anyway?!? The dialog is definitely the films weakest element. ‘Spasmo’ starts out a little too slowly and I was left shaking my head at the bizarre series of information I had been fed during the films first 30 minutes. It seemed like Lenzi was going to leave me numerous plot holes to step in but by the time the films reaches its most satisfying conclusion the mystery is solved.

The mannequin is one my all-time favourite props! This isn’t the first Giallo to use mannequins but very few use them as prominently as ‘Spasmo’. Mannequins are found hanging from nooses, lying on the ground bloodied, occasionally with a knife stuck in it, and always in varied states of undress. You will wonder often what the hell the relevance of the mannequins is and you will be rewarded…eventually. The films final scene ties it all up beautifully. The mannequins were the real stars in ‘Spasmo’ but there are some decent performances among the human cast also. Suzy Kendall attempts sex kitten somewhat awkwardly but isn’t unlikeable. Robert Hoffmann does a lot of fussing, fretting and rubbing his head as Christian Bauman but he’s a likeable enough sort. The two have good chemistry together and are quite watchable. I usually enjoy Giallo regular Ivan Rassimov and he is good in this as Fritz Bauman, but has way too little dialog and screen time. There is a peculiar parade of characters that come and go but don’t leave all that much of an impression. The only exception being the striking Monica Monet who plays Clorinda; but it’s more the visual of Monet you’ll remember rather than her dialog or acting.

Visuals in the film are rather toned down and outside of the aforementioned lack of nudity and gore, even set pieces and locations are mostly unmemorable. At times ‘Spasmo’ is like a car accident you can’t look away from. But it also has moments of brilliance. The last quarter of the film is fantastic! A great reveal an exciting finale and there are a couple of awesome surprise twists. If you don’t take the film too seriously it is actually a lot of fun. You have to kick back and enjoy the ride on this one, accept the bad dialog and move on. It really does come together in the end!

Sadly, the Shriek Show version I rented was dubbed. With the exception of Godzilla films I detest dubbing. I don’t feel like I’m getting the full experience if I can’t watch the film in its original language. There is also a bit of ambient noise on the dubbing, it never drowns out the dialog and you stop noticing it after a while. While Morricone’s score is a bit on the conservative side it is still quite effective and the sound for the music is crystal clear. The transfer of the film itself looked pretty much flawless as far as I was concerned. There is a short interview with Umberto Lenzi, a poster/still gallery and trailers for other Lenzi films and one Dallamano film. An interesting fact from the Lenzi interview; Lucio Fulci was originally set to be the director on Spasmo. Hardcore Giallo fans will probably not be overly impressed with this one, and gorehounds will certainly be disappointed. But if you like off the wall flicks that march to the beat of their own drummer, this weird little mess of a film has some highly entertaining moments and a great finale worth sticking around for. Recommended!

Dungeon Rating: 3.5/5

Directed By: Umberto Lenzi

Starring: Robert Hoffmann, Suzy Kendall, Ivan Rassimov, Adolfo Lastretti, Monica Monet, Guido Alberti, Mario Erpichini, Franco Silva, Maria Pia Conte

Corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale, I – TORSO – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, Italy, movies with tags , , on April 4, 2009 by goregirl

torso“One Day She Met a Man Who Loved Beautiful Women…But Not All in One Piece”

Female college students are being murdered courtesy of an unknown assailant. Women on the campus are afraid. One attractive group of friends decide to escape to the countryside. What they soon learn is that the killer has his eye on them. There are many suspects and a scarf may be the only clue to learning the identity of the murderer. The assailant is traumatized by some childhood memories and possibly enjoys skiing in his spare time. The good old balaclava! Headwear of theives and serial killers alike! Such a simple and yet creepy way to mask your bad guy. The scenery is amazing. I am referring to the Italian countryside not the naked women. But there is plenty of skin here also. The final chase scene between the surviving female and the murderer is exciting and suspenseful, well worth the price of admission. Considerably more gritty and less polished than other Italian horror. But the grittiness really adds to the intensity of this film. There is a sexual nature to the deaths that contributes an additional ugliness. I thoroughly enjoyed the horror meets porno soundtrack also. Overall, the acting and film quality is good and the ending is worth sticking around for. Highly recommended.

Dungeon Review: 4/5

Directed By: Sergio Martino

Starring: Suzy Kendall, Tina Aumont, Luc Merenda, John Richardson, Roberto Bisacco, Ernesto Colli, Angela Covello, Carla Brait, Conchita Airoldi and Patrizia Adiutori
still-from-torso