Archive for Tomas Milian

Favourite Five Series: LUCIO FULCI

Posted in Favourite Five Series, horror, Italy, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2013 by goregirl

The road to good intentions was paved with one too many social events this October. I really would have liked to have done more Favourite Five lists in honor of Halloween. Since I could not accommodate as many lists as I would have liked I will at least close the month out with a mighty duo. Two of the horror genres heaviest hitters (in my world anyway) and two of my personal faves. Lucio Fulci directed a few comedies and westerns but it is the horror entries that made me a fan for life. I adore both his beautiful, sexy, surreal and intriguing Giallos as well as his spectacularly gory gag-fests! As seems to be the case with the Favourite Five series thus far, there is always 3 or 4 that are easy choices with one or two that tear me up inside choosing. The more I love the director the more challenging this is. It was particularly difficult to leave Massacre Time, New York Ripper and Perversion Story off the list. Not to mention City of the Living Dead, House by the Cemetery and even the much maligned but near and dear to my heart Cat in the Brain starring Fulci as himself! I have seen all of the below films multiple times and four of the five are on my top 100 favourite horror films of all time. Fulci is a God and should be worshipped accordingly.

DON’T TORTURE A DUCKLING (1972)

The original Italian title translated as “Don’t Torture Donald Duck”. For legal reasons Fulci was unable to use the name Internationally. The reference is to a Donald Duck doll; one of the main clues in the film. If South Park has taught me anything (and it has taught me plenty) you do not fuck with Disney.

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A killer is murdering young boys in a remote Italian village. A young woman laying low after a recent drug scandal is recognized by a reporter and the two work together to attempt to solve the crime. Don’t Torture A Duckling lacks the gore of Fulci’s later work but it is definitely gritty, bleak and nasty. When young boys are killed in a small village the ugliness, cruelty and hatred of small town, small-minded folks is left behind. There is plenty of Anti-Catholic sentiment here which may have been the reason the film was blacklisted when it was released in 1972. There are several suspects among the group of eccentric locals. Their distrust of outsiders and their superstitious beliefs presents many challenges. The atmosphere is unsettling and the remote village is eerie and cloying. There are several twists, turns and a few shocks. The most shocking of which is an unforgettable mob scene that leaves me aghast no matter how many times I watch it. The performances are brilliant particularly from Barbara Bouchet who plays the smart and feisty Patrizia, Tomas Milian who plays the determined and handsome Andrea Martelli and Florinda Bolkan whose fierce and fearless turn as Maciara is truly memorable. Fulci uses some particularly wild and woolly zooms; the man does love his closeups. Compelling, smart, beautiful, well acted; Don’t Torture a Duclking is one of the best Giallo’s ever made.

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THE BEYOND (1981)

The Beyond is the second in a trio of Hell on Earth premised flicks directed by Fulci in the 80s; all three starring Catriona MacColl. Besides the Hell on Earth premise and Ms. MacColl’s appearance the films have little connection to one another and were never officially released as a trilogy. The Beyond’s predecessor City of the Living Dead is about psychic Mary Woodhouse who sees the death of a priest in a vision. The priest’s death causes the gates of Hell to open. In The Beyond MacColl plays Liza Merril who inherits a hotel built on top of one of the seven gates of Hell.

The Beyond

An artist accused of being a warlock is murdered by a lynch mob and his death opens one of the seven doors of Hell below a Louisiana hotel. Decades later Liza Merrill inherits the doomed hotel and unknowingly re-opens a door to hell while renovating. Liza and her acquaintance Dr. John McCabe are soon fending off the living dead, ghosts, and the possessed in a tour de force of supernatural mayhem! Fulci throws a little bit of everything into this unholy masterpiece! People are nailed to walls, eaten by tarantulas, melted by acid, and of course there is classic Fulci eye trauma! And lest we not forget the undead! Beautiful, rotted wonderfully vial zombies! The zombies come in various states of grossness. In fact, a few look like old men who just need a nap. Don’t expect an explanation for everything; some of the action is bordering on illogical. Don’t look at that as a bad thing. The Beyond has such a creepy, moody, electric atmosphere and is oh so fan-fucking-tastic to look at it that it is easy as one-two-three to just get lost in the ultimate nightmare! The Beyond is beautiful, classic Fulci at his gory best!

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ZOMBIE (1979)

Another Fulci film title meets controversy. Fulci’s film shared a moniker with the Italian release of George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. Zombie became known as Zombie Flesh Eaters, Zombi 2 and Island of the Living Dead. I give both men’s films a 5/5 but one area that Fulci surpasses Romero is the vileness and pure rottenness of his zombies. No one has topped these zombies in my opinion not to this day. They are the most disgusting zombies to grace a genre film. Rotten flesh covered in maggots and worms. REAL maggots and worms too. I am sure the extras were not paid nearly enough for their roles in Fulci’s film. What a delightfully dreck treat it is to see someone fight for their life and end up with a chunk of rotten flesh in their hands! Freaking beautiful!

Zombi 2

Anne Bowles sets out to find her father after his ship turns up abandoned in New York’s harbor. Anne hooks up with journalist Peter West and together they travel to the Antilles with couple Brian and Susan. Once on the Island they meet the curious Dr. Menard, who tells them about the infection spreading that brings the dead back to life. Zombie is one of the few genre films to feature the undead under water. Why the hell not? They don’t breath…they are dead! Fulci throws in the pièce de résistance with a zombie attacking a shark. Zombie’s awesome opening sequence sees one man shoot another and then say to someone off-screen “The boat can leave now. Tell the crew”. The next shot is a seemingly abandoned boat floating in the New York harbour. Two coast guards board the ship and one of them gets an ugly surprise when a large nasty looking zombie rips his throat out with its teeth. One must appreciate getting both a zombie and a kill in the first few minutes of a genre film! There is entrail eating, throat ripping, eye gouging and unnecessary nudity. From its quiet and haunting opening to the final frame there is more gorgeous graphic goodness than one zombie film deserves to have. Fulci delivers the gory goods! The breathtaking scenery of the Island is the perfect backdrop to the zombie mayhem to come and the brilliant score by Fabio Frizzi is the perfect accompaniment to the dread. Zombie is absolutely one of the finest zombie films ever made. Period.

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A LIZARD IN A WOMAN’S SKIN (1971)

A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin is Fulci’s most surreal and esthetically pleasing of his resume; it is also the film with the most significant controversy. The film contains a graphic scene of sliced open dogs whose hearts are still beating. The dogs looked so realistic that Fulci was allegedly charged and threatened with a two-year prison sentence. Special effects artist Carlo Rambaldi was called into court to prove his dogs were fake. Can a special effects person get any better compliment than that?

Lizard in a Womans Skin

Carol Hammond; the daughter of wealthy politician Edmund Brighton has been seeing a psychoanalyst about some disturbing dreams. The dreams features her neighbor Julia who often throws noisy parties which both irritate and titillate Carol. Carol’s dreams continue and escalate in severity. After Carol has a dream she has killed Julia she awakes to learn that Julia has been found dead. Has fantasy become reality? Inspector Corvin intends to find out. A Lizard In A Woman’s Skin is a well crafted and engaging mystery. The film contains little graphic violence and is more of a surreal, psychedelic trip laced with sex and drugs. The visuals are fabulous especially Carol’s numerous dream sequences. Sexy, beautiful, dreamy and warped; just the way I like my dream sequences. The film kept me guessing and has an outstanding reveal and finale. A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin is loaded with great performances from some of my favourite actor and actresses from the period like Jean Sorel who plays Julia’s husband Frank, Stanley Baker who plays the Scotland Yard Inspector, Anita Strindberg who plays Julia and Edy Gall who plays Frank’s teenage daughter Joan. But first and foremost there is Florinda Bolkan who plays central character Carol Hammond. This role is one of the main reasons I have an immense respect and adoration for this extraordinarily talented actress. She is also a striking woman visually. A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin is a hypnotic, fascinating and sexy Giallo that thrills and rewards.

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THE PSYCHIC (1977)

I had little use for The Psychic when I seen it the first time around. I was all about the gore in my teens and early twenties and if it didn’t have gore I was not very interested. When I re-watched The Psychic for my 1977 top ten list I was suitably impressed with the film and gave it the number seven spot in the top ten for a very strong year in the decade. However it was when I re-watched The Psychic to compile pictures for a slideshow featuring music from the film that I realized what a particularly solid horror thriller it really was.

the psychic

When psychic Virginia Ducci sees a murder in one of her visions it results in the arrest of her husband. Virginia sets out to clear her husband of the crime. Obviously that is the extremely truncated plot summary; there is much more going on in The Psychic than that. Virginia has several visions through the film that include the death of her mother among other traumas. Virginia intends to renovate a mansion her rich husband bought and recognizes it from one of her visions. She tears open a wall and finds some skeletal remains and immediately calls the police. This is how hubby gets arrested. The Psychic’s intriguing story is full of suspense and mystery. While the reveal isn’t a terrible shock it is well-executed and the finale is a memorable treat. Jennifer O’Neill is well cast as Virginia Ducci and is a strong and likable lead. The performances by all the cast are quite decent. A nice unsettling mood and atmosphere is established and the setting is perfect and suitably eerie. It is all complimented beautifully by the fabulous soundtrack from Franco Bixio, Fabio Frizzi and Vince Tempera. The Psychic is an ever so sweet horror thriller that I think is rather under-appreciated in Fulci’s library.

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THE CYNIC, THE RAT AND THE FIST (1977) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in Italy, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2013 by goregirl

The Cynic, The Rat and The Fist, among other Umberto Lenzi non-horror titles has been on my to see list for quite a while. Apparently the film is a sequel to Rome Armed to the Teeth, which I have not seen, but I sure the hell will be making a priority now! I like a lot of Lenzi’s 70s stuff so I was pretty psyched about this Eurocrime entry. The Cynic, The Rat and The Fist is an ass-kicking, fast-paced, action-packed crime thriller full of macho male bravado; 70s style! There is a crazy amount of beatings in this film! There are beatings and then more beatings. There is some shootings and torture too! Three brutal dudes each with their own unique modus operandi; and the cop character is the one called “The Fist“! The Cynic, the Rat and The Fist is one of the most entertaining Eurocrime flicks I’ve seen yet!

The Cynic The Rat and the Fist1

Detective Leonardo Tanzi is on sabbatical when Luigi “The Chinaman” Maietto escapes from prison. It was Tanzi’s testimony that landed “The Chinaman” in the slammer. Maietto is not out of prison long before Tanzi is shot. Tanzi was hit in the shoulder but the police tell the media that Tanzi died from his gun wound. Tanzi intends on going undercover and unleashing his own special kind of justice.

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Detective Leonardo Tanzi is retired or on vacation or something, I am not sure it is ever quite explained. In any case, Tanzi is still involved with the police department. His superior suggests he leave town for a while until things “cool down“. Of course Tanzi has no intention of leaving town. Needless to say, he is making all kinds of trouble and beating the snot out of guys right, left and center. He is a cop that is more than happy to bend the rules! There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that Leonardo Tanzi represents “The Fist” in this story. He pummels a record amount of guys! Luigi “The Chinaman” Maietto is a small time crook but he is looking to get in on the big deal. He has a reputation for being efficient, brutal and not ratting out his cohorts. “The Chinaman” gets a visit from big crime boss Frank Di Maggio and the two make a deal. Strength in numbers man! It is hard to say whether or not Maietto is “The Rat” or “The Cynic“. I am going with “The Cynic” for this guy; he was definitely cynical (but he is also a bit of a rat). Finally we have Frank Di Maggio who has the least amount of screen time of the trio. Too bad, this guy is a treat! He has a penchant for torture and letting his two big dogs maul his victims to death! Three strong personalities made for some compelling and entertaining viewing!

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Leonardo Tanzi is sweetly 70s with his classic stache, the poses, and the rocking ensembles. Maurizio Merli plays the cop with a serious grudge to the tee. Luigi “The Chinaman” Maietto made me laugh often with his smart-ass come backs but does he really have enough clout to take over Rome’s criminal underworld? Tomas Milian is perfect as the cynical and fearless criminal, I always enjoy Milian’s nasty characters and here he steals every scene he is in! I would have liked to have seen more Frank Di Maggio. As mentioned previously, Di Maggio does not get much screen time really. He is a consummate professional and only mildly psychotic; I am not at all convinced that he was a bigger rat than “The Chinaman” but cynicism wasn’t really his thing, so I have to give him “The Rat” moniker. John Saxon is as great as ever and completely convinces as Di Maggio! Umberto Lenzi does a nice job with the photography and the copious fight scenes are all pretty well choreographed as far as I was concerned. It has a bullet pace and a ridiculous amount of action sequences. The violence is not overly graphic but there is an absolute shitload of it! Kicking, punching, slapping, shooting, leg-breaking, maulings; you name it! The language is largely bombastic but that is all part of the fun! The Cynic, The Rat and The Fist also has a great score from Franco Micalizzi that I hope to add to my collection! There is only one scene that overstays its welcome just a little. Tanzi and an elderly surveillance/gadget expert go all James Bond to get into a building to disarm the security system. It wasn’t a bad scene by any means, it just felt a little longer than necessary and the fact it is crammed in between loads of action sequences does not help.

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The Cynic, The Rat and The Fist is an exciting, violent Eurocrime flick with top notch performances, an insane amount of action and a great score. One of my favourite Eurocrime flicks yet!! Highly recommended!

Dungeon Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Umberto Lenzi

Starring: Maurizio Merli, John Saxon, Tomas Milian, Renzo Palmer, Gabriella Lepori, Claudio Undari, Bruno Corazzari, Marco Guglielmi, Gabriella Giorgelli, Guido Alberti, Aldo Massasso, Brigitte Petronio, Gianni Musy, Gianfilippo Carcano, Dante Cleri