Archive for the ‘Site Updates’ Category

Introducing Riccardo Freda

Monday, April 18th, 2011

And so to the third member of our Italian horror trio, Riccardo Freda. He is best known today for being the man who encouraged Bava into directing but his own contributions to the world of Itlaian cinema should not be forgotten.

I Vampiri was the first serious Italian horror film, amazingly the country that provided so many memorable horror films in the 60s, 70s and 80s had no heritage of horror at all and when Freda suggested making a horror story the producers baulked at the idea. So he made a bet that he could complete the film in two weeks, the producers agreed but the production took a lot longer than he expected and with only half of the film shot, he walked off the set leaving Mario Bava with two days to complete the project. Presumably burning the midnight oil, Bava concocted a new storyline that would utilise the existing footage with a minimum of new shooting and duly delivered the film on time. Amazingly the end result is not the mess it should have been and although not the most original, it is a very effective horror story and well worth watching, available on a good looking print from Image in the US.

Lo Spettro is an often overlooked period horror film. Although Freda did not use the gorgeous gothic horror stylings for which Bava would become famous, he makes this film incredibly effective despite a script that by all rights should drag horrriby, with lengthy dialogue and melodrama sequences. Unfortunately the Retromedia DVD has a watchable but poor quality print and the film could certainly gain from an upgrade.


Thursday, April 14th, 2011

More Bava, this time the best known horror films from Mario’s son Lamberto Bava. The Demons films were produced by Dario Argento and clearly show more influence from the new master of the giallo than from Bava’s father. Unfortunately gorgeous visual effects do not make a good film on their own and both films lumber under rather poorly written scripts.

Part two of the Bava, Bava, Freda season – Demons and Demons 2

I tre volti della paura – Black Sabbath (1963)

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Let’s kick off straight away with a look at one of Bava’s best known horror films – Black Sabbath. An anthology film that featured an excellent gothic horror chapter with the ever reliable Boris Karloff, as well as a fascinating proto-giallo story and an superb final chapter. The Italian version is available on a very good looking ABUS disc, sadly the American edited print does not seem to be available at present.

I have also been working hard on updating my existing Bava reviews, rewatching and re-reviewing the films. Check out all new reviews of Bava’s debut film Black Sunday and his fascinating Whip and the Body. The new Mario Bava bio is also on the way for later in the season.

Bava, Bava & Freda

Monday, April 11th, 2011

It is finally time for the first major season of reviews for 2011. As the title suggests, it is an all new look at the films of Mario Bava, alongside a new study on the films of his son Lamberto Bava and his mentor Riccardo Freda.

A whole load of new reviews, plus new biographies of all three are coming over the next month.

Click on the Bava, Bava & Freda season tag below to see all the reviews so far uploaded in this series.

Blog update

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Thought I would finally get around to updating this rather ageing blog. An all new theme and support for tags should make it a lot easier to find things.

Real actual review updates coming soon…

Space Mining

Monday, March 28th, 2011

I’ve never really reviewed much sci-fi here before, but already this year we have Robot Jox and Hardware and now this double bill of space mining movies…

First up is Moon 44 from director Roland Emmerich. Although best known today for films like The Day After Tomorrow, this forgotten early sci-fi film boasts some surprisingly beautiful visual effects that make it feel like a 2000AD version of Bladerunner. If you like smart sci-fi, then this one is well worth tracking down, it is only a pity that the script didn’t get a good going over to fill in the holes in the setting that keep the film from being a must-see.

Second is Phoenixone of those films you stumble across at 3am and wonder just why anyone bothered to make it. A couple of good ideas are buried under the horribly cliché script and the budget is clearly not half enough to provide some decent looking sets.

It says it all really that while Emmerich went on to direct hugely budgeted sci-fi films in Hollywood, Phoenix‘s director Troy Cook went on to be ‘photographer: second unit’ on Amityville: Dollhouse (1996). Such is film…

River of Darkness (2011)

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Okay not quite my usual thing, but I saw this in a supermarket on holiday and just had to buy it. Only just released (in fact the US release is not until the end of the month) this is one of a swathe of films coming out at present featuring Professional Wrestlers, although this one features TNA star Kurt Angle – unfortunately the script is even less ambitious than Angle’s acting and what might have been a fun tribute to 1980s horrors becomes just another generic and instantly forgettable slasher film.

Avoid it while you can – River of Darkness

Robot Jox (1990)

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

I’m working on a couple of big new reviews seasons, so to pass the time here is something a little different, an enjoyably light bit of sci-fi with beautiful stop motion effects, but one that could have been so much more with a more ambitious script – Robot Jox

I’m going to be away for a couple of weeks, but stay tuned for some exciting new reviews in mid-March…

The Sons of Egypt

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Egyptian heroes take on despotic rulers in a duo of surprisingly timely Egyptian set Pepla.

Another Retromedia double bill, this decent looking DVD release includes the traditional Peplum Son of Samson (1960) and the Peplum Drama Son of Cleopatra (1964).

I’ve got a good handful of Peplum discs to review, so watch out for more titles coming throughout the year.

Massacre (1989)

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

I hardly need review a film that reviews itself in its dialogue, but I suffered through this so you can read the review.

Although often ranked among the very worst of the Euro-cult directors, Andrea Bianchi could at least generally provide some sleazy entertainment – but with Massacre, he falls down flat – the storyline is a tiresome, painful affair while exploitation is notable only for its absence – gore scenes are mild and scarce while sex is far too brief, the two most attractive actresses stay fully clothed throughout and their lesbian sub-plot never gets beyond dialogue.

Read the full story in my new Massacre review

(And yes, all the references to this film being sleep inducing, I did fall asleep twice trying to watch this, but as a conscientious reviewer, I rewound and watched the scenes all over again).