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HorrorBabble Theater Presents: The Halloween Experiment

by Tony Nash

(Spoilers Ahead)

(All Opinions are of the Author alone)

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The Red Room (from HorrorBabble Facebook)
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The Blue Room (from HorrorBabble’s Facebook)
May be an image of text that says 'THE "GREEN" ROOM HORRORBABBLE'
The Greed Room (from HorrorBabble Facebook)
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The White Room (from HorrorBabble Facebook)
May be an image of text that says 'THE "BLACK" ROOM HORRORBABBLE'
The Black Room (from HorrorBabble Facebook)

The Halloween Experiment: The Red Room (Part 1) *****/The Blue Room (Part 2) *****/The Green Room (Part 3) *****/The White Room (Part 4) ****/The Black Room (Part 5) ****/The Final Log (Part 6) ****1/2 (2021) R

Ian Gordon: Dr. Stephan Helm/Mr. Finkle/Mr. Alan Morris/Prof. Conrad Derickson/’Lisa’/Craig Michael Jeffries

Jennifer Gill: Ms. Lila Hennessy/The Nature Sprite//Spirit/Mrs. Matilda Jeffries/Dr. Alicia Ramsey

Written by: Ian Gordon

Produced by: Ian Gordon & Jennifer Gill

Synopsis: Psychologist Dr. Stephan Helm has offered help to 6 different people suffering from strange trauma in the form of his new treatment method, Project Delusion, in which patients are placed in specially colored rooms corresponding to their conditions in the hopes this will help them face their fears. Soon, very odd things begin to happen.

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The Red Room Plain Background (HorrorBabble Facebook)

Ian Gordon and Jennifer Gill, the duo behind the fantastic HorrorBabble, mixing public domain Classic Horror and newer Horror fiction, have done it again with Ian’s new Halloween Mini Series appropriately titled The Halloween Experiment. The setting is late October 1976, and an idealistic German doctor gives the first test of his new psychiatric treatment called ‘Project Delusion’, in which patients with phobias/traumas triggered by the sight of a specific color are placed in special rooms corresponding to said color to aid in recovery. Dr. Helm’s plan is to use the colors in full force to help his patients see what they believe are real creatures are in fact creations of their subconscious to represent phobias that began either from childhood fears/trauma, or are the result of overwork. At first, it simply appears that the physical representations of the patients’ delusions are in fact real, and have managed to breach the Doc’s secure environment to finish what they started, but when the Doc’s abusive mother appears in the vision of a female patient suffering from a split personality disorder, something much stranger appears to be in the works. Are the creatures killing and/or kidnapping the Doc’s patients real, or is something in the Doc’s own psyche and personal life causing all the Horror coming down upon those he wished to help?

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The Black Room Plain Background (from HorrorBabble Facebook)

Ian makes the Special very unique and interesting by having it be a mixture of character monologue and conversational tape recordings between the Dt. Helm and the respective patient. Even more interesting is that the majority of Helm’s dialogue is in the form of tape recording, showing the distance he has with the patients. This mixture works very well as it seamlessly combines theater-esque performances and the general audio recordings of short fiction, forming a unique and different experience that is very exciting.

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The Blue Room Plain Background (from HorrorBabble Facebook)

Ian offers up a very interesting performance as the main character Dr. Stephan Helm. Little is presented about Helm in the first four episodes of the Mini Series, other than that he is a dedicated Psychologist looking for new means to help those who have managed to form complex physical manifestations of their varied fears and phobias. Helm is certain these manifestations are like those of most psychiatric patients: the result of some form of trauma, either from childhood or recent happenings. Project Delusion, Helm’s experimental treatment being tested for the first time, deals primarily in manifestations brought about by seeing color, and special rooms are crafted where everything is painted or purchased in that specific color to help the patient ease into discussing what happened to them, and hopefully, be able to confront their issues head on so they can be free of the crippling fear induced by the event. As the week progresses, Helm watches as his patients are killed, or are mysteriously whisked away (often presumed dead), by the beings of their fears taking real form. With each day, Helm slowly beings to doubt his own rational sanity as he sees more and more bizarre occurrences. This comes to a full head when the spirit of Helm’s Mother appears in the vision of his final patient, forcing Helm to come face to face with a long buried trauma of his own.

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The White Room Plain Background (from HorrorBabble Facebook)

In the first experiment, Ian takes the role of Helm’s first patient Mr. Finkle, a working class laborer. Financial and Economic troubles have forced Finkle into temporary and minimal jobs that leave him just the ultimate minimum to survive. Finkle’s fear of ending up destitute, homeless, and worried he’ll be found dead in the shady apartment building he’s forced to live in led to his doctor prescribing him sleeping pills to help him, which led to narcotic dependency. At first believing the pills were causing him to hallucinate, Finkle becomes convinced an entity has taken the form of a mini blood red blob of corned-beef that tried to attack and eat him. Helm watches in terror as the blob appears in the Red Room and finishes off Finkle. Experiment three has Ian assuming the role of Mr. Alan Morris, a recluse with an insatiable love of apples. Morris admits his obsession comes from childhood, mainly from having been bullied and teased. Now his love of apples has become a nightmare as a mysterious being sent him a basketful that have been filled with something to cause a tree to grow inside of him. This episode is refreshingly comic in its telling, Morris more concerned that some nature spirit or sprite is trying to make him a part of the forest. Experiment four has a fellow medical man as Helm’s patient, Conrad Derickson. Derickson’s specialty is the study of dreams and the mind, and his theory insists that men can control their surroundings if in the right state. Encouraged by a boy who has the ability naturally, Derickson accesses a small portion of the power, but having to deny himself sleep to achieve the goal has left him hallucinating and unable to control his the power. ‘Lisa’ is Ian’s masterful take on a female voice, a woman who’s personality split in two after hearing of a friend’s brutal murder. ‘Lisa’ is the serious side of the two, ‘Mel’ being the fun one. The two have been forcibly separated and ‘Lisa’ is trying find ‘Mel’, and this attempt leads to ‘Lisa”s discovery of Dr. Helm’s past

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The Green Room Plain Background (from HorrorBabble Facebook)

Jennifer Gill, Ian’s partner and HorrorBabble co-founder, offers up equally impressive performances of her own, particularly as Ms. Lila Hennessy. Ms. Hennessy is a photographer by trade, and while shooting promotional photos for an Aquarium business, discovers something very strange. At first believing her always busy schedule has led her to feel fatigue, what Ms. Hennessy sees in the photo makes her see different. What she describes she calls The Fishbowl Man, an amalgamation of everyday objects that take humanoid form in another universe or dimension, the name coming from the being’s head being a fishbowl, and goldfish making up its eyes. Believing the being wants to destroy her for having caught it on camera, exposing another world to humanity, Hennessy attempts to counteract the creature’s actions by purchasing the goldfish. She quickly realizes this was a mistake as the creature transports itself to her lodgings, looking for its eyes. The blue color of the creature causes Hennessy to freak out around anything blue colored. Hennessy tells the doctor she feels cured as she believes the Fishbowl Man no longer wants revenge because she destroyed all her prints and the negative as well, hoping it believes she’ll take her knowledge of its world to the grave, only for Helm to watch in helpless shock as the room Hennessy’s in fills with water, drowning her. Gill also provides the voice for the chirpy Nature entity looking to make Mr. Morris a part of the its world, and the voice of Helm’s stern, abusive mother.

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The Final Log Plain Background (from HorrorBabble Facebook)

In a very surprising and interesting twist, it’s revealed that Stephan Helm is really psychiatric patient Craig Michael Jeffries, suffering from multiple personality disorder. As a child, Jeffries witnessed in utter terror as his mother brutally murdered his father, was forced to help her dispose of the body, and was subjected by her to unending psychological trauma. Helm, along with Mr. Finkle, Ms. Hennessy, Mr. Morris, Prof. Derickson, and ‘Lisa’, were all the personalities that resulted from Jeffries being unable to initially cope with all that happened to him. Helm’s experiment, Project Delusion, is revealed to in fact have been an experiment called The Halloween Experiment by Jeffries’ doctor Alicia Ramsey to help him break through his disorder. Dr. Helm was discovered to have been the strongest and dominate of the personalities, thus a special treatment involving summoning each personality via color was necessary to placate Helm’s control of the others, allowing each of Jeffries’ traumas to be confronted and overcome. Helm himself is destroyed when a vision of Mrs. Jeffries appears in personality ‘Lisa’s’ final moments, the fear Jeffries had of her being strong enough to break control from Helm. By letting Helm believe he was still in charge, Ramsey was able to help Jeffries come to terms with his horrifying and tragic childhood, thus freeing him from Helm and his mother, his personality finally being restored to normal.

HorrorBabble Logo (from HorrorBabble Facebook)

Ian Gordon once again provides fans of his site, and audiences in general, with a very refreshing and new take on the Creature Horror genre and Psychological Horror genre. The mixture of tape recording sounding audio and traditional storytelling monologue blends well together to make a perfect harmony, and the performances of Ian and Jennifer are brilliant.

(I highly recommend giving this six part series a listen to. It’s well written, and both Ian Gordon and Jennifer always give their best with every reading/performance. I was thoroughly surprised by the twist ending in part six, didn’t expect that revelation at all. That Mrs. Jeffries, who was the source of all her son’s problems ended up being the one destroying the controlling Dr. Helm personality ended up being a nice ironic touch. Ian proves once again with this how excellent of a writer he his. Please check out not only this special, but the HorrorBabble YouTube channel in general as both Ian and Jennifer give great readings of public domain classic Horror.)

All images courtesy of the HorrorBabble Facebook page

to listen to the series

The Halloween Experiment -The Red Room: Part 1
The Halloween Experiment -The Blue Room: Part 2

The Halloween Experiment – The Green Room: Part 3
The Halloween Experiment – The White Room: Part 4
The Halloween Experiment – The Black Room: Part 5
The Halloween Experiment – The Final Log: Part 6

Link to HorrorBabble’s YouTube page

Filed under: Film & TV: Potpourri, Film: Special Topics

The Italians Try Grimm Fairy Tales

by Tony Nash

(Foreign Language Horror #5)

(Mild Spoilers)

(All Opinions are of the Author Alone)

(Review is of the Original Italian Language version) Queens of Evil [Blu-ray] : Haydee Politoff, Silvia Monti,  Evelyn Stewart, Ray Lovelock, Gianni Santuccio, Geraldine Hooper, Tonino  Cervi: Movies & TV

Original Poster (from Amazon)

Le Regine (Queens of Evil/The Queens) (1970) ****1/2 R

Ida Gialli: Bibiana (as Ewelyn Stuart)

Silvia Monti: Samantha

Haydee Politoff: Liv

Ray Lovelock: David the Hippie (as Raymond Lovelock)

Gianni Santuccio: The Mysterious Man/The Devil

Guido Alberti: The Priest

Written by: Benedetto Benedetti, Tonino Cervi, and Raoul Katz

Directed by: Tonino Cervi

Synopsis: A wandering Hippie stops to help a stranded older gentlemen on the road, only for the man to betray the Hippie’s act of generosity. When the man dies during the Hippie’s attempt to confront him on the act, the Hippie flees, thinking the cops saw him. He ends up in an isolated farmhouse owned by three sisters who welcome him warmly. Soon, the Hippie begins to experience a drastic change in his personality, and the sisters seem to exhort more control over him.

Queens of Evil (1970) | MUBI
The Foursome at a Party (from Mubi)

Lesser known Italian filmmaker Tonino Cervi brought the Fairy Tale back to its dark origins with the film Le Regine. Instead of doing a spin on one of the known tales, Cervi, along with his co-writers, crafted a totally original story that not only compliments on the stories that came before it, but adds new life to the age old concepts of magics. The three protagonists are sisters who share some kind of power, left open if it be natural power gifted from nature, or powers from otherworldly sources. When a Hippie fleeing from the police for a crime he didn’t commit stumbles upon what he believes is their home, they offer him shelter and protection, with the secret intent of playing a game with him as the prey. Cervi also weaves in subtext of the nature of relationships between men and women, particularly in regards to sex, as during the film’s progression the main male character slowly begins to lose his independent will while the seemingly shy women also begin to exhibit stronger signs of dominance and power over him, all while playing with his mind in ever increasing surreal moments. Each sister also shows her strong sexual prowess as they each at one point lure the unsuspecting young men into their beds for a night of passion.

Queens of evil 1970 Le regine | free downloand| Download movie
The Surreal Bibiana (from Wipfilms)
Blu Review – Queens of Evil (Mondo Macabro) - Horror Society
The Surreal Samantha (from Horror Society)
Queens of Evil
The Surreal Liv (from Mondo-Digital)

The notion of magics are taken to a new level with Le Regine, reminding viewers that there’s more to those arts than meets the eye, and the power behind them something that can’t be fully understood. At varying moments of the film, the character David experiences what can only be described as lucid nightmares, seeing things that are out of the ordinary world that can’t possibly be real, but are very vivid and lifelike at the same time. The question that arises for viewers is whether these visions are the result of David’s own psyche as he’s out in the middle of nowhere with three eccentric sisters who he assumes practice Pagan Earth rites, or are the sisters manipulating his mind with whatever kind of power they’ve learned or have been gifted. The camera and lighting of these scenes are very well done and are atmospheric, reminding audiences of pop art images.

Queens Of Evil (1970) — The Movie Database (TMDB)
The Sisters as They Are (from The Movie Database)
The Sisters When They Practice Magicks (from Amazon)

Italian actresses Ida Galli (credited under her Anglo stage name Ewelyn Stuart) and Silvia Monti, and French actress Haydee Politoff give mesmerizing and sultry performances as the three sisters. While they share bonds over many things, the sisters are unique in their own ways. Galli as Bibiana is the oldest of the sisters. Bibiana is the mature, quiet, and matronly sibling, preferring to keep to her hobbies and the practices she and her sister engage in. Like any woman though, Bibiana has her sexual desires, and as the trio become more and more powerful over their prey David, she uses her sensitive and motherly wiles to lure the young man to her bed as her sisters listen from their rooms, a little jealous, but also respecting each other’s wants and needs.. Monti as Samantha is the most adventurous of the siblings. Samantha doesn’t have Bibiana’s experiences, but she has a lust and zest for life, those passions exhilerated by the presence of David. She is in fact the fist sister to seduce David, impressing him and frightening him simultaneously while riding on his motorcycle, and then luring him to a secluded beach where she chases him into delirium before letting letting him caress her. Politoff plays the youngest sister Liv. Liv appears to be entering into the final stages of womanhood. She has the quietness and sensitivity of Bibiana and the curiousness of Samantha, but has her own down to earth personality. She is the first to meet David, but the last to seduce him, and in fact develops the kind of infatuation that first loves tend to produce. While jealous that her sisters can take David at will, Liv realizes it’s an element of the game, and she’ll have him soon enough.

Blu Review – Queens of Evil (Mondo Macabro) - Horror Society
The Unsuspecting David (from Horror Society)

British Italian actor Ray Lovelock (credited as Raymond Lovelock) gives a very interesting performance as David. A Wandering Hippie who believes in free love and freedom without constraint, David travels the world searching for his paradise. When he shows some good will to a stranded motorist, he gets an unusual lecture about the dangers of too many women lovers, and that settling into a proper marriage is the way to go. After the motorist betrays his kindness, David tries to find out why, only to watch in horror as the man crashes his car into a tree, dying on impact. Fearing he’ll be accused of murder, David flees, ending up in an isolated barn in the woods. Initially, he suspects nothing amiss with the sisters he soon decides to live with, believing they practice a form of Pagan faith system that focuses on giving thanks to Nature in varied ways. It isn’t too long before David notices a change to both his physical health and mental state. At the start he seems very viral and full of passions but as time passes, he begins to lose confidence in himself, becoming more and more dependent on the women in some way or another. When each sister takes him sexually is when he seems most alive, sharing carnal passions with each woman in different fashions. David has no idea what kind of change has come over him, but knows there’s something not right in his well being, feeling free, but yet somehow at a kind of mercy to the sisters, alternating between periods of bliss and periods of near psychedelic visions/nightmares that may or may not be warnings should he continue to stay where he is.

Queens of Evil
David Explores Eerie Woods (from Mondo Digital)

Rarely seen outside of Europe and Japan until recently, Le Regine is fine rare gem of a film, boasting a fine mix of horror, fantasy, and trippy psychedelia. Concepts of sexual relations between men and women get tested, as well as the concept of what true freedom may very well entail, and what anyone is really willing to give up or compromise on in the name of life and love.

(I highly recommend this to anyone looking for something different in the Horror genre. While it does play more to the realm of Dark Fantasy than Horror, the film still offers the occasional creepy moment and atmosphere as the unwitting David is drawn deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole. Tonino Cervi succeeds ten times over in keeping audiences in the dark as to what’s really going on, mixing eyepopping colors, and clever cinematography tricks. The Blu Ray from Mondo-Macabro, marking the film’s debut in US Home Media, looks fabulous, the visuals very immaculate and gorgeous and the audio clear and crisp. I haven’t watched the English dub, but did find the Italian original very even and clear, and superb English subtitle translation. Well worth a purchase)

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Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

When the Sins of the Ancestors…..Come to Their Kin

by Tony Nash

(Foreign Language Horror #4)

(Mild Spoilers)

(All Opinions are of the Author Alone)

(Review is of the original French language version)

Michel Lemoine –
French Poster (from Home Popcorn)

 Les Week-ends Maléfiques du Comte Zaroff (7 Femmes Pour un Sadique/The Malicious Weekend of Count Zaroff/7 Women for the Sadist/7 Women for Satan) (1976) **** 1/2 NC-17

Michel Lemoine: Count Boris Zaroff

Howard Vernon: Karl, the Butler/Karl’s Father

Joelle Coeur: Anne de Baoisryvault

Sophie Grynholc: Zaroff’s Secretary

Martine Azencot: Joelle

Nathalie Zeiger: Muriel

Robert de Laroche: Francis (as Robert Icaret)

Patricia Mionett: Jeanne

Maria Mancini: Stephane/Stephanie

Written & Directed by: Michel Lemoine (loosely inspired by The Most Dangerous Game [1932] and the novelette by Richard Connell)

Synopsis: Aristocratic businessman Boris Zaroff is haunted by hallucinations of himself torturing and killing young women. His father, the original Count Zaroff, had 40 years previously hunted people for sport until he was killed by his own hunting dogs. Boris has inherited his father’s debauched interests, and the son of his father’s servant will do whatever it takes to see that Boris embraces his evil lineage.

Seven Women for Satan (1976) | MUBI
A Beautiful Victim (from Mubi)

Actor/Filmmaker Michel Lemoine, at the height of his independent career, decided to tackle the Horror genre in a new and different way. In keeping with his desire to highlight people’s erotic tendencies, Lemoine employs sex and romance as a catalyst for the tragedies to befall his characters. Inspired by the Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack film The Most Dangerous Game (and the 1920’s short story by Richard Connell), Lemoine devised an unofficial sequel that focused on the son of the villainous Count Zaroff, and the man’s struggle to avoid continuing his father’s trail of terror. What soon follows is a bizarre game of human morality vs. base instincts and human and otherworldly forces fight for control of Boris’ soul and mind. While scenes of extended nudity and simulated sensual acts are abundant within the film, Lemoine in no way uses them for the simple shock value, though some sequences even now might still have that effect on some. Lemoine didn’t make the film as Softcore Porn with a Horror theme/background, but instead chose to tell a Horror story where the Erotic plays a necessary and, in some cases, important function of the outcome of said story.

Seven Women for Satan
The Tortured and Tragic Boris (from Mondo Digital)

Lemoine offers a compelling, sympathetic, and sadly tragic performance of the title character Zaroff. Lemoine expresses this beautifully and perfectly in that Boris is a genuinely good man who is forever haunted by the misdeeds of his brutal father, and by the sinister and human forces that try to make him embrace that brutality. This also has the Lovecraftian feel of Inherited Guilt in which fiction characters can’t escape or find redemption from the crimes committed by those that came before them. Audience realize this from the very instant Boris is introduced after his first onscreen hallucination as he is clearly bewildered and shocked at the thoughts always going through his mind. When he tries to stop himself from doing any harm to a female hitchhiker he fantasized making love to, he accidently runs her over with his car. Fearing his teeth marks on her breast will lead to suspicions he tried to rape her, he dumps her body in a deep lake by his estate. This act traumatizes him, and forces him to remember the night the woman he loved was murdered right in front of him, but also keeps him from doing anymore harm to others. Temptation continues to fly for Boris when he interviews a woman interested in the job of house secretary, and while he prefers to make love to her, ends up powerless when his servant orders the Doberman guard dog to attack her. Images of both the woman he ran over and his beloved haunt his mind, relieving him of doing any evil, but unable to prevent it. The last straw finally breaks when Boris realizes a prank he intended to play on a stranded couple he offered overnight shelter to was made into vicious crime by his servant, sending him over the edge. The question then becomes will the humanity still within him be able to break free of his family’s horrible curse. per Seven Women for Satan [Blu-ray] : Michel Lemoine, Joëlle Coeur,  Nathalie Zeiger, Howard Vernon, Robert de Laroche, Martine Azencot, Michel  Lemoine: Movies & TV
The Evil and Wicked Karl (from Amazon)

-Swiss-German French actor Howard Vernon, a staple of European genre cinema, and cult icon Jess Franco’s favorite actor, gives one of his most menacing and villainous performances in the role of Karl the Butler. Karl’s father, also a butler, served the original Count Zaroff as his son now serves the Count’s son Boris, revealing a hint of intertwined destiny. Karl vowed to keep a promise to his dying father that he would ensure Boris would continue the Zaroff legacy of cruelty and debauchery by whatever means available to him. Vernon gives Karl an air of remorselessness, willingly putting innocent people at risk, even killing them himself to make certain his master will come to see the delights of the darkness, all with an unflinching gaze. Karl is the true villain of the film as he willingly, and even at times with a sense of pride, does all sorts of horrible things to keep his word to his father. Little does Karl know that his master’s conscious is very strong, and other forces will fight him with equal intensity to save Boris.

Love From Beyond the Grave (from LA FOUTOIROTHÈQUE)

Joelle Coeur, the French Erotic film icon, gives a hauntingly wonderful performance as Anne de Baoisryvault. Anne plays an uber important role in that she’s the good against the evil that is Karl. Anne would be the only woman Boris Zaroff really and truly loved, Boris being Anne’s light while trapped in a loveless marriage. Their happiness was cut short when during a secret rendezvous, Anne was shot in the back while dancing with Boris, (while her jealous husband was most likely the culprit, some believe it was Karl to ensure Boris remained alone) poor Boris unaware his beloved Anne was dying in his arms. Her death would shatter Boris, who himself went into sexual repression and isolation. When Karl makes plans to ensure his master embraces his father’s wicked traits, Anne returns from the afterlife to save the man she loves. Placing her image in mirrors and such in place of the women meant to be the targets of the diabolical plot, Anne works to keep Boris’ humanity and conscious alive to fight against the evil trying to turn him. Anne appears to Boris on several occasions to remind him of the good man she knows he is, beckoning him to return to the light with her. When Boris realizes the horrible betrayal of Karl involving an innocent couple he offered overnight shelter to, his grip on reality breaks, forcing Anne to resort to one last method to save him and his soul, a method she’d hoped to not have to use. This was to be Joelle Coeur’s final film, retiring not long after as she didn’t care for French cinema’s ever increasing move towards XXX Hardcore Porn over the usual Softcore she enjoyed making.

The Beautifully Haunting Zaroff Castle (from Tumblr)

Mixing the Gothic Ghost Story with Frano-esque violence and high Erotica, Lemoine paints an artistic grindhouse piece that is both shocking and beautiful at the same time. Lemoine employs some unique camera angles and shots, mainly in the halucinatory moments that work very well to show Zaroff’s ever teetering balance between the world he wants to live in, and the world the more evil forces around want him to submit to. The lead character is surprisingly sympathetic despite his weakness at the forces vying for his final destiny. Good vs Evil has never been done so eloquently as this film, the power on the side of good unrelenting in battling its sadistic enemy to save a man.

(I’ll leave it up to whoever reads this write-up as to whether to watch the film or not. While the erotic moments aren’t over done and bordering on the poor taste/disgusting element, some people may find the heightened use of them a little too much to handle, and that is those folks’ right to believe. There’s definitely more to like than hate with the film as Lemoine proves himself a very good and effective director who’s style is very overlooked. Many of his choices are solid, some that went further than necessary, and only one or two he didn’t need at all solidifying his abilities. The Blu Ray done in conjunction between France’s Le Chat Qui Fume [The Smoking Cat] and the US’s Mondo Macabro is a solid restoration that brings the film back to life, keeping the dream-like atmosphere Lemoine intended. Either release is highly recommended, though I’ll mention now the special features on the French edition aren’t English subtitle friendly. I admit this is odd as the English subtitle translation of the film itself is solid, a little better than the US edition, but both editions are good in their own ways.)

All images courtesy of Images and their respective owners

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Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

The Gothic, Euro Erotica, Pre-Ordained Revenge, & Bizarre Science

by Tony Nash

(Foreign Language Horror #3)

(Mild Spoilers)

(All Opinions are of the Author Alone)

(Review is of the original German version)

Original Poster (from SPLATTERTRASH)

Im Schloß der Blutigen Begierde (Castle of the Creeping Flesh/In the Castle of Bloody Desire) (1968) **** NC-17

Janine Reynaud: Vera Lagrange

Howard Vernon: Der Graf von Saxon

Michel Lemoine: Baron Brack

Elvira Berndorff: Elena Lagrange

Jan Hendriks: George von Kassell

Pier A. Caminnecci: Roger de la Valiere

Claudia Butenuth: Marion von Kassell / Katharina von Saxon

Vladimir Medar: Alecos, Diener

Written by: Adrian Hoven (as Percy G. Parker) & Eric Martin Schinitzler (with uncredited contributions from Jess Franco)

Directed by: Adrian Hoven (as Percy G. Parker)

Synopsis: A debauched Baron asks five of his party guests to sneak away with him to his hunting lodge for more fun. When the Baron rapes one of the women and she takes off, the group soon find themselves at the mysterious estate of a reclusive Earl. The Earl and the Baron seem to know each other, and it isn’t long before the Baron’s guests discover they’ve inadvertently been put in the middle of a centuries old curse.

Im Schloß der blutigen Begierde -
An Eerie, Mysterious Castle (from Italo-Cinema)

Veteran German character actor Adrian Hoven, sensing the changing tide in German cinema in the late 1960’s, decided to start his own production company with a group of friends to make self-financed genre films to compete with the burgeoning New German Cinema movement. The first result of this new company was the Gothic Horror film In the Castle of Bloody Desire, in which Hoven mixed the classic Horror of the early 60’s and the contemporary Jazz music fueled Thrillers that were just gaining steam in Italy at the time. Having done a couple of the Edgar Wallace Krimi in the early to mid-1960’s, Hoven already had an idea of how to mix suspense and horror overtones/undertones together, and thus was able to get financing without much difficulty as the Krimi’s hadn’t become clichéd yet. When filming was complete, Hoven chose to use the pseudonym Percy G. Parker while editing and postproduction as he was still a very respected film and stage actor, uncertain if his contemporaries would deride him for doing a film filled with so much violent imagery and bizarre sexual behavior, some sequences in the film still maintaining the shock value felt in the period in which it was made.

Castle of the Creeping Flesh
The Enticing Valerie (from Mondo-Digital)

Janine Reynaud, a French model and actress known for her participation in Euro Erotic and Exploitation cinema, is an alluring delight in the role of Vera Lagrange. Vera is an aristocratic woman with cravings for the hedonistic in sex and adventure, always on the lookout for the next lurid good time. Her newest fascination is the Baron Brack, who shares similar interests as herself. Unbeknownst to Vera, Brack is also interested her equally lovely sister Elena. Vera and the others are soon on a quest for Elena after Brack forcibly has his way with her, and she flees the Baron’s hunting lodge in a delirious state. After the group find themselves in the castle of the Earl of Saxon where Elena has been kept safe, Vera begins noticing some strange happenings. The Earl tells her she bears a striking resemblance to his ancestor’s 2nd wife, who brought about the rape/defilement and death of his daughter. The Earl further explains that it was his ancestor’s murdering of his 2nd wife that led to his own execution as he attempted to use the woman’s blood to resurrect his daughter. Afterwards, Vera begins having bizarre hallucination dreams, dreading something sinister will happen.

In the Castle of Bloody Lust (1968) — The Movie Database (TMDB)
The Earl Recalls the Painful Past (from The Movie Database)

Howard Vernon, the German-Swiss/French actor who became one of Jess Franco’s main collaborators, gives a subtly chilling role (in one of his rare non-Franco films) as the Earl of Saxon. A nobleman who’s family has suffered a bloody and tragic history, the Earl had made the decision to cut himself and his family from the outside world so they can eventually be free of the dark past hovering over them. A chance at fixing this tragic line comes almost by destiny in the form of Baron Brack, and his innocent guests. The Earl and Brack appear to know each other well in spite of the fact the Earl is a total recluse who never goes beyond his estate. Having assured Brack’s friends the young lady they’ve been looking for has only suffered a mild shock and will be able to go with them by morning, the Earl tells them the history of his family. He says history repeated itself when his own daughter was attacked by an unidentified assailant, and died of internal injuries. Almost everyone in the party, save for three of the characters, bear strong resemblances to the parties involved in the first Earl’s daughter’s death, and the question quicky becomes if history continually repeats itself, or if a new tragedy can be prevented. That the Earl demands his guests wear clothing from the period the atrocity was committed in strongly implies this.


Im Schloß der blutigen Begierde -
The Damned Baron (from Italo-Cinema)

Michel Lemoine, a French actor who began in important art films and later become an icon in genre cinema, is at his slimy best in the role of Baron Brack. Brack brings the 19th century debauched nobleman to the 20th century, and is just as, if not more so, depraved as his predecessors. When the vivacious and flirty Lagrange sisters catch his eye, the Baron plots how to bed both of them. When the younger sister admits to flirting all in fun, the Baron becomes enraged and proceeds to savagely and remorselessly rape the young woman. After she flees in a hysterical state, the Baron’s lifestyle is soon to catch up with him. When he and his party end up on the estate of the Earl of Saxon, Brack’s paranoia in regard to the Earl and the history of the Saxon family becomes ever increasing, hinting that he somehow has played a part before.   

𝕰 𝖟 𝖊 𝖖 𝖚 𝖎 𝖊 𝖑 . 🐩🤍 on Twitter: "IM SCHLOSS DER BLUTIGEN BEGIERDE  — CASTLE OF THE CREEPING FLESH (Adrian Hoven, 1968)… "

A Twisted Elegy to a Disturbing Crime (from Twitter)

Jess Franco, the unofficial King of Shlock/Shock Exploitation cinema, provided some uncredited assistance in Hoven’s screenplay. The high dose of Erotica, surreal/bizarre imagery, and unusual special effects all scream Franco’s MO and style, and all are used to good effect within the film. Hoven doesn’t use these in abundance the way Franco usually did, instead intersplicing them when needed, the only extensive uses of these are during Valerie’s nightmare as she sees the vicious act against the Earl’s daughter through the eyes of the devious mistress. Why Franco isn’t credited in any known print of the film is never made clear in any film site, but as Franco was a really busy independent filmmaker, working on as many as ten features a year, it’s possible at least one contract prevented his credit for legal reasons.


Im Schloß der blutigen Begierde -
Two People Discussing Bizarre Fantasies (from Italo-Cinema)

Again, going for a more psychological approach to Horror, Adrian Hoven does very well with Castle of Bloody Desire, near flawlessly mixing contemporary and historical settings, having rich yet not overtly complex characters, and of course a nice range of atmosphere and vibes.

(This is one of the films I have to recommend with caution to many people. While the film doesn’t glorify the act done to the Earl’s daughter and much of the other bizarre behavior of characters, some sequences in the film can be seen by some as quite intense, which is perfectly understandable. The film does draw the viewer in, and much of it is as much a curiosity as it is entertaining to an extent. Again, this is another example of a film not being everyone’s cup of tea, and only appeals to a certain type of viewer. Like with a few other films I’ve talked about on this level, I don’t make a claim to fully understand what Adrian Hoven wanted to accomplish with his film, but I feel I was open minded enough to see what his attempts were aiming at. There are two Blu Ray releases of the film, one from Germany, the other from Severin Films in the US. Both releases are pretty good, many fans might being preferable to the US release as the subtitle translation of the German track may be more exact than the German release. and the extras on the German release may or may not be subtitled in English. Fans can’t go wrong with either release though as both have their strong points, especially the audio and visual transfers.)

All images courtesy of Images and their respective owners

for more information

Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

When the Quest for Everlasting Beauty Goes Too Far

by Tony Nash

(Foreign Language Horror #2)

(Mild Spoilers)

(All Opinions are of the Author Alone)

(Review is of the French language original)

Shock Treatment (1973) - IMDb
Original French Poster (from the IMDb)

Traitement de Choc (Shock Treatment) (1973) R ****1/2

Alain Delon: Docteur Devilers

Annie Giradot: Helene Masson

Robert Hirsch: Gerome Savignat

Michel Duchaussoy: Docteur Bernard

Gabriel Cattand: Procureur de Boissiere

Jeanne Colletin: Camille Giovanelli

Robert Party: Colonel de Riberolles

Jean Roquel: Marcel Lussac

Roger Muni: Paul Giovanelli

Lucienne Legrand: Lise de Riberolles

Anne-Maria Deschodt: Henriette Lussac

Jean Leuvrais: Le Commissaire

Written by: Alain Jessua, Roger Curel, & Enrico Vanzina

Directed by: Alain Jessua

Synopsis: After a startling revelation on her life, businesswoman Helene Masson accepts an invitation from a longtime friend to spend two weeks at a rejuvenation spa run by the prominent Dr. Devilers. While the treatments do work and everyone sees nothing amiss, Helene begins to suspect something sinister when her friend commits suicide after a financial crisis and the imported Portuguese staff begin suffering what appears to be extreme altitude sickness.

Traitement de choc (1973) | Cinema of the World
The First Examination (from World Cinema)

French genre auteur Alain Jessua took the lore of vampirism and translated it into an allegory on the obsession with youthful beauty and the horrors of addiction. Instead of transfigured human beings who live nocturnally with fangs to consume the blood of their victims, Jessua has his culprits be unorthodox doctors of medicine who’ve channeled the destructive methods of the primitive African, Latin/South/Central, and Native American tribes that involved the consumption of the flesh and blood of their enemies. The recipients of this dark and twisted elixir love the effect of the serum, and their fear of old age makes them compliant in the methods of their ‘saviors’, thus leading to a kind of dependency that has a small, motely band of prominent French citizens returning to the little oasis every year to maintain their little secret on how to maintain their youthful appearance. The whole inhuman affair has its first bout of exposure when a regular client kills himself after bad financial tips force him to give up his treatments, the only example of someone feeling the effects of withdrawal, both literally from not getting the serum, and figuratively in that he already feels his true age coming to the surface, and the paralyzing fear of being shunned for no longer being handsome and young.

Shock Treatment (1973) image
The First Treatment (from Listal)

Jessua gives a surprising clue early on in the film as to what is going on by revealing the spa’s waiters and caretakers are young men ranging from their late teens to mid-20’s. and are of Hispanic or Latino – via the South and Central American countries, descent. One of the spa regular’s comments that up until recently the staff was made up of young Spanish men who needed work to support their destitute families, and now the head doctor is strictly hiring Portuguese workers. The young men are shown to be on a very unusual protein diet, and are kept working almost constantly, and seem to not be able to adjust to the lower altitude climate. That one of the characters states the spa hires mainly men of Hispanic or South/Central American heritage sets off a signal that this is important to what’s happening in the story, and how it ends up important is fairly shocking.

Shock Treatment
The Mysterious Benevolent Doc (from Mondo Digital)

Alain Delon, one of France’s finest genre & art house actors, delivers an excellent performance as Dr. Devilers. A college educated doctor going back to the roots of natural medicine, Devilers is certain he has discovered a safe and holistic serum to slow down the aging process. While the aristocratic crowd seems to be his primary cliental to his rejuvenation therapy, Devilers accepts any patient that can afford the price who feels they could benefit from his discovery. Delon portrays Devilers as a charming and gracious man who puts the patients at top priority over everything else, but it’s after one of his regular patients dies tragically that Devilers façade seems to crack. His charm conceals an intimidating menace that has everyone afraid to reveal what exactly goes on behind the scenes in his research for fear of being held as accessories to what very well could be criminal actions. While his aims at helping people maintain their youth a little longer are noble, how he managed to achieve that goal possibly meant going against the laws of men and the laws of a higher power, and an even more frightening aspect is a very real possibility he willingly gave up his own humanity and soul to succeed.

Traitement de choc - Alain Jessua - Critique - Tortillapolis
A Worried Helene (from Tortillapolis)

Annie Giradot, a lesser internationally known French actress, gives a mini powerhouse performance as Helene Masson. A simple independent businesswoman who felt her beauty would age gracefully, Helene had no allusions of what would occur in life as she reached middle age and seemed initially content with how she lived. When the man she was certain she would spend the rest of her life with abandoned her to be with a much prettier, and younger, woman, Helene soon found her world upside down, and certain realities flooding in that she’d been previously oblivious to, or had admittingly turned a blind eye to, forced her to rethink how she was aging, and maybe the youthful treatment recommended by a longtime friend might be in order to save herself from ending up alone. Ironically, some of the patients and Dr. Devilers himself tell her she looks radiant already and doesn’t ‘need’ the treatment the way others do, but are sympathetic to her reasons for wanting to give the treatment a try. At first happy with the result, Helene’s mind begins to go erratic after learning her good friend killed himself, and realizing he was telling the truth that the treatment is like being addicted to any drug.

Traitement de choc - Alain Jessua - Critique - Tortillapolis
A Not so Discreet Doctor/Patient Relationship (from Tortillpolis)

Delon and Giradot had worked together a decade earlier as would be lovers in Luchino Visconti’s tragic family drama Rocco e i Suoi Fratelli (Rocco and His Brothers), but this film wouldn’t prove to be a happy reunion. During the production of Rocco, Giradot fell in love with Renato Salvatori, one of the other actors in the cast, and after encouragement from Delon, the two married and seemingly had the quaint life most married people hope for. Not long before production on Choc, Giradot left and divorced Salvatori for another man, and upon seeing her on the first day of shooting, Delon slapped Giradot hard in the face. Salvatori was a close friend of Delon, and because he encouraged the couple’s romance, felt just as responsible for their break-up and Giradot’s infidelity, and was thus trying to relieve himself of the guilt he was bearing. Whether Delon was eventually able to reconcile with Giradot has never been documented.

Richard🔥Wells on Twitter: "Film time! Revisited Alain Jessua's SHOCK  TREATMENT (1973). Alain Delon is the Bond villain like head of an exclusive  health spa with *a dark secret*. Enjoyable schlock with social
A Day to Rejoice (from Twitter)

A scene that well highlights the hedonistic choices made by staff and patients alike comes in the form of a beach scene, not long after the first day’s injection treatment. All the patients, including Helene and Dr. Devilers himself, all get naked and frolic along the waves of the water’s edge. Initially this is to indicate the rejuvenation in youth everyone feels from benefiting from the treatment, this scene also hints at the radical truths revealed as the film progresses, and crimes against both man and nature come to light. The scene also is notable for one of the rare occasions Alain Delon went completely nude for a scene in a film, baring all for audiences to see in a very daring, and to a degree, courageous, moment.

Shock Treatment
Conversing in the Spa (from Mondo Digital)

While it plays out as more of a psychological Thriller, Traitement de Choc really is at heart an allegorical Horror film that plays up vampirism in a way that could probably happen, if someone did indeed put their mind to it. The story, acting, the cinematography, etc, are all top notch, and help to really establish the mood and pace Alain Jessua intended the film to have.

(I highly recommend giving this film a look; especially to women over forty who may have concerns over aging, trust me, this film will most likely ‘scare’ those fears right out of you when the big reveal near the end comes up. Metaphorical Horror has never looked better or been done as good as this film. Some might think the method is a little over the top, but it does have roots in reality, so don’t dismiss the film as wishful thinking, or fantastic Sci-Fi Horror. Annie Giradot’s acting may get a little over the top/melodramatic, at certain points, but it serves the film well, and adds to the effective tension director Jessua intended. Severin Films did a great job with the restoration of the audio and visuals, giving the film itself a rejuvenation of sorts.)

All images courtesy of Images and their respective owners

For more information,_1973)

Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

A Mix of Poe Horror, Wallace Krimi, and Modern Jazz

by Tony Nash

(Foreign Language Horror #1)

(Mild Spoilers Ahead)

(All Opinions are of the Author Alone)

(Review is of the original German language version)

Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (1967) German movie poster
German Poster (from CineMaterial)

Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (The Snake Pit and the Pendulum/The Blood Demon/The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism) (1967) **** PG-13

Lex Barker: Roger Mont Elise / Reinhold von Marienberg

Karin Dor: Baroness Lillian von Brabant / Baroness von Brabant

Christopher Lee: Count Frederic Regula of Andomai

Carl Lange: Anatol, the Butler (as Karl Lange)

Vladimir Medar: Peter Fabian

Christiane Rucker: Babette

Dieter Eppler: The Coachman

Horst Naumann: Voice Dubbing – Lex Barker

Herbert Weicker: Voice Dubbing – Christopher Lee

Klaus W. Krause: Voice Dubbing – Vladimir Medar

Written by: Manfred R. Kohler (loosely based on The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allan Poe, and inspired by the fiction of Edgar Wallace)

Directed by: Harald Reinl

Synopsis: After he is sentenced to death for the murder of 12 virgin women and practicing Satanism, Count Regula swears revenge on the descendants of those who brought about his demise. 35 years later, the son of the Crown Prosecutor and the daughter of the Baroness Brabant are lured to Regula’s castle.

Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (1967) von Harald Reinl | M-Square  Classics
Regula’s Chamber of Horrors (from UCM.ONE)

1967 saw German cinema at a crossroads, newcomers Rainer W. Fassbender and Volker Schlondorff were beginning the age of New German Cinema, where more personal stories were being told that audiences seemed to empathize with, and the once successful genre films of directors like Harald Reinl and Alfred Vohrer were beginning to lose steam. While the Krimi films based on the novels of British crime fiction writer Edgar Wallace had helped bring a boom to the German film industry, the ever-rising popularity of the Giallos and Spaghetti Westerns in Italy were making it tougher and tougher for German writers and directors to keep up. Some co-productions with Italy did help the industry move along, but the popularity of import films dubbed into German were making the studios less and less keen on continuing making their own versions that were seemingly being made better elsewhere. Ideas were needed to keep the industry going, but the attempt to infuse Horror overtones to the Wallace Mystery Thrillers, only aided in the genre’s demise quicker, as critics and fans alike saw them as weak cash-ins on the Giallo craze.

Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (1967) von Harald Reinl | M-Square  Classics
Regula Receives His Sentence (from UCM.ONE)

To combat the ever-encroaching Art-House movement that would mean many solid genre actors and actresses would be forced to return to the stage or go to television to keep working, Constantin Films greenlit a project that combined the Wallace Krimi, the Italian Giallo, the Gothic Horror of Poe, Corman, & Bava, and a strange blend of contemporary and period music, the result being The Snake Pit and the Pendulum aka The Blood Demon. Taking the very basics from the Poe classic The Pit and the Pendulum, the film begins with the aristocratic Count Regula being sentenced to death for murdering 12 virgin women after making a pact with the devil. Before being led to the place of execution, Regula vows to destroy the family of the Prosecutor for the Crown, and avenge himself on the woman who was to be his next victim. On the 35th anniversary of Regula’s demise, his last henchmen help to lure the surviving son of the Prosecutor and the daughter of the last victim to his castle to finish what he started a quarter of a century ago.

Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (1967) von Harald Reinl | M-Square  Classics
The Haunted Forest of Andomai (from UCM.ONE

Director Harald Reinl takes some inspirations from both Roger Corman and Mario Bava when doing exterior scenes. As the film goes into night time, audiences are first greeted to a lush yellow/brown sunset that seems to fly across the screen in a psychedelic fashion that Bava and Croman used so frequently in their early color efforts. When night hits and the terrors of Regula’s Forest come to life, Reinl’s use of lighting, mood, music, and color is very reminiscent of Bava’s Gothic Horror films that lends a very effective feeling of the dangers the cast are soon to be introduced to.

The Bloody Pit of Horror: Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (1967)
Some Bizarre Religious Iconography (from The Bloody Pit of Horror)

Religious imagery and rights play a pretty important part in the film. Regula’s crimes are judged as not only an offence against his country, but an offence against the Holy Church as well. This is portrayed through a special ceremony performed every year on the day Regula was executed as to prevent his evil spirit from wreaking havoc on the surrounding towns that border his castle. That neither the Church or the Crown took possession of Regula’s estate confirms this wasn’t the usual political scheme to gain lands, but to genuinely rid the community of what they saw as evil incarnate as the castle is shown to be highly dilapidated and in disrepair. Statuary of the varied saints and even of Christ himself are shown sporadically in the early scenes, showing that strong forces from beyond are protecting the protagonists as they meet their destinies. Regula’s castle is filled with the polar opposite: wall paintings showcase tormented souls and demons engaging in the torture of said souls, while statuary of bestial demons guard and light the abode.

The Bloody Pit of Horror: Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (1967)
The Hero Works His Way Out of Danger (from The Bloody Pit of Horror)

Lex Barker, one of the many American actors who went to Europe after their careers in Hollywood dried up – later becoming a Superstar in Germany, plays the protagonist Roger Mont Elise, and his father Reinhold von Marienberg in the opening. A lawyer traveling through the countryside going over the many cases of his firm, Mont Elise is also trying to discover his past after learning he was left in a foundling home with only a nice sized dowery and a medallion as clues to who he really was. Feeling he’ll learn answers after a mysterious man gives him a letter saying a Count Regula can help him, Mont Elise will soon learn he’s the son of Crown Prosecutor von Marienberg, and that he’s been lured to the castle so Regula can fulfill his promise to eradicate the Marienberg family forever. Little is said about Reinhold von Marienberg as he’s only in the film for 15 minutes, but it’s clear he’s devoted to the country, the people, the Crown, and the Church that have made him defender of the realm and faith. He manages to ensure at least one relative will survive to keep Regula from succeeding in his plans.  Barker does very well in both roles, and while not the usual action hero type character he was used to playing in the German Westerns and Italian Adventure films of the early to mid-1960’s, Barker proved that not only was he still leading man material, but also an underrated performer.

The Bloody Pit of Horror: Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (1967)
A Villain in Life….
The Bloody Pit of Horror: Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (1967)
….And Death (from The Bloody Pit of Horror)

Christopher Lee, one of Britain’s finest character actors, and an icon of World Horror cinema, gets to play a very different type of villain in the role of Count Frederic Regula. An aristocrat taking the motif of the debauched wealthy and going to levels of extremity, Regula goes to horrid lengths to gain the power of immortality by brutally killing young virgins while also taking their fear to the highest point. When a would-be victim foils his plans and he’s condemned to death by the violent act of quartering by horses, Regula swears to avenge himself from beyond the grave. Through very elaborate means that are a mixture of science and black magic, Regula and his followers spend the next 35 years scheming and waiting for the right moment to complete their revenge. Lee is still playing the villain of course, albeit this go around playing a very human villain who has flaws, weaknesses, and limitations. While he is aided by forces that are both supernatural and scientific, Lee’s Regula has a precise time in which he must complete his task once awakened from his death like state, and Lee shows him as a confidant, but at the same time cautious individual. Lee offers a fairly restrained performance as Regula, keeping the character in the world of realism, only going into theatrics toward the very end of the film.

(Author’s note: Lee provides his voice for the English dubbing of the film, a rarity for Lee’s foreign language appearances. It’s difficult to tell though if Lee looped his dialogue not long after filming wrapped, or if it was some years before Lee was asked to dub himself as his voice sounds very deep, which it did become by the 1990’s.)

The Bloody Pit of Horror: Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (1967)
One of Germany’s Great Actresses (from The Bloody Pit of Horror)

Karin Dor, a popular German actress of the stage and screen, takes on the leading lady role of Baroness Lillian von Brabant. The daughter of the original Baroness von Brabant, Lillian arrives toward Count Regula’s castle under the false claim her mother had willed her some land around the area. Her mother had been an intended victim of the Count, but by luck and fate was able to escape and inform the authorities of the Count’s actions, earning her his wrath as well. Regula plans to have Lillian take her mother’s place, thus completing the process of eternal life. Dor mainly acts as the damsel in distress of the film, spending a good chunk of it screaming and in fear of her and her companions’ safety, but Dor doesn’t go into the complete cliché’s of the damsel role, showing courage in the face of danger, and a willing to risk her life for those she cares about. The film also marked her 2nd to last time working with occasional romantic love interest Lex Barker, whom she did 4 (one time uncredited) of Barker’s 7 Winnetou film roles with, the final time released a year after The Snake Pit and the Pendulum and a segment of an Espionage Anthology film. Dor and Barker enjoyed a nice chemistry together that was oddly not capitalized on enough as they clearly played well off each other, aided in that they understood some of the other’s native language.

Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (1967) von Harald Reinl | M-Square  Classics
The Mad Henchman (from UCM.ONE)
Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel |
The Heroic Thief (from

German actor Carl Lange (credited as Karl Lange) and Slavic actor Vladimir Medar make up the main supporting cast of characters. Lange, putting on his best Lon Chaney Jr. and Dwight Frye impersonations, plays Anatol, Regula’s last faithful servant. Anatol carried out the majority of Regula’s plan of revenge against Prosecutor Marienberg by not only killing him, but most of the family as well. Before he could get to the infant son, Anatol was caught and hung by the neck, but Regula’s imperfect potion saved his life. Lange subtly mixes calm loyalty and raving mania as Anatol has a fanatical devotion to his master. Medar acts primarily as comic relief in the role of Peter Fabian, a small-time thief impersonating a Catholic priest. Initially trying to escape the bizarre situation he unintentionally found himself in, Fabian shows he has some sense of honor and loyalty as he chooses to stay behind and help Mont Elise save Lillian and her scared maid from the evil Regula and his equally demented servant Anatol.   

The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism (1967) by Harald Reinl | M-Square Classics
The Ancestors of the Hero and Heroine Look on at Regula’s Execution (from UCM.ONE)

The only odd part about the film is the score by Peter Thomas. The music is an unusual mix of modern Jazz and Rock, which was very popular with Edgar Wallace films, and more classical style scoring associated to Gothic Horror. The Jazzy style Rock seems very out of place for a period piece, though it is still interesting to hear. When the film gets into the more sinister and supernatural parts, the score becomes more ambient and effective to strengthen the mood. The modern scoring still pops up here and there, but it’s done in such a way that it doesn’t take away from the intended atmosphere. The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism ( Die Schlangengrube und das  Pendel ) (Blu-Ray & DVD Combo) [ Blu-Ray, Reg.A/B/C Import - Germany ] :  Lex Barker, Karin Dor, Christopher Lee,
Title Card (from

While some musical cues don’t fit the atmosphere, The Snake Pit and the Pendulum is an effective slice of Gothic Horror that also made for the genre’s fine farewells. Mixing both Expressionistic and psychedelic visuals, and very good acting, the film might not be one of the best ever made, but is definitely entertaining and worthy of being in the upper echelons of the Horror genre.

(I highly recommend giving this film a look, as while the score can sometimes leave viewers confused, the film’s mood and atmosphere make up for it. It’s hard to tell at times if Christopher Lee enjoyed doing the film, or his character’s neutral feel was how the director asked him to play it, but Lee is still very effective in whatever role he played. The German company UCM.ONE did an excellent job with the restoration of the film, cleaning up the visuals and audio to a nice crispness. Unfortunately, the English subtitles on the disc are dubtitles of the English dubbing, and not translated from the German audio track. The UCM.ONE restoration also appears on the Severin Films release of the film for their The Eurocrypt of Christopher Lee Box Set, again the subtitles being based on the English dubbing and not a translation of the German track. The film is definitely better in the original German audio, so not having translated subtitles is a bummer, but the film is still worth checking out either way.)

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Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics


Tony Nash

(All opinions are of the author alone)

Sunshine Blogger Award - A Sparkling Ray of Happiness - MerakiMusings
The Sunshine Blogger Award Logo

A big THANK YOU!!! to Debbi of I Found it at the Movies for my 2nd nomination for the Sunshine Blogger Award. I was caught by surprise by my first nomination over a year ago, and was also surprised by this one as well. I’m very happy that folks think this much of my blog to nominate me for something, and each time I receive a like for any of my write ups I feel like a school boy.

To get things going, here are the rules for every nominee for this award

  1. List the award’s official rules
  2. Display the award’s official logo somewhere on your blog
  3. Thank the person who nominated you
  4. Provide a link to your nominator’s blog
  5. Answer your nominator’s questions
  6. Nominate up to 11 bloggers
  7. Ask your nominees 11 questions
  8. Notify your nominees by commenting on at least one of their blog posts

So far, the first three rules are completed, and here’s a link for Miss Debbi’s wonderful blog

And now for Debbi’s very creative and well thought out questions

1. Why do you write movie reviews?

Hmmm, that’s an interesting one. My family has always been very supportive of my passion of films and writing, and they finally convinced me to share my passion with others via a blog. I had a domain on WordPress thanks to a College assignment that sat dormant for 10 plus years, and I rejuvenated it for this current site. I honestly wasn’t sure if I’d be comfortable sharing my thoughts on a film, the actors in it, and anything else of interest, but soon I really started enjoying it, and figured even if only 2 to 5 people got enjoyment out of it, that was plenty for me. What first began as a simple experiment to see if there was any interest at all in a guy writing about classic films and genre films from Italy, France, and Japan turned into all out fun, seeing how I could mix things up and keep it all interesting. I’ve also got to meet several really cool folks who have a similar passion as myself, which has made the journey all the more fun.

2. What’s the worst movie you have ever seen? And why is it the worst?

Luckily I haven’t seen many bad movies, I tend to like a lot of what I see, but one film that I believe had potential, but failed on almost every level was the 1975 Italian Erotic Thriller Una Ondata di Piacere (A Wave of Pleasure) directed by Ruggero Deodato

Waves of Lust (1975) - IMDb
Italian Poster

A very loose interpretation of Roman Polanski’s debut feature Noz w Wodzie (Knife in the Water), about tensions rising as a madman terrorizes a small group of people on a boat in the middle of the ocean, the film tried adding lots of nudity and erotic undercurrents to make it more interesting. In the end it fell completely flat. While British expat John Steiner made a great villain, there was just no tension whatsoever, and even the sex scenes felt beyond amateurish. It actually felt more like a bad voyeuristic experience watching two couples fool around on a yacht, just with the one husband being a total jerk and a tyrant. The DVD copy I had being near totally defective didn’t help the film much either. A pure wasted opportunity.

3. Who’s your favorite character actor from the Golden Age of Hollywood?

This is one of those questions where I can’t pick just one, totally impossible, so I’ll just list some of the guys I like the most: Ben Johnson, John Carradine, Richard Conte, Gilbert Roland, Peter Lorre, Henry Silva, Gene Evans, Cesar Romero, John Williams, Richard Boone

4. If you could pick a movie to be in, which one would you choose? And what part would you play?

Wow, what a great question. I had to really think on this one cause I honestly can’t see myself in a lot of films, plus I can’t stand the playback of my own voice, so I think I’d prefer to work in Italian or French cinema where I could still speak English and have another actor dub my voice, but I finally settled on three:

The first on is the 1969 Italian Western Sono Sartana, il Vostro Becchino (I Am Sartana, Your Angel of Death)

I am Sartana, Your Angel of Death - Wikipedia
Original Italian Poster

The part I would like to play in this is of Buddy Ben, Sartana’s friend. Gianni Garko was so cool and charismatic as Sartana and it would’ve been a treat to act along side of him, helping him out in finding out who framed him and why.

The second choice is the 1972 French Noir Un Flic (A Cop)

Un flic - 23-03-1988 | French cinema, Alain delon, Cinema posters
Original French Poster

For this I would choose the small, but still sizable role of Morand, the assistant to the main character Commissaire Coleman. This was the film that introduced me to both Alain Delon and Catherine Deneuve, as well as French Cinema in general, and I feel I would just be an awe of both of them, that I would prefer playing a character who didn’t talk much.

And finally I would pick the 1955 Hitchcock classic To Catch a Thief

To Catch a Thief - Wikipedia
Original Poster

The role I would like to play in this one is John Williams’ character H.H. Hughson. He gets to be a part of the all the action while mainly being the man who gathers in the info and looks out for the safety of the lead characters, and being able to work with the likes of Cary Grant and Grace Kelly would be amazing.

5. What’s the funniest movie you’ve ever seen? (Counting movies so bad they’re funny!)

Any of Mel Brooks’ movies, excluding The 12 Chairs and Life Stinks!, and Neil Simon’s Murder by Death, all pure hokey fun and entertainment.

6. Who are your favorite film reviewers?

I’m going to play it safe with this one and do a combination of film reviewers in general and the film folks here on WordPress. For film reviewers in general I would have to say Roger Ebert – as he wasn’t always on the money with some films, but tried to be as fair and impartial as he could, Stephen Prince – I learned a lot about Japanese Cinema through him, and extra tidbits on Akira Kurosawa, and Tim Lucas – the go to man for loads of genre cinema from the US to Italy to France to Germany, etc, a very knowledgeable man. Now for WordPress bloggers I enjoy the following: Make Mine Criterion! as he does great in depth stuff, and his what-if Criterion Collection and Arrow Video releases are always a treat to read. Mike’s Take on the Movies has a similar flavor to MMC!, and he also does a variety of films from the classics to exploitation to foreign cinema, almost the entire gambit. Master Mix Movies is still fairly new to this community, but he’s made a fine impression on me, his reviews might be short, but they’re always spot on with what he wants to say, and he always works in some tongue-in-cheek humor. And of course Debbi of I Found it at the Movies herself. She’s equal to Eddie Muller in the passion for Film Noir, and I love the little humor points she puts in each review, whether Noir, Comedy, Drama, Mystery, Horror, etc. She’s the go-to-gal for getting into the spirit of a film.

7. Which would you rather see in a movie: Sherlock Holmes or Philip Marlowe?

Hmmm, interesting. I have to say both, because not every mystery is the same, and each man has his own unique talents in solving the crime, even if Marlowe tends to fringe to sometimes outside the legal.

8. Can you name three female movie directors who worked from the birth of cinema to the Golden Age? (Google if you must! Or just answer “yes” or “no”.)

Believe it or not, I do know of three female filmmakers from that time frame, I just can’t seem to always remember their names. The first who came to mind was Frances Marion, who only made three feature films as a director, but was a very prolific screenwriter in the silent era and well into the sound days. Her debut feature, The Love Light in 1921, offers up Mary Pickford in her best, and most in depth, role as a woman maintaining a lighthouse waiting for her soldier lover to come home from WWI. A scene near the end where Pickford is in a storm current protecting her baby is breathtaking. The 2nd is Alice Guy, who began making films in her native France in the late 1890’s, early 1900’s, and also operated a small studio in the States, Fort Lee in New Jersey to be exact. She was a founding member of France’s Gaumont Studios who bought the first cameras the Lumiere Brothers made available to purchase. Her films were usually under 60 minutes, but paved the way for future filmmakers. The third is Dorothy Arzner, the only female director working in the Hollywood Studio System in the Golden Age. She has a neat current distinction for having two films released on Blu Ray by the Criterion Collection: Dance, Girl, Dance (1940) and Merrily We Go to Hell (1932). Her female characters were usually strong and independent, sometimes devious, but only in that they were trying to survive in a world dominated by Machismo.

9. What actor or actress would you most like to have dinner with?

I love this type of question. Like with the favorite character actor I can’t pick just one, so I’ll list the following:

Catherine Deneuve - latest news, breaking stories and comment - The  Independent
The Iconic French Beauty

Catherine Deneuve: She’s my all time favorite actress ever, and when I first saw her at the age of 19, I was completely smitten by her exotic and mysterious beauty. I would be happy even to just sit across from her and just listen to her talk, her voice is so enchanting. I think we’d engage in more casual style conversation as she’s a quiet and modest woman, which is A-OK by me.

Sophia Loren Biography - Childhood, Life Achievements & Timeline
The Belladonna of Italy

Sophia Loren: Believe it or not, I actually had a missed opportunity to meet the Grande Dame of Italy. A year or two before the Pandemic, she was appearing at the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City for a Q&A/Storytelling session, and my Mom never told me about it. I would love to ask her about Marcello Mastroianni as he was her most frequent leading man, and a whole lotta other stuff.

French actor Alain Delon recovers in Switzerland after stoke: family
The Man of Mystery

Alain Delon: Delon was my first, and so far only, man crush. His charisma, mysteriousness, and ultra cool attitude was just so amazing; even when they wanted him to be the romantic type, he wouldn’t always be romantic, but just something about those icy baby blue eyes draws you to him. Not exactly sure what we would talk about, but it would be loads of fun.

Interview : Franco Nero on his upcoming film Recon – Moviehole
The Best Italian Cowboy

Franco Nero: An excellent example of Italian gentlemanliness, Franco Nero is one of those actors who’s got tons of fame, and has maintained a fine down to Earth attitude. I would love to chat with him about the glory days of filmmaking in Italy in the 1960’s and 70’s, I’ve heard so many other actors say what a fun time it was.

Harrison Ford Injured While Making 'Indiana Jones 5' - Rolling Stone
The Great Indy

Harrison Ford: My first ever childhood hero growing up. I was raised on the Indiana Jones films, and even today are still loads of entertaining fun. He’s another fairly down to Earth and modest guy, so I think we’d have a mix of movie talk and casual talk.

Here’s a small list of actors/actresses who aren’t with us anymore I’d have loved to have dinner with: Audrey Hepburn, Charles Bronson, Katherine Hepburn, Tomas Milian

10. What’s the most over-rated movie you’ve seen?

The most over-rated eh? I usually don’t think many movies are overrated, sometimes I buy into the praise a little too much and my expectations make or break a viewing, but that’s a different story.

On the Waterfront - Wikipedia
Original Poster

For me though, the most over-rated goes to 1954’s On the Waterfront. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand why so many people hype it the way they do, and it is a well made and acted film, but for me, that’s where it ends. It certainly deserved its accolades, but I don’t think it’s the greatest movie ever made. If I had to classify it in one way or another, I would say it’s good example of the fight against corruption.

11. If your life was a movie, what would it be titled? (Feel free to use the titles of real films. Anyway you like.)

Hmmm, if my life was a movie, what title would it have? That’s a tricky one. I have to admit I’ve led a pretty typical life up to this point with the kind of hurdles you’d expect anyone to face. I’d settle for something like Tony Nash: A Film Man’s Journey as that’s what life kinda is. I try to keep things simple if I can, and that title seems to fit just right.

OK. now on to the 11 folks I’ve got to nominate, here we go

Make Mine Criterion!

Mike’s Take on the Movies

Master Mix Movies

Yolanda – Asperger’s Syndrome – Poetry – Alternative….

Paul. Writer and Filmmaker

Matt Brunson

Eric Binford


Reel Time Flicks

Silver Screenings

Movies From Hell

Now for the 11 Questions

  1. Who was the first film director you became aware of? And what film did you first recognize that director’s style?
  2. Who do you prefer: Homer Simpson or Sheldon Cooper?
  3. A director has asked you to do the casting for their adaptation of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None; who would you cast in what role and why?
  4. Who was the first actor or actress you had a crush on and why?
  5. Which character would you like to be the sidekick of in a film or TV show: a Ronin Samurai, a Western Anti-Hero, a Cop who doesn’t play by the rules, or a Knight?
  6. You’ve traveled back to Ancient Greece, the playwright Sophocles has asked you replace an actor/actress in his production in Antigone who’s become ill/injured; depending on the major parts, do you accept or decline, and why?
  7. Name as many celebrities/famous historical people as you like that you wish you were related to.
  8. Which film studio in Europe would you prefer to visit: Shepperton Studios in England or Cinecitta Studios in Rome?
  9. Which literary figure would you like to see have a comeback in popularity: Robin Hood, Zorro, or the Scarlet Pimpernel?
  10. If you could open your own Film Museum or Drive-In, what kind of films would you like to show?
  11. What do you like to pick at while watching a film: Popcorn or sweets?

Whew, those 11 questions were a little tougher this time around as I was trying to think of varied and different kinds of questions.

I’ll be linking this to my nominee’s most recent post ASAP.

Thanks again Debbi for nominating me again, your questions were really cool to answer.

Filed under: Film & TV: Potpourri, Film: Special Topics

Summer of Spaghetti: Arrow Video’s 1st Italo Western Box!!!!!!!!!!!!!

From Tony Nash

Arrow Video’s Cover (from DiabolikDVD)
Arrow Video’s Overview Image (from DiabolikDVD)

To coin the phrase of fellow WordPress blogger MMC! (Make Mine Criterion!) “Arrow Made Mine”, and that’s exactly what Arrow Video has done with a foursome of awesome Italian Westerns. Vengeance and Revenge in its various forms play a huge role in the Italian Westerns, and Arrow has appropriately titled there set Vengeance Trails, and all four films feature the protagonists going on journeys to avenge past injustices. Featured in the set are: Le Colt Cantarono la Morte e Fu…Tempo di Massacro (Massacre Time), Due Once di Piombo (Il Mio Nome Pecos/2 Ounces of Lead/My Name is Pecos), Bandidos, and E Dio Disse a Caino (And God Said to Cain), all very good, dark, and gritty Westerns that exemplify the genre well. Arrow will include its usually high quality book/booklet, a small poster, and a slew of extras including interviews with genre icons Franco Nero and George Hilton.

I do have Massacre Time on Blu Ray in a cool Mediabook/Digibook from Germany and My Name is Pecos in a DVD boxset, again from Germany, but as a collector and lover of the Italo West genre, this is a must buy as I don’t have Bandidos and And God Said to Cain in my collection yet. The only negatives I can find with the set is that Robert Woods’ interview about Pecos from the Wild East DVD and the German set and one of Hilton’s interviews from the Massacre Time German Blu Ray will likely not be included, but this isn’t a deal breaker as I don’t plan on selling the earlier purchases. The price is also a little on the high side, but given the current times, this is to be expected, and of course sales and price drops always happen.

Arrow Video has really outdone themselves with this release and I hope they do a lot more like it in the coming months and into 2022.

All images courtesy of Jesse Nelson’s DiabolikDVD

Filed under: Annoucements, Film & TV: Potpourri, Film: Special Topics

A Play Within a Play, Or How Shakespeare Saves a Marriage

by Tony Nash

(WordPress Follower Appreciation #4: Master Mix Movies)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

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Original Poster (from the IMDb)

Kiss Me Kate (1953) ***** PG

Kathryn Grayson: Lilli Vanessi/”Katherine ‘Kate'”

Howard Keel: Fred Graham/”Petruchio”

Anne Miller: Lois Lane/”Bianca”

Keenan Wynn: Lippy, Mob Collector

James Whitmore: Slug, Mob Collector

Tommy Rall: Bill Calhoun/”Lucentio”

Kurt Kasznar: “Baptista”

Bobby Van: “Gremio”

Bob Fosse: “Hortensio”

Ron Randell: Cole Porter

Written by: Dorothy Kingsley, adapted from the stage play by Sam Spewack (as Samuel Spewack) & Bella Spewack, freely based on The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare

Directed by: George Sidney

Synopsis: A divorced acting couple put aside personal animosity to put on a production of Cole Porter’s musical take on Shakespeare’s romantic comedy The Taming of the Shrew. The film mixes both the production itself, and the backstage antics of the couple, and two of the other cast members as they figure out their romantic feelings, all while the lead actor does whatever it takes to keep his ex on the stage.

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Lois Showing Fred, Lilli, and Cole Porter Her Tap Dancing Skills (from NZIFF)

While the 3D craze was still the fashion of the early to mid 1950’s, the Musical genre got its taste of the fad with the film Kiss Me Kate. The film within a film, which explores both a theater company’s performance of a production and the backstage antics of the cast, and others associated to them, is a fine setting for the 3D process as it allows actors to punt items to the camera in a believable fashion that doesn’t feel as if they’re entirely playing to the camera for the sake of the effect, whether it be the throwing of a prop or the extended in focus view of an object. The film’s main comic element is the two leads constant bickering that finally has the leading lady having enough of her ex husband/male lead’s manipulations and ego, and the man’s zany efforts to keep her from leaving, and to keep the show from ending up a financial and critical disaster. Destiny or luck seems to be on his side when a member of the cast signs an IOU with the lead’s name for a gambling debt that has two Mob enforcers coming to collect, prompting the “hero” to play the mix up to his advantage, stating he won’t be able to “pay” if his leading lady walks out on the show, leading to very funny and outlandish events and situations. A solid side plot has an aspiring acting/dancing couple who’s budding romance is on the skids because of the woman’s flirtatious nature and the man’s bad luck in games of chance, which ignites the chaotic events of the night.

(Author’s Note: Cole Porter, who wrote the songs and music for the original stage version and the film, is given a small cameo played by Ron Randall in the film, isn’t a character in the original stage performances, only mentioned as being the author of the play.)

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The first big number of the play (from the IMDb)

Kiss Me Kate was one of the many successful modern takes on a Shakespeare classic, and one of the few Hollywood efforts to show what possibly might go on backstage before and in between the acts of a play/musical, including the tensions between big name stars who can’t seem to coexist in the same production. A lot of changes had to be made before MGM gave the film the greenlight to begin filming. The original script by married couple Sam and Bella Spewack had quite a bit of colorful language, swear words, and a lot of sexual innuendo. “Brush Up Your Shakespeare”, sung by the two hoods, had them performing the number during the Broadway version in a more comical manner that hinted the duo may have been homosexuals, which was a major no-no in the then still enforced Hayes Code, moved as a diversion by the hoods while Fred and Lilli had their big spat about Fred’s deception to keep her from quitting acting to right before the ending as a means of cheering Fred up after he believes he’s lost Lilli for good. There’s quite a bit else changed for the sake of cleanliness, but that’s the main bit everybody talks about.

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Lilli Being Swept off Her Feet (from Pinterest)
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Lilli as Kate the Shrew Singing “I Hate Men” (from Pinterest)

Kathryn Grayson, the Opera Soprano trained singer who went to Hollywood, is a sheer delight as both Lilli Vanessi and the title character of Shakespeare’s famous Shrew. Grayson’s voice and style is perfect for the nearly always frustrated Lilli who has a love/hate relationship with both her ex-husband and the acting profession, her voice going deep Alto every time someone gets her mad. While it’s clear she loves performing, the tough time she had with ex Fred Graham has soured her to the calling, and wanting to start afresh by marrying a wealthy and doting Texas Cattle Baron. The mix of the film going from the performance to the backstage shows Lilli is very much like the character of Kate in that the she’s quick temper, isn’t afraid to get physical, and would gladly punch the lights out of her would be suitor, but unlike Kate, Lilli loves to be romanced and dotted upon, just wanting the man she marries to treat her like an equal and a partner, rather than just a cog in the theater machine to success. Her ire really gets up when Fred stoops to a new low and cons two hoods into making her stay with the production, falsely believing Fred owes their boss money for a gambling loss, making the hoods wish they hadn’t taken the job when, during a scene in the play, she begins throwing very real dishes, pots, and vases at them. Her emotions eventually become conflicted upon realizing that Fred truly does care about her, but at the same time feels he did her wrong so many times when they were married the first time that she wonders if she can honestly trust him.

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Fred Trying to Remind Lilli of the Good Times They Shared (from TCM)
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The Wiley and Cunning Petruchio Making Plans With Father-in-Law Baptista (from The Blonde at the Film)

Howard Keel, with his Tenor-Baritone pipes and rascally persona, does a fine job in the roles of Fred Graham and Petruchio. A Poster Boy example of what a hammy ego-maniac star usually is like, Fred Graham is the kind of guy who may very well make a struggling actor or actress a name in the business, the main question really being how long will it take before the performer wants to strangle him for being too demanding and difficult. Fred is an actor/director who knows what he wants and knows what will make a show a success, but his methods for getting the job done are fairly questionable. Not above using jealousies and professional competition as a means to coercing hard to get actors and actresses to accept roles in his productions, Fred may have bit off more than he could chew when he goes too far in trying to match ex wife Lilli’s verbal barbs and she finally has enough and decides to quit show business. Panicking over the failure of the show, in both money and within the theater community, and what it’ll mean for his reputation, Fred once again gets far too desperate in his actions to save the show. After a co-star, who’s jealous of the swoons his girlfriend gives Fred, signs his gambling IOU debt with Fred’s name, Fred equally deceives the hoodlums who intend to break the debt holder’s body parts unless the money’s coughed up, by making them think Lilli’s performance is the only way the show will make money to pay them off, thus using force to make her stay. The plan goes awry in the end when Lilli manages to scare the hoods and Fred into letting her go by threatening kidnapping charges to the police. Realizing Lilli’s on to all his tricks, Fred tries being honest with her, saying theater, and he himself, are nothing without her talent and gracefulness, and admitting that it was his ego that fouled up their marriage. He then must wait and see what happens.

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Lilli is Unimpressed as Lois Shows Her Range (from SMITH RAFAEL FILM CENTER – California Film Institute)
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The Lovely Bianca Laments Her Marriage Woes (from Ultimate Movie Rankings)
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The Comic Hoodlums Lippy and Slug (from YouTube)
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The Duo in Disguise as Extras (from NZIFF)
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Bianca’s Vying Suitors (from Pinterest)
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The Frustrated Poppa Baptista (from Aveleyman)

Ms. Grayson and Mr. Keel are joined by a bevy of talented theater and film performers.

Anne Miller, the Queen of Tap Dance, is a hit as the other woman Lois Lane (no pun on Superman here) and the late casted Bianca for the Graham production. Lois is an aspiring performer actress/dancer who innocently flirts with Fred Graham to help move her career along. Her problem is that her boyfriend Bill Calhoun is content with being just another nameless hoofer in the chorus, and prefers the thrill of gambling over the excitement of applause and performing. His frustration over Lois and his bad luck is what leads to the crazy events later on, but in the end things work out for them. Keenan Wynn (Disney Legend Ed Wynn’s son) and James Whitmore, two of Hollywood’s more reliable heavies and antagonists, are blasts in the respective roles of Lippy and Slug, Mob debt collectors. When Bill’s losses at gambling round up to $2000, the duo’s boss sends them to either get the money owed to him, or to break the welching gambler’s arms and legs. Because they didn’t see Bill at the gaming joint, and only know the IOU bears the signature Fred Graham, the duo immediately head for the known Broadway star’s dressing room. Eventually they come to like Graham, and don’t relish the idea of beating him to a pulp for not paying, never finding out they’ve been given a bum steer by Bill. Oddly enough, both Wynn and Whitmore come off as more comical than menacing, as per script, and audiences can’t help but like them. Broadway fans will like that icon Bob Fosse made his first film appearance in Kate as one of Bianca’s suitors, Hortensio to be exact, and even in this small role, his song and dance talent can be clearly seen. Kurt Kasznar, known to most people as the bumbling and shifty Mr. Fitzhugh in Irwin Allen’s Land of the Giants, plays another unnamed actor playing the role of Kate and Bianca’s father Baptista. This guy clearly has no clue Fred and Lilli are at the breaking point of civility to each other, and shows the professionalism of actor’s by trying to keep the show going in spite of the mayhem.

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All The World’s A Stage (from The Blonde at the Movies)

The film is a highlight of the Golden Age of Musicals, along with Singin’ in the Rain, The Band Wagon, and Easter Parade, and while some of the film’s content can be seen as dated, old fashion, and borderline sexist/chauvinistic, the music and performances make up for the flaws, and the flaws of course can also be overlooked as an object of the time it was made in. It’s surprising the Musical didn’t do more in the 3D realm as 3D was perfect for the genre, allowing for the gimmicks to used in believable ways that didn’t look like playing to the camera.

(I do highly recommend this very well done Musical for anyone who likes the genre, and for those looking for a good place to start with it. There are some clichés involved with it, and some material that is dated, or hasn’t translated well for future viewers, but the film overall can still speak to many generations about the pratfalls of being in the theater, and how temperament amongst actors can make or break both personal and professional relationships. I do this one in honor of one of my more recent Followers Master Mix Movies, who loves all sorts of genre cinema, and seems to really like films that mix genres together, so I hope he takes a liking to this one. There is a Blu Ray available from the Warner Archives label, and while the transfer of the film is immaculate, only the original 3D print is used for the release that requires the specialized 3D TV and 3D capable Blu Ray player. The original release Blu Ray had both the 2D and 3D versions, but has long been out of print. The DVD is still a great option as it has the same transfer of the Blu Ray, but is the 2D version.)

all images courtesy of Images and their respective owners

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Filed under: Film & TV: Potpourri, Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

Serpico’s Romano Double

by Tony Nash

(WordPress Followers Appreciation #2: Diary of a Movie Maniac)

(all opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

(Review is of the original Italian language version)

シゲボー on Twitter: "Bruno Corbucci/ THE COP IN BLUE JEANS (1976) #crime  #comedy #drama #trailer #MoviePoster …… "
Original Italian Poster

Tomas Milian: Maresciallo Nico Giraldi

Jack Palance: Norman Shelley/Richard J. Russo

Maria Rosaria Omaggio: Signorina Cattani

Guido Mannari: Achille “Baronetto” Bertinari

John P. Dulaney: Ispettore Ballarin

Marcello Martana: Maresciallo Trentini

Roberto Messina: Commissario Tozzi

Raf Luca: Brigadiere Gargiulo

Jack La Cayanne: Colombo

Written by: Mario Amendola & Bruno Corbucci

Directed by: Bruno Corbucci

Synopsis: Nico Giraldi, head investigator of the Anti-Mugging Squad, is determined to bring down the elusive gang leader Baron, whose broad daylight robberies have spiked ten fold. When Baron and his boys steal a briefcase full of smuggled money from an incognito American gangster, Giraldi now must save Baron’s life when he and crew are marked for death the man. Torrent download
Giraldi berating a subornment for letting his bike be stolen (from Rarbg)

Bruno Corbucci, the younger brother of Sergio Corbucci, made a clear break from the elder’s shadow with the first in a series of tongue-in-cheek action cop films starring the great Tomas Milian that fast became one of the most popular franchise in the 70’s. The film came about after Milian expressed admiration of Al Pacino’s look and performance as real life undercover cop Frank Serpico a few years earlier. Milian had in fact wanted to do a sequel playing Serpico, but copyrights prevented this from happening, so Corbucci drafted a treatment with Milian playing a reformed hoodlum now working as a cop who models his appearance after the film about Serpico. The Poliziotteschi film genre was still at its peak by the time the first Giraldi film was written and being shot, but Corbucci, Milian, and writer Mario Amendola decided to make the film a little more lighthearted than its edgy predecessors and contemporaries, mixing the exciting action everyone expects of the genre along with witty dialogue from the protagonist. This allowed the film to stay true to its origins, but at the same time spice it up enough that it wouldn’t be viewed as another generic entry.

The Cop in Blue Jeans review - The Grindhouse Cinema Database
Giraldi and his partner Ballarin (from Grindhouse Cinema Database)

Star Milian makes excellent use of Roman slang in this film, one of the earliest in his uncredited contributions to the films he made. While he was proficient in the usage of Roman street lingo, Milian’s Cuban accent didn’t fit, so he asked comic and film dubber Ferruccio Amendola to be his permanent Roman voice. Amendola and Milian already had a contract for this, but as Milian added more Roman slang for his characters with the directors and screenwriters permission, Amendola’s voice fit what Milian had envisioned.

The Cop in Blue Jeans - Alchetron, The Free Social Encyclopedia
Giraldi chases after a suspect (from Alchetron)

Milian delivers a unique performance in the role of Nico Giraldi. Normally very animated whenever he plays a character in a film, Milian keeps a straight face this go around, even when clearly delivering some amusing dialogue. Giraldi is an ex small time hoodlum who uses his street smarts in his new profession as a plainclothes motorcycle detective handling street crime. Giraldi feels the only way to stop the rampant stream of daylight robberies via crooks on motorbikes is to take down the head man, known only as Baron. His superiors aren’t crazy about many of the methods he uses, particularly cuffing suspects via looping their one arm between their legs so they can’t run, but because of his dedication to cleaning up the city and being knowing the mind set of criminals from having been one once, they allow him to operate how he feels best. It isn’t long before Giraldi discovers he has to save Baron’s life before he can arrest him when the hoodlum and two of his crew nab a briefcase full of illegally imported money from a corrupt American living in Italy, and the man orders his goons to hunt down and kill the thieves. What follows for Giraldi is an interesting and different journey through the world of fencing and smuggling, hoping to get to his long time quarry before an even deadlier criminal can get his hands on him.

Index of /images/abcd/cop-in-blue-jeans
The elusive Mr. Shelley (from Severed Cinema)

Jack Palance, an American character actor who had a 40 plus year career, enjoying success in both the States and Europe, appears sporadically, but effectively when on screen, in the role of Norman Shelley, sometimes called Richard J. Russo. Little is known of what Shelley does for a living, save that he’s seen with some big business types, so he must be into something lucrative. In reality, he uses whatever he does as a cover for many an illegal activity, including laundering money and smuggling. Like a Mafia boss, Shelley doesn’t take betrayal and deceit lightly and does whatever it takes to ensure loyalty. When one of his consignments is lifted from him by the gang led by Baron, Shelley, to keep his real dealings secret, orders his cohorts to track down and silence everyone involved in the theft. His cover is soon to be blown however, when Inspector Giraldi’s Anti-Mugging unit suspects something big when the hoods involved with Baron start turning up dead.

Cop in Blue Jeans – Cineploit (BluRay) – 10,000 Bullets
Giraldi visits his Aunt (from 10KBulletts)

The beauty of Milan is on display in the film, and unlike most other Poliziotteschi, the film shows the everyday areas of the city, not the seedy ends. The criminal element is still shown, but not in a way that would make those who’ve never been to Italy leery about carrying around anything valuable for street punks to steal.

Index of /images/abcd/cop-in-blue-jeans
The Baron is in over his head (from Severed Cinema)

The mix of action and humor works very well in this film, and allows viewers to root for the cops to win via a lighthearted escapade that still pumps out the thrills all cop films are known for.

(Fans of Italian Crime cinema and fans of Tomas Milian will get a kick out of the film and find it very enjoyable from start to finish, and I highly recommend it. Those wishing to get started with the genre will find this film a good place to start as it has all the themes the Poliziotteschi offers, minus the heavy edges fans will want to slowly get into. The Blu Ray from Cineploit Records offers a solid transfer of both the audio and visuals of the film, almost pristine. An hour long interview with character actor John P. Dulaney who plays the small supporting role of Ballarin is the main extra on the disc, and very worth a look in its own right as an insight into the studio system in Italy from the point of view of an actor who worked there. This write up is dedicated to Eric Binford – Diary of a Movie Maniac, who does quite a bit of crime, action, and Noir on his blog. I will admit I had intended to include Squadra in my Italian Crime series, but seeing how it had a much more lighthearted and less edgy feel, than others of the genre, I felt this would be something right up Eric’s alley and allow me to give the film a good expose.)

All images courtesy of Images and their respective owners

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Filed under: Film & TV: Potpourri, Film: Special Topics, TV: Analysis/Overview