Movie Fan Man: Cinema Connoisseur

Traditional, Artsy, Genre-Within-Genre: A Little Something for Everyone

Rebuttal to “Walter Peck Was Right”

by Tony Nash

(Halloween Potpourri Finale Special)

(All Opinions are of the Author Alone)

(Spoilers Ahead)

Ghostbusters III Confirmed, Without Ivan Reitman | Time
The Original Trio (from Time Magazine)

Here’s a link to the Looper article that explains the Peck was Right aspect

https://www.looper.com/170123/dumb-things-in-ghostbusters-everyone-ignored/

I’ve had a lot fun recently playing The Ghostbusters Video Game on my XBox the last couple of months, and it’s led me to read a little more about the first film, which the game mainly acts as a sequel of.

Movie Beards: Walter Peck: "Ghostbusters"
An Overzealous Peck (from Movie Beards)

One thing I was fairly struck by was the considered view that sidekick antagonist Walter Peck was in some ways right in his treatment of the Ghostbusters. Now pushing aside for the moment the fact that Bill Murray’s Peter Venkman is an annoying lothario hack who’s into the fame Ghostbusting brings him and makes even an ardent Pacifist want to hit him, let’s look at some of the items that fans consider relevant.

Dumb things in Ghostbusters everyone ignored
Who’s the More Annoying? (from Looper)

LACK OF FUNDS AND TRAINING

First things first, let’s talk about the Ghostbusters’ lack of testing and facilities. Peck’s innuendos of everything not following protocol may be legit, but’s forgetting statements made by the team earlier in the film. Ray and Egon, the most qualified members of the team, made several applications for grants, funding, and adequate periods of training and testing and research, but were always turned down because of their former university colleagues statements of them being crackpots who’s research had no legit grounds for such investments. With having to go the route of acting as a privately run and operated organization that must adhere to state wide business requirements to prove their research and evidence is conclusive, that leaves very little time to go into the kind of research, testing, and cataloging that goes on in most, if not all, scientific endeavors. Remember that the team, Ray and Egon in particular, have done their homework, engaged in research, and went through the required approval of various security organizations to obtain the equipment they needed to operate. Those two are legit, even if academically discredited, scientists, and aren’t going to jeopardize themselves by going through areas that would have the FBI and CIA poking their noses in.

Walter Peck Archives ⋆
The Peck Hits the Breaking Point (from The Comics Agenda)

With all of this in mind, wouldn’t anyone think an organization like the EPA would give a struggling outfit like the Ghostbusters time to work out what they need to as they’re clearly underfunded, and won’t be getting any help from the State of New York or the various universities at the moment. Yes the quartet needed to take time to become more familiar with they’re equipment and material, but when you’re being called crackpot, your theories called a pseudo science, you’re looking at being shutdown any minute for not being able to prove your value, and of course a massive end of the world scenario looming over, you don’t have time for the basics.

ArtStation - Ghostbusters: The Video Game - Walter Peck, Ian McIntosh
The Peck in Video Game Form (from ArtStation)

LESS THAN SAFE PROCEDURES and HOUSING

This goes a little into the lack of funding field too, but deserves its own section. Peck is right in that the Containment Grid and much of the other items the Ghostbusters have could use a lot more testing and inspection, but again, when you’re an underfunded organization not given the same consideration as other outlets, what is available has to spent on the absolute necessities. The team has to make due with what it has, and sadly it isn’t enough. Again, Ray and Egon are the most experienced men of the outfit and have pretty clear cut ideas about how to protect both themselves and the citizens of New York City, so even if the material doesn’t meet the exact standards a group like the EPA would deem appropriate, it still does the job regardless of worry by an individual like Peck. With the Containment Grid, Ray and Egon were explaining in detail to Peck what would happen should it just be “Turned Off” but Peck’s general attitude and hatred of Peter Venkman made Peck’s judgement worse.

Pete Venkman and Walter Peck | Ghostbusters, Great movies, Ghostbusters 1984
You’re Outta Here, ya Peck!! (from Pinterest)

Now in all likelihood Peck’s singling out of the Ghostbusters is primarily based on his utter hatred of Peter Venkman and the embarrassment he suffered via Venkman’s rudeness, as well as not being able to prove the power of Gozer a hoax. I firmly believe he only wants to fire and imprison the others just to pay back Venkman and give him the same feeling of embarrassment he gave Peck, letting his professional pride snub cloud his judgement over the bigger issues, revealing he’d rather be thrown under the bus by the Mayor and other city officials as the sole bearer of the problem than have to admit he made a huge mistake. Ray and Egon on several occasions earnestly tried to be the voices of reason, with Venkman only making things worse and causing the normally level-headed Egon to attack Peck when Peck made a degrading personal insult to him.

(Please note that this is primarily my personal opinion rebuttal to the looper article and I do not in any way state that this is how others feel. Please feel free to constructively criticize the piece if there’s anything I missed here [please remember to be kind here folks]. This is in now way canon and my own ideas regarding from what I’ve seen of the film and the game sequel, I could be totally wrong and be perfectly fine with it. Thanks for tuning in this month, and any apologies for the more sporadic postings as things my way have been fairly crazy busy. HAPPY HALOWEEN!)

All images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087332/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_2

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghostbusters

https://ghostbusters.fandom.com/wiki/Ghostbusters_Wiki

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

The Maestro of Horror’s Grand Opus

by Tony Nash

(Halloween Potpourri 5)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Major Spoilers)

(Review is of the uncut Italian language version)

(Author’s Note: This review will be a little different, as I feel to relate the film is to speak of personal viewpoint, so here I’ll be speaking in the first person for much of the review)

Lisa and the Devil (1973) Preview - Color / 3:05 mins - YouTube
A US Poster (from YouTube)

Lisa e il Diavolo (Lisa and the Devil) (1972/73) ****1/2 R

Telly Savalas: Leandro, the Butler/A Demon

Elke Sommer: Lisa Reiner/Elena, Max’s Wife

Alessio Orano: Max, the Countess’ Son

Alida Valli: The Countess

Sylva Koscina: Sophie Leher

Eduardo Fajardo: Francis Leher

Espartaco Santoni: Carlo, Countess’ Husband

Gabriele Tinti: George, the Leher Chauffer

Franz von Treuberg: The Shopkeeper

Kathleen Leone: Lisa’s Friend (as Kathy Leone)

Written by: Mario Bava & Alfredo Leone (as Alfred Leone)

Directed by: Mario Bava

Synopsis: A woman finds herself put through a night of bizarre terror and the supernatural while spending the night at a decrepit villa of a creepy Spanish noble family

Lisa and the Devil (1973)
The Countess recalls the Past (from the IMDb)

After years of having his films compromised by Samuel Z. Arkoff and James H. Nicholson for American distribution, Mario Bava finally achieved complete creative freedom for exhibition in both Europe and the States with his newest film Lisa e il Diavolo. Bava had the concept for the film in his head for years, having jotted down notes and a treatment throughout the years, but couldn’t convince anyone to back the film due to its artistic and experimental nature. The picture finally got greenlight after Bava had a string of successes and one of the Italian studios offered him the opportunity to make any film he wished. What audiences of the time were treated to was a series of surreal imagery and story that had them struggling to comprehend what they were seeing. This botch at the box office caused Producer and co-writer Alfredo Leone to make changes to the film without contacting Bava and the subsequent mess that resulted from the changes led to the first of Bava’s descent into poor health and a heart attack. Not until Bava’s passing was the original film praised.

lisa e il diavolo | Tumblr
The Weeds of Time (from Tumbler)

The film is very hard to explain, Bava employing the painterly qualities he learned from his father to the overall look to the piece. This makes the film seem much more akin to a puzzle that even I your humble reviewer had trouble deciphering. This doesn’t take away from the films’ beauty at all, and it is indeed very much a painting brought to life the way only a mind like Bava’s could achieve. What we the audience end up seeing on screen is a version of Hell in its most devilish form, the realization all of these characters are being forced to relive their horrific deaths night after night as punishment for their sins in life. Whether they try every night to escape their fates isn’t determined, but what we do know is that at least two of the characters are aware of what is really happening, with the littlest of hope they can change history.

Lisa and the Devil (1973)
Devilish Hands at Work (from the IMDb)

Telly Savalas, one of the most iconic character actors of several decades, gets to play in his one and only avant-garde artistic style role with the part of Leandro the Butler. Whether he is Satan himself (as the fresco in the film’s opening suggests) or A demon sent by Satan to ensure history is repeated daily is unknown, but it is clear he holds permanent dominion over this disturbed family and the unfortunate guests who happened to become ensnared in events, and is loving it. Amazingly, Leandro in no way manipulates the events to ensure the Horror of these poor souls continues, and seems to only be a presence that moves in and out of the scenes, interacting with the others when necessary.

(Author’s Note: The lollipop that would become Savalas’ trademark as the character of Kojack originated in this film. Savalas was having difficulties giving up smoking, and Bava recommended he suck on lollipops as a substitute.)

Lisa and the Devil (1973)
Going Deeper into the Madness (from the IMDb)

Elke Sommer, the Austrian beauty, reunites with Bava a year after working with him on Gli Orrori del Castello di Norimberga (The Horror of Nuremburg Castle/Baron Blood) in the role of Lisa. Very little is known about Lisa, other than that she decided to spend her vacation in Spain, which makes her ending up at the villa and her subsequent connection to the other participants even stranger as there’s no way to figure out how this is all happening. Sommer has very little to almost no dialogue in the film, making her like Leandro in that everything seems to happen around her, making her the central figure.

Lisa and the Devil (1973)
The Blind Countess (from the IMDb)
Film Review: Lisa and the Devil (1974) | HNN
The Unstable Max (from Horromews)
Lisa and the Devil (1973)
The Lovely Sophie (from the IMDb)
Lisa e il diavolo (1973) - il Davinotti
Francis and Leandro (from il Davinotti)

The two leads are joined by such performers as Alida Valli, Eduardo Fajardo, Sylva Koscina, and Alessio Orano. These players at one time or another engaged acts of infidelity, betrayal, and murder, and are forced by the power of the Devil to relive those sins, and the deaths they suffered because of them in an immortal loop, dying only to return to life not long after to begin the tragic cycle all over again.

Lisa and the Devil (1973)
House of Puppets (from the IMDb)

Mannequins play an important role in the film as since the majority of the characters are long dead, the life size figures act as recreations of the deceased, fixed and brought back to life by Leandro, once every murder has been committed. How Leandro does thins is never explained, only that each figure is created by a local shopkeeper to fit the likeness of the participants, and then animated by unknown forces.

lisa e il diavolo Tumblr posts - Tumbral.com
Tragedy Lies Behind this Beautiful Facade (from Tumbral)

Like I said in the past , how each viewer interprets a film is based on their own experience, and Lisa e il Diavolo is the ultimate example of this. It can be really difficult to explain this one without giving your own opinion as the imagery Bava goes with is very visceral and is nearly impossible to be objective when discussing it. Since Bava made the film with no audience in mind and truly did make something he himself wanted to see, it makes pinpointing something exact hard. If Bava truly intended for this to be the type of film that every viewer would have a different perspective on after seeing it, then he succeeded a 100 times over since his death in 1980 as the film does continue to fascinate, unnerve, and confound people.

(This film isn’t for everyone, but those who do see it, while bewildered, do come away with interesting experience that leaves them thinking about the film for a long while after seeing it. The Blu Ray from Arrow Video is fairly immaculate, only small hints of age and wear present.)

all images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068863/?ref_=hm_rvi_tt

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lisa_and_the_Devil

https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lisa_e_il_diavolo

buying options

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

When Horror Met Trippy Art Cinema

by Tony Nash

(Halloween Potpourri 4)

(all opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

Vampyros Lesbos (1971) - Posters — The Movie Database (TMDb)
US Poster (from the Movie Database)

Vampyros Lesbos (Las Vampiras) (1971) ****1/2 NC-17

Soledad Miranda: Countess Nadine Corday (as Susann Korda)

Ewa Stromberg: Linda Westinghouse (as Ewa Stroemberg)

Dennis Price: Dr. Alwin Seward

Paul Muller: Dr. Steiner

Heidrun Kussin: Agra, Nadine’s Mad Lover

Andrea Montchal: Omar, Linda’s Boyfriend (as Viktor Feldmann)

Jose Martinez Blanco: Morpho, Nadine’s Servant (as J. Martinez Blanco)

Jesus Franco: Memmet, the Mad Caretaker

Written by: Jaime Chavarri, Jesus Franco (as Franco Manera), and Anne Settimo, from a stroy by Chavarri and loosely adapted from Bram Stoker’s Dracula and J. Sheridan le Farnu’s Carmilla

Directed by: Jesus Franco (as Franco Manera)

Synopsis: Real Estate agent Linda Westinghouse is sent by her company to arrange the selling of a property owned by Countess Nadine Corday. The two quickly become romantically involved, only for Linda to discover Nadine is a vampire, turned by the late Count Dracula himself, and is now under her hypnotic influence. Complications arise when Nadine finds herself genuinely falling in love with Linda, while Linda’s boyfriend and a local doctor attempt to free her.

American Genre Film Archive VAMPYROS LESBOS
Hiding from Religion (from American Genre Film Archive)

Jess Franco’s first full on attempt at mixing avant-garde cinema with exploitation cinema is an amazing achievement which showed what Franco was capable of when given the right amount of time and freedom, and offered a pen-ultimate showcase of the talent that Soledad Miranda was fleshing out prior to her tragic death in a car accident. Taking elements from both Stoker’s Dracula and Le Farnu’s Carmilla, Franco and his co writers create a story that, while very basic in both subject and execution, offer up quite a bit of subtext, and deep emotion underneath the surface that while doesn’t seem to show itself as the film is being viewed, becomes clear to the viewer after thinking about the film for some time afterwards.

Vampyros Lesbos (1970) – Midnight Only
Countess Nadine Corday played by the ravishing Soledad Miranda (from Midnight Only)

Soledad Miranda, using the stage name Susann Korda, offers up one of her most subtle, compelling, thought provoking, and finest performance as Nadine Corday. A Countess by birth and once a human, Nadine was turned sometime in the 18th or 19th century by the infamous bloodsucker Count Dracula, and has since seduced and fed on mainly female lovers, having grown to hate men after Dracula betrayed her. Miranda’s soulful and hypnotic look serves the character of Nadine well, and while the actress shows very little emotion, half her choice and half Franco’s choice, there are still many moments where Nadine is clearly in conflict with herself over many of her choices since becoming a vampire, and hasn’t completely lost her humanity in how she feels about certain characters, particularly with Linda and the man servant Morpho. Possibly the only contradiction to her character concerns a woman named Agra, one of Nadine’s former lovers. Like Dracula had done to Nadine, so had Nadine done to Agra and abandoned her, leaving her to be caged in a mental institution. Whether she regrets this entirely is unknown.

Vampyros Lesbos
A Spiritual Ritual….with Blood (from Mondo Digital)

The first in a brief cycle of Franco themes in his experimental age is a female vampire existing in both daylight and night. Whether it began as budget constraints based upon the time frame he had to shoot on location with, or if it really was an artistic decision, Nadine Corday seems to be the first Franco vampire to have transcended the majority of limitations with the species and is able to function as a normal woman within society. That she still needs blood as her sustenance and both religious iconography and prayers repel her maintain the flaws of the vampiric people.

Vampyros Lesbos Blu-ray Review | High Def Digest
Linda Becoming Nadine’s Lover (from High Def Digest)

Ewa Stromberg, a Swedish actress who briefly acted in the 60’s and 70’s get one of her rare major roles in the part of Linda Westinghouse. Little is known of Linda’s life prior to the events of the film, but from all accounts she appears to have led a normal, uneventful, and maybe even boring life with her boyfriend Omar, and it all changes in an instant when she meets Nadine. What makes Linda different to most objects of a vampire’s desires is that she appears to be a fairly willing participant after a brief period of time. Like Nadine, Linda too begins developing real and genuine romantic feelings, but because she isn’t completely under Nadine’s thrall, is able to overcome the influence while recovering from blood loss and exhaustion. Unfortunately, Nadine won her heart fairly and now Linda must decide if she can muster the courage to free herself from damnation, and maybe give Nadine the freedom she felt lost to.

Vampyros Lesbos
The Dubious Dr. Seward (from Mondo Digital)
Vampyros Lesbos
The Mistress and Her Servant (from Mondo Digital)

The two lovely female leads are joined by an eclectic cast of characters including British expat actor Dennis Price, Swiss-German actor Paul Muller, Spanish actors Andres Montchal and Jose Martinez Blanco, two trying desperately to save Linda, one trying to aid Nadine in her plans, and another out for himself. Price is particularly effective as a play to the Dracula character Dr. Seward, this go around called Alwin Seward. Unlike the literary counterpart, this Seward isn’t entirely what he seems, and his methods are equally strange in getting to the bottom of things. The remaining cast seem to have little to do, but are still good at their respective parts.

Vampyros Lesbos / She Killed in Ecstasy - Psycho Drive-In
Vampyros Lesbos – [FILMGRAB]

The color red plays a very pivotal role in the film. Often used as the lighting in a room, the color of clothing, or in the form of liquid, red is ever present in the world Nadine Corday. Red showcases the always lurking aspects of life, death, love, blood, sex, death, immortality, and the erotic, acting as a symbol of what human life can never truly break away from, and that in spite of humanity’s evolvement in morality and behavior, is always there, waiting and watching in silence.

Vampyros Lesbos BD Review (originally published 2015)
A Tragic Love Story (from Genre Grinder)

While aspects of Homoerotic and Lesbian romances have always had a thin veiled presence in the cinema, usually subtly hinted at, Jess Franco broke a major boundary by having the Nadine and Linda characters openly, and very explicitly, engage in a sexual relationship. A sometimes forgotten aspect of Horror films is that occasionally at the heart of them is a tragic, dark, and twisted love story, and the one between Nadine and Linda is no different. What begins as a simple seduction to quench an everlasting need for blood to survive turns into a love that likely can never be for Nadine, as for her to do so would mean killing the woman she loves, thus losing the innocence and purity that made said love possible. For Linda, her unintentional falling in love presents a major complication: does she want to be free to be with her boyfriend, or will she want to succumb to most forbidden temptation to be one of the damned to live forever.

Vampyros Lesbos Blu-ray Review | High Def Digest
A Symbolic Representation of Light and Darkness (from High Def Digest)

One of Jess Franco’s more hypnotic films, and one that keeps a coherent narrative floating in the midst of varying symbolism and surrealistic imagery, VL proves to be a somewhat lesser feat of artistic achievement and showcases what Franco could’ve achieved had events not taken a tragic turn.

(This is another occasion where I feel I can’t recommend a film to everyone in spite of its fine quality and quantity, only because Franco’s latter period is clearly not to everyone tastes, even with higher production values and the feeling that though there’s an exploitive feel to the film, the film doesn’t showcase it for its own sake. Again, it’s one of those films that what you’re supposed to be looking for isn’t present as you’re watching it, but will start to become clearer as you go through everything you’ve witnessed afterwards. This is another example of sometimes having to really make your own choice, even if the majority says it is a film to start with regarding Franco.)

all images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066380/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vampyros_Lesbos

buying options

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

Take a Film Dare: My Take

by Tony Nash

(A Blog Extra Special)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(SPOILERS AHEAD)

Maria Falconetti and Eugene Silvain in La passion de Jeanne d'Arc (1928)
US Poster re-release (from IMDb)

La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc (The Passion of Joan of Arc/Jeanne d’Arcs Lidelse og Dod) (1928) ***** PG-13

Renee (Maria) Falconetti: Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc) (as Melle Falconetti)

Eugene Silvain: Eveque (Bishop) Pierre Cauchon

Andre Berley: Jean d’Estivet

Maurice Schutz: Nicolas Loyseleur

Antonin Artaud: Jean Massieu

Michel Simon: Jean Lemaitre

Jean d’Yd: Guillaume Evrad

Louis Ravet: Jean Beaupere (as Ravet

Armand Lurville: Un Juge (A Judge) (as Andre Lurville)

Written by: Joseph Delteil & Carl Theodor Dreyer (transcribed from the real court documents)

Directed by: Carl Theodor Dreyer (as Carl Th. Dreyer)

Synopsis: Faithfully reconstructed from the real court documents, the trial, sentencing, and execution of French heroine and saint Joan of Arc is subtly re-enacted.

260 Film Screenings: La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc | Denise Likomeno
Joan Preparing to Give Her Testimony (from Denise Likomeno’s WordPress Page)

This take on my Take a Film Dare Challenge will be a little bit different in that I’m going into the past and speak about a film I wasn’t sure I’d have liked even after quite a few years.

La passion de Jeanne d'Arc / The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) Carl Theodor  Dreyer, Maria Falconetti, Eugene Silvain, André Berley, Biography, Drama,  History | RareFilm
Jean Massieu, the Only One on Joan’s Side (from RareFilm)

I had first seen Danish film icon Carl Th. Dreyer’s masterpiece late one night when I was in grade school on Turner Classic Movies with my Dad. I knew about Jeanne d’Arc from school and of course the History Channel (back when it actually showed good History programs), so I had a fairly good idea about what I was going to see. I was really struck by the use of close-ups of the faces, particularly that of Ms. Falconetti, but after about 20 minutes or so, I didn’t think the film was going anywhere and I ended up going to bed a little later.

La Passion et la Mort de Jeanne d'Arc - Posts | Facebook
Massieu Attempts to Comfort Jeanne (from Facebook)

As I was finishing High School and going into college, I started reading a little more about Dreyer and his film about Jeanne, and was starting to reassess my original thoughts of it, and it was in 2012 while taking a Women in History course I became re-immersed in the story. Our main grade was going to be based on a paper we did on famous female figure in history, and I ended up picking Jeanne. Making a mention of Jeanne in the world of TV and Film, I finally decided it was time to give that Silent film another try.

La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc: film - Students | Britannica Kids | Homework  Help
A Guard and Inquistor Look on as Jeanne Prays with the Monks (from Kids Britannica)

For the Christmas of 2012, one of my gifts was the Criterion Collection DVD of The Passion of Joan of Arc and the day after the holiday while my parents were out to the theater seeing the film musical Les Miserables I spent the evening watching the DVD. The second go around was a much more pleasurable experience than all those years ago, partly because I was older now and became more knowledgeable when it came to cinema, and cause I was more open to the experience of Dreyer’s style of filmmaking. The one thing that didn’t change for me was how horrible the score that was used for the film was, and I spent my re-watch listening to the audio commentary from historian and Dreyer biographer Casper Tybjerg.

Still Of Maria Falconetti In La Passion De Jeanne Dx Arc Photo Shared By  Frayda14 | Fans Share Images
Jeanne’s Ring is Stolen by the Inquisitors (from fansshare)
La passion de Jeanne d'Arc (The Passion of Joan of Arc). 1928. Directed by  Carl Theodor Dreyer | MoMA
Renee Falconetti perfectly embodied the spirit of Jeanne (from

The use of close-ups held more of an impact the second viewing, coming to realize Dreyer was recreating the tension, claustrophobia, and suspense that Jeanne must have felt during her trial and execution. Renee Falconetti’s performance as Jeanne is breathtaking, near perfectly identifying with the courage, fear, despair, hope, and resoluteness that was the Maid of Orleans. Never before had an actress been able to draw audiences so close to a real life figure and be able to identify with her on a real intimate level. Only Albert Dieudonne’s performance as Napoleon comes close to what Falconetti achieved with her body language and facial expressions.

La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc | Philharmonie de Paris
The end draws near for Jeanne (from Philharmonie de Paris)

I can definitely my opinion changed on the film, and for the better, as I came to understand for the most part what Dreyer wanted to achieve with the film and how he pulled it off so seamlessly. This certainly isn’t the first time a film I wasn’t sure of previously had come to work for me, but this one was the first to have a great impact on me. I highly recommend anyone to check this one out, and to definitely either the Criterion Blu Ray or Eureka! Blu Ray as they offer multiple score options over the Voices of Light that, while impressive, takes away from the film.

Please feel free to list your own experiences in the comment section, or leave a link in the comment section if you wish to take the Film Dare Challenge

All images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners

For more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0019254/?ref_=nm_knf_i1

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Passion_of_Joan_of_Arc

buying options

https://www.criterion.com/films/228-the-passion-of-joan-of-arc

from the Masters of Cinema Eureka!
From Amazon
From Amazon UK

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

Silence is the Greatest Terror

by Tony Nash

(The Cycle of the Melodic Gialli: The Lenzi/Baker Edition 4)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild to Spoiler Free)

(Review is of the Italian language version)

Il coltello di ghiaccio (1972) - IMDb
Original Italian Poster (from the IMDb)

Il Coltello di Ghiaccio (Knife of Ice) (1972) ****1/2 PG-13

Carroll Baker: Martha Caldwell

Alan Scott: Doctor Laurent

Ida Galli: Jenny Ascot (as Evelyn Stewart)

Eduardo Fajardo: Marcos, the Chauffer

Franco Fantasia: Inspector Duran

George Rigaud: Sir Ralph Caldwell, the Uncle  

Silvia Monelli: Anna Britton, the Maid

Lorenzo Robledo: Assistant Inspector Maler

Mario Pardo: Randy Mason

Jose Marco: Farther Martin

Rosa Maria Rodriguez: Christina Martin (as Rosa M. Rodriguez)

Written by: Umberto Lenzi, Antonio Troiso, & Luis G. de Blain

Directed by: Umberto Lenzi

Synopsis: Left mute for 15 years after witnessing her parents die in a train fire, Martha Caldwell has lived a secluded life. After her cousin, a popular singer, is murdered while visiting her, both Martha’s uncle and a local police chief initially believe a Hippie Satanist is to blame, but the truth may be far more shocking.

Knife of Ice Subtitles - Subtitle Live
On the Trail of the Killer (from Subtitle Live)

Umberto Lenzi’s last collaboration with Carroll Baker, Il Coltello di Ghiaccio combines all the methods and style Lenzi used in their previous films together to create a truly intricate and baffling case worthy of the efforts of Agatha Christie. This time taking the story to Spain, Lenzi decided to have the McGuffin scapegoat be that the culprits were Satanists trying to form a cult in the area, a real risky move as dictator Gen. Franco saw such items as defamatory to his “perfect” country. Another nod to Agatha Christie, Lenzi uses a successful series of red herring’s, essentially making every character, save the police and two or three secondary/minor characters, a plausible suspect, having them engage in behavior that is clearly odd and incriminating. The investigation turns into a frantic chase against the clock as two more women are reported dead, and evidence a drug addict Satanist is roaming the area becomes clear, leaving Martha and a young girl she cares for in danger.

Trailer: THE COMPLETE LENZI BAKER GIALLO COLLECTION Coming from Severin  Films - Dread Central
Are These the Eyes of a Killer, or of a Druggie? (from Dread Central)

Interesting enough, about a third of the cast with speaking parts are Spanish speakers. By the time the Giallo sub-genre really began taking off, the casts were made up primarily of Italians and two to four Americans, though the years between 1968 to about 1972-73 did sport 1 to 2 Spanish speakers in the cast. Co-productions between Italy, Spain, and Germany were waning a little at this time mainly due to financial reasons, and what was in vogue for audiences, so multiple countries coming together for a production didn’t seem as necessary by the mid-seventies.

Review: Knife of Ice (1972) | BMANIA – B-movies (and beer) mania
Martha Blasts a Car Horn in Leu of Screaming (from BMANIA)

Carroll Baker, in her final collaboration with Lenzi, gives one of her finest and most nuanced performances in the role of Martha Caldwell. Lenzi and Baker even give subtle hints that this was the end of their initial partnership by having her not utter a word of dialogue until the very end of the film, her playing the majority of the part as a mute. Baker playing Martha as a trauma induced mute allots her the ability to put her full range of Actor’s Studio training to complete effect, communicating to others with hand & facial gestures, the use of objects against telephone receivers and other surfaces, and of course pen and paper for responses she can’t gesture or movement mimic. Haunted by a tragedy that was unpreventable, Martha goes through life unable to speak, forced to be silent in a speaking world, only wishing to be able to use her gracious voice again. She keeps her spirits up with charity work and taking small steps to get well. What seems like an entirely peaceful weekend with her famous singer cousin, soon becomes a race to stop a maniac when the cousin is found dead, and Satanic symbols found nearby, evil rituals are believed occurring. Why Martha becomes a victim of an unknown killer is left ambiguous until the very end, and even then the reasons are very dark.

(Author’s Note: This is the only film in Lenzi & Baker’s collaborations where Baker doesn’t get nude)

The Complete Lenzi/Baker Giallo Collection (Blu-ray Review) | Zombies DON'T  Run
A Much Needed Family Reunion

Another key element to show that the film would be the last of Lenzi and Baker’s initial collaborations was Baker’s dubber. Her voice was normally dubbed by Rita Savagnone, who on this occasion dubs Ida Galli, hinting both clear departures from the norm and a fond farewell. Maria Pia Di Meo, another iconic Italian actress and voice dubber takes the duties of looping the few lines of dialogue Baker does get to speak towards the end, having an equally enriching voice like Savagnone, which also does justice to Baker’s fire and passion.

the_films_in_my_life on Twitter: "KNIFE OF ICE (Italian: Il coltello di  ghiaccio) Dir: Umberto Lenzi Year: 1972 🇮🇹 #KnifeofIce  #Ilcoltellodighiaccio #UmbertoLenzi #CarrollBaker #EvelynStewart  #GeorgeRigaud… https://t.co/5E6ozme5lk"
At the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time (from Twitter)
Knife of Ice 1972 - raresmovies-com.over-blog.com
An Eccentric Employee, or a Cold Blooded Fiend? (from RaresMovies/Over-Blog)
Knife of Ice / Il coltello di ghiaccio (1972) / AvaxHome
A Concerned Uncle Argues with the Investigator (from AvaxHome)
il coltello di ghiaccio | Tumblr
An Honest Doctor Must Clear Himself with Aid from the Police (from Tumblr)

Baker is joined by a stellar cast including Ida Galli, Eduardo Fajardo, George Rigaud, Alan Scott, Franco Fantasia, and Lorenzo Robledo. Galli (under her Anglo stage name Evelyn Stewart) plays Jenny Ascot, Martha’s cousin. A singer of both religious and popular melodies who travels all over for concerts, Jenny is a model of what all people aspire for in talent. When she takes a vacation to visit her cousin and uncle, she is killed, seemingly the victim of a robbery/home invasion gone wrong, but soon it seems she’s one of many victims. Her death spurs the investigation that follows. Fajardo, a well-known and loved Spanish character player is a mysterious menace as Marcos, the Caldwell chauffer. His constantly leery look leaves everyone wondering what exactly is going on in that mind of his. George Rigaud, another of the many Argentinian actors who found fame abroad plays Uncle Ralph. An amateur Occult historian, he soon begins to wonder what connection is afoot in the string of killings, worried about his nieces and a small girl at the church. Alan Scott, an American expiate who had a 20 year acting career in France, plays the local Doctor, determined to restore Martha’s ability to speak, and also has romantic feelings toward her. Why he seems flustered under certain events is unusual.

Knife of Ice 1972 - raresmovies-com.over-blog.com
The Inspector and His Assistant Looking Over all Angles (from RaresMovies/Over-Blog)

Franco Fantasia, an Italian actor, and Lorenzo Robledo, a Spanish actor, normally known for stock player secondary and cameo roles, get to shine as supporting players as the inspector leading the serial investigation and his assistant respectively. Completely stumped at the randomness of the killings, both the inspectors find themselves having to remain one step ahead of whoever the mysterious maniac is going around killing the women around the village. The only clue is that the deaths have something to do with being next to a cemetery and somehow revolving around the Caldwell clan.  

jade_vine: 2014 - Page 7 - The Corrierino
Going Over All Evidence (from The Corrierino)

Unlike the mess that resulted in the ending of Cosi Dolce…Cosi Perversa, Lenzi and his co-writers make these red herrings stick, and the ending, while simple, still packs a punch and leaves viewers wondering what they missed while following the cast around to figure out what’s going on.

(The last hurrah between Umberto Lenzi and Carroll Baker is indeed bittersweet, but is still very much recommended as they keep the audience in the dark and wondering until the very end. While the ending is considered a little too simple in comparison with the red herrings roaming around, it still comes out of left field and leaves anyone who views it completely speechless and its not what’s expected at all. That the killer is able to take advantage of the hysteria and do what’s needed to keep the police off of the trail makes the ending all the more interesting. The Blu Rays from Severin Films and Le Chat Qui Fume [The Smoking Cat] both offer quality video and audio transfers of the film, and nice extras. One of the special features of the French Blu Ray is the mini documentary on Umberto Lenzi’s career that is also available on the Grindhouse Releasing disc of Rome Armed to the Teeth, but is only subtitled in French. The Severin Blu Ray wins out mainly by being English subtitle friendly on the feature film and Lenzi’s interview regarding the feature. The French Blu Ray is still worth getting as the entire film soundtrack is available on CD.)

All images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and thei respective owners

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068394/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Il_coltello_di_ghiaccio

https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Il_coltello_di_ghiaccio

buying options

Sadly the French Blu Ray is sold out and out of print

from Severin Films

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

The Original Murder Club

by Tony Nash

(The Cycle of the Melodic Gialli: The Lenzi/Baker Edition 3)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

(Review is of the Italian language version)

Paranoia (1970) - Filmaffinity
Italian Film Poster (from Film Affinity)

Paranoia (A Quiet Place to Kill) (1970) ***** R

Carroll Baker: Helene Sauvage

Jean Sorel: Maurice Sauvage

Luis Davila: Judge Albert Duchamps

Alberto Dalbes: Dr. Harry Webb

Anna Proclemer: Constance Sauvage

Marina Coffa: Susan Sauvage

Lisa Halvorsen: Solange Duchamps (as Liz Halvorsen)

Hugo Blanco: Miguel

Jacques Stany: James

Written by: Marcello Coscia, Rafael Romero Marchent, Bruno Di Geronimo, and Marie Claire Solleville, from a story by Coscia & Marchent

Directed by: Umberto Lenzi

Synopsis: While recovering from an accident during practice, a lady racecar driver is offered a large sum of money by the woman currently married to her ex-husband to kill him. When the wife is killed instead, the ex-lovers resume their affair, only for the dead woman’s vivacious daughter to make a surprise visit. 

Paranoia (A Quiet Place to Kill)
Marital Discourse at the Extreme (from Mondo Digital)

Paranoia is a really unique film in that it not only reunites Umberto Lenzi and his favorite leading lady Carroll Baker for the third time, but also reunites Baker with her Dolce Corpo di Deborah (Sweet Body of Deborah) leading man Jean Sorel for a second time. Lenzi once again takes the film to France, this time in the luscious countryside somewhere in the South, where seclusion can lead to all sorts of surprises and intrigue. The film takes the familiar Mystery Suspense concept of marital infidelity, revenge, deception, and greed to a whole new level as a woman cheated out of her savings scraps by doing varied jobs, including professional racing, finally hits rock bottom when an accident prevents her from returning to the sport. At first curious when she receives an invitation to relax at her ex-husband’s private villa, the woman soon finds herself in a strange triangle wherein the trophy wife wants her husband dead for reasons known only to her, while the husband would very much like to enjoy both his ex, his current wife, and the wife’s Lolita like daughter. The wife decides to offer money to the struggling woman as she had once before tried to kill the husband for his varied infidelities, but events take an unusual turn and suddenly unexpected complications happen. What follows is an intricate plot that has many twists.

Dawn of The Discs on Twitter: "Now Watching: A Quiet Place to Kill AKA  Paranoia (1970) Dir: Umberto Lenzi - from the @SeverinFilms Complete  Lenzi/Baker Giallo Collection #AQuietPlaceToKill #Paranoia #UmbertoLenzi  #SeverinFilms… https://t.co/BXuWB5kAO7"
Opening Title Sequence (from Twitter)

Even more interesting in the film’s history, is thar its being made came virtually by accident. Lenzi’s first collaboration with Baker, Orgasmo, was originally titled Paranoia during the writing stage, and was released in the US under said working title. For some reason the Italian producer changed the title during post production, and the ensuing confusion over what title was used by which country lead the producers to commission a film titled Paranoia with a completely different script.

Picture of A Quiet Place to Kill
The Time to Decide: Life or Death (from Listal)

Lenzi once again makes incredible use of the locale of France, this time in its equally exotic countryside, beautifully capturing the amazing mountain landscapes, lush plant life, the varied homes, and the bright blue sea surrounding it. Some of the mountain roads look very similar to the roads seen in Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief from 1955, which offered both beauty and suspense.

Carroll Baker's gialli – Movies List on MUBI
Wrong Way to Forget (with the Italian Favorite Drink: J&B) (from Diabolique Magazone)

Carroll Baker, in another fine performance for Lenzi, once again dons the garb of a lovely and alluring woman in the role of Helene. Once a woman of means, Helene’s former husband Maurice blew almost all the money on his extravagant lifestyle and womanizing ways, forcing her to do everything from model to engaging in the hazardous sport of car racing. Memories of her ex help to cause a crash that indefinitely pauses her racing career, and she soon finds herself back at Maurice’s country home, duped by the current wife to coming to stay while she heals. The current Mrs. Sauvage is tired of Maurice using her only to keep up his fast lifestyle, and believes having the ex-lovers remember their past will lead Helene to try to kill him again. With a sum of nearly a million dollars being offered to kill the lecherous Maurice, Helene finds herself in a precarious position that takes wild and constantly crossing turns.

Paranoia (A Quiet Place to Kill)
The Ultimate Rascal (from Mondo Digital)

Jean Sorel, a kind of poor man’s Alain Delon, provides his usual style of playing men of mystery and deception in the role of Maurice. A gigolo in every sense of the word, Maurice tends to always lure the loveliest and wealthy of women with his charm and smooth voice into his clutches. Preferring the jet set lifestyle of parties, rich food, boats, mistresses etc., Maurice will do anything to keep up appearances. He briefly gets a reality check when ex-wife Helene tries to shoot upon learning he lost all of her money in his fast lifestyle, but again marries wealthy because he has no intentions of giving up living on the high. Little does he seem know his current heiress wife has had enough of him playing her for a fool, and his may very well be numbered. That he truly still has an attraction to Helene, even though bad blood still exists between them makes for another complication as he could very well be planning something himself.

A Quiet Place to Kill (1970) Review – Blood Sucking Geek
Two Women with a Plan (from Blood Sucking Geeks)
A Quiet Place to Kill (1970)
Everyone Wants the Truth (from IMDB)
A Quiet Place to Kill (1970)
Concerned Daughter, or Scheming Lady Oedipus? (from IMDb)

The two leads are backed by a stellar cast of character performers including Luis Davila, Alberto Dalbes, Anna Proclemer, and Marina Coffa. Anna Proclemer, an Italian stage actress who occasionally dabbled in films and TV, plays Constance, the scorned wife of Maurice who finally decides he’s hurt too many other women, and tempts the broke Helene with a large payoff is she’ll agree to murder Maurice. Her plan seems fool proof, but nothing is ever easy. Luis Davila & Alberto Dalbes, Argentinian actors who migrated to Europe for successful careers, play Maurice’s closest friends, a judge and doctor respectively, who become concerned when both Maurice and Helene experience and health and mental stress. Only the judge becomes intrigued when Maurice makes hints he’s concerned for both their safety and the doctor presumably catches footage of a murder taking place.  Marina Coff, an Italian beauty who very briefly dabbled in acting, is quite an underestimated in the role of Susan, Constance’s daughter. On the outs with her mom due to her sexual awakening, Susan initially comes to the mansion to make peace, but finds her mom has died under mysterious circumstances, and wants to find out why.    

Paranoia.1970.BDRip.x264-GHOULS Torrent download
Film Collage (from Rarbg)

While lacking the ultimate twist and turns of Orgasmo, Paranoia still offers the intrigue, mystery, suspense, and intricacy that a Thriller needs to be successful. All the cast, particularly Carroll Baker and Jean Sorel do a fine job with a well written script.

(I highly recommend this film to fans of films in general, and Mystery Thrillers alike. It’s equal with Orgasmo in its construction and misleads to the ultimate revelation and hits the mark 10 times over to what Cosi Dolce, Cosi Perversa seemed to overshoot. While not as mysterious in plot line as its predecessors, Lenzi and his writers are still able to make the audiences wonder what will ultimately happen in the end. The Blu Rays from 88 Films and Severin Films are both equal in presentation in audio and visual quality, as well as extras. 88 Films get a slight leg up in price, the offering of a mini booklet with info on the film and notes by Giallo historian Rachel Nisbet, and the retaining of the original Italian title.)

All images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064787/?ref_=nm_flmg_dr_42

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Quiet_Place_to_Kill

https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paranoia_(film_1970)

Buying Options

From 88 Films the Italian Collection
From Amazon UK
From Severin Films
From Amazon

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

Who Put the Hit Out on the Playboy?

by Tony Nash

(The Cycle of the Melodic Gialli: The Lenzi/Baker Edition 2)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

(Review is of the original Italian language version)

Così dolce... così perversa (1969) - IMDb
Italian Poster (from the IMDb)

Cosi Dolce….Cosi Perversa (So Sweet, So Perverse) (1969) R ****

Carroll Baker: Nicole Perrier

Jean-Louis Trintignant: Jean Reynaud

Erika Blanc: Danielle Reynaud

Horst Frank: Klaus, the Hitman

Helga Line: Helene Valmont

Gianni De Benedetto: M. Valmont

Beryl Cunningham: Exotic Model Dancer

Written by: Luciano Martino, Massimo D’Avack, & Ernesto Gastaldi

Directed by: Umberto Lenzi

Synopsis: Wealthy industrialist Jean Reynaud finds himself in a peculiar adventure when he offers to aid a frightened and abused woman named Nicole. Nicole later confesses to Jean that her running to him was a ruse so her sadist ex-lover could earn a fee for the playboy’s death. Soon, it becomes apparent that someone clearly wants to inherit Jean’s assists and his company.

31 Days of Gialloween: So Sweet... So Perverse (1969) - Diabolique Magazine
An Intense Love Affair (from Diabolique Magazine)

Filmmaker Umberto Lenzi and actress Carroll Baker team up for the second time in a homage and unique take on French auteur Henri-Georges Clouzot’s classic psychological Thriller Diabolique. Keeping the story within the country of France, Lenzi and the screenwriting team have story move up from the secluded countryside to the bustling capital of Paris, where the wealthy enjoy luxuries with less than honest approaches to business and marriage is treated as an arrangement while extra marital affairs run rampant. While Clouzot’s story was centered on the type of suspense that bordered on the fringes of Horror, Lenzi’s version keeps the suspense tied to the realm of Mystery and Thriller, keeping the audience in the dark and uncertainty of what is really going on until the reveal time is right. The film centers on an arrogant and philandering industrialist in a marriage both he and the wife have regrets committing to, who soon finds his rather complacent lifestyle upended when he begins hearing arguments and crashing sounds from the apartment above his own. Upon discovering a clearly frightened woman trying to break away from a vicious lover, the man decides to try to help her escape. When she admits she’s a pawn in a scheme to have him killed, things turn even stranger as a series of double crosses, twists, and revelations begin a domino effect of crazy proportions.

Amazon.com: The Complete Lenzi/Baker Giallo Collection [Blu-ray]: Carroll  Baker, Jean Sorel, Evelyn Stewart, Lou Castel, Jean-Louis Trintignant,  Umberto Lenzi: Movies & TV
Clandestine or Choreographed? (from Amazon)
The Complete Lenzi/Baker Giallo Collection (Blu-ray Review) | Zombies DON'T  Run
The Beginning….of the End (from Zombies DON’T Run)

Carroll Baker, fresh off her success with fans in Orgasmo, gets to play a completely different kind of Femme Fatale in the role of Nicole. At first a recovering abuse victim, Nicole soon proves to be a woman who has two distinct faces: one of a manipulative con artist, the other a beautiful but tragic woman. Baker moves seamlessly between being for and against Jean, seamlessly moving him closer and closer to a very deadly outcome. The question soon becomes how much of a victim she really is, and who is pulling the strings. Baker’s Actor Studio training serves her very well for the duplicitous role. Jean-Louis Trintignant, a French actor who also did Italian films for about 12 years is his usual enigmatic self in the role of Jean, the rich playboy. From initial looks, Jean is the typical Bourgeoisie who rotates between his office, the varied clubs, and home, but in fact is in loveless marriage, and goes from mistress to mistress, spending most of his flings with a turkey-shoot partner’s wife. In spite of the lifestyle he lives, Jean is actually bored with his current situation, and suddenly finds himself in a unique situation when he believes spouse abuse is occurring in the apartment above his. Little does he know a sinister plot is being hatched against him, and even the woman he feels he can trust he keeps to a certain distance. While Jean has his shady side, even he doesn’t deserve that kind of end.

So Sweet, So Perverse: The Giallo Films of Umberto Lenzi, Part 1 -  Diabolique Magazine
Driven to the Breaking Point (from Diabolique Magazine)
Severin Films Reveals The Complete Lenzi Baker Giallo Collection
The Face of a Madman (from ComingSoon.net)

Erika Blanc, an Italian model and actress who excelled at many genre roles, gets to do something different with the role of Danielle. Normally known for playing women who were strong enough to handle most tough situations thrown at them, Blanc’s Danielle is the complete opposite as a worrier and frail woman who’s afraid of her own shadow. While initially attracted to Jean because of his charisma and willingness to take chances, she soon becomes distant to him, not even caring when he fools around with other women, including a few of their friends. Somehow Jean’s dalliance with Nicole is the final straw for Danielle, especially when a sultry party game at their home results in Jean and Nicole kissing. How willing she’ll be to be rid of her husband will most assuredly be surprising to everyone. Horst Frank, a German actor who enjoyed success in both his native land and abroad, plays a very Kinski esque type in the role of Klaus (ironic isn’t it). Little is known about Klaus save his penchant for violent S&M style fantasies in the bedroom, and his knack for unique ways to kill. Exactly what sort of role he plays in the whole strange affair with himself, Nicole, Jean, and Danielle is left ambiguous until the final reveal.

Bobby Castro on Twitter: "'Così dolce... così perversa' / So Sweet, So  Perverse (1969) Umberto Lenzi… "
A (for the Period) Forbidden Affair (from Twitter)

While Lenzi’s previous hit Orgasmo had very frank depictions of bi-sexuality, lesbianism, and BDSM style trysts, this go around he is very subtle the sexual preferences of his characters. While there’s no secret in how said characters behave when it comes to love and lust, Lenzi’s writers go a little more in the heavily hinted innuendo route, particularly Sapphic undertones involving the two female leads around the middle mark of the film.

31 Days of Gialloween: So Sweet... So Perverse (1969) - Diabolique Magazine
One of Many Lovers (from Diabolique Magazine)

A Thriller that keeps its audiences in the dark until the very last minutes, the film offers quite the bevy of twists and turns, leaving the almost always unanswered questions of who is playing who, who’s really the victim.

(I can only partially recommend this film myself as while the majority of it is very well made, and does indeed keep you guessing, writers Ernesto Gastaldi, Luciano Martino, & Massimo D’Avack miss the mark on the final reveal/ending by almost a mile. This is very unusual for a writer of Gastaldi’s caliber, as he was one of the best when it came to the Giallo genre. Lenzi himself had admitted it was his not being involved in the script that killed the film’s ending really delivering the goods as he felt it was Martino and D’Avack’s attempts at keeping red herring after red herring going along with Gastaldi’s fine work made trying to come up with a suitable finish really difficult. Other than that, the film is well crafted an offers plenty of good early to mid twists. Severin Films audio and visual transfer of the film is pretty solid, along with extras including a Kat Ellinger audio commentary, and interviews with Umberto Lenzi and Ernesto Gastaldi. )

All images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners

for more info

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064186/?ref_=nm_flmg_dr_43

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/So_Sweet…_So_Perverse

https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cos%C3%AC_dolce…_cos%C3%AC_perversa

buying options

From Severin Films
From Amazon

an addition will be coming from 88 Films’ Italian Collection line soon

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

Swingers, Drugs, Booze, & Greed:

Many Twists at the Villa

by Tony Nash

(Cycle of the Melodic Gialli: The Lenzi/Baker Edition 1)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

(Review is of the Uncut Italian language version)

Paranoia (1969) - IMDb
(Italian Poster)

Orgasmo (Paranoia) (1969) R ****1/2

Carroll Baker: Catherine West (Kathryn in US version)

Lou Castel: Peter Donovan

Collette Descombes: Eva Donovan-Stuart

Lilla Brignone: Theresa, the Maid

Tino Carraro: Attorney Brian Sanders

Franco Pesce: Martino, the Gardner

Jacques Stany: Det. Arthur Frank

Joseph Guilty: Arnold Cleever

Written by: Umberto Lenzi, Ugo Moretti, & Marie Claire Solleville

Directed by: Umberto Lenzi

Synopsis: A wealthy American widow rents out a spacious Italian Villa to recover from the tragic death of her husband. She becomes smitten with an expate and his sister, and invites them to stay with her for a week. Soon, she begins to wonder if a scheme is a foot to steal her money.

Trailer: THE COMPLETE LENZI BAKER GIALLO COLLECTION Coming from Severin  Films - Dread Central
The Threesome That Began the Tragedy (From Dread Central)

Umberto Lenzi, one of Italy’s more prolific, but underestimated (thanks to Gore Horror buffs) filmmakers, tackles one of his earliest Giallo successes with Orgasmo. Inspired by a short story in a Mystery/Thriller anthology book about a young man who terrorizes a wealthy lady painter for her money, Lenzi took this concept and built a more complex, and visually stunning, story of greed and deception. The film plays a little more to the psychological end of the Thriller genre, where a battle of wills is soon to be waged, one with several surprising outcomes. 1969 was considered the height of the Swinging 60’s, and the fashion, music, and atmosphere reflect that generation that was on its way  Giallos at this period were made sporadically here and there, and were at times a little on the lurid end, but with Orgasmo, Lenzi took the Mystery Suspense film back to the classy boudoir, and mixed in enough erotica to give the piece spice without going into territory that would be deemed classless. The film also began a lifelong friendship between star Carroll Baker and Lenzi, whom he would work with three more times, citing her as one of his favorite actresses to work with.

So Sweet, So Perverse: The Giallo Films of Umberto Lenzi, Part 1 -  Diabolique Magazine
One of Catherine’s Hallucinations (From Diabolique Magazine)

Lenzi got help in making this film very akin to American Thrillers of the 30’s and 40’s he loved with the aid of novelist and occasional screenwriter Ugo Moretti. Moretti, having done a series of detective fiction himself, (often under a pseudonym to maintain his standing among the more serious literary circles) had a keen eye to what were good motifs and themes for the Mystery/Suspense genre, and was able to help Lenzi constrict a script that was very similar to works of such authors as Dashiell Hammett, Raymond, Chandler, and James M. Cain. Moretti was also sympathetic to the mod youth of that period, and a good chunk of his time writing before meeting with Lenzi finalize things was spent fleshing out the devious couple played by Lou Castel and Collette Descombes.

Amazon.com: The Complete Lenzi/Baker Giallo Collection [Blu-ray]: Carroll  Baker, Jean Sorel, Evelyn Stewart, Lou Castel, Jean-Louis Trintignant,  Umberto Lenzi: Movies & TV
Catherine Close to the Breaking Point (from Amazon)

Carroll Baker, an American actress who found a second wave of success in Italy, is fascinating and compelling as Catherine (Kathryn) West. Baker ended up in Italy after she rebelled against the demeaning parts being offered to her by Hollywood producers, and ended up having some of her best work in those early days of exile. Seemingly shook over the sudden and tragic death of her wealthy husband, Catherine looks forward to a period of rest and relaxation in a secluded Italian villa before getting on with her life. At first content to be by herself with only a loyal maid and deaf gardener as company, Catherine’s life seems to get a new spark when she meets the young and handsome Peter. At first happy with a hide n’ seek liaison with him, she eventually offers to let Peter stay with her at the villa until the lease is up, and ends up with both Peter and his sister Eva. After a time, Catherine discovers Peter and Eva aren’t blood related, and that they’re beginning to play with her mind, Baker soon has the Catherine character going through fits of paranoia, fear, and desperation, thanks to both Baker’s physical personification and the voice of actress/dubber Rita Savagnone, as there seems to be no way out of her situation without the fear of a scandal via her menage a troi with the couple.

Paranoia (1969) a.k.a. Orgasmo
French Film Poster Card (From Critical Condition)

A real boost for Baker in her Italian period, was her willingness to go totally nude for some of the scenes in the film. Initially Eleanor Powell was up for the lead of Catherine, but Lenzi managed to convince the producers to cast Baker instead, and the film ended up being much better because of Lenzi’s insistence on Baker. Not too many American actresses, whether at the twilight of their careers or in their prime, were willing to do anything that even hinted they were stark naked in a scene, but Baker was still young enough in her career that she had no qualms about “baring” all if need be. This was a combination of her wanting to take risks with parts and that she had an immediate rapport with Lenzi who was known to be very flexible with his casts. Lenzi has gone on record saying they liked each other so much Baker knew he would never ask her to get nude for no reason.  

The Italian Horror Blogathon: Orgasmo (1969) • She Blogged By Night
Catherine Offering Peter a Place to Sleep (From She Blogged by Night)
Picture of Colette Descombes
Eva as the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing (from Listal)

Lou Castel, a Swedish actor born in South America who made his career in Italy, is a scum infested pleasure as Peter Donovan. Having made a career of playing slimeballs, perverts, psychos, and all-around unlikable characters, Castel doesn’t have to dig too deep in his acting training to pull off the character of Peter. At first coming off as a ne’er-do-well living a bohemian existence in the Italian countryside, Peter slowly reveals himself to be a money hungry gigolo and lady killer, as he calculatingly and methodically leads his fireball lover into a state of madness and fear. Collette Descombes, a little-known French actress recommended by Lenzi, is the feminine opposite of Castel in the role of Eva (Stuart) Donovan. At first masquerading as Peter’s stepsister, Eva soon reveals she and Peter have had a sexual relationship since early adulthood, and admits to Catherine she wants to be her lover along with Peter. More conniving in her actions than her brutish male companion, Eva is no less deadly.

The Italian Horror Blogathon: Orgasmo (1969) • She Blogged By Night
Theresa the Maid Knows Something’s Amiss, but Can’t Prove It (From She Blogged by Night)
Orgasmo | Trailers From Hell
Sanders the Attorney Seems too Confident (from Trailers From Hell)

Noted Italian character performers Lilla Brignone, Tanio Carraro, & Franco Pesce play the supporting roles of Theresa the maid, lawyer Brian, and Martino the gardener respectively. All are oblivious to the deadly games going on, and that Mrs. West is in grave danger from people who want her inheritance, and for one, the truth of the situation that eventually reveals itself, will be far too shocking.

Orgasmo (1969) - SpookyFlix
The Key to Freedom? (from SpookyFlix)

Lenzi and Baker keep the tension and suspense at an all time high in the film: Lenzi keeping the motives of his antagonists a mystery until the very end, and Baker’s fine performance as a woman slowly teetering the fine line between sanity and utter despair paranoia. That the characters are very rarely seen outdoors, save for the garden/patio of the villa adds to the slowly increasing tension, the claustrophobic and confined space making the situation all the more dangerous and frightening. The frank sexual innuendos and dialogue between the characters was very tantalizing for the time and soon became a source of liberation for the youth of the era.

(I highly recommend giving this film a look at when the opportunity presents itself as Lenzi paints one of the most original forms of Murder/Mystery in the early stages in the Giallo period. It does get a little tedious in the middle and early parts of the end, but the finale is very well worth the pay off and it totally comes out of left field and the viewer never sees the revelation coming. The US Cut of the film, which is the only film of the early MPAA system to retain the “X” rating (though it is really R rated even by the standards of the 80’s onward) removes key essential story and character points, making it far too straightforward and losing the intrigue Lenzi and his co writer Moretti intended. The Blu Ray from Severin Films offers a pristine restoration in audio and visual quality of Lenzi’s original cut of the film along with well translated English subtitles of the Italian audio track [I highly recommend watching the film in the original Italian, as the uncut version has scenes that were never dubbed into English, and do sporadically go from English to Italian when viewed in the dubbed track]. Two audio commentaries are offered: the uncut version with Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, the US cut with Giallo historian titans Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson. Also available is a nice interview with Umberto Lenzi, focusing mainly on his inspiration for the film, his relationship with actress Carroll Baker, and how Film-Noir influenced his golden age period with his Giallos and Poliziotteschi.)

All images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0063413/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orgasmo

https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orgasmo_(film_1969)

https://www.grindhousedatabase.com/index.php/Paranoia

buying options

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

Take a Film Dare Challenge: A Fun Little Game for the Lock-down

From Tony Nash

Hello to my followers, those I’m following, and all curious visitors

With things still up in the air thanks to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), I figured I’d try making up a nice little game to stifle some of the boredom of being indoors most of the time

I’m calling this game “Take a Film Dare Challenge” and the object is for people to pick out some Word-Pressers who follow you and try to think of a film they would like, but for whatever the reason, haven’t talked about them before. Once the film is viewed, do however long or short a write up you would prefer about your thoughts and impression of the film, and whether you’d check out other films from that genre or similar films The object of course is to have fun and also to see if extra spark can be found for new types of films and genres. I’ll start out by picking some of the folks I find very cool to read. To make the inaugural round interesting, I’ll be picking titles for these WP users via my personal collection of Blu Rays and DVDs.

MMC! (Make Mine Criterion!): I’ve got to admit at first I thought I wouldn’t be able to find anything for MMC! as his knowledge and interest in film is vast and I’m pretty sure there isn’t too much he hasn’t seen. I quickly realized I shouldn’t be thinking about what he hasn’t watched, but what he hasn’t discussed in his writings he’d be eloquent with. For this reason I’ve chosen Jacques Demy’s Une Chambre en Ville ( A Room in Town) from 1982 as his challenge.

Une chambre en ville

Demy’s salute to Opera doesn’t come close to recapturing the magic of his classic Le Parapluis du Cherburg (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) but it does capture the magic and style of such composers as Puccini, Verdi, Wagner, Leoncavello, and many others. MMC!, I think you’ll enjoy this one.

Mikes Take on the Movies: Like with MMC!, Mike has a pretty eclectic taste in varied film genres and movements, so this one had to be really special. I haven’t heard Mike talk too much about Musicals, and I believe I’ve found one that would peak his curiosity. I’m sticking with Demy on this one, and Mike’c challenge is Demy’s 1970 Musical Fairy Tale Peau d’Ane (Donkey Skin).

Donkey Skin

Mixing bizarre, whimsical, and enchanting as only Demy can, this little fable has both the charm of the kind of stories told to children, and the qualities only adults would truly understand. Mike, I believe you’d get a lot of enjoyment out of this for both the visuals and storytelling.

Debbi’s I Found it at the Movies: I couldn’t decide on just one film for Debbi as she’s very eclectic as well in her viewing pleasures, so I’m giving her the option of doing two films, or picking the one that intrigues her the most. I’ve seen her talk about quite a lot from the classic era of movies, but I’m unsure of how much Japanese cinema she’s experienced, so I’m giving her double dose of Samurai action films in Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo from 1961

Yojimbo

and the Italian Western influenced Kill! by Kihachi Okamoto from 1968

Kill!

Both films offer a wandering samurai taking on outlaw gangs, one in a more philosophical sense, and the other leaning more towards tongue-in-cheek humor. Both are on the dark comedy side when it comes to giving viewers a chuckle, but aren’t offensive in any way.  Both are also action-packed and offer great thrills along the way. Debbi, I’m sure you’ll enjoy either of these.

The Wee Writing Lassie: At first I wasn’t sure whether to include the Lassie in this game as I believe her blog deals a little more in books, travel, and theater, but I know she enjoys a good film like the rest of us, so hope you enjoy ride Lass. Since I know she enjoys a good mystery from time to time, I figured Lassie would enjoy an early Italian Giallo thriller that offers the same thrills and intrigue without the sleaze and exploitation frills that would come to dominate it from the 1970’s onward.

The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion Blu-Ray image 1

I thought Le Foto Proibite di una Signora per Bene (The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion) from 1969 would be something that keeps you guessing, but not worrying about how much skin or sleaze gets in the way. Lass, I hope you enjoy and maybe find something new to explore as you try things out.

Master Mix Movies: This dude is one of my more recent followers, but I’m already very impressed with his material so I decided to include him here. So far from what I’ve seen he likes films that mix a lot of stuff together to form a solid whole that makes for good entertainment. With this in mind, I’ve picked two titles and, like with Debbi, can choose to both, or pick the one he likes the most.

First off, we have Henri-Georges Clouzot’s, the man who gave Hitchcock a run for his money, Le Salaire de la Peur (The Wages of Fear) from 1952

The Wages of Fear

A tense, and at times both cynical and nihilistic, Thriller as 4 desperate expatriated men try to get money to escape poverty in a rural South American town. Yves Montand and Charles Vanel have great chemistry and represent two separate generations, one on the way out, the other on the rise-but still with a lot to learn.

Then we have Francesco Rosi’s underscored hit, Salvatore Giuliano from 1962.

Salvatore Giuliano

This film mixes both documentary style filmmaking, Murder Mystery Thriller, and Crime Drama, as Rosi traces the life of the notorious Sicilian outlaw and the forces many believe silenced him from telling the truth.

Now I’m gonna be taking part in this myself, but I’ll leave my pick as a surprise. I can tell you it’ll be posted at the end of September when I complete a special I’ll be starting next week, which I’m sure many of you will get a kick out of.

Now if any of you I’ve picked don’t have access to the films I’ve picked for you, please let me know and I will gladly pick something else out, this is meant for pure fun and to do something unique and different.

I hope those I have picked will enjoy this experiment, have fun with it, and pick out some folks to give it a try themselves.

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

A Filmic Acid Trip

That Also Defies Definition

by Tony Nash

(Obscure & Unique)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers to Spoiler Free)

(Author’s Note: Few images exist of this film and since there’s quite a bit of nudity, not many images will be shown)

The Lady Kills (1971): Mondo Macabro Blu-ray

Perverse et Docile (The Lady Kills/Wild & Willing) (1971) **** NC-17

Carole Lebel: Françoise Fremond

Albert Simono: John Greenfield

Christian Duc: Christian Belmont (as Christian Duke)

Paul Descombes: Karl Mohr

Claude Beautheac: François Ficheux

Charles Martin: The Roman Fashion Designer

Katia Tchenko: Hina

Written & Directed by: Jean-Louis van Belle

Synopsis: A group of men gang up on a woman and proceed to rape her repeatedly. About 20 years later, these same men are being killed in very unique fashion by a mysterious woman named Françoise Fremond. Why she is doing this is unknown.

NSFW Gallery: The Lady Kills (Mondo Macabro Blu-ray) Screenshots ...
Still From Mondo Macabro

Jean-Louis van Belle, a French-Belgian underground filmmaker who became a hit with the Swinging Sixties audiences with his funky Sci-Fi Horror film Le Sadique aux Dents Rouges (The Sadist with Red Teeth) and his mockumentary Paris Interdit (Forbidden Paris), proved at that same period he could be thought provoking and artistic while also entertaining with Perverse et Docile. Mixing Mondo documentary films, Giallo Suspense, Travel films showing the sights, and avant-garde cinematography, van Belle concocts a very unusual story of machismo run amok and the revenge that comes about when this psyche goes too far. By having the audience follow his heroine as she goes from country to country, eliminating a series of men who were involved in a horrid act of rape, van Belle not only shows off the beauty of the various countries he was able to film in, but also shows an independent woman’s fierce determination to bring the masculine domination of European society down a very harsh peg. Combining inventive cinematography, including an x-ray style opening credit sequence, with the traditional storytelling, Belle takes his viewers through a vignette style journey.

Amazon.com: The Lady Kills / Pervertissima [Blu-ray]: Carole Lebel ...
Still from Amazon

Carole Lebel, a Belgian model and actress, takes the lead in her final film before retiring as the seductive and mysterious Françoise. Almost nothing is known about Françoise, even as the camera follows her as she kills man after man for seemingly no reason at all. All audiences know is that she can’t stand men who take advantage of women in such fashions, and even more disgusted that they live such hedonistic lifestyles. Lebel proves herself a capable actress as she plays it calm and cool, never showing emotion until the crucial moment as she lures her prey into false senses of security and safety, nearly perfectly embodying a Black Widow spider. In order to keep the murders as isolated and unrelated as possible, she kills each man differently, using an array of weapons from a gun, to acid, to knives, to bombs. She also uses a series of aliases, wigs, and personalities so the men are easily stunned by her charms, never knowing until practically too late what is about to befall them.

NSFW Gallery: The Lady Kills (Mondo Macabro Blu-ray) Screenshots ...
Still from Cultsploitation

The remainder of the cast is made up of local area Belgian and French actors/actresses, playing the victims and other characters that make up the world Van Belle paints. Not much can be said about these performers as they’re only seen for maybe 10 minutes per vignette and all that can be gotten from those brief moments is their careers and preferred sexual escapades. The little info per the IMDb on the performers at hand is that they mainly and briefly acted in French and Belgian television, only Albert Simono having had a 30 plus year career in both TV and films, albeit in small roles.

Amazon.com: The Lady Kills / Pervertissima [Blu-ray]: Carole Lebel ...
From Amazon

While Van Belle entertains with a Mystery in travelogue documentary form, he also takes a scathing stab at male patriarchal chauvinism that seemed to be at a height in Europe in the 60’s and 70’s. Second Wave Feminism was in full swing, and even in Europe women were beginning to assert themselves as individuals and breaking the shackles of the once viewed as norm roles they were expected to take. That Van Belle mixes this with entertainment makes the film all the more interesting and worthy of getting wider appeal. While at times non-linear in going into the lead character’s motivations, and even a little on the psychedelic in terms of cinematography, the film still captures attention and interest.

(I do highly recommend giving this film a viewing as while there’s a lot to find incoherent and down right bizarre in some of the shots, it does in fact have a linear narrative that once the ending begins to roll, everything will come into a clear perspective. Van Belle is grossly underrated as a filmmaker, and while his work is definitely low budget is the work of a man with a lot of passion, determination, and talent, so only his avant-garde underground style seems to be what scares off people from looking into his work. The Blu Ray from Mondo Macabro offers up an immaculate transfer in both audio and visual quality, everything looking pristine as if it was just made and released to the public. As a nice bonus there’s a 30 minute documentary about Van Belle that was filmed at a retrospective in France honoring his contributions to cinema, featuring comments from critics, Van Belle’s favorite crew members & actors, and from Van Belle himself, who for some reason asked to not have his face shown on camera.)

All images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0258019/?ref_=fn_nm_nm_1a

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perverse_et_Docile

buying options

https://www.mondo-macabro.com/mondo-macabro-blu-ray/the-lady-kills/pervertissima.html

https://www.moviesunlimited.com/the-lady-kills-pervertissima/843276021191

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