Rollerball (1975) review

Rollerball 1975 posterDirector: Norman Jewison

Starring: James Caan, John Houseman, Maud Adams, John Beck, Moses Gunn

“Corporate society takes care of everything. And all it asks of anyone, all it’s ever asked of anyone ever, is not to interfere with management decisions.” (Mr Bartholomew, Rollerball)

The best futuristic movies are those grounded in reality, the ones that aren’t just flying cars and laser guns but actually feel like they really could happen in the years to come.

Although some elements of Rollerball may not fall under this category – I don’t see a sport in which deaths are considered acceptable coming any time soon – so much of it feels remarkably spot on 40 years after its release. Continue reading “Rollerball (1975) review”

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Zardoz (1974) review

Zardoz posterDirector: John Boorman

Starring: Sean Connery, Charlotte Rampling, John Alderton, Sara Kestelman, Niall Buggy, Sally Anne Newton

ZARDOZ – “You have been raised up from brutality to kill the Brutals who multiply and are legion. To this end Zardoz, your God, gave you the gift of the gun. The gun is good!”

EXTERMINATORS – “The gun is good!”

ZARDOZ – “The penis is evil! The penis shoots seeds and makes new life to poison the Earth with a plague of men, as once it was. But the gun shoots death and purifies the Earth of the filth of Brutals. Go forth and kill! Zardoz has spoken.”

I don’t know how I feel about John Boorman.

The English director has been responsible for both one of the most effective films I’ve seen (Deliverance), and one of the most infuriating piles of pish I’ve ever had to struggle through (Exorcist II: The Heretic).

Zardoz, his bizarre sci-fi film in which a half-naked Sean Connery tries to bring down a community of immortals in the year 2293, has me similarly conflicted. It’s both shite and incredible at the same time, but leaning slightly towards the latter. Continue reading “Zardoz (1974) review”

Night Train Murders (1975) (Video Nasty review #10)

It is my intention to eventually watch and review all 72 movies on the ‘video nasties’ list released by the Director of Public Prosecutions in the UK in 1983. In a time before videos were classified by the BBFC, each of these films were considered so shocking by the DPP that any video shop owner found to be selling or renting it could have faced prosecution. To see my other video nasty reviews so far, click here.

Night Train Murders posterDirector: Aldo Lado

Starring: Irene Miracle, Laura D’Angelo, Flavio Bucci, Macha Méril, Gianfranco De Grassi, Enrico Salerno, Marina Berti

Also known as: Late Night Trains (UK VHS release), Last Stop On The Night Train (US), New House On The Left (US)

“We’re only gonna cut her a little.” (Curly, Night Train Murders)

In 1972, Wes Craven wrote and directed The Last House On The Left.

Based on Ingmar Bergman’s 1960 film The Virgin Spring, it was a bleak film in which two teenage girls are encountered in the woods by a trio of criminals – two men and a woman – who proceed to rape and murder the girls.

Fleeing from the scene, the three seek refuge in the home of a friendly couple, who by sheer coincidence are the parents of one of the girls. When the parents discover what has happened, they decide to get revenge, with gory results.

The Virgin Spring had come and gone without much hullabaloo, being a classy Swedish art film and all. But The Last House On The Left was grim and sleazy enough to spark a grindhouse genre of its own: the revenge film. Continue reading “Night Train Murders (1975) (Video Nasty review #10)”

The Island Of Dr Moreau (1977) review

The Island Of Dr Moreau posterDirector: Don Taylor

Starring: Michael York, Burt Lancaster, Richard Basehart, Nigel Davenport, Barbara Carrera

MOREAU – “How does a cell become enslaved to a form, to a destiny it can never change? Can we change that destiny?”

ANDREW – “Should we?”

There are plenty of films that deal with the moral dilemma of playing God: whether it’s right to mess around with nature and what have you.

But how many of those films feature a man dressed up as a bear grappling with a real-life lion and diving off a balcony, dragging it to its death with him?

The short answer is “one”. The slightly longer answer is “one, The Island Of Dr Moreau“. Continue reading “The Island Of Dr Moreau (1977) review”

Phantasm (1979) review

Phantasm posterDirector: Don Coscarelli

Starring: Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury, Reggie Bannister, Angus Scrimm

“You think when you die, you go to heaven? You come to us.” (The Tall Man, Phantasm)

When most people think of iconic horror movie villains they tend to reel off the usual suspects: Jason, Freddy, Michael Myers, Chucky and the like.

However, one particular evildoer was doing his nefarious deeds long before most other slasher baddies got their blades wet. His name is the Tall Man, and he’s the villain in cult ’70s horror Phantasm.

The film takes place in a small Californian town which, when we join it, is mourning the apparent suicide of one of its residents. We’ve already seen in the opening scene that it was actually a murder, though, so it’s clear hijinks are due. Continue reading “Phantasm (1979) review”

Suspiria (1977) review

Suspiria posterDirector: Dario Argento

Starring: Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Flavio Bucci, Barbara Magnolfi, Miguale Bose

“We must get rid of that bitch of an American girl. Vanish! She must vanish! Make her disappear! Understand? Vanish, she must vanish. She must die! Die! Die! Helena, give me power. Sickness! Sickness! Away with her! Away with trouble. Death, death, death!” (Madame Blanc, Suspiria)

I firmly believe that you can take any random single frame from Suspiria’s entire 98-minute runtime and hang it on your wall as a piece of art.

It’s easily one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen, and one of my favourite horror films without a shadow of a doubt, because it’s just so artistically and stylistically breathtaking. Continue reading “Suspiria (1977) review”

Alice Sweet Alice (1976) review

Alice Sweet Alice posterDirector: Alfred Sole

Starring: Paula Sheppard, Linda Miller, Niles McMaster, Mildred Clinton, Brooke Shields

Also known as: Communion (original title), Holy Terror (re-release title)

“Maybe you are afraid that God will send St. Michael to take another of your loved ones. When St. Michael took my little girl, I only thought of how cruel God was.” (Mrs Tredoni, Alice Sweet Alice)

It’s generally a bit of a taboo in film to combine children with murder. Usually that means filmmakers are wary of killing a kid in a movie – that’s crossing the line – but it also works the other way too.

That’s why it’s difficult to come up with a sizeable list, off the top of your head, of films which feature a scene in which a child murders someone.

Alice Sweet Alice isn’t scared of such taboos. Not only does it include a child being killed mere minutes into its runtime, its entire plot also revolves around the notion that another child may be killing people. Continue reading “Alice Sweet Alice (1976) review”

Phantom Of The Paradise (1974) review

Phantom Of The Paradise posterDirector: Brian De Palma

Starring: William Finley, Paul Williams, Jessica Harper, Gerrit Graham

“Look, Philbin. I am a professional. I have been in this business a long time. Now, if I don’t want to perform, it’s not because I got stage fright. It’s because some creature from beyond doesn’t want me to do the show. Now gangway.” (Beef, Phantom Of The Paradise)

Continue reading “Phantom Of The Paradise (1974) review”

Black Christmas (1974) review

Black Christmas posterDirector: Bob Clark

Starring: Olivia Hussey, Margot Kidder, John Saxon, Keir Dullea, Marian Waldman

Also known as: Silent Night, Evil Night (USA title)

“Little baby bunting, daddy’s went a-hunting, gonna fetch a rabbit skin to wrap his baby Agnes in.” (The Killer, Black Christmas)

Although Halloween is credited as the film that kicked off the slasher genre and Friday The 13th is the considered the one that inspired a slew of imitations, Black Christmas pre-dates them both by nearly half a decade.

This makes it all the more impressive, then, that despite being one of the earliest proper examples of the genre, it remains one of the better slasher movies 40 years after its original release. Continue reading “Black Christmas (1974) review”

Please Don’t Eat My Mother (1973) review

Please Don't Eat My Mother posterDirector: Carl Monson

Starring: Buck Kartalian, Lynn Lundgren, a load of other people shagging

HENRY – “Well, that’s murder or something!”
EVE – “Never heard of a plant getting arrested, have you?”

Henry Fudd (which is an even more appropriate name in Scotland) is a weird bastard. He spends his lunch break spying on couples having sex, then after work he goes back home, where he lives with his possessive mother, and locks himself in his room, the walls of which are covered with pages of porno magazines. Oh, and he has a plant called Eve that eats people.

Please Don’t Eat My Mother is essentially a low-budget rip-off of Little Shop Of Horrors, only (as it’s produced by “Sexploitation King” Harry Novak) with more porn and less quality. Eve starts off as a tiny sapling that Henry feeds normal plant food, but before too long she’s grown dramatically and adopted a sexy woman’s voice. The plant asks Henry to bring him increasingly larger food, starting with flies and upgrading to frogs, dogs and eventually people, including – you guessed it – Henry’s mother.

Please Don't Eat My Mother
“C’mere baby and plant one on me. Get it?! PLANT! Because you’re a… let me just unzip these jeans”

It’s a story that might have been more interesting had it been handled better (of course, it already had), but Please Don’t Eat My Mother is a bucket of pish. Buck Kartalian is a bizarre actor to watch – it’s clear the film is supposed to be a cheesy comedy he makes some truly odd facial expressions, chewing the scenery… literally, at times.

The ‘special effects’ (and I mean special in a different way than usual) are the sort of thing you’d expect to see in a school play. The plant looks like a ridiculous papier-mâché creation and its movement is so limited (its mouth moves and that’s it) that it always eats its victims off-camera (complete with over-the-top slurping sound effects and unconvincing whimpers from the victim). Continue reading “Please Don’t Eat My Mother (1973) review”