Burial Ground (1981) review

Burial Ground posterDirector: Andrea Bianchi

Starring: Mariangela Giordano, Roberto Caporali, Gianluigi Chirizzi, Karin Well, Antonella Antinori, Simone Mattioli, Peter Bark

Also known as: Le Notti Del Terrore (The Nights Of Terror), The Zombie Dead

“Mother, this cloth smells of death.” (Michael, Burial Ground)

When you ask someone to name some old zombie movies, the usual suspects inevitably pop up.

The obvious contenders, the ones folk will almost unconsciously start with, are Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead, Dawn Of The Dead and Day Of The Dead.

Then you may get the occasional Return Of The Living Dead, or – if the person you’re asking knows their video nasty history – Zombie Flesh Eaters.

This is all perfectly understandable, mind – all five of the above are fantastic films – but there are plenty of excellent old zombie movies that, for some reason, never quite reached that same level of universal notoriety and acclaim.

One of the finest examples is Burial Ground, or The Night Of Terrors to give it its original Italian title. Continue reading “Burial Ground (1981) review”

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Contamination (1980) (Video Nasty review #11)

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.

Contamination posterDirector: Luigi Cozzi

Starring: Ian McCulloch, Louise Marleau, Marino Masé, Siegfried Rauch

“Help! Let me out! There’s an egg!” (Stella, Contamination)

I’ve got a lot of time for Italian horror from the late ’70s and early ’80s. This was a fruitful period for low-budget horror, mostly thanks to the countless Italian rip-offs that were churned out in next to no time.

No film was safe from the Italian ‘homage’: when Jaws came out, a bunch of killer shark (and piranha and whale) films were released within a matter of months. Following Dawn Of The Dead, you couldn’t move in Italy for cheapo zombie flicks.

Meanwhile, Contamination – in case you couldn’t tell from the poster – was inspired by Ridley Scott’s Alien.

Continue reading “Contamination (1980) (Video Nasty review #11)”

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)”

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”

Cannibal Holocaust (1980) (Video Nasty review #8)

Cannibal Holocaust posterDirector: Ruggero Deodato

Starring: Robert Kerman, Francesca Ciardi, Perry Pirkanen, Gabriel Yorke, Luca Barbareschi

TV EXECUTIVE – “Today people want sensationalism. The more you rape their senses the happier they are.”

PROFESSOR MONROE – “Ah, yes, that’s typical western thought. Civilised, isn’t it? That’s what Alan thought and that’s why he’s dead. The Yacumo Indian is a primitive and he has to be respected as such. You know, did you ever think of the Yacumo point of view? That we might be the savages?”

Note: Other then the official film poster above, the rest of the images in this review have deliberately been chosen to hide some of the film’s gorier, more offensive scenes. Despite this, the review still features descriptions of these scenes and as such those with a weak stomach may wish to just give this film their own score of zero and move on.

The story goes that when Sergio Leone – the legendary Italian director of Once Upon A Time In The West and The Good, The Bad And The Ugly – first saw Cannibal Holocaust, he felt compelled to write a letter to his friend Ruggero Deodato, the film’s director.

It read: “Dear Ruggero, what a movie! The second part is a masterpiece of cinematographic realism, but everything seems so real that I think you will get in trouble with all the world.”

He was right. Cannibal Holocaust was eventually banned in numerous countries (the unofficial estimate is around 50, including the UK and its native Italy), and such was the realistic nature of the on-screen deaths that Deodato was actually arrested and held on trial under suspicion of murder of the four main actors – a charge he was only able to drop after getting all four actors to appear at the courtroom. Continue reading “Cannibal Holocaust (1980) (Video Nasty review #8)”

The Beyond (1981) (Video Nasty review #7)

The Beyond posterDirector: Lucio Fulci

Starring: Catriona MacColl, David Warbeck, Cinzia Monreale

Also known as: Seven Doors Of Death (USA)

“Be careful what you do, because this hotel was built over one of the seven doors of evil.” (Schweik, The Beyond)

Though Italian director Lucio Fulci may be best known in the UK for his video nasty Zombi 2 (better known as Zombie Flesh Eaters), it’s another video nasty that most horror fans worldwide associate with him. It’s understandable, because The Beyond is easily one of his better films.

After starting with a flashback in which a poor sod in New Orleans is crucified in a cellar by a mob who think he’s a warlock, we fast-forward to the present day (well, 1981) where we meet Liza (MacColl), who’s moved from New York to New Orleans to inherit, refurbish and re-open a decrepit hotel.

The Beyond
Here’s a joke for you love, what do you call a blind… oh Christ I am so, so sorry

It becomes clear very quickly that, as luck would have it, the hotel is built on a gateway to Hell, and as such there’s a whole load of shit going down in the basement including the zombified remains of the lad from the flashback. That’s Hell, not Hull, mind – though I appreciate it’s hard to tell the difference. It’s up to Liza along with her friend John (Warbeck) to try to figure out how to stop this from happening. Continue reading “The Beyond (1981) (Video Nasty review #7)”