Archive for Euro Horror

Bay of Blood (1971) Review

Posted in Bay of Blood with tags , , , , , on October 14, 2013 by Last Road Reviews



*** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- They Came to Play, They Stayed to Die

Release Date- September 8th, 1971

Running Time- 84-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Mario Bava, Filippo Ottoni & Giuseppe Zaccariello

Director- Mario Bava

Starring- Claudine Auger, Luigi Pistilli, Claudio Camaso, Anna Maria Rosati, Chris Avram, Leopoldo Trieste

Mario Bava is one of the most influential filmmakers and not just in Italy, but the States as well and has influenced a wide range of filmmakers and I suppose the horror genre is where his impact is most seen. Mario Bava paved the way for the Giallo and without him who knows where filmmakers like Dario Argento would be. Released in 1971 A Bay of Blood, which also goes under such titles as Carnage, Blood Bath, Twitch of the Death Nerve and when released in the States in 1972 it had the title Last House of the Left Part II. A Bay of Blood while a giallo seems to have a bigger impact on the slasher films in particular Friday the 13th and Friday the 13th Part 2 (more on that later). However the giallo and slasher are sort of cousins and many films that are slasher films had they been made in Italy would be seen as a giallo and many of the Giallo if released in the States or anywhere else outside of Italy would be seen as slasher films. While there is a difference the line between them is thin. There are some that consider Bay of Blood to be Bava’s best film and I suppose a case could be made for it I’d disagree.

The story was written by Franco Barberi & Dardano Sacchetti and the screenplay by Mario Bava, Filippo Ottoni & Giuseppe Zaccariello. I really can’t say much about the plot as I don’t wanna spoil things. The story for Bay of Blood is very good and basically all the murders have to do with getting the land around the bay. However the problem is the story is a little overly complicated (though easy to understand). I’m not sure if this was due to the story concept or the actual screenplay, but the script is the biggest issue, which does hinder the film in spots. While Italian horror isn’t really known for great writing, but more so of the visuals, beautiful women and gory murders, but many Italian horror films were fairly well written in the 70s. It was more the 80s when the scripts were a bit weak, but all the things I mentioned were present to help make up for any shortcomings in the writing. But with Bay of Blood the script is weak and characters lack depth and are inter-changeable. As I stated the story is complicated, but easy enough to follow. What’s interesting is pretty much every character is somehow tied to murder and again the premise was great though the story by Barberi & Sacchetti could have used a little more work and the script by Bava, Ottoni & Zaccariello could have done a little more with the solid story presented. There is also a subplot of four characters looking to party at the bay and this is where the influence on the slasher film really shows, which I’ll get into in a bit.

As director Mario Bava crafts a stylish thriller only brought down by some sluggish pacing. The first half of the film was the strongest with about 6-murders in a 40-minute span, but even than the film had some pacing issues. The 2nd half has about 7 murders in the final 44-minutes, but this is when the pacing is the biggest problem despite the high body count. With all the plot twists in the 2nd half it does make Bay of Blood a bit uneven. However despite the pacing issues, Bava does craft some solid suspense and an eerie tone, which does help make up for the shortcomings. Like I mentioned there is a subplot, which has a few characters looking to party at the bay and you can clearly see the influence in the slasher film and on Friday the 13th and Friday the 13th Part 2. His was in my opinion the strongest scenes of the film and Bava does a great job with them. The death scenes are very much in tune what we would see in slasher films with one guy getting a cleaver to the face, which was clearly the influence of the axe to the face in Friday the 13th and one scene has a couple getting impaired while having sex and this almost shot for shot would be used in Friday the 13th Part 2. Even the setting of the film seemed to inspire Friday the 13th. Like I said many consider this Bava’s best film and even if I disagree its quite easy to see why many feel that way. While the pacing of the film can be an issue despite only running 84-minutes it features a high body count with some strong suspense and while a Giallo, Bay of Blood made a much bigger impact on the slasher film.

Overall Bay of Blood is a solid film and again while pacing is an issue it’s made up for with some excellent murder scenes and suspense while the film isn’t confusing it is a little overly complicated. However despite the flaws this film comes highly recommend and the ending of the film is quite hysterical. Some say it was brilliant and others idiotic and I think both have a point. Mario Bava’s influence on film can’t be denied and while films like Psycho helped pave the way for the slasher film, Bay of Blood did as well. Dardano Secchetti whole wrote the story went on to have a great career and wrote or co-wrote a good portion of Lucio Fulci’s more popular titles such as Zombie and City of the Living Dead among many others. He also was a writer on A Blade in the Dark & Demons, which was directed by Mario Bava’s son Lamberto.

Bay of Blood has two blu-ray releases one from Kino, which has the English and Italian versions than there is the UK release from Arrow Video (which is multi-region disc). Based on screenshots the Kino version seems to have the best print, which is for the English version as the Italian cut is rough looking. I have the Arrow release, which features an excellent HD presentation on the English version with the Italian version also looking rough. Based on screenshots edge seems to go to Kino, but the Arrow release is very good with only little grain, but its natural looking and just happens to be a very good print. If even the slightest difference in video is important I guess Kino is the way to go, but if extras are also important than its Arrow all the way. The Arrow release comes with 4 different covers plus a booklet and double sided posters with a slew of features on the disc that features Dardano Sacchetti, Joe Dante and Edgar Wright. I don’t wanna undersell the Arrow HD quality since its terrific and even if based off screenshots Kino might have an edge I really can’t see it making that much of a difference. The colors on the Arrow release might be a little on the dull side and the overall image a little dark, but I prefer this as it adds to the atmosphere whereas other prints colors pop a bit more and the image a bit brighter. Best advice is if its quality on video that matters most look up some screenshots of both to help you decide.

















Strip Nude for Your Killer (1975) Review

Posted in Strip Nude for Your Killer with tags , , , on May 13, 2013 by Last Road Reviews


*** ½ Out of 5

Release Date- August 26th, 1975

Running Time- 98-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Massimo Felisatti

Director- Andrea Bianchi

Starring- Edwige Fenech, Niño Castelnuovo, Femi Benussi, Solvi Stubing, Amanda

Released in 1975 Strip Nude for Your Killer is one of the sleazier Giallos and was directed by Andrea Bianchi best known to horror fans for directing the so bad it’s good Burial Ground, which also had a good amount of sleaze. With Strip Nude for Your Killer, Bianchi focuses more on sleaze than suspense and what we get is a good film, but not without its shortcomings. I have zero problems with sex and nudity in film, but I do think too much focus was put on that and the film needed a better balance as when it does focus on suspense, Bianchi actually does a fairly good job.

The screenplay by Massimo Felisatti is your standard Giallo from the era only with more sleaze; characters are entertaining enough, but are also rather faceless and not very likable for the most part. The plot deals with a botched abortion, which leads to the death of a woman and its covered up to look like an accidental death; not long after somebody kills the doctor who made the mistake and begins to target workers at a model agency. The plot while not the strongest this genre has to offer is decent enough to carry the movie for the most part. The identity and motive for the killer is a bit out there, but also works in a weird way. Overall the script was good enough, but at times does lose direction, but there is enough going on to make up for an ok script.

Director Andrea Bianchi crafts a solid movie with some decent suspense, but a lot more effort was put into the sleaze than anything else. When Bianchi focuses on the suspense he’s actually able to put together some effective scenes, but for the most part they take a backseat to the sleazier elements of the plot. Besides this the only other film by Bianchi I’ve seen is Burial Ground, which for me is one of the ultimate so bad its good movies and as fun as the film was lets be honest it was a hack job, but with Strip Nude for Your Killer, Bianchi shows to have some talent behind the camera and while at times the pacing can be sluggish, but for the most part the film works with some decent suspense and a lot of sleaze so there really aren’t many dull moments. While I don’t mind the sleazy nature of the film at all I would have liked to have seen a little more put into the suspense and tension since when Bianchi does focus on that the film works very well. Besides some pacing issues around the final act, Bianchi delivers an entertaining semi-suspenseful and highly sleazy film that mostly works well.

What this film has going for it is some very beautiful women who more often than not are naked or wearing as little as possible. The stunning Edwige Fenech is always a joy to watch clothed or not.

Overall Strip Nude for Your Killer is a solid Giallo that while flawed has enough action and beautiful women on display to keep things interesting and while the film at times can be a little sloppy, but fans of Euro cinema should give this one a watch. This isn’t exactly Dario Argento, but its still a solid Giallo. Despite the title and even the back of the box nobody strips for the killer, but there is a creepy scene with a woman totally naked getting stalked and killed.














The Killer Must Kill Again (1975) Review

Posted in Killer Must Kill Again with tags , , , , on March 14, 2013 by Last Road Reviews


*** Out of 5

Release Date- 1975

Running Time- 86-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Adriano Bolzoni, Luigi Cozzi, Daniele Del Giudice

Director- Luigi Cozzi

Starring- George Hilton, Antoine Saint-John, Cristina Galbo, Eduardo Fajardo, Alessio Orano

Released in 1975 The Killer Must Kill Again (one of its many titles) is a forgotten film that had a 2nd lease on life when it was released on DVD by Mondo Marcarbo, which was the first official DVD release in the US. In general the film isn’t very well known and despite a few problems I do think the movie deserves a little more of an audience. When I first saw the movie I loved it, but it hasn’t held up as well for me and the flaws impacted my enjoyment whereas at first I was able to overlook them.

Giorgio Mainardi (Hilton) is going through a few problems with his wife Norma (Velazquez) and when he leaves the house he ends up coming across a killer (Antoine) dumping a body and Giorgio ends up blackmailing the killer as well as offering him 20-grand to kill his wife and make it look like an abduction. The killer does so and puts the body in the trunk of his car, but when he goes inside to clean up when he leaves he finds his car has been stolen by a young couple. The killer than steals a car and takes off in pursuit of the couple who are totally unaware there is a body in the trunk of the car and unaware a killer is on pursuit.

The biggest problem with The Killer Must Kill Again is the screenplay written by Adriano Bolzoni, Luigi Cozzi, Daniele Del Giudice; the plot is solid, but the execution however is a bit off. The characters are rather faceless with very little depth. Giorgio is the only character with any personality, but he’s also a bit cliched even for 1975. The young couple Luca (Orano) and Laura (Galbo) really don’t have anything of real interest to say and Luca is kind of an unlikeable jerk, but Laura fairs a bit better as the naive character and I’m not sure if it was the character I liked or the actress Cristina Galbo is one of my favorite actresses.

When the script focuses more on suspense things work well since the sub-par writing doesn’t really matter, but when the focus is the characters that’s when things get a bit sloppy as none of the characters are strong enough to carry the movie and the investigation by the police isn’t very interesting and the way Giorgio was busted is quite idiotic. Overall I wouldn’t say the script was poorly written, but it just wasn’t very good. I guess the weak characters is what does this one in, but again solid concept, poor execution.

As director Luigi Cozzi fairs a bit better; for the most part the film is well-made with some solid suspense, but when the focus isn’t on suspense the pacing can get very sluggish as I stated the script just isn’t strong enough to carry the movie for more than a few minutes at a time. The first half of the movie is when the film is at its strongest and despite the shortcomings of the script, Cozzi delivers some excellent suspense and while at times the pacing can be a little sluggish it’s made up for in suspense. However the 2nd half of the film is when the pacing gets very sluggish.

After a while the killer following the couple gets a bit tiresome and the investigation scenes lack any energy and while it was ok in the first half due to the suspense when the suspense lacks everything else does as well. Cozzi was trying to build the tension for the final act, but with weak characters it can fall a bit flat. However things get slightly back on track with a highly disturbing rape scene and while its not the most graphic, but for me it worked due to Laura being a virgin and due to Cristina Galbo who is amazing in the scene. Overall Cozzi delivers some solid suspense in the first half, but does lose it in the 2nd half with some decent moments mixed in with the sluggish pacing.

The cast here is great and Antoine Saint-John under the name Michael Antoine is excellent as the killer. I have seen a few of his movies and here he’s at his best as he is highly creepy. George Hilton while playing a cliched character like always is a blast to watch. As a fan of European cinema I have seen many of his films and always enjoy watching him. Cristina Galbo like always is great and amazingly beautiful; Cristina is as I stated one of my favorite actresses and this may not be her best film, but she’s still excellent here.

My review is mixed just like how the movie was very mixed in how it was excellent and sluggish in certain scenes. Originally I rated this one much higher, but the flaws as stated this time around did hinder my enjoyment. But with that said this may not be a great film, but it deserves more of an audience and even though it gets a lot wrong it also gets a lot right as well.


Aenigma (1988) Review

Posted in Aenigma with tags , , , on March 12, 2013 by Last Road Reviews


** Out of 5

Release Date- August 15th, 1988 (Italy)

Running Time- 85-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Lucio Fulci & Giorgio Mariuzzo

Director- Lucio Fulci

Starring- Lara Naszinsky, Jared Martin, Ulli Reinthaler, Milijana Zirojevic, Dusica Zegarac

In general it seems as most filmmakers get older they start to decline and that seems far more common in the horror genre and Lucio Fulci who was one of the best horror filmmakers had one of the biggest declines as his later work were more often than not a sloppy mess. Earlier in his career Lucio Fulci made some serious and smart films like Don’t Torture a Duckling and Seven Notes in Black and with those two movies Fulci proved he could make a film as good as if not better than any other horror filmmaker. But the problem was nobody was really seeing these movies; it wasn’t until 1979 with Zombi 2 that Fulci became a power player in the horror genre. And while Zombi 2 is noted for its gore F/X with good reason the movie like his earlier work is filled with suspense and tension and that is what most people overlook about Lucio Fulci. In his prime, Fulci made some eerie flicks that were suspense and tension filled, but again often either overlooked or people just mention the splatter F/X.

Once the 80s started Fulci was now a splatter director and his movies were often incoherent, but what they lacked in plot they made up for in gore F/X and thus the title of the Godfather of Gore was born. But to Fulci’s credit even his splatter flicks also had some decent suspense and often had a feel of eerie at atmosphere. Granted his splatter flicks weren’t as good as his earlier work as a whole, but finally Fulci was getting his due. But after the release of The New York Ripper, Fulci seemed to lose his edge. The decline started and it was a rather big drop off. I personally loved the New York Ripper, but some felt the decline started there. I personally rate that as one of his best, but in general it was all downhill from there.

To be totally honest anything after The New York Ripper I don’t really anything he made with the exception of Cat in the Brain, which was excellent and to a lesser degree I can tolerate Murder Rock and Zombi 3 due to the so bad its good vibe it has going for it at times. But even if I can tolerate Murder Rock and Zombi 3 even those were a far cry from films like Don’t Torture a Duckling and Zombi 2. Aenigma may not be the worst movie in Fulci’s career, but one can possibly make a case for it. About the only positive thing I can say about Aenigma is it does feel like a Fulci flick something a lot of his later flicks lacked. But even though it felt like a Fulci flick it wasn’t a very good one. Aenigma has often been compared to Suspiria and Carrie, but this movie never ever reaches the level of greatness as those two films.

The screenplay by Lucio Fulci & Giorgio Mariuzzo is rather terrible; granted Fulci’s splatter flicks often weren’t very well written, but yet they worked despite that. But the characters in Aenigma are the typical faceless victims who quite honestly are better off dead. They’re really annoying and totally unlikable. The plot is a total mess, while the idea isn’t a bad; a girl in a coma takes over the body of another to get revenge for the accident that left her in a coma. Problem is nothing is really explained and we get useless scene after useless scene.

As director Fulci doesn’t fare any better; each scene is poorly set up with zero suspense and no real sense of pacing. While Aenigma isn’t poorly made in general it is a sloppy film. The 80s was the splatter era for Fulci and with Aenigma he strayed from that. This movie features very little gore and this movie really needed that. While gore wouldn’t have made this movie great or anything at least it would provide something. By this time in Fulci’s career he clearly wasn’t the same filmmaker and it very much show here. Besides trying to channel his inner Argento & De Palma, Fulci tries to make this a little more Americanized and it fails miserably.

Like I stated earlier in my review Lucio Fulci really was a lot better of a filmmaker than he got credit for. Don’t Torture a Duckling is easily one of the greatest Giallos ever made and Seven Notes in Black also serves as an excellent Giallo. Some people see Fulci as nothing more than a hack who can only deliver a gore movie. I urge those who think that to give the two movies I mentioned a chance and you’ll see there’s a lot more to Fulci. I really can’t think of many good things to say about Aenigma; simply put this is just a poor movie. I’d only recommend this to the hardcore Fulci fans like myself and I’m willing to bet most won’t like it. Aenigma is made by a director far past his prime. There’s no gore and no suspense and tension. Skip this one and go back and view Fulci’s work in the 70s and early 80s, but if you must continue with his later work just skip everything after New York Ripper until you get to the highly enjoyable Cat in the Brain.


Grapes of Death (1978) Review

Posted in Grapes of Death with tags , , on March 8, 2013 by Last Road Reviews


**** Out of 5

Tagline- When the Wine Flows, the Terror Begins

Release Date- July 5th, 1978

Running Time- 90-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Christian Meunier & Jean Rollin

Director- Jean Rollin

Starring- Marie-George Pascal, Felix Marten, Serge Marquand, Mirella Rancelot, Brigitte Lahaye

1978 was truly a landmark year in the horror genre, which saw the release of John Carpenter’s Halloween, the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, which in my opinion are three of the greatest genre films of all time. Also in 1978 I Spit on Your Grave and Toolbox Murders were released and while those two films aren’t held in as high regard (for good reason) both films though I still find to be very good. That brings us to the Grapes of Death also released in 1978 and while I’ve known of the films of Jean Rollin for many years I never sought out his work and this is only the 4th film I have seen by him. The first 3 films I saw were Zombie Lake, which was horrible, but yet fun well sort of. Schoolgirl Hitchhikers, which by no means great, but a fun watch and the Living Dead Girl, which was another fun movie, but not great. But the Grapes of Death was an awesome movie and I can honestly say I never expected to love this film, but I did it truly was an excellent chiller.

The Grapes of Death is often labeled a zombie film, but think more along the lines of George Romero’s the Crazies as the characters are infected and not the living dead. However the only real problem I have with the film is its a little inconsistent. Some of the infected actually feel bad about killing people, but cannot help themselves whereas others are totally insane by the infection and have no grasp of right or wrong and others have sort of a blank look on their faces and shuffle about and if you just happened to tune in at that moment you would think it was a zombie film. So I guess it can be debated if Grapes of Death is a zombie movie, but I would say no since the characters are infected. But if anything that’s my only problem with the film is how some of the infected are so different than others at certain points in the film.

Elisabeth (Pascal) is on a train heading to Roubles, which is France to see her fiancé who works at a vineyard, but along the way a fellow passenger is attacked and killed by a man and Elisabeth makes a run for it. As she tries to get to safety she encounters more people like the one on the train that are mutilated and have some sort of infection that causes them to murder.

The script by Christian Meunier & Jean Rollin is fairly well written for the not part, but this isn’t a film that relies on its script. Grapes of Death is more about the directing than writing. The characters aren’t very developed, but in a film like this it really isn’t needed and while its not difficult to figure out why people are infected it isn’t until the end its made clear. Overall the script is strong, but again a film like this really isn’t based off the script.

As director Jean Rollin delivers an excellent and well made chiller that is visually amazing to look at and loaded with eerie atmosphere and great suspense and tension. More often than not Grapes of Death is quite creepy and Rollin gets great usage out of his locations. Based on the films I have seen thus far by Rollin even if I enjoyed them I felt they often lacked in suspense and tension, but not here. From the very start of the film Rollin establishes an eerie tone and crafts one hell of a creepy movie. Like I said I never expected to love this film, but Rollin in my opinion crafts one of my new favorite horror flicks. It has everything one would want in a horror movie. Most of Rollin’s films often feature nudity and that’s no different here, but there isn’t as much skin on display as some of his other work and this film shows Jean Rollin had a lot of talent. While some of his work can be seen as hack jobs and others ok films that are entertaining, Grapes of Death though is a classic that truly deserves far more attention.

As much as I loved the film though it does have some problems that keep me from rating it higher; as I brought up the film is a little inconsistent on the infected as some feel bad, but cannot control themselves and others are totally insane and others shuffle about silently like zombies, but I still again wouldn’t label this as a zombie movie though points can be made on why. Also another problem is shoddy editing at times as one characters changes out of her clothes into something else in a matter of seconds than goes outside and when she’s off camera for about a minute emerges in another set of clothes and now as 2 dogs with her. The ending also does slightly lower my score as unless Elisabeth was infected, which unless she drank wine she shouldn’t be, but if she wasn’t infected what she does at the end of the film is idiotic. I would say though she was infected and it just wasn’t made clear or perhaps that was the point we were supposed to wonder, but this was the only part of the film that Rollin didn’t handle very well.

Overall Grapes of Death was an excellent and eerie film much in the tune of George Romero’s the Crazies and would make an ideal double feature with it. If you haven’t seen any of Rollin’s work this is as good a place to start and if you only know him with films like Zombie Lake, well you haven’t seen how wonderful a filmmaker he could be at times.

















Zombie Lake (1981) Review

Posted in Zombie Lake with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2013 by Last Road Reviews


** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- God Help Us If They Rise Again

Release Date- May 13th, 1981

Running Time- 84-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Julius Valery & A.L. Mariaux (Julian Esteban, Jesus Franco)

Director- J.A. Laser (Jean Rollin)

Starring- Howard Vernon, Pierre Escourrou, Antonio Mayans, Nadine Pascale, Burt Altman

I think I should get some kind of reward for sitting through Zombie Lake because to say this movie is bad would be a major under statement. I could be taken hostage by terrorists and tortured for hours upon hours and I would laugh in their faces and say this is nothing I sat through Zombie Lake! I think if you wanna get answers from criminals or terrorists simply put them in a room play Zombie Lake and within minutes they would be talking. However with all that said the film is just downright hysterical; I was in complete awe at how bad this film was that I don’t think words can fully describe it. The really scary thing is I think I would actually be open to watching it again perhaps even adding it to my collection. When a film is such a hack job like Zombie Lake its quite difficult to fully hate the film. And make no mistake Zombie Lake is a hack job and easily one of the worst films you can ever sit through, but despite how bad the movie was it still provides plenty of laughs in how truly awful it was.

Released in 1981 Zombie Lake came out during a time when it seemed every horror flick was either a slasher or zombie movie. And while the slasher film had an edge zombies weren’t too far behind and whenever something in the horror genre is a success everybody gets in on it, which after a while leads us to some truly horrible films. Zombie Lake is truly bottom of the barrel cinema and I can’t even fully begin to explain what a hack job this was from the writing, directing, music, F/X and the acting and its no surprise that so many involved used an alias or denied being involved with the film since I would as well, but with that said only in the horror genre can a film be this terrible, but yet fun as well.

If anything I think this film was made just to have women get naked. The film opens with a woman getting fully naked and going for a swim in the lake and you see everything and I mean everything! When she’s under water her legs spread a part yeah you get the picture. Later in the film a bunch of girls go swimming and again you see everything including yes again their naughty part. I have zero complaints, but I am sure the 12-year old in would have rated this a 5 simply for that (the 30 something in me wants to rate it higher due to that). While the film doesn’t really go for sleaze, but due to these shots it does get a bit sleazy. While I don’t need to see this in a film I do miss the days when filmmakers weren’t afraid to show everything.

The film is set in France during the 50s (while my knowledge of 1950s France is quite low I doubt it looked like this), but there is a lake where Nazi soldiers were killed and dumped into the lake, but of course they come back as zombies and kill anyone nearby.

The screenplay was written by Julian Esteban under the name Julius Valery and Jesus Franco under the name A.L. Mariaux. To say their script is horrible is putting it very mildly. This has to rate as one of the dumbest screenplays ever written and its quite amazing how two people could actually write this. All the characters are complete idiots and everything is just well horrible. There are also long stretches without any dialogue and I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing! However in between all idiocy and terrible dialogue there is actually some decent ideas if you can believe that. The script also takes place during WWII and we have a love story between a German solider and French woman and they have a child. This one solider zombie is even more evolved than others and seems to retain some memories and he even tries to protect a little girl that has some kind of connection to a woman from his past. We later find out the little girl is actually his daughter. But you even have evolved zombie fight another zombie. Actually this really wasn’t a bad idea, but the film is such a hack job rather than be deep and dramatic its laughable and like I have said before unless you’re George A. Romero keep your zombies mindless since it always fails with the smart zombies. Only Romero can pull that off and even Romero out times can sort of miss with that. The script is downright pathetic and I have to assume Esteban and Franco knew exactly what they were writing.

Originally the film was also to be directed by Jesus Franco and for some reason he ended up not making it and in his place came Jean Rollin who than apparently regretted it after reading the script and for many years denied having anything to do with the film. Rollin used the alias J.A. Laser. I know of Jean Rollin or should I say J.A. Laser, but I haven’t seen a lot of his work and what I have seen its been many years. The direction by Rollin is horrible to say the least. I think its clear he had no passion for the film as he knew no filmmaker could salvage this mess of a script and he never really tries and it seems the scenes with the women naked are the only times any effort was put it. The film is a bit sloppy in its pacing as at times the film is so bad its almost unwatchable and other moments its such a hack job its a lot of fun. The death scenes are the same for the most part and quite often hysterical. When some of the characters die the acting is so bad its some of the funniest scenes you’ll ever see. Jean Rollin crafts one of the worst films ever made, but like I said when a film is this much of a hack job its really difficult to fully hate.

How about the F/X? The zombie makeup is so cheap looking it looks as if green paint was applied and to be totally honest anybody could get the same results if they tried. The zombies look like skinny versions of the Incredible Hulk!

I was at times in awe at how bad Zombie Lake was; the reviews you may have read are legit. However unlike many other others I had fun with this. There are moments when the film is just plain bad and not in a fun way, but its such a hack job I can’t help, but have a soft spot for it. Zombie Lake easily goes down as one of the worst films ever made, but if you can sit back and relax and poke fun of the movie you might find yourself entertained at times.














Inferno (1980) Review

Posted in Inferno with tags , , , , , , , on February 13, 2013 by Last Road Reviews


**** Out of 5

Tagline- Terror That’s Hotter than Hell

Release Date- February 7th, 1980

Running Time- 107-Minutes

Rating- R

Writer/Director- Dario Argento

Starring- Leigh McCloskey, Irene Miracle, Eleonora Giorgi, Daria Nicolodi

Inferno released in 1980 is the follow-up film to Suspiria, which was a major success for Dario Argento, but Inferno is the type of sequel that you don’t need to see Suspiria first and the only link are the Three Mothers, but besides that it’s a mostly stand-alone film. Inferno draws a lot of mixed reaction from Argento fans with some hailing it as a masterpiece and others think it’s one of Argento’s weaker films and I can see both sides of the argument and personally I think the movie is somewhere in the middle despite my 4-star rating.

When it comes to Dario Argento I always say the only real weakness he has is as a writer, which is odd seeing as he started as a film critic and when he started his film career it was as a writer in 1966 and he would make his directorial debut in 1970 with The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. The script by Argento for Inferno is quite weak with an incoherent plot. Some of Argento’s early films had fairly decent scripts such as his debut film Bird with the Crystal Plumage and Deep Red, but his witchcraft movies Suspiria and Inferno both suffered in terms of writing, but Suspiria was still able to shine. His Gialli are well plotted, but often lack sense at times, but the writing is a lot better in his gialli than in movies like Inferno. Not a whole lot here makes sense and any explanation given is rather vague and I suppose if you see the movie enough times things might begin to make sense, but for the most part the plot is rather messy and confusing.

The characters are kind of bland and not very well developed, which is something I find common in a lot of Argento movies. He’s had some interesting characters like in Deep, Red and Tenebre, but I personally felt he never created a truly iconic character. There really isn’t a lead character in Inferno if anyone it would be Mark Elliot (McCloskey), but the movie focuses on a few different characters and I think this is what sort of salvages the script since no character was really strong enough to carry the flick we get a few different people leading the way at different times.

The plot has Mark a music student traveling to New York to visit his sister, but when he arrives she’s nowhere to be found as he begins to explore he like his sister learns about the three mothers, which than puts Mark in danger. As I stated there really isn’t much of a plot with things happening that are quite random and while these elements normally sink a film, but Inferno still manages to work despite the lack of plot and fairly weak characters.

Like with Suspiria it was Dario Argento the director that made the movie work so well and while Inferno never reaches the level of Suspiria, Argento is able to deliver a fairly eerie movie with some decent suspense. Dario Argento never really tries to make sense out of anything, but even though the incoherent plot hurts the movie in some ways, it does allow Argento to make a movie that feels like a really bad dream; Inferno may not make a whole lot of sense at times, but it’s fairly creepy and weird and has a nice nightmare type feel. However, the strongest aspect of the film is the visual look, which is simply stunning. Dario Argento has always been a visual filmmaker, but Inferno might just be his most beautiful film to look at and thanks to Blue-Underground’s release of the Blu-ray we get to see this in all it’s high-definition glory. The use of colors are simply beautiful and the camera shots are amazing and again Inferno is visually stunning and that in part help makes a lot more out of Inferno.

The pacing at times can be a little sluggish and even at 106-minutes Inferno can feel a little overly long; in my opinion there aren’t many filmmakers that can stage a death scene like Argento and Inferno may not be his best in that regard, but he does deliver some interesting death scenes. Besides that again the pacing can be a little slow and with no real story it can make for a few slow moments, but Argento’s eye for visuals does at times make up for the semi-slow pacing. The problems are more of less in the 2nd half due to the lack of plot, but like I said while the pace can be a bit sluggish and the film a little overly long, Argento’s brilliant visual look keeps the film from getting boring.

Overall Inferno was a solid if not underwhelming movie and while I don’t see this as one of Argento’s best flicks more along the lines of middle of the pack, but despite the flaws and they may actually out-weigh the positives, but Inferno still works for the most part and Argento fans should enjoy. The stunning visual look to go with the nightmare like feel and fairly decent suspense help make more out of Inferno than there might actually be. The film again is incoherent, but there is just something about this I really enjoy.

























Burial Ground (1981) Review

Posted in Burial Ground with tags , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2013 by Last Road Reviews



*** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- When the Moon Turns Red the Dead Shall Rise

Release Date- July 9th, 1981

Running Time- 85-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Piero Regnoli

Director- Andrea Bianchi

Starring- Karin Well, Gian Luigi Chirizzi, Peter Bark, Maria Angela Giordan

There are bad movies and than there are movies on a whole other playing ground such as films like Last Slumber Party and films like this from 1981 Burial Ground, which is one of the ultimate so bad it’s good movies. The film was made by Andrea Bianchi and besides this film the only other film I have seen by him is the ultra sleazy Strip Nude for Your Killer; besides those two movies I also saw Lucio Fulci’s Cat in the Brain, which features gore footage from some of his later films as well as other films he was involved with and one of them being from a film called Nightmare directed by Andrea Bianchi. Strip Nude for Your Killer was a fairly well made movie that put more energy into sleaze rather than suspense, but it did have some decent tension and in terms of style it’s hard to believe the same person made this film and the only thing they have in common is at times sleaze. Burial Ground is such a hack job it’s impossible not to love this movie.

The plot has something to do with some professor and some discovery he made and he invites a few people over to tell them about it. Unless I missed it I’m not sure anything is made clear in regards to the discovery or the connection between the professor and his guests, but who really cares honestly? I don’t think any of us go into Burial Ground for its plot. I often wonder when it comes to a movie like Burial Ground what the writer thought after the script was completed? Did the writer think he wrote a really good film or was the hack writing intentional? When watching Burial Ground one would have to assume everything was intentional but you’d be surprised. The script is absolutely hysterical with some of the worst best writing ever.

Writer Piero Regnoli delivers one of the most awesomely bad screenplays in all of cult cinema. Obviously there is no character development at all nor do the characters have any depth, but who really cares? All the characters are entertaining because they either do or say the dumbest things. Here’s a sample of some of the awesome dialogue;

‘You look just like a little whore, but I like that in a girl’ (someday I’ll have to use that as a pickup line and see if it works). We also have the amazing ‘You’re getting a raise out of me alright, but it has nothing to do with money’. Now tell me is that not brilliant writing?

What Burial Ground might be most famous for is Peter Bark as Michael; Peter looks like a mini-Dario Argento and he’s playing a child, but its clear he was at least in his late 20s. Peter Bark has built up quite the following from this film and nobody seems to have any clue where he is now or if he’s even still alive. Michael also really loves his mother, but not in a normal way. Michael is jealous seeing his mother with another man and one scene has Michael kissing his mother only not in a way you kiss your mom than he begins to slide his hand up her dress! And when his mother wants no part of it, Michael responds with ‘What’s wrong? I’m your son’. The screenplay is again hysterical and I have to assume much of what we have was intentional. Piero Regnoli according to the IMDb has 111 writing credits and looking through them the only ones I seem to know are Nightmare City and Lucio Fulci’s Demonia and neither of those come anywhere near the brilliance of Burial Ground.

Director Andrea Bianchi delivers a film that is so bad its damn brilliant! The pace though can be a bit sluggish as its basically the same scene over and over again, but the film is actually action packed as the zombie action starts quickly. Bianchi crafts such a hack job the film is just way too much fun. Much like Strip Nude for Your Killer, Burial Ground can be quite sleazy at times and the scene most talked about is the nipple ripping scene, which has to be seen to be believed! Like I said in the opening my review besides this film the only other film I know by Bianchi is Strip Nude for Your Killer ad of course that’s not counting the gore scenes from Nightmare used in Fulci’s Cat in the Brain, but based of the 2 films I’ve seen by Bianchi I am a fan. While Strip Nude for Your Killer actually had some nice moments of suspense mixed with the sleaze, the suspense and tension in Burial Ground are so silly and campy and rather than feeling the suspense you’ll be laughing at how absurd it is. The zombies also stray from the norm as we see them using teamwork at times and even using battering rams, which Nightmare City also featured scenes like that, which I assume has more to do with Piero Regnoli since he wrote both films.

The zombies look quite silly and really aren’t very menacing in the least, but even with the silly makeup F/X they still look kinda cool and there is a nice amount of gore scenes as well. Burial Ground pretty much has it all; gore, zombies, hysterical dialogue, nudity and Peter Bark! If you love silly and campy horror movies Burial Ground is a must! This rates as one of my all time favorite cult movies!





















Monster Dog (1984) Review

Posted in Monster Dog with tags , , , , , on November 29, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

Review by Dave



** Out of 5

Tagline- The Fear, the Terror, the Nightmare, They Will Never Forget It!

Release Date- December, 1984

Running Time- 84-Minutes

Rating- NR

Writer/Director- Clyde Anderson (Claudio Fragasso)

Starring- Alice Cooper, Victoria Vera, Carlos Santurio, Pepa Sarsa, Pepita James

Released in 1984 starring rock legend Alice Cooper, Monster Dog was written and directed by Clyde Anderson also known as Claudio Fragasso and while it may be a different name, but its the same result. This was yet another turkey made by Fragasso and while I fully get his appeal on the so bad its good level I just find his films so bad they’re bad. Monster Dog does nothing to change my mind in his work, but from a production side of things this might be his best film as the production values are better than the bulk of his work. But while production values might be better the quality of the film is no better than his other movies.

Vincent Raven (Cooper) is a rock star returning to his childhood home to shoot a music video; the place Vincent is returning to is the site of a bunch of murders by dogs led by a monster dog, which is a werewolf. Secrets from the past come to surface as the dogs begin to maul people.

The script by Fragasso is the typical script by him; its idiotic with poor characters no sense of plot and idiotic dialogue. Fragasso in all his years never seemed to figure anything out as a writer or director for that matter and while this isn’t his worst script and if anything its one of his stronger ones, which isn’t saying much since the script is a complete mess with some decent ideas, but with a hack writer you get what you pay for.

As poor as the script was the direction by Fragasso is even worse. With Monster Dog, Fragasso attempts at creating an eerie tone with a film based on suspense and not much of a shocker, but its a complete failure every step of the way as the film is poorly paced and despite running at only 84-minutes it feels like 500-minutes. Even in some of Fragasso’s past work as poor as the films were at least they weren’t boring, well for the most part. They were bad films and while some found them so bad their good I just found them bad, but again at least in general they weren’t boring, but with Monster Dog, Fragasso delivers a boring sloppy paced movie. The gore is light and the action scenes are forgettable in general.

I actually liked what Claudio Fragasso was attempting with Monster Dog and with a director with a clue this could have turned out decent, but Fragasso isn’t a good filmmaker and all he creates is a boring film with action scenes few and far between and even when there is action it’s so poorly staged.

As most fans of Italian cinema know more often than not these films are dubbed even if the cast is English speaking since these films are normally shot with no sound and its all added in later and Alice Cooper didn’t do his own dubbing, which is kind of annoying since we see his mouth moving, but not his voice. Cooper also lends his music talents to the soundtrack and no question Alice Cooper is one of the rock greats, but the songs used come across as B-side singles, but they were still decent tracks.

Overall Monster Dog is in typical Fragasso fashion a mess of a film; I was quite bored through most of the film and the F/X are quite poor and the Monster Dog is hysterical. If you’re one of those that can find the fun in Fragasso’s work you might dig this, but for those like me that dislike him this turkey is a skipper.

Antropophagus: The Grim Reaper (1980) Review

Posted in Antropophagus: The Grim Reaper with tags , , , , , , , on October 24, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

Review by Dave


Antropophagus: The Grim Reaper

** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- It’s Not Fear That Tears You Apart. It’s Him!

Release Date- August 9th, 1980

Running Time- 91-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Joe D’Amato & George Eastman

Director- Joe D’Amato

Starring- Tisa Farrow, Saverio Vallone, Serena Grandi, Zora Kerova and George Eastman

Released in 1980 The Geim Reaper was heavily censored and was part of the video nasties for its graphic acts of violence. Over the years the movie has built up a large cult following and many cite this as one of Joe D’Amato’s best movies and in general outside of Beyond the Darkness I was never really fond of his work and the Grim Reaper might be one of his better movies in terms of filmmaking, but at the end of the day the film is quite boring and made more frustrating is it had all the elements to really be a true classic of the genre, but instead it ends being a movie that fails in general and the shocking scenes are surprisingly not as shocking as one might have heard.

Joe D’Amato was best know for his gore flicks such as Beyond the Darkness or his sleazy XXX flicks such as the Emmanuelle series and Erotic Nights of the Living Dead, but with the Grim Reaper while there is plenty of gore on display, D’Amato opts to go for more atmosphere and it was an interesting idea, but as I stated it doesn’t really work as much as I had hoped. As I mentioned this film is sometimes noted for its extreme gore, but anyone that has seen enough of these films what you see here isn’t as shocking as many reviews state. If anything this flick does show D’Amato had a little more talent than might realize, but again the film at least for me doesn’t fully work.

The screenplay by Joe D’Amato & George Eastman has a group of tourists stranded on a deserted island where all the people have been murdered by a crazed cannibal killer (played by Eastman). And that is basically the plot in a nutshell. There is a backstory on the killer, but the plot is light, which is typical at times with the horror genre, but that’s not where the movie fails. The problem is the script by D’Amato & Eastman is rather dull with poor characters. I highly doubt anyone will remember the names of any of the characters. Nothing the characters say or do is very interesting and sure slasher movies aren’t exactly founded on great characters, but these are some of the weaker ones and none really have their own identities either basically all the characters are interchangeable.

As director Joe D’Amato actually crafts a fairly well-made movie; rather than focus on sleaze and gore, which was D’Amato’s trademark, he attempts at creating an eerie atmosphere with a film built on suspense. The problem though is the characters are so weak it’s impossible for them to carry the movie and therefore what D’Amato attempts fails and instead of atmosphere and suspense, Grim Reaper is just kind of slow and boring. With that said there are some nice touches and there are moments when what D’Amato was doing works well, but in general the pacing is just too sluggish. I can’t speak for everyone, but for me the films I find the most suspenseful are the ones I can get some kind of attachment to the characters, but the fact they are so faceless it hinders suspense and tension.

The film has often been cited for its gore F/X and while to the more casual viewer the film would be quite graphic, but for anyone that knows these films it’s actually not as gory as many have made it out to be, but with that said the Grim Reaper does have some nice gore scenes. But just don’t expect as much as you may have heard.

The casting for the movie is excellent with a number of actors that appeared in countless Italian horror flicks in the 70s and 80s. We have Tisa Farrow, Serena Grandi (under the name Vanessa Steiger), Zora Kerova and of course as mentioned earlier George Eastman. Despite the solid cast they’re pretty much wasted here since the film is quite slow.

Overall Antropophagus: The Grim Reaper has slightly grown on me and while I like what D’Amato was attempting to do with the movie, but it is a little too sluggish in pacing and the poor script hurts the movie. While I never hated the movie I do enjoy it a little more now, but its still mostly sub-par. This was followed by a sequel of sorts the following year again directed by D’Amato and George Eastman returns as well playing the villain, but he isn’t the same person and I’m not quite sure why its billed as sequel since it really doesn’t have anything to do with the Grim Reaper outside of a semi-similar plot.