Archive for Franca Stoppi

Women’s Prison Massacre (1983) Review

Posted in Women's Prison Massacre with tags , , , , , , , on August 25, 2014 by Last Road Reviews


** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- The Killing Never Stops

Release Date- August 31st, 1983

Running Time- 89-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Claudio Fragasso & Olivier Lefait

Director- Bruno Mattei (As Gilbert Roussel)

Starring- Laura Gemser, Gabriele Tinti, Ursula Flores, Lorraine De Selle, Franca Stoppi and Carlo De Mejo

The Women in Prison genre was fairly successful in the 70s, but in 1969 Jess Franco’s 99 Women is sort of the film where the formula for the WIP film started, but as I stated in other reviews for these kind of films the Roger Corman productions of the early 70s with films such as Women in Cages, The Big Bird Cage and the Big Doll House were the ones that kick started these films and most filmmakers followed their style even if 99 Women had a slight jump ahead. Throughout the 70s there were plenty of WIP films made, but by the 80s they were starting to fade. Released in 1983 Women’s Prison Massacre is a late entry in the WIP film and I’m not sure if anyone really cared about these films by this time and after seeing Women’s Prison Massacre I’m sure people cared even less. Women’s Prison Massacre has a nice cult following and its quite easy to see why, but by this time the WIP film was more or less a tired act and while cult filmmaker Bruno Mattei takes the basic elements and throws in a few other ideas to the mix it just for me wasn’t working.

Bruno Mattei has gained a large cult following and I can easily get his appeal as I’m a fan of such filmmakers as Juan Piquer Simon (Pieces, Slugs) and Ed Wood (Plan 9 from Outer Space), but I never really got into Mattei in general except Hell of the Living Dead though I have issues with that film and its mostly the opening and closing act I enjoyed, but I did find Rats to be more or less a fun time. And of course there was his partner in crime Claudio Fragasso who wrote a lot of films for Mattei before becoming a director and like Mattei I never really got into Fragasso with the exception of Troll 2, which was one of the ultimate so bad its good films, but point is its kinda fitting two of the worst would form a partnership. Also working with Mattei and Fragasso was Rosella Drudi who is married to Claudio Fragasso and the three formed a match made in bad movie cinema, but Rosella wasn’t involved in this.

Emanuelle (Gemser) a reporter gets too close in exposing a corrupt official is sent to prison where its run by a cruel warden (De Selle). However things take a turn for the worse when male inmates trying to escape take over the prison.

The screenplay was written by Claudio Fragasso & Olivier Lefait and the film is poorly plotted with mostly dull characters. Basically the characters are copies of those from past WIP films and by this time it was a tired act. Outside of the male inmates taking over the prison its your basic WIP film, which again by 1983 was pretty much dead. Like I said I get the appeal of Fragasso as both a writer and director, but most of his films I find rather dire with again the exception of Troll 2 and to a lesser degree Zombie 3.

Director Bruno Mattei under the name Gilbert Roussel delivers a very sluggishly paced film. After a slow start, Mattei crafts some fun scenes and Women’s Prison Massacre works on the so bad its good level, but around the midway mark the pace again gets sluggish and I found it a chore to get through at times. While the final act picks up a bit, but by this point I no longer really cared and I’ve seen this all before only done far more entertaining. Fans of Bruno Mattei will no doubt find plenty to enjoy here, but I’ve never really been a huge fan and this was the typical poor paced film by Mattei with some fun moments.

The cast is actually quite strong here with plenty of notable stars from Italian horror such as Lorraine De Selle (House by the Edge of the Park, Cannibal Ferox), Carlo De Mejo (City of the Living Dead), Franca Stoppi (Beyond the Darkness) and of course Laura Gemser of the Black Emanuelle series. After her acting career was over Gemser would continue to work in film as a crew member and was a Costume Designer on Troll 2.

Overall Women’s Prison Massacre in my opinion was quite poor though with that said there were a couple of fun moments, but not enough to make too much out of this. If you’re a fan of Bruno Mattei I’m sure you’ll find plenty here to enjoy, but as stated I’m not really into Mattei and after a decent start I lost interest and was sort of bored throughout. However with that said I would watch this again.

There is one thing of note here a male inmate attempts to rape a female inmate unaware she’s put a razor blade in her well you know. That was the only real highlight.










Top 15 Scream Queens

Posted in Top 15 Scream Queens with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

What exactly makes a Scream Queen? Is it someone who has appeared in many horror films? What about an actress that made 1 horror film that she gave a great performance to go along with a great film? Many people will say you need a few horror films to be a Scream Queen and that’s fair enough, but what about if most of those films are terrible? So with this list I decided that it doesn’t matter if you have 1 credit or 100. All that matters is quality of the film and performance.

I know some will disagree with me including actresses that aren’t really known for horror, but again it’s about quality more than anything else. There were several actresses left out that I really wanted to include such as Daniela Doria, Zora Kerova, Lorraine De Selle and they almost made the cut, but in the end decided against it.

(For some reason I am having trouble with uploads so if any pictures don’t show sorry about that.

15. Hayden Panettiere

Notable films- Scream 4


I know many will disagree with my placing of Hayden at number 15 and I could have placed several other actresses here, but I went with Hayden because Kirby in Scream 4 is just awesome! A hot chick who loves horror. As much as I liked Scream 4 without Hayden it might have been a little less.

14. Franca Stoppi

Notable Films- Beyond the Darkness, The Other Hell


Her character Iris was downright creepy in Beyond the Darkness and while that may be her most notable credit (she has done other horror flicks) Iris is one of the more memorable characters and Stoppi more than deserving.

13. Marilyn Burns

Notable films- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre


Like the above she has a couple more credits, but TCM is all she needs. I easily could have rated her higher. Besides a great performance the hell that she went through while filming alone gets her on this list. As Sally, Marilyn Burns was great and sure I could fill this up with other actresses with tons of credits, but none of those actresses gave as strong a performance or were in as good a film.

12. Lisa Wilcox

Notable films- A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 & 5


I always preferred Alice over Nancy. That’s just me, but for certain purposes I couldn’t rate Lisa Wilcox higher. I just love how Alice starts and what she becomes. From shy nerd to kick ass chick ready to kick Freddy’s ass

11. Corteney Cox

Notable films- Scream, Scream 2, Scream 3, Scream 4


Nobody can play the bitch like Corteney and rather than wanna see her meet a grisly end you root for her to survive. Her performances are hysterical and she always brings the fun factor to the Scream movies.

10. Cristina Galbo

Notable films- What Have You Done to Solange, The Killer Must Kill Again, Living Dead at Manchester Morgue


One of the most stunning women to grace the screen, in all her films, Cristina not only brings beauty, but something innocent and naive to her performances.

9. Jennifer Love Hewitt

Notable films- I Know What You Did Last Summer, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer


I know some will disagree with J. Love on the list and perhaps as high as she rates. What guy wasn’t totally crushing on Jennifer back in the 90s? With her stunning looks, beautiful smile, J. Love brought the super hot girl next door quality to her films.

8. Catriona MacColl

Notable films- City of the Living Dead, The Beyond, House by the Cemetery


Her work with Fulci was great and MacColl brought a lot of class and charm in her work with Lucio Fulci.

7. Heather Langenkamp

Notable films- A Nightmare on Elm Street, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3, New Nightmare


I can hear the groans now over the ranking. Nancy is one of the greats for sure and the original Elm Street a masterpiece. Nancy wasn’t like most characters in horror films as she was not only smart, but didn’t need help in taking down Freddy. I’ve always loved the character and how she changed in the series.

6. Edwige Fenech

Notable films- The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh, Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key, The Case of the Bloody Iris, Strip Nude for Your Killer, Hostel: Part II


Is there any woman more stunning? I think not. Her Giallo work was truly excellent and it didn’t hurt she was always willing to shed her clothes. Edwige is one of my all-time favorites and wanted to rate her even higher.

5. Daria Nicolodi

Notable Films- Deep Red, Inferno, Tenebre, Phenomena, Opera


Her work with Argento is brilliant and at times European horror isn’t always know for strong female characters, but with Deep Red she broke that. Through the years her work with Argento made her a staple in the horror genre and Daria who sadly sometimes gets looked over is a terrific actress.

4. Danielle Harris

Notable Films- Halloween 4, Halloween 5, Halloween, Halloween II, Hatchet II


Danielle is probably the only child actor in a horror film that didn’t get on my nerves. As young Jamie Lloyd in Halloween 4 & 5, Danielle gave performances far beyond her years and her work with Rob Zombie in his Halloween films were great. Halloween II she really got to show off her acting range. But she will always be remembered as Jamie Lloyd and dare I say I liked her more than Laurie?

3. Sheila Keith

Notable Films- The House of Whipcord, Frightmare, The Comeback


Sadly an actress that time has forgotten. Her work with Pete Walker is truly amazing. She was downright creepy in House of Whipcord and the Comeback, but Frightmare she was just chilling! Its sad many horror fans don’t mention her as she was a terrific actress and if she doesn’t seriously creep you out something must be wrong with you.

2. Jamie Lee Curtis

Notable Films- Halloween, The Fog, Prom Night, Terror Train, Halloween II, Halloween H20


What can I say about Jamie that hasn’t already been stated before? Her title of the scream queen is more than fitting and deserving as her work in the genre is iconic for a reason. As Laurie Strode she set the bar on the woman in danger role. I often alternate on my top 2 picks since both are more than deserving.

1. Neve Campbell

Notable Films- Scream, Scream 2, Scream 3, Scream 4, The Craft


This might be a surprise to some, but as Sydney, Neve Campbell set the bar for the modern scream queen. She was vulnerable, but not weak as she fights back at every turn. Neve brought this sweet tough innocence to Syd, but when push comes to shove she’ll kick your ass!

Beyond the Darkness (1979) Review

Posted in Beyond the Darkness with tags , , , , , , on July 31, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

By Dave Kaye

(This movie goes under several different titles and I have posters or lobby cards under some of the alternate titles).


**** Out of 5

Tagline- A Fate Worse than Death

Release Date- November 15th, 1979

Running Time- 93-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Ottavio Fabbri

Director- Joe D’Amato

Starring- Kieran Canter, Franca Stoppi, Cinzia Monreale, Sam Modesto, Anna Cardini, Lucia D’Elia

Released in 1979 Beyond the Darkness has built a large cult following and is often dubbed one of the most gruesome exploitation flicks of the 70s and I would have to agree with that comment. I’m not an expert when it comes to the films of Joe D’Amato and has much as I know of him I’ve only seen a handful of his work. Of all his films I’d have to rate Beyond the Darkness as by far his best work. This movie truly is from another era as we don’t see movies like this and even in its era it still stands out as more is actually implied than shown when it comes to certain subjects.

Beyond the Darkness is driven more by the characters and the story than it is action and while both characters and story might be lacking a bit this isn’t the type of movie with constant action and while the movie is very gory it’s only a few scenes that feature any gore. If you’re expecting a constant gore-fest one might be disappointed, but there are still some cringe worthy gore scenes, but I love the way the movie turned out and for me this is one of the best exploitation flicks out of Italy or America for that matter as well.

After the death of his girlfriend Anna (Monreale), Frank (Canter) a rich orphan is driven mad and steals her body and takes it back to his mansion and keeps it perfectly preserved; Frank also begins killing young women he comes across and his housekeeper Iris (Stoppi) helps him dispose of the bodies.

The screenplay by Ottavio Fabbri focuses more on the characters, which was a nice idea and while this works it also hinders the movie in certain areas. When we first meet Frank he seems a bit weird, but was he always so crazy? When someone you love dies the first idea isn’t to steal their body and murder people, but we never really get much of an idea on what Frank was like prior to Anna’s death. Regardless for an Italian exploitation flick, Fabbri actually delivers a fairly well written script with a few shortcomings. The characters are odd, which helps keep them interesting and while necrophilia is the main basis for the story we actually never see any such actions.

Director Joe D’Amato delivers an excellent and eerie flick; D’Amato makes perfect use of his locations and delivers a movie loaded with atmosphere. Rather than focus on gore scenes, D’Amato lets the story unravel, but when it comes to the gore, D’Amato really delivers a sick and gruesome movie and some scenes may even have the most hardened gore fans a little squeamish. The pacing of the can be a little slow in some spots, but due to the eerie feel and the total weirdness of the movie, D’Amato almost always keeps things interesting.

I’m not really an expert on Joe D’Amato’s career and while I know a lot about him I’ve only seen a handful of his directorial efforts and while they had their moments I was never really impressed with him as a filmmaker, but Beyond the Darkness shows D’Amato was a filmmaker with talent as he makes one of the best Italian horror flicks of the 70s. Besides directing D’Amato was also the cinematographer and he’s credited under his real name Aristide Massaccesi, D’Amato was also the cinematographer on the cult classic What Have You Done to Solange also using his real name and I think he’s a much better DP and really knows how to get the most out of each scene and I think that also is what elevates this movie perhaps more than his direction.

It’s quite difficult to rate the acting seeing the movie dubbed in English, but based on movements and all the other things that go into acting besides dialogue Kieran Canter does well in the lead, but it’s Franca Stoppi as Iris that steals the show; Stoppi delivers one of the most strangest performances I’ve ever seen and she’s really creepy; Franca Stoppi is truly memorable in the role of Iris.

One of the things Beyond the Darkness is best known for was the score by Goblin; most fans of Euro horror no doubt are big fans of Goblin from their great work in the genre and best known for their work with Dario Argento. Beyond the Darkness just might be their best work or at least the main theme. Goblin has had many different line ups and this one is without Claudio Simonetti, but even without Simonetti, Goblin is still solid and with their score for Beyond the Darkness they add a whole new dimension to the movie.

Overall Beyond the Darkness is an excellent movie and while it has a few shortcomings it has more than enough going for it to make up for it. This is classic exploitation cinema.