Archive for Italian Horror

Contamination . 7 (1993) Review

Posted in Contamination .7 with tags , , , on April 15, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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CONTAMINATION .7

** Out of 5

Tagline- They Hunt, They Feed, They Kill, You’re Next

Release Date- October 18th, 1993

Running Time- 91-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Daniel Steel & Albert Lawrence

Director- Martin Newlin (Fabrizio Laurenti)

Starring- Mary Sellers, Jason Saucier, Bubba Reeves, Chelsi Stahr, Vince O’Neil

Released in 1993 Contamination .7, which also goes under the titles, Creepers, the Crawlers, Troll III and Troll III: Contamination Point 7, is a rather poor flick and the multiple titles is probably a way to trick people into seeing this junk. The credits list Martin Newlin as director, which is Fabrizio Laurenti under an alias (can’t say I blame him for using one), but other sites also list David Hills as one of the directors, which is none other than the infamous Joe D’Amato. Regardless of if both directed the film or not its just terrible and at this point the Italian horror film, which gained some popularity on the international market in the 60s and remained popular through most of the 80s was dying by the end of the 80s and was dead by 90s, as the top filmmakers were either dead or lost their touch and in some cases the hack filmmakers were still putting out their junk with even worse results and really the only exception was Dario Argento and outside of the underrated Trauma the rest of his work from the 90s on was hit or miss. With Joe D’Amato throuh his career he bordered decent filmmaker to hack and while I personally dislike the good majority of his work he did make a truly excellent film with Beyond the Darkness and while I don’t like Grim Reaper I did like what he was aiming to do with the film, which was very mixed in execution.

The plot revolves around the dumping of nuclear waste is a forest, which results in the trees in the forest coming alive and killing people. Basically there is your plot with little else except the subplot of a former couple working on their relationship.

The screenplay was written by Daniele Stoppa under the name Daniel Steel and Albert Lawrence. According to other sites Rosella Drudi & Fabrizio Laurenti also took part in the writing and its amazing that this film needed this many writers for such a poorly plotted film. The script while has a decent idea never fully works and characters are lifeless and dull with others being complete morons that are better off dead. Dialogue is often silly and while at times its meant to be funny, but a lot of the times the comedic aspect isn’t intentional. The screenplay is simply a bore and while Italian horror may not always mentioned for their writing (though the 70s had some well written films) the script for Contamination .7 is complete garbage and its no surprise Italian horror died a painful death when trash like this was made.

Since only Martin Newlin is listed as director I’ll only mention him. The pace of the film is quite sluggish and the overall production sloppy. There is zero suspense and tension and as the film goes on it can be quite a task to get through. As I mentioned earlier at this point Italian cinema was dead and buried and when seeing films like this it really isn’t difficult to understand why. The film is poorly made the direction flat, pacing is slow and boring and with the exception of 1 scene the lack of gore further sinks this film.

Contamination .7 is a very poor film that for the good portion of the running time is a total bore and even the most die hard fans of Italian cinema probably won’t feel much different than I do. This was one of the last films by Joe D’Amato as after this the good bulk of his work would be porn films and based off what I read he didn’t fair much better.

Inferno (1980) Review

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

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INFERNO

**** 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.

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Burial Ground (1981) Review

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

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BURIAL GROUND

*** 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!

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Monster Dog (1984) Review

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

Review by Dave

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MONSTER DOG

** 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.

Black Demons (1991) Review

Posted in Black Demons with tags , , , , on October 15, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

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BLACK DEMONS

** Out of 5

Release Date- 1991

Running Time- 88-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Olga Pehar

Director- Umberto Lenzi

Starring- Keith Van Hoven, Joe Balogh, Sonia Curtis, Phillip Murray, Juliana Teixeira, Maria Alves

While I’m far from an expert on Umberto Lenzi, Black Demons is the 4th film by him I have seen. I wouldn’t say he is a great filmmaker, but he does know how to make an enjoyable movie that has enough gore and or sleaze to make up for any shortcomings he has as a filmmaker. Black Demons though in my opinion was pretty much a waste. While it did have the so bad its good moments, as a whole it was just bad really bad. I knew what kind of movie I was getting, but based on what I have seen from Umberto Lenzi I was expecting a mindless gore-fest, but sadly that’s not what I got well besides the mindless part.

The screenplay written by Olga Pehar was simply horrible; the horror genre may not always be known for the scripts, but this was just bad. The dialogue is cringe worthy. The characters were terrible; while the concept was fairly decent I suppose nothing in the screenplay works at all. The dialogue is just idiotic everything is well idiotic. Black Demons is one of the worst written horror flicks I’ve come across and I’ve seen my fair share of badly written horror movies.

Umberto Lenzi is unable to build up much tension or atmosphere. The scenes are poorly paced and lack any tension throughout. Black Demons runs at about 90-min, but quite honestly it feel a hell of a lot longer than that. Umberto Lenzi can craft a sleazy fun time, but here he just falls flat. The biggest problem is the lack of action. The longer the movie goes without any the more boring it gets. In general what I’ve seen from Lenzi I wouldn’t say they were exactly suspense filled movies, but here nothing works at all and after watching Black Demons it’s no surprise Lenzi’s career would go down the drain along with Italian horror. By this time Lenzi was nothing more than a hack and I suppose one can say he always was, but at least he was an entertaining hack as Cannibal Ferox is a fun movie that knocks off Cannibal Holocaust and while Holocaust is the better movie I actually prefer Ferox, but I also saw that first, but nothing here in Black Demons works at all and again Lenzi may not be a great filmmaker, but could craft a fun movie, but not here.

The acting was weak, which is to be expected but I have seen worse, but Philip Murray has to rate as one of the very worst actors I have ever seen. From the way he delivers his lines, to his movements and facial expressions he was just bad. But with that said he does help the movie in ways and helps it have the so bad its good moments. Without Phillip Murray’s terrible acting Black Demons would have been a complete waste of time. Phillip Murray was amazingly bad no doubt he’s one of the very worst actors of all time and due to that he can make the movie a little fun. The scariest thing about Black Demons is the rest of the actors come across as fairly decent when compared to Phillip Murray. I wasn’t expecting Oscar worthy acting, but this one was pretty damn bad as far as acting goes.

Black Demons released in 1991 in many ways is the last of the 80s horror film. The movie really does look like something out of the 80s, but also what people have to remember is even though the decade ends it normally takes a year or 2 before films begin to change. So this was released sometime in 1991 so the 80s style was still there in most horror flicks at this time. But if I didn’t know any better I would think this was made in the 80s and just left on the shelf.

Despite the title Black Demons this is a zombie flick and like Lenzi’s Nightmare City he likes to mix things up. In many ways this is sort of a slasher flick meets a zombie flick. There is a scene with one zombie stalking one of the characters and when there is a knock at the door the zombie backs off. Also the zombies prefer to use weapons as well. That’s about the only positive thing I can say about Black Demons is that is tries to be different than what dominated at this time, which was either a knock off of George Romero or Lucio Fulci or sometimes both.

Black Demons also goes under the title of Demons 3, which makes people think this was a sequel to Lamberto Bava’s Demons flicks. But the title Demons 3 was thrown on for marketing and is in no way connected that series.

Bottom line is Black Demons is a very poor movie; it’s too slow paced at times and when there is action it really doesn’t help much. The couple of gore scenes are fairly decent, but cannot save the movie. As much as I love Italian horror by this time it was clear the horror industry in Italy was pretty much dead except for a couple of filmmakers who were able to make some good movies. I really can’t think of many positive things to say about Black Demons and while you can do far worse in my opinion this one is a skipper. Perhaps one day I will revisit this, but not anytime soon.

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