Archive for splatter

The Wizard of Gore (1970) Review

Posted in Wizard of Gore (1970) with tags , , , on September 13, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

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THE WIZARD OF GORE

**** Out of 5

Tagline- Is It Magic? Or Wholesale Slaughter?

Release Date- October 23rd, 1970

Running Time- 95-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Allen Khan

Director- Herschell Gordon Lewis

Starring- Ray Sager, Judy Cler, Wayne Ratay, Phil Laurenson

Released in 1970 The Wizard of Gore was yet another blood soaked horror flick by exploitation filmmaker Herschell Gordon Lewis; of all the HG Lewis movies I have seen, which is about 5 the Wizard of Gore is easily my favorite of the bunch with Blood Feast coming in 2nd.

Some have accused the movie of being boring with such witty comments about the movie calling it The Wizard of Bore and I suppose I can see why some might find it boring, but I can honestly say I was never once bored. As much as I liked The Gore-Gore Girls and Blood Feast when there were lulls in the action I did every so often lose a little bit of interest, but Wizard of Gore I can say I was never once bored at all. The Wizard of Gore lives up to its name; if you want gore you got in buckets! Some of the gore F/X may not look great anymore, but for the most part they still pack a punch and can be rather gruesome and I loved every second of it.

The screenplay by Allen Khan is pretty much what one can expect from a low budget gore flick, but there were some decent ideas presented even if they never really go anywhere or make much sense. The screenplay is pretty much the same scenes over and over again just worded differently, but overall while the script may not be great it was actually better than I expected it to be; but I doubt anyone will really care about the script since it’s just merely there to well kill time before the gore.

Director Herschell Gordon Lewis delivers a gore drenched cult classic; the pacing is fairly well done and like I said I was never bored during the movie even when there were lulls in the action. The Wizard of Gore is a bit sloppy and rough around the edges, but this is what makes the movie so entertaining. HG Lewis is very much a schlock director The Wizard of Gore delivers on that. The biggest selling point is the gore and Lewis never holds back in showing us the gore; from insides being ripped out and all being shown close up, HG Lewis delivers on what the fans want.

The acting is obviously wooden and that does make the movie all the more enjoyable, but the characters though were fairly interesting and likeable. Montag the Magnificent played by Ray Sager was just awesome. Sager’s performance is over the top and silly, but that is exactly how the character was meant to be played. Ray Sager actually went onto have a fairly successful career as a producer with the Prom Night sequels as well as the TV series the Eleventh Hour and was an assistant director on such films as My Bloody Valentine (original) and Terror Train.

The Wizard of Gore was a highly enjoyable splatter flick and we just don’t see movies like this anymore. It seemed once the 80s ended a lot of low budget horror flicks got terrible and not in a good way. Many try to make a cult flick, but I think it something that just happens. The Wizard of Gore has found a new lease on life with the remake with Crispin Glover and being mentioned in the surprise blockbuster Juno. If you are a fan of HG Lewis or schlock cinema this comes highly recommended.

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The Gore-Gore Girls (1972) Review

Posted in Gore-Gore Girls, The with tags , , , on September 8, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

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THE GORE-GORE GIRLS

*** Out of 5

Tagline- The Most Horrifying Film You’ll Ever See in Your Life

Release Date- December, 1972

Running Time- 81-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Alan J. Dachman

Director- Herschell Gordon Lewis

Starring- Frank Kress, Amy Farrell, Hedda Lubin, Russ Badger and Henny Youngman

Before there were filmmakers like Lucio Fulci there was H.G. Lewis who made a string of low budget splatter flicks. Herschell Gordon Lewis has been dubbed the Godfather of gore and for good reason. Lewis is seen as the first splatter filmmaker and while he isn’t a mainstream filmmaker he has splattered his way into cult status.

Released in 1972 The Gore-Gore Girls would be H.G. Lewis’ final film until 30-years later when he made Blood Feast 2: All You Can Eat in 2002. The Gore-Gore Girls was a great way for Lewis to end his career. Make no mistake about it; The Gore-Gore Girls is a bad movie, but this is one of those so bad its good movies. These kinda movies are very much an acquired taste. The films of H.G. Lewis you will either love or hate and odds are nobody will really say they were ok. Again it’s either a love it or hate it.

Besides boasting one of the coolest titles in cinema history The Gore-Gore Girls is also one of the most brutal horror flicks ever made; though as the years have passed and such make up F/X artists like Tom Savini, Rick Baker and the guys at KNB have come around the gore here isn’t quite as cool as it was in 1972, but with that said it’s still pretty damn sweet. The murder scenes are really cool and at times really silly. One girl has her face repeatedly stabbed and then the flesh ripped off and that was actually kinda disgusting, but I loved every second of it and the highlight was a woman having her behind mutilated with a meat tenderizer and then having salt and pepper put on it (I kid you not).

The screenplay was written by Alan J. Dachman and it’s exactly how one would imagine it. The script is quite poor with barley any plot, annoying and stupid characters that have the most idiotic things to say, which of course is what makes it so funny. The lead character Abraham Gentry played by Frank Kress is actually fairly interesting. Normally these splatter flicks have terrible characters and The Gore-Gore Girls is no exception, but Gentry is actually fairly interesting. He’s really eccentric, kind of annoying and obnoxious, but oddly enough sort of likeable.

The screenplay almost plays out like a Giallo and had this been an Italian horror flick it probably would be called one. The mystery is never really played up to however. I suppose one can figure out who the killer is, but no real clues are given for the most part. The cops are total dopes as is pretty much everyone actually. The script is filled with silly one-liners, but they are actually funny due to how idiotic they are.

Director Herschell Gordon Lewis ignores creating any suspense, scares or attempting any storytelling and gets right into the splatter. The movies run at a decent pace, but the longer the gaps in kill scenes you might slightly lose some interest, but there is enough silly things happening to keep the viewer mostly interested. When it comes to the gore, Lewis doesn’t hold back at all. As I stated before a girl is repeatedly stabbed in the face and has her flesh ripped off and the meat tenderizer scene is the highlight; a girl has her throat slit and then an iron pressed against her face and if things couldn’t get any worse she even has her nipples cut and milk pours out (yes you read that right).

The Gore-Gore Girls has no real plot and while the production values aren’t too bad despite the low budget, but the movie is really just poorly made in every aspect, from lighting, editing, acting, writing and directing, but yet these things are what makes this movie so much fun. I don’t think anyone can really say H.G. Lewis is a good filmmaker, but the guy clearly knows how to make an entertaining no budget movie.

The Gore-Gore Girls is one of my favorite splatter flicks and H.G. Lewis never attempts to make the movie more than that. The comedy aspect is intentional for the most part and Lewis just sets out to make a movie that is fun and he succeeds in doing just that. If you need your gore fix The Gore-Gore Girls will more than deliver on that.

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The Beyond (1981) Review by Dave Kaye

Posted in Beyond, The with tags , , , on March 31, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

Review by Dave Kaye

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THE BEYOND

*** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- The Seven Dreaded Gateways to Hell are Concealed in Seven Cursed Places, and from the Day the Gates of Hell are Opened the Dead Will Walk the Earth

Release Date- April 29th, 1981

Running Time- 87-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Dardano Sacchetti, Giorgio Mariuzzo & Lucio Fulci

Director- Lucio Fulci

Starring- David Warbeck, Katherine MacColl, Antoine Saint-John, Sarah Keller and Al Cliver

Released in 1981 The Beyond is considered by many fans to be Lucio Fulci’s masterpiece and while I get the appeal of the movie I really don’t think by any means is this Fulci’s best movie. As much as I love Lucio Fulci after going back and viewing movies like Don’t Torture a Duckling and Seven Notes in Black I’ve sort of most my patience with his splatter flicks of the 80s and even though I still enjoy many of the films they don’t hold up as well with me as they once did. Even Zombi 2 is a great movie to show Fulci’s talents; it mixes his early 70s style with his splatter flicks of the 80s, but unlike his 80s work his films in the 70s were coherent. Quite honestly the only movie Fulci made in the 80s I hold in very high regard is The New York Ripper, which depending on who you ask is when the decline started, but I disagree even with the flaws Ripper at least has a mostly coherent story.

The Beyond while a very enjoyable movie is mostly incoherent and if anything the movie serves as a highlight reel for F/X artist Giannetto De Rossi and De Rossi delivers some of the best work of his career. While most will mention Tom Savini and with very good reason I often felt De Rossi was just as good if not better. The legend of The Beyond really does stem from the gore F/X and while again they are truly amazing it also bothers me that Fulci’s story driven efforts are largely ignored in favor of his splatter flicks. Some people dismiss Fulci as nothing more than a gore directing hack, but I urge people to seek out films like Don’t Torture a Duckling that showcase what a talented filmmaker he was and while that movie had some gore scenes it didn’t rely on them like his work in the 80s.

The screenplay by Dardano Sacchetti, Giorgio Mariuzzo & Lucio Fulci is quite weak and it’s kind of amazing it took 3 people to write this seeing as there isn’t much of a story. The plot of the movie isn’t bad; Liza (MacColl) inherits a hotel in Louisiana and is planning on fixing it up, but she’s unaware it’s built on top one of the gateways to hell; again the idea isn’t bad by any means, but nothing is really explained in much detail and while I wouldn’t say the movie was confusing, but it was incoherent as things happen and we get very little information on why. Much like the previous year with City of the Living Dead, which The Beyond is a sequel of sorts nothing gets explained, but this movie isn’t nearly as creepy. If this was the typical zombies coming back to life movie I wouldn’t have any complaints about the lack of plot, but this one attempts to be a little more and thus the total lack of explanation really hinders the movie. People might find it silly to complain about the shortcomings of the script and will cite a movie like say Friday the 13th, but the differences are one has a very simple story the other has weird random things happening.

The characters lack any depth and some of the characters serve no real point and losing them wouldn’t impact the movie at all. I liked Liza and even John McCabe (Warbeck), but neither character can really carry the movie for too long and with that said McCabe just be one of the dumbest characters I’ve ever seen; during the final act he’ll shoot a zombie in the body and it keeps coming and then he’ll deliver a head shot, which kills the zombie and he does this for a while and suddenly for some reason goes back to only body shots. A lot of times characters in horror movies often do stupid things, but this was just insulting at times. Overall the script though again does have some nice ideas and despite the development McCabe & Liza were likeable, but due to the lack of explanation it does sink the movie at certain times.

As director Lucio Fulci is able to put together some nice scenes of suspense and tension and does create a decent since of atmosphere and the gore scenes are as mentioned a highlight as we get eyes being ripped out, a face melted by acid, and a throat ripping just some of the highlights. But the longer we go without any action the pacing can begin to suffer and while Fulci mostly manages to keep things interesting the lack of plot and character development does hinder things since neither can carry the story for too long. These are the same problems I had with City of the Living Dead, but with that movie Fulci created a great feel of dread and atmosphere and The Beyond has those elements, but they aren’t as strong.

Most of my review might come across as negative and I don’t wanna give the wrong impression; I very much enjoyed the movie and had a lot of fun watching it, but I just don’t get how people can hail this as Fulci’s best flick if not simply for the gore. Fulci does a nice job with The Beyond, but like I said things can get a bit sluggish when there isn’t any gore scenes, but in general Fulci is able to create some decent atmosphere and a movie that looks very good from a visual aspect. The Beyond is a very solid movie in Lucio Fulci’s career, but not his best effort in my opinion.

The casting is strong and fans of Euro cinema will recognize many of the actors; this was Fulci’s 2nd of 3 movies with Katherine MacColl (the first being City of the Living Dead & House by the Cemetery being the last). Antoine Saint-John of the Killer Must Kill Again appears as does Fulci regular Al Cliver and Cinzia Monreale from Joe D’Amato’s Beyond the Darkness under the name Sarah Keller.

Overall The Beyond despite its flaws does make for a great time and the pacing is mostly strong with a full lulls, but this one is insanely gory and that does in part make up for some of the flaws. If you’re looking for gore Fulci delivers that in spades. Even though this wouldn’t rate in my top 3 Fulci movies The Beyond is a lot of fun despite how incoherent the movie was.

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Cat in the Brain (1990) Review by Dave Kaye

Posted in Cat in the Brain with tags , , , on March 30, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

Review by Dave Kaye

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CAT IN THE BRAIN AKA NIGHTMARE CONCERT

*** ½ Out of 5

Release Date- August 8th, 1990

Running Time- 95-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Lucio Fulci, Giovanni Simonelli, Antonio Tentori

Director- Lucio Fulci

Starring- Lucio Fulci, David L. Thompson, Malisa Longo, Jeoffrey Kennedy, Paola Cozzo and Brett Halsey

Released in 1990 Cat in the Brain, which also goes under the title Nightmare Concert came out when Lucio Fulci had clearly seen better days. After the release of The New York Ripper in 1982 Fulci seemed to really lose it and started a major decline in his career. His later movies really lacked and even if they delivered on the gore most of these movies were rather dire and really the only late day Fulci flick I enjoyed was Zombi 3 due to how bad the movie was it ends up being really enjoyable some of the scenes for Zombi 3 were shot by Bruno Mattei, but even the Fulci scenes had a silliness to them, but even though I enjoyed the movie it was sad to see how far down Fulci’s career had gone. If your first introduction to Lucio Fulci came in his post-New York Ripper era I doubt many would have bothered to seek out his previous work and I really can’t say I’d blame them. Also when Cat in the Brain came out not only was Lucio Fulci making some of his weakest movies, but Italian horror in general really seemed to be in a rut and based on what was coming out at the time it really isn’t much of a surprise their film industry was dying.

It’s hard to really explain why I liked Cat in the Brain so much, but this is the only late day Fulci I really liked a lot and while this may not reach the heights of some of his earlier work I’d go as far to say I liked this more than City of the Living Dead & The Beyond. I really can’t defend the movie in terms of why I liked it better than some of his more popular movies or why this is even a good movie. I don’t have any response to debunk any of the negative reviews, but Cat in the Brain really won me over and while Fulci made a couple of more movies after this, Cat in the Brain makes for the perfect swan song and I personally see this as his last movie.

Despite popular belief Lucio Fulci was much more than a gore director with his movies such as Don’t Torture a Duckling and Seven Notes in Black, Fulci was a filmmaker who could tell a story and create scenes with suspense and tension. Even though Zombi 2 started his splatter era it’s also a movie driven by suspense and tension and some really great atmosphere. And while some of these qualities were in his splatter flicks of the 80s they were more of a showcase for over the top, but excellent gore F/X. Cat in the Brain is sort of a combination of both styles. The gore level is very high and most of the footage is taken from other Fulci directed or produced movies. Rather than use gore footage from his more popular titles, Fulci uses gore scenes from such movies as Touch of Death and Andrea Bianchi’s Massacre and Mario Bianchi’s Murder Sect, which Fulci supervised. Some have hailed this as one of the goriest movies ever made and even if most of the gore scenes are taken from other movies I suppose that doesn’t matter, but I don’t think this is one of the goriest flicks ever made, but gore-hounds surly won’t be disappointed.

The screenplay by Lucio Fulci, Giovanni Simonelli & Antonio Tentori was fairly interesting; the plot follows Lucio Fulci (sort of playing himself in a sense) and after years of making horror movies he’s starting to lose his grip on reality and is haunted by violent images and is beginning to have a breakdown on what’s real and what’s fantasy. The script in many ways can often repeat itself as the same scene basically plays out over and over again. Many of Fulci’s 80s work featured plots that were incoherent and while as director Fulci was able to create a nice use of atmosphere, but when there were lulls in the action the messy script and incoherent plots would in my opinion hinder the films whereas his 70s work was very much driven by characters and the story and the films would remain interesting regardless of action. Cat in the Brain is a bit incoherent and while I felt that hurt movies like City of the Living Dead and The Beyond here it really helps the movie since we’re seeing the breakdown of Lucio Fulci and when suffering a breakdown things often lack any logic so that works to the films advantage as Fulci is quite confused on what’s happening and it does add to some character development.

At times the script never really moves forward and like I said we often get the same basic scene played out a few times, but yet it still works and Cat in the Brain is very much driven by Fulci as he’s in almost every scene. The motivation for the killer is never really made clear and while the script at times does lack depth it was nice to see Lucio Fulci attempt a more character/plot driven movie like he did back in the 70s. Cat in the Brain is also sort of a satire of Lucio Fulci’s work and horror in general; it’s an interesting idea to see how years of horror films impacted Fulci and sort of drove him near the brink of madness. Cat in the Brain isn’t a straight up satire, but the satirical elements work very well and while Fulci, Simonelli & Tentori may not write the greatest script they do deliver an excellent movie despite the flaws.

Let’s be honest here Cat in the Brain is a movie by a director who is past his prime and clearly seen better days. As much as I enjoy the films of Lucio Fulci again I really had a dislike for the majority of his post-Ripper movies and I think even the most loyal of Fulci fans would most likely agree. But with Cat in the Brain, Lucio Fulci showed he had one more excellent film left in him. While Cat in the Brain may not have the eerie feel of some of his past movies, Fulci creates a movie that is weird, twisted and sometimes funny. The pacing of Cat in the Brain can be a bit sluggish in some spots as like I said the same scene often repeats itself, but Fulci still manages to keep things interesting with the exception of a few scenes that can drag.

Besides a few lulls in the action, Lucio Fulci is mostly able to deliver a really entertaining movie that while not his last film it does serve as a nice ending to a legendary career even if he did make a couple of more films after this. Cat in the Brain may not have anything really special going for it, but yet Fulci still is mostly able to deliver an excellent flick flaws and all. Based on the past few films he made I’m surprised Cat in the Brain turned out as well as it did and again this may not be the best Fulci flick, but its highly entertaining.

Cat in the Brain is sort of a highlight reel of gore F/X as I stated most of the gore is recycled from prior Fulci directed or produced movies. Cat in the Brain is really gory with body parts chopped off, slit throats, decapitations and even if most of the footage are from other movies it still works well and is enjoyable even if you’ve seen the movies the gore scenes are taken from.

Overall I greatly enjoyed Cat in the Brain, but I really can’t defend the movie as much as I’d like to since I very much understand the negative reviews, but regardless I really liked the movie and as long as you aren’t expecting Lucio Fulci to deliver what he did in his prime I think you’ll be pleased, but this movie is really only meant for fans of Lucio Fulci and this film is best watched after you’ve seen a majority of his flicks. Lucio Fulci actually claimed Wes Craven’s New Nightmare was a rip-off of this movie and while they have a few things in common I don’t think New Nightmare ripped this movie off at all. Also Brett Halsey plays a pretty big part in the movie, but yet all his footage was taken from previous Fulci flicks and he actually doesn’t appear in the actual production.

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