Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hello! This is the Doomed Show Episode 2: Next of Kin

Well, holy heck in a hand-basket! It seems to me that those crazy boys, Richard and Brad, have recorded another episode of the Doomed Show. Yikes, I don't think I should talk about myself in the 3rd person anymore. This episode is about the New Zealand/Australian horror flick Next of Kin. You can download the episode right here. Give it a listen and rock out to it. As always, drop us a line with questions, comments, criticisms, and witty retorts.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Franco Friday: Revenge in the House of Usher

The Franco slump is over! The last three films were a freakin' chore. I feel as though this awful movie just saved the day. Leave it to one of the worst examples of Franco's... DARE I SAY IT?... genius to get me through the badness. Oh yeah. Don't let that VHS cover fool you, there isn't a power tool within miles of this flick.

Franco Friday #18

Revenge in the House of Usher
AKA Neurosis
Directed by Jess Franco
Starring Howard Vernon, Antonio Mayans, Lina Romay, Fata Morgana, Daniel White, Francois Blanchard, Olivier Mathot, Jean Tolzac
90 minutes

Dr. Alan Hacker (played by Antonio Mayans) travels to the castle of his old professor, Dr. Usher (Howard Vernon). Hacker quickly learns that his old teacher has gone mad. Aside from claiming that he is 200 years old, Usher is obsessed with resurrecting his dead daughter by giving her blood transfusions from unwilling girls he’s kidnapped. Usher has a bevy of servants at his disposal including the blind Morpho (Olivier Mathot), the portly Mathias (Jean Tolzac), and the lovely Helen the housekeeper (Lina Romay). None of these fools can help him with his craziness. Dr. Usher is haunted by the ghostly figures led by the spirit of his dead wife. And of course, in true Usher family fashion, the damn castle is gonna collapse.

I think Revenge in the House of Usher gets labeled as one of Jess Franco's worst because it has been out on home video (either in VHS or DVD) in the States for a long time. All of those people should have seen Eugenie de Sade and only like six people (myself included) should have even heard of this film. I have my problems with it but I enjoyed this inept romp probably more than I should have. This film’s biggest offence: it uses footage from The Awful Dr. Orloff as flashbacks for Dr. Usher. Normally, I would consider this to be totally unforgivable but I figured out that if you were to remove (or fast forward through) the 15 minutes (!) of Orloff footage, you get this film down to a much more digestible 75 minutes. There are even the ubiquitous characters named Dr. Seward and Morpho.

One problem is that the film is obviously two different shoots, possibly two different sets of players, slapped together. The musical score for the film feels like it’s been culled from the library. I doubt an original score would have done much to improve this film but hey, why not, right? The camerawork is excellent with lots of interesting angles. The same camerawork is also quite sloppy with out of focus bits and lots of annoying bouncing (this may have been the print I was watching but still). Luckily, this castle setting, that I’ve seen many Franco films take place in, is always very photogenic.

So what the hell? This sounds terrible! It is terrible but it’s also the best kind of terrible. If viewed as a gothic comedy with occasional bits of horror and atmosphere, then Revenge in the House of Usher succeeds in every way. It’s almost all the fault of the horrendous dubbing, something I am beginning to appreciate more and more from these Euro-cheapies. If this flick wasn’t meant to be a comedy then no one informed the voice actors. The voice actor who dubs Howard Vernon is so outrageously bad in this film that he deserves some kind of an award or free pancakes for a year or something.

My soul asked for it and the gods have listened. I begged with my heart of hearts for Lina Romay to keep her damn clothes on and she finally listened. It is astonishing to me that Lina Romay full clothed and acting seductive is 1000x sexier than her writhing around in ecstasy completely naked. She may have once been a contender for the title of Greatest Pair of Eurotrash-Bobbins ever but after film upon film of her undulating in her birthday suit, I needed a fucking break. And I love her character in this one too. Helen is the devoted servant who falls before the feet of Dr. Usher, begging him to love her. But hey, she’s still a horny woman with needs, you know? She’s gotta try to get some on the side.

I can see why people don’t like this film. It is a hard pill to swallow what with how stupid and lazy it was made. The use of 15 minutes from another film is inexcusable. But damn it, Revenge in the House of Usher works especially when it doesn't. Alongside all of the goofy and utterly hilarious crap, there lingers a spooky mood and more than two heaping bucketfuls of weirdness. If you enjoyed either Rites of Frankenstein or Dracula, Prisoner of Frankenstein, there’s no way you’re not going to at least find this flick amusing. There’s a game of ring around the rosies, some ladies chained up in the dungeon, and enough slapdash confounding bullshit to make you crack a smile, all just waiting for you.

“Look Seward, I’m not very well versed in this new science of psychoanalysis. In any event, you don’t start at the age of 200 which is how old he claims to be!”

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Horror For Every Year I've Been Alive

I stole this idea from Death Rattle and WWQTW and modified it slightly. List every year that you've been on this planet and pick your favorite horror film from that year. It seems pretty simple, right? Oh shit. The friggin' 90s are gonna suck. Hmmm... I sure wish I could do this off the top of my head. I wonder if there's some kind of a tool I could use? How about this! If I've actually reviewed something in here, them shits is linked.

One more thing, I swear I am not trying to be eclectic and intentionally obscure with my choices. I chose the film that I currently love the most and/or the one I want to watch the most right now. This is not a list that caters to the films I've seen the most times or to just the ones I've reviewed. Does that make sense? Anyway, here I go.

1976 - The House with the Laughing Windows
1977 - House AKA Hausu
1978 - Terror
1979 - Tourist Trap
1980 - Anthropophagus
1981 - The House by the Cemetery
1982 - Slumber Party Massacre
1983 - Zeder
1984 - A Nightmare on Elm Street
1985 - Phenomena
1986 - Night of the Creeps
1987 - Hellraiser
1988 - Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama
1989 - The Church
1990 - Baby Blood
1991 - Hiruko the Goblin
1992 - Wicked City
1993 - Return of the Living Dead 3
1994 - Cemetery Man AKA Dellamorte Dellamore
1995 - Eko Eko Azarak: Wizard of Darkness
1996 - Scream
1997 - I Know What You Did Last Summer
1998 - Urban Legend
1999 - The Rage: Carrie 2
2000 - Tomie: Replay
2001 - Ichi the Killer
2002 - May
2003 - High Tension
2004 - Toolbox Murders
2005 - The Red Shoes
2006 - The Abandoned
2007 - Inside
2008 - The Strangers
2009 - Halloween II
2010 - My Soul to Take
2011 - Scream 4

Damn, this was rather painful. So many runners-up! I could make ten more lists like this just on the ones that didn't make the cut. And the 90s were easier than I thought. The millennium was actually the most work. My choices from 2010 and 2011 (especially since I haven't seen jack squat as far as newness goes so far this year) are subject to change but I gotta hand it to Wes Craven. The guy made me very happy two years in a row.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Frankenstein Syndrome

Hey gang, there's a new review up at Doomed Moviethon. It's for The Frankenstein Syndrome starring none other than scream queen Tiffany Shepis. You can check out the review right here. Hey, you... PUT DOWN THAT SCALPEL!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Franco Friday #17: The Sadistic Baron von Klaus

Oh man, now I feel like I'm in a rut. Send flowers.

Franco Friday #17

The Sadistic Baron von Klaus
AKA La Mano de un Hombre Muerto
Directed by Jess Franco
Starring Howard Vernon, Hugo Blanco, Gogo Rojo, Fernando Delgado, Paula Martel, Ann Castor
95 minutes

Ludwig (played by Hugo Blanco) rushes home to find his mother on her deathbed. She reveals to him that his grandfather was a total sicko and she fears that the von Klaus family line is cursed. She also gives Ludwig a key to the Baron’s private torture chamber below the castle so that he can see for himself how bad the duder was. Meanwhile, the raped and mutilated bodies of beautiful young ladies have been popping up around the nearby village and the people are convinced that it’s the ghost of Baron von Klaus.

Okay, what happened? All the right pieces are here but none of them fit together. Jess Franco’s The Sadistic Baron von Klaus is pretty disappointing. After the gothic gem that is The Awful Dr. Orloff, I was hoping for something much better than this. The black and white cinematography is stunning, the jazz music in the soundtrack is jazzy, and the ladies are sexy. Are these enough to make a great film? Nope. There are too many uninteresting, obnoxious, and flat characters, there isn’t enough of a spooky atmosphere, and worst of all, the plot hits a major lull in the middle and never recovers.

The sets and scenery are both beautiful but it just doesn’t matter when it’s impossible to care what is going to happen next. Comedic moments and charming asides fail when I was constantly checking how much is left of the running time. The sexually sadistic content is shocking when one considers what year this film was released but I’m not impressed. I think The Sadistic Baron von Klaus was directed by an either overconfident or overwhelmed director. It almost feels too cool to bother being entertaining and not smart enough to make up the difference. This is a shame because the film starts off quite strong with an undeniable sense of foreboding and ends with a heart-wrenchingly tragic finale (even though I didn't give two shits about the characters).

I have a sneaking suspicion that I may have to revisit this film someday. The more I bash it, the more I feel like I missed something important. I have been annoyed with Franco before but I’ve never been this violently bored. To be continued (maybe)...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Doomed Discussiethon: Video Wars

Today is unlike any other day for today is the day when Nafa and I discuss the best left forgotten film called Video Wars. The problem is we can't forget it. There's too much at stake. Go here to see what you are glad you are missing. My life has taken on new meaning.

Also, there is one nude bum in the screenshots. Just warning ya.

Video is unrelated.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wednesday Ramble: Clam of the Rape Bare

I can sit here and come up with a hundred titles of films I'd wish I'd never seen. Like Sliver, Murder By Numbers, Deadly Impact, McHale's Navy, whatever. There is a subcategory here that I'm sure some of you can relate to. I'm talking about films that I wish I had never seen with my parents. The biggest offender and one of the worst films ever made... Clan of the Cave Bear.

In case you don't know, the film is about a blond cavegirl named Aaliyah (played Daryl Hannah) who gets orphaned from her family because of global warming. She gets taken in by some swarthy cavemen. When she grows up, she is all hot and stuff but of course because she's fair-skinned and blond, all the caveduders think she's a dog. Whoa! Take that, dominant Aryan paradigm! One of the cavemen named Broud (Thomas G. Waites) decides to throw Aaliyah a bone (literally) and rapes her. Yeah he rapes her a lot. And I think he does it in front of the other cavepeople. I might be imagining that part. I have been totally accurate up until this moment.

But Aaliyah is not completely alone in the bitter neanderthal world. She has some friends like Iza and Creb (Pamela Reed and James Remar), social outcasts themselves. Iza is a witch (maybe) and Creb is... um... messed up. Everything is a struggle. Everything is unfair. The meek get beaten and raped by the strong. Jeez, I'm getting depressed just thinking about this fucking movie.

Anyway, the rape scenes (don't click here for artist's concept) in this movie are disturbing (which is probably why these scenes in any film bother me so much now). But then Broud has a bout of impotency and gets all mad and stuff. Iza is all like 'what was that all about?' and Aaliyah demonstrates Broud's failing rape-member with a floppy stick demonstration and everyone gets a laugh out of it. So I'm sitting there with my mom and dad and I just wanted to die. How much I understood of what all this meant, I have no idea. I just know that I wished I had a machine gun and the ability to step inside a movie. Because I would have mowed them all down. This, I promise you.

So Aaliyah gets preggers and gets shunned from the tribe for using their stupid weaponry. Stupid woman! You no use weapons! Let Goov, Grod, Zoug, Dorv, Droog, or Crug use that slingshot thingie. Jeez, men were just the same as they are nowadays. Always opressin' the womenz. Shit! I can't believe I've seen this movie! SHIT! She finally meets a decent guy who appreciates her scuzzy blond dreads but he gets killed by a bear. That was surprising. So aside from learning how to treat the ladies, I also learned that life sucks.

(I love the Italian artwork. Title translates to Cromagnon Rape Adventure.)

I can't even describe to you the joy I felt just now finding out that this film was a financial flop. Good! I wish this movie had cost $900 million and then made NOTHING! I bet Daryl Hannah was pissed. She was all like 'man, that would have been so rad doing all the sequels.' Oh yes, dear reader, the book on which this is based has sequels. SEQUELS! Unfortunately, this film probably did well on home video. I know one family that rented it. Mine. I'm not sure if I was 11 or 12 when my folks rented Daryl Hannah's shame-film but it doesn't matter, I will always be too young to watch it with my parents or anybody else's parents.

There are other humiliating films that I watched with my parents but none so traumatically awful as this garbage. I remember being embarrased by watching Shirley Valentine with mom and pop. That was the last time I watched anything middle aged lady empowering. Jeez. And that time my mom rented Whore with Theresa Russell. We didn't get very far into that film before my mom took it out of the VCR and said something like 'we are NOT watching the rest of THAT!' Why did she rent it in the first place? Why did she think her 15 year old son wanted to watch it at all, nevermind watching it with his mom!

Daryl Hannah has a boy's name. What is up with that?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Franco Friday #16: Women Without Innocence

I am not in the mood right now. No seriously, why am I doing this? I am so sick of erotic cinema right now I am about ready to puke or jam a pencil in my armpit and call it macaroni. Why did Franco make so many sex movies? Was there something like wrong with him or something? I really don't give a crystal shit about sex movies. Anyway, here's another one.

Franco Friday #16

Women Without Innocence
Directed by Jess Franco
1977 (or 1978 according to IMDB)
Starring Lina Romay, Muriel Montosse, Michael Maien, Esther Struder, Monica Swinn
Running Time: 76 minutes

A young woman named Margarita (played by Lina Romay) is found bloody and in a state of hysterics along with the bodies of a married couple. She is taken to a women's insane asylum where Dr. Antonio (Michael Maien) is using some experimental and bizarre techniques to treat his patients. But all is not as it seems in this house of deranged nekkid ladies. Nurse Irina (Muriel Montosse) and Dr. Whatshisface (no idea who this duder is) are actually trying to shock Margarita out of her mute psychosis so they can find out where her dead friends, who were freakin' diamond smugglers, kept their stash. To further complicate the situation, there is a killer running around stabbing the comely patients of the nursing facility with a butcher knife.

Other than Joe D'Amato and Jean Rollin, Jess Franco is the only director I go this far outside of my cinematic comfort zone for. I really knew absolutely nothing going into Women Without Innocence (great title!) but I was hardly surprised by all the softcore sex scenes. And there's a lot. There are sex scenes that segue into other sex scenes and I just want to curl up and die. But hey, it's Franco, there must be something good here, right? Begrudgingly, I say yes. Women Without Innocence, when it's good, is a lurid, woozy, and funny flick. The camerawork by Peter Baumgartner is excellent. Seriously, this movie looks way better than it should.

Lina Romay does it again. And by it, I mean, sneaks into my heart and makes me give a crap about another one of her characters. Margarita is in serious trouble and the more that is revealed about how she came to be a gibbering madwoman, the sadder and more interesting she becomes. There is a moment when Romay looks right into the camera. I don't know if it was intentional but her look just seemed to say, "I know I'm an actress playing a woman in a madhouse but seriously, get me the fuck out of here!" It is awesome and I have no idea if it was intentional or not. Another standout scene happens when Margarita wanders away from the institution at dusk. There is the rumble of an approaching thunderstorm and the whole bit borders on gothic horror.

I'm glad that Women Without Innocence has some redeeming qualities, many of Franco's bawdier titles do, but for me, watching and reviewing erotic cinema is still a chore. You'll never hear me say: "Wow, I love this! So happy there were some sex scenes to keep all that weird stuff and atmospheric crap from getting in the way!" Although this Franco flick has some points of interest (and definitely doesn't take itself very seriously), I can only recommend this one to only the most devout of his fans. File under almost brilliant.

"Make her stop, her moaning is giving me the creeps! She sounds like a dog."

Monday, May 9, 2011

Hello! This Is The Doomed Show

As I continue to expand the DooMo CinSom empire, I decided to give "podcasting" a whirl. My good friend Brad joined me for the very first episode of Hello! This Is The Doomed Show. We talk about Armando Crispino's excellent giallo The Dead Are Alive. And since this is the first episode you can expect unrestrained nervousness, hilarious technical difficulties, abysmal short term memory loss, and botulism. You can download the episode right here. Grab it, listen, and let us know what you think. And as always, be gentle with our hearts.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Franco Friday #15: X312 - Flight to Hell

The wife and I took a little vacation and I thought that I might put this one off a week. But no, I got home and Franco was waiting for me. Who am I to resist? No seriously, who am I? I feel like Jackie Chan all of a sudden. I needed something very silly and tinged with sadness. Franco? Franco, can you hear me? Franco, can you help me not be frightened?

Franco Friday #15

X312 – Flight To Hell
Directed by Jess Franco
Starring Thomas Hunter, Gila von Weitershausen, Hans Hass Jr., Fernando Sancho, Esperanza Roy, Ewa Stromberg, Siegfried Schuenberg, Howard Vernon
85 minutes

A reporter named Tom Nilson (Thomas Hunter) sits down at his desk, presses record on his tape player, and begins to tell the story of how he survived a plane crash in the Amazonian jungle. The film flashes back to the fateful flight and its passengers. Aboard the plane is a bank tycoon (Siegfried Schuenberg) smuggling jewels out of the country. At the plane’s last stop before leaving for Brazil, a man boards with the intention of hijacking the plane and forcing it to land where Pedro (Howard Vernon), an outlaw living in an old fort with his gang, can intercept and steal the jewels.

The plan goes afoul when the idiot pilot decides to fight with the hijacker in the cockpit. The survivors of the crash, led by Tom, start making their way through the jungle in the hopes of finding a village or some other form of life. Bill the steward (played by Fernando Sancho) decides to take the jewels for himself so he starts killing off anyone who gets in his way. And just when things can’t get any worse, they do. Restless bow and arrow-wielding natives as well as Pedro and his gang start attacking the survivors.

The moment I saw the cover for X312 – Flight to Hell, I knew I was in for a treat. While nowhere near one of Franco’s best, this film definitely has its charms. The stench of exploitation is very ripe but things never get out of hand. The ubiquitous rape scene takes place off camera and the sex scenes are brief. The action scenes, double crosses, triple crosses, and the sociological aspects (human beings are greedy!) of the story are played up much more than the sex. The soundtrack is kind of mediocre with occasional bursts of faux-pop pleasantness from the radio that somehow survived the plane crash. Camerawork by Manuel Merino is pretty good though there are focusing issues and the whole film looks really drab (could be the DVD I watched).

The sexy Euro-babes in the cast include the wildly voluptuous Espernaza Roy (A Candle for the Devil) as the snotty rich lady, Gila von Weitershausen as the childish teddy bear-toting goof, and the always lovely Ewa Stromberg (Vampyros Lesbos) as the slutty American. Howard Vernon is fifteen kinds of badass as Pedro. The duder is done up with some tan makeup and a bad mustache with glue so thick you can see it glistening. American-born Thomas Hunter (The Hills Run Red) is excellent in the lead. Tom is a no nonsense kind of guy with a conscience that he should definitely stop listening to.

X312 – Flight to Hell almost feels like a throwaway flick for Franco but once again, I found myself engaged and I just had to know how it was all going to end. There were a few meandering bits, some laughably stupid moments (not surprising), and a terribly sped-up fight scene but overall, this is an enjoyably trashy though cheap adventure film. If you’re looking for something sweaty, horny, blurry, just a little drowsy, and will leave you saying “Hey, this is kind of all right,” then check this film out.