Whoa! An extravaganza? How does that happen? Well, I'll tell you! It happened that I watched a whole bunch of 1976 flicks and forgot to write about them. Okay, I didn't forget but I thought if I could do something important for the children of tomorrow. Shit, that isn't true either. Somebody's gotta kill this theme month and it might as well be me, duders. So here I am, dropping some last minute 76yness on ya!
I first heard about Breaking Point over at Bloody Pit of Rod and boy oh boy, I wish I hadn't. Apparently, big macho action movies weren't director Bob Clark's specialty. The film sports nearly constant logic problems, overacting from every member of the very irritating cast, and a layer of cheese so thick that the film is just freakin' ripe. The only things that work for Breaking Point are its excellent lighting and well staged action setpieces. Bo Svenson does get to kick a little ass but it's not enough to save this ultimately unsatisfying piece of dumb schlock. And I love schlock!
Every time I think I know what Mr. Brian De Palma has in store for me, I get totally suckered in and blown away. Notice that in that sentence there were the words "suck" and "blow"? Okay, don't notice that! I really thought I knew where Obsession was going but I'm glad I was wrong and I'm very glad to be giving De Palma more chances. You see, I think that several of his films are overrated. Sisters, Carrie, Blowout, and even Dressed to Kill have left me feeling empty and totally put off at one time or another. Obsession made me realize that I have the guy all wrong and need to reevaluate pretty much everything. This film is sumptuously filmed and even Cliff Robertson is good. One more thing: the score by Bernard Herrmann is astonishing, astounding, and awesomiffinizing!
Speaking of directors surprising me, I also checked out Roman Polanski's The Tenant. Much like my feelings on De Palma, I find that most of Polanski's films just don't do it for me. This grotesque piece of paranoia is very, very good. Even though one of those 100 Scariest Horror Movie Moments shows ruined the best surprise in this film for me, I still found a great deal to dig into with The Tenant. If phrases like "Kafka-esque" and "nightmarishly insane" describe your idea of fine entertainment, then check out this film immediately. Oh and it's funny too.
I had high hopes for Image of Death, an obscure Australian thriller. Other than the fact that I am obsessed with big-eyed Cathey Paine (Helter Skelter), I knew zilch about this film when the VHS arrived in my mailbox. And Cathey Paine is quite good in this probably made-for-TV flick but the script is awful. The writers insult their audience by explaining every single tiny nuance of the plot in great detail just to fill up its short running time. Instead of an unknown gem, I found a total dud that deserves to stay forgotten. In order to reach other markets, there are no Australians in this. Everyone has either an American or a British accent. Lame!
When a film like MASH mixes comedy with tragedy, it works perfectly. It's because Robert Altman is a demented genius. When a film like Mother, Jugs & Speed mixes comedy with tragedy, the viewer ends up despising the film. It's because it was directed by Peter Yates, the guy who directed Krull. There are some fun, un-politically correct, and tasteless times to be had here but this film thinks it's pretty fucking clever and it's not. Bill Cosby is awesome and Larry Hagman is sleazy. I'm not sure what else to say other than I do applaud the director for taking chances with the tonal shifts. Look for the super cute Toni Basil. Yup, she's in this one.
Director Mario Caiano delivers a pretty solid crime film with Milano Violenta. It's got the funky soundtrack, the bad dubbing, the brutal violence, the unlikable characters, and just about everything else one might expect from this sub-genre. Just a warning, the film does slow down in the middle quite a bit but makes up for it with some more ass kicking action near the end. There isn't much that separates Milano Violenta from the pack (other than some soft focus cinematography and a somewhat strange tone) but it's worth checking out.
When it comes to the phrase: "What the hell is this?", Crypt of Dark Secrets is especially special. This silly shit has some hilariously delivered and idiotic dialog and an EXTREMELY NAKED witch in it. Every scene is awkward and nearly every actor has sunstroke or malaria or something. Whatever, this movie is pure fun and is filled with totally crappy magic that must be seen to be believed. If you can stay awake through this 71 minute marvel, it's probably because you are laughing your ass off at it's inept genius.