Friday, March 29, 2013

Franco Friday #38 - Attack of the Robots

Franco Friday #38 - Attack of the Robots

This was really tough for me. I really, really wasn't in the mood for this film at all. Yes, even I am not in the mood for fun, adventure, and silly times once in a while. Excuse me for livin'!

Attack of the Robots
AKA Cartes sur Table
Directed by Jess Franco
Starring Eddie Constantine, Francoise Brion, Fernando Rey, Mara Laso, Dina Loy, Sophie Hardy
89 minutes

A series of assassinations of ambassadors from all over the world are committed by some very strange, dark-skinned men (and women!). The police manage to capture one of the assailants and try to question him but he is unsresponsive. The suspect tries to flee and the cops gun him down. As he dies, his skin changes from black to white. As more and more of these assassins are caught, the police discover that the only thing these random men (and women!) have in common is an abnormality in their blood called "Rhesus zero". Is your pseudo-science alarm going off yet?

Interpol decide to pick one of their agents with "Rhesus zero" and send them out into the field as bait. They get former secret agent, Al Peterson (played by Eddie Constantine), to go down to Spain to try and lure the baddies out. Down in Spain, under the pseudonym Frank Froiba(?), Peterson meets the lovely Cynthia Lews (Sophia Hardy), a striptease artist, but every time he makes a little time for her, some Mexican ruffian cock blocks him by insisting that they duke it out. Meanwhile, an evil Chinese syndicate led by Lee Wee (Vincente Roca) is out to kill Peterson because he refused to be their double agent.

Finally, Peterson catches Lady Cecilia Addington Courtney (played by Francoise Brion), the mastermind behind the assassinations, snooping around his hotel room. She is kidnapping people with "Rhesus zero" and turning them into robots. Evil organizations from all over the world pay her to send these automatons out to commit assassinations so that they can keep their hands from getting dirty. Can Peterson get to the bottom of this crazy plot without becoming a robot slave to Lady Cecilia himself?

You know what? You should just get naked now because this movie is about to charm your pants off. All the bad women in this wear vinyl, what's not to like? If you enjoyed such films as Kiss Me Monster or (to a lesser extent) The Girl from Rio, then you will love Attack of the Robots. Every cheesy gag, no matter how droll or eye roll-inducing, is thrown into the mix but this flick is never lazy or cynical. This is a fairly innocent romp (even the striptease is tasteful) with lots of action and laughs.

You know what I don't like about this movie? Eddie fucking Constantine! His bloated visage just rubs me the wrong way. Lucky for this guy, the movie is so fun that I kind of just got used to him so as not to spoil my enjoyment. He is described by his colleagues as being "full of vinegar" -I just assume this is some kind of urinary problem he has- and is always somewhere in the world with a sexy blond on his arm. A blond what?

You know wha- Oops, I can't start every paragraph with that. Um... The other thing I can complain about is the whole black-face bit. As to why the killer robots are made to look dark-skinned is baffling and fairly offensive. But it's just so damn weird, I have a feeling it may have actually been a statement against racism. But then again, the way Chinese are portrayed in this film kind of sucks too. And Mexicans. Shit, I got nothing. This is insanely politically incorrect, what can you do?

The print I'm watching is on Youtube and compressed all to fuck so let's hope that someday this film will resurface on DVD in a more watchable version. Even with the cruddy presentation, Attack of the Robots looks pretty damn good thanks to the camerawork of Antonio Macasoli (Grand Slam (you know, that one Blue Underground title you'll never watch)). Despite my complaints above, I highly recommend this one. Fun stuff.

"The roses and the gladiolas have been set in the vase at last. You can play the delicate melody but only in the minor key."

"There's a corpse in the bathtub. He's preventing me from taking a shower."

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Episode #29 - Night Of The Wurdulaks

Hello, the new episode is up. This is definitely our wackiest show. That Pepsi Throwback went straight to my head.

Check it out!

And hey, there's lots of old episodes in the archive.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Not Franco Friday (Again)

Yeah, I know. But hey, look what came in the mail from the UK.

Available through ZDD.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Vampire Cheese

There are so many stinky cheese jokes I could make right now but I'm afraid I just don't have the courage. My wife and I are fans of vampire films. Who knew? LeEtta takes it to another level with her article that you can check out right here. She also drew that crazy Lestat-cheese artwork.

Also, check out her site and blog with all kinds of weird drawings and whatnots.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Not Franco Friday

Well yeah, this ain't Franco Friday but I did get something cool in the mail.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Franco Friday #37 - The Devil Came From Akasava

Franco Friday #37 - The Devil Came from Akasava

I forgot how hard it is to write. No seriously. The moment you break the habit of blogging, it feels impossible to get back into it. Bloggin' ain't dead, yo. Thankfully, Jess Franco made my job super easy this week. I totally forgot about this title and I'm glad I did. This was a real surprise and I am so friggin' grateful that I hadn't already gotten to this one until now.

The Devil Came from Akasava
AKA Der Teufel kam aus Akasava
Directed by Jess Franco
Starring Fred Williams, Soledad Miranda, Horst Tappert, Ewa Stromberg, Sigfried Schurenberg
84 minutes

When an ancient, mysterious, strange, and also deadly stone is discovered in a cave in Akasava, all heck breaks loose. The stone is stolen and Dr. Forrester (played by Angel Menendez), a world-famous mineralogist, has disappeared (and is presumed dead. Sir Philip (Siegfried Schurenberg) contacts Miss Jane Morgan (Soledad Miranda), a secret agent posing as a stripper and/or hooker. He informs Jane that aside from it's evil death rays, the magical stone is also said to be able to turn lead into gold or whatever. Knowing what would happen if this precious item got into the wrong hands, Jane takes the case.

On her way to Akasava, Jane meets Rex Forrester (played by Fred Williams), the son of the missing Dr. Forrester. He is traveling to Akasava with his friend(?) Tino (Jess Franco) to find out what happened to his dad. At the hotel, Jane teams up with Irving Lambert (played by Alberto Dalbes), another secret agent. They pose as husband and wife but Jane also does a striptease at a local nightclub. You know, just to keep a low profile and shit.

Jane and Irving's main suspects are Dr. Thorrsem (played by Horst Tappert) and his wife Ingrid (Ewa Stromberg), who run a clinic in Akasava treating an outbreak of narcolepsy affecting the local indigenous population. This part was really confusing. Anyway, Irving is killed and Jane ends up in the arms of Rex Forrester. Honestly, I could go on all day with this freakin' plot. All you need to know is that there are double crosses and nonsensical reveals as Jane and Rex find out who is really behind the stone snatching and what really happened to Dr. Forrester.

While not quite as fun as Kiss Me Monster, this film comes pretty damn close. You really can't go wrong when there's a Philosopher's Stone thingie that looks like weapons-grade quartz in your plot. It's more of a McMuffin than a MacGuffin. Just when you think things are flying by too fast and the dialog is all balderdash, the plot takes a bong hit and everything just downshifts into super-chill mode for a few minutes, and then it picks back up again. Good times!

I did one of those "Commom Cast/Crew Between Two Titles" searches on IMDB. I know, I'm a cheat! Deal with it. Eleven names were in common between this film and Vampyros Lesbos. Then I plugged in the same search comparing this with She Killed in Ecstasy and thirteen names came up! You know what I should do? Research! It's called "Franco Friday", okay? Not "Respect Filmmakers Friday"! Seriously though, this is a Who's Who of Franco regulars like Ewa Stromberg, Paul Muller, and Howard Vernon (who has a scene where he jumps out a third story window like it was stepping over a curb). Just FYI: I think this is the first film that I actually liked Fred Williams. Sigi Schwab provides the swingin' score full of sitars and jangly guitars to keep your toes tapping.

The Devil Came from Akasava is prime Jess Franco, folks. This is a wild spy caper with way more imagination than budget. The script is often childlike and utterly ludicrous. The story was apparently adapted from Edgar Wallace but after the second "But I'm a secret agent too!" revelation, all I could do was stare in wonder at the screen. My only complaint: After a fairly satisfying wrap-up, the film has a final coda that is utter nonsense. It is just a baffling and unnecessary moment that makes me feel like there's footage missing.

My friend Brad made a good point about this movie when he mentioned to me that he thought this was one of Soledad Miranda's best roles. Sure, she has a couple of ubiquitous strip numbers (non-dancing in a shredded garbage bag this time) but she plays an actual character here. She has a chance to show real range in Akasava despite how silly this movie is. I too noticed just how many expressions she pulls in this film and I saw sides to her acting ability that a film like Vampyros Lesbos just didn't give her the opportunity to show off. Despite the bewildering plot elements of this bizarre little romp, Miranda just kills it.

"I hate hair gel."

Monday, March 4, 2013

HDS #28 - Fulci Part 3 - The Non-Horror Films

Brad and I continue obsessively talking about Lucio Fulci for our third episode on that crazy guy. This time around, we discuss his non-horror films such as Young Dracula, The Maniacs, and Contraband - just to name a few. Give this one a listen and you might just discover a side to Fulci you didn't even know existed. I know we did! Check out the archives right here.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Franco Friday #36: The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff

Franco Friday #36: The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff

Hello again, my friends. I finally got unstuck from reality for a few moments and watched some Franco. I read a really bad review for The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff so I immediately bought the Intervision DVD. How does that work? If you've been reading these Franco Fridays then you know I operate under a system of reverse logic with the way I choose these films. I like being sub-ironic. Anyway, I am so glad that I laid my money down for this flick. Let's friggin' do this!

The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff
Directed by Jess Franco
Starring William Berger, Montserrat Prous, Edmund Perdom, Loreta Tovar, Kali Hansa
76 minutes
Intervision Picture Corp.

Man, where do I start? Wheelchair-bound Melissa Comfort (played by Montserrat Prous) has a recurring dream of her father (Jess Franco) standing (rather lasciviously) over her younger self. The dream becomes even more disturbing when blood pours out of his mouth and onto her. He dies right in front of her and she is awakened by her super sexy half-sister, Martha Comfort (Loreta Tovar). Martha informs Melissa that their uncle Henry has called in a specialist to examine her. His name is Dr. Orloff (William Berger). Dun dun duhhhhhhhhh!

Of course, no one in the Comfort family wants Melissa to get better because they are money-grubbing pigs. Her aunt Flora (played by Kali Hansa) is the worst of the bunch and would rather see Melissa committed to an asylum than show any improvement. After her first treatment with Dr. Orloff, Melissa has a nightmare in which she kills her uncle. A nightmare? Yeah right! Of course, there is no body and uncle's hunting gear and car are gone so everyone just keeps thinking Melissa is a crazy.

But not all hope is lost. The Comfort family's manservant, Matthews (played by Jose Manuel Martin) is on Melissa's side. In fact, I think he's in love with her which makes it even more sad when she has a "dream" of beating him to death with a tire iron. Okay, send in the hippie! Living next door to the Comforts is a dang hippie named (and I'm not making this up) Davey Procop Robert Eugene Hutchinson AKA Davey Sweet Brown (played by Robert Woods). This fucking guy has a crush on Melissa and believes that her family and Dr. Orloff are up to no good. He tries to convince the police inspector (Edmund Purdom) to investigate. Maybe there is no hope after all.

To no surprise to anyone -except the characters in this movie- Dr. Orloff and his sexy assistant (uncredited) are up to no good. Orloff was in love with Melissa's mother back in the day but her dad wooed her away from him. Now he is using all of his Orloffian powers to use Melissa as his tool of revenge. Between Melissa's hypno-murder spree and Aunt Flora's scheming, there's not going to be anyone left to collect on the Comfort estate.

First things first, the score for this film really knocked me out. It seems like someone is just absentmindedly sitting on an old Hammond but then the insanity comes pouring out and I'm loving every second of it. The less said about Davey Sweet Brown's folk shenanigans the better. I love the camerawork on this film. There's lots of closeups, fish eye lens weirdness, and a penchant for perfectly capturing the garishness of the early 1970s. Intervision's DVD may be full frame and sourced from an old VHS but I ain't complainin'. There's probably a nicer looking porn version of this movie that I never want to watch.

There are more than a few familiar faces in this film. William Berger's wild eyes have so much Euro-cult goodness that I don't even know where to begin. Montserrat Prous was in Franco's Diary of a Nymphomaniac which I haven't mustered up the courage to watch. Edmund Perdom... 'Nuff said. Both Loreta Tovar and Kali Hansa can be found in Amando de Ossario's Night of the Sorcerers and other Spanish horror treasures. Jose Manuel Martin was in tons of stuff like Curse of the Devil and Death Walks on High Heels. There's an actress in this that keeps her clothes on so I didn't recognize her. It's Lina Romay!

I am completely sober and in my right mind when I say this: The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff delivers. I judged a book by its cover and came out a winner. This particular Orloff film has one of the most talky, convoluted, and generic thriller plots ever but processed through the Jess Franco machine. The result is ineptly vivacious and one of my new favorite Franco titles. There is just something about how droll and off kilter about Sinister Eyes and it plays out like it was made by a crazy person (or Al Adamson).


"When something so powerful releases the crazy monster, it's almost impossible to hold it back."

"I plan to have thousands of adventures with the hottest men of the Earth."