Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Snorkel (1958) 1h 14m


Could there be a dumber name for a movie?  The Snorkel.  Fuck you!  You can snorkel this dick!  I'm not even sure what that means but that's how frustrated I am with yet another film coming to us from the cheap as fuck Hammer Films set I got at a Wal-Mart.  You know, the land of bottomless $5 DVD bins and overpriced animated films.  DROP THE FUCKING PRICE ON HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 1 & 2 ALREADY YOU BASTARDS!

You have me confused with that guy
from Are You Being Served?
Unlike our other Hammer Films, The Snorkel doesn't start with a creeper in the bushes but the creeper is already in the house!  A man has drugged his wife to make her pass out and then tapes up the entire room (doors, windows, etc) in order to blow out the gas lamps and have her die as an apparent suicide.  Why he didn't just drug her and make it seem like that was the suicide is beyond me.  He has hooked up a mask and snorkel to outside pipes and hides in the floor to complete his elaborate faked suicide plot.  When she is found everyone assumes she did kill herself.  Everyone except for her teenage daughter who is apparently Nancy fucking Drew because she puts everything together pretty quick and then it's the step-daughter vs. the murderer for who will come out on top.

While a much dumber premise than anything I've watched recently, I was invested for no reason other than I wanted to see how the hell the girl put everything together.  She never figures out the hiding in the floor but it is given away to her at the end.  Speaking of which, always have a fucking back door, or at least an axe or something in case you get stuck.  You know, since you're hiding in floors all the time.

All in all, The Snorkel is a big bag of meh.  Once again, solid acting performance from all involved, and this film has my favorite opening credit now which is "John Holmes dog "Flush" as "Toto" because that dog deserves a fucking credit!

I give The Snorkel 1 hunky scuba diver out of 5:

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Maniac (1963) 1h 26m


I am turning this into the "Week of Hammer," fuck it!  Sticking with our Hammer Films set chock full of rapidly declining quality movies comes The Maniac!  A film with more heel turns than the WWE Network... and I don't mean just because they'll reinstate Hogan to the hall of fame but still act as if Benoit never existed!

Mustache rides: 5 cents
The Maniac, like most Hammer films on this set, starts with a creeper in the bushes.  When the local high school kids arrive home he pulls up to one of the girls and offers her a ride.  He sexually assaults her but is caught by a local man and school boy.  The creeper is knocked out with a wrench and brought back to the man's garage where he is tortured to death with an acetylene torch.  Flash forward to present day where a smooth America leaves his rich girlfriend and ends up in a small French village.  At first he has his eyes set on the young waitress but later moves from her to her mother in a "I'll fuck anything that moves" power play.  The woman's husband is in prison for the torture and murder of the creeper.  She claims that her husband will let the two of them be together if the American and her help the husband escape prison.  They do, bodies turn up, then the American finds himself on the wrong end of the torch.

This movie is just treachery everywhere.  The American betrays the daughter for the mother but then betrays the mother because she was trying to betray him by not actually helping her husband escape but another man that murdered the husband upon escaping and the two of them were going to betray the daughter as well in hopes of... I don't know.  I guess elope?  Have crazy mustache babies?

I'm really beginning to regret not shelling out the extra $10 for the better Hammer Films set.  The Maniac was just as poorly paced and boring as the last two films.  The acting was decent, aside from the couple's dance where the two couldn't look more bored with each other despite one of the characters saying "look how happy she is!"  Whatever, fucking next.  I'm over this.

I give The Maniac 0 butane torches out of 5:

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Die! Die! My Darling! (1965) 1h 37m


This is turning into the "Week of the Hammer" because we've got another one here from my cheap Hammer Films Collection.  This film was what sold me on buying the set because with the Misfits song being so good, obviously the movie has to be.  Right?  Danzig wouldn't lie to me, would he?  Sure, he'd have me kicked out of a concert if I tried to take a picture of his gut but... young baby Danzy?

I made this face while watching this.
Die! Die! My Darling! opens on Patricia with her current fiancé.  She tells him that the mother of her prior, now deceased, fiancé has sent Patricia a letter and she would like to visit the mother.  The fiancé continues to London and Patricia travels to Mrs. Trefoile's home.  Upon her initial arrive Mrs. Trefoile just seems to be a still mourning mother and overly pious woman.  It's when Mrs. Trefoile's zealous nature bubbles to the surface that Patricia attempts to leave but finds herself held captive by a mad woman.  Can she escape befor she is murdered in the name of her dead ex-fiancé?

Okay, I described that much better than this film is.  Don't misunderstand me, Tallulah Bankhead fucking kills it as Mrs. Trefoile, but all of the other characters I don't really care about.  The husband and wife duo that had been Mrs. Trefoile's helpers and accomplices are just grifters and Donald Sutherland's simple Joseph serves no purpose aside from being muscle.

The film itself is a bit of a crawl.  A majority of it consists of Patricia being locked in a room and attempting to escape or Mrs. Trefoile descending further into madness.  I do like that the breaking point for her is having a stash of all her sinful items and then doing the crazy wide lipstick ring around her mouth.  Other than that, Danzig has bad taste in movies.  Actually, Danzig has taste in very slow moving films because I've watched Where Eagles Dare and it was a crawl too.  I have a copy of THX 1138 which I haven't watched yet, but if it's slow then Danzig is getting an angry tweet!

I give Die! Die! My Darling! 2 Misfits singles out of 5:

Monday, October 15, 2018

Never Take Sweets from a Stranger (1960) 1h 31m


My very first note for this film was "I made a mistake."  Never Take Sweets from a Stranger is part of a $10 Hammer Films collection I picked up from Wal-Mart not long ago.  They have a better one with better films for double the price but I wanted to have  the bottom shelf stuff.  This is certainly the bottom as I assumed I was going to get the usual Hammer lesbian vampires or whatever.  Instead I saw into the eyes of the devil and he winked at me.

Look at this fucking stranger danger!
Never Take Sweets from a Stranger opens with an old creeper using binoculars to watch two younger girls play.  When one of the girls looses her "sweets money" the other says that she knows where they can get some candy and run towards the old man's house.  Upon returning home for the evening one of the girls relays her day to her parents, not even flinching at the part where she and her friend danced naked while the old man watched.  The family is taken aback and the mother gets the whole story.  When she comes back both her husband and her mother (or mother-in-law, I couldn't tell) downplay the incident and I was losing my mind.  Eventually we get a court case where the defending lawyer rips into the small girl like an absolute scum bag.  The man is found innocent and goes free, only to later find the girls playing in the woods, stalks them, and ends up killing one of them.

I hated this movie.  I hated every fucking second of it.  Not because it was a bad film.  As far as random films from 1960 go this was more than competent.  I hated this because it showed just how horrible human beings can be.  A lot of the town had stories of that old man doing inappropriate things, the grandmother had a story of a man exposing himself to her every day as a child and she just wrote it off like that was normal.  The police, holy fuck the police in this film, pull the "You know he and his family built this town so you should change your mind..." thing and were just evil.  Then the old man's son that was just throwing around his power and influence to protect his nasty ass father.  Acting as if letting the girl's dad keep his job as principal to show that there were "no hard feelings" is anywhere near acceptable.  I've never wanted someone punched in the face as much as I wanted that guy.  I screamed it at the end of the movie but apparently no one heard me through the TV and like 58 years in the past.

A lot of the time horror films will pull the "we were the real evil all along!!!" trope but this is just "humanity is evil" from start to finish.  Don't watch this.  It's uncomfortable and somewhat depressing.   The very end of my notes say "I hate the world now," which is how you leave Never Take Sweets from a Stranger.

I give Never Take Sweets from a Stranger 0 Stranger Danger images out of 5:

Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Forest of the Lost Souls blu-ray + Extras (2017: Wild Eye Releasing)


It's nice to be back with a new Saturday Screamers!  Today's film comes to us from our friends over at Wild Eye Productions.  They brought this film to the U.S. as well as hooked us up with a copy.  So thank you to them for this blu-ray!

They watched too much Daria.
Taking influence from the infamous Japanese suicide forest, the Aokigahara, The Forest of the Lost Souls places itself in Europe where a man is looking for his own patch in the woods to end his life.  While he begins to set out his personal artifacts a college age woman tells him she has already claimed the spot.  The two begin to talk and strike up a morbid acquaintanceship which eventually leads to a lake on the forest edge.  It's here that we find that the woman is really a killer.  I'm not spoiling anything as she's on the cover of the case holding a bloody knife.  We knew this was coming.  It's the fact that we find out the entire conversation was meant for her to learn about his life in order to extend her murderous intentions to those connected to him.

The Forest of the Lost Souls initially feels like it's an "artsy" film.  I use that word in quotes because there's an unpleasant tinge to it, like tasting copper on your tongue.  Around the 15-minute mark I was concerned that this film just wasn't going to be for me.  Thankfully I pressed on and the second half of The Forest... does such a great job of giving the viewer that sense of suspense and dread up until the third act hits and everything comes together.  The director knows exactly how to surprise you, at the right moments, with imagery in the background and holding it just long enough that you feel that anxious flutter in your stomach.

This movie also gave me one of the weirdest self psychological moments when the time came for me to do this write up.  The entirety of The Forest of the Lost Souls is in black and white, but for some reason I recall the latter parts of the film in color.  I actually had to put the disc back in and scene skip in order to see if I was right or wrong.  Sure enough, my memory was wrong.  I've never experienced this but I chalk it up to the set designers, costumers, and director for doing such a good job with establishing the house that I can, for lack of a better term, feel the color there.

I also want to give some love to the fact that this is one of the first films that I've seen where we get a killer spending the time to establish an alibi.  Taking selfies, making phone calls saying you didn't have service while you were somewhere the night before, going through all of this effort... it's something we don't get with a lot of horror.  Our monsters tend to be supernatural or have these character flaws that lead to them being pursued, jailed, or killed.  They're not so calculating and sociopathic as to do this extra work or, if they are, we aren't privy to those scenes.  So thank you to The Forest of the Lost Souls for having this.

EXTRAS:

Extras are slim on this as it is just an initial release.  We have two deleted scenes with director's commentary.  I really appreciate that input because these scenes were cut because they didn't fit what became the tone of the film.  Without being told that these scenes would feel confusing as to why they even filmed them at all.  We also get a short film based on a holiday in Portugal where people hit each other with squeaky hammers as a greeting.  I liked this short except I think it would've worked much better without the final shot.  Finally there is a commentary track which I would like to listen to the next time I watch this film and also a fight rehearsal which I didn't watch and may revisit.

FINAL VERDICT:

If you are someone that doesn't like subtitles (this film is in Portuguese), black and white films, or artistically done films, this might not be your thing.  On the flip side, if you don't mind any of that and want to take a break from all of the slashers, torture porn, and b-movie bloodbaths then give The Forest of the Lost Souls a try.  I may not pull this out as an option at every movie night, but when I'm with the right group of people I wouldn't definitely pull a "hey, have you seen this" and put it on.

Thanks again to Wild Eye Productions for the hook-up!

Friday, October 12, 2018

Bloody Pit of Horror (aka: Il Boia Scar Latto) (1965) 1h 27m


My version of this film came from another box set so I didn't get this cover art.  If I would've seen that this was "based on the writings of the Marquis De Sade" then I would've made a hard pass.  Not because I have anything against the Marquis De Sade but because I have a thing against anything that attempts to be "based" on his writings.  Except for Quills.  Quills is a good film.

Bloody Pit of Horror opens with the Crimson Executioner being taken to his own torture room to be killed in an iron maiden.  He apparently broke from his general executioner duties and used his own moral code to target individuals that he felt did not fit appropriately into society.  In present day, a photographer, producer, and a group of models all show up to a castle in order to do a photo shoot.  Apparently 60's Italians just showed up to shit unannounced and unplanned to do things because the castle is locked and one of the models scales the wall to drop down and unlock the door.  They stumble across the actual master of the castle and he says that they can stay but will leave tomorrow.  Accepting this generous offer the 60's Italians proceed to sneak around to try and find the wind cellar to raid it and in turn find the Crimson Executioner's set-up.  They decide to shoot photos on torture devices until one of them is accidentally killed by spikes.  This sets up a "return" of the Executioner and the eventual half-hour of softcore BDSM he inflicts of the females in the group with lots of breasts to gaze upon.

Marquis De Sade looking pissed
at all the things based on his work.
I hate that people used and still continue to use the Marquis De Sade as this shield to the fact that you just want to make some sort of safe torture porn.  It's okay to have non-conventional fetishes so long as consent exists between you and your partners and no one is permanently damaged.  It was the fucking mid-60's!  Actually I have no clue what Europe was like in the 60's so it could've been the opposite of the "free love" movement for all I know.

Bloody Pit of Horror exists as a lead-up until to the reveal and torture scenes.  This isn't so much a horror film as it is something you would catch at like 2AM on some cable channel as a young teen and you would think that you just struck stroke gold.  My copy was overdubbed but it doesn't help when there are some cinematically confusing reaction shots where the person doesn't show any emotion.  The characters in this film did nothing to bring about any concern or emotional connection to them.  Everyone was pretty much just an asshole with no respect for anyone or anything except themselves so I couldn't be bothered with them.

I chose this film because the title Bloody Pit of Horror sounds like it would be an early Misfits b-side but instead it ended up being the equivalent of some kids getting into their mom's make-up and fucking up while playing Last Caress in their parent's garage.  I saw it.  Now I will never see it again.

I give Bloody Pit of Horror 0.5 copies of Quills out of 5

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Ape (1940) 1h 2m


I'm pretty sure my friends' prior band wrote a song about this film.  It's called Ape Man and you can listen to it here.  Go bug Katie over on Werewolf Ambulance about it because she might know more about it *wink*.

Ape Man seeks only love...
and cerebrospinal fluid!!
The Ape stars Boris Karloff as Dr. Adrian which IMDB describes as a "kindly mad scientist."  In truth he is almost a precursor to stem cell research but rather than using cells he focuses on cerebrospinal fluid.  He thinks he has the right concoction to cure Frances' partial paralysis through a series of injections.  His greatest issue is a town full of people that all have this concept of "I sure don't understand it, so I don't like it" sense of ignorance and a stick up their ass toward Dr. Adrian's history.  While being the town doctor he did have a patient die under his care so everyone tries to avoid him and thinks of him as a kook.  The worst of it being the neighborhood shit kids that smash his windows with rocks and then say that he attacked them for no reason.  As a whole, I know he probably took an oath to do no harm, but he should just let this town of die of the flu or something.  That happened back in the 40's, right?  Also there's a killer ape that escaped from a circus fire.  Despite being the name of this movie, it really serves as nothing else but some subterfuge and, later, disappointment.

This movie is rated "approved" which lead me down a huge rabbit hole of learning about the early foundations of the MPAA, the Hays Code, and what is essentially a way of keeping down early women's liberation, especially in Hollywood.  I also learned that the Supreme Court ruled that films were not protected by the First Amendment and that's part of why the MPAA came to be and still exists as the shit show it is today.

As for the content, I liked The Ape.  It's a quick watch at just over an hour and despite being annoyed by the very ending of it I can't really find any faults.  Sure, the townies and kids were a pile of ignorant shit bags but I can honestly say that those "values" and views of "I don't get it, so I hate it" are still very prevalent in small town U.S.A. today.  Don't get me wrong, if my neighbor were to say he had a lab set-up where he was experimenting with cerebrospinal fluid then I would assume he was just making meth and call the cops but that's more self-preservation as opposed to avoiding the only doctor in town if I broke a bone because he's a bit weird.  I also live in a city but it's the deep South, so... kind of the same.  At least in some parts.

I give The Ape 3 oddly fitting diagrams out of 5: