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 What Eurocult films have you been watching?, Yeah, it's that thread again...
Alan Maxwell
Posted: Sep 21 2007, 03:01 PM


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I was about to add these comments to the gigantic ongoing thread over on the Cult board, but since they both fall under the remit of this board (and since the threads on the Cult and Sci-Fi boards have provided me with a lot of entertainment) I thought I'd attempt to start one here. Simple really - what Eurocult films have you been watching recently, and brief thoughts?

(That's assuming of course that those of you with Tim's book have found any time to watch anything biggrin.gif )

MASSACRE IN ROME (1973)
One of many in the spaghetti war genre, this one is a little less action-oriented and concentrates more on raising tension via the dastardly villainy of the Nazi soldiers taking revenge for an attack on a group of SS soldiers.

It's a lot better than I expected it to be to be honest - it is a tense affair and while they're not exactly in the same league as THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS, many of the conflict scenes are remarkably well staged. What really gives the film an extra sheen however is the combination of a great score (Morricone turns in another of the pounding dramatic scores with which he characterised the best of the 70s Italian cop movies) and a memorable cast (Richard Burton, Leo McKern, Marcello Mastroianni, John Steiner). Mastroianni isn't quite at his best (having to deliver his lines in English) but is still as magnetic as can be expected, and the Brits all do villains as Brits are wont to do.

I must confess however that for the first little while I didn't actually realise the Germans were Germans. Okay, a more observant person might have noticed the uniforms, but when your three main soldiers are Burton, McKern and Steiner all speaking English, it's an easy mistake to make. At least if you're me, anyway.

WHITE FANG (1973)
Lassie, but with a wolf, directed by Lucio Fulci. Fulci's involvement is the main reason I watched this one, but another good Eurocult cast might have grabbed my attention too - Franco Nero, Fernando Rey and the aforementioned John Steiner all pop up. It's tough to call whether they actually put in good performances or not however, as the film (in the version I saw) was almost destroyed by the terrible English language dubbing.

That's the sort of contrast that marks the film. Watchable actors, badly dubbed; a film for kids, but with plenty of bloody violence; some lovely location photography, but which suddenly jumps to an exceptionally obvious soundstage; and so on. Even the music swings between beautiful old-fashioned swelling strings and rather workmanlike filler material.

It's a fun watch, but probably of most interest as a curio for Fulci completists (yes, me) than anything else.
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Andrew King
Posted: Sep 24 2007, 06:59 PM


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QUOTE (Alan Maxwell @ Sep 21 2007, 03:01 PM)
WHITE FANG (1973)
Fulci's involvement is the main reason I watched this one... but probably of most interest as a curio for Fulci completists (yes, me) than anything else.

I have many times watched a SVHS letterbox tape I recorded off German SAT1 many years ago, and just the other day won an eBay auction for a full screen Greek VHS of White Fang which carries the English dub - hope to put them together when I have time (it can join the list of dubs-to-do).

Earlier this year in Japan I twice picked up, but put back down, La Settima Donna, of which I had never heard, and was going to buy it just because Florinda Balkan & Ray Lovelock were in it. I somehow was short of cash the day I could have bought it, and thought I'd get it later - and ended up with the very nice Sazuma DVD (with uncredited English language dub available on the disc). Sazuma - well they got me Franco's The Devil Hunter DVD many years ago, but the old Splatterhouse Board was the only reason I ever gave them a second chance even back then!

La Settima Donna (1978)

Three crooks on the lam after a violent bank job hole up in a coastal villa which they take over from a group of young girls being taught by (plain clothes) Nun Florinda Balkan. They rip out the phone line, rip off the girls' clothes, and generally spend the ninety minutes keeping the pressure on the audience. I kept thinking was the audience supposed to side with the villains (to some degree) as a reaction to the burgoise 'goodness' of the victims? At least until the villains go too far... All comes good by the end, and I enjoyed watching it in faux HD through the Xbox 360 out through the video projector on the big screen!
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Eric Cotenas
Posted: Sep 29 2007, 04:40 AM


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MALABIMBA - A wild EXORCIST ripoff by the team that brought you BURIAL GROUND, PATRICK STILL LIVES, and SATAN'S BABY DOLL (different directors but similar crews and producer Gabriele Cristiani). Beautifully shot in the same castle as TERROR IN THE CRYPT, DEVIL'S WEDDING NIGHT, and LICKERISH QUARTET (the beauty of the interiors in MALABIMBA makes me long for a remastered version of the better photographed Metzger film) and more energetic than BURIAL GROUND, the film opens with a seance in which an ancestor shouts accusations of hypocrisy to her descendents. Hilariously, among the telekinetic manifestations are a woman's top being ripped off and invisible hands unzipping a guy's pants. The spirit rushes through the castle and tries to possess Mariangela Giordano who defends herself in a manner that recalls similar defenses in CAT PEOPLE, the vampire segment of DR. TERROR'S HOUSE OF HORRORS, and BRIDES OF DRACULA so the spirit instead possesses 16 year old Bimba who is soon swearing and making lewd gestures as well as modifying her teddy bear with a candle.



SPOILERS:

What relative sophistication the film has likely come straight from writer Piero Regnoli (PLAYGIRLS AND THE VAMPIRE). There's aristocratic hypocrisy aplenty (the family's blonde "whore" trophy wife tells off the family in a great monologue during the dinner scene) as well as the kinky jet setting victims to be that people BURIAL GROUND and PATRICK STILL LIVES. Like THE ANTICHRIST and EXORCISMO, there's also some interesting psychological aspects of Bimba's possession that are brought up before the more blatant supernatural stuff starts. The sheltered Bimba has not gotten over her mother's death and the doctor suggests that her lewd displays are the result of trying to identify with an adult female. Truly, her outrages do mirror the "whorish" exhibitions of Nais, the proudly whorish wife of Bimba's paralyzed uncle. Nais' own exhibitions and vulgarity that Bimba might be picking up are themselves in order to outrage her hypocrite in-laws (grandmother speaks of paralyzed son Adolfo as if he were already dead and suggests Bimba's father marry Nais so the money stays in the family because she refuses to lose the family castle).


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JEFFREY ALLEN RYDELL
Posted: Sep 29 2007, 08:58 AM


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QUOTE (Eric Cotenas @ Sep 29 2007, 06:40 AM)
Beautifully shot in the same castle as TERROR IN THE CRYPT, DEVIL'S WEDDING NIGHT, and LICKERISH QUARTET...

So, MALABIMBA was shot at the Castello di Balsorano as well. Interesting.

But did you know it has a swimming pool? wink.gif

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This post has been edited by JEFFREY ALLEN RYDELL on Sep 29 2007, 09:05 AM


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Eric Cotenas
Posted: Sep 29 2007, 04:36 PM


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The villa in BIMBA DI SATANA also looks familiar but I can't recall from where at the moment. I'm sure its been used plenty of times in Italian horror. The cinematographer of this stripped down though still quite entertaining version of MALABIMBA has less to cover in Regnoli's equally stripped down script so he makes the most of the castle's beautiful interiors (several up angle shots of actors that also include the ornate ceilings including one in which the camera is mounted to the bottom of a wheelchair).


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Eric Cotenas
Posted: Sep 29 2007, 09:48 PM


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RABID GRANNIES - I know its a Troma release but its also one of the few Belgian horror films. I saw the trailer for this a long time ago on a Troma tape long before I was aware of their type of product. The film itself is not the dreck I supposed it would be given that the filmmakers apparently marketed it to Troma before it was even shot. The film is beautifully shot (though I think the tape is cropped) with gorgeous Belgian locations standing in for the English countryside (unless that change was just made in the hilariously bad dubbing). A pack of greedy relatives make their way to the sprawling manor house of their dear elderly aunties for an extravagant birthday dinner all in hope of inheriting the family millions. Their true colors come out over dinner but the two aunts seem blissfully oblivious as to the ugliness of their relatives. A mysterious woman shows up with a gift from a disinherited black sheep relative who did prison time for celebrating the black mass in a cemetery. The gift is a wooden box which lets loose a fog which turns the two aunts into DEMONS-style demons who start bumping off the family members in various gory fashions (the first victim's head is swallowed by one of the aunties whose jaw splits open to allow for extra space. The rest of the film is the old split up and run through the dark (though well-exposed) hallways and get killed off.

In spite of the hilariously bad dubbing, this one was meant to be funny from the get go (when an aristocratic woman insults her husband's low background he responds that "we may be common but at least we leave our parties happy and alive!"). The gore is expectedly outrageous in a post-EVIL DEAD manner even if most of it is missing from the Troma cut (the gore is included in workprint form as an extra - most of it is quiet messy but there are one or two cut shots that seem mostly like MPAA prissiness than anything else such as a couple lingering shots of faces after death that I guess they found disturbing). The movie is audacious enough to kill a little girl as well (although thankfully we are only shown the aftermath and not the kill itself in both cuts). The film works because it doesn't take itself seriously in any way so the results aren't as grim as some films that either dollop on the gore without a sense of humor or ones that reason "loads of gore and guts = funny".


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JEFFREY ALLEN RYDELL
Posted: Sep 30 2007, 10:26 AM


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By the by, it's just possible that MALABIMBA was the film to ruin Castello di Balsorano as a location.

When I was there Pepe, the caretaker and local top chef, made reference (through a impromptu and beleaguered interpreter) to 'porno films' being the reason they stopped letting productions shoot there. I imagine SISTER EMANUELLE didn't help matters much either...

Can anyone cite a film shot here later than '79?

This post has been edited by JEFFREY ALLEN RYDELL on Sep 30 2007, 10:33 AM


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JEFFREY ALLEN RYDELL
Posted: Oct 2 2007, 04:47 PM


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QUOTE (JEFFREY ALLEN RYDELL @ Sep 30 2007, 12:26 PM)
Can anyone cite a film shot here later than '79?

Nuthin'?


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Eric Cotenas
Posted: Oct 2 2007, 04:55 PM


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Perhaps thats why they chose a different castle for SATAN'S BABY DOLL and the TERROR CREATURES FROM THE GRAVE villa for BURIAL GROUND and PATRICK STILL LIVES.


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Mark Tinta
Posted: Oct 16 2007, 07:12 PM


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THE BIG ALLIGATOR RIVER (1979) This often-laughable but still enjoyable Sergio Martino flick never hit US theaters, but did premiere on CBS in 1981 under the title THE GREAT ALLIGATOR. The story is a hodgepodge of native superstition, ecology, and the nature-gone-amok subgenre with Mel Ferrer's Sri Lankan resort under attack by both a vengeful tribe and an alligator god named Kroona, which resembles less an alligator and more a surfboard with glued-on scales and a wagging tail. Many of the effects are almost Ed Wood-worthy, including some underwater visuals that appear to have been filmed in Martino's bathtub, and one scene where Kroona knocks Barbara Bach and Claudio Cassinelli out of a boat, and you can CLEARLY see Cassinelli propelling himself out of the boat to create the illusion of being knocked out of it. That, coupled with some other assorted nonsense like some drunk guy somehow being allowed to bring a hunting rifle on a booze cruise, make this some really fun Eurocult viewing. Also featuring Eurocult stalwarts like Richard Johnson (in a scenery-chomping cameo as a priest still bonkers after his encounter with Kroona), the great Romano Puppo as Ferrer's thuggish right-hand man, the awesome Bobby Rhodes (unfortunately not dubbed by the same legendary guy who would voice him in DEMONS and DEMONS 2), Anny Papa, and Lory Del Santo, better-known (tragically) as the mother of Eric Clapton's late son Conor.

There's some conservative bloodletting that looks like spilled Hawaiian Punch, but really, it's pretty tame by '70s Eurocult horror standards. Aside from a fleeting Del Santo breast shot and an occasional bit of profanity, it wouldn't seem too difficult to cut this for network TV. I could see this "uncut and uncensored" version almost flying with a PG rating if it were released theatrically back then


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Jonathan Barnett
Posted: Oct 19 2007, 02:19 AM


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I don't have much time to write but here it goes....

THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED (1969) ***1/2

A genuine chiller! This one follows the explots of school girls in a remote countryside. Slowly the girls are disapearing. Have they runaway or is it something else. And why? The tension is great and the silence is loud. The body count is kept to a nearly a abstract minimal but it carries a great weight. How did I go for so long without seeing this? You'll always wonder who and why. The Greenhouse seqence is a shocker yet it is outdone by a couple of random moments.

THE DEATHRAY OF DR. MABUSE (1964) **1/2

Often considerd the worst of the series but actually lots of fun as long as one take it stride. Its basically THUNDERBALL set in Malta before the Bond opus hit the screens. And it works. Its played for absurdity but knowingly. Its one of those movies where everyone continues spying on each other even though everyone knows what everyone is doing. You got that? Yet it keeps you wondering for all the right reaons. But it is dumb! It features a smug Peter Van Eyck. He has an attitude. Its all in a day's work when he tosses a shovel in a bell tower. His co-star who's name I forget was in BLACK SABBATH. This time she wears a transperant teddy while bouncing on a bed! The shoot out with the frogmen is kinda cool too. See it now!



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Alan Maxwell
Posted: Nov 3 2007, 08:09 AM


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CHURCHILL'S LEOPARDS (1970)

Bringing this thread almost full circle, it's another spaghetti war movie. There is some appeal in seeing the usual Italian cult movie suspects in action (Richard Harrison in the lead, supported by the likes of Klaus Kinski, Giacomo Rossi Stuart, Frank Brana and Pilar Velázquez) but this Dambusters/Guns of Navarone imitator is not exactly a classic.

Even if you can get past the slightly daft premise (Harrison plays a British officer who infiltrates the Germans due to having a German twin brother in their army!) the film is still a rather slow-moving affair that doesn't really kick into gear until the last half hour. Even then, the action scenes are rather pedestrian gun battles rather than any particularly notable set-pieces.

This lack of great action might be more forgiveable if there was a degree of tension in the build up but sadly the film is almost entirely lacking in suspense. The only real exception is a memorable but brief scene involving Klaus Kinski's over-zealous plan for using a German firing squad.

Talking of Kinski, this is where another one of the flaws of the film lies, albeit restricted to the version I watched. It was dubbed into English, which is obviously no surprise, but it's a particular problem here. I'm used to bad dubbing, but here it's detrimental to the film because I've yet to see any dubbing actor who can capture the intensity of a Kinski performance, even in a minor role like this. There's also the small matter (as with Massacre in Rome, back at the start of this thread), that having German officers speak with posh English accents just doesn't work, even though it does allow the film to gloss over whatever problems Harrison's character might have had with the German accent required for the plan.

I've made it this far and realised I've not actually mentioned the main driver of the plot. The Brits are out to blow up a damn in order to destroy German supply lines. That's it really. I hope the others I've still got to watch are better than this one.
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Marty McKee
Posted: Nov 4 2007, 10:42 PM


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GET MEAN (1976)—Directed by Ferdinando Baldi. Stars Tony Anthony, Lloyd Battista, Diana Lorys. You have to give Tony Anthony his props. As the producer, star and occasional writer of several Italian westerns, Anthony, more than most working in the genre, wasn’t shy about thinking outside the box. Returning to the iconic Stranger character he played in the 1960s, Anthony, who wrote the original story (co-star Battista and Wolf Lowenthal receive screenplay credit), places GET MEAN firmly in the realm of fantasy. The bizarre plot finds the Stranger accepting a $50,000 offer to return Princess Elizabeth Maria (Lorys) to Spain, where a battle for her kingdom ensues between Moors and Vikings! The Stranger loses the Princess to the Viking king, but negotiates his way into the warlord’s good graces with the promise of a treasure hidden in a nearby temple. Battista, who played the main heavy opposite Anthony in BLINDMAN, is the Viking lord’s hunchbacked sidekick with a RICHARD III obsession. GET MEAN is a strangely weird movie, even more so than THE SILENT STRANGER, which took the title character to Japan. It’s somewhat effective, but it’s pretty clear the spaghetti western genre was on its last legs. At least it’s about time one of these Spain-lensed pictures actually set itself in Spain. Anthony’s next picture, COMIN’ AT YA!, was filmed in 3D and was surprisingly successful in the U.S., kicking off a shortlived 3D craze.


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Michael Blanton
Posted: Nov 6 2007, 02:24 AM


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My recent Eurocult Excursions include:

CUT-THROAT'S NINE
DEATH LAID AN EGG
THE IRON ROSE
TWO UNDERCOVER AGENTS
COUNT DRACULA (Franco)
VAMPYROS LESBOS
LE AMANTI DEL MOSTRO
BLACK MOON
THE DEVIL (Zulawski)
THE 10th VICTIM
THE BLOOD ROSE


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Jonathan Barnett
Posted: Nov 8 2007, 05:04 AM


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CASTLE OF THE CREEPING FLESH (1968)

It starts off innocently enough: music, spirits, and laughter. This wild youth of today just wants to have a good time and they do so at no expense. One in particular that really like to have his way: Baron Brack (Michel Lemoine). Leaving the party early with his friend’s girlfriend Marion (Claudia Butenuth). He promises to meet the group back at his cabin and ready them selves for some horseback riding. Alas he does perform some riding on Marion and much to her dismay. To be a pony girl is not what she has in mind but as mentioned Baron likes to have it his way. While there friends (one of them being Janine Reynaud from SUCCUBUS) arrive, He than has the nerve to tell her its her fault and not to tell anyone that this happened. After all he in engaged. Embarrassed, used, and unable to communicate, she separates herself while riding through the country with her friends.

In search of her, the path that leads to only one place. That place being a remote castle in the German forest. It’s a castle with a history. It is a history that the Baron knows about. He knows of the family curse that lies upon that castle. What he doth not know is that the daughter has returned home. And sure enough what waits inside is none other than Howard Vernon as Graf Saxon in search of a look-alike to substitute for his daughter.

“Based upon” King Lear, thus the story will end the way you think it will end. The castle comes complete with a Jess Franco screenplay, Vernon channeling Dr. Orloff and King Lear, Shakespeare dialogue, orchestral variations of Chopin, a fake bear that maims, nudity, the family legend, flashbacks, horse back riding, rape, nudity, mannequins, footage of a genuine open heart surgery, and a topless Janine Reynaud.

This is a genuine exploitation film with all of the European trimmings. Logic, craft, and pacing are held in question. But that is not what the story is about. It was hard not to be exhausted or taken aback when some of the more awful elements. Yes the storyline is nearly perfect for this sort of this thing. Yet to bear witness to the heart surgery was extreme by any measure. What are they thinking? It does add a certain "heart and soul" to the proceedings. It is the reality of the melancholy. It is a story of emotions and splendor both evocative and gory. On that it succeeds. One of the more sublime moments in the movie is when the visitors of the castle are told a chapter of the sad story. Before them is a groups of mannequins that is restaging a violation. While the castle keeper tells the “audience” he also plays a recording that is a recreation of the events. It is essentially a frozen moment captured with narration and a soundtrack. It is creepy in the best of ways.


Directed by Adrian (MARK OF THE DEVIL) Hoven. This is everything you’d expect a Euro horror cult to be or close enough. If you think I’ve spoiled the story, I have not. This is about presentation. The foreshadowing only underscores the goings on. It begins as a lark but has a dire conclusion. The closing frames are as shivering and delightful as you’ll see for yourself.

This post has been edited by Jonathan Barnett on Nov 8 2007, 09:43 PM
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Eric Cotenas
Posted: Nov 8 2007, 05:38 AM


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CASTLE OF THE CREEPING FLESH is a fun film. I've wondered if Franco was meant to direct it or if Hoven just made use of the the talent available from the Franco collaborations with him and Pier Caminnecci. I have three English tapes and they're all the same in terms of content but I've heard that the German version has a different ending. The dubbing voice for Howard Vernon is really unsuitable. It would've been better had he dubbed himself as in the Eurocine films.


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Mark Zimmer
Posted: Nov 8 2007, 12:58 PM


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I've been methodically working my way through the Mario Bava Book, watching the movies that I can track down one by one. I'm up to HERCULES (1958) so far, so not all that much actual Eurocult to list at this point, but plenty of Italian movies.

Things that I've discovered in the process that I either never knew or had forgotten:

1) The young Gina Lollobrigida was incredibly hot. She is just smoking in I PAGLIACCI and LA DONNA PIU BELLA DEL MONDO.

2) Aldo Fabrizi is a funny guy who deserves more recognition; he can do pathos in the Chaplin mold too. In everything from NATALE AL'CAMPO 119 to VITA DA CANI to COSE DA PAZZI he's terrific.

3) Why have I never heard of Alberto Sordi before? Tim Lucas kind of takes apart BUONA NOTTE AVVOCATO for its sexist tropes, but I more or less consider that as standard Italian male behavior, at least in the 1950s. Sordi kind of reminds me of Jerry Seinfeld on speed. Anyway, he's really sensational, and his casting as Nero in MIO FIGLIO NERONE is nothing short of inspired. And Gloria Swanson in that movie is pretty darned entertaining too, especially when Bava goes nuts with the gels and makes her look undead.

The list of 20 items watched so far--and I haven't really even started on Bava's directorial career! They're not all in chronological order since I had trouble finding NATALE and GRAZIELLA; ATTILA is supposedly in the mails to me:

10/2/07: Mario Bava Project: Uomini sul fondo (*)
10/3/07: Mario Bava Project: La corona di ferro/The Iron Crown (*)
10/4/07: Mario Bava Project: Rossini: Il barbiere di Siviglia (*)
10/5/07: Mario Bava Project: Donizetti: L'elisir d'amore (*)
10/6/07: Mario Bava Project: Mad About Opera (*)
10/7/07: Mario Bava Project: I Pagliacci (*)
10/8/07: Mario Bava Project: Vita da cani (*)
10/9/07: Mario Bava Project: Guardie e ladri (*)
10/10/07: [Mario Bava Project: The Sins of Rome half of Sword and Sandal Double Feature DVD] (*)
10/12/07: Mario Bava Project: Cose da pazzi (*)
10/19/07: Mario Bava Project: Ulysses (*), Mario Bava Project: Hanno rubato un tram (*)
10/20/07: Mario Bava Project: Buona notte...avvocato! (*); Mario Bava Project: Le avventura di Giacomo Casanova (*)
10/23/07: Mario Bava Project: La donna piu bella del mondo (*)
10/27/07: Mario Bava Project: Natale al Campo 119 (*)
10/28/07: Mario Bava Project: Mio figlio Nerone (*)
11/02/07: Mario Bava Project: Graziella (*)
11/03/07: Mario Bava Project: Roland the Mighty (*)
11/04/07: Mario Bava Project: I Vampiri

(*) indicates items I acquired in 2007 to pursue this quixotic adventure.

This post has been edited by Mark Zimmer on Nov 8 2007, 12:59 PM
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James Cheney
Posted: Nov 8 2007, 06:38 PM


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QUOTE
3) Why have I never heard of Alberto Sordi before? Tim Lucas kind of takes apart BUONA NOTTE AVVOCATO for its sexist tropes, but I more or less consider that as standard Italian male behavior, at least in the 1950s. Sordi kind of reminds me of Jerry Seinfeld on speed. Anyway, he's really sensational, and his casting as Nero in MIO FIGLIO NERONE is nothing short of inspired. And Gloria Swanson in that movie is pretty darned entertaining too, especially when Bava goes nuts with the gels and makes her look undead.


Yes! to all of the above. Sordi had an amazing run from early fifties through midsixties of dozens and dozens of great films of every variety. Since there's at least one fan in the house, I'll provide an overview of some highlights within the next couple weeks.

Related question: the remarkable Sordi vehicle Mafioso received a recent theatrical revival to universal accolades. Is it due out on US DVD anytime soon?

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Michael Blanton
Posted: Nov 8 2007, 10:26 PM


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QUOTE (James Cheney @ Nov 8 2007, 06:38 PM)
The remarkable Sordi vehicle Mafioso received a recent theatrical revival to universal accolades. Is it due out on US DVD anytime soon?

MAFIOSO is the best film, by far, I saw in a theatre this year.

It was released by Rialto, so hopefully unsure.gif Criterion will see fit to release it soon.


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George Hanson
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John Black
Posted: Nov 10 2007, 12:59 PM


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BLACK SABBATH is one.

Tim's book has launched me on a peplum binge. Some of my recent viewings:

GIANT OF MARATHON (coming on Retromedia in 2:35-1)
GOLIATH AND THE VAMPIRES (on Wild East in 2:35-1)
ROME AGAINST ROME (aka WAR OF THE ZOMBIES)
ESTHER AND THE KING (2:35-1 from Fox Movies Channel)
ERIK THE CONQUEROR (2:35-1 on Anchor Bay)
GIANTS OF THESSALY
HERCULES AGAINST THE MOON MEN (2:35-1 from Something Weird/Image)
with many more to follow

And, one that Bava apparently didn't help with:

TESEO CONTRO IL MINOTAURO (aka THE MINOTAUR, 1961)
2:35-1 and gorgeous color, from Spanish DVD, but no English

This post has been edited by John Black on Nov 12 2007, 01:08 AM
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