NEW POSTER FOR [REC] 4: APOCALYPSE!

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I am a huge fan of the Spanish [REC] horror film series from Jaume Balaguero’ and Paco Plaza. The fourth and supposedly climactic entry in the series will begin release on Halloween overseas and hopefully make it’s way here soon in the US. The flick is directed by Balaguero’ and picks up after the events of [REC] 2 and follows the fate of TV newswoman Angela Vidal (Manuela Velasco). The found footage format of the first two and part of the third has been dropped for a conventional film style. I can’t wait!

For a review of the first two films in the series click HERE and for a look at [REC] 3 click HERE.

source: AITH/Youtube

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FAREWELL AND RIP ROBIN WILLIAMS!

 

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Robin Williams 1951-2014

In what is some very sad news, actor/comedian Robin Williams was found dead in his California home this morning, of what early indications are is from an apparent suicide. I grew up watching him on Mork and Mindy and enjoyed many of his film performances both comedy and drama. He was a tremendous talent and shall be greatly missed! And sad farewell to a legendary performer. He was 63…

… I wish Robin Williams could have seen all the love he is getting across the internet tonight a day sooner, then maybe he would have stuck around.- MonsterZero NJ

source:internet

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: DEATHSPORT (1978)

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DEATHSPORT (1978)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Anyone who’s been coming here for a while knows I love Roger Corman’s productions and am certainly guilty of having my guilty pleasures. But, Deathsport, a movie I actually saw in a theater in 1978 is not one of them. Sometimes bad is just bad and based on the fact that both Corman and Allan (Rock ‘N’ Roll High School) Arkush both tried to save this turkey and failed, is proof of that.

Made as a loose follow-up to Death Race 2000, the film takes place far in the future where the world has been ravaged by war and people either live in walled cities or wander the wasteland led and guarded by the Jedi-like Range Guides and their crystal swords called Whistlers. When the city of Helix plans to go to war against the neighboring city of Tritan, their leader Lord Zirpola (David McLean) plans to sway the populace to his cause by staging gladiatorial games pitting captured Range Guides against their new weapon, the Death Machines which are merely motorcycles covered in aluminum siding and fitted with laser canons. He and his head thug, ex-Guide Ankar Moor (legendary movie bad guy Richard Lynch) make the mistake of picking Guides Kaz Oshay (David Carradine) and the sexy Deneer (Playboy Playmate Claudia Jennings) as fodder for the games. A daring escape, boring chases and endless explosions ensue. And did I mention that Ankar Moor killed Kaz’s mother years earlier?

Initially directed and co-written (with Donald E. Stewart) by Nicholas Niciphor, the film is a mess and even the intervention of Corman and Arkush couldn’t save it with the reported addition of numerous explosions and nudity. For starters, the film has a completely convoluted and silly story filled with large plot holes and lapses of logic, even for an exploitation sci-fi flick. It’s also dreadfully slow paced, for an 80+ minute movie and that’s even with it’s second half being one long chase sequence. The action is badly staged, fights badly choreographed, the FX are terrible, the sets and the costumes look cheap and bad, even for a lesser Roger Corman production and there is very little blood or gore to at least satisfy on an exploitation violence level. It could have used Death Race 2000’s over the top gore and sense of humor, or at least acknowledged it’s badness and had some fun with it. But director Niciphor takes this nonsense deathly serious and it makes his incompetent handling of it, all the more obvious. It’s basically a mess and not in a good way. And to add insult to injury, the film’s score by musician Andy Stein apparently featured guitar work by the legendary Jerry Garcia…not sure how Garcia got involved in this train-wreck!

Star David Carradine, who made quite a living in films like this, looks like he would rather be elsewhere. Jennings is certainly pretty and has a nice body, that gets shown off frequently, but she is no actress and it’s only Richard Lynch who somehow retains his dignity by giving the role his all and adding weight to his extremely silly dialog. A sign of a true pro and an under-appreciated actor. Frequent Corman actor Jesse Vint also looks embarrassed in a minor role and the rest of the supporting cast go from barely adequate to awful.

So, what else is there to say. There is very little to recommend here except for some Claudia Jennings’ nudity and watching a pro like Lynch giving it his all in a terrible movie. If endless explosions are enough to satisfy, you might get some extra mileage out of it, but it’s basically just a bad movie that is even too bad to enjoy as ‘so bad, it’s good.’ Check it out if you are curious, but even with the nostalgia of having actually seen this in a theater in 1978, I can’t bring myself to cut it much slack…No surprise, Corman still made a little money on it, with it’s “If you liked Star Wars, you’ll love Deathsport” tag line, which just goes to show you what a genius the man is.

PERSONAL TRIVIA: I saw this flick at an interesting little venue called The Galaxy Theater in North Bergen N.J. Interesting as it was a tiny movie theater built into an apartment complex called the Galaxy Apartments. As a teen I though the concept of an apartment building with it’s own movie theater was really cool, but it never caught on. While the Galaxy apartments are still there, the theater closed long ago.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 2 (out of 4) actors trying not to look silly. Epic fail.

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES AUG 8-10

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Complete estimates are in and Ninja Turtles rule!

1. “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” $65 Million

2. “Guardians OF The Galaxy” $41.5 Million

3. “Into The Storm” $18 Million

4. “The Hundred-Foot Journey” $11 Million

5. “Lucy” $9.3 Million

6. “Step Up All In” $6.6 Million

7. “Hercules” $5.7 Million

8. “Get On Up” $5 Million

9. “Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes” $4.4 Million

10. “Planes: Fire & Rescue” $2.4 Million

 

source: box office mojo

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and EATEN ALIVE

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This week’s double feature is in tribute to horror icon and one of the original horror final girls, Marilyn Burns who passed away at the age of 65 this week. I put together both of her Tobe Hooper directed horrors, the classic Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the cult classic… and hard to find… Eaten Alive.

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Marilyn Burns 1949-2014

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THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974)

Partially inspired by true life serial killer Ed Gein, this is the original teens v.s. redneck cannibals flick and still the best and most effective. It is also one of the greatest horror films ever made and one that has influenced many of today’s filmmakers and created a horror sub-genre that is still very prolific even today.

5 friends travel to checkout stories that the grave site of brother and sister Franklin (Paul A. Partain) and Sally’s (Marilyn Burns) family has been vandalized and on the way to their family’s abandoned property, they encounter a bizarre hitchhiker (Edwin Neal) who seems to mark them for something by leaving a bloody smear on their van. That something turns out to be an encounter with his fiendish family of backwoods cannibals including the hulking, chainsaw wielding Leatherface (Gunner Hansen) and the disturbed family matriarch (Jim Siedow) who runs the twisted clan. Now, one by one, the young victims are murdered by this deranged family who have found a horrifying way to keep their kitchen and BBQ business filled with meat now that the local slaughter house is closed. Will any of them escape or will they all become lambs for the slaughter?

Director and co-writer Tobe Hooper makes every frame of this classic fright flick give you the willies and saturates this tale of teens and cannibalistic rednecks with dread and tension from the first frame to the last. From the opening scene at the cemetery, to the fateful picking up of the bizarre hitchhiker, to arriving at “the house”, this film has us on edge for the full duration. Hooper takes his teens on a nightmare roller-coaster ride that will not end well for most and his disturbing visuals and frantic explosions of deadly action, take the audience along with them. The film looks unsettling with muted colors and bleak, desolate camera shots courtesy of cinematographer Daniel Pearl and his use of shadow makes the film’s old house setting even more unnerving. Added to this visual assault is a very disturbing soundtrack of strange sounds and music that give the film a really unsettling feel even in it’s quieter moments with some truly unique production design complete with furniture made from bones. The film oozes dread and Hooper adds just enough of a twisted sense of humor to keep us from being numbed to his horror show and makes us even more uncomfortable for giggling at his demented family while they horrify and torment their prey. The film is obviously bloody, though not nearly as gory as it’s reputation suggests or any of it’s sequels would become. Hooper ultimately creates one of the greatest horror flicks of all time and one of the most iconic horror characters in Leatherface. He also gets good work from all his cast from the likable young victims to the crazed cannibal clan, including making horror icons out of Leatherface and final girl Marylin Burns.

It all combines to make one terrifying and unforgettable horror flick. A text book example of how to make a low budget horror film. Also stars Allen Danziger as Jerry, Teri McMinn as Pam and William Vail as Kirk, who are among the 5 intended victims of Leatherface and company’s wrath and opening narration is by actor John (Night Court) Larroquette. A great horror and a true classic.

4 classic chainsaws!

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EATEN ALIVE (1977)

Tobe Hooper’s follow-up to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a strange film that brings back Chainsaw final girl Marylin Burns and follows a blood-soaked night at a spooky hotel on the bayou run by deranged proprietor Judd (Neville Brand). There is barely a plot as it simply follows a group of various guests and locals who find their way to Judd’s decrepit Starlight Hotel and fall victim to his scythe and are then fed to his enormous pet crocodile that lurks in a gated area of the swamp right next to the hotel. And that’s pretty much it.

Hooper once again creates a very atmospheric and disturbing movie, though it’s nowhere near as effective as his Texas-set classic. It’s a shame that the story and script by Kim Henkle, Mardi Rustam and Alvin L. Fast is borderline incoherent and never really gives a reason for the eccentric, well-know local Judd to turn viciously homicidal after running the old hotel for years. If Hooper had more of a story, he might have had another real horror treat on his hands rather than just a spooky, strange curiosity. He and cinematographer Robert Caramico give the film a very interesting look that is grungy like Chainsaw, but at the same time a bit more colorful and it gives the flick a surreal quality that helps make the less then stellar script work in it’s favor. There are some gruesome scenes and the film does get under your skin, but once it’s over, you realize there wasn’t much accomplished or much of a point…but Hooper still manages to give us the creeps to a good degree. He also wisely keeps his plastic prop croc dimly lit and in shadow so it remains effective even though it is obviously fake. Hooper and Wayne Bell again do the score and again the blend of music and unsettling sounds really goes a long way to making this chilling. It’s not a great horror by far, but it is a spooky and offbeat one that is definitely worth a look especially since Hooper’s work would become more mainstream upon landing the gig helming Poltergeist (which in itself is surrounded in controversy)…and I personally believe he lost his effectiveness upon going Hollywood.

The cast all do there part in helping this flick achieve it’s midnight movie aura. Marilyn Burns plays another damsel in distress who is a young wife and mother Judd kidnaps after murdering her stressed-out husband (Phantom Of The Paradise’s William Finley) and chasing her young daughter (Halloween’s Kyle Richards) into the crawlspace under the house. Poor Burns spends most of her time bound and gagged in her hotel room before being chased all over the place by Brand’s Judd in the last act. And speaking of Neville Brand, the actor delivers a very creepy Judd and it almost helps enhance the character’s creep factor that his dialog sometimes is made of rambling that makes little sense. He is quite over the top, but as the film does have a somewhat surreal, nightmare quality, it works in the character’s favor. We also get veteran Stuart Whitman as the local sheriff and future Freddy Krueger Robert Englund as a trouble making young local who meets the working end of Judd’s reptilian friend.

Overall, I like this film mainly for the atmosphere and the fact that the film has a surreal-like quality to it thanks to Hooper’s style and production work. The script is a mess and the film barely has what resembles a plot, but the talented Hooper makes a fairly spooky flick out of that script and it gets under your skin even if a lot of it doesn’t always make much sense and it comes off more as a series of loosely tied together vignettes than an actual story. It delivers get some very effective scenes and some decent blood and gore to go with it and despite it’s flaws, is a spooky flick, especially if watched along with a few brews. Also stars Mel Ferrer and ‘Morticia Addams’ herself, Carolyn Jones as the owner of a local brothel.

3 well-fed crocodiles.

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BARE BONES: DIVERGENT and BAD WORDS

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DIVERGENT (2014)

Another teen-centric sci-fi movie based on a book series. This one by Veronica Roth has a post-war walled city of Chicago where society is separated into 5 groups referred to as ‘factions’ that each serve a purpose to support the city. If you think this is a thinly-veiled metaphor for the high school class structure, it just shows how obvious it all is. Subjects are tested when they come of age to determine which group they are best suited for but, are ultimately allowed to choose their own faction… which kinda negates the point of the test. Enter Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) who is born into the Abnegation (the good kids) faction but, yearns to be in the Dauntless faction (the rebels, cool kids) who protect the city and maintain law. But, her aptitude test brands her a ‘Divergent’… someone capable of being in any of the five groups… and thus she must try to hide her designation, as being whoever you want to be, is frowned upon in this high school… ah-hem, futuristic society. Throw in her efforts to succeed as a Dauntless, falling for her hunky Dauntless trainer ‘Four’ (Theo James) and saving the city from a coup d’etat and we have all the paper thin messages about being who you are, being whatever you want to be, overcoming adversity and first love that any pimpled teen could want. The saving grace is that director Neil Burger (Limitless) moves everything at a brisk pace, takes this teen angst metaphor seriously and gets good work out of his cast especially leading lady Woodley, who is no Jennifer Lawrence and her ‘Triss’ is no Katniss, but, she is charming and endearing enough and makes a feisty heroine. Overall, it’s actually manages to be somewhat entertaining despite how obvious and derivative the material is. Also stars Kate Winslet, Ashley Judd, Ray Stevenson and Jai Courtney.

3 star rating

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BAD WORDS (2014)

Actor Jason Bateman makes his directorial debut in this deviously funny and delightfully inappropriate comedy about 40 year old grade school drop out Guy Trilby (Bateman) who exploits a loophole in the rules to enter a children’s national spelling bee. Trilby obviously has an agenda, other than embarrassing a bunch of 10 year olds, as he drags a reporter (Kathryn Hahn) along and enters in a friendship/rivalry with a precocious Indian boy (Rohand Chand) who also wants the championship. Andrew Dodge’s script has some blisteringly funny moments, though there are a few sentimental ones too, and director Bateman gives a really hilarious performances as the bitter and angry Trilby, who will stoop to any level to mow down his pre-adolescent competition. Bateman also gets very good work out of his fellow cast members, including young Chand, and crafts a movie that is not afraid to ‘go there’ and present it’s young spelling bee contestants in hysterically inappropriate spots. Suffers slightly from a routine, sentimental climax but, otherwise is a daring and very funny work from first-time director Bateman and writer Dodge. Also, at 88 minutes the movie knows not to wear out it’s welcome.

three and one half stars rating

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: MAY (2002)

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MAY (2002)

“If you can’t find a friend, make one.”

May is the feature film debut of writer/director Lucky McKee and tells the story of eccentric, strange and shy May (Angela Bettis) who works at a veterinary clinic, who likes people only for certain parts of them and has an old doll in a glass display box as her only friend. But May starts to try and come out of her shell when she happens upon handsome mechanic and wannabe filmmaker Adam (Jeremy Sisto) and starts getting hit upon by the sexy receptionist at work, Polly (Anna Faris). May starts to see Adam and has an affair with Polly, but her odd behavior and interest in morbid things pushes both of them away and as the emotionally troubled May tries to deal with all the rejection, she remembers the words of her mother…”If you can’t find a friend, make one.”…and with gruesome results.

Lucky Mckee creates a film that is both disturbing and whimsical at the same time. Despite being a very emotionally awkward and troubled young woman, we like May and feel bad for her when she scares people away with her bizarre behavior and over-eagerness to get attached to someone. When her behavior turns violent, it’s shocking, yet, she still comes across as sympathetic, as the people she encounters appear shallow and self centered and don’t evoke our sympathy when May turns to her gruesome solution to her social isolation. Even Adam, who seems like a nice guy who legitimately likes May, has a jerk side to him that comes out when May doesn’t get that it’s over and he says some very mean and insensitive things about her. After all, she just wants to be loved. And this is where Mckee shows some real promise with his first feature as he takes a character who is well within Norman Bates territory, but makes her the most likable character in the film and tells her blood soaked story as an almost modern day urban fairy tale, with our princess being emotionally scarred and homicidal. After all, while she doesn’t have a magic mirror to talk to, she does have her doll “Suzie”. And McKee mixes the more whimsical elements perfectly with the more disturbing elements and we never truly see May as a monster, but more sad and tragic. She evokes our sympathy even after all the blood is shed and she has unleashed her inner Frankenstein. We still want her to have a happy ending.

Obviously McKee would not have been as successful without a subtle tour de force performance by Angela Bettis as May. She’s awkward and yet adorable, creepy and yet likable and sympathetic. The actress really gives this bizarre character life with her ability to present the facial expressions and body language of a young woman who has little clue on how to express her emotions to other people. She truly gives the appearance of someone who is in social circles for the first time and the frustration of coming across as weird to those she wishes to like her. And of course she remains sweet and innocent even when she is exacting bloody revenge on those who reject her…as if this is how it’s done normally. An understated and overlooked performance. Sisto is also good as the apple of May’s lazy eye and he comes across as likable until we get to meet the inner jerk, when he gets mean concerning May’s bizarre behavior. But he does try to do the right thing and make peace with May and we are left wondering what he really feels about her. Sisto and McKee give Adam an appearance of conflicting emotions when it comes to May which give the character an interesting dynamic. When they are together there seems to be legitimate feelings in play, when apart, he dismisses her as a weirdo to friends. Rounding out the main players, Anna Faris plays Polly as a ditzy woman with a sexual appetite and it’s something Faris plays well and does a good job as the sexually promiscuous woman who unintentionally only confuses May further. A good cast that handles the disturbing material very well.

I recommend May to those who like a little variety and originality in their horror. McKee has a talent for mixing disturbing and whimsical elements…no more evident then in a scene involving a classroom of blind children and some broken glass, that is horrifying yet, almost makes you giggle…It’s got a really strong performance by it’s leading lady and good work by the supporting cast and the director gives his ultimately gruesome story a twisted fairy tale-like atmosphere that works and well. A interesting debut from an interesting filmmaker.

3 Suzie’s.

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COOL STUFF: WITHOUT WARNING and OCULUS on BLU-RAY

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As my last product review did quite well, I’ve decided to premiere my new column… Cool Stuff! Obviously it will be a look at/review of cool genre related items and home media.

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WITHOUT WARNING (1980) DVD/Blu-Ray

The folks at Scream Factory have done it again by bringing this hard to find cult classic to DVD and Blu-Ray for the first time ever. This 1980 low budget sci-fi flick (full review here) has been out of reach for decades and Scream Factory has resurrected it in all it’s cheesy fun, 80s glory. The combo DVD/Blu-Ray pack features a remastered print with a really nice package of extras. We get commentary from director Greydon Clark along with all new Scream Factory exclusive interviews with leads Christopher S. Nelson and Tara Nutter, producer Daniel Grodnick, legendary cinematographer Dean Cundey and make-up FX master Greg Cannom. They are all fun recollections about the making of a lost cult classic… and a personal guilty pleasure of mine. Scream Factory always gets some fun and informative interviews out of these people, treating us to an inside look at a film the likes of which would normally not get… but strongly deserves… such star treatment. A lot of enjoyable nostalgia here.

As for the print itself, the film looks as good as it probably ever will. There is some flickering and extra grain in some of the darker scenes. Probably due to flaws in the existing print revealed when those scenes were lightened but, as a film left in a closet somewhere since the 80s, this is probably the best source material available and considering it’s age and the low budget nature of it’s production, it still looks really good and the colors are rich and the image crisp. The sound is clean and very good quality and overall, despite any minor flaws in the source print, this looks far better then one might expect and the overall quality far outweighs those minor anomalies. Another great job by Scream Factory giving a cult classic the respect it deserves. Definitely recommended!

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OCULUS (2014) Blu-Ray

Oculus is my favorite horror, so far this year (full review here) and as a big fan of co-writer/director Mike Flanagan too, I eagerly awaited it’s home media release anticipating some cool extras and it didn’t disappoint. The disc comes with commentary from director Flanagan and a nice assortment of deleted scenes, including one with a cameo by Absentia‘s other leading lady Katie Parker (Courtney Bell’s cameo as a auctioneer remains in the final cut). There is a fascinating documentary about the making of the film including interviews with behind the camera talent and gives some cool incites on how the film came to be and how they pulled it off. To add to that, it also includes the full 32 minute short film version of Oculus that the feature film started out as. If you love the film making process as much as the movies, like myself, these are some extras that follow the genesis of how a film is created and brought to life. Very Cool!

As for the movie itself, the print is gorgeous. The disc preserves the rich but, varying color scheme of the film (brighter colors for sequences early on but, more muted and cold as the darker story elements unfold) and the picture is crystal clear. The sound is nice and full and while I don’t have a fancy sound system yet, it sounded great to me. All in all, a really nice presentation of what I believe is one of the best horror flicks of the year, if not in some time. It’s got some really solid extras and the movie itself was just as effective the second time around. Highly recommended.

Deleted scene from Oculus featuring the lovely Katie Parker…

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FAREWELL AND RIP MARILYN BURNS!

 

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Sad news for the horror community as legendary Texas Chainsaw Massacre final girl Marilyn Burns passed away yesterday at age 65. Her role in this all time classic immortalized her and made her an instant horror icon and fan favorite. Ironically her last film role was in the latest Leatherface sequel Texas Chainsaw 3D as Sawyer family matriarch, Verna Carson. Farewell and RIP, Marilyn!

source:internet

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IT CAME FROM ASIAN CINEMA: MASTER OF THE FLYING GUILLOTINE (1976)

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MASTER OF THE FLYING GUILLOTINE (1976)

Master Of The Flying Guillotine is widely renown as one of the greatest martial arts films of the 70s era and maybe of all time. It is a cult classic and rightfully so, with not only presenting the traditional elements one expects in this kind of film but, some colorful characters and fantasy elements too!

The story has the Ching Dynasty leaders creating a new martial arts weapon, the flying guillotine, and entrusting this lethal decapitation device to the hands of blind master assassin Fung Sheng Wu Chi (Kam Kang), whose job is to hunt down any rebels and eliminate them. When his two disciples are killed by rebel leader, the One Armed Boxer (Jimmy Wang Yu, who also wrote and directed), he sets out to avenge them and thus the two are fated to collide and do, when a martial arts tournament inadvertently brings them together and sets them on their path to an epic confrontation, a path filled with bloodshed and treachery. One Armed Boxer might be able to defeat Wu Chi, but can he defeat the flying guillotine?

Guillotine is a lot of fun, especially if you are a fan of martial arts flicks from this classic era. Director, writer and star Jimmy Wang Yu brings all the martial arts action one expects and adds in some colorful and eccentric characters to populate the tournament where a lot of the action takes place. We get a Thai boxer (Sham Chin-bo), an Indian Yogi (Wong Wing-sang) and even the tournament president’s feisty and skilled daughter (Doris Lung), who all battle in the competition with an assortment of weapons and martial arts styles. It’s all very entertaining to watch as we wait for the epic showdown between blind assassin and one armed rebel leader. When that finally happens, we aren’t disappointed. Yu keeps the action coming fast and furious and the different styles make for some varied fight choreography and his visual style is simple and well photographed in widescreen by Chiu Yao-hu. It’s a simple story and yet it is crafted to allow for a lot of variety in the action and characters and a lot of action, period. Most of all, it’s a good time. Add in a cool electronic score by Frankie Chan and it becomes a real martial arts treat.

The cast all perform their eclectic characters well, giving each there own style and personality. As the star, Jimmy Wang Yu makes his One Armed Boxer, who is a returning character from his 1971 One Armed Boxer, a nobel and humble man who is lethal when provoked to fight. As his adversary, Kam Kang is a dangerous and heartless villain whose mastery of the flying guillotine makes him a formidable foe. The rest seem to being having a good time with their colorful characters and handle the fight choreography well.

All in all, this is a martial arts classic and if you are a fan of the 70s era martial arts cinema it is a must see. The film has everything you’d want in one of these flicks, action, drama and a variety of fighters and fighting styles and not without a little bit of humor amidst all the combat and drama. Add to that some wonderful 70s nostalgia from a type of film that they don’t make anymore and you have not only a bonafide classic, but a damn good time!

Rated 4 (out of 4) flying guillotines.

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