TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE NEW YORK RIPPER (1982)

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THE NEW YORK RIPPER (1982)

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After making some true horror classics like Zombie and The Beyond, Fulci lost his way and this flick is a sad example. The story has a vicious killer stalking sexually active women in New York City. One who carves up their bodies in vile ways and makes ominous phone calls to the detective (Jack Hedley) investigating the case. The killer both kills and makes his calls while quacking like a duck…you read that right…and no woman seems to be safe as Det. Williams is baffled by this sadistic killer and his reign of terror.

1981’s House By The Cemetery was a lesser effort by Fulci and he followed it up with this sleazy and perverted slasher that seemed to be more mean-spirited than anything else. Gone is the artistic flair the Italian horror maestro directed his previous classics with and instead this is a vicious little movie that mixes some very nasty kill sequences with the silly premise of it’s killer quacking and talking like a cartoon duck when committing his horrifying acts. The mix of extreme violence and this comical plot element is unsettling, but not in a good way. Fulci’s films were always filled with blood and gore, but they had class. Here his camera lingers on perverted acts such as an unnecessary sequence of a promiscuous woman (Alexandra Delli Colli) being foot raped by a thug in a bar and the vicious savaging of a bound and gagged woman (Daniela Doria) with a razor blade. When it comes to exploitation, sleazy can be just fine, but here Fulci seems to be reveling in these misogynistic acts and it makes one uncomfortable as it has an edge to the viciousness that goes beyond trashy entertainment. Once we get our climactic reveal, the killer’s motivations really don’t make sense and the explanation is extremely convoluted. He doesn’t even have a solid reason for his butchery…or his disturbingly comical choice of vocalization. It doesn’t really work, as it’s just a weak excuse for all that has preceded it.

One a technical level, the film is well made enough for a modest budget and the gore is top notch as always in a Fulci film. Hedley and the rest of the actors are all fine for an Italian horror and there are some very pretty women in the cast, though some meet very gruesome fates. The beautiful cinematography of Sergio Salvati is sadly missed as are the atmospheric scores by Fabio Frizzi. Instead we get adequate but unremarkable cinematography by Luigi Kuveiller and a functional but forgettable score by Francesco De Masi. The script was written by Fulci and three co-writers and yet still seems weak despite all the collaboration, including Dardano Sacchetti, who worked on all of Fulci’s best films.

Overall, this is a lesser effort by a man who only a few years earlier made at least three films now regarded as Italian horror classics. Sadly, the maestro would never reach that pinnacle again, though his legacy as one of the horror greats is solid, just based on his work from 79-81. This film is effective, though sometimes not in the rights way and does have the extreme gore Fulci’s fans look for. Unfortunately, it can also be a mean-spirited film and one which wallows a bit too much in perversion and sleaze and comes across as somewhat misogynistic with it’s extreme brutality towards women. Not to mention the killer’s silly M.O. Worth a look if you are a horror fan discovering Fulci, but sadly a film that signals the beginning of a lesser chapter in Fulci’s legacy that he would not really recover from.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1/2 razor blades.

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BARE BONES: THE EDITOR

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THE EDITOR (2014)

Flick from writer/directors Matthew Kennedy and Adam Brooks is a tribute to the italian horror/Giallo films of Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci that succeeds in certain areas, but fails in others. The film tells the story of legendary film editor, Rey Cisco (also Adam Brooks) who is currently working on a bloody murder mystery film, when he becomes embroiled in one in real life. The case is being investigated by hot shot detective Peter Porfiry, (also Matthew Kennedy) who thinks Rey is the prime suspect.

The film, co-written with co-star Conor Sweeney, creates the look and feel of the Italian chillers of the 70s and early 80s excellently, with some dead-on camera angles, shots and lighting, along with a perfectly fitting electronic score. There is also a bevy of lovely ladies with very generous amounts of nudity and excessive gore. Where the film goes wrong is that not only is it tedious and dull, with it’s gimmick wearing out it’s welcome early, but it also is played for laughs where a straightforward recreation probably would have been far more entertaining. The homages to Argento, Bava and Fulci are certainly well intended…thought there are also nods to Cronenberg’s Videodrome and Nakata’s Ringu that seem a bit out of place…but as a movie in itself it’s gets boring after the first half hour with the story awkwardly changing focus from Rey to Detective Porfiry and losing it’s grip. Too bad, the flicks heart is definitely in the right place.

Overall, while the tribute is certainly heartfelt and Kennedy and Brooks know their subjects well, the film they have created from that admiration fails to entertain like it’s influences. Also stars Nurse 3D‘s Paz de la Huerta, American Mary‘s Tristan Risk and the legendary Udo Kier.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: NIGHTMARE CITY (1980)

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NIGHTMARE CITY (1980)

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Italian filmmaker Umberto Lenzi is probably most known for his notorious cannibal film Cannibal Ferox, thought, many believe this to be his best film. Story has a radioactive spill occurring at a nuclear power facility and a group of people becoming contaminated by the radiation. It gives them a mutated appearance, superhuman strength and an appetite for blood, as the radiation depletes their red blood cells. These mutated, zombie-like creatures lay siege to a nearby city and soon all bloody hell is breaking loose as they kill and spread the contamination. The film focuses on the efforts of the military to contain and stop the outbreak, while a news reporter (Hugo Stiglitz) and his doctor wife (Laura Trotter) try to get out of the city alive.

The fact that this nonsensical flick has three writers attached to it is actually the most entertaining thing about it. The film has a bare bones plot, but is basically a series of random ultra-violent attack sequences as the creatures butcher their victims in a variety of ways. It gets tiresome quickly and despite a lot of gore, it and the make-up effects are cheesy, even for an 1980s Italian gore movie. The story makes little sense as the ‘zombies’ appear to be animalistic and bloodthirsty one moment, then very coordinated and strategic the next. They savagely rip their victims apart yet, seem to be organized enough in their attack patterns and smart enough to hijack and fly a plane, then later take out the airports to avoid military bombings. They seem crazed and don’t speak, but act as if their is distinct communication between them and possibly leadership, but we never see or hear evidence of it. Even more ridiculous is that the army figures out quite early that they can be stopped by a bullet to the brain, yet soldiers and police rarely use that option when in direct combat. It’s just silly. There is no suspense and Lenzi doesn’t seem to have much in terms of choreographing in the mayhem, so the film almost seems made up as it goes along. If not for the continual violence and bloodshed, which as stated, gets quite monotonous early on, there really isn’t much to recommend as the acting, dialog, story and action are all bad…and it’s up to you as to how much entertainment you can find in such epic fail badness.

So, despite liking these 80s Italian flicks and certainly having a strong tolerance for bad in my movies, I found Nightmare City to be tedious, repetitive and just, overall, bad. This flick has it’s fans and I can understand why, but even my ‘so bad it’s good’ tastes couldn’t find much to entertain me with this. I was not a big fan of Cannibal Ferox either, but did find some amusement in Lenzi’s scatterbrained Ghosthouse. Apparently this flick is set to be remade with horror legend Tom Savini in the director’s chair…and this is one flick that could use an update!

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 2 (out of 4) irradiated zombies with make-up and acting of equal badness!

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: GHOSTHOUSE (1988)

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GHOSTHOUSE (1988)

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Ghosthouse is a 1988 Italian haunted house flick written and directed by Umberto Lenzi under the amusing pseudonym of Humphrey Humbert. Lenzi is best known for the cult classic Cannibal Ferox which also goes by the name Make Them Die Slowly.

This oddball supernatural thriller opens in 1967 where funeral director Sam Baker (Alain Smith) has given his daughter Henrietta (Kristen Fougerousse) a creepy looking clown doll that was supposed to be buried with it’s owner. He locks the now strange behaving girl in the cellar for killing their cat with a pair of scissors and soon he and his wife (Susan Muller) are brutally murdered and the young girl dies locked away there. Still with me? The film jumps to 20 years later where HAM radio operator Paul (Greg Scott) and his girlfriend Martha (Lara Wendel) get a strange signal that they track back to the now abandoned Baker house. Joined by a group of people who are camped out by the house in an RV…don’t ask…they decide to investigate. Obviously, something evil lurks within the house and if malevolent entities, creepy clown dolls and ghostly dobermans don’t get them, the mentally unbalanced caretaker Valkos (Donald O’Brien) will.

This is not a good movie in the strict definition of the word, but I did have fun with Ghosthouse for the entertaining mess it is. The plot is nonsensical and all over the place. There is no reason ever given as to why Paul and Martha are contacted…and by HAM radio, no less. Also, once it quickly becomes obvious that there is nothing but danger and death in this creepy old house, why do these nimrods stay and continue to enter it…even when their numbers start to gruesomely dwindle? As for the backstory…what funeral director in his right mind would give his daughter a doll from a deceased child, especially a creepy one like this. And since no background is ever given on that child, we have no idea why such malevolent forces are so pissed and vengeful about it. Also, why does Henrietta…who died when she was about seven or eight years old in 1967…have a tomb that says she was born in 1933. That would make her 34 at the time of her death. I could go on and on about the plot holes, character illogic and delightful stupidity, but that would ruin a fun ‘so bad it’s good’ horror. Lenzi does manage a few creepy moments. There is a spooky score by Piero Montanari and Franco Delli Colli creates some nice atmospheric cinematography. Lenzi’s dialogue writer Sheila Goldberg needs to be left in a haunted house for her awful lines, though, they provide a lot of the chuckles, and the acting is as entertainingly bad as one might expect. The FX are amusingly cheesy, except for some nice gore, but there’s not as much bloodshed as I would expect from an Italian horror of this era.

I enjoyed this flick, but obviously for all the wrong reasons. The plot is entertainingly nonsensical, the dialogue and acting is laughably terrible and the FX are, for the most part, delightfully cheesy. There is some decent gore and Lenzi does manage some creepiness despite how silly and random his script is. Definitely a ‘so bad it’s good’ Italian horror that can be thoroughly enjoyed with the lights out and your pint glass kept full…and just try getting that annoying song that plays whenever the clown doll appears, out of your head!

-MonsterZero NJ

3 creepy clown dolls.

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: CANNIBAL FEROX aka MAKE THEM DIE SLOWLY (1981)

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CANNIBAL FEROX aka MAKE THEM DIE SLOWLY (1981)

Umberto Lenzi’s 1981 cannibal film (also known as Make Them Die Slowly) has garnered quite a notorious reputation as it was once declared the most violent film ever made and banned in a number of countries. Far more infamous for it’s on-camera real-life animal cruelty and death, then for it’s scenes of violence against the human characters and Gianetto de Rossi’s well orchestrated gore FX. But, notoriety aside, is it a good horror movie? Not really.

The film tells the story of 3 college students (Lorraine De Salle, Zora Kerowa and Bryan Redford) who are on an expedition in the amazon and run across two drug dealers (John Morghen and Walter Lloyd). It’s revealed that the drug dealers tortured and murdered a native tribesman and a young tribeswoman to get their hands on some emeralds and now the natives are out to exact revenge for the cruelty shown their people… and revenge is a dish best served raw. Will any of them survive?

Cult flick is very slow moving and while the disturbing amount of animal violence is spread throughout, the human violence is mostly in the last act as the natives exact sadistic revenge and in a flashback around the film’s center of the drug dealers’ heinous acts of cruelty. The rest of the film is a lot of walking through the jungle or standing in huts dispensing silly dialog while there are scenes inter-spliced taking place in NYC, as the police are searching for one of the drug dealers. Director and writer Lenzi gives the film a pedestrian pace but, doesn’t add much suspense or thrills when something does happen. It’s up to the gore FX and disturbing real animal violence to give the film whatever impact and shock value it does have. And while it is sickeningly effective at times, it does not a complete film experience make.

Despite the notorious violence, and there is some sick stuff here, the film is rather dull and we are forced to sit through a lot of bad dialog before anything happens. When it does happen it is pretty sick but, other then that, the film has no atmosphere or suspense to offer it’s thin story. Another film whose reputation is far greater then the film it graces… though I can see why it received such a harsh reception in it’s time. I prefer some of the Italian zombie films of this era. A lot more atmosphere and entertainment mixed in with the gore.

2 bones.

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WARNING!: TRAILER IS VERY GRAPHIC!

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