Friday, March 24, 2017

The Hostage's Bloody Revenge!

Video Nasty #37

THEY TOOK IT UNTIL THEY COULDN'T TAKE ANY MORE!





Fight For Your Life
1977





NTSC Running Time: 85:37
Also Known As: Getting Even, Held Hostage, I Hate Your Guts, The Hostage's Bloody Revenge, Stayin' Alive, Bloodbath At 1313 Fury Road
Directed by Robert A. Endelson
Written by Straw Weisman
Produced by William Mishkin
Starring: William Sanderson, Robert Judd, Daniel Faraldo, Peter Yoshida, Catherine Peppers, Lela Small, Yvonne Ross, Reginald Bythewood, and David Cargill
Body Count: 8
Region 0 DVD from Blue Underground

BBFC Status

Why it's a Nasty: Language.  Can you believe that shit?
What was cut: Nothing.  Fight For Your Life was rejected for cinema classification on October 9th, 1981. Released on video by Vision On in 1982.
Current UK status: Fight For Your Life remains banned in the UK.
Fight For Your Life was successfully prosecuted.  It is one of the DPP 39.

Hello again.  It's been a while.  So let's get reacquainted a little.  Sit back, relax, and watch Fight For Your Life in that little video box up there while I finish preparing my notes.  Then we'll chat.  Ready?  Good.  Here we go.

New York City, 1977.  Three convicts, Chino (Daniel Faraldo), Ling (Peter Yoshida), and Jesse Lee Kane (William Sanderson) escape from the paddywagon transporting them.  They kill one of the officers and steal a pimpmobile, relieving said pimp of his clothes in the process.  Lieutenant "Rulebook" Reilly is hot on their heels...somewhat.  Doing everything by the book doesn't allow for keeping pace with psychos on the run.

Meanwhile, upstate, the Turner family is sitting down to dinner.  Ted Turner (Robert Judd) is regaling his family with this Sunday's upcoming sermon.  His wife (Catherine Peppers), mother (Lela Small), daughter Corrie (Yvonne Ross), and son Floyd (Reginald Bythewood) give him some gentle ribbing about it, Deacon Turner has clearly recited it for them many times this week.  Corrie reminds everyone that Karen (Bonnie Martin), the girlfriend of elder son Val (Ramon Saunders), who was killed in a car accident, will be joining them for dinner the following evening.  Ted glowers a bit at this.  He blames Karen for Val's death.

Back with the fugitives, they ice a gas station attendant and keep moving, heading for Canada where they feel confident they will be able to board a flight to Paris and leave all this trouble behind them.  Too bad trouble travels with them.  Stopping off in a small market, the trio are getting ready to pull a holdup for some quick cash when Corrie Turner rides up on her bicycle to buy some last-minute groceries for dinner with Karen.  Bad timing.  Chino grabs Corrie, Kane shoots the clerk and loots the register...and that's when we get our first glimpse of just how fucking evil Jesse Lee Kane truly is: the clerk's baby daughter has been there the whole time, sitting in a high chair.  Kane puts the gun to the child's head, pulls the trigger...click.  This is Jesse Lee Kane's idea of a joke.  And now that they have a hostage, they figure they can hole up at her house until dark.  They bundle Corrie into their stolen ride, leaving her bicycle behind, and take her back home, where the real nightmare begins...

Produced by New York sleazemeister William Mishkin, the man guilty of unleashing the later works of Andy Milligan on the world, Fight For Your Life spends the bulk of its running time in the home of the Turners, where white trash cracker Kane heaps abuse and racism on everyone around him.  William Sanderson, who would go on to great success as a character actor in everything from Blade Runner to Newhart to True Blood and more, shows his skill as an actor by crafting a character that no one with a shred of decency could like.  He spews racial slurs, engages in rape and murder, and yet still believes that he should be pitied for the trials he has faced.  I must have yelled "Somebody kill this fuck!" at the screen a dozen times as I watched this film.  Jesse Lee Kane is a honky son of a bitch, and Sanderson's performance makes damn sure you hate his fucking guts.

Possible the only film on the Nasties list to be prosecuted for language, Fight For Your Life is an exercise in pure exploitation: Mishkin's ad campaign and even the title of the film was altered depending on where it played, hence the slew of alternate titles.  This one may even beat Twitch Of The Death Nerve (see Blood Bath, Video Nasty #23) for the Nasty with the most AKAs.  And that's exploitation gold.  But unlike similar films that used blatant hucksterism to get butts in the seats (see Snuff, Video Nasty #20), Fight For Your Life keeps shocking you after your ticket is purchased.  With scenes of rape, an almost-lynching, and constant racial epithets, there's lots here to widen your eyes, including what I thought was the absolute worst moment, Ling beating a kid to death with a rock.  Yeah.  I know.  Fucking evil.

Most of the people involved in this film didn't do much else.  Director Endelson made one other film, a porno called The Filthiest Show In Town, before this one, then moved on to other endeavours outside of film.  Writer Straw Weisman is still working, producing a slew of B-movies.  Sanderson and Faraldo are still working, as is Reginald Bythewood, who is now a writer and producer who created a TV show called Shots Fired that premiered a few days ago.  Not bad for a kid who started out in a sleazy 70's race-hate film.  It's fortunate that Blue Underground's William Lustig restored and released this one - after returning the original negative to the rightsholder, it was stored in a New Jersey basement and was destroyed in 2012 during Hurricane Sandy.  Another exploitation classic lost.

I had mixed feelings about this one - it grabbed me, and I cared about the characters, but there was also something a bit "meh" about this one.  The film has its champions (Bill Lustig and Sleazoid Express publisher Bill Landis among them), but this one landed in the middle for me.  Better than some, not as good as others.  Not a bad way to spend 85 minutes...but there's more entertaining choices out there.  Pick it up and decide for yourself.

That's all for now.  Remember to lock your doors, even if you live in the middle of nowhere.  You never know when a psycho might come knocking.  I'm gonna go check my deadbolt.  Because my  name's Justin.  JustinCase.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Sacrifice!

Video Nasty #36


Deep River Savages
1972



HE DARED THE FORBIDDEN RIVER WHERE ADVENTURE ENDS AND HELL BEGINS!

Actual Italian Title: Il Paese Del Sesso Selveggio (literal translation: The Country Of Wild Sex)
Also known as: Sacrifice!, The Man From The Deep River, Man From Deep River, Mondo Cannibale
NTSC Running Time: 93:08
Directed by Umberto Lenzi
Written by Francesco Barilli & Massimo D'Avak, from an idea by Emmanuelle Arsan (Marayat Rollet-Andriane)
Produced by Ovidio G. Assonitis & Giorgio Carlo Rossi
Starring: Ivan Rassimov, Me Me Lai, Prasitsak Singhara, Sulallewan Suxantat, Song Suanhud
Human Body Count: 15 (simulated)
Animal Body Count: 6 (genuine)
Region 1 DVD available from Shriek Show as Man From Deep River

BBFC Status

Why it's a Nasty: Animal cruelty and a scene of cannibalism.
What was cut: The Man From The Deep River was rejected for cinema classification when first presented to the BBFC on September 18, 1975.  When finally approved with an 18 cert on August 22, 2003, 3 minutes and 45 seconds of animal cruelty was cut to be approved for release in the UK.
Current UK Status: Cut 18-cert version available from 88 Films.  Savvy consumers with pick up the R1 DVD from Shriek Show...or just watch the film right here on The Rebellion!
Deep River Savages was seized, but was not successfully prosecuted.

We're halfway through the list!  When I started this back in August of 2010, I didn't think this project would take so long to complete, but life happens and I will not give up.  I'm still having so much fun!

Bangkok, Thailand, 1972.  British photographer John Bradley (Ivan Rassimov) has arrived to document the area with his camera.  He enjoys J&B whiskey and kickboxing, which has his girlfriend rolling her eyes and ditching him.  Alone, but not bothered by her absence, he hits up a bar and is set upon by an angry man with a switchblade.  Bradley struggles with the man, driving the blade into his attacker's gut.  He flees the city, setting out for the Burmese border with his guide, Tuan (Tuan Tevan) on a small boat.  They travel upriver.  Bradley falls asleep telling Tuan about London...and when he awakes, he is alone.

Tuan's body is on the riverbank.  Bradley rushes to him, hoping to save him, but is instead trapped in a net thrown by members of a native tribe.  Believing him to be some kind of fishman due to the wetsuit he is wearing, they don't kill him.  The chief's beautiful daughter (because of course the chief has a beautiful daughter) Maraya (Me Me Lai) is smitten with the newcomer and convinces her father to let him stay in the village as her slave.  Bradley wants to escape and is aided by Taima (Prasitsak Singhara), an elderly woman who speaks English.  But with village warrior Karen (Sulallewan Suxantat) always watchful and the cannibal Kuru tribe nearby, getting out will be more difficult than John Bradley could ever imagine...

Inspired by A Man Called Horse and initiated by a conversation with Emmanuelle Arsan, who hailed from the area, Umberto Lenzi's jungle adventure took the exploitation world by storm in the early 1970s.  Playing in the US as Sacrifice! in the 42nd Street grindhouses, and across Europe as Mondo Cannibale, the film was a big success and launched an entire genre of film.  Inspired by the Prosperi/Jacopetti "mondo documentaries", Lenzi made sure the film was chock full of weird and shocking scenes: animal butchery, bizarre sex rituals, and even a scene of a woman raped and eaten by the neighboring cannibal tribe.  Since this was Italy, the copycats were not far behind, and the Cannibal Boom was in full swing.  But this is where it all started.

So yes, there is animal cruelty in Man From Deep River, and these scenes are the reason it is still not available uncensored in the UK, among other places.  Three snakes, a monkey, an alligator, and a goat are all killed on camera.  Footage of a cockfight is also included, but neither of the combatants perish in the film.  All of these scenes feel like a documentary, with the Thai/Burmese natives performing all of the killings, presumably in accordance with their natural way of life, although I haven't been able to find much documentation on the hows or whys of the animal action in the film.  But the key difference between this film and, say, Cannibal Holocaust is mostly found in the feel of the action.  While Deodato's opus was sleazy and cruel to all involved, Man From Deep River never feels sleazy even when horrible things are happening.  Watch it yourself and decide.  (We'll be seeing more from Lenzi later on when we cover Cannibal Ferox, his 1981 response to Cannibal Holocaust, which is also upcoming.)

I was surprised to learn that the original idea for a film about the natives living near the border of Burma and Thailand came from celebrated writer/actress/libertine Emmanuelle Arsan, who hailed from that part of the world and had a business relationship with producer Ovidio G. Assonitis.  She was not involved with the production in any capacity beyond that (although Me Me Lai bears a bit of a resemblance to Arsan and her character's name, Maraya, is very close to Arsan's real name, Marayat).  This becomes even more interesting when you know that one of the most notorious cannibal films of the era was Emanuelle E Gli Ultimi Cannibali (Emanuelle And The Last Cannibals, also known as Trap Them And Kill Them), Joe D'Amato's lone entry into the cannibal genre.  Starring Laura Gemser as the "Black Emanuelle" character she portrayed in several films, it depicts the intrepid and often-aroused reporter heading into the jungle where she witnesses all manner of sex rituals and violence in between romantic entanglements.  That the real Emmanuelle would be the harbinger of the entire disgusting genre, and then herself be homaged in a cannibal film, these are the things upon which cinema legend are based.  I love this stuff.  You can't make it up.

So if you're strong of stomach, love a spot of adventure, and can withstand the onslaught of bizarre that dwells within, give Man From Deep River a shot.  I was hesitant, but it surprised me, and by the time I was halfway through the picture I was fully invested.  Easy to overlook as just another jungle movie, this is a thrilling adventure loaded with gore, sex, and yes, a blatant disregard for common decency.  My kind of program.  Until next time, think twice before you try to flag down a helicopter.  You may not want to get picked up at all.  I'll travel by car.  Because my name's Justin.  JustinCase.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Don't Open The Window!

Video Nasty #35

THEY TAMPERED WITH NATURE - NOW THEY MUST PAY THE PRICE...





 The Living Dead
1974


 

WHATEVER'S OUT THERE WILL WAIT!




Actual Title: Non Si Deve Profanare Il Sonno Dei Morti (Literal translation: Do not profane the sleep of the dead.)
Other alternate titles: Don't Open The Window, Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, The Living Dead At Manchester Morgue
NTSC Running Time: 92:49
Directed by Jorge Grau
Written by Sandro Continenza, Marcello Coscia, Juan Cobos, and Miguel Rubio
Produced by Manuel Perez
Makeup & Optical Effects by Giannetto De Rossi
Starring: Cristina Galbo, Ray Lovelock, Arthur Kennedy, Jose Lifante, Jeannine Mestre, Fernando Hilbeck
Body Count: 17
Region 0 DVD and All-Region BluRay from Blue Underground as The Living Dead At Manchester Morgue

BBFC Status

Why it's a Nasty: Face-ripping, gut-munching zombie action.
What was cut: Unspecified cuts were made to an already pre-cut submission when submitted for theatrical certification on January 20, 1975, gaining an X certificate.  The uncut film was released as The Living Dead on video, it was this version that was seized during the Nasty Panic.  An additional 26 seconds were cut when submitted for video certification on November 15, 1985 (making it one of the earliest Nasty titles to attempt going "legit").  The first 18-cert uncut release was approved on May 1, 2002 for Anchor Bay's Let Sleeping Corpses Lie DVD release.
Current UK Status: The Living Dead At Manchester Morgue currently holds an 18-cert for the uncut version.
All-Region BluRay from Blue Underground, R2 DVD from Studiocanal
The Living Dead was seized, but not prosecuted.

London, 1974.  Hip antique salesman George (Ray Lovelock) hops onto his motorcycle and heads out to the country, despite the presence of a lovely young streaker dodging through traffic.  He's got a new house to decorate and wants to get to Windermere before dark.  He stops at a petrol station for a cold drink and is waylaid when Edna (Cristina Galbo) backs her Mini Cooper into his bike, incapacitating it.  The garage attendant is happy to fix it, but there won't be any part deliveries from Glasgow until next week.  Edna agrees to take George to his destination for his inconvenience, and the two are on their way.

Whipping through gorgeous countryside, and bulling their way past a truck designated as belonging to the morgue in Manchester, George agrees to drop Edna at her sister's house, despite the delay this will cause.  Edna's sister Katie (Jeannine Mestre) is strung out on white horse and her photographer husband Martin (Jose Lifante) is planning to put her in rehab (Sequestering themselves far from the city for a year has apparently done nothing to prevent Katie from scoring a fix).  Edna is determined to be there for her sister, but doesn't remember how to get there.  George stops at a local farm to ask directions and is troubled by extermination equipment being employed by the farmer: a new technology using radiation that causes insects to become aggressive and kill each other off.  And while George is getting directions, Edna steps out of the car for a smoke only to be set upon by a filthy drifter (Fernando Hilbeck) with bright red eyes and an unquenchable thirst for blood...

This Spanish/Italian coproduction is a somewhat unique take on the zombie subgenre, and it's refreshing.  Neither a voodoo-curse scenario nor a George Romero imitator, The Living Dead At Manchester Morgue starts out slow and gradually increases in intensity until it becomes all-out mayhem in the fiery, blood-soaked finale.  (Most of the violence takes place in the final half-hour.)  Although the interiors were filmed in Rome, the exteriors were filmed on location in the North of England and the scenery is beautiful, all skillfully lensed by cinematographer Francisco Sempere.  Beautiful too, but in an entirely different way, are Giannetto De Rossi's makeup effects.  De Rossi, who worked with Lucio Fulci on numerous occasions, contributed to no less than FIVE Video Nasties (Zombie Flesh Eaters, The Beyond, The House By The Cemetery, and Cannibal Apocalypse) and is still working today.  With multiple instances of gut-munching and a fantastic axe-to-the-head, his effects hold up well even by today's standards.  (It was also Edgar Wright's inspiration for the fake "Don't!" trailer in the Rodriguez/Tarantino Grindhouse project, based on the original English-language ad campaign under the Don't Open The Window title.)

The cast is competent and gives the material more than they likely thought it deserved.  Lovelock is outstanding as George, with his hippie good looks and cheeky-bastard attitude, he's a lot of fun.  Galbo, who left acting in the 1980s to become a professional dancer, does damsel-in-distress with aplomb, and Arthur Kennedy (an accomplished American actor who appeared in over one hundred films beginning with the 1940 Jimmy Cagney potboiler City For Conquest and continued up until his death in 1990) gleefully munches the scenery as a violent lunkheaded police sergeant who smacks suspects whenever he pleases.  His disdain for George and his "faggot clothes" keeps him conveniently focused on the red herrings while zombies terrorize the countryside and newborn babies maim hospital staff (the infant in question is so small, new, and adorable you'd have a hard time believing it was capable of such savagery, and I found myself wondering who allowed their clearly newborn infant to participate in this project - whoever they are, I salute them).

It's easy to see why this one still garners attention.  Besides the technical success and quality cast, the story, motivation and behaviour of the zombies, and the truly awesome setting all helped to propel this many-titled diversion from the sea of imitators into exploitation fandom (being banned as a Nasty certainly helped as well).  It takes quite a while for things to turn grisly, but the viewer is never bored, and once the festivities truly get underway, you won't be able to take your eyes from the screen.  (Although, despite the title, the film doesn't actually take place in Manchester, but rather South Gate.)  I heartily recommend watching this one on BluRay because of the restoration.  The film looks great and even the mono soundtrack is clear as a bell.  I didn't have much expectations towards enjoying this one (it looked rather dreary in trailers), but I was pleasantly surprised at what a crowd-pleaser it turned out to be.  Seek it out.

So, if there's a truck in your neighborhood purporting to be the latest and greatest in pest control, send them on their way.  They might be dispensing something more sinister than they could ever know.  I'll be sticking to flypaper and Raid.  Because my name's Justin.  JustinCase.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Seven Dreaded Gateways...

Video Nasty #34





 The Beyond
1981


 

...AND YOU SHALL LIVE IN TERROR!



Original Italian Title: ...E Tu Vivrai Nel Terrore - L'Aldila! 
Also known as: 7 Doors Of Death
NTSC Running Time: 87:23
Directed by Lucio Fulci
Written by Dardano Sacchetti, Giorgio Mariuzzo, and Lucio Fulci
Produced by Fabrizio DeAngelis
Starring: Catriona MacColl (as Katherine MacColl), David Warbeck, Cinzia Monreale (as Sarah Keller), Veronica Lazar, Pierluigi Conti (as Al Cliver), Maria Pia Marsala
Body Count: 16
Availability: BluRay & DVD releases from Grindhouse Releasing

BBFC Status

Why it's a Nasty: Fulci's trademark over-the-top violence.
What was cut: Quite a lot.  When originally released to cinemas with an X certificate, the running time was shorn to 85:32, losing most of the extreme gore.  This X-cert version was the Video Nasty cut of the film released by Vampix.
Current UK status: The Beyond is available uncut with an 18 cert on BluRay and DVD from Arrow Films
The Beyond was not prosecuted under the OPA.

Louisiana, 1927.  An angry mob storms the Seven Doors Hotel, intent on dispatching Schweik, a painter, whom they regard as an "ungodly warlock".  They drag him down to the basement, beat him with a chain, nail him to a wall, and dump quicklime on his corpse.  Roll the opening credits.

Cut to 1981.  Fifty-four years later, Liza Merrill (Catriona MacColl) has relocated from New York City to run her newly-inherited hotel, the Seven Doors.  Things go wrong almost immediately.  A painter tumbles from a scaffolding after seeing a face in a window, injuring himself much worse than you would imagine.  Dr. John McCabe (David Warbeck) is summoned and he carries the painter off to the hospital.  Liza has two employees who "came with the hotel" - Martha (Veronica Lazar) and her son, Arthur (Gianpaolo Saccarola).  Arthur is mentally impaired and Martha is just plain creepy.  And Liza makes a new friend, Emily (Cinzia Monreale), a blind girl she meets on the bridge above Lake Pontchartrain.

The real trouble starts when Joe The Plumber (Giovanni De Nava) shows up to fix the flooding in the basement, he opens up a decaying brick wall - a wall keeping Schweik's reanimated corpse contained, and also something else.  The hotel sits atop one of the seven gateways to hell...and now the door is open.

Let's be up front about this: I LOVE this movie.  The Beyond is a masterpiece.  Filmmakers have tried to craft movies into dreams (or nightmares) many times, but few if any have succeeded as Fulci did with The Beyond.  The entire feel is ethereal, from the sepia-toned opening to the existential terror of the final frames.  Several inconsistencies in the film (Schweik's corpse being referred to as "six years old", Emily's insistence that Schweik was killed in his room rather than the basement) add to the dream rather than detract from the reality - nothing is clear cut in a dream, everything is fluid, nothing is what it seems.  The voice of the disembodied narrator, a voice we here only twice towards the end of the film, speaks the immovable truth beyond it all - "...and you will face the sea of darkness, and all therein that may be explored..."

Fresh off the triumph of Paura Nella Citta Dei Morti Viventi (Fear In The City Of The Living Dead, also released as The Gates Of Hell), Fulci wanted to further push the eerie atmospheres and otherworldliness he explored in that film.  The Beyond is the result.  The film keeps you on your toes, never letting you feel like you have a handle on what is happening.  After losing her husband, a woman goes to the hospital autopsy room to dress his body for his funeral.  She sees something that scares her and gives a yell - but we, the audience, never see anything.  A glass vase of acid overspills its rim and disintegrates the woman, now lying on the floor, as her daughter watches in stunned horror.  No, it doesn't make sense.  It doesn't have to.  It works.  Fulci has no trouble pulling us along through his nightmare, we go willingly, seeing the sights with unlikely acceptance.

The gore is unrelenting.  Everywhere, there is blood, and lots of it.  Fulci goes for the eyes numerous times, but no part of the anatomy is safe.  Originally wanting to make a haunted house feature, Fulci's German financiers wanted zombies in the picture.  He obliged, leading to the famous hospital shootout in the final reel.  There is humor here, too - Fulci's cameo as a city clerk insisting on his early lunch, Dr. McCabe attempting to reload his gun by putting a bullet down the barrel.  But it's not enough to keep everything bad from happening to everyone.  All roads lead to the Seven Doors.

The Beyond is a must-see.  It ranks with Seven Samurai, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Jaws as one of the finest motion pictures ever put to celluloid.  It is greater than it has any right to be, one of those special films that transcends everything and gives you a unique experience.  This isn't one to rent, this is one for your personal collection.

Until next time, and I hope with won't be too long from now, remember what we talked about the last time we were at a bayou hotel (Death Trap, see Video Nasty #9) - it's probably better to look for nicer accommodations.  And definitely don't let them put you in room 36.  I'll be sticking with Motel 6 myself.  Because my name's Justin.  JustinCase.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Videos.

It has just come to my attention that several of the videos on this page are no longer online.  I am actually kind of pleased by this.  The censorship is due to copyright reasons rather than questions of "decency", and I can get behind that...but what I really like about it is how it simulates what was happening when films were being seized from video shops in the 1980s.  Gives us just a little taste of what it was like to have your entertainment decisions made for you.  I like knowing that we can still get that feeling.  I don't like it when things are lost.  Because my name's Justin.  JustinCase.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Sex, Gore, And Flashbacks!

Video Nasty #33





I Miss You, Hugs And Kisses
1978

 

 

A BIZARRE LOVE, A STRANGE DEATH...THE BRUTAL TRUTH MAY NEVER BE KNOWN

NTSC Running Time: 86:55
Also known as: Drop Dead, Dearest and Left For Dead
Written and Directed by Murray Markowitz
Produced by Murray and Charles Markowitz
Music by Howard Shore
Starring: Elke Sommer, Donald Pilon, Chuck Shamata, George Touliatos, Cindy Girling, George Chuvalo
Body Count: 3 or 6, depending on how you count.
Availability: Out-Of-Print NTSC VHS from Vestron under the title Left For Dead.

BBFC Status

Why it's a Nasty: Brutal murder sequences and a scene of suggested necrophilia.
What was cut: 1 minute and 6 seconds of two murders was cut when submitted to the BBFC for video certification on June 24th, 1986.
Current UK status: Out-of-print 18 cert PAL VHS from Heron Home Entertainment as Drop Dead, Dearest.  Original VHS Video Nasty released by Intercity Video, presumed uncut.
I Miss You, Hugs And Kisses was seized but was not found to be obscene.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  Magdalene Kruschen (Elke Sommer) is attacked and beaten to death with a heavy club.  Her husband Charles (Donald Pilon) is put on trial for the murder.  Through a series of flashbacks (delivered in an astonishing pre-Tarantino, pre-Memento jumble of misplaced chronology that actually works quite well) we see the beginning of their relationship, their affairs, their growing hatred of each other.  The case continues through various witnesses' testimony as piece by piece we see more of the puzzle, until we are left with one answer and many, many questions.

Doesn't sound like a horror film, does it?  I Miss You, Hugs And Kisses has a lot more in common with the kind of fare you find on Lifetime than something shown in a Times Square grindhouse.  One of only two Canadian films on the Nasties list, Murray Markowitz's film is based on a true story: the Christine Ferrari-Demeter murder case, one of the longest and most sensational criminal trials in Canadian history.  The film sticks close to several background facts in the case, so much so that a "work of fiction" disclaimer rolls across the screen twice, once at the end...and once over the action taking place onscreen six minutes into the film!  Markowitz clearly wished to avoid legal trouble.

How this ended up mixed up in the Video Nasty panic says something about just how swept up in the panic local authorities were at that time.  There are a couple of intense murder sequences, and the gore is gratuitous, plus a couple of tame sex scenes and a fetishistic corpse-bagging sequence that (while quite clearly being performed with a dummy) is still creepy and distasteful.  All of which adds up to a fun but slightly dull film that really had no business being seized for suspicion of obscenity.  But that's why they called it the "Nasty panic".  Panic means people aren't thinking.

Elke Sommer turns in a good performance, and I Miss You, Hugs And Kisses also boasts the first score from Howard Shore, who soon after began working with David Cronenberg (save for The Dead Zone, Shore has scored all of Cronenberg's films since 1979's The Brood) and went on to even greater success as the man who composed the music for the Peter Jackson Rings/Hobbit trilogies.  Also on hand for the proceedings is George Chuvalo, Canadian heavyweight boxer and another Cronenberg collaborator (he had a supporting role in The Fly).  The cast does good work with a clunky script and the film is watchable, if not always engaging.

Long out of print on physical media (though VHS copies are neither expensive nor difficult to locate online), I Miss You, Hugs And Kisses likely won't see a rerelease anytime soon.  It's a minor picture with a couple of very startling scenes, but the film's biggest flaw is that it doesn't know if it wants to be a serious emotional drama or a sleazy exploitation shocker.  Ultimately, we're left with a few standout scenes, a few standout performances, and a couple moments of almost-brilliance, all surrounded by a snoresville courtroom potboiler.

If you're a completist or a fan of Elke Sommer, give this a watch.  It's definitely better than Night Of The Bloody Apes (see Video Nasty #19) or Blood Rites (see Video Nasty #15), but don't expect greatness.  So until we meet again, don't get into a relationship with a crazy gold-digger.  She might have a surprise for you.  I'll help keep you safe.  Because my name's Justin.  JustinCase.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Justin Unmasked.

Hi.  My name is Bradley Zybert and I write VCR Rebellion.  I don't get to spend as much time on it as I would like.  But if there is anyone out there who has been following this (and I don't know that there is, which is fine, because I do this for me and I don't care who reads it), please be assured that this project will be finished.  It just won't happen as quickly as you would like it to.  Sorry.

And why, after almost five years of hiding behind a massive wall of anonymity and intentional obscurity, have I decided to step forward and reveal myself?  That one's easy: Because I'm not afraid of who I am anymore.  I covered this a bit in a previous post a few years back.  The time is now.  I am what I yam.

But never fear, JustinCase. will still be in charge of this page.  He started it all.  The fact that he's me won't change that I'm not him.  Try figuring that one out.  I'm not even going to bother.

Because my name's Justin.  JustinCase.

Friday, November 28, 2014

A Center For Hope?...Or The Heart Of Hell!

Video Nasty #32

 WHEN THE CREEPING DEAD DEVOUR THE LIVING FLESH!




Zombie Creeping Flesh
1980

 

 

THEY EAT THE LIVING!

Actual title: Virus
Other alternate titles: Night Of The Zombies, Hell Of The Living Dead, Dusk Of The Dead 
NTSC running time: 100:30
Directed by Bruno Mattei (as Vincent Dawn)
Written by Claudio Fragasso and J. M. Cunilles
Produced by Sergio Cortona
Music by Goblin
Starring: Margit Evelyn Newton, Franco Garofalo (as Frank Garfield), Selan Karay, Jose Gras (as Robert O'Neil), Gaby Renom, Luis Fonoll
Body Count: 42...and I probably missed a couple.
Region 0 DVD from Blue Underground as Hell Of The Living Dead.  They've released it on BluRay as well.

BBFC Status

Why it's a Nasty: Zombies, gore, and gratuitous use of stock footage.
What was cut: Hard to say.  When certified for the cinema with an X in 1982, the film ran at 99:13, but the BBFC made no cuts.  Possibly pre-cut by the distributor, Miracle Films Ltd.
Current UK status: Hell Of The Living Dead was certified 18 on January 10, 2002 under the title Zombie Creeping Flesh.
Zombie Creeping Flesh was seized during the Nasty panic, but was not successfully prosecuted.

Above you will find an alternate cut of Virus taken from an Australian VHS.  This version is titled Dusk Of The Dead, an attempt to pass this off as the zombie "origin story" and prequel to George A. Romero's classic 1968 shocker Night Of The Living Dead.  Don't be fooled by the running time - this cut is actually shorter.  Sound off in the comments if you have more info on this alternate version.  (I like the narration cards that run before the opening titles in this version - they add to the comprehensibility of this otherwise incomprehensible feature.)

In New Guinea, the Hope Centre (an industrial complex aimed towards wiping out world hunger) suffers a catastrophe.  Within minutes the scientists are eating each other.  A lone surviving scientist retreats to his office to record a final message.

We join an emergency response team at a hostage situation.  A bunch of 1970s revolutionary kids have taken hostages, demanding that the Hope Centre be closed.  The team (four men dressed much like the SWAT team in Romero's Dawn Of The Dead) break in and kill the terrorists.  Then they head to New Guinea for a secret mission.  They meet up with reporter Lia Rousseau (Margit Evelyn Newton) and her cameraman, who are there to document the strange plague suffered by the natives, natives that Lia is familiar with.  The six head into the jungle to meet with a native tribe...and then all hell breaks loose.

Hell Of The Living Dead (my preferred title, I think Zombie Creeping Flesh is one of the worst titles ever created, Ray Dennis Steckler could have done better) is highly entertaining and almost completely consists of things stolen from other films: the Goblin soundtrack is entirely lifted from other pictures (music from Dawn Of The Dead and Contamination is repeatedly used), tons of stock footage from documentaries about New Guinea is inserted throughout the picture for no apparent reason, the soldiers' outfits are straight out of Dawn Of The Dead, and the story is a mashup of Zombi 2 and Apocalypse Now with a twist of Romero's Dead mythology for good measure.

Performances range from decent to atrocious, with Newton and Franco Garofalo providing the best characterizations.  Newton's Rousseau is believable, if a bit stilted, while Garofalo's turn as SWAT team member Zantoro is gleefully over the top and great fun to watch as he taunts zombies like a coked-up Robin Williams.  The makeup is shitty, the "plot" so threadbare as to be almost unimportant, and boy howdy are these some cooperative zombies.  They seem to attack only when cued to do so, even stopping and posing for the cameraman in one memorable scene.  The SWAT guys can never seem to remember Romero's First Law: SHOOT THEM IN THE HEAD!...even though they are given this information several times over the course of the film.  This is MST3K material.  Get some friends, various intoxicants, mix and match, let the fun begin.

Watch this one if you like movies that are unintentionally funny or just have to have some gore and nothing else is handy.  And if you're a fan of Apocalypse Now you'll probably like this one...even if you might not understand why I say that until the final reel.  Either way, it's great fun and will keep you laughing.  Until next time, be wary of industrial nightmares that claim to bring hope.  They're probably keeping a secret.  I'll help you steer clear of these nightmares.  Because my name's Justin.  JustinCase.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Alien Arrives On Earth!

Video Nasty #31

YOU CAN FEEL THEM IN YOUR BLOOD!


Contamination
1980

A NEW PLAGUE ON EARTH WILL COME FROM THE STARS!

 

THEY INVADE YOUR BODY...CONTROL YOUR MIND...BLOW YOU APART!

NTSC running time: 95:14
Original Title: Alien Arriva Sulla Terra
Other alternate titles: Alien Contamination, Toxic Spawn
Directed & Story by Luigi Cozzi (as Lewis Coates)
Written by Cozzi & Erich Tomek
Produced by Claudio Mancini
Music by Goblin
Starring: Ian McCulloch, Louise Marleau, Marino Mase, Siegfried Rauch, Gisela Hahn, Carlo De Mejo
Body Count: 16, plus a rat (fake) and a big scary monster.
Availability: Region 0 DVD from Blue Underground.

BBFC Status
Why it's a Nasty: Exploding bodies with lots of gore.
What was cut: Not a frame, the film was not submitted for classification until...
Current UK status: Contamination was passed uncut with a 15 certificate on March 10, 2004.
UK Availability: Region 2 DVD from Anchor Bay

Once again, I've got something a bit more involved than a trailer.  Put on your tinfoil hat, wrap yourself in a blanket, and make sure your windows are locked.  Shortly after the success of Ridley Scott's Alien in 1979, the knockoff artists in the Italian film industry (bless their thieving hearts) made at least two unofficial sequels to the US sci-fi hit.  One was Ciro Ippolito's Alien 2: Sulla Terra (available on DVD in the US as Alien 2: On Earth), which hit Italian screens in April of 1980.  Four months later the other, Luigi Cozzi's Alien Arriva Sulla Terra (which translates to Alien Arrives On Earth) hit Italy's cinemas under a title insisted upon by producer Claudio Mancini: Contamination.

New York City: an abandoned freighter is reported to the police.  A team on a helicopter lands on the ship and brings it in to dock.  NY cop Lt. Tony Aris (Marino Mase) leads a medical team onto the ship.  They wear hazmat suits and search from stem to stern.  They find several corpses, corpses which appear to have exploded.  The hold is filled with boxes, each one bearing the logo of a Colombian coffee company...but they don't contain coffee.  Each holds a handful of large green egg-like spheres.  The team picks up one that's rolled under a pipe.  Heated, pulsating, and emitting an ominous breathing tone, the egg explodes...and so do the bodies of most of the team.  Only Lt. Aris survives.

He's taken by the government, decontaminated, and placed in isolation.  Col. Stella Holmes (Louise Marleau) and Agent Young (Carlo De Mejo) get his statement and track the "coffee" shipments to a warehouse across town.  When they attempt to stage a raid, the shady characters in the warehouse commit suicide by alien egg - a single shot to one of the hundreds of these things scattered on the floor causes the silent thugs to explode.  What the hell is going on here?  Who are these people?  And what are they doing with all these eggs?  Col. Holmes enlists the help of Commander Ian Hubbard (Ian McCulloch), the only person to have seen these eggs before...in a cave on Mars!

Hot off the success of his previous film, Starcrash, Luigi Cozzi wanted to make another sci-fi film and he found his inspiration in the 1979 US smash Alien.  Working out of the same production offices as another 1979 hit, Zombi 2, his producer urged him to pick up the same cast, though the only star they were able to secure was McCulloch.  (It's interesting to note that Zombi 2 also opens with a derelict ship sailing into New York.)  Cozzi wanted Caroline Munro, who he had just worked with on Starcrash, as Col. Holmes, but he was thwarted again by producer Mancini, who wanted someone "older and ugly" (Cozzi's words), so Canadian Louise Marleau was cast instead.  (And let's be fair here, Marleau is no beauty queen but she's far from homely.)

Unlike Alien, the chestbursting effects are overly gory (which is tons of fun) and nothing comes out of the people except their guts - they just explode for no reason!  There are some action movie elements (again at the behest of Mancini) as well, and the film clips along at a good pace.  Not too long, not too short, Cozzi really did a good job.  The score is by the always-incredible Italian prog-rock combo Goblin, and highlights Fabio Pignatelli's bass playing.  You can't go wrong with Goblin, they're just amazing.

And the alien!  What we see at the finale isn't anything like Giger's sleek black creations, it's a lot more gooey and green.  What it really reminded me of is the squid-monster in Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons' Watchmen comics, and I found it a little scary.  The animatronic beastie wasn't to Cozzi's liking and he used careful editing to maximize the effect.  I think it worked, I was not at all comfortable while that fucking monster was on screen.  More discerning viewers might laugh, but screw them, it's nice to get a scare from a monster in a B-movie, most of them are schlocky compared to the monster in Contamination.

Interestingly, several of the cast members appeared in other films that ended up on the Video Nasty list: Ian McCulloch starred in Zombi 2 (Nasty title: Zombie Flesh Eaters), Marino Mase features in Dario Argento's Tenebre, Gisela Hahn in Jesus Franco's El Canibal (Nasty title: Devil Hunter), and Carlo De Mejo appeared in Lucio Fulci's Quella Villa Accanto Al Cimitero (The House By The Cemetery, see Video Nasty #3), as well as appearing in Fulci's Paura Nelle Citta Dei Morti Viventi and John Shadow's Microscopic Liquid Subway To Oblivion.  (Who is John Shadow?  I finally know, and will have more about it on this page in the near future...but in the meantime you can read my piece on the subject in Bloodfeast Inc. #17, a great zine published by Cleveland, Ohio DJ and horror fan Mike Salamone.  Look them up on Facebook and send them money, it's killer and worth more than the $5 cover price.)

So if you're in your helicopter and someone asks you to check on an abandoned boat, make sure you wear a hazmat suit, and don't touch anything!  You couldn't get me on one of those.  I'll be here where it's safe.  Because my name's Justin.  JustinCase.

Friday, September 12, 2014

They Removed The Tumor...And Her Sanity!

Video Nasty #30





Killer Nun
1979

 
 

FROM THE SECRET FILES OF THE VATICAN!

Original Italian title: Suor Omicidi
Also known as: Deadly Habit
NTSC Running time: 86:47
Directed by Giulio Berruti
Written by Berruti & Alberto Tarallo, from an idea by Enzo Gallo
Produced by Enzo Gallo
Costumes and Wardrobe by Albert Tarallo
Starring: Anita Ekberg, Paola Morra, Lou Castel, and Joe Dallesandro
Body Count: 5
Availability: Region 1 DVD from Blue Underground

BBFC Status

Why it's a Nasty: Gore murders, mostly, but the "blasphemous" tone probably irked people as well.
What was cut: When submitted for classification on March 11, 1993, 13 seconds of cuts were made to a pins-and-scalpel murder sequence.
Current UK status: The cuts were waived for the next submission on April 19, 2006.  Killer Nun now holds an 18 certificate for the uncut version.
UK Availability: Region 0 DVD from Shameless Entertainment.
Killer Nun was seized, but escaped prosecution.

Hope you have a bit of time to watch that video up there, because that's not the trailer.  Grab some snax, lock your door, take the phone off the hook, and enjoy the show.

A veiled nun (we don't see her face) kneels at confession, telling the priest she cannot forgive the man who wronged her.  He tells her she has fallen from grace.  Who is she, and who will she not forgive?

Sister Gertrude (Anita Ekberg) seems at first a bright and cheerful nursing nun, but we soon see that she's having some problems.  After the removal of a benign brain tumor, she's become addicted to morphine and her behavior has grown increasingly erratic.  She berates her elderly charges, smashing one poor woman's dentures in a fit of annoyance.  The patient passes away later that night.  Sister Gertrude has one close friend, her roommate Sister Mathilde (Paola Morra), who works to protect her and professes her love as the women lie nude in their cell.  When Sister Gertrude's physician won't give her any morphine, Gertrude steals jewelry from the dead patient and goes into town to get the drugs herself...but first she captures a man.

Back in the convent, a man is brutally beaten and thrown from a window while Gertrude is nodding out on her morphine high.  Could she be the killer...or is someone trying to frame her?

Giulio Berruti directed this nunsploitation feature under similar conditions to John Carpenter making Halloween: a producer had a catchy title and the director had to do the rest.  Enzo Gallo knew that the well-liked Berruti would be able to secure top-notch talent for rock-bottom prices, so Gallo told him to make a movie called Suor Omicidi and left him to it.  Berruti delivered.  Anita Ekberg (La Dolce Vita, Miss Sweden 1950) is alternately wild, prim, and catatonic.  Joe Dallesandro (Flesh For Frankenstein, other Warhol pictures) comes into the film late and brings his own subtle oomph to the proceedings.  Paola Morra, an Italian Playboy Playmate who had a brief acting career, is the weakest link, but to be fair she was working with longtime actors who knew their craft: Ekberg, Dallesandro, Alida Valli, and Lou Castel all had (in the case of the males, still have) acting careers spanning decades.

Perhaps the most shocking thing about Killer Nun is that it was filmed in an actual convent!  Nuns using drugs, sneaking out for anonymous sex, killing their elderly patients, and having lesbian trysts (offscreen, Berruti chose to leave the lesbian scenes to the viewer's imagination out of respect for Ekberg) are not the stuff that the diocese are likely to condone.  When the church officials requested to review the script, Berruti and a friend knocked out some innocuous scenes in a night and presented the fresh pages as their script.  If anyone happened upon the filming while something salacious was being filmed, the crew would begin behaving as though they were just setting up a shot.  The spectators would get bored and wander off, leaving the production to continue filming.  I believe the technical term for this behavior is BALLS.  Big brass balls.  Guts.  Chutzpah!  To make a movie like this right under the church's nose is audacious and beautiful.  Because this isn't a picture out to ignite any kind of social change, it's just an exploitation film, and a pretty tame one as far as this genre goes.

However, the story was based off of the truth: a Belgian nun was found to have stolen gold and jewelry from her patients, knocking off a few of the more annoying ones in the process.  It's said she'd taken $30,000.  The sex, drugs, and twisted motives were added just because they're fun!

So after you watch it in that little window up there, go buy a legit release of Suor Omicidi.  I'll watch your stuff while you run the errand.  We gotta look out for each other.  Because my name's Justin.  JustinCase.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

How Far Will He Go To Cover Up His Crimes?

Video Nasty #29





The Cannibal Man
1971

 
 

WHEN THE BUTCHER GOES BERSERK...

Original Spanish title: La Semana Del Asesino (The Week Of The Killer)
Other alternate title: The Apartment On The 13th Floor
NTSC Running Time: 97:53
Directed by Eloy de la Iglesia
Written by de la Iglesia & Antonio Fos
Dialogues by Dick Randall (as Robert Oliver)
Produced by Vicente Parra and Jose Truchado
Starring: Vicente Parra, Eusebio Poncela, Vicky Lagos, Emma Cohen, and Charly Bravo
Body Count: 6, and a cow.
Region 1 DVD from Blue Underground

BBFC Status

Why it's a Nasty: Because the BBFC freaked out over anything with "Cannibal" in the title.  The gore murders probably helped.
What was cut: 3 seconds of a throat-cutting murder were required for certification.
Current UK Status: The Cannibal Man was awarded an 18 certificate on September 21, 1993.
UK Availability: A Dutch Region 2 DVD is uncensored, the 1993 VHS from Redemption is the 18 cert cut of the film.
The Cannibal Man was successfully prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act, making it one of the DPP39.

First off, the alternate English titles don't describe this film very well.  There is a small amount of implied cannibalism, and only one scene (a very important one) takes place in a 13th floor apartment.  La Semana Del Asesino is the best title for this one.

Slaughterhouse worker Marcos (Vicente Parra) is doing okay for himself.  He has a crappy shack situated in the shadow of new posh high-rises; a young, pretty girlfriend, Paula (Emma Cohen); and his rugged good looks bring no shortage of attention from both women and men alike.  One night, after a sex-fueled date with Paula, they hail a cab to head home.  The cab driver, however, is a blue-nosed conservative who doesn't take too kindly to their heated makeout session in the backseat.  The cab driver kicks them out after a few blocks and demands his three-fifty for the journey.  Marcos refuses to pay and the cab driver (a real freakball) starts beating on Paula.  Marcos clubs him with a rock and the couple escapes.

The next day, Marcos reads of the cabbie's death in the paper and Paula urges Marcos to go to the police.  But this is Spain in 1971 and Francisco Franco is still in power.  Knowing that coming forward will spell his doom, Marcos strangles Paula while kissing her and hides the body under his bed.  Determined to evade justice, more murders follow, the bodies piling up in Marcos' bedroom.  The stench is unbearable.  Eventually he begins carrying pieces of the bodies to work where he disposes of corpsemeat by mixing it in with the beef.

But it's not all bad for Marcos.  He makes a new friend in Nestor (Eusebio Poncela), an effeminate bachelor with a pet Boxer named Trotsky who likes using his binoculars to spy on Marcos from his apartment balcony.  As the body count rises and the relationship between Marcos and Nestor deepens, the tension never stops rising.  Will Marcos ever pay for his crimes?

La Semana Del Asesino is an underseen thriller that struggles against the constraints of the environment in which it was made.  Franco's totalitarian regime did not take kindly to aberrations like homosexuality, which led director Eloy de la Iglesia to find creative ways to discuss what it meant to be gay in such a repressive and rigid society.  It is no accident that the only time Marcos is seen smiling is when he is with Nestor.  The homosexual subtext of the film is also its core theme, but the heavy artistic censorship in Spain at that time meant that it could never be brought to the fore.  This isn't a mindless killing spree picture - this is a tragic love story about a man who cannot face who he really is.  Marcos' denial of the consequences of his actions and reluctance to dispose of the bodies mirrors his internal struggle against his true sexuality.  He's running from the law as he runs from himself.

There's some gore here and some tame love scenes, but really not much that is going to bother anyone in today's world.  It's a slow-burner and the tension rises until the climactic scene in Nestor's apartment.  The relationship between these two men is the meat of the matter, the murders themselves are a clever cover for what the film is actually about.  It's nice to see a horror film that cares so much about subtleties.  Pay close attention to the dialogue, to the actors' expressions, to the little gestures and things said and not said.  If you like films that make you work for the payoff, you're in for a treat.

So if you've got a crush on a special someone, be careful that they aren't on a killing spree.  It may mean doom...or something more.  I'll keep my binoculars handy to help you out.  Because my name's Justin.  JustinCase.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Diamonds To Hell!

Video Nasty #28


Women Behind Bars
1975
 

NTSC Running time: 80:30
Original French Title: Des Diamants Pour L'Enfer
Directed, Edited, and Shot by Jesus Franco
Written by Marius Lesoeur
Music by Daniel White
Starring: Lina Romay, Martine Stedil, Nathalie Chape, Roger Darton, Ronald Weiss, and Jesus Franco
Body Count: 6
Whippings/Beatings/Tortures: 3
Region 0 DVD from Blue Underground

BBFC Status

Why it's a Nasty: Sexualized violence perpetrated against nude women.
What was cut: Nothing.
Current UK Status: Women Behind Bars has never been submitted to the BBFC for certification, and therefore remains banned in the UK...although it would probably get an 18 uncut if submitted today.
Women Behind Bars was seized, but escaped prosecution.

Shirley Fields (Lina Romay) is the mistress of a local crime kingpin (Raymond Hardy, Romay's then-husband) who has just double-crossed his accomplices in a diamond heist.  Shirley murders him when he returns with the loot, only to discover the stolen case is empty.  She inexplicably calls the police to tell them what she's done.  She's sentenced to six years and is then targeted from all sides by vultures who want the diamonds.  Milton Weiss (Roger Darton) and his associate, Bill (Jesus Franco), are mob guys who want to bust Shirley out in exchange for the loot.  The sleazeball warden (Ronald Weiss) enlists blonde inmate Martine (Martine Stedil) to pry the hiding place out of Shirley with her feminine wiles.  And all Shirley wants is to have a smoke and be left alone...

Jesus Franco, who made about a bazillion sleazy movies, lists this as his favourite of his women-in-prison pictures due to the storyline and performances from his female cast (he was disappointed with Weiss, however.  Franco had hoped to put Austrian character actor William Berger in the role of the warden).  It's an okay movie, not great.  It's the first Nasty I've watched since Night Of The Bloody Apes (see Video Nasty #19) that I felt was disappointing.  There's a scene of a woman being whipped, another where a woman is tortured with electricity.  Other than the fact that they have no clothes on, I don't see where the fuss was.

The best parts of the film are the plot twists (there are a couple) and the performances by Romay and Franco (who had a long-term relationship off screen, Romay dying in 2012, Franco following her less than a year later.  Those close to them said Franco died mostly of broken heart).  Even though Romay was still married to Hardy at the time, you can see the chemistry between she and Franco when they are on screen together.

I recommend this one for fans of Jess Franco, fans of women-in-prison pictures, and geeks like me who are watching all the Nasties.  Everyone else should probably take a pass, it's a minor picture from a director who's made better.  Bloody Moon (see Video Nasty #6) was better, we'll see how they stack up against Devil Hunter, Franco's third and final entry on the list.

That's all for now, my friends.  And if you're dating a scuzzbag who needs a good killing, you might want to think twice about phoning the fuzz after you do the deed.  I think it's better to make tracks.  Because my name's Justin.  JustinCase.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Woodslore Won't Save You...

Video Nasty #27
 
 
Don't Go In The Woods
1981
 
 


 
EVERYONE HAS NIGHTMARES ABOUT THE UGLIEST WAY TO DIE.
 

Alternate Titles: Although sometimes referred to as Don't Go In The Woods...Alone!, the final word and ellipsis appear to be nothing more than a semi-tagline mistaken for part of the title.  It was released in Australia as The Forest 2, although the films are unrelated.
Running time: 81:28 NTSC
Directed by James Bryan
Written by Garth Eliassen
Produced by James Bryan, Suzette & Roberto Gomez
Starring: Jack McClelland, Mary Gail Artz, James P. Hayden, Angie Brown, Ken Carter, David Barth, and Tom Drury
Music by H. Kingsley Thurber
Body Count: 16
Region 1 DVD from Code Red is out of print, but available if you're willing to pay for it.  (I should state that I have never even seen a copy of this release, the one in my collection is the 1986 Video Treasures VHS release.)
 
BBFC Status
 
Why it's a Nasty: Excessive and exaggerated sequences of gore.
What was cut: Nothing.  Don't Go In The Woods was never submitted to the BBFC before it was released to home media.
Current UK status: Don't Go In The Woods was passed uncut with a 15(!) certificate on February 7th, 2007.
Don't Go In The Woods was successfully prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act, making it one of the DPP39.

 
So it's been a few years since I've received an ominous package from that benevolent videovore previously referred to in these pages as El Presidente.  I still haven't...but I recently got a package that made me think of his bloodstained Nasties of years hence.

The package was a bubble mailer (for those who don't ship, that's a brown manila envelope reinforced with bubblewrap), which told me right off that I wasn't dealing with a serious tapehead.  What I pulled out made me want to cry: the VHS slipcover had been stripped of its' top flap, then slit vertically down one corner, and roughly grafted onto an oversize black clamshell case with some kind of wide pseudo-Scotch tape with melting adhesive that had already stained the inside of the cardboard.

This tape's been torture murdered, I thought.

Fortunately, that wasn't actually the case.  The box may be a lost cause, but the tape plays like a dream.  It's in incredible shape for an '86 VHS, especially an EP release from a budget video house.  It's also the perfect format in which to enjoy this gem of a slasher, which is long on personality and short on story.

Somewhere in the Rockies, A girl runs through the woods from an unseen pursuer.  She falls in a creek bed, the water turning red as she screams.  A man is enjoying the scenery near the same small river.  He is hit in the face with something, has his arm chopped off (the blood spurting rapidly from the stump), and dies.  Something in these woods isn't keen on having visitors.

Peter (Jack McClelland), Ingrid (Mary Gail Artz) and Joanie (Angie Brown) listen to the camping advice of Craig (James P. Hayden), who comes off as a total knowitall windbag, as the four make their way to a cabin deep in the wilderness.  Peter isn't much for all this nature stuff, which gets him some chiding from the other three, especially Craig, who should take a look at himself and his ridiculous hat before he starts passing judgment.  Meanwhile, more people die in exceptionally gory fashion at the hands of the unseen maniac stalking these woods: a middle-aged photographer, his heavyset wife, and a young female landscape painter who is repeatedly knifed and gouts rich red blood all over her canvas, which she clutches to herself as she falls in slow motion.  She's left her young daughter bouncing in a sling hung from a tree...a sling we see empty after the painter has been dispatched.  What fate has befallen this innocent child?  Will our heroes survive the woods?

The slasher film as we know it today was entering its golden age in 1981, and James Bryan's Don't Go In The Woods is a superb example of how ingenuity, resourcefulness and courage can result in poorly made, but enjoyable, splatter movies.  The film stock was a batch of leftover ends purchased for $400.  The blood was barbecue sauce and red food coloring.  The murder victims were mostly crew members and friends of the director.  The score by H. Kingsley Thurber, which runs non-stop and is both goofy and annoying, was partially recycled from another Video Nasty, 1975's Frozen Scream, which Bryan had also worked on as a cameraman.  What little story there was is about the same as every forest-set slasher since Twitch Of The Death Nerve: teenagers go to the woods for some freedom, find bloody death and terror.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

The cast were mostly first-timers, and for most of them it was their only turn before the camera.  Popular Texas radio DJ Ken Carter is among the only-timers of Don't Go In The Woods, giving and amusing portrayal of a fat, lazy sheriff who doesn't necessarily believe that people keep disappearing in the woods around his little corner of the world.  Mary Gail Artz counts this as her only on-screen credit, but the same year handled casting duties for Halloween II at the beginning of a long, still-going career in film and TV.  The rest of the cast does what they came to do: act scared and die badly.

There are a few odd moments that detract from the film, most glaringly a sequence where Craig is telling a ghost story but is never seen.  The director has stated that he shot Craig for the sequence, but the film was ruined and unusable, which results in the scene showing only Peter, Joanie and Ingrid listening and reacting to Craig.  The opening murder sequence is also somewhat stilted, with no actions from the killer shown, only bloody water and screaming from the actress, making it the oddest and worst-executed death scene of any Nasty I've watched so far.

Mainstream movie critics (Ebert, Maltin, and other know-nothing clowns) deride Don't Go In The Woods as a miserable failure, but remember my old saying: "If Ebert hated it, it's probably good."  And good this one is.  It's fun, it's gory, and...well, that's about it, but that's enough for me.  I'm still not sure how this one ended up being successfully prosecuted, especially since when finally submitted for classification in the UK it ended up getting a 15 and not an 18 as most Nasties have received when finally approved for British consumption.  The ultra-bloody murder of the painter alone has more gore than Halloween, Friday The 13th and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre combined.  Even bad movie lovers like me have come down on this picture for supposedly bad effects, but I'm not sure they were watching the same movie I was.  Or maybe I'm easy to please.  Either way, there's no denying that the title tune is a classic:

 
 
Word.
 
So that's it.  Get yourself a copy of this one (maybe borrow one before purchasing, you may not like it as much as I did), give it a watch, have some fun and maybe a scare or two.  I'll be sure to stay out of these particular woods.  And I won't go in any alone.  Because my name's Justin.  JustinCase.