Monday 31 August 2020


REVIEW — The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Miss Osbourne (1981) | Ruthless  Culture

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Miss Osbourne (1981)
For starters electronic music pioneer Bernard Parmegiani does the soundtrack here. Don't worry he really gets there in the final fifteen minutes. Walerian Borowczyk was a polish porn, animation and surreal film director. This is a fairly mental plot that I cannot even begin to describe. It surprisingly had element s of gialli (black gloves), slasher (body count) and a whodunnit? (everyone in a mansion trying to figure out who the killer is). Bestest thing though is a bow and arrow murder. Even though it is in Victorian times but they had guns then so it's still an archaic murder weapon. Delirious demented transgressive fun. A must watch for Polish Art film enthusiasts

Nurse Sherri (1978)
Well when you have zero expectations the only was is up. I fucking loved this. It's an Al Adamson movie and after watching the great documentary Blood & Flesh: The Real Life & Ghostly Death Of Al Adamson, I was sure that I'd always avoid his product. Out of the blue though I bought this at the Vinegar Syndrome sale. I didn't want anything challenging or intellectual or political so I thought well tonight's the perfect night for Nurse Sherri. For a start this is an amazing document of the the times, the cars and streets. Imagine if Langdon Clay took film footage of the cars he photographed in the 70s. This would be it! This really is an eyeball treat for mid/late 20th Century cars and streets. I wouldn't have cared if there was a plot or not, they could have just driven through these streets in this array of vehicles and I'd have been happy. Don't forget the hair, fashions, architecture and interior design: A feast. I was looking at one building in total admiration building thinking it must have been some kind of funky club or bar but no it was a bank! The story here is wild. A cult leader dies but he supernaturally lingers on throughout the movie. There's some T but not really any A. We get dudes in business suits in the middle of the desert, a car chase, a car doing a spectacular tumble down a cliff with mucho pyromania, possession, chanting, saucy nurses, digging up graves, dudes with no eyeballs, sleazy doctors, psychiatrists quoting Yeats what more could you ask for? I really enjoyed this. If you like outsider art this is the real deal but done with aplomb. Late night movie of the week.

Hollywood Horror House aka Savage Intruder (1970)
Psych-sploitation meets Baby Jane histrionics meets slasher with all round good performances and quality cinematography and editing. Exploitation films never cease to amaze me with their sometimes high quality craftsmanship. An ageing ye olde Hollywood actress is living the retired life in a mansion in the hills after a successful but tumultuous career. She has a large staff and the temptation of alcohol is never far away. Enter her new wheelchair assistant Vic who seems to have quite the bad attitude. If you love shenanigans of the wrongest kind like relationships between a young man and someone who's old enough to be his grandma, phoney drug scenes, psychedelic-slasher flashback sequences, demented mannequin scenes etc. this is for you. This absolute curio is surprisingly watchable. Late Night Movie Of The Week.

Sette orchidee macchiate di rosso (1972) 

Seven Blood Stained Orchids (1972)
Umberto Lenzi had a great run of Gialli. He's my favourite Italian film-director of all time, you may think that's outrageous but he had a bloody good strike rate. This film starts out of the gate with a burst of murders. At the five minute mark you are thinking this is going to be the highest body count in a film ever but they slow down a bit as the plot focusses more on the search for the murderer. One of the best things is that the murderer is called The Half Moon Killer. As far as giallo go Seven Blood Stained Orchids is right up there as one of his most conventional before Lenzi really went totally balmy with batshit crazy classics Eyeball (1975) and Spasmo (1974). Here is where the tropes were coalescing and consolidating into hallmarks of the genre, a peak era before it all got a bit tired. Anyway we've got shiny knives, beautiful and incredibly fashionable prostitutes, a murderer wearing black gloves, sensational mens fashions, belligerent/bad cops, gorgeous women being killed in various states of undress, dial up telephones, priests, amateur sleuths, spectacular cars, POV Kill scenes, interior design to die for, phoney drug addicts, even phonier hippies, odd pop culture, tape recording machines, an absurdly convoluted plot, a score from legend Riz Ortilani, stunning cinematography and don't forget the hairdos! 

Solamente nero (1978)

Solamente Nero aka The Bloodstained Shadow (1978)
Classic Giallo! You gotta love one of the best giallo tropes: The murders are all connected to a dodgy painting. It's also got the other good stuff: Priests, wheelchair bound old people, J&B, OTT gay characters, hidden away adult simpleton children, dodgy psychics, red herrings, doll violence, a body count, backyard abortionists, childhood trauma...all that's missing is a blind man! One of the aspects that sets this Giallo apart is the Venice setting. There's boats, including a spectacularly thrilling action sequence but no cars. The grandeur is dilapidated. 1978 is further from the 60s than most films in this genre so the fashion is more beige, less outrageous but some we do get some splendid knitwear and hair. The psychedelic pop art and kitschy interior design is pretty much non existent. We do get ye olde churches, homes that are more like museums with way too many spooky artefacts, knight armour, weapons, sculpture and paintings everywhere. A classic 70s love scene ensues between the two main protagonists where they make sweet love on a rug by an open fire. The soundtrack is fantastic! I mean how could you go wrong with Stelvio Cipriani composing with Goblin members performing. I nearly forgot there's a shonky peadophile too. It's got the lot! Solamente Nero is directed by Antonio Bido who made that other wonderful and atypical giallo Watch Me When I Kill (1977). He seems to be undervalued in the general scheme of things in Italian cinema which is a shame because he made at least two classic films. 

Lily Tomlin and Art Carney in The Late Show (1977)

The Late Show (1977)  
Charming 70s neo-noir. A mis-matched pair of misfits end up embroiled in a series of crimes. The duo of Lily Tomlin as Margo and Art Carney as Ira do tip top awry chemistry. These two are glorious fun with Ira being the ex-detective old codger and Margo as the off kilter but witty cat lady. It all begins when Margo's cat is catnapped. Shenanigans and hi-jinx ensue in this low key yet bloody gritty crime caper. If you love your 70s neo-noir, Altman, Allen etc. but you've never seen this, then you are in for a real treat.  

What Have They Done To Solange (1972)
This was the first Giallo I ever saw that was set outside of Italy. This one gets right to the gruesome point with the victims being stabbed in the vagina. The doctor shows us some graphically grim X-ray evidence post-mortem no less. What Have They Done... is set in a posh all girls Catholic senior college somewhere in picturesque England. Male teachers are sleeping with the students although it's pointed out at one stage "at least they're 18." Giallo staples like Glistening knives, black gloves, red herrings, sleaze, amateur sleuths plus an outfuckingstanding Ennio Morricone score are all present and accounted for. We also get naughty catholic school girls, row boats, bikes and a slice of quaint England. This flick is beautifully filmed, pretty cohesive plot-wise and put together elegantly. An almost classy Giallo! We get an early appearance from I Spit On Your Grave's legendary Camille Keaton along with Fabio Testi, Christina Galbó, Karin Baal etc. Late Night Movie Of The Week.

The Pyjama Girl Case (1977)
Strange, strange, strange! That's really saying something for a Giallo film. Well this flick is in that interzone of Giallo and Poliziotteschi. Once again we get the Giallo taken outside of Italy. This time it's Australia with the story being loosely based upon a famous unsolved Aussie murder. It's set in Sydney but it's almost like a post-apocalyptic film as the metropolis' streets are almost always deserted. They must have filmed it on Sundays. In the 70s everything shut down on Sunday in Australia. So city streets were empty. Sunday was for home, mass, junior football, roast or fish & chips if you were lucky.

The score here is Riz Ortilani at his most cheesy, disco and best. There are several hippy psych glam songs however performed by the mysterious & enigmatic Amanda Lear, who I thought was a man until I looked her up, that are fucking fabulous. So we get loads of empty, oh so empty, Sydney captured wonderfully by the cinematographer. Pyjama Girl Case is not full of your usual Giallo genre tropes. We do get the occasional red herring and a retired detective (Ray Milland) doing the real sleuth work for free as the actual cops have no idea what's going on. Much is made of the generational gap between the old timer and the trendy new detective's techniques. This is a pretty sophisticated film but while it does have a complex narrative structure it's actually fairly cohesive. This is more like a really bleak, brutal and nihilistic art film. You might need to give it a second watch too, just to get a handle on the nuances. Quite the surprise packet of a film. An absolute curio for adventurous film viewers.

Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Christopher Plummer, Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Michael Shannon, Ana de Armas, LaKeith Stanfield, Jaeden Martell, and Katherine Langford in Knives Out (2019)

Knives Out (2019)
Excellent, if a little slow, 10s update of the Whodunnit in a mansion genre. This is set in America and really could have been a four or five part prestige television series for FX or HBO. This star studded cast all put in sterling performances. Although I must admit to not being a Daniel Craig fan (can't fucking stand him) so it was a struggle to get used to him doing a southern American accent but hey I got there. Why didn't they just get a southern American though? Minor quibbles aside yes Don Johnson, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tony Collette, Christopher Plummer etc. are terrific. The real star here though is Ana Celia de Armas Caso who plays Marta the deceased multi millionaire's personal nurse. Was it suicide or was it foul play?  Don't expect a fusty old stuck in the house investigation. This is more like a modern tv crime drama dressed up as a whodunnit. Enjoy the ride that doesn't get too convoluted although perhaps the final explanation plot device could have been dropped to make this film more lean. 

Nude per l'assassino (1975)

Strip Nude For Your Killer (1975)
Edwige's Fenech's Hair!

That was going to be my review. All a Giallo enthusiast would need to know is all right there. Edwige is in it! She has amazing hair! This would also imply there is more amazing stuff like great fashion, glamorous 70s interior design and that Fenech probably gets naked at some point. The title then implies much more nudity & death Giallo style. See how 8 words is pretty much enough to tell you about this film. That would have been sufficient if I was in a certain mood but there is so much more to discuss here. This is a high point in nasty macho Giallo. Surely this was the lofty batshit crazy peak and the genre could only go down from here. 

It starts out with an abortion that goes awry: Let the nasty, sleazy and murderous shenanigans begin. Over-poured J&B, lots of nudity, lots of great 70s underwear, splendid swimwear for women, dodgy 70s swimwear for men, so much sleaze, fun phoney paint splattered gore, the fashion, OTT campy homosexuals, sleazy photographers, the bars, the pools, the saunas, the men who don't take no for an answer, the women who put up with it, violent lesbians, so much fluff muff, implied consensual incest, a killer in full black biker leathers complete with black gloves & helmet, darkrooms, photographic proof, a body count and more.

Strip Nude For Your Killer was really pushing the boundaries of good bad taste but it somehow got away with it with colourful charm, incredible cinematography, absolute audaciousness and flashy direction. God knows what a bunch of kids in their early 20s would make of this today. I certainly would like to be in that viewing room and for the discussion afterwards.

Over the past 8 or 9 years I've been trying to figure out what film the following scene was from as it is an unforgettable moment in the history of cinema.

There's this sad fat guy Maurizio (Franco Diogene) married to the lesbian Gisella (Lia Amanda). One day Maurizio basically kidnaps a female colleague Doris (Erna Schürer) and speeds through the streets of Milan in a spectacular and quite lengthy set-piece of crazy driving through busy city traffic. He finally gets the woman into to his flat to try and have sex with her but she says no. Then he forces himself some more upon her so Doris says ok. But by the the time the obese Maurizio gets down to his giant white underpants he's already done his business. He cries that he's never been able to actually get to do it with a woman like he's some kind of sad victim. Doris who is unharmed and unfazed just laughs it off and says it happens to all men as he cries in a pathetic tantrum. She leaves while Maurizio is still having an episode. Next he's crying into and talking to his deflated blow up sex doll saying she is the only one he can do it with. This historic scene is only comparable to Joe Spinell in Maniac (1980) for a portrait of the sheer delirious lunacy of pathetic sexually dysfunctional men.

While Maurizio is vile he has tough competition with perhaps the sleaziest protagonist in a film ever Carlo (Nino CastelNuovo) the photographer for The Albatross Modelling Agency. Carlo starts out the film sexually harassing a woman he doesn't know and his bad behaviour is relentless right up until the final scene. This dude has absolutely no redeeming features and yet he wins. He's an accessory after the fact, for a laugh he strangles his girlfriend fellow photographer Magda Edwige Fenech who just laughs it off and then they have some more sex.

This film comes highly recommended but be prepared this was Italy 1975 style.    

Saturday 22 August 2020

Laying The Ghosts To Rest - Nick Edwards


Laying Ghosts To Rest is the 3rd excellent album in as many months from Nick [Ekoplekz] Edwards. We all thought he was winding up his career them bam three irresistible albums in a row. This one is the best too. In fact this might just be the finest recording Nick has ever done.

A personal history of electronic gunk is displayed here & moulded into shapes for 2020. The trakz here are less attached to the tyranny of the beat than the previous two albums. The LP meanders off into all sorts of cosmic, psychedelic, delicious, ecstatic, melodic, idyllic, dark and even somewhat familiar zones. Energie-Piek the 7th tune is spiritually like old School ambient-house complete with its vestiges of 80s electro along with the vibe of weary elation that the sun’s about to come up. Trak 8 Saturnine is just lovely amorphous ambient squiggling featuring euphoric synths.

Laying Ghosts... just feels loose like never before. Right now Nick’s at a creative peak where it seems he could go anywhere sonically & it would not be a mistake. Perhaps the title is a hint at where his brain-space is right now. Maybe he's letting go of his own artistic & aesthetic prejudices. All of his previous constraints and shackles. Perhaps Edward’s can see a new previously unimagined vision unfolding for his creativity. Laying Ghosts To Rest does feel very intuitive & that more new horizons are just awaiting his arrival. This music is brimming with the positive confidence of whatever's coming next is going to be well worth waiting for. I can't get enough of it. I’m so enraptured by Laying Ghosts... that it’s on constant reeeewind! round this house. Here’s to the future! The one we want. We can’t go back, we’ve travelled so far.