Monday 20 April 2009

Klaus Harmony

This is nicely put together and entertaining:

Website for an imaginary German porn / trash film composer in the Gerd Wilden / Peter Thomas vein.

Saturday 18 April 2009

Original Piero Umiliani vinyl

For anyone with £80 - £120 to spend per LP:

An idea - please comment

One broad distinction between the post-1982 giallo and its earlier counterpart is that issues around Italian identity no longer seem as important.

For example, the mixture of ethnicities and nationalities amongst the characters in Nothing Underneath, with the presence of a photographer of East Asian and a model of African extraction amongst them, goes without remark.

This is in sharp contrast to the discourses of exoticism and otherness that typically employed in relation to analogous characters in the 1960s and 1970s, as with the treatment of the 'black' characters in Your Vice is a Locked Room..., The Case of the Bloody Iris and Torso.

If such an approach, along with the increasing tendency to locate narratives in the US rather than Italy can in part be read as a concession to market forces, recognising US hegemony after thirty years of Italian counter-hegemonic action, it might also be read as signifying the end of the vernacular giallo audience.

The terza visione, that is, had largely been left behind and/or incorporated into the (post)modern world.

Motif spotting #2

Gialli with killer priests or fake priests:

Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eye
Don't Torture a Duckling
The Seven Blood-Stained Orchids
7 Hyden Park
Who Saw Her Die?

And what others?

Monday 13 April 2009

Motif spotting #1

Expect a lot of these posts over the next few days as I lazily test your knowledge rather than trawl through the archives myself ;-)

Which gialli can you think of featuring killers who have either not been cured via psychoanalytic / psychiatric interventions or who have suffered relapses?

For example: The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Four Flies on Grey Velvet, The Eye in the Labyrinth, Eyeball

Saturday 11 April 2009

The Deuce - Grindhouse Database

Wasn't aware of this till now; pretty cool:

Tornado / The Last Blood

Made in between the David Warbeck and Lewis Collins jungle war trilogies, Tornado is something of the odd one out amongst Antonio Margheriti, Tito Carpi and Gianfranco Couyoumdijan’s 80s war entries.

Though there is still plenty of action, stunts and things exploding, it’s more of a message movie with stronger defined characters and situations than normal. The big surprise, in terms of the traditional derivativeness of the Italian genre film, is that as a Vietnam war film it was made after First Blood, but before Rambo, Platoon, Full Metal Jacket and company, and as such emerges as a film which innovates as much as it imitates.

At the core of the film is the conflict between two Green Berets, one a Captain and the other a sergeant. The Captain believes that the war against the Vietcong could and must still be won and, as a demonstration of this, relentlessly sends his men on what Sergeant Maggio surmises to be pointless, high risk missions.

To the captain the men are fundamentally resources excepted to follow orders, whatever they are, while to the sergeant the are human beings who need to be protected against his superiors' growing Kurtzian madness.

In the middle is journalist Freeman, played by Alan Collins / Luciano Pigozzi, who provides a sounding board and critique for both men's perspectives whilst also making clear where his own sympathies lie.

After one mission Maggio is left behind by the helicopter support and forced to bring a wounded soldier back to camp via a canoe. Though the soldier, a promising athlete, survives he proves unable to come to terms with the amputation of his leg and thus shoots himself.

Flying into a rage, the Sergeant has to be restrained by his troops, before being goaded by the Captain into attacking.

Arrested by the reluctant Military Police, Maggio is taken to another base where he will be held until his court martial. The Vietcong attack, giving him a chance to escape for the Cambodian border.

At this point the Rambo element comes to the fore as the Captain takes an ironic pride in the achievements of his “creation,” praising Maggio’s resourcefulness in evading the Vietcong whilst also making it clear that he intends to himself capture and execute his underling for desertion.

Action and direction wise it’s pretty much the standard Margheriti fare, with model work and stock footage being used to compensate for the low budget and a certain gung-ho treatment of the battle scenes. Some torture scenes involving Maggio are also of note as an indicator of what might have happened to Charlie and Tom in Cannibal Apocalypse.

Eroina / Heroin / Fatal Fix / The Tunnel

As the downbeat and depressing story of a group of heroin addicts in a northern Italian city circa 1980, Massimo Pirri’s film might well be summarised as Panic in Needle Park or Requiem for a Dream all’italiana.

Like the writer-director’s earlier L’immoralita – in which an escaped paedophile embarks upon relationships with a woman and her 12-year-old daughter – it falls into that littoral zone between art and exploitation.

For while dubbed awkwardly into English – with lots of not quite convincing bad language that sometimes veers between ‘flip you!’ and ‘fuck you cunt!’ approaches – and making heavy use of a soundtrack sourced in its entirety from The Pretenders’ eponymous debut album, it also makes for uneasy exploitation fare by virtue of taking a comparatively realistic, non-sensationalist stance in its tale of two junkie lovers, Marco (Helmut Berger) and Pina (Corinne Clery).

Though the message that hard drugs mess you up certainly comes through, with a heavy sense of inevitability about the failure of Marco’s fantastical plan of coming to have so much heroin they could lie in it, contrasted with their daily realities of hustling for that next fix and ripping off or being ripped off by their contacts and clients in a dog-eat-dog way – both also lying and cheating on one another, friends and family repeatedly – there’s no particular moralising or preaching evident.

Rather, it’s just how junkies are, their love for the needle paramount, as the image of Pina shooting up into her genital area attests.

One of the most interesting sociological aspects of the film, besides some suitable grim industrial / post-industrial locations is the inclusion of a bored teenager from a wealthy family who indicates that he tried heroin before cannabis and believes that injecting is surely healthier than smoking, as a challenge to official discourses.

The film’s in-between aspect is compounded by its cast, with Berger equally at home in Visconti films (although The Damned is perhaps as much Naziploitation as Salon Kitty), The Bloodstained Butterfly and Beast with a Gun, while Franco Citti, who cameos as a local drugs boss, had moved from Accatone to become a familiar poliziotto face.

Dubbing makes the quality of their performances difficult to assess, but there is no question that both men look right for their roles – sadly because of his own drugs problems in Berger’s case.

Though making an attempt to be down and dirty, Clery is perhaps that touch too glamorous.

Francesca Ciardi of Cannibal Holocaust makes a brief appearance as a drug pusher.

Pirri’s extensive use of the hand-held camera, imparts a fly on the wall sense to the proceedings and conveys the edginess of the characters and their milieu. Some more self-consciously showy moves and compositions elsewhere indicate he was not just an amateur, as can be a risk if the viewer does not ‘get’ the raw handheld aesthetic, wrongly adjudging it mere amateurism.

Not a pleasant experience, but certainly an intriguing one.

Wednesday 8 April 2009

Le Notti della violenza / Night of Violence / Callgirl '66

A masked killer stalking beautiful young women. An ineffectual police investigation. Drugs. A fatal fall.

No, it’s not Mario Bava’s Blood and Black Lace but rather Roberto Mauri’s Night(s) of Violence, co-scripted with Eduardo Mulargia and also known by the immediately dated title Callgirl ’66.

With a listed running time of 91 minutes, the version under review is shorn of about 14 minutes, mostly dealing with the drug smuggling subplot and thus playing up the film’s horror and thriller aspects.

Despite the elements outlined at the start, I would hesitate to identify the film as an early giallo except in a roundabout krimi / shocker / pulp way. Yes, Bava was undoubtedly inspired by these sources as well, as indicated by Nora Davis’s acting like the heroine of one of the pulp thrillers she compulsively reads, but it’s near impossible, I would argue, to imagine Blood and Black Lace in particular working as text or fotoromanzo.

This is not the case here, with lots of static, talky police procedural scenes and not much in the way of set pieces, the maniac having a tendency to savagely attack with little or no build up or use of suspense devices.

While his motivation and back-story are suitably outlandish and grounded in a traumatic experience they also have a distinctly 1950s feel to them. Rather than wearing a stocking mask that serves to hide his features, he also wears a Phantom of the Opera / V for Vendetta type mask, tellingly modelled on the face of a Grand Guignol actor. If the inclusion of this character affords the filmmakers a degree of reflexivity, they don’t make particularly good use of it, the actor also having an iron-cast alibi for the night in question that fails to really establish him as obvious red herring or suspect.

This backwards rather than forward looking feel is further compounded by the black and white realist / noir / traditional expressionist visuals and the associations these further strengthen with the likes of The Embalmer, Eyes without a Face and – given the presence of Alberto Lupo there as well – Seddok.

Marilu Tolo has an early appearance as the girl investigating her sister’s murder.

Tuesday 7 April 2009

DVD Trash Roundtable

Should be interesting...

Edinburgh Film Guild - Freaky Friday screenings

This was something I posted about a while back, that the film society I'm involved with is doing some cult / exploitation / psychotronic / trash films on a Friday evening, starting in October.

While the dates and times are still to be finalised, along with the membership packages, we have the seasons and the films in them sorted now:

Maybe the world doesn't need another Mario Bava retrospective, but bear in mind that many of our current members have probably never heard of him - nor seen a spaghetti western not directed by Sergio Leone...

Ian McCulloch coming to Edinburgh

Just a little public service announcement:

Ian McCulloch is coming to Edinburgh for the Dead by Dawn horror festival, where there will also be a screening of Zombie / Zombie Flesh Eaters.

Monday 6 April 2009

Bugie Rosse / Red Lies / The Final Scoop

Bugie Rosse is a giallo which, in terms of writing, performances and direction, is probably superior to the majority of 1970s product, albeit with the rider that the last aspect depends in large part upon whether you like your gialli subtle instead of showy-for-showy-sake.

It has, of course, the misfortune to miss the filone boat by about 20 years, coming at a time when even the established masters of Italian genre cinema (e.g. Martino) were finding it harder and harder to get their films made and out there to any prospective cinema audience.

In this regard it also shows that Italian filmmakers of the 1990s could have adapted just as well as their 1960s and 1970s predecessors to the new order, insofar as it is an erotic thriller as much as a giallo – even if here we must also note the probable influence of such late 60s gialli as Double Face, Perversion Story and Umberto Lenzi and Carroll Baker’s collaborations, as sexed-up noir / Hitchcock hybrids, upon Basic Instinct, Body of Evidence and their lesser known straight-to-video counterparts.

While featuring many of the old tropes of the classic giallo, with plenty of black gloved subjective camera murder set pieces, voyeuristic scenarios, and suspects / red herrings to keep the amateur detective both within the diegesis and the audience involved, the main difference between the film and its 1970s counterparts, Argento somewhat excepted, is with regard to sexual ‘perversion’, in the form of (male) homosexuality. (As the title of Rosa von Praunheim’s 1971 film suggests “It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives.”)

Specifically, the main narrative focuses on a television journalist, Marco, who decides to go undercover in search of a scoop in the case of five gay men who have been murdered in as many months, posing as one “indiscipinato 90” on the hook-up boards. (As an early quasi-email system this is itself of interest in relation to the way in which the giallo has often foregrounded the role of modern technology, with the reel-to-reel tape elsewhere being replaced by its cassette counterpart, as part of a Hi-Fi system with a CD rather than a record player.)

Visiting the city’s main cottaging area– a small patch of land presented so often in the course of the narrative that you half wonder how the police haven’t been able to catch the killer themselves, unless pointing at official indifference is a narrative subtext, which it may well be – he soon finds himself thrown into the thick of things. His second pickup of the evening robs and knocks him unconscious, just as a mysterious assassin kills his first.

While Marco thus has an iron-clad alibi, and is ably protected by his best friend Roberto, a high-flying lawyer, he declines to identify his assailant from a series of mug shots and decides to continue his investigations.

His next visit to the city’s gay demi-monde almost brings about his demise as he agrees to go with a Polish immigrant who claims to know the identity of the killer but then turns out to be a gay basher. Left to burn to death – somewhat awkwardly Marco himself is not soaked in petrol and set ablaze, only the ground around him – a mysterious, unseen interloper pulls him to safety...

Despite Roberto’s counsel, Marco remains determined to solve the case and enters deeper and deeper into the city’s gay scene, putting increasing strains on his marriage as he becomes increasingly unsure of his own sexual identity, a la Cruising...

The first key difference between Bugie rosse and the typical classic giallo is that male homosexuality is not presented as being equivalent to paedophilia, as discussed by Koven, but is instead treated here as just another sexuality, albeit one whose practitioners – an awkward word, I admit, insofar as it implies choice, as in of a career, somewhat – are still subject to prejudice and discrimination.

Indeed, as with Argento’s more progressive early films, especially Deep Red, the gay characters are presented here as more sinned against than sinning, unable to be open about their orientation precisely because of the negative implications it still has societally. (The narrative, as it turns out, revolves around blackmail, thus implicating one of the other great giallo themes, that of the rational rather than irrational motive for murder.)

The first difference, compared to The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and Four Flies on Grey Velvet, is that homosexuality it is not treated as a subject for comic relief.

This is an element that is markedly absent with the exception of an elderly swinger couple who sit to both sides of Marco in a porn theatre, clearly intent on a threesome. Yet even here there’s perhaps something of a shift from the 1970s, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage’s antique shop encounter aside, insofar as Marco responds by declining their invitation and moving away, rather than through a (stereotypically) aggressive male heterosexual defensiveness. (Marco, passive / non aggresive, is gay / receptive / open?)

The second, more at the level of the general writing, direction and acting, is that a sense of being thought through pervades the whole film, giving it that re-watchable aspect insofar as once you know who the killer is you can still watch it again to see the subtle cues and miscues along the way, in the same manner as with Deep Red or Tenebre.

In other words, it’s not a choice of the prosaic or the poetic, or of form or content, but rather a film where form is content, and vice versa in a commutative or syllogistic way.

To mention three things worth considering in this regard:

First we have Marco’s alter ego, “the undisciplined one” (directorial freedom, masochism) implicitly in search of the other, of discipline (directorial control, sadism).

Second, that the modus operandi of the murders preceding the narrative, and thus absent / not depicted, and within it, and thus present / depicted, are different.

Third, that both the heterosexual and gay encounters are scored with the same kind of arousing / engaging music and shot with the same approach to mise-en-scene as an expression of Marco’s growing confusion. Admittedly showing more in the former case, but how many US erotic thrillers of the time were as willing to show (pseudo) gay as (pseudo) lesbian activity?

Well worth the giallo enthusiast’s attention, even if the Berlusconi bankrolling perhaps implies an awkward subtext to the Bugie Rosse - i.e Red Lies - title...

Writer-director Pierfrancesco Campanella's later Bad Inclination is also highly recommended...

A quick plug

Nothing whatsoever to do with Eurocult, but it's by a friend of mine and Ashby's films are cool:

Geheimcode: Wildgänse / Code Name: Wild Geese / Arcobaleno selvaggio

Here we have a classic example of the filone principle in operation via an opportunistic bit of titling to make the film sound like a belated sequel to the late 70s mercenary war actioner The Wild Geese but which in fact bears no relation whatsoever beyond the codename given the secret mission.

It’s directed by Antonio Margheriti, whose other work during the early 1980s encompassed somewhat more timely Apocalypse Now and Raiders of the Lost Ark rip-offs, most starring cult favourite David Warbeck and invariably using Philippines jungle locations and likely as not the talismanic Luciano Pigozzi in a supporting role.

The replacement of Warbeck by Lewis Collins, fresh from his long running stint in the British TV series The Professionals, gives the film something of a transitional feel. Having passed the selection procedure for the SAS reserves only to be rejected on account of his celebrity status, it doesn’t take long for Collins to establish his fitness for the role of Commander Robin Wesley. Indeed, he would in time appear in two confusingly similar outings for Margheriti, Commando Leopard and The Commando.

The transition between leading men is also aided by the way we’re thrown right into the thick of the action. Admittedly it’s soon revealed to just be a training exercise, but also serves to establish the no-nonsense professionalism of Wesley and his mercenaries and something of their respective characters. With the group’s pilot suffering an injury, it also provides a means to shoehorn in Lee Van Cleef’s character, China / The Colonel. He’s a grizzled veteran of no less than five wars – the Second, Korean, Vietnam and which two others, one wonders – who’s presently serving a prison sentence for smuggling, for which he is offered a pardon in return for his services.

The mercenaries, you see, are working for the ‘good’ guys rather than the highest bidder, in the form of two government officials. Ernst Borgnine plays the US Drug Enforcement Agency representative and Klaus Kinski’s, complete with an obviously dubbed voice, that of the British Crown in Hong Kong.

The hush-hush, unofficial mission entails destroying a Golden Triangle opium depot belonging to a powerful warlord, known as The General.

Assisted by local guerrilla fighters, everything goes about as well as can be planned, with the mercenaries putting the depot out of commission. Unfortunately the group also lose their helicopter through an act of sabotage, while Wesley discovers evidence of another store further inside The General’s territory that their employers had said nothing about, along with evidence implicating one or other of them as a client of The General.

If all this wasn’t enough, the mercenaries also free a number of prisoners. Though the majority are locals, one is a Canadian journalist whom The General got hooked on heroin after she came looking for an exclusive interview. She’s played by Mimsy Farmer, thus rounding off the name cast, with the rest of the mercenaries being played by German actors as another indication of where the rest of the co-production money was coming from.

As usual Margheriti and his writing collaborators Tito Carpi and Gianfranco Couyoumdijan prove better at dealing with action than character and back story. We get some attempts to establish additional motivation for Wesley beyond money, in the form of a dead brother or son, and understand that there may be something suspect about his point of contact with the British and US officials, but these remain at rather simplistic, comic book level.

If the film is a comic book, it is however also a very entertaining one when its playing to its strengths, even if some of the gimmicks, most notably a makeshift flamethrower Wesley uses from a helicopter, are preposterous and some of Margheriti’s trademark model work a touch too obvious, as when Welsey drives his car sideways along a half-completed tunnel to evade some pursuers.

If Collins’s SAS buddies laughed all the way through the supposedly serious Who Dares Wins, one wonders what they would have made of Code Name: Wild Geese.

Sunday 5 April 2009

Poster purchases

Via Ebay, around £50 in total with current poor exchange rates.

House on the Edge of the Park

Suspicious Death of a Minor

Seven Shawls of Yellow Silk / The Crimes of the Black Cat

I Maniaci / The Maniacs

First things first: despite the associations that the title and director Lucio Fulci may suggest today, this is a comedy rather than a thriller or a horror film.

The madness is not that of the black gloved killer but rather of an everyday sort, specifically the ordinary madness of people like you or I – or more specifically our Italian counterparts circa 1964.

Rather than exploring this madness through a single set of characters and narrative, the film is structured around a series of vignettes, most based upon a reversal of expectation.

For instance, a driver races what he assumes to be the car alongside him, taking greater and greater risks as he endeavours to prove his masculine potency, as expressed by his macchina, against his challenger, only to be overtaken by a jumbo jet...

While some of the segments, like this one, work regardless of the viewer’s knowledge of Italian history, politics and culture, it’s probably fair to say that to get more out of the film you really do need to have some background.

For the Fulci fan, aware of his own personal background and politics, the film meanwhile provides some early indicators as to why he never fulfilled his early promise as a specialist in the Italian style comedy and became ghettoised as a cult horror director. Specifically, he was just too harsh and too cynical in his approach, too willing to bit the hand that might otherwise have fed him by criticising both left and right, modernity and tradition.

This comes through most strongly in the segment starring Enrico Maria Salerno as a hypocritical left-wing / avant-garde / intellectual author who advises an old colleague who comes asking for advice to spice up his realist account of partisan activity with extraneous sex, violence and bad language, only to then deny the result publication as inauthentic and immoral; Salerno’s character’s dog is telling called Pier-Paolo, whilst he himself makes apparent allusions to the likes of Accatone and Mama Roma.

Another story, in which a souther hitch-hiker and his northern lift gradually convince themselves that the other is out to kill them, helps illuminate Fulci’s understanding of regional relations, to indicate again that his representations of the south(erner) in Don’t Torture a Duckling were not merely an easy resort to stereotype but something more worked / thought through.

There’s also an anti-clerical and anti-bourgeois skit, as two antique hunters think they’ve bought a load of valuable items from a monastery at a bargain price, only for the punchline to reveal that the monastery buys these as seconds wholesale from the furnishers nearby. The segment also features its own internal running gag, with the monk refusing the various things offered him by the couple on religious grounds, to then decline wine on account of his ulcer.

For those less interested in identifying Fulci’s auteur signature, I Maniaci boasts the attraction of a superior ensemble cast, featuring the likes of Lisa Gastoni, Barbara Steele, Margaret Lee and Franco and Ciccio. It also has a charming pop score by Ennio Morricone, with vocal performances by the likes of Nico Fidenco and Rita Pavone.

Saturday 4 April 2009

Impatto mortale / Deadly Impact

This 1984 cop actioner is one of those Italian productions that tries to pass itself off as American through and through. With Nevada and Phoenix locations; Bo Svenson and Fred Williamson in the lead roles and the crew hiding behind Anglo-sounding pseudonyms it almost gets away with it – unless you know who co-star John Morghen is; that behind such names as director Larry Ludman and editor Vincent Thomas we have Fabrizio De Angelis and Vincenzo Tomassi; or recognise a re-used suspense cue from The New York Ripper.

Plenty of John Morghen

Such games aside what really matters is whether the film delivers the goods. The answer is an unqualified yes, with Svenson and Williamson having a good buddy movie rapport with one another; Morghen making for a suitably despicable villain (“he’s wearing body armour – shoot him in the head!”); and plenty of car and helicopter chases, shoot outs, stunts and explosions.

Plenty of this

Maybe we could have done without the obligatory car crashing through a fruit stall set-up, or the soaking of a Salvation Army band as another car smashes into a fire hydrant, but such excesses also demonstrate De Angelis’s commitment to giving the audience what they want and more.

Much the same can be said of a romantic interlude in which Svenson’s goes to see a long-suffering on-off girlfriend, except that it offers not only the opportunity to show some exposed breasts but also to re-affirm the heterosexuality of the two ex-Vietnam buddies, that there is nothing romantic going on between them, the phallic symbolism of Williamson’s omnipresent cigars and Svenson’s hand-cannon magnum notwithstanding.

Indeed, just in case we have not got the message, there’s also a Police Academy-esque scene where Svenson is misdirected to a gay bar, the Lulu Belle. Its denizens do not take kindly to his presence, although he is able to get away merely by making his excuses, without the need to pull out his weapon...

Another Hollywood reference point of the time is Superman III, with the film’s Mcguffin – a computer nerd and his girlfriend have worked out a system to beat the Las Vegas slots by monitoring when the machines are about to make a big payout – having a similar urban legend quality to Richard Pryor’s fractions of a cent scam there.

Friday 3 April 2009

Il Mondo porno di due sorelle / Emanuelle and Joanna

Given its title and the presence of an Emanuela amongst the sisters, the casual viewer could easily be forgiven for mistaking Il Mondo porno di due sorelle for a retitling of Joe D’Amato’s Emanuelle e Francoise le sorelline of a few years earlier. It is in fact, however, a different film, albeit one that still represents another entry into the Italian Emmanuelle knock offs in its approach.

Emanuela is played by Sherry Buchanan, a somewhat mysterious actress whose name suggests Anglophone origins but whose screen appearances were invariably in Italian productions and co-productions and who must have been in or barely out of her teens when she made her debut in What Have They Done to Your Daughters, playing a schoolgirl involved in a prostitution ring. (Presumably someone able to lip-read, and thereby determine if Buchanan is speaking her lines in Italian or English can clarify.)

Here, meanwhile, she’s a young housewife, frustrated by her husband Roberto’s lack of affection, physical and emotional cruelties and general unreconstructed male attitudes. ("C'mon get undressed. I'm really in the mood to show you a thing or two") Worse, she comes to suspect that Roberto’s having an affair with her own sister, Giovanna, who keeps disappearing off the radar without explanation. Roberto, however, denies the accusation, telling her in most unreassuringly that he doesn’t “like girls who are built like little boys.”

Emanuela decides to tail Giovanna, finding her sister playing tongue hockey with another woman, then entering a mysterious establishment. Emanuela follows and learns that the place is a brothel, specializing in catering to those with more esoteric, risque proclivities.

Emanuela soon starts visiting the place on a regular basis, as a Belle de jour / fantasy / revenge scenario begins to take shape...

With some surprisingly artful compositions; an intelligent exploration of Emanuela’s neuroses and their origins; effective, uninhibited and committed performances; and an agreeable selection of musical cues, this is one of those entries that offers something beyond the lowest common denominators of sex and sleaze.

Buchanan and Montenero as the two sisters

If a extra-diegetic awareness that Paola Montenero, playing Giovanna, developed a drug problem and appeared in the self-explanatory porn entry Dolce gola / Sweet Throat, adds an uncomfortable frisson to the image of her character snorting cocaine, those without such knowledge cannot fail to miss the way in which director Franco Rossetti uses mirrors and emphasise both voyeuristic and exhibitionistic scenarios in a way that does not always accord with the “visual pleasure” of the implied male spectator. How does the notion of a sadistic male gaze work when we are watching a man, dressed in an oversize nappy, being masochistically humiliated for his own pleasure by a prostitute playing the role of his mother? No doubt there is a way it can be made to fit the theory, or the theory to fit the example, but the need for such intellectual contortions indicates, I would argue, that things in the real world just aren’t that straightforward.

In sum, worth your attention

Some more posters

Freda's Murder Obsession

D'Amato's Emanuelle's Revenge

Black Emanuelle, White Emanuelle


More Nazisploitation

Soavi's Delirium / Stagefright

Brass's With Heart in Mouth

5 women for the killer poster

Wednesday 1 April 2009

Hard Sensation

With the school term over, three somewhat over-aged students, played by Annj Goren, Dirce Funari and someone else, go for a fortnight’s fun in the sun on a private island. The extent to which they can get all-over tans they desire and to sexually experiment individually and collectively is however constrained by the presence of their teacher, played by Lucia Ramirez, as chaperone, and of two sailors who know that any games with the girls are more bother than they are worth in terms of their employment and continuing liberty.

Such concerns are not shared by three escaped convicts, played by Mark Shanon, George Eastman and someone else, who are hiding out on the island after their boat ran aground.

While Eastman remains focused on evading the authorities, Shanon and the other guy are more intent on having fun with the girls and, in the case of the other guy, a homosexual, the sailors...

As any serious student of Eurosleaze can probably tell from looking at the main names among the cast, Hard Sensation is another one of Joe D’Amato’s Dominican Republic pornotropic horrors.

Shanon and Ramirez

Whereas Erotic Nights of the Living Dead combined porn and fantasy horror and Orgasmo Nero porn and cannibal primitive melodrama, Hard Sensation is a combination of porn and the Desperate Hours / Last House on the Left hostage / rape-revenge scenario.

As a slice of sick and sleazy exploitation it does the job in that inimitable D’Amato fashion, with the relative brevity of the film and the sex scenes in the version under review – even when regular hardcore performers Shanon, Funari and Ramirez are involved – appearing more indicative of cuts than self-imposed restraint.

The homosexual convict, a J&B bottle and a symbolic rape / real power scenario

In particular, whilst the rape scenes are not really sufficiently developed to shift from no-means-no rape to no-means-yes porno-rape that they are accompanied by traditional porn funk grooves courtesy of Alessandro Alessandroni (albeit perhaps more likely to be via stock library cues than original compositions) is telling.

So too is that we are told about but not shown any male-on-male rape, as an indicator of where the boundaries of what D’Amato was willing to film in order to shock his audience lay.

On the plus side, the film is better acted than one might expect – again, we must remember that Shanon was an actor who appears to have turned to porn to pay the bills – while the dialogue has a pleasingly authentic air of abusiveness, teaching all manner of useful Italian words and phrases that you don’t get in your average language class.

Those interested in the film should be warned, however, that the video-sourced English subtitled AVI available from Cinemageddon is of rather poor quality, making it for the D’Amato completist rather than the casual viewer.