Sunday 28 February 2010

Thoughts on Paul Naschy / Notes to self

In 1920s Hollywood there was a saying “Don't step on it – it may be Lon Chaney”.

I like to think that in Spanish cinema of the 1970s there was a saying “Don't step on it – it's Paul Naschy”.

The commutation from one actor and context to the other is, I think, justified by the essential similarity and the essential difference between the two men. They are similar in their preference for masochistic roles and the lengths that they would go to for their art, be it Chaney's 40lb rubber hump in The Hunchback of Notre Dame or Naschy's having rats thrown onto him in The Hunchback of the Morgue.

They are different in that whereas Chaney was the master of disguise, the man of a thousand faces, whoever Naschy played – the hunchback, the wolf man, Count Dracula, and the mummy amongst others – you could always tell that it was him.

It was partly that weight-lifter's physique, the one that he worked hard to achieve and maintain but which didn't look so impressive or open doors for him in the way that a body-builder's physique would have. It was partly that distinctive hair.

But it was also his star persona, the fact that no matter who the director was or what the genre was, there always tended to be the same scenes: Naschy stripped to the waist, engaged in vigorous physical activity; Naschy in a romantic clinch with his invariably attractive, if sometimes deadly, female co-stars; Naschy in a flashback, usually revealing some traumatic circumstances in his past; and, eventually, his tragic, inevitable demise.

It is also this that helps make Naschy the author of the films in which he appeared, far more so than such directors as Leon Klimovsky, Javier Aguirre and Carlos Aured.

The great irony in this regard, and also the thing that brings me back to my starting point, is that Naschy had apparently sought to recruit Lon Chaney's son Creighton Chaney, better known as Lon Chaney Jr, to play the role of Waldemar Daninsky in The Mark of the Wolfman. That Creighton declined the role meant Naschy himself took it and, in due course, became a horror icon in his own right.

Monday 22 February 2010

Request for resources on violence in Italian cinema

I'm currently doing my last term of a bachelor degree in film theory, at the university of Trondheim, Norway. This means that I will have to write my thesis in the following months. Having seen my fair share of gialli, as well as being a great fan of the genre, I have to chose to write about it. The thesis is still in the planning phase, and so far I think the thesis will be on the function of the genre's stylized violence (perhaps with a focus on narrative). The problem is, that I've found close to no literature on the gialli. I have ordered a copy of Koven's La Dolce Morte and I have a copy of Needham's Playing with genre : an introduction to the Italian giallo, but I would love to read some more on the subject. Do you have any suggestions to relevant literature? My Italian is quite limited, so I'm mainly after English books or articles.

I've sent Torbjorn some suggestions, but he's keen for more. You can email him at

Some thesis stuff

Introduction: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
A recurring theme in Sergio Leone's 1966 film The Good, The Bad and the Ugly/Il buono, il brutto e il cattivo is that there are two kinds of people in the world: There are those whose neck is at the end of a hangman's noose and those who do the cutting of the rope. There are those who enter through the door and those who enter through the window. There are those who, faced with poverty, become priests and those who become bandits. There are those with loaded guns and those who dig. Though such pairings might suggest the applicability of structuralist binaries or tables of oppositions to The Good, The Bad and the Ugly the film clearly resists and problematises these in other ways. This begins with its title and the fact that it introduces three rather than two terms. Inasmuch as the traditional Hollywood western features good guys and bad guys, often codified by such markers as wearing white hats and black hats or being clean shaven and unshaven, the good/bad pairing can be read as a relatively familiar and conventional one.

Even here, however, Leone's characters do not abide by these dress codes, with each of the three men's costumes and supposed allegiances changing through the course of the narrative: The Good (Clint Eastwood) and the Ugly (Eli Wallach) strategically don Confederate uniforms and the Bad (Lee van Cleef) that of the Union. The Good also later acquires a serape similar to those worn by Eastwood in his two previous collaborations with director Leone, A Fistful of Dollars/Per un pugno di dollari (1964) and For a Few Dollars More/Per qualche dollaro in più (1965), an item of dress that confuses Anglo and Mexican identities.

The good and ugly pairing might meanwhile be understood as one of the film's more distinctively Italian touches, one that refers more to their relative stylishness and lack of style. The Good, described at one point as “a golden-haired angel”, is the one who makes a favourable impression, displaying la bella figura, or a beautiful figure. The Ugly, also known by the nickname “the rat” and described as “a sawn-off runt”, is the one who does not; significantly the Italian equivalent of the English bad joke is un brutto scherzo, or an ugly joke.

Beyond this there are the inter-relationships between the three characters and the shifting positions that they occupy, both to one another and to the wider context of their treasure hunt, the American Civil War. Leone has identifies one of his intentions within the film as putting the terms good, bad and ugly into play with one another:

It was while I was reflecting on the story of For a Few Dollars More and what made it work, on the different motives of Van Cleef and Eastwood, that I found the centre of the third film … I had always thought that the “good”, the “bad” and the “violent” did not exist in any absolute, essential sense. It seemed to me interesting to demystify these adjectives in the setting of a Western. An assassin can display a sublime altruism while a good man can kill with total indifference. A person who appears to be ugly may, when we get to know him better, be more worthy than he seems – and capable of tenderness … I had an old Roman song engraved in my memory, a song which seemed to me full of common sense:

A Cardinal is dead
Who did good and bad things
The bad, he did well
And the good, he did badly

This was, basically, the moral I was interested in putting over in the film.
(Leone, quoted in Frayling, 2000: 203)

Interpreting Leone's remarks semiotically we can thus see how he is identifying the three terms as mutually interdependent and negatively defined. No one term occupies a privileged, central, anchoring position. The Good, for example, is not good in some absolute sense. Rather he is only good in relation to the Bad and to the Ugly as less or non-good.

Against the ever-more intrusive backdrop of the war the three men's activities seem almost harmless: “I've never seen so many men wasted so badly” remarks the Good after he and the Ugly have just witnessed another futile frontal assault by Union troops on their Confederate counterparts for a bridge of doubtful strategic importance, described by the Union commander as a mere “fly-speck on the map”. Indeed, Leone's treatment of the Union and the Confederacy is equally unconventional, as he emphasises the good, the bad and the ugly on both sides and, at one point, their seeming interchangeability: Wearing Confederate uniforms, the Good and the Ugly see a patrol of what appear to be Confederate soldiers approaching. It is only as the riders get nearer that they and the audience realises the soldiers are in fact Union cavalry, their blue uniforms caked with grey dust.

In sum, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly is a film which challenges identities in various ways. While I will return to this theme in relation to its form and content in greater detail later, the point I wish to emphasise here is the challenge the very existence of the film and others like it pose to many of the established structures of film studies. The most basic challenge The Good, The Bad and the Ugly poses is that it is an Italian western, a film with an obvious hybrid identity.

The issue here is that the US and European cinemas have traditionally been positioned largely in opposition to one another. But while each gains something of its meaning from what it is not in relation to the other, the hegemony of Hollywood has always meant that it is more of a centring, defining term or assumed norm against which European cinema – or, crucially, a particular understanding of European cinema – is placed in opposition. We might summarise some of the main distinctions as follows:

USA / Europe
Hollywood cinema / Art, auteur and avant-garde cinemas
Industrial mode of production / Artisanal mode of production
Popular / Elite
Commercial / Less or non commercial
Impersonal / Personal
Generic / Less or non generic
Uncritical / Critical
Illusionist / Anti-illusionist
Classical / Modern or neo-modern
Movement-image / Time-image

Within these distinctions it was difficult to accommodate a US director who made 'European' style films, such as John Cassavetes. More important for my purposes, however, is that the work of European directors making popular, genre cinema, such as Leone with his westerns, was liable to be ignored or treated as inherently inferior and inauthentic in comparison with an assumed Hollywood original. Such films were simply not supposed to exist, at least according to the canonical understandings of cinema. Something of this can be seen, for example, from a consideration of the British Monthly Film Bulletin's reviews of A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More at the time of their original UK releases in 1967:

[A Fistful of Dollars] was the film which […] made a lot of money in Italy and sparked off the craze for a few dollars, more dollars, silver dollars for Ringo, Django and the rest. It turns, predictably perhaps, to be extremely efficient, fashionably immoral, and rather lacklustre except for a fine opening sequence in which the stranger rides into the sinister town past a dead man riding in the opposite direction with a placard reading “Adios Amigo” on his back. Thereafter it is the prolific action which keeps it going, rather than any particular distinction in the direction – or for that matter the acting, though Clint Eastwood is competent as the dead-pan hero who sports a stylish poncho [sic] and chews an eternally half-smoked cheroot.
(Monthly Film Bulletin, no 401. Vol 34, June 1967. p. 96.)

In the old days badmen died decently. But in Sergio Leone's derivative imitation of the American Western the badmen are tortured beforehand and death comes in leering close-up of a red hole in the head. This is the second in this particular series, and it is possibly even more ostentatiously sadistic than its predecessor, A Fistful of Dollars. Clint Eastwood, as the laconic stranger, he of the chewed cheroot, well-worn poncho and growth of beard, is here joined by Lee Van Cleef, whose distinguishing characteristics are his ironic smile and his pipe. This, though, is just about the only innovation. As killers, these two are almost supercilious in their professionalism, summed up in the final shot of a wagon-load of victims (who include, incidentally, a pathological murderer and a hunchback). There is no denying that the whole thing is efficiently done; an occasional scene (like the one in which the two bounty hunters shoot up each other's hats) reveals a grain of originality; and Lee Van Cleef's intelligent performance provides some antidote to the poisonous effect of the blood-letting. The ear-splitting soundtrack seems, in the context, quite appropriate; but the film's total effect is to leave a sour taste in the mouth.
(Monthly Film Bulletin, no 406. Vol 34, November 1967. p. 176.)

In both cases the reviewer is here responding negatively to Leone's distinctive approach to the western. On the one hand he is seen as being too close to the Hollywood western, making films that are “derivative” and “unoriginal”. On the other hand the things which distinguish the films – immorality, sadism, violence and excess – are viewed as unwelcome departures from the Hollywood formula. The negative responses to Leone's specifically Italian westerns can be contrasted with the positive response to Duccio Tessari's more Hollywood-styled A Pistol for Ringo. Crucially it was made after A Fistful of Dollars, but released, like a number of other Italian westerns, that perhaps made Leone's film seem less original, in the UK beforehand:

Lovingly culled from a variety of sources ranging from Ford and Hawks to Raoul Walsh, this amalgam of well-tried Western situations is put together with real flair and sophistication. The action never lets up for a minute, the characters are vividly drawn, and the general tone reminds one, oddly enough, of minor league Bunuel.
(Monthly Film Bulletin, no 394. Vol 33, November 1966. p. 176.)

Today critics recognise that Leone's films drew equally on Ford, Hawks, Walsh and other Hollywood western directors, and also had a somewhat Bunuelian cruelty and grotesquerie to them. I would argue, however, that these aspects were not always recognised by 1960s reviewers precisely because Leone adopted a more critical stance towards the Hollywood model than did a director like Tessari: Whereas Tessari was making westerns in Italy that celebrated pre-existing generic traditions, Leone was making specifically Italian westerns that deconstructed and demythologised these selfsame traditions in favour of a new and different approach, one that he would later theorise as “cinema-cinema”. This, in summary, was a pure cinema, a cinema in and for itself.

Much the same can be said of the two other Italian filmmakers who form the basis of this thesis, Dario Argento and Giulio Questi. Argento is often described as doing for the Italian thriller what Leone did for the Italian western, beginning with his 1970 debut The Bird with the Crystal Plumage/L'Uccello dalle piume di cristallo (1970). Indeed, just as Leone became recognised as the leading “spaghetti western” filmmaker, Argento receiving comparable epithets like “the garlic-flavoured Hitchcock”. Significantly Argento has also been profoundly influenced by Pier-Paolo Pasolini's notion of a cinema of poetry, which we might here summarise as a cinema in which the presence of the camera is self-consciously and intersubjectively felt; again I will return to this concept in greater detail later. Questi, who made both the thriller Death Laid an Egg/La morte ha fatto un uovo and the western Django Kill/Se sei vivo, spara (both 1967) was, if anything, even more radical in the kind of hybrid filmmaking he pursued. His eclectic mixture of influences and juxtapositions of high/European and low/Hollywood cultures tended to confound reviewers:

Though the familiar presence of torture and sadism might seem to cast [Django Kill] in the routine mould, its first twenty-five minutes or so have an extra-ordinary, dour atmosphere which suggests that Giulio Questi (who was last seen fashioning the curious erotica of A Curious Way to Love) is at least attempting something different. […] A pity that the story is overpopulated and the action sequences overwrought; but there's no denying that Questi, with better material, could make something really interesting.”
(Monthly Film Bulletin. Vol 37, No 433. February 1970, p. 35)

The implication, of course, is that “better material” would mean a move away from genre towards art cinema. Ironically this was what Questi and his co-writer and editor Franco 'Kim' Arcalli had in fact done. Death Laid an Egg/A Curious Way to Love was actually made after Django Kill as a more personal project, at a time before Argento popularised the Italian thriller in the early 1970s; Questi and Arcalli had been unable to convince backers of Death Laid and Egg's value without first agreeing to make a more commercial western.

In all of this the key point, of course, is that there are not just two cinemas, the good and the bad, or Hollywood and Europe, or Europe and Hollywood. Rather there is a third, 'ugly', almost 'abject', cinema, namely the European popular cinema, which does not fit into such a neat framework. Instead, it is a hybrid cinema, now drawing from hegemonic European traditions and now from Hollywood ones.

Thursday 18 February 2010

Some locandine

I bought these ones, along with Short Night of the Glass Dolls:

But I didn't buy these:

Genre bending

Western all'italiana meets giallo, via a masked avenger:

From Starblack

Subtitle positions

So, I am watching Machine Gun Killers / Gatling Gun, a pretty decent spaghetti western, in the English version with some scenes in Italian with subtitles. What is unusual is the way the subtitles appear: Rather than always being centred, they are sometimes to the right or left, to reflect who is speaking. Seems like an interesting variation on the convention I am familiar with...

Tuesday 16 February 2010

5 Dead on the Crimson Canvas

Death-obsessed artist Richard Streeb is attacked in front of his wife Gloria, and seemingly murdered. His body disappears, meaning that the police initially have their hands tied until another murder, this time with an actual body left at the scene, is committed. Meanwhile Richard’s brother Bill arrives from abroad and begins his own investigations…

5 Dead on the Crimson Canvas is a film that will likely divide viewers. On the one hand it shows considerable wit and affection for its giallo models – where else can you find a mad artist doing a sketch of the cover art for the Beast in Heat, for instance, or a man being killed by the killer’s dunking his head into a piranha filled fish-tank? On the other hand it suffers from a very low budget, with very grainy cinematography, not terribly well synchronised post-synchronised dialogue, and a fair number of flat scenes where people just stand or sit around in ways that cumulatively make you think of an updated Andy Milligan-type home movie (an impression enhanced by the New York based locations).

Overall, however, I’d be inclined to give writer, director and cinematographer Joseph Parda the benefit of the doubt, that he knew when he wanted to be serious, as with the set pieces and the use of Argento or Bava inspired unnatural lighting schemes, and when not to, as with a quirky beatnik bar scene that pays homage to Corman’s A Bucket of Blood while also giving the film its title. He also throws in a gratuitous shower murder scene to kick things off, which is never a bad way to start.

Sunday 14 February 2010

El ojo del huracán / The Eye of the Hurricane / La volpe dalla coda di velluto / Lusty Lovers / Suspicion

Despite its Argento-like Italian title, which translates as The Fox with the Grey Velvet Tail, this 1971 Italian-Spanish co-production is another one of those gialli that is in fact more closely related to the kind of filone entries Umberto Lenzi in particular was putting out a couple of years earlier.

The set-up is straightforward: Despite his pleas that they might be reconciled, Ruth (Analia Gade) is going to divorce Michel (Tony Kendall) and marry the charming Paul (Jean Sorel), whom she met some two months earlier.

Ruth: “Darling, I'm scared”
Paul: “Oh, what of?”
Ruth: “This happiness”

Crucially, Ruth is the one with the money.

Ruth almost crashes her car, with its brake fluid then found to have been drained, then almost drowns when diving as her oxygen tank runs out, with its gauge proving to be faulty.

That Paul had both been driving the car and using the diving gear moments earlier exonerates him from Ruth’s suspicions, which falls upon Michel.

But is all as it seems?

I won't spell it out, N-O, but I'm sure you, dear (intended / implied) reader, can guess...

And what do Paul’s ex-army friend Roland (Maurizio Bonuglia) and the mysterious woman (Rosanna Yanni), who keeps on showing up, have to do with things?

Due to the amount of time spent establishing the dynamics of the relationships between Ruth, Michel and Paul this is a somewhat slow moving giallo initially.

For fully half of the running time we are wondering if there is genuinely a conspiracy and what its nature is.

Then, suddenly, dramatically, the conspiracy is revealed – “Okay, she ought to be asleep by now. Let's go – it's getting late” and everything kicks into high gear.

Things thus become much more tense and interesting, with unpredictable twists and turns along the way to a pleasingly ironic denouement.

José María Forqué's direction is variable, with a non-signifying overuse of the zoom to be counterweighed against some nice compositions – often ones which obscure or problematise the nudity that otherwise presents one of the film's major attractions – symbolic use of the colour yellow and the general beauty of the sun-kissed locales, all nicely captured by cinematographers Alejandro Ulloa and Giovanni Bergamini.

The beauty is enhanced by Piero Umiliani's apt score – thought I must here confess to being somewhat biased when it comes to his work – and the art deco inspired credits, which later also prove to have a diegetic significance in relation to Ruth's art and world, one in which a swan is also significant.

Sorel and Yanni do what is required, being charming and beautiful/bitchy as required, with the latter also the victim of a crass English dub.

Not the best, but not the worst of its (sub-)type.

Thursday 11 February 2010

An all too typical example

"The films discussed here were not, of course, the French productions actually watched by most French people during the period under discussion. That distinction went to Just Jaeckin's Emmanuelle (1974), most notorious of the soft-porn features that followed the disappearance of censorship, and Gerard Oury's Les Aventures du Rabbi Jacob (1973). Oury had enjoyed even greater success in 1966 with La Grande Vadrouille, like Les Aventures du Rabbi Jacob starring two of France's best loved screen comedians of the time, Bourvil and Louis de Funes."

Or, the films that audiences see and the films that academics discuss are too often different; that this passage appears in "A Student's Guide" its subject only serves to show how the system renews itself: We will teach you about these films and about this film history, the implication being that they are all you really need to know about. What about popular (or vernacular) cinema as a better barometer of a country's 'real' film culture?

Paranomal Activity and panic in Italian cinemas...

This from a country whose film industry once brought us the likes of Salo and Cannibal Holocaust?

Sunday 7 February 2010

Poliziotto sprint / Highway Racer

If The Beyond is one of the most single minded of Italian horror films, inasmuch as its anti-narrative is little more than an excuse for stringing together its set pieces and contributing further to its mood, Highway Racer / Poliziotto sprint might be taken as something of its analogue within the poliziotto filone.

For just about everything in it is geared towards showcasing car stunts and chases, to the extent that the contributions of director Stelvio Massi and leading man Maurizio Merli almost feel peripheral at times compared to Remy Julienne and his team: Who staged this scene? Who was behind the wheel of Merli's car, when everything is in long shot and the windows are tinted?

Merli plays Marco Palma, a Rome cop determined to prove he's the best driver out there. This is an opinion not shared by his boss Tagliaferri, due to Palma's tendency to write off one car after another and show little regard for the safety of others, and because in his day Tagliaferri was himself a hot-shot driver.

When Tagliaferri's old nemesis il Nazzardo shows up in Rome to lead a series of audacious robberies, Palma finally gets his chance as he is charged with infiltrating the gang. This necessitates his being shown all of Tagliaferri's old tricks – and showing his teacher some of his own, as far as gunplay is concerned – and given that symbol of Italian machismo, the Ferrari. (Since Lambourghini started off making farm machinery such as tractors, they don't count.)

There's a nationalistic aspect to the cars used by the two sides more generally, with the Italian cops driving the usual boxy Alfa-Romeos – albeit with a blue and white livery rather than the more usually seen green and white squadra volante design – and the French-led robbers preferring the elegant lines of the Citroen DS series.

Where the film fails is away from its action sequence. As written, Merli's character is pretty unsympathetic, with the death of his partner, the result of his reckless driving in their first encounter with il Nazzardo, warranting no soul searching, desire for revenge or even comment. He also plays the role without his trademark moustache. While this helps in making Marco seem more youthful it also creates something of an alienation effect, causing you to do a double take that this is in fact Merli.

While Marco has a girlfriend, played by Lilli Carati, she's included more for the possibility of threatening to reveal his real identity when he is undercover than anything else and, as such, also jars a bit given the single-mindedness he shows in other regards. Still, she does work for a car dealers...

Stelvio Cipriani provides the score, a collection of characteristically ostenato-driven funky / percussive tension-builders.

Varied Celluloid

A nice site, that 'does what it says on the tin' in covering a range of films:


Photographer Fabrizio (Umberto Orsini), his wife Anna (Beba Loncar), her sister Valeria (Haydee Politoff) and model Margherita (Shoshana Cohen) sail to an island to do some location shots. En route they hear over the radio that about a prison escapee who has killed a policeman and is still at large. Later Fabrizio discovers the boat has engine trouble. Hailing a passing vessel, he arranges to get a lift ashore and to return with the required fix. The three women stay on the island, discovering a corpse, which vanishes, and Marco (Corrado Pani), who may or may not be the escaped killer.

Great title, but what does it mean?!

The titular interrabang was a non-standard punctuation mark, a combination of an exclamation mark and a question mark, developed in the 1960s. Though it never became standard use, there have been those occasions when in reviewing gialli especially it could come in handy, notably when a plot point is both surprising and of questionable logic. Indeed, in some reviews I've sometimes flagged such moments up with a combination of the two normal symbols, !? Or ?!

Interrabang itself has a number of these '!?' moments, beginning with the three women's decision to stay on the island where a killer is quite possibly on the loose. These are, however, clearly intentional on the part of the filmmakers, given its title and the various references to the interrabang – worn by Valeria – within the diegesis. It is, for example, “the new symbol of doubt, the uncertainty in all of us. Uncertainty in these times, the uncertainty of the world”

Valeria and her interrabang pendant

The issue, perhaps much like the symbol itself, is that this may come across not as clever but as a bit too clever for its own good. Is it good for a giallo to mention that “interrabang” rhymes with “boomerang” ?!

The word defining the meaning of the image

This is also the case when it comes to director Giuliano Biagetti's mise-en-scene. Editing is often performed within the camera by zooming in or out, with unmotivated zooms and camera movements also prominent.

Like the interrabang this “poetic” approach, of drawing attention to the camera's presence and treating it as a consciousness in its own right, is something of a product of the time, seen in both 'official' European modernist cinema (e.g. Antonioni, an obvious reference point for Interrabang) and its unofficial 'Eurotrash' counterpart (e.g. Bava, Franco).

Conventional chains of images are also sometimes disrupted through the repetition or omission of a shot. For example, when the policeman's effects and body is seen for the first time by the viewer and Valeria, there is no obvious reaction shot from her and what appear to be two versions of the same shot, one with the policeman's rifle and another with the rifle and his body. Valeria later clarifies that she saw the body after Margherita also, and more definitively, finds it, but even so we have to assume that Valeria's words and the images are true to one another.

Interrabang's narrative structure also seems designed to challenge: The first 20 minutes or so are quite talky and light on action and it is not until the hour mark, or two-thirds of the way through, or the final act that things really kick into action. Even then, however, the conclusion(s) are decidedly ambiguous and ambivalent, if more concrete than those of Blow-Up or L'Avventura.

If certain aspects of the film challenge, others provide for more conventional pleasures. The locations and performers are attractive to look at – even if not always so in their words and deeds – as is Berto Pisano's easy going, seductive score. Even here, however, it is also notable that while the three female leads spend most of their time in bikinis and swimsuits they rarely actually remove them. Moreover like many gialli the relationship between the implied male spectator and the female he is looking at is problematised somewhat through the foregrounding of Fabrizio as this implied spectator's controlling, voyeuristic surrogate.

The male gaze no. 456

Fabrizio telling his women how to act

Besides Antonioni Interrabang also invites comparisons with Ottavio Alessi's contemporaneous The Seducers and Deodato's later Waves of Lust, as other films working variations on the same kind of elements: sexual and murderous intrigues amongst a small group of bourgeois characters, boats, islands, disappearing bodies and so on. More generally, the film has the same kind of proto-erotic thriller / sexy psychological thriller aspect as the various gialli directed by Lenzi during the post-Bava, pre-Argento interregnum, although these tend to be less self-conscious and more straightforward.

Due to the casting of Haydee Politoff amongst the three women and the bulk of the film focusing upon the dynamics between them and an male outsider figure, Queens of Evil might also be mentioned as another intertext, albeit a more fantastical one.

I watched Interrabang through a review copy kindly supplied by Giallo Goblin. As can be seen from the screenshots, the film is presented in widescreen. It should be noted that the Italian dub, the image and the English subs go out of synchronisation with one another towards the end of the film. This appears a limitation of the source materials for the film rather than a fault of the copy under review.

Wednesday 3 February 2010

The science of the gunfight

Further research: Applying this to the three-way duel or truel in The Good, The Bad and the Ugly and bringing in differences in knowledge over which guns are actually loaded...

Also speed and accuracy?

Tuesday 2 February 2010

Come rubammo la bomba atomica

There's a certain irony about this Lucio Fulci entry: Working on a directorially anonymous Franco and Ciccio vehicle, in 1966, he had the opportunity to undertake extensive location filming in Egypt. Then, in 1982, having made his name and reputation, he was not able to do anywhere as much shooting in Egypt as he would have liked on Manhattan Baby, a more personal film that serves as both a continuation of many of the themes of its horror predecessors and a conscious repudiation of their more extreme gore and violence.

As for How we Stole the Atomic Bomb itself goes, there's not much to be said: It's a Franco and Ciccio film that as usual spoofs a popular genre or cycle of the time, in this case the superspy film, and is better and no worse than the dozens of others they churned over the course of the 1960s and early 1970s.

The story begins somewhere in the Mediterranean, as a fishing boat crewed by Franco and captained by his grandfather – i.e. Franco in old age make-up – witnesses a US plane crash into the sea nearby. It turns out that the plane was carrying an atomic bomb.

Soon various agents are after Franco, seeking the co-ordinates of the plane. Besides Ciccio, agent number 87 in Spectralis, there are James Bomb (read Bond), Modesty Bluff (Blaise) and Derek Flit (Flint). Meanwhile Franco is being wooed by Cinzia, not realising that she is the daughter of the sinister Dr Yes (No) who has his own plans for the bomb, curiously involving raising the dead...

It's all harmless fun, with the odd moment of inspiration amidst the usual mixture of slapstick, mugging, and linguistic confusion, with our heroes eventually teaming up and steal the bomb for themselves in a typical piece of cynicism or enlightened self-interest that anyone else is better suited to possess it... until the delicious final image.

Monday 1 February 2010

More on Hess and Morgen: Now with MacColl and in Glasgow as well

"Hello comrades

A quick reminder to all...

On Sunday the 14th of March, at the Jekyll & Hyde pub (whom you know and love), there will be a special, one off, never seen before event. Legendary horror actors David Hess ("Last House on the Left" etc) and Giovanni Lombardo Radice ("City of the Living Dead" etc) will be in the pub, hanging out with all you lovely people, and doing a spot of autograph signing (which we must stress there will be a small fee for, as this is how these cats get their bread and butter) and Q&Aing. It's set to be an awesome event, and you lucky B-Teamers are getting discounted tickets at just £5! Or £6 for your horrible friends who aren't part of the B-Team, and the rest of the public.

I know you are all gagging for a bit of that David/Giovanni action, and it has just got better. Catriona McCall, star of such classics as "The Beyond", is now also going to be in attendance, thanks to the hard work of friend of the B-Team, Mr. Calum Waddell. Our collective hats are off to himself, Stewart at the Cult Fiction Movies (which will have a stall at the event, selling kick ass dvds) and the lovely Adam from the Jekyll & Hyde, who have made this all possible.

If all that isn't enough to get you there, David will be playing a range of songs he wrote for "Last House on the Left", amongst others, in your very own David Hess gig.

Tickets are on sale as we speak from, however, if you want to get your B-Team discount, you MUST buy them from either Cult Fiction Movies or the Jekyll & Hyde itself. Or just come to the B-Team on Monday for a wonderful double bill of Hollywood Africa and I'll sell them to you there.

ALSO, if you happen to live in Glasgow, there is another awesome event happening there in relation to this one! Details as follows:

Just wanted to say that anyone in Glasgow might want to be in the vicinity of the GFT (Glasgow Film Theatre) for a cool litte Friday/ Saturday of double bills in March.

On Friday March 12 Metrodome/ Cult Fiction Movies/ Jekyll and Hyde bar Edinburgh will present Ti West's HOUSE OF THE DEVIL with LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, which we're dubbing a "don't go in the house double"! The good news is that Last House main man David Hess will be in attendance for a Q and A with the audience and an autograph signing afterwards.

All this for just £10/ 8 conc (both movies).

With thanks to Cult Fiction Movies (

Just to confirm in advance, David will be charging a small fee for signatures, but he'll be hanging around after the movie to socialise with the fans irregardless of if you want his scribble or not.

Then on Saturday March 13th Arrow Video returns to the GFT with a dazzling double of THE BEYOND and CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD.

Legendary actress Catriona MacColl will be in attendance for BOTH films - her first time in the UK for over 15 years and her first ever Scottish appearance - whilst Giovanni Lombardo Radice will be in attendance for the latter movie - speaking about his many genre titles with the audience.

This is the FIRST time Hess and Radice have ever been in Scotland too - and it is also probably the only time you'll have the chance to get any of that House on the Edge of the Park signed by both stars.

Calum and Naomi ( will be filming Saturday's Q and A at the GFT (as they did with Day of the Dead - which will be out on Blu Ray March 29th complete with Robbie, Adam and Anthony from the Edinbugrh B-Team enthusing about Joe Pilato on the "Travelogue of the Dead" extra feature) with the results slated to be on a very special upcoming Arrow DVD... more on that soon!

Tickets are £10/ 8 conc for the Friday and £10/8 conc for the Saturday. Tickets on sale very soon at the GFT web site:

I know you are all excited, and damn right you should be. It is with the support of good people like you that such events can happen and keep happening in Edinburgh. You've brought across Lloyd Kaufman, Ken Foree and Joe Pilato already, and now these three. The world is our oyster friends. An oyster full of B-movie acting pearls.

Or something.



I think I'll have to get my House on the Edge of the Park locandina signed...

Wish you were there #2?

Italian popular cinema conference: