Saturday, 26 February 2011


Research questionnaire on "Asian Extreme" cinema:

If you've got five-ten minutes, why not help them out?

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Thames Television and the Krimi

I've been watching a lot of episodes of the British TV series The Sweeney from the mid-late 1970s. It was a Thames Television production and each episode is preceded by the Thames logo and fanfare, which was first introduced in 1968. It presents a bunch of London landmarks from different parts of the city crammed together and, as such, is a bit like the imaginary geography of the typical West German krimi film.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Bava / Dr Who

Mario Bava used the English pseudonym 'John M Old' because he was asked to choose an 'old English' name.

In the Dr Who story The Brain of Morbius (a Frankenstein story) writer Terence Dicks used the pseudonym 'Robin Bland' after his displeasure at rewrites to the story led him to declare that it should go out "under some bland pseudonym".

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Night After Night After Night

Directed by one Lewis J. Force – actually Lindsay Shonteff, who requested that his name be taken off the credits – Night After Night After Night comes across as something like a hybrid of The Cover Girl Killer and The New York Ripper with a touch of House of Whipcord thrown in for good measure.

Contemporary giallo-type touches include a black leather wearing, knife-wielding killer on the loose; an assortment of suspects and red herrings and an agreeable level of sleaziness.

The more traditional whodunit is meanwhile represented by the focus on a professional rather than an amateur investigator, in the form of Inspector Bill Rowan.

Rowan is, however, given a more personal interest than applies in the usual detective story, when his wife Jenny falls victim to the maniac as she is stabbed to death whilst taking a shower.

The prime suspect in the murders, even before this, was Pete Laver. A misogynistic womaniser, he doesn’t help his case by reciprocating Rowan’s overt hostility by saying what he’d like to do to Jenny...

The duel: Laver vs. Rowan

The other likely candidates, as far as the audience is concerned, are the moralistic Judge Lomax and his smut-obsessed clerk.

The clerk and his favourite reading material

The filmmakers play reasonably fair with us in terms of the story and the characters’ relationships with one another, providing the opportunity to figure out whodunit by the time that, just over two-thirds of the way through, the killer’s identity is revealed and a manhunt scenario then takes over.

The amount of time that passes between the arrest and the trial isn't too clear

The low budget is most evident in the courtroom and police station scenes, both of which feel somewhat cramped through their emphasis upon medium shots and close-ups to the exclusion of establishing shots. Shonteff’s direction is more agreeable when style comes to the fore, whether within the stalking and slashing stuff or the maniac’s freak outs.

A decent time-passer.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Take an Easy Ride

One definition of surrealism is “the chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella on a dissecting table”

Based on this, Take an Easy Ride could almost be classed as an inadvertently surrealist film on account of the way in which it brings together two seemingly incongruous paracinematic genres.

The first is the public information or service film – i.e. a non-profit film, usually made by official bodies, with the goal of modifying behaviour for the good of individuals and/or the collective.

The second is the exploitation film – i.e. a film made by private entrepreneurs with the intention of making money.

How the two came to be incorporated into the one film is reminiscent of a scenario out of Eskimo Nell. It seems that producer, director and editor Kenneth Rowles initially set out to make a serious film about the dangers of hitch-hiking. Then notorious porn/sexploitation mogul David Hamilton Grant, encouraged Rowles to spice things up with some extra sex and violence so the film could also be played on his sex film circuit.

The serious side of things is most evident in the voice-off and on-camera interviews with what seem like genuine members of the public for the most part.

The exploitation side is more to the fore in the three vignettes that make up the bulk of the 40 or so minute running time, which include voyeuristic low angle shots of mini-skirted women climbing into lorries; footage of Soho sex shops, strip clubs and cinema clubs and a selection of mostly inappropriate stock music cues.

The camera actually moves to get a better view here

Probably illegal now...

One of vignette actually blurs the distinction by beginning as an interview and then segueing into a flashback based reconstruction in which a young woman relates how she was picked up by a couple who took her back to their house, plied her with drink, and ultimately forced her into a porno rape styled no-means-yes threesome...

“I decided to take a bath... I was very surprised when I was joined by Margaret...”

The other two vignettes are more straightforward. One presents a cut-down version of Last House on the Left as a couple of young women hitch-hiking to a rock festival are picked up by a black-glove wearing, porn-magazine reading maniac intent on rape and murder...

Black gloves

Some slow motion here

The other presents something of a reversal of this, as another two young women go on a miniature crime-spree that culminates in their turning on one of the men who gives them a lift, almost like a prototype for a Baise moi or Butterfly Kiss...

Crudely made, unpleasant in that way that it often seems only 1970s exploitation can be and absolutely fascinating in that what-the-hell-were-they-thinking way.