Giallo Godfather’s Last Jam

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Horror maestro Mario Bava’s final film Shock aka Beyond The Door II, makes the original BTD  look like Exorcist II: The Heretic. Little boy Marco belongs in the pantheon of spooky kids alongside Linda Blair, the Shining twins, the Village Of The Damned brats, Nicoletta Elmi of Deep Red and Flesh For Frankenstein and Gage from Pet Sematary. Daria Nicolodi gives one of her best performances, keeping you guessing whether her son is truly possessed or if she’s just losing her mind, as Bava strikes an unsettling balance between supernatural and psychological terror. Bravo, Bava! 

For more shocks, see Bava’s Black Sunday, Black Sabbath and Blood And Black Lace.  For more Daria, see Deep Red, Inferno, Tenebre…

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Fresh Fish

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Bad Girls Dormitory is quite possibly the cheapest women-in-prison flick ever. From the looks of it they spent the lion’s share of the budget on hairspray. The cheapness just reinforces the sleazy ambience. Well, that and the fact that it actually delivers on the lurid promise of nympho inmates that most women’s prison flicks just tease with. Oh, and I neglected to mention that it’s actually set in a juvie slammer. Plotwise it’s totally by-the-numbers but there are some quirky stylistic touches: the warden is a supermodel-hot German blonde whose guards dress kinda like Nazis (one of whom is a Crumb-amazon sized woman who wears stiletto heeled boots). There’s an uncanny Marilyn Monroe lookalike inmate. And lots of hardboiled/oddball dialogue. The reason I chose to see this flick in the first place though, was to  watch Jennifer Delora commandeer the screen, which she does with a vengeance here, as the baddest of the bad girls. “You have pretty eyes.”

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Mama We’re All Crazy Now

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Crazy Mama has pretty much the same plot as Big Bad Mama (impoverished family “sticks it to The Man”) but its setting is quickly shifted from the Great Depression to the 50’s…which means alot of cool cars and rockin’ tunes. The tone is even more comedic than Big Bad Mama…you need only to look at the cast (Cloris Leachman, Ann Sothern, Jim Backus, Donny “Ralph Malph” Most) to know that it’s gonna be funny as hell. And I don’t need to tell you that Johnathan Demme is a great director, that’s obvious…but I love the fact that he’s never ashamed to let his drive-in roots show, no matter how many Oscars he has on his mantel…

 

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Guns,Sin And Bathtub Gin

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Pamela Sue Martin sheds her Nancy Drew image (and her clothes, hotcha!) in The Lady In Red…Scripted by the brilliant John Sayles, this gritty flick cuts through the Dillinger myth and gets right to the heart of the infamous “scarlet woman”. Pamela is both sympathetic and badass. You’ll root for her as she struggles to make it in the Prohibition underworld,taking absolutely zero shit from anyone along the way. Robert Conrad is Dillinger. There’s also Louise Fletcher as a Slavic-accented madame, Nancy Parsons (whom you may remember from the Porky’s trilogy) as a corrupt prison matron and naturally, the great Dick Miller as a sleazy sweatshop owner. So speak easy and go see it awready…

 

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They’re Fiery! Fearless! Ferocious!

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One can only imagine how Neil Armstrong felt when he made that giant leap for mankind,only to discover that there weren’t any curvaceous,love-starved amazonian space babes waiting for him,despite what countless early 50’s sci fi pictures had led us to believe…Cat-Women Of The Moon was the first of the litter. One wonders why they’re called “cat women” when they have no tails,no claws,and nary a purr nor meow is heard. They bear a stronger resemblance to a Vulcan dance class. (This look may have inspired Devo’s uniforms circa Oh,No! It’s Devo! Just a theory.) There’s a troubling undercurrent to this picture, which sort of taps into that male fear during the post-WWII,pre-feminist era,that women were gaining a bit of independence and,in the words of the Cat Women: “We have no use for men.” So,naturally,in the eyes of the predominantly male astronauts (and one conflicted female) the cat women are evil,and therefore must die. It’s often startling to notice how the space travelers of the pre-Star Trek era tend to come off as jingoistic,xenophobic,reactionary assholes…but then,science fiction has always been a critique of the real world disguised as escapist entertainment…Meow!

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A Tree Grows In Puerto Rico

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Seeds Of Evil is that rarest of films that doesn’t work on any  level…too pretty and mellow to be a horror film. Too creepy to be a romance. Too chaste to be erotic. Too slow and talky to be an exploitation film. The only thing it has going for it is underground film icon Joe Dallesandro,and he’s given virtually nothing to do but turn into a tree (which can barely be seen). In a strange way,I actually kinda admire Jim Kay for his absolute commitment to creating a film that appeals to no one but himself…

Viva Las Luchadoras!

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In Doctor Of Doom, we’re introduced to Las Luchadoras: Golden Rubi and Gloria Venus (Lorena Velazquez), a dynamic duo of tag-team wrestlers who fight crime in their spare time…

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The not-so-good Doctor needs fresh brains for his experiments (when this guy says he loves you for your mind,he means it.) So,with the help of his henchman Gomar (basically a refugee from Island Of Lost Souls with a shave and haircut) he kidnaps a fetching female scientist. Dick move,eh? especially since it just so happens to be Venus’s sister. Oh,it’s on! Rubi and Venus battle the forces of evil and look stunning doing it. Even more stunning is that fact that their early 60’s hair-hopper do’s survive all that action unmussed…

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And those hotcha muchachas return in Wrestling Women Vs. The Aztec Mummy  to face off against the Black Dragon

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(Fu Manchu’s Mexican cousin?) who’s after the Aztec Mummy’s sacred bling. (Can’t a man get a good millennium’s sleep in peace?!)

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It’s zombie-clobberin’ time in this no-holds-barred rumble in the crypt! Be there or be square!

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