Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Basket Case (1982)

I heart Belial

Oh man, I love this movie. On a meagre budget of $35,000, Frank Henenlotter managed to turn out a horror gem (however flawed) that delivers on the strength of it's ideas alone.

Dwayne Bradley (Kevin Van Hentenryck) arrives in New York City with a wad of cash, a mysterious wicker basket and a huge head of hair. He takes up residence in the Hotel Broslin, a seedy flophouse filled with drunks, hookers and washouts. Soon it becomes apparent that he is here on a mission, and it has something to do with whatever is in the basket. No, it's not full of hair-care products, but a mysterious creature with an insatiable appetite for hamburgers and hotdogs.

It turns out it's his brother, Belial, a deformed monstrosity who is basically a head with arms and a bad attitude. When Dwayne gets drunk with a hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold, he spills the story of their past. Belial was once Dwayne's siamese twin. Dwayne's mother died in childbirth and his father grew to hate them, especially Belial. Against Dwayne's will, a trio of doctors (well, two doctors and a vet) surgically removed Belial and tossed him in the trash. Belial survived the procedure and was retrieved by Dwayne, who raised him in secret. Now they're on a quest of revenge to murder the doctors who tried to separate them!

However, a monkey wrench has been thrown into their plans, in the form of Dr Needleman's receptionist, Sharon (Terri Susan Smith, and even in a huge wig she fails to match the fluffiness of Dwayne's 'do) who takes an immediate liking to Dwayne. Soon they're engaged in a stilted and poorly-acted love affair, sending Belial into a fit of jealousy. Will Belial turn against his brother and enact bloody revenge on Sharon for trying to take his brother away? Well, let's just say that Belial's fully equipped downstairs, and demonstrates as such in a sequence that caused most of Henenlotter's crew to walk off set. The film ends of a decidedly final note, but two redundant and inferior sequels followed anyway.

Henenlotter presents a suitably sleazy slice of early 80s New York City. Oh for the pre-Giuliani days, when New York was invariably depicted as a cesspool of crime and corruption! Dwayne gets accosted by drug dealers in Times Square and even takes in some Kung Fu films at a grindhouse cinema. It fits the nature of the film perfectly. Belial is a cheap-looking hunk of rubber that is animated via puppetry and occassionally some herky-jerky stop motion. The effects are crude and hilarious, but Belial has an undeniable creepiness about him, and even a measure of pathos. Truly, Belial is an amazing creation.

It ain't all roses, however. The dialogue is stilted and the acting... dear Lord, the acting. Van Hentenryck brings a kind of charming (if wooden) naivete, but the rest of cast runs the gamut from bad to unwatchable. The low budget seeps into every aspect of the production, and that alone will be enough to turn off most people. Look beneath it's shabby exterior, however, and you'll find a immensely fun and surprisingly engaging piece of entertainment. Basket Case is an twisted and outrageous horror film, a perfect blend of cheesy horror and comedy, and it totally deserves it's devoted cult following.

Monday, 25 February 2008

Rats: Night of Terror (1983)

Rats! AAAAHH!!

For me, watching Bruno Mattei films is like getting really, really drunk. Sure, it's fun for while, but eventually you're curled over the porcelain throne at 3am, praying for death as you heave up stomach lining and bile for the fifth time. The next day you swear you'll never touch another Mattei film for the rest of your life. A week or so later, however, you're eyeing that copy of Rats: Night of Terror and thinking "Hey, why not? What's the worst that could happen?"

Rats: Night of Terror is a hybrid of two genres (post-apocalypse and killer animals) that were already well-worn by 1983 (mainly by the Italians), and further proof that there is not a bandwagon out there that Mattei will not jump onto. In this case he straddles two bandwagons simultaneously!

Since it's a post-apocalyptic film, the film starts with a smudgy opening crawl. It explains that the year is 225 A.B. (After the Bomb), and a bunch of survivors, sick of living underground, have taken to the surface to lead a nomadic, leather-clad existence. The leader of the pack is Kurt (Ottaviano Dell'Acqua, from Zombi 3, Zombi 4 and a slew of other Italian genre films), and with his tight leather pants, sunglasses, and natty red scarf, he looks like he'd be more at home in a Gay Pride parade than a procession of bad-ass bikers. Despite his fancy-boy appearance, he commands respect from his motley crew, and when they arrive in an abandoned city he gives them the all-clear to stop for a while.

Inside an abandoned building they discover a room stacked high with crates of food. In celebration they dump some flour on Chocolate (the token black character) and she dances around singing "I'm white!" to the delight of all present. Chocolate's comedy stylings are interrupted by Myrna's discovery of a mutilated body covered in rats. They also find a greenhouse filled with plantlife, a water purifier, and a control room containing an enormous early 80s computer with an interface that looks suspiciously like a Commodore 64. Video, so named for his video game prowess, gives the computer a "kick in the balls" and the computer spits out a bunch of random code and the phrase "Total Eliminate Group". As Kurt states "Computers and corpses are a bad mix." Damn straight!

Later Lucifer and Lilith (both wearing copious amounts of 80s eyeshadow) are banging away in a sleeping bag while everyone is trying to sleep (in the same room!) They understandably tell the couple to leave, and there is a brief moment of levity as the zipper becomes stuck (ooh, foreshadowing). They adjourn their lovemaking to a filthy alleyway, and after Lucifer goes to find a post-coital drink, a single rat chews it's way into the sleeping bag. It kills Lilith somehow, thanks to the broken zipper. Lucifer meanwhile, drunkenly drops his bottle into an open sewer, and is killed by kamikaze rats during his attempt at retrieval.

Upon discovering Lilith's body, they open the sleeping bag down to her navel, giving us another gratitious breast shot. Due to the lack of visible injury they conclude that Lucifer strangled her to death. That is, until a rat crawls out of her mouth!

Noah, meanwhile, is hanging out in the greenhouse. When rats start dropping into the water purifier, swimming around and pooping, he has a mental breakdown that must be seen to be believed. He shows up later, covered in gnawing rats, so they turn their flame thrower on him. He stumbles about in flames (with rats perched on his head) before leaping out of a window and into the street, briefly doing the worm, and then expiring. Then they blast him with a shotgun for good measure. With friends like that, who needs the rats?

Soon even escape isn't an option, the rats having chewed up their bike tires, so they set about barricading themselves in and boarding up the windows and doors. This wouldn't be a very effective measure against rats at the best of times, made worse by the fact they forget to board up a large and prominently featured window. I probably don't need to tell you what happens when Diana backs right up against the window. The weather forecast is cloudy with 100% chance of rats!

Deus, Video, Kurt and Taurus head down to the greenhouse to find some fresh water, but find it overcome with rats. Unfortunately, Taurus falls down the stairs and is showered with rodents. When they return, Duke, who has been challenging Kurt's authority at every opportunity, gets Myrna on his side and locks them out. In one of the most laughable effects in the film, an army of approaching rats is represented by a bunch of fake rats on a conveyor belt. When Chocolate finally overpowers Duke and lets them in, Kurt gives him a righteous kick in the balls.

A supremely ineffective suspense sequence follows, where they have to cross a room full of indifferent rats a-la The Birds. Afterwards they discover Taurus, standing with his back to them. As he turns around, it becomes apparent that his face has been gnawed off by rats, and he collapses, dead. Was he standing there that whole time? His torso subsequently explodes wide open, showering the survivors in rodents. I can honestly say I did not expect that to happen.

Duke, meanwhile, has taken Myrna hostage and attempts to escape in their APC, but is surprised to find it filled with rats. Ever the strategist, he tosses a grenade at his own feet in an attempt to take out the rats, blowing himself, Myrna and the APC to pieces.

Diana goes nuts from her earlier rat attack and slashes her wrists, and the four remaining survivors find a magic exposition device in the control room. A recording states that the laboratory used to be run by some group called Delta-2 and they were supposed to meet up with a bunch of underground scientists called Omega-1. Mutant rats have taken over the surface and want to kill all humans etc. The monologue itself isn't particularly interesting, but the voice gradually gets more strained and ridiculous as the recording continues.

Their only means of escape destroyed, the survivors barricade themselves in a room. Eventually the rats manage to batter down the door, killing Kurt and Deus while Chocolate and Video cower in fear. Things are looking grim, but our two remaining heroes are saved when a bunch of guys in hazmat suits arrive, spraying the rats with poison gas. The film ends with one of the silliest twist endings in cinema history.

There have been a lot of killer-rat films, and I've probably seen more than I'd care to admit, but rats have never looked less threatening than in this film. When the rats attack, some poor Italian production assistant pours a bucket of rats over the head of the victim, who screams and flails instead of taking a step to the left. In many shots the "rats" are actually spray-painted guinea pigs. Don't bother looking for the "No Animals Were Harmed" disclaimer; rats are liberally kicked, thrown and set on fire, but at least they died for a good cause.

This is probably the most entertaining Mattei film I've seen, next to Hell of the Living Dead. It's got a cheesy synthesiser score, a grimy post-apocalyptic setting, and bikers with names like "Lucifer". If that weren't enough, there's a bit where a guy turns a flamethrower onto a bunch of rats and shouts "I'm gonna warm their whiskers!" Now that's entertainment!

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Demons III: The Ogre (1988)

Hope you like scenes of people wandering around in dimly lit cellars

It's never a good sign when a film has the title X [numeral]: The Y, where creature Y has no relation to creature X. It's a good indication that an unrelated film has been shoehorned into the franchise. Demons III: The Ogre bears absolutely no relation to Demons or Demons 2, save being written and directed by Lamberto Bava, and that's nothing to brag about. It was originally an Italian TV movie, which is worse because it means it's even cheaper than usual with no blood and gore.

The film begins in Portland, Oregon with a young girl in the midst of a terrible nightmare. She finds herself in a spooky house and like any sensible person, heads down to the darkened cellar, teddy bear in tow. She finds a slimy, pulsing cocoon hanging from the ceiling, but wakes up before the creature inside fully emerges.

Many years later, Charel (Virginia Bryant), a bestselling horror author (not that you'd realise from her writing), and her family are taking a working-vacation to an ancient Italian villa in their comfortable and luxurious Jeep Cherokee Chief. The family consists of Charel (pronounced "Cheryl", by the way), her husband Tom (Paolo Malco, from House by the Cemetery) and son Bobby (Patrizio Vinci, with a shocking dub, though not as bad as the same-named son from House by the Cemetery). On their journey, they stop in at a village where the locals grow hostile upon mention of the villa, and the camera holds on a random bunch of orchids for a really long time (that's what pros like Bava call "foreshadowing").

Although the film doesn't bother explaining it, Charel is the little girl from the beginning of the film, and upon arrival she realises that it's the same villa from her childhood nightmares. She even finds her childhood teddy bear in the cellar! During their stay, she keeps coming across evidence of an ogre infestation, like hand-prints in the flour. When her husband arrives they're always gone and if you think he does anything other than belittle her and call her crazy, then you haven't seen too many haunted house films.

When he's not too busy slapping her or denigrating her life's work, he goes hiking with her son so we can be treated to repetitive scenes of Charel wandering around the house alone, for minutes on end. She does find a hidden room full of random junk, but it's never referred to again.

The spooky ambience inspires her, and soon she's feverishly writing out her latest masterpiece, A Drawer Full of Teeth - Fantastic Novel by Charel Bates Mancuso (way to toot your own horn). She also befriends a local, Anna (Sabrina Ferilli), who may or may not be a witch, and her sister Maria (Stefania Montorsi) comes to babysit so Charel and Tom can play grab-ass in the tub. It is also revealed that the ogre is attracted to orchids, but I don't know what that has to do with anything. Eventually, Maria falls victim to the ogre during a game of hide-and-seek. Enraged by her ugly 80s knitwear, he tears the jumper from her body and kills her.

Soon Charel realises that everything she is writing in her story is coming true, and with a bit of investigation she discovers Maria's bloated corpse, among others, in a (surprisingly deep) fetid pool of water in the cellar. Tom is still not convinced, and upon reading a chapter where Anna is molested by the ogre (a scene that is played out as he reads), dismisses her writing as the "sexual fantasies of a bored, frustrated housewife"; nothing turns a woman on more than ogre rape!

Eventually their son goes missing, and Tom and Charel find him in the cellar, along with the ogre. Tom manages to stun it by smashing it with a huge barrel of wine (nooooo! What a waste!) while Cheryl heads out to their Jeep Cherokee Chief, where their son is already reclining in the plush interior. She runs over the ogre several times but, thanks to it's hardy construction and excellent safety features, the vehicle is undamaged. Upon death, the corpse fades away (try explaining that to the insurance company).

The next morning they are packing up their Jeep Cherokee Chief to leave (it's roomy interior providing ample storage for their luggage) and a throwaway line reveals that Maria came home that morning and Anna is fine, so I guess it was all in her mind after all? During the credits, they are sure to thank Renault Italia for the generous loan of the Jeep Cherokee Chief.

The ogre is a deformed monster in a ruff and tunic that make him look like a ren faire reject. The outfit and the other artifacts Charel finds might make you think that the origin of the ogre is explained during the 90 minute runtime. It isn't. Neither is it's connection to orchids, the old man who paints pictures of the ogre cocoon, or Anna's connection to witchcraft. Perhaps all that had to be jettisoned to fit in all the crucial scenes of Charel wandering around the cellar?

Some scenes, such as where Charel discovers Maria's body underwater, work very well. The villa is also a pretty spooky place, though if you've seen one haunted house, you've scene them all. Since this was a TV movie, there's no gore and the budget is limited, but that's no excuse for the movie being so utterly dull. Fans of the gory, action-packed Demons and Demons 2 are advised to stay away.

The film also suffers for having no likable characters. Charel is a hysterical ninny; at one point she's frightened to death of a cow. Tom is an insensitive tool who manhandles her more than the ogre. I would probably skip this film except for the stunning shots of the fabulous Jeep Cherokee Chief, available at a Renault Italia near you!

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

The Other Hell (1980)

Mother Vincenza (Franca Stoppi) prepares to take a big bite of scenery.

Nunsploitation is a subgenre of film that sprang up in the 70s. Usually set in a Middle Age convent (though this one is set in the present day), they often involve demonic possession and lesbian hi-jinx. They were very popular in predominately Catholic countries, like Spain and Italy. They could be seen as a subversive criticism of the social and sexual suppression in organised religion. Or as an excuse to have a bunch of sexy nuns get freaky in a convent. Both are fine with me!

Actually, after enduring twelve years of Catholic schooling, the idea of a sexy nun is about as bizarre and otherworldly as a Bruno Mattei film that doesn't suck. Wait, did I say Bruno Mattei? Yes, glaring like a biohazard warning from the DVD cover of The Other Hell is "The Bruno Mattei Collection". With Claudio Fragasso writing to boot! It's a bit of a Johnny-come-lately to the subgenre (nunsploitation had pretty much crapped out by the time the film was released) but Mattei isn't one to let a lack of public interest (or time or resources or talent, for that matter) stand in the way of his compulsive need to stick his dick in every genre under the sun.

The film begins with a lost nun stumbling around an ossuary in the dark. She happens upon the embalming chamber, where Sister Assunta is performing some rather unorthodox burial procedures with Victorian-era equipment (test tubes, beakers etc). She cuts out the corpse's lady-bits and starts waving them about, ranting on about how the genitals are the gateway to damnation (yep, sounds like the Catholic church to me). Suddenly a paper mache devil head with light-bulb eyes appears and causes Sister Assunta to go even more nuts and frenziedly stab the other nun to death. Then, presumably, she kills herself.

Mother Vincenza (Franca Stoppi) tries to hush things up and dismiss their deaths as an accident (she fell backwards onto her knife twenty or thirty times), but the church sends in Father Inardo (Andrea Aureli) to investigate. As soon as he arrives, demonic forces get all up in his grill, causing his bible to burst into flames and a rubber bat to mercilessly hump his crucifix. After a possessed nun bleeds to death from stigmata, he is convinced that Satan is afoot.

The higher ups are unconvinced by his supernatural explanation, and decide to send in a younger, more rational priest, Father Valerio (Carlo de Mejo). He is determined to find a logical explanation for the deaths, but setbacks dog him at every turn. When he arrives he is forced to run for as life when a dog lethargically trots after him. Mother Vincenza is less than helpful and the other nuns are afraid to speak out against her. He does a lot of wandering around in darkened passages and finds little except a bunch of creepy dolls hanging from the ceiling. While Father Valerio is conducting his investigation, Father Inardo sneaks back into the convent, but he is burnt alive by Satan and his roasted head stuck in the tabernacle.

Father Valerio's lack of progress drives him to drink (I was feeling the same way about this movie) and he decides it's time to get tough. If you're hoping (like I was) that he was going to start punching out some nuns, you'll be disappointed to know that he just searches their rooms. In the room of a catatonic nun, he finds a matted clump of hair under the floor. What this is supposed to signify, I have no idea, but it causes the nun to wake up from her coma and attempt to choke him with some rosary beads.

It is about this time that his tape recorder (which shows video somehow) starts randomly dispensing some handy exposition. It seems that some time ago, Mother Vincenza had a baby girl and the Mother Superior, citing the child as the Devil's spawn, attempted to boil the baby alive. Mother Vincenza plucked it from the cooking pot, but not before it's face was horribly burned. Subsequently, the baby (which has transformed into a very unconvincing doll) uses telekinetic powers to force the Mother Superior to strangle herself to death. Mother Vincenza now keeps her daughter locked up in the attic.

There is also a nun with blank white face and a cat skulking around, and I'm not sure if this is supposed to be the same person. Like the Almighty, Mattei works in mysterious ways. The creepy gardener (Franco Garofalo, who would team up with Mattei/Fragasso again in Hell of the Living Dead) makes the mistake of feeding her cat to his dogs, and soon he is dished up for dessert.

All of this leads up to a couple of boring confrontations between Father Valerio, Mother Vincenza and her daughter, and the conclusion leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Was the daughter the spawn of Satan or just the victim of a crazy mother and telekinetic powers? What was with all those dolls? Why am I even bothering to ask these questions of a Claudio Fragasso script?

Now, if I've learned anything from nunsploitation films, it's that as soon as a bunch of young women are sealed up in a convent, they start dropping habits faster than an AFL player gearing up for a urine test. Unfortunately, this film suffers from a severe boob drought. Mattei must have realised this deficiency, because he would make up for it in the following year with the True Story of the Nuns of Monza, a film which has no shortage of hot nun-on-nun action. Ever the frugal filmmaker, Mattei shot several of the scenes for Nuns of Monza at the same time as The Other Hell.

I think Mattei was going for The Exorcist meets The Omen meets Rosemary's Baby meets... whatever other bits from successful films he could shoehorn in. It's confusingly edited and makes not a lick of sense, but then it is a Bruno Mattei film. The Goblin soundtrack for The Other Hell was appropriated from the Joe D'Amato film Buio Omega (which also stars Franca Stoppi), and it works okay here as well. All in all, this film is okay, but if you want to introduce yourself to nunsploitation, there are far more nuntastic films out there.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Dunyayi Kurtaran Adam (1982)

Just one example of this film's flagrant boulder abuse.

The Italians may know how to suck at a genre's teat until it's a shrivelled, black husk, but when it comes down to pure, copyright-infringing cojones, you can't go past the Turks. Throughout the 70s and 80s, Turkey plundered a lot of Hollywood films to make their own low-budget localised versions. Dunyayi Kurtaran Adam (The Man Who Saved the World) aka "Turkish Star Wars" is probably the most well known of them. That's not to say it's a scene for remake of Star Wars. It's an utterly bizarre tale of magical brains, exploding boulders and big red muppets, but it liberally salts the proceedings with stolen material from Star Wars and other films. The pilfered soundtrack is particularly egregious... the score from Raiders of the Lost Ark is used extensively, as well as sections of Flash Gordon and Moonraker.

The film starts with some random clips from Star Wars spliced with some stock footage of rocket launches, while a monologue explains how the Earth is being broken into pieces by evil space lasers and protected by a shield made of compacted brain molecules. Or something.

The best two Turkish pilots the planet has to offer, Murat and Ali (Cuneyt Arkin and Aytekin Akkaya, both major Turkish film stars at the time) are taking part in a thrilling space battle. This scene was filmed by thriftily rear-projecting Star Wars space battle footage behind the two actors as they wear motorcycle helmets with mouthpieces attached. This is made even less convincing by the fact that the Star Wars footage is in the wrong aspect ratio and little effort has been made to edit it appropriately.

The villain trying to destroy the Earth is the "magician", a beardo in a spiky cardboard helmet who is equal parts Darth Vader and Ming the Merciless. Murat and Ali manage to save the Earth, but crash land on a strange desert planet. Eventually they come across some stock footage of Egyptian ruins (the Sphinx, pyramids, etc), set to the spooky sounds of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D-minor. It should also be noted that the desert planet scenes are filmed in Cappadocia, and the idea that a Turkish audience would buy such a well known tourist destination as an alien landscape is optimistic at best.

Soon, about half a dozen soldiers on horseback arrive and start fighting with our heroes. It is here that we are introduced to the first of many fight scenes, which are played out with the skill and grace of a drunken bar fight at SpazzCon '08 (which was great, by the way). Their Turk Fu is so strong, enemies are wounded by punches that miss by at least a meter. Also, each enemy spear thrust is punctuated by someone going "wshhhk" into a microphone.

Eventually they defeat the soldiers and escape on horseback, while actors in cheap masks randomly roar into the camera. Your guess is as good as mine. Soon they are attacked again, this time by Cylon knock-offs, and captured. They are taken to an outdoor arena, where a bunch of gladiators engage in battles to the death. This is overseen by a knock-off Robby the Robot. Murat and Ali watch while the robot chokes a kid to death (Robby never did that) before leaping into the fray and mopping the floor with the alien thugs.

In the heat of battle they sustain a few wounds, and the subsequent gush of blood reveals to magician that they are human beings. This is important because he needs a human brain in order to break through the forcefield surrounding Earth. Murat and Ali manage to escape into a cave thanks to the help of a mute blonde woman. Murat starts making googly eyes with her while some sort of Turkish Obi-Wan Kenobi starts going on about the 13th tribe, and advanced technology, I don't know, it's all very confusing and stupid.

Soon enough, one of the magician's henchman, an alien made entirely of carpet samples, busts in and start murdering everyone in sight, including about half a dozen children, but by this stage Murat and Ali have escaped with the blonde woman and her son. The magician drinks some blood through a novelty straw, which turns the bodies of the kids into paper mache mummies wrapped in toilet paper. I swear I'm not making this up.

Now it's obvious that our heroes are no match for the magician in their current state, so Murat and Ali engage in the most hardcore rock-based training montage I've ever seen. Rocks are mercilessly punched, slapped, kicked and bench-pressed. Murat also ties some boulders to his legs and starts bouncing around as if there were trampolines hidden just out of frame. By the end of it they are punching boulders in half and kicking rocks into cliff-faces so hard that they explode. Such is the power of Turk Fu.

After Murat and the blonde woman engage in the most brief and dispassionate kiss I've ever seen, he and Ali head off to the local cantina to mete out fist-based justice. Scenes of the cantina are intercut with footage from the corresponding scene in Star Wars, which only brings the cheap Turkish costumes into sharp relief. Soon Murat and Ali are beating on all manner of alien beasts, including a hilarious fuzzy red alien. Eventually they are interrupted by the magician, who captures them and takes them back to his palace.

The magician tries to convince Murat to join him, while the magician's wife tries to seduce Ali. They refuse, and within a minute or two both are fighting some more aliens. Murat uses his unstoppable Turk Fu to chop off a alien's arms with his bare hands, and stab it with it's own severed limbs. They continue to cause mayhem until some budget Cylons appear and zap them with lasers.

The magician then renders unto them a horrific act of torture, which consists of putting them in some tombs and dumping a small amount of dirt on their faces. They defeat the magician's evil plan by sitting up. Probably embarrassed by this development, the magician then punishes his wife for her failure to seduce Ali by turning her into a monster from a completely different film. Then into a spider. I think.

Despite the fact that the two heroes have stomped the guts out of every henchman so far, the magician feels it would be a good idea to put them into yet another arena battle. This time the foe is the carpet-sample monster, which Murat defeats with the awesome trampoline jumping power of Turk Fu. Aliens subsequently swarm the arena and Ali is captured.

After some instruction from Obi-Wan, Murat and the girl are sent to find a magical golden brain and sword which they can use to defeat the magician. After some more fights Murat finds the two mystical artifacts. The sword is cleverly disguised as a cheap balsa wood prop. He tears up some alien shit and heads back to the palace to save his friend.

Once he has been rescued, Ali gives the artifacts to Obi-Wan, who turns out to be the magician in disguise. Then he is fatally injured in a random explosion. Following a tearful death scene, Murat melts down the sword and brain and dips his hands and feet in the resulting goop, which surprisingly results in a matching pair of golden gauntlets and boots and not deep tissue burns.

He then proceeds to bust a wide variety of alien heads, chopping them in half and punching them so hard that they explode. Meanwhile, it is shown (via some more stolen Star Wars footage) that the magician is about to blow up the Earth. Murat uses his jumping powers to dodge the magician's attacks and his explosive boulder-kicking abilities to disorient him. Eventually Murat is victorious, smacking the magician in the face a few times before karate chopping him in half.

A job well done, he says goodbye to the blonde woman, giving her a fairly apathetic kiss on the forehead. Thus ends the story of Murat, the man who saved the world through the power of rock-punching.

The confusing and disjointed nature of this plot review only barely manages to capture that of the movie. I think the script was taken in dictation from a hyperactive 10 year old breathlessly describing the best movie EVAR. Why does the magician need Murat or Ali's brain when the desert planet is filled with people? What's up with that golden brain? Who cares, let's punch some more aliens.

Turk Fu is pretty fun to watch the first few times, but the fun of watching a man awkwardly pummel a fuzzy red Chewbacca gets old the fifth time around. The film is about an hour and a half, but it seems like at least two due to the interminable fight scenes. If you're going to watch this film, then keep one hand on the fast forward button. Or just watch clips on youtube.

There's also a sequel, but before you start punching boulders with excitement, it was released in 2006, it's a comedy (intentionally) and it's currently number 7 on imdb's bottom 100 movies.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Zombie Doom (1999)

Behold the paunchy, tin-masked fury of Der Meister (Andreas Schnaas)

Zombie Doom is also known under the more appropriate title, Violent Shit III - The Infantry of Doom. Yes, it is the third in a series of films entitled Violent Shit. Apparently the name came about when a friend of writer/director Andreas Schnaas told him that all he was making was "violent shit", and rightly so. All three films concern the homicidal exploits of Karl the Butcher (and his son, Karl Jr), a masked villain in the slasher mould, played by Schnaas himself.

The first film, Violent Shit, resembles an unfinished film school project rather than a feature film. On it's release in Germany it was quickly banned on account of the graphic sexual violence, which gave it an immediate cult following. The poor film quality, inaudible dialogue, horrible acting, insufficient lighting and terrible editing would render it incomprehensible, were there anything to comprehend. Most of the running time focuses on Karl's victims being slowly dissected, but the gore effects are far too cheap to stand up to this kind of scrutiny and quickly become boring.

By the second film (Violent Shit 2 - Mother Hold My Hand) Schnaas had developed a sense of humour and slightly better technical skills. The film starts with a mildly amusing kung fu parody, but soon settles down into some of the same problems as the first film... extended gore sequences that the budget can't support.

The third film is his most ambitious yet. It actually has a story! Karl Jr is now calling himself Der Meister and lives on an island with an army of masked psychopaths, overseen by his father Karl the Butcher. There are only about a dozen soldiers (and they look more like LARPers than soldiers) but Shnaas tries his best to make it look like more. Dr Senius, a mad scientist with a Hitler moustache, is trying to create a zombie army so Der Meister can take over the world (or something).

Three bickering imbeciles, Ron, Mark and Peter, manage to shipwreck themselves on the island and are quickly captured by Der Meister's flunkies. They are then tied up and forced to watch as Der Meister executes a bunch of traitorous henchmen. Mark provides some insight on their situation, via voiceover. Says he, "The world is full of puke and shit, and now a bunch of tin-masked assholes are puking in our faces, filled with shit." Auteur, auteur! Peter makes the mistake of insulting Der Meister and gets the sharp end of his henchman's spear.

Following this excruciatingly long scene, Der Meister decides to let the three men go (along with another former henchman of his, Leon) so his men can hunt them down for sport. Yep, it's another retelling of The Most Dangerous Game. As well as the masked soldiers, Dr Senius also sends out his personal army, the Black Demon ninjas. During a quiet moment, Leon tells Ron and Mark his life story. Apparently, he turned against Der Meister when, during one of their evil ceremonies, his wife was stripped (two words, Lady Bic) , raped and then subjected to a hilarious stop-motion critter that would have Ray Harryhausen turning in his grave. Soon Ron and Mark, who have up until now been established as our protagonists, are dead. I would like to believe that Schnaas is pulling some Psycho-style shenanigans, but I think it's more likely that the script was being written on the fly.

Eventually Leon joins up with two of his friends, also exiles of Der Meister, and when the Black Demon ninjas arrive the film breaks out into a kung fu fight. The opening sequence from Violent Shit 2 was short enough such that Schnaas' lack of skills didn't become too much of a problem, but here the martial arts fights are a lot more elaborate. While the actors obviously have some skills, the end result is fairly mediocre. A bit of subtle undercranking would have helped.

The Black Demon ninjas disposed of, the trio disguise themselves and head back to Der Meister's training camp for the final showdown. Scavenging weapons from the masked soldiers (magic weapons, like sawn-off shotguns that fire single shells, and revolvers that can fire hundreds of shots without needing to be reloaded) they blast their way through the camp. Soon Leon, who was set up as the replacement protagonist, dies as well. What the hell?

The two remaining ninjas kill Senius, and square up against Der Meister (who is wearing frightening furry underwear) and Karl Senior. After a lengthy battle sequence, including a battle with the Master of the Motherfucking Flying Guillotine, Der Meister and Karl the Butcher are killed. The two heroes celebrate with the international symbol of victory, a freeze-framed jumping high-five.

At times this film shows a lot of promise. Schnaas pulls off some fairly interesting camera work and gore effects, and at times it seems like a decent imitation of early Peter Jackson. Given a decent budget, I can see Schnaas turning out something entertaining, if not exactly mentally challenging. However, this film has too much working against it: unlikable characters, nonsensical dialogue and a non-sequitor plot that I gave up trying to make sense of about fifteen minutes in. The gore effects are decent, but until Schnaas can achieve a baseline competence with basic storytelling, he isn't going to have enough to hang a movie from. But at least he's improving.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

It's the time of year when people's (and crabs') thoughts turn to luuuurve. On that note, it's time for some sexy sex... SMITH STYLE!

"Both of them were experiencing something which had lain dormant in them for so long. Rapidly they were getting out of control. Nothing else mattered... not even the giant crabs!"
Night of the Crabs

"...her reply was lost in the moans and writhings of their united bodies as they reached the ultimate possible peak of pleasure which any man and woman can climb."
Night of the Crabs

"She made no attempt to hold back her tears; lots of women cried when they reached their orgasm."

"She sat astride him, displaying the full talents of her horsemanship..."

"Hurry up, Rog, I'm lying here in the nude desperate to be screwed. There's locusts hanging from the ceiling but don't worry about them."

"Her nipples stood out stiff and straight, and Ron Blythe had no doubt she was fully aroused. Some inexplicable reserves were aiding her in an effort to mate with a man for the last time in her life."

"Those twin orbs glowed with lust. It saw and understood. I'm going to crawl there as well."

"I... couldn't hold out... any longer. I need... it. Badly!"

Phew... is anyone else getting the vapours?

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

City of the Living Dead (1980)

Bob (Giovanni Lombardo Radice) is bored to death

City of the Living Dead is another film in Lucio Fulci's "zombie trilogy". Like his other films, it eschews traditional storytelling for an atmosphere of dread and gory setpieces, a technique that would be further refined in his next offering, The Beyond.

The film opens in New York, where are bunch of fun-loving occultists are trying to have a chat with the spirit world. During the seance, Maria (Katriona MacColl, from House by the Cemetery) has a vision of a priest hanging himself in the sleepy town of Dunwich (the fictional town featured in many of H.P. Lovecraft's stories). In doing so, he has left the gate to hell open and a bunch of zombies have walked in and tracked mud all over the the house. If it isn't shut by All Saint's Day, it'll stay open forever. Well, that's just great! After her vision, Mary has a psychic seizure and dies of shock.

This kind of movie wouldn't be complete without a nosy reporter, this time taking the form of the cigar chomping Peter Bell (Christopher George) . When he visits Mary's grave the next day, he hears screams coming from inside the coffin! He grabs a pick-axe and starts laying into it, almost trepanning Mary in the process (I like to think he thought she was a zombie and was trying to kill her). After an exposition-heavy visit to the psychic from the seance, they decide to drive to Dunwich and see if they can close the gate to hell, maybe put some of those self-closing hinges on it.

Meanwhile, strange things are going on in Dunwich. Smoke-spewing cracks are opening up in walls, windows and mirrors are spontaneously exploding, walls are bleeding etc. The undead are walking around with no regard for local loitering laws. Actually, in this film the zombies behave more like ghosts, appearing and disappearing at will. The zombie priest uses his teleportation ability to spy on some teenagers making out. His disapproving glare has a detrimental effect on the girl... she starts crying blood and then barfs up all her internal organs. I did the same thing when my mother walked in on me masturbating. He then grabs a handful of the guys head and tears out a chunk of his brain matter.

We are also introduced to a psychiatrist Gerry (Carlo De Mejo), and his patient Sandra (Janet Agren). Gerry's girlfriend Emily (Antonella Interlenghi) has had a fatal visitation from the zombie priest. He shoved a handful of worms in her face, which would be a pretty awesome prank if you were seven years old, but in this case she died of fright. She soon comes back as a zombie and murders her parents.

Meanwhile, despite the fact that Dunwich seems like a fairly ordinary small town, Peter and Mary are having a hell of a time finding the place. We're an hour into the film and they still haven't arrived. Peter claims it was built on the ruins of Salem, but I always thought that Salem was built on the ruins of Salem. Maybe that's why they can't find it?

One character I haven't mentioned, because his subplot is utterly disposable, is Bob (Giovanni Lombardo Radice). He is a creepy, mentally-handicapped pervert, shunned by the local populace, who likes to sit in abandoned buildings and fondle his spontaneously-inflating sex doll. Bob crops up here and there throughout the movie, stumbling upon corpses and seeing ghosts. Bob meets his end not at the hands of the zombies, but that of a local who thinks Bob's been fiddling with his daughter. Poor Bob gets a table drill right through the cranium, and is never mentioned again.

Anyway, eventually Peter and Mary meet up with Gerry and Sandra. Since it wouldn't be a Fulci film without maggots (Fulci's brother must have owned a maggot farm or something), the windows burst open and little fellas start raining in like wriggly little snowflakes. They manage track down the priests tomb, and once inside it's time for the final showdown with the zombie priest. Before he can do his vomit-inducing party trick on Mary, Gerry (the other two having since been killed) anti-climatically runs him through with a stake. All of the zombies burst into flame and they escape.

As they emerge from the tomb, Emily's little brother John-John, flanked by police officers, runs towards them. For unexplained reasons, Mary screams in terror and the film ends.

I'm definitely not the kind of guy who demands a strict, linear narrative with all subplots neatly wrapped up in a red bow. I don't mind if a director fucks with my head a little bit. With Fulci, however, it seems more like just plain incompetence in basic storytelling. There are a lot of Fulci fans out there who romanticise his lackadaisical approach to plot, even comparing him to Dario Argento. I don't think that's a fair comparison. With Argento, the extreme gore is just one operatic element of a stylistic whole. With Fulci the extreme gore is the raison d'etre. Not that I think there's anything necessarily wrong with that.

Anyway, if a girl puking up her own intestines sounds like something you'd want to see, you should see this film. Then seek professional help.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

House by the Cemetery (1981)

You will learn to hate this child.

Along with City of the Living Dead and The Beyond, House by Cemetery completed a trilogy of horror films that defined Fulci's style as a horror director. His films' lack of narrative cohesion, elaborately staged set-pieces and bizarre lingering shots give them a surreality, a dreamlike atmosphere where anything could happen. Which is a fancy way of saying that they make no damn sense. Lucio Fulci is a style-over-substance director, and while his films very much fit the exploitation mold, there is enough attention to visual detail and genuinely memorable shots to make his films worth watching. It's still trash, but when it works, it's glorious.

House by the Cemetery opens with a couple of teens who thought the titular house would be a good place for some sweet, sweet lovin'. The guy gets his head split open and his torso pinned to a door with a pair of scissors, while the girl gets a knife through the back of her head and out her mouth. Her body is dragged away by a strange creature.

Meanwhile in New York, Dr Norman Boyle (Paolo Malco, bearded and in tweed and a turtleneck) has agreed to travel up to his colleague Professor Peterson's New England house for six months, in order to complete Peterson's research. Peterson had been conducting research into suicide, but unfortunately he got a little too into his work and killed his mistress and then himself. Accompanying Dr Boyle is his wife Lucy (Catriona MacColl) and their son Bob (Giovanni Frezza). Bob is a blonde, frog-faced urchin who is having visitations from the ghost of a young girl, warning them away from the house. Bob's atrocious and annoying dubbing sinks any chance of the film being taken seriously.

On their arrival both the real estate agent and the library archivist mention Dr Boyle having visited the town before with a little girl, but he has no recollection of doing so. Don't get attached to this plot point because it is henceforth abandoned entirely.

The house has a boarded up cellar (bad sign!) but comes complete with a caterpillar-eyebrowed, live-in babysitter, Ann (Ania Pieroni). Soon after they move in Dr Boyle finds her prying the boards from the basement door in the middle of the night. Rather than ask her what the hell she's doing he gets into a staring competition with her, wins, and goes back to bed.

It's not long before Dr Boyle discovers that the previous owner of the house, Dr Freudstein (heh) was suspended from the Medical Association for "illegal experiments", and Mrs Boyle finds his tomb in the middle of the lounge room floor. Lucy is understandably upset, but Norman claims that there are a lot of indoor tombs in the area because the ground freezes up in winter. This would be a fine excuse if the house wasn't by a cemetery!

Soon after unlocking the cellar door they suffer a protracted attack from a fake-looking bat. After what seems like a good ten minutes, Dr Boyle stabs it to death, spilling far more blood than you would expect to find in a 2 pound mammal. That's the last straw for the Boyles, and they decide to see the real estate agent about finding a new home. Her apathetic assistant promises he will send her by that evening, but I guess they forgot because when she drops by later no-one is home. She gets her leg caught in the newly uncovered tomb and is brutally stabbed to death.

The next morning Ann is cleaning up bloodstains and acting in her typically suspicious manner. I don't know if the blood is from the bat or the real estate agent, but either way Lucy doesn't seem perturbed by it. All of Ann's sinister behaviour, however, amounts to sod all, because later that day she gets herself locked in the basement and her throat slashed not once, not twice, but thrice. Bob almost bites it too, but unfortunately he escapes. When he heads down there with his mother there is no sign of Ann nor the copious amount of blood spilled mere moments ago. This is stupid.

Meanwhile Dr Boyle is trying to find the tomb of Dr Freudstein in the cemetery. The caretaker informs him that it isn't there. Gee, you don't suppose it could have anything to do with the tomb in your living room floor. The one marked Freudstein?!

Anyway, some time later Bob gets trapped in the basement again (stop toying with me, Lucio!) This time, he finds the undead Freudstein and the bodies of the victims he uses to keep himself alive. During the rescue attempt, his parents get themselves locked in the basement too (this happens all the time in this film, have you noticed?) Dr Boyle stabs Freudstein and maggots pour from the wound. Unaffected, Freudstein tears this throat out. The remaining two attempt to escape but Mrs Boyle gets dragged down the stairs, her head audibly thumping on each step. Bob manages to escape just in time (damn it!!) thanks to the help of the little girl. Suddenly the house is back as it was a hundred years ago and Bob and the little girl are led away by Mrs Freudstein to an unknown fate.

After this head-scratcher of an ending, the film finishes with a title card of a barely relevant Henry James quote, but at least it's spelled correctly.

Fulci's films often seem like they were edited by throwing darts at a wall, and this one is no exception. The pacing seems off kilter, and subplots are built up and then never mentioned again. Undiscriminating gorehounds, however, will definitely enjoy this film. The special effects (from Gianetti De Rossi, working previously with Fulci on Zombi 2) are fantastic, but the shots linger just a bit too long, exposing their fakery. Also, Fulci's obsession with eyes reaches a ridiculous height in this film. The characters frequently engage in bizarre staring contests. This film is tolerable when taken as a gory stylistic exercise, but thinking about the plot for more than a few seconds will make your brain hurt.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

It's like the Swiss Family Robinson if they were cannibals...
and yes, I'd like to read that book very much

The vast majority of my movie reviews so far have been of cheap Italian zombie films, so I thought I'd branch off a bit and review a cheap Italian cannibal film. Hey, I didn't say I'd branch out very far!

The cannibal genre has it's roots in the Mondo, a kind of Italian pseudo-documentary that catalogued bizarre and shocking practices from around the world. It began in 1962 with the film Mondo Cane (literally "Dog World") and the genre was popular throughout the 60s. The cannibal genre began in earnest with Umberto Lenzi's Man From Deep River in 1972 and by 1980 the audiences wised up and realised just how cheap and despicable the films were, and Ruggero Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust is largely to blame.

Cannibal Holocaust follows the standard cannibal film template. A group TV execs task a team headed by Professor Harold Monroe (Robert Kerman, you can tell he's an academic because he wears a tweed suit and smokes a pipe) to find out what happened to a documentary crew who disappeared in the Amazon jungle. The first half of the film mostly consists of the group trekking through the jungle with the help of a captive Yacomo native. On their journey they witness a native woman being punished for adultery with a primitive dildo that certainly isn't ribbed for her pleasure. Eventually they meet up with the Yacomo tribe and gain their trust by exposing their wing-wongs. Once at the village, they are offered a delicious stew, freshly regurgitated by native women. Yummy! Eventually they are led to their destination, the lands of the warring Yanomamo and Shamatari tribes. By killing some of the Shamatari, they gain the trust of the Yanamamo tribe and soon discover the gruesome fate of the documentary crew. Monroe manages to trade some of his equipment for the missing film cannisters.

One he gets back to civilisation, he tries to find out a little bit more about the filmmakers. He discovers that they not well liked and may employ questionable methods in their quest for newsworthy footage. He shows the TV executives the recovered film, and we spend the remainder of the film watching the footage.

The three-man, one-woman film crew are immediately established as a bunch of dicks. They jabber on about how famous this footage will make them and act like jerks to everyone around them. Once in the jungle, they decide to film themselves killing some animals because, I guess, that's what TV audiences want to see.

Now, it takes a lot to offend me. I've seen enough of these kind of films to realise that it's useless getting worked up over some cheap piece of exploitative trash (after all, I keep watching them). An Italian covered in pig guts I can deal with, but the thing that appalls me about this film is the animal cruelty. Monkeys, snakes, muskrats and turtles are mutilated and killed onscreen. Apart from being morally despicable, it's cheap and lazy filmmaking. The shock and disgust it engenders quickly turns to loathing for Deodato and his crew.

The crew end up meeting with the Yanomamo, but fail to obtain the juicy violence their audience craves. In order to create more compelling material for their shock-doc, they rape and murder their way through the cannibal village until the natives decide to turn the tables. In a lengthy sequence, several of the filmmakers are raped, killed and mutilated while the surviving crew members hide nearby and film it all. In the end the cannibals discover their hiding spot and beat them to death.

In the end the TV executives order the film burned and, because Deodato must consider his audience a bunch of idiots, the film ends with Monroe wondering "who the real savages are". Perhaps it was the bunch of cynical Italian dirtbags who decided that animal mutilation made for compelling cinema, and worse, hypocritically asserted that it was in service of a profound message about ruthless filmmakers?

Whereas a lot of cannibal films play out like gory adventure flicks, full of corny dialogue and hammy performances, Cannibal Holocaust's tone is somber and serious. Technically, the film is quite accomplished, especially among the lenient standards of the cannibal genre. It works best in during the mock-documentary portion, where the grimy, low-tech feel lend an authenticy and hide any rough edges in the special effects. The gore effects in particular are very convincing.

In order to generate publicity for the film, Deodato had the actors sign contracts stating they wouldn't appear in public for a year after the completion of filming. Unfortunately his plan backfired, and upon his return to Italy, Deodato was prosecuted for making a snuff film. He demonstrated to the court how some of the more convincing gore effects were achieved (the infamously impaled woman, for instance, sat on a hidden bicycle seat with a piece of balsa wood in her mouth) and appeared on television with some of the actors. He cleared himself of the murder charges, but he was charged under obscenity laws due to the animal mutilation. For a long time the film was banned in many countries, or released in a truncated form.

If you can stomach it, I'd give this film a chance. It's central message is ham-fisted and hypocritical, but it's genuinely powerful and far more accomplished than most cannibal films. Of course, that's like being the smartest kid in Special Ed.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Guy N. Smith Book Review - Bats out of Hell

Professor Brian Newman is busy researching meningitis on bats when he accidentally creates some sort of bat-borne supervirus. Whoops! Rather than kill all the bats, he decides to wait around for a few days and hope things blow over. Unfortunately, he gets into a fight with his girlfriend/lab assistant, the cage is smashed and the bats disappear out of a convenient open window. Let the carnage begin!

First to die are a couple of horses, an unfortunate motorist and a little girl. Newman's unbearably smug colleagues refuse to believe their deaths are caused by his bats. Soon, though, the death toll rises to the hundreds, then to the thousands as widespread panic leads to riots and looting. The Prime Minister declares a state of emergency and a trigger happy British Volunteer Force attempt to contain the infection. Birmingham is burnt to the ground, though, so I guess the bats aren't all bad.

Between you and me, I don't think Newman is a very good scientist. He routinely confuses the terms "virus", "bactera" and "toxin", plus he makes repeated references to the bats' "radar" (they actually use sonar). Every experiment he attempts ends in failure and the only reason he manages to defeat the bats in the end is because of some article he saw in Scientific American, of all places.

The book concludes with one of Smith's favourite characters, the gamekeeper, musing about how science has upset the natural balance of things, and it will only be restored when mankind is wiped out.

Compared to some of Smith's other novels, this one doesn't seem particularly well researched. All of the science and bat biology is pretty much glossed over, pushing the would-be hero into the background. When he does appear, he is usually sitting around feeling sorry for himself while his lab assistant gives him backrubs and strokes his ego. He doesn't even have sex with her! In fact, there is no sex whatsoever in this book (the second Smith book I've read in a row to feature a distinct lack of sex), although Newman's girlfriend is almost raped by a gang of incensed anti-vivisection thugs before the cops reluctantly intervene.

Aside from one or two scenes of mayhem, this book doesn't have a lot to offer. Later in his career Smith managed to produce some highly entertaining animals-on-the-rampage disaster books, but this early offering is a little limp in comparison. It doesn't even have much of the trashy lunacy that makes his books so much fun to read. I'd pass on this unless you are a dedicated Smithophile.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Hell of the Living Dead (1981)

Imagine their embarrassment when they all showed up at the
Dawn of the Dead convention dressed as Roger

The viewing public were ravenous for more zombie films after the success of Dawn of the Dead and Zombi 2, and a group of Spanish and Italian producers were ready to offer dozens of dollars to a reliable hack. Stepping up to the plate were the one-two punch that is director Bruno Mattei and writer Claudio Fragasso, showing that whatever competent genre filmmakers can do, they can do worse, but cheaper. This film goes by more aliases than a con-artist on the lam, in what is undoubtedly an attempt to fool hapless consumers. Even Mattei is credited as Vincent Dawn. However, a turd, by any other name, would reek just as bad.

Like many cheap Italian zombie films, it opens with stock footage of a chemical plant. This is the Hope Center, one of a number of UN funded installations in developing countries with the aim of solving world hunger. The project is called "Sweet Death", which is admittedly a pretty cool name. Inside the center, a bunch of guys in lab coats are doing some science. You know what they are doing must be important because there are lots of buttons and gauges. Professor Barrett is talking to Fowler, a technician who looks like he should be shooting Calvin Klein ads in wind tunnels.

Meanwhile couple of guys are taking measurements in a supposedly sterile area of the plant. I'm not sure what they're measuring, but the readings can't be very accurate because the position of the needle is being manually controlled by a dial right next to the gauge. They discover a dead rat which comes to life and starts munching away on one of the scientists while the other stands there and watches (this seems to be a common reaction in this film). Pretty soon the whole plant is being filled with a zombifying green gas. Professor Barrack manages to retreat to his office and record your standard "May God forgive us" speech before he falls victim to the deadly gas.

We now cut to the American Consulate (in Spain, I presume), where a bunch of terrorists have taken hostages and are demanding that the Hope Centers be shut down. A group of four Interpol commandos have been called in and they are wearing eye-searing blue outfits that will look familiar to anyone who has seen Dawn of the Dead. Following a reminder by their commander not to get their "balls wasted", they storm the consulate. Sure, their methods may seem brutal, slitting the throats of unarmed terrorists may not be strictly by-the-book, but you can't argue with their results! As the final terrorist gasps his final breath, he tells them that they are "doomed to be eaten up".

On their next assignment our crack team is off to Papua New Guinea, where the women are "naked and wild". Once there they get busy pissing on some native graves and generally acting like assholes. It is here that we first see one of many egregious uses of grainy documentary footage. You see, in an attempt to lend authenticity to the exterior sets, Mattei spliced in copious amounts of footage from La Vallée, a 1972 French pseudo-documentary about remote New Guinea tribespeople. It didn't work.

Meanwhile, a couple in serious need of counseling are seeking help for their zombie-bitten child. Joining them are obligatory annoying reporter Lia (Margit Evelyn Newton) and her cameraman Max (Josep Lluís Fonoll). They seek help at an abandoned mission but pretty soon the kid is chowing down on the dad while everyone stands around vomiting. The Interpol dudes show up and the kid gets blasted about a dozen times (and unlike Romero, Mattei is not above showing us the full monty). All the Interpol guys and the two journalists manage to escape.

It is about now that the annoying reporter decides she has to go ahead and meet with the natives, which involves doffing her top and painting targets on her nipples while she jogs about ten feet in front of their jeep. Needlessly to say, this is awesome. Apparently her nudity does the trick, and soon everyone is kicking back with the natives. It's now that Mattei starts splicing in documentary footage with reckless abandon. We see random shots of native burial rituals (very tasteful, Mattei) while the protagonists interact with natives that look nothing like those in the documentary. When Mattei runs out of doco footage, native zombies appear and our heroes beat a retreat.

After an argument that ends in a gunpoint confrontation and a few other shennanigans, they stumble upon a large house and split up to investigate. One commando discovers a zombie granny with a cat nesting inside her, while another, upon discovering a large wardrobe in the cellar, dons a green tutu, top hat and cane and does an impromptu dance routine. His bizarre musical interlude is fatally interrupted by ravenous zombies and soon everyone is forced to escape.

Eventually they make it to the Hope Center and Lia unravels the true purpose of the experiments. It seems that they were trying to develop a chemical to turn the citizens of the third world into flesh-eating zombies so they can eat each other out of existence. That kind of misguided, letting-the-problem-solve-itself thinking would be a neat piece of social criticism in the hands of a better filmmaker. Unfortunately Lia's tardy realisation doesn't stop her from getting a zombie hand down her throat and her eyeballs popped out from the inside. All of the Interpol guys get eaten up too. You should have listened to that terrorist, dudes!

The film concludes with a tacked-on epilogue that implies the virus has made it's way to the first world.

There is a lot to hate about this film. The acting ranges from bad to abysmal, and is often hilarious. The dubbing is atrocious and done in service of nonsensical dialogue. The gore effects, though plentiful, are mostly cheap and unconvincing. The doco footage seems to have been clumsily edited in with the use of a meat cleaver and sello tape.

Also, Mattei's shameless pilfering from better films is even more obvious than usual. I haven't even mentioned the soundtrack, which consists entirely of music lifted from Dawn of the Dead and a few other Goblin-scored films.

With all these problems and more, I can't help but have a lot of love for this film. When I'm in need of a good laugh it never fails. Invite all your friends around, crack open a beer, and give this film a go. You will not regret it, unless you are expecting competent film-making.

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