I, Desire (1982)

I, DESIRE (1982)
aka Desire, the Vampire
TV-Movie
Article 3386 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-9-2010
Posting Date: 11-21-2010
Directed by John Llewellyn Moxey
Featuring David Naughton, Dorian Harewood, Marilyn Jones
Country: USA
What it is: TV-Movie vampire tale

A morgue attendant is drawn into a crime investigation about bodies that have been drained of their blood. He becomes convinced that a vampire posing as a hooker is on the loose.

This was not John Llewellyn Moxey’s first cinematic venture into vampirism; he directed THE NIGHT STALKER. This movie does bear some resemblance to that earlier work, though it is not a remake; once again, we have a lone man who finds himself at odds with the authorities when he becomes convinced that a vampire is on the loose. What sets it apart is that it really delves into the emotional issues raised by believing in creatures that are dismissed by the rest of the world as imaginary; the morgue attendant’s belief isolates him, makes him the butt of jokes, alienates him from his girlfriend and the police officer investigating the case, and makes him a bit of a pariah. The curse of having to deal with these beliefs is best vocalized by the character of Paul when he says that he has “lost his innocence” with his knowledge; Paul is played by Brad Dourif, whose excellence performance steals the movie. The movie also shows some sympathy for the detective on the case; though he to suspects the truth, he can’t afford to embrace the knowledge because he knows that he has to answer to higher authorities. I also like the touches it adds to vampire mythology; if one wishes to stand up to a vampire, they must be righteous, and this fits in well with the sexual subtexts to the vampire myth, though it could be argued that the movie takes it out of subtext into text; after all, check out the name of the vampiress. I’m not quite as impressed with the vampire attack scenes; the fact that our vampiress makes jaguar sounds when she attacks is rather silly. I also notice she has several mirrors in her penthouse apartment. The ending is not quite satisfying, but this is a worthy vampire movie.

Human Feelings (1978)

HUMAN FEELINGS (1978)
TV-Movie
Article 3385 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-8-2010
Posting Date: 11-20-2010
Directed by Ernest Pintoff
Featuring Nancy Walker, Billy Crystal, Squire Fridell
Country: USA
What it is: Angel fantasy/comedy

When God decides to destroy Las Vegas, an unhappy angel from the music department, in hopes for a promotion, asks her if she’ll spare the city if he can find six good people there. She agrees, and the angel goes to earth as a human with only seven days to perform his mission.

A couple of sources I have describe this TV-Movie as a failed pilot inspired by the theatrical success of OH, GOD!, though I would say it’s nowhere as witty as that one. Personally, I think it shows more similarity to an earlier TV-Movie called POOR DEVIL only with an angel instead of a devil (though, once again, I find it not as witty as that one). Though I do find some of the casting interesting (God is played by Nancy Walker), I find the movie suffers badly from that TV-Movie blandness that seems designed to make sure that it all goes down smoothly without a hint of indigestion. Despite the presence of Walker and Billy Crystal, I found the movie very short on laughs; the closest I found it to being funny is when Pat Morita shows up as a waiter who sees what is coming. I do wonder what the series would be like; given the end of the movie, it could either concentrate on the further adventures of God or the further adventures of the angel, though, given what I see here, I doubt either of those ideas would have resulted in a good series. Special effects are minimal; God vanishes at one point, and I think that’s about it.

Heavy Traffic (1973)

HEAVY TRAFFIC (1973)
Article 3384 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-7-2010
Posting Date: 11-19-2010
Directed by Ralph Bakshi
Featuring Joseph Kaufmann, Beverly Hope Atkinson and the voice of Frank DeKova
Country: USA
What it is: Animated underground comix

A cartoonist deals with the trials and tribulations of his life by incorporating the people and incidents in his life into comics.

The two Ralph Bakshi films that I’ve already covered (WIZARDS and THE LORD OF THE RINGS) are ones where the fantastic content is fairly up front. This one is apparently based on underground comix (and I’ll confess right up front that I’m not really familiar with the form), and may be inspired by events in Bakshi’s own life; I have no proof of that last statement, but it certainly has that air about it, and I gather it may be Bakshi’s own favorite movie of his. It’s definitely not for overly sensitive viewers, as it abounds in cartoon nudity, racial stereotypes, religious themes, foul language, extreme violence… you name it, and there’s probably a moment in this movie that features it. Though the basic story is realistic, there’s fantasy all around the edges, especially in some dream sequences and a science fiction cartoon that the main character shows to a dying man. I found it interesting enough; for what it’s worth, I think Bakshi’s animation style lends itself better to this type of project than the other ones I’ve seen of his. I was fascinated by one piece of trivia I read for this one on IMDB; apparently, Bakshi got into a fight with one of his producers, who either fired or planned to fire him and wanted to hire Chuck Jones to complete the project, who declined. Somehow, the idea of Chuck Jones completing a Ralph Bakshi project is truly mind-blowing.

Cinderella (1977)

CINDERELLA (1977)
Article 3383 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-6-2010
Posting Date: 11-18-2010
Directed by Michael Pataki
Featuring Cheryl Smith, Yana Nirvana, Marilyn Corwin
Country: USA
What it is: Soft-core comedy musical fairy tale

When her ugly stepmother and evil stepsisters don’t let Cinderella go to the royal ball, she receives the help of her fairy godmother to help her meet the handsome prince.

I’d say the idea of a soft-core comedy musical version of the classic fairy tale is stupid, but I really can’t; compared to some of the other fairy tales I’ve seen given this treatment, at least this one has a story arc that lends itself to the sex. And, for what it’s worth, this one has enough bizarre and freaky touches (the grotesque makeup on Cinderella’s relatives, the bizarre dream sequence, and the casting of Sy Richardson as the Fairy Godmother) that it actual has a certain appeal beyond the obvious. The songs aren’t really memorable, but at least they’re not painful. All in all, this is one of the better movies of its type.

The Boogens (1981)

THE BOOGENS (1981)
Article 3382 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-5-2010
Posting Date: 11-17-2010
Directed by James L. Conway
Featuring Rebecca Balding, Fred McCarren, Anne-Marie Martin
Country: USA
What it is: Old-fashioned monster movie

A mine in Silver City, closed mysteriously for seventy years, is reopened. However, it was closed for a reason… and that reason is now loose to wreak havoc.

Though it doesn’t have a particularly high reputation, I think it’s a bit of a breath of fresh air to find an old-fashioned monster movie in the middle of the slasher era. Granted, an old-fashioned monster movie wouldn’t quite have as much talk about sex as this one does, but even this aspect of the movie is fairly mild, considering the amount of sex the slasher films had. I like the Colorado settings and the snow-covered locations, and I even admire the way the movie handles some of its fake-out scares; in most horror movies, the fake-out scares anticipate the real ones, whereas in this one, the fake-outs only occur in places where a real scare has already happened, and somehow this makes them more effective. The monsters are a bit on the silly side when you get a better look at them, but that doesn’t happen until the very end of the movie; up until then, we only see bits and pieces of them, and even at the end, we never really get a good look at the whole thing. No, if I were to pick out the movie’s worst problem, it’s the title; I can see how it’s a condensation of the word “boogeyman”, but it scans so that the first thing you think of is of something you find in your nose, and that tends to short-circuit your desire to see the movie.

Sexo Sangriento (1981)

SEXO SANGRIENTO (1981)
aka Bloodthirsty Sex
Article 3381 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-4-2010
Posting Date: 11-16-2010
Directed by Manuel Esteba
Featuring Ovidi Montllor, Mirta Miller, Diana Conca
Country: Spain
What it is: Sleazy Spanish horror

A group of young women get stranded in a seemingly deserted village when their car breaks down (in reality, the car was sabotaged). They end up staying with a female artist, but one of the women begins to have sinister visions. Then the killings begin…

My copy of this movie is in unsubtitled Spanish, and is consequently rather hard to follow. Granted, with an English title like BLOODTHIRSTY SEX, you should have an idea of what to expect. Yes, there’s plenty of nudity and sex, the latter mostly of the lesbian variety. It remains rather bloodless until the last third of the movie, though the soundtrack goes off enough that you’ll know that scary things are just around the corner. Most of the murders are pretty conventional, though there is one that is sick enough to live up to the title. I found it pretty hard to evaluate the film without subtitles or dubbing, but I’d have to say I wasn’t particularly impressed by it; the horror has kind of a distant, detached feel to it.

Never Pick-Up a Stranger (1979)

NEVER PICK-UP A STRANGER (1979)
aka Bloodrage
Article 3380 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-3-2010
Posting Date: 11-15-2010
Directed by Joseph Zito
Featuring Ian Scott, Jerry McGee, Judith-Marie Bergan
Country: USA
What it is: Psycho-killer movie

After accidentally killing a hooker, a young man runs away to New York hoping to evade capture. However, he soon starts killing hookers intentionally, and a cop from his home town has come to New York to investigate…

There’s part of me that wants to hate this mean-spirited, sleazy and depressing psycho-killer movie. Yet, I do have to give the movie a bit of credit; it does have some interesting ideas, and its disjointed narrative structure and sense of incompleteness occasionally forces you to figure out certain details on your own, and there is a bit of satisfaction to be had by doing so. Still, I do think the movie doesn’t quite succeed; it’s loaded with filler scenes, and I don’t think it ends up being as disturbing as it aspires to be. Incidentally, the title above is exactly how it reads on the screen; I don’t know if it occurred to anyone that if you add a dash between “pick” and “up”, it turns from a verb to a noun. The sleazy atmosphere makes the movie mostly appealing to exploitation fans.