Boardinghouse (1982)

BOARDINGHOUSE (1982)
aka Housegeist
Article 3870 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-10-2012
Posting Date: 3-19-2012
Directed by John Wintergate
Featuring John Wintergate, Kalassu, Lindsay Freeman
Country: USA
What it is: A bloody mess

A playboy decides to rent out rooms in a house he owns to beautiful women so he can have his own harem. However, the house has an evil history, and people start dying once again…

I first became familiar with this movie via ads for it on several Paragon home video VHS packages, which make the movie look relentlessly bloody, but I suspect that the ad would be all that a gorehound might need, as I think it probably contains almost all the gore in the movie. Yeah, there’s some nudity for anyone looking for that sort of thing, too. But the movie as a whole is a train wreck; despite the fact that it has some interesting ideas (such as the fact that the gore attacks often involve telekinesis), most of the movie seems to be either written or edited at random, and though the movie does set up its premise and has a resolution, there’s an enormous black hole in the center full of pointless scenes, unpursued ideas, unnecessary characters, and filler. It also has a gimmick called Terrorvision; whenever you see a certain image or hear a certain sound, you can cover your eyes if you want to miss the gory parts; however, if you’ve seen the aforementioned ad, it’s already too late for that. All in all, it’s an awful movie, albeit one that did have the seeds of a much better movie contained within it.

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The Bloodbath of Dr. Jekyll (1981)

THE BLOODBATH OF DR. JEKYLL (1981)
aka Docteur Jekyll et les femmes, The Blood of Dr. Jekyll
Article 3869 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-9-2012
Posting Date: 3-18-2012
Directed by Walerian Borowczyk
Featuring Udo Kier, Marino Pierro, Patrick Magee
Country: France / West Germany
What it is: Jekyll and Hyde variation

Various people attend the engagement party of Dr. Henry Jekyll to Miss Fanny Osbourne, but the murder of a child in the streets is followed up by the deaths of the guests, one by one.

My only other encounter with Walerian Borowczyk so far has been with IMMORAL TALES, which, quite frankly, didn’t impress me as being anything more than a slightly pretentious experiment in softcore porn. This one I found more interesting. It reworks the Stevenson tale quite a bit, turning it somewhat into one of those “old dark house” movies where people get killed off one by one, and laces it with a certain eroticism. Though its weird, flowing cinematic style makes it a little difficult to follow at times, I think it actually does an interesting job of updating the story for more permissive times, and it actually has a enough real horror and shock to make it not seem like a literary adaptation, especially of a tale that has had as many adaptations as this one has. I’m certainly glad it’s not just the basic tale with a bunch of sex added, which, given my previous experience with the director, was what I was expecting; there is some sex in it, but it doesn’t seem gratuitous. At least this movie piques my interest in the director. The cast also features Howard Vernon as Dr. Lanyon.

Beyond the Universe (1981)

BEYOND THE UNIVERSE (1981)
Article 3868 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-8-2012
Posting Date: 3-17-2012
Directed by Robert Emenegger
Featuring David Ladd, Jacqueline Ray, Christopher Cary
Country: USA
What it is: Science fiction drama

In the twentieth century, mankind is on the verge of dying off after two nuclear wars, and martial law is put into place. A scientist with a plan for saving humanity finds himself forced to work on a project to which he objects, but he has the help of a group of rebels who plan to help him carry out his own plan…

I recognized the names of director Robert Emenegger and producer Allan Sandler in the credits at once, and I discovered that I had already encountered them a few times in my cinematic journeys. I have yet to see a good movie from them, but I also have yet to see a worthless movie from them, either; as bad as they can be at times, they also make movies that are not obvious rehashes of better known movies and there are occasionally interesting ideas in them. This one starts out like a typical dystopian movie before subtly adding some elements that remind me of STAR WARS, but it ends like something from 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, and even if that makes the movie sound like a real hodgepodge, it nonetheless feels organically whole, if not competently acted or directed. So maybe it was no surprise I kept thinking of Kilgore Trout while watching this movie; he’s the fictional science fiction writer from the works of Kurt Vonnegut who, despite being a bad writer, has fans because he has such interesting ideas. Maybe that’s why there are certain bad directors we love; they sometimes give us something that nobody else really gives us, which may explain why people like Andy Milligan have staunch defenders. No, I can’t recommend this movie, but if you do watch it, I don’t think it will be a total waste of time.

Amazons (1986)

AMAZONS (1986)
Article 3867 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-7-2012
Posting Date: 3-16-2012
Directed by Alejandro Sessa
Featuring Ty Randolph, Penelope Reed, Joseph Whipp
Country: Argentina
What it is: Epic fantasy suffering from anemia

A group of Amazons must do battle with an evil magician, but their greatest warrior is sent on a quest to find a magic sword that will destroy him.

I suspect the only reason the warriors are Amazons is so that the bare chests can be more exploitable. The budget is obviously near the very low end of the scale, the action/battle scenes are unconvincing and badly choreographed, and unless you’re looking for laughs of the wretched cinema variety, about the only reason to catch this one is for the scenery (both natural and human). Yet I do have to admit to being a bit awed at this one; I’ve never seen a movie where the acting is all at the same consistently low level, because not only is every actor giving a bad performance, but they’re all giving the same level of a bad performance. When that happens, I usually suspect the problem is in the direction; obviously, the director likes his acting that way. Well, at least it keeps the overacting in check; it’s even worse when that happens, but it only occurs during the climactic battle scene. I think that’s all anyone really needs to know about this one.

The Herncrake Witch (1912)

THE HERNCRAKE WITCH (1912)
aka The Hencrake Witch
Short
Article 3866 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-6-2012
Posting Date: 3-15-2012
Directed by Mark Melford
Featuring Jackeydawra Melford, Mark Melford
Country: UK
What it is: Fantasy comedy

When the daughter of a local witch is ostracized by the other students at a girl school, the witch plots a revenge against them. She also helps her daughter’s lover to overcome his father’s resistance to their romance.

This title had ended up on my “ones that got away” list with a LOST classification, but a print (with only a few seconds missing at the beginning and the end) has apparently turned up, been restored, and posted on the web, thus giving me a chance to see it. It looked relatively realistic for a movie about a witch in its time, so I was wondering if it would be a movie about the witch hunts, but the minute the daughter shows up in a black pointed hat, I knew that it wasn’t to be taken too seriously. In the movie, the witch really only has one trick up its sleeve, but it’s a good one, especially when she casts it on a misogynistic father. It’s a fun and amusing little short that I’m glad survived. Incidentally, I was quite surprised to discover that the character of Jackeydawra (the witch’s daughter) was actually played by an actress name Jackeydawra.

The Super Devil (1966)

THE SUPER DEVIL (1966)
aka L’arcidiavolo, The Devil in Love
Article 3865 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-5-2012
Posting Date: 3-14-2012
Directed by Ettore Scola
Featuring Vittorio Gassman, Claudine Augur, Mickey Rooney
Country: Italy
What it is: Diabolical comedy

In the fifteenth century, the state of peace has reduced the influx of new souls to hell to a trickle, so Satan sends up the devil Belphegor in the shape of a man (and assisted by an invisible demon known as Adramalek) to start a war between Rome and Florence. However, will his human form leave him vulnerable to human emotions?

This is a comic fantasy with a few science fiction elements as well; some of Leonardo Da Vinci’s inventions come into play during the proceedings. Vittorio Gassman seems to be having the time of his life playing the cocky, fearless Belphegor, while Mickey Rooney plays his part like an older Puck; in my print, he appears to be have been dubbed into Italian. Still, the biggest problem with this movie is that for the most part, it’s a one note affair; the plot itself isn’t clever enough to really engross the viewer, the humor is mostly all on the same level, and any character development is saved for the end of the movie. It’s sporadically clever and energetic, but ultimately a bit tiresome.

The Castle (1968)

THE CASTLE (1968)
aka Das Schloss
Article 3864 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-4-2012
Posting Date: 3-13-2012
Directed by Rudolf Noelte
Featuring Maximilian Schell, Cordula Trantow, Trudik Daniel
Country: West Germany
What it is: Kafkaesque frustration

A land surveyor arrives in a small village only to discover he is not wanted or needed, and that his presence disrupts the routine of the village. He becomes obsessed with speaking to an elusive official of the castle that presides over the town.

I think part of the trick to enjoying Kafka is to know that you’re dealing with Kafka, which is to say, that you’re dealing with mysteries with no solutions and labyrinths with no exits. The movie is a fantasy because it can’t be anything else, though it could also be seen as a horror movie in the sense that it presents a very specific type of nightmare, one in which we are trapped in a world in which we don’t know the rules and our efforts to understand them just makes them seem more impenetrable. Personally, I’ve always suspected there’s something profoundly comic about his work, in much the same way that the work of Chekhov is, and like Chekhov, he is often played more for heavy drama. I also suspect that being a protagonist in a Kafka drama was not unlike being trapped into a game of fizzbin and never realizing it. Maybe that’s the reason I think the main flaw of this movie is that it’s just too glum; I think that the makers of the movie had about as much of a sense of humor as the character of the land surveyor. But then, if the land surveyor had had a sense of humor, he wouldn’t have been a Kafka protagonist, would he? Actually, I find Kafka fascinating, but he is an acquired taste.