The Entity (1981)

THE ENTITY (1981)
Article 3211 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-3-2010
Posting Date: 5-30-2010
Directed by Sidney J. Furie
Featuring Barbara Hershey, Ron Silver, David Labiosa
Country: USA
What it is: Supernatural thriller

A woman is being assaulted and raped repeatedly by an invisible demon. She seeks help from both psychiatry and parapsychology.

According to the end crawl, this movie is a fictionalized account of a true story. This means that the movie in and of itself can’t be considered a true story, and one would have to know the true story (whatever it is) to compare with the movie to know what supposedly happened and what has been made up. For what it’s worth, the movie does at least one thing to give it a sense of verisimilitude; true events don’t wrap themselves into tidy, neat little packages, and neither does this movie. Unfortunately, as a result, the movie isn’t quite satisfying since there are a number of things that are never really resolved. Still, the movie does feature a strong performance from Barbara Hershey, and it shows some good insight and intelligence at times. And, given the subject matter, it’s probably about as tasteful as it could be without wimping out altogether. It would have helped had it been a bit shorter than its two hour five minute running time.

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The End of the World (1916)

THE END OF THE WORLD (1916)
aka Verdens undergang
Article 3092 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-4-2009
Posting Date: 1-31-2010
Directed by August Blom
Featuring Alf Blutecher, Olaf Fonss, Johanne Fritz-Petersen
Country: Denmark
What it is: Early Danish Disaster movie

Various characters living in or associated with a small Danish mining town deal with impending doom when an astronomer discovers the existence of a new comet that will enter the atmosphere of the Earth.

This movie opens with the introduction of several characters and then concentrates on the various domestic travails of their lives. It’s only after this that the comet is discovered, and it’s here that the movie takes its most interesting turn – it concentrates on an investor who sees the plunge in the stock market following the announcement of the comet as an opportunity to make a fortune. Since this investor is a relative of the astronomer who discovered the comet, he gets inside info on the impending disaster and uses it to make his fortune, even to the point of working with an unscrupulous newspaper editor to plant fraudulent information designed to create the right economic climate. Had the movie continued this exploration of greed and finance, it would have proven to be a fascinating, relevant and unique movie. Unfortunately, the movie then begins concentrating on the more conventional melodramatic plot elements that were being set up at the beginning of the movie, so we have a jealous lover, class battles, an angry father who curses his daughter who eloped without his permission, a pair of separated lovers who try to reunite, etc. It’s at this point that the movie becomes very similar to the disaster movies of the seventies, which may make it one of the earliest examples of the form. Still, it is a disappointing direction after the section about economics. I do like how the movie does show us (often without comment) the comet in the sky during some of the outdoors sequences in the middle of the movie, even if it looks something like the comet in THE BRAINIAC; notice how when the camera pans in some of these scenes, the comet pans with it. The scenes of destruction at the end are satisfying enough, though. Not bad, but it could have been better.

The Exorcist III: Cries and Shadows (1975)

THE EXORCIST III: CRIES AND SHADOWS (1975)
aka The Possessor, Un urlo nelle tenebre
Article 3033 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-27-2009
Posting Date: 12-3-2009
Directed by Franco Lo Cascio and Angelo Pannaccio
Featuring Richard Conte, Francoise Prevost, Patrizia Gori
Country: Italy

A teenage boy is possessed by the spirit of an evil woman. They may have to call in an exorcist…

In some ways, I’m a little in awe of the Italian film industry; if you can count on any country’s cinematic output to take a trend and beat it into the ground, Italy will be there. I am amazed at just how many sword-and-sandal epics, James Bond ripoffs, spaghetti westerns, and giallos (to start with) that they churned out, and if there’s a popular American movie to imitate, (such as JAWS, STAR WARS, or, in this case, THE EXORCIST) they’ll be on the front lines. I don’t know how many knockoffs of the latter they put out, but I’m already getting weary of them (and I haven’t even seen the most famous one, BEYOND THE DOOR, yet). The formula is simple; take the basic premise of its model and make the possessee older so he/she can participate in sex scenes, and then fill out the movie with plenty of those. This one seems a hair better at first, but that feeling only lasted a couple of minutes; once we see our pasty-faced possessee engaging in the most mild of displays of shocking behavior and language, you know this one is a loser. In fact, the language and violence are so mild here that, on their merits alone, the movie would fare no worse than a mild PG rating; this is offset by the sex and orgy scenes, which push it almost to an X. It’s badly dubbed and edited with a cuisinart. About the only novelty here is that the possessee is male. And don’t let that deceptive title make you mistake it for an entry in the real series.

The Emerald of Artatama (1969)

THE EMERALD OF ARTATAMA (1969)
aka The Girl of the Nile, La muchaca del Nilo
Article 3009 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-3-2009
Posting Date: 11-9-2009
Directed by Jose Maria Elorrieta
Featuring Pilar Arenas, Frank Brana, Rory Calhoun
Country: Spain

An adventurer seeks financing for an expedition to the tomb of Artatama to recover a legendary emerald.

In the first half hour of the movie, we have some voice-over narration, a fistfight, a little exposition about how the hero is planning an expedition, some dancing, some womanizing, a reunion of old buddies, and another fistfight. By the time the second fistfight came along, I was wondering when the movie was really going to get started. Which goes to show how clueless I am; all that stuff IS the movie, and the plot is strictly an excuse for the action scenes and the beautiful women. The fantastic content isn’t much; there’s some talk about a curse on Artatama’s tomb, but it comes to nothing. Does our hero reach the tomb? Does he find the emerald? Does he survive the several plots that are made against him? Does he end up with the woman who really loves him? Does the movie ever rise above the run-of-the-mill bottom-of-the-bill action flick it appears to be? One of the above questions has an answer of ‘no’, and if you follow the path of fewest surprises, you’ll know which one it is. Watchable and forgettable.

Exorcism (1975)

EXORCISM (1975)
aka Exorcismo
Article 2988 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-13-2009
Posting Date: 10-19-2009
Directed by Juan Bosch
Featuring Paul Naschy, Maria Perschy, Maria Kosty
Country: Spain

A woman gets possessed after taking part in a Satanic ceremony. A priest tries to exorcise her.

I’ve seen enough imitations of THE EXORCIST now to know what to expect from them. And I’ve seen enough Paul Naschy movies to know what to expect from them as well. In either case, the expectations are not high. So when I say this Paul Naschy rip-off of THE EXORCIST doesn’t live up to my expectations, I’m not saying I expected it to be as good as its model, but that it didn’t even meet the low expectations I went in with. Quite frankly, the first three-quarters of the movie are a muddled bore; it’s almost as if it doesn’t even want to be a horror movie, but a mystery, and not a good one at that. Oh, it throws in some nude cavorting at the Satanic mass, but for the most part, it’s talk, and not very interesting talk. The possession only really begins in the last reel, and that pretty much unfolds as you’d expect, though that’s not to say it’s effective. I can appreciate that the movie was trying to be low-key (which is something you don’t expect in a Paul Naschy film), but it ends up merely dull.

Eaten Alive! (1980)

EATEN ALIVE! (1980)
aka Mangiati vivi!, The Emerald Jungle
Article 2965 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-20-2009
Posting Date: 9-26-2009
Directed by Umberto Lenzi
Featuring Robert Kerman, Janet Agren, Ivan Rossimov
Country: Italy

A woman hires a guide to take her into the jungles of New Guinea to help her find and rescue her sister, who is part of a religious cult who has set up camp there in an area surrounded by cannibals.

What do you get when you cross the Italian cannibal genre with the Jim-Jones-suicide-cult-exploitation genre? When you get down to it, little more than your typical jungle movie, only with lots of disembowelments, gore, animal torture, decapitations, rapes, and severed limbs. Reportedly, this is one of the milder Italian cannibal movies out there, so it may disappoint fans of this sort of thing. Me, I like animals enough to find the scenes of them being disemboweled (and you know that footage is not being faked) to be incredibly offensive, especially as you know it’s just being done to satisfy the gross-out crowd. As for the rest of the movie, it’s also there primarily for the benefit of the gross-out crowd; there’s certain nothing else about this film that would attract a viewer otherwise.

The Eerie Midnight Horror Show (1974)

THE EERIE MIDNIGHT HORROR SHOW (1974)
aka L’ossessa, The Sexorcist
Article 2938 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-24-2009
Posting Date: 8-30-2009
Directed by Mario Gariazzo
Featuring Stella Carnacina, Chris Avram, Lucretia Love
Country: Italy

An art student encounters a wooden sculpture of a crucified man that turns out to be Satan. He comes to life and takes possession of her soul. An exorcist is found to save her.

Sometimes I marvel at the shamelessness of those who market movies. Releasing this lame but slightly sexed-up Italian rip-off of THE EXORCIST as THE SEXORCIST is not only tacky, but really overstates the case (though, in truth, since my print is short by seven minutes, it may depend on what is in that missing footage); nevertheless, I can understand that tactic. However, to call it the title it has above and to release it with the image of red disembodied lips is a blatant attempt to link it to another movie (and you should be able to figure out which movie I’m talking about if you consider that the title of that one featured both “horror” and “show” in the title, was a big hit on the midnight movie circuit, and was also marketed with the image of red disembodied lips). Still, I find it hard to believe that fans of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW would find much to their taste in this non-musical, non-campy, decidedly hetero movie. As for the movie itself, other than one good scene in which the wooden statue comes to life, I found it mostly derivative and dull; in particular, endless discussions about the artistic merits of the statue (and occasionally other items) will most likely bore the hell out of anyone who isn’t an art student. The director also gave us VERY CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE FOURTH KIND, if you want a hint at the level of quality here.