Piu tardi Claire, piu tardi… (1968)

aka Run, Psycho, Run
Article 3802 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-1-2012
Posting Date: 1-11-2012
Directed by Brunello Rondi
Featuring Gary Merrill, Elga Andersen, Rossella Falk
Country: Italy
What it is: Not quite sure

A man seeks a look-alike substitute for his wife, who was murdered on a trip to Cornwall.

Knowing ahead of time that I was going to be seeing this one in Italian without English subtitles, I tried to do a little reading up on it. The John Stanley guide (from which I got the title) gave more or less the same plot description as IMDB, though where IMDB’s rating of 6.9 does seem to imply that it is fondly remembered in certain quarters, the Stanley guide dismissed the movie is a non-scary, boring talkfest. The Stanley guide was right on that one point; this is one of the talkiest movies I’ve encountered, and were it not for the plot descriptions, I wouldn’t have a clue to what is going on here. Heck, even with the plot descriptions, I’m still not sure. Only three visual moments stand out; the first is the murder scene itself (and that’s a little ambiguous), the second is a scene where a peasant girl plays with a young child while wielding a big butcher knife (which was rather suspenseful even if I didn’t know the context for the scene), and a scene near the end where a woman explores a hidden room, and it’s here I see the lone reference to PSYCHO (and which provides the clearest horror content I could find in the movie). Other than that, the English title should have been TALK, PSYCHO, TALK!. I hope the talk was interesting enough to sustain interest to those who understand Italian; for me, it was a bit of a chore to get through. And, of course, I withhold from any evaluation beyond that point.

Professor Zazul (1962)

aka The Mystery of Professor Zazul
Article 3781 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-9-2011
Posting Date: 12-21-2011
Directed by Marek Nowicki and Jerzy Stawicki
Featuring Piotr Kurowski and Stanislaw Milski
Country: Poland
What it is: Intriguing enigma

A man wrecks his car and seeks help in the home of a mysterious professor who has a secret.

Here’s another movie I wish had English subtitles; it’s a fascinating little short that does some very interesting things with the flow of time and plays with dreams within dreams. I can’t quite figure it out, but the source where I found the movie says that robots play a part in the storyline, and that certainly seems likely at the point of a major revelation near the end of the movie. It’s based on a short story by Stanislaw Lem, and, like anything else I’ve seen that is based on his work, it makes me more and more interested in spending some time investigating his work. As it is, even though I couldn’t quite follow this short, I found it very interesting to look at throughout.

La poupee (1962)

LA POUPEE (1962)
aka The Doll
Article 3777 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-5-2011
Posting Date: 12-17-2011
Directed by Jacques Baratier
Featuring Zbigniew Cybulski, Sonne Teal, Claudio Gora
Country: Italy / France
What it is: Political satire

In a mythical South American country, a dictator is impersonated by a look-alike revolutionary while a robot/cyborg version of the dictator’s wife stirs up revolution.

Like yesterday’s movie, here’s another title that ended up on my “ones that got away” list, only to finally make its way into my hands so I could see it. And, like yesterday’s movie, there are no English titles, so I am limited in my ability to understand and discuss the movie. However, whereas yesterday’s movie left me feeling that I wouldn’t particularly be impressed even if it were in English, this one really has me yearning to know what’s going on. It’s obviously a satire, and there’s a surreal air to the proceedings, and it has a real sense of style. I’m not sure exactly how to describe the the doppelganger of the dictator’s wife; I’ve heard it described as either a robot or a cyborg, but it’s hard to make out which based on a purely visual take on the movie. One of the most interesting comparisons between yesterday’s movie and this one is this; whereas I went through most of yesterday’s movie feeling that Asta Nielsen looked like a female impersonator, I discovered that the person who plays the wife and the cyborg in this one was indeed a female impersonator… and I would have never guessed. Sometimes, this project gets very strange.

Pigs (1972)

PIGS (1972)
aka Daddy’s Deadly Darling
Article 3775 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-3-2011
Posting Date: 12-15-2011
Directed by Marc Lawrence
Featuring Toni Lawrence, Mark Lawrence, Jesse Vint
Country: USA
What it is: Psychos and hungry animals

A disturbed young woman (who killed her father after he raped her) escapes from an asylum and takes refuge in the cafe of a small town. The owner of the cafe has a secret; his pigs have become addicted to human flesh, and he has to keep them supplied with food. Can this end well?

Hey, this movie has something in common with the last four movies I’ve seen. Like NIGHT OF THE GHOUL, it has a scene where a woman keeps hunting for someone who is calling out “Help me! Help me!” (though I do need to point out that in the earlier movie, the scene had a purpose; here it’s a head-scratching question mark). Like GIRLY, it gives us multiple psychos in the same household. And like C.H.O.M.P.S, it’s an animal story, and come to think of it, C.H.O.M.P.S would be a good name for this one as well, given that it’s partially about the the dining habits of the pigs. Here’s one of the taglines for this movie – “If you go down to the woods today… you’re in for a PIG surprise!” This may be one of the silliest taglines I’ve encountered, and the movie lives up to it, what with its bizarre confusion between human bodies being eaten by pigs and human beings being turned into pigs (I think someone was taking the phrase “You are what you eat.” too literally), it’s freaky snatches of conversation (such as the sheriff who points out that “Dead people have no rights!”), and some of the most twitchily bent and hilarious conversations I’ve ever encountered. I actually remember seeing an ad for this on TV once many years ago, and then I never heard of it again until now; I don’t think it ever played in a theater anywhere near me. And, with it’s weird, deja vu-ish jump cuts that make you feel like you’re unstuck in time, this certainly must rank as one of the worst-edited films ever made. It’s awful, but hilariously so, and that’s saying something.

Oh, and I forgot to comment on what it had in common with THE GIANT OF METROPOLIS – it takes place in some super-scientific community. At least, that’s the only way I can explain why the motor vehicles in this movie have a tendency to start driving away before you hear the motor start. Or maybe that’s just more editing problems…

The Prowler (1981)

Article 3764 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-22-2011
Posting Date: 12-4-2011
Directed by Joseph Zito
Featuring Vicky Dawson, Christopher Goutman, Lawrence Tierney
Country: USA
What it is: Slasher movie

In 1945, a girl and her boyfriend are killed during a graduation dance. 35 years later, the graduation dance is revived for the first time since the murder… and the murders start up again.

Back when I covered GRADUATION DAY, I commented on how several of the reviews I’d read proved to be highly inaccurate, with the one in the John Stanley book going on about a backstory that did not exist in that movie. I hypothesized then that he was probably confusing that movie with another one. Well, the mystery is solved; he was confusing it with this one, probably due to the fact that one of the alternate titles of this one is THE GRADUATION. For the record, this is indeed one of the better slasher movies out there; in the way it actually works hard to build up suspense and in the way it eschews the use of a lot of typical slasher cliches, it actually shows up how lazily written so many movies of that genre were. Not that the movie doesn’t have its flaws; there’s a few plot holes to be reckoned with, some awkward moments, and a bit of muddiness near the end of the movie. Still, it’s probably the best one I’ve seen since MY BLOODY VALENTINE, and the fact that the acting is generally very good throughout is another plus. There’s even some fun character moments, such as a scene with a lazy desk clerk that sticks in the memory.

Poltergeist (1982)

Article 3727 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-13-2011
Posting Date: 10-28-2011
Directed by Tobe Hooper
Featuring Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, Beatrice Straight
Country: USA
What it is: Horror, Spielberg style

A suburban family discovers that their home is the source of paranormal activity, but they really begin to panic when their youngest daughter is spirited away into another dimension.

I remember that when this movie came out, it was considered something of a companion piece to E.T. – THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL, as both movies came from the mind of Steven Spielberg and dealt with various aspects of childhood, with this movie concentrating on childhood fears. I remember there was a bit of controversy about how much of the movie was Spielberg’s work and how much was Tobe Hooper’s; after all, the movie feels a lot more like a Spielberg movie than anything from Hooper. There’s a lot I really like about the movie. The way it taps into childhood horror is quite memorable, with the creepy tree outside of the window being my favorite touch. The typical Spielbergian touches in the dialogue can be quite fun, and Zelda Rubenstein steals the movie as a diminutive psychic who intends to clean out the house. There are some great ideas as to the nature of the horror as well, though I don’t think the movie overall quite uses them as well as it could. Still, I have to admit that I find the movie more interesting than scary; there’s something about all of the special effects pyrotechnics that actually makes the movie seem less scary to me, especially during the big finale. In some ways, I feel about this movie’s horror content as I feel about Spielberg’s 1941’s comedy content; both movies end up trying too hard to be big to effectively keep focused on their primary intent. Nevertheless, that’s not a fatal flaw in this case, as the movie does remain consistently interesting.

Please Don’t Eat My Mother (1973)

Article 3679 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-26-2011
Posting Date: 9-10-2011
Directed by Carl Monson
Featuring Buck Kartalian, Lynn Lundgren, Art Hedburg
Country: USA
What it is: Comedy horror sexploitation

A middle-aged voyeur who lives with his mother buys a talking plant with a sexy voice that has an ever-increasing appetite, finally settling on human beings as its choice food.

Between the original Corman version of THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS and the big-budget musical remake of the eighties, we have this uncredited remake that adds a bunch of sex and nudity into the mix. It manages to add the sex by simply making the Seymour character (here named Henry Fudd) a voyeur, so every once in a while he goes into a wooded area and watches couples having sex. Once again, I’m not going to comment on the sex scenes except to point out that besides their obvious primary purpose in the movie, they do serve at least one useful secondary purpose; they distract us from the comedy and plot, which are, in a word, abysmal. The original version is one of the funniest movies I’ve seen; this one, despite occasionally hovering near some potentially humorous ideas, doesn’t net a single laugh. Then there’s the crappy special effects; the plant looks like nothing more than a tacky puppet, and though it’s tempting to blame this on the movie’s no-doubt extreme low budget, I suspect that the budget wasn’t significantly lower than Corman’s original, and the plant passed muster there. But then, the comedy and horror were the primary elements in the Corman original; here, they’re supposed to play second fiddle to the sex scenes. This movie is truly horrid. Still, a couple of side notes. Since I do some acting on the side, I hope that I never fall so low as to play a voyeur in a movie like this, as the acting in such a role requires little more than being able to stare straight ahead and grin like a maniac. Secondly, there are some movie titles that I just feel embarrassed to mention or write out, and the tacky, tasteless title of this one is one of them.