Sunday, March 24, 2019

Blu Ray Review: Strip Nude for Your Killer (1975) by Andrea Bianchi


Company: Arrow Video
Director: Andrea Bianchi
Year: 1975
Genre: Giallo
Discs: 1
Special Features:
Audio Commentary-Adrian J. Smith and David Flint
Featurette-Sex and Death with a Smile (Video Essay on Edwige Fenech)
Interview-A Good Man for the Murders (Nino Castelnuovo)
Interview-The Blonde Salamander (Erna Schurer)
Interview-The Art of Helping (Assistant Director Daniele Sangiorgi)
Interview-Jack of All Trade (Production Manager Tino Polenghi)
Trailers
Image Gallery

To learn about the movie itself: Go HERE.

As for the Disc-
Video: ****1/2/5

The film is presented with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.35:1. This is a massively worthwhile upgrade over the old Blue Underground print which was soft and filled with grain, as instead this offers up a richer, warmer palette that offers a far more realistic series of flesh-tones and background colors. While still containing some form of grain which is to be expected considering the age of the film and the film-making limitations of the time, the detail level is still impressively high and manages to imbue the film with some standout images including a rather ingenious opportunity to see the opening abortion with either the original blue tint or with more natural colors. Overall, another strong and impressive visual package here.

Audio: ****/5

This one features nice-sounding LPCM Mono tracks in either the original Italian or the popular English dub. Aside from the obvious differences in voices, there really isn't any noticeably substantial changes in amplitude or overall mix levels, so your preference will probably come down to whether or not reading subtitles bugs you. This also allows the jazzy Blaxploitation-style score of Berto Pisano ample room to work as it resonates cleanly and with considerable sonic energy on the low end. Nothing here will really blow you away, but it serves as a wholly appropriate and effective for this type of film.

Extras: **** 1/2/5

First up is a fine if somewhat chatty commentary by Adrian J. Smith and David Flint. They have stellar stories to tell about the film's production history and some biographical information on the performers as they appear on-screen, and the wide-array of stories told her provide listeners with a stellar amount of newfound information to come out of the talk. They sometimes talk over each other due to trying to start up on the same stories but there's far more to get out of it's inclusion here as this is decidedly a fine point for fans to look into.

Also on tap in the extras is a superlative video essay by Kat Ellinger on Edwige's career in giallo and sex comedies. Running through the precursors to her appearance in the genre to how she became the undisputed queen of the genre, this stellar overview of how she came to be known for her work in both genres is a great mix of clips from the films and still-shots as Kat exposes some of the finest and most well-researched biographical information about her as well as incredibly profound analysis of why she came to be known in the role. It's the next best thing to having her on the disc itself.

Lastly, there's four interviews conducted, first up is an archival interview with Nino Caselnuovo where he goes over his acting career and history with directors Lucio Fulci and Alfredo Giannetti as well as working on the film itself. Actress Erna Schurer is also included, discussing her early career in the genre as well as her contributions to the film including the infamous attempted rape scene her character goes through. Assistant Director Daniele Sangiorgi gets the longest extra, an exhaustive overview of his career filled with varied stories and recollections from his decades-long career which is almost worth the price of the disc alone. Lastly, Production Manage Tino Polenghi gets the spotlight to recount some of his memories and experiences working on the film and in the Italian genre scene at the time. Rounding out the list is several trailers and a robust image gallery featuring numerous stills and poster artwork for the film.

A booklet containing new writing on the film is also included in the package but was not provided for review.

Overview: ****1/2/5
A standout version of one of the genre's most beloved and lurid titles, this is one of the finest presentations in Arrow's gluttony of gialli titles which is getting more and more impressive as time goes on. This is well-worth the upgrade for fans of the film or those that are curious about it, while those not sold on this one really have no excuse for picking up this stellar package from Arrow especially with the strong technical aspects of the disc.

To order the film: LINK.

Strip Nude for Your Killer (1975) by Andrea Bianchi


Director: Andrea Bianchi
Year: 1975
Country: Italy
Alternate Titles: Nude per l'assassino
Genre: Giallo

Plot:
After a series of strange murders, the workers at a high-end fashion magazine find themselves at the center of the reign of terror by the savage killer and must find out the motives and identity of the masked madman before they all fall to his blood-lust.

Review:

This here is one of the best and sleaziest of the giallos ever made. That comes out here almost from the very beginning as the main source of the film being undertaken at a fashion magazine makes for a wholly appropriate base for the film's ongoing and nearly relentless sleaze to come through. Not only does this allow for the expected nudity showing the girls getting dressed for the shoots as well as the nudity found there in those shoots, but the ever-present backstabbing and politicking expected to be a part of such a business gets featured here with the women pressured into sleeping with the prospective new clients, the general snubbing of women in order to break the next big face and the general air of sleaze and temptation featured here makes this fit in so well with the genre as a whole while getting the most out of it's premise.

Getting the chance to see these kinds of women naked as often as they are there would've been enough, but to do so with the addition of the other nude scenes or just simple inserts of them getting topless for no reason makes this one quite a bit of fun and wholly enjoyable with the film really feeling like a continual onslaught of naked female flesh almost from the start which is greatly appreciated here not only because of the quality of such scenes but also for their ability to distract from what else is happening. Generated by such a capable and veteran cast, from the legendary Edwige Fenech as the aspiring model/photographer Magda who gives a stand-out performance in the plucky investigator caught up in the killers' sights as her aspiring model side-arc allows her customary disrobing so long as one buys the storyline that people overlook her as being unworthy of a model career. Still, bringing in Femi Benussi, Solvi Stubbing and Erna Schurer to all provide numerous such scenes helps to offset that with glorious helpings of fine nude females on display.


Once it gets away from the sleaze, there's a lot more to like here. The opening ambush and attack by the killer on the victim at his house works nicely with the surprise stalking getting some nice suspense along the way, a later stalking scene at a victim's house while under the impression of a social visit is pretty suspenseful while the highlight murder sequence of a nude woman in her apartment makes for a wholly enjoyable and suspenseful sequence as the large darkened apartment and amorous activities beforehand set the stage for a wholly enjoyable highlight sequence even without the ever-present nudity. As well, the park- side encounter works out a thrilling suspenseful attack as the blackmail payoff is handled well and the follow-up hit-and-run makes for a rather strong conclusion. Other great scenes include the hair-raising car ride abduction through the city, the thrilling encounter in the photo-lab after the killer cuts the lights for a great sequence and the big chase scene at the finale is a wholly entertaining variant which all give this some rather enjoyable times.

That said, there's still a few issues here that aren't so enjoyable. Like most of the films in this style, the main storyline motivation for the killer here is quite lame and seems as it's an incredibly perfunctory motive for the rampage, letting it play out in rather perfunctory manners and becoming the rather confusing angle that's expected here. As well, the fact that this one is so sleazy and violent might make it hard to get through on same cases, and it can be somewhat difficult for some to really get through here. These here are where the film somewhat gets held down.


Overview: **** 1/2/5
One of the finest entries in just about every type of exploitation angle you could look at, this one not only delivers on sordid sexuality but also on enough genre thrills to work as one of the finest gialli ever. Beyond highly recommended for those who appreciate this one's salacious experiences or are a genre fan in general, while those who can't handle the risque material and subject matter should heed caution.

RIP - Writer/Director/Producer Larry Cohen


Word has been going around lately that the passing of writer/director/producer Larry Cohen has been confirmed. He was 77. Known for genre fans as the creator of the It's Alive series as well as efforts like The Stuff, Q: The Winged Serpent and A Return to Salem's Lot alongside writing efforts like the original Maniac Cop, Captivity and Phone Booth, he was always outspoken and refreshingly blunt in interviews but has earned his distinction as a Master of Horror due to his endlessly inventive and creative exploits. I'd like to extend my sincere and deepest condolences to his family and friends in this emotional time.

To read more: Bloody-Disgusting.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Night (2019) by Nicholas Michael Jacobs


Director: Nicholas Michael Jacobs
Year: 2019
Country: USA
Alternate Titles: N/A
Genre: Torture Slasher

Plot:
Heading out to find a new victim, a serial killer finds a young girl and brings her back to his lair in order to torture her for a legion of followers online only to have his hands full with trying to ensure he can stay focused on the task at hand.

Review:

Overall, this was quite the decidedly awful serial killer effort. One of the few enjoyable elements to be had here is the fact that the found footage creation manages to work decidedly well for the film's overall point. The simplistic nature of what's going on, with the initial scenes of the guy preparing to go out and then following her for several blocks before striking and taking her, sets up a rather intriguing setup that plays out involving the live-streaming and the torture that's inflicted there. With everything that's shown here of the barbaric and brutal manners of torture that inflicts for the live-streaming patrons that he continually interactions As well, the final revenge here is completely worthwhile and earned from the start, which is about all that works here.

There's a lot to dislike here, starting with the absolutely primitive setup that really does this one no favors. The one-setting location of the entire effort means the camera never changes from the same static shot of her in the background tied up while he interacts sporadically with her and turns the entire affair into a bland, drawn-out repetitive effort. It's all pretty much the same thing for the entire time as they just sit around either talking about what the purpose of his tormenting and torturing her is all about or featuring some utterly banal and weak torture scenes where the camera angle makes it obvious he's not making contact with her which lowers the intensity significantly. The scenes of the two engaging in the revelation of his rampage are just laughable and cringe-inducing, really making this one really lame and bland.


Overview: *1/2/5
A decidedly simplistic, low-key effort that really only works if you're able to be fooled by the stylistic choices rather than the actions as those are wholly lame and underwhelming. Really only give this a go if you're a fan of that style or looking for a somewhat chilling effort, while those looking for anything more or turned off by the flaws here should ignore this one.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Necromurder: A Black Metal Story (2019) by Pablo C. Vergara


Living in New York City, a musician in an underground Black Metal band continually toes the line between insane and reality when a series of issues threaten to push him beyond the edge as he struggles to hold the band afloat and deal with his personal life.

For the most part, this was a highly enjoyable short effort. The most impactful aspect of this one is the distinctly innovative mixture of the music against the technical aspects of the production. The frantic and frenzied music playing over the scenes of him snapping and attacking everyone, whether in the apartment or the studio which are all equally fast and quick sequences. The more introspective and quieter moments are accompanied by the lighter and spacey form of musical interludes that serve to alleviate the atmosphere from the raging, frostbitten sequences, especially due to the hard-hitting rooftop brawl that really brings a horrific edge to the film. The ability to connect with the lead singer here is quite easy to accomplish and would more-than-likely be even easier in a feature-length effort if we get to know him better.

There are a few minor issues to be had within here. There's very little of interest here in the relationship with the estranged wife as we're introduced into this with no buildup and just comes barreling out of nowhere. That's especially more prominent once you get the triple dose of scenes that are designed to bring the viewer onto his side with everyone blowing up at him for being a low-life into the music. Had this been stretched out somewhat in a longer format to help understand the motivations of what's going on easier, there would've been fewer issues with these scenes as the short-film format makes these somewhat redundant that a longer format wouldn't. However, this is really the only minor issue with the effort.

Interview - Pablo C. Vergara (Writer/Director of Necromurder: A Black Metal Story (2019))


Having just been released in a short-film version, writer/director Pablo C. Vergara is trying to use the project to fund a feature-length version of the short. In honor of the shorts' new release, I sit down to talk with him about growing up in Mexico, his early experiences and shooting the film short.


Thursday, March 21, 2019

Interview - Michaela Longden (Star of Book of Monsters (2019))


Having just been recently released on video, the massively-backed crowdfunded effort Book of Monsters has been getting rave reviews for its mix of comedy and practical effects as well as it's impressive female-driven cast. I was able to sit down with one of the stars of the film, Michaela Longden, to talk about her early career and the film itself.


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Book of Monsters (2019) by Stewart Sparke


Director: Stewart Sparke
Year: 2019
Country: UK
Alternate Titles: N/A
Genre: Creature Feature; Horror/Comedy

Plot:
Troubled by a traumatic childhood incident, a teen and her friends decide to throw a wild party for her eighteenth birthday, but once the guests arrive a deadly ritual is invoked unleashing a horde of monsters looking to complete a dangerous ritual and forcing them to stop its plans.

Review:

For the most part, this proved to be an exceptionally enjoyable effort. One of it's strongest aspects is the manner in which this one works the fear of growing up into a decidedly fun effort. With a fantastic start that provides a reasonable and wholly necessary motivation for the fear she has towards the event and colors her emotional memories of her mother's incident, there's a great start to this one that gets played out rather nicely here. That opening sequence detailing the events is not only suitably creepy with the thunderstorm blaring and the overall chilling action of the attack on the mother that includes every possible trick in the book for playing up the childhood fear of the incident by going through her screaming being pulled under the bed in front of the child and seeing the creature emerge from the shadows to bed in the room with her. These events are rightfully psychologically scarring but to also see this hasn't affected her in most stereotypical manners is quite refreshing with the way the early goings of the party which is rather fun.

It's once the creatures arrive at the house where this one really turns into a full-on blast. The creatures running wild on the guests at the party offers up scores of highly-enjoyable antics here as they get ripped to pieces, pulled in half, have their heads ripped off and various other forms of grotesque carnage which are all the more fun due to the practical nature of the effects. Given that the various and multiple monsters and creatures are shown to have memorable and unique designs that are driven by that manner of practical costumes for them, there's an added sense of fun in seeing the spike-backed ox creature or the gnome-worms running around the party as there's a sense of realism in seeing that occur. Given that these also manage to unravel the mystery behind their appearance and the ritual that's at the center of the creatures appearing at the house, this prepares us nicely for the overall fun of the finale where it tackles the creatures being taken out in rather fun fashion and unleashing plenty of over-the-top confrontations and action-packed encounters that leave this with a lighthearted tone alongside the thrilling sequences. These here hold the film up over it's few minor flaws.

This one has several small problems with it. The biggest issue is the absolute lack of clarity as for what's going on as the decision to keep the information about the creatures' appearance until the very end doesn't mean this makes any sense. The running time is spent with everyone around the party wondering what the purpose of them appearing is supposed to be for, and even their attempts at figuring out the translations in the book don't amount to much with several questionable aspects. Even the issue of what the purpose for bringing the book down to them, having been hidden in the bedroom during the initial sacrifice ritual, is entirely problematic with the group slowly revealing the history behind its contents which runs the risk of exposing a plan it wants to be hidden at that point and really making for a genuinely confusing point about the main plan here. As well, there's also the rushed finale which handles the action in a decidedly quick manner, making this one feel like the final boss battle between them and the most dangerous demon is a tad underwhelming. Otherwise, there isn't much wrong with this one.


Overview: ***1/2/5
Managing to get plenty of enjoyable elements to it with its old-school approach and comedic attitude while also keeping some questions unanswered, there's a lot to like here with only a few minor detrimental elements. Give this a go if you're into these indie creature features or looking for a fun, enjoyable effort while those who don't prefer this kind of film should heed caution.

Interview - Nicholas Vince (Actor in Book of Monsters (2019))


Widely renown for his role in the original Hellraiser, actor Nicholas Vince has turned his iconic turn into a nice career for himself in bit parts of various genre films. Now, in honor of his new film Book of Monsters is released on March 18, I talk with him on his career and the film in general.


Monday, March 18, 2019

RIP - Director/Special Effects Artist John Carl Buechler


Today, we were saddened to learn of the loss of special effects master John Carl Buechler from cancer. He was 66. An integral part of the Empire Pictures/Full Moon Features team of artists in the late 1980s, he's responsible for the make-up work in their films Troll, Ghoulies, Re-Animator and Cellar Dweller, as well as directing that latter film alongside his most well-remembered film Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood. A beloved member of the community and a provider of special effects work for numerous films, I'd like to extend my sincere and deepest condolences to his family and friends in this emotional time.

To read more: Bloody-Disgusting.
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