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Showing posts from March, 2010

Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl

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2009
Dirs. Yoshihiro Nishimura and Naoyuki Tomomatsu

When Keiko (Eri Otoguro) plummets to her death after arguing with vampiric love-rival Monami (Yukie Kawamura), her father turns all ‘Dr Frankenstein’ and resurrects her as part of a fiendish experiment. Bolting together a new body for her, he enables his daughter to return from the dead as Frankenstein Girl. The stage is now set for the most ludicrous and elaborate showdown since Godzilla bitch-slapped Megalon.

Part soap-opera, part monster movie mash-up, Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl is highly imaginative, utterly bonkers and boasts the most wicked sense of humour since The Evil Dead. Amongst various scenes of blood-splattered mayhem, contemporary Japanese pop-culture is mined for twisted laughs by the director who brought us Tokyo Gore Police. Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl is as over-the-top, uber-kitsch and gorily twisted as you'd expect from a film with this title. Perhaps most surprising of all, is the fact that …

The Horseman

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2008
Dir. Steven Kastrissios

Grieving father Christian (Peter Marshall) tracks down the men responsible for his daughter’s death and discovers more about his daughter than a father should ever know. Along the way he picks up teenage hitchhiker Alice (Caroline Marohasy) who is completely unaware of the brutal and bloody revenge he is extracting. Or is she?

The latest in a line of powerful and extreme Australian genre pictures such as Storm Warning, Long Weekend, Wolf Creek and Lake Mungo, The Horseman exudes a stark realism in its depiction of a grieving father turned brutal vigilante. What adds to the effectiveness of the film is that director Steven Kastrissios maintains effective restraint throughout proceedings as he ratchets up the tension to unbearable levels, before letting rip in a barbaric, bloody and highly intense climax.

Head over to Eye for Film to read my full review.

Book update/Ask Argento

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My book Dario Argento (Kamera Books) hits shelves throughout the UK today! Unfortunately it isn't available in the States just yet - though it will be heading there in May. You can of course purchase it online - look, I've made it real easy - amazon.co.uk, or amazon.com - it's even on ebay!

ALSO!

Thanks to the positively delectable Francesca Brazzorotto, I've been lucky enough to be granted a quick interview with Mr Argento himself on 9th April!! If anyone has any questions they'd like me to put to The Maestro, feel free to leave them here and if I have time (I have one or two of my own!) I will be glad to. Thanks again Francesca!

Now. Where's my damn Skype manual?!?


Arrow Video goes Argento crazy

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Fans of Dario Argento (and indeed Italian horror in general) will be pleased to hear that Arrow Video are releasing several Argento titles to DVD this month - with a multitude of special features and brand-spanking new art work! Read on...

Opera

“ARGENTO AT HIS STYLISH, HORRIFYING BEST!” – THE PSYCHOTRONIC VIDEO GUIDE.

Considered the last of the great horror masterpieces from director Dario Argento’s greatest and most critically acclaimed period of filmmaking to date, Terror At The Opera comes to DVD in March as a special edition featuring two edits of the film and three separate audio dubs, including the infamous English language ‘Cannes Film Festival dub’ and the ‘studio approved dub’ that replaced it.

An homage to ‘The Phantom Of The Opera’ (which Argento would remake a decade later) by way of Alfred Hitchcock, Terror At The Opera stars Ian Charleson (Gandhi; Chariots Of Fire) in his final feature appearance and Daria Nicolodi (Mother Of Tears; Scarlet Diva; Phenomena; Tenebre; Infe…

Interview with Amer directors Bruno Forzani and Hélène Cattet

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Upcoming Belgian neo-giallo Amer ('Bitter') has been causing quite a stir on the festival circuit of late. Filmmakers Bruno Forzani and Hélène Cattet have concocted a heady and mesmerizing brew that harks back to the dazzling and uber-stylised Italian gialli of the Seventies. Forzani and Cattet have set about recreating all the familiar motifs, visual codes, stylistic traits and clichés from the blood drenched and lurid archives of the giallo film. Classic gialli such as Deep Red, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key and All the Colours of the Dark are paid tribute to in a virtually dialogue free story revolving around the concepts of obsession, sexual desire, psychological trauma and murder. All this unfolds in a visual feast backed by recycled Italian soundtracks to create a stunning and haunting mood-piece that will sear itself onto your retina and into your nightmares long after its provocative arr…

Lizard in a Woman’s Skin

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1971
Dir. Lucio Fulci

Carol Hammond (Florinda Bolkan) has been having bizarre and erotic dreams about her alluring neighbour Julia, in which they passionately make love and then Carol violently stabs her to death. Julia is then actually found stabbed to death. Did Carol kill her and then block out the memory? Or is she having psychic visions of someone else’s crime? She tries to solve the mystery whilst evading attempts on her own life by a sinister stalker, seemingly intent on keeping her in the dark…

After Dario Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage proved extremely popular with its heady amalgamation of grindhouse exploitation and art-house chic, European cinemas were soon saturated with provocatively titled gialli featuring animal imagery in the titles. One of the more provocative and visually arresting of these films was director Lucio Fulci’s Lizard in a Woman’s Skin. The opening barrage of eerily sensual imagery produces a heady, hypnotic atmosphere rife with sexual devi…

Short Night of Glass Dolls

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1971
Dir. Aldo Lado

Whilst lying on an autopsy table, motionless but conscious and in some sort of cataleptic state, American journalist Gregory (Jean Sorel) recalls how he was desperately searching for his missing girlfriend Mira (Barbara Bach) in Prague, when he fell foul of a mysterious order of social elites who thrive on the ‘life essence’ of the younger generation. As he relays his story, he attempts to solve his own ‘murder’ before it is too late and the surgeons begin performing their autopsy on his still warm body.

Whilst not a typical giallo boasting black-gloved and psychologically traumatised killers, like The House of Laughing Windows, Short Night of Glass Dolls transcends conventional giallo fare and establishes itself as a thoughtful, provocative, atmospheric and highly effective thriller with distinct espionage elements and a serious allegorical message. The film begins with the discovery of the protagonist’s body in a park in Prague, recalling other films such as Do…

The House with Laughing Windows

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1976
Dir. Pupi Avati

Struggling artist Stefano (Lino Capolicchio) is commissioned to restore a fresco in a church in a small rural town. The fresco depicts the brutally violent death of St. Sebastian. Stefano soon learns that the painter was a madman who, with the aid of his deranged and incestuous sisters, viciously tortured people to death as inspiration for his horrific paintings. A series of increasingly bizarre events, including a couple of grisly murders, convince Stefano that someone is trying to stop him from uncovering the town's depraved past. Can he and his lover Francesca (Francesca Marciano) uncover the secrets of the house with laughing windows before it is too late!?

Stefano’s friend is also staying in town to recover from a nervous breakdown and study the local thermal springs. He warns Stefano not to talk about the fresco with anyone. Hushed warnings and dark insinuations such as these slowly conjure a heavy atmosphere pregnant with dreadful anxiety. Eventually h…

Interview with Maitland McDonagh

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More good news for Argento fans this month - not only does March see the publication of my own book on Argento’s film work, but also - and far more excitingly - the publication of a new edition of Maitland McDonagh's seminal Broken Mirrors/Broken Minds: The Dark Dreams of Dario Argento.

McDonagh's cerebral book is regarded as the cornerstone of all Argento studies, and with the latest edition the writer brings everything bang up to date as she takes a look at Argento’s recent output from The Stendhal Syndrome onwards. Ms McDonagh was kind enough to have a quick chat with me about the new edition of Broken Mirrors/Broken Minds, why she admires Argento’s work so much and why she believes he has made such an impact in the horror genre...


Why do you admire the films of Dario Argento so much? What is it about his work that speaks to you most?

It was the combination of incredible images and seductive sound that first drew me to Argento’s movies. They were so lush and seductive and a…

Blood and Black Lace

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1964
Dir. Mario Bava

AKA
Sei donne per l'assassino
Fashion House of Death

A beautiful young model is murdered by a mysterious masked figure in a raging storm outside the tres chic fashion house where she worked. When her boyfriend is suspected of the killing, her diary - which contains incriminating evidence linking her to the killer - mysteriously vanishes. The masked killer begins violently murderlising all the models at the house in an attempt to find the diary and keep their identity a secret. Surely someone will be able to stop them before its too late and the fashion house of models becomes a terror house of blood!!

Blood and Black Lace really cemented the conventions of the giallo with its overwhelmingly stylish and chic design and it’s opulent depictions of various beauties falling victim to a black gloved, sharp-implement wielding sadistic lunatic. Essentially just a really stylish ‘body count’ movie, Blood and Black Lace really marks the first time that Bava would take th…

The Girl Who Knew Too Much

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1963
Dir. Mario Bava

Nora Davis (Letícia Román), a young American woman visiting her ailing aunt in Rome, witnesses the vicious murder of a woman in a deserted piazza after dark. She cannot convince anyone that what she saw was not a dream. She eventually discovers a box of newspaper clippings about a series of gruesome killings in the local area dubbed the ‘Alphabet Murders’. Fearing she is next on the killer's list, she decides to try and track down the malicious culprit with the help of the dashing Dr. Bassi (John Saxon). Can they find the killer before they too become victims?

Mario Bava was a director who not only wielded a great mastery over gothic horror traditions in films such as Black Sunday, Kill Baby Killand Black Sabbath, he also cut a formidable swathe through the contemporary thriller genre too. With films such as Bay of Blood, Blood and Black Laceand The Girl Who Knew Too Much - a work generally considered to be the first ever giallo film - Bava placed his edgy sto…