Monday, 20 May 2013
Sunday, 19 May 2013
Saturday, 18 May 2013
God knows I love Pete Walker films, even the dodgy ones, but 'The Flesh & Blood Show' just doesn't do it for me, which is awful, as all the component parts are there, they're just badly and lazily bolted together.
The action all takes place at Eastcliffe On Sea (actually Cromer in Norfolk), where a group of young, hairy actors are brought together by a mysterious production company to improvise a play that will apparently be staged in the West End at some point (the bits we see are awful, so it would probably have been a very short engagement). The rehearsal space is an abandoned pier and, because they're skint, the lads and lasses of the company kip there as well. It's a cold, damp, eerie place, and something bad happened there that no-one can quite remember.
One by one, the girls disrobe and get murdered, and then everyone else looks shifty and nutty in order to satisfy a daft twist ending that could have made sense if it hadn't been so badly botched. Walker seems to lost his way entirely at times: virtually every opportunity for a decent sequence is compromised by poor editing or filming, or, in dramatic terms, relies on the most incredibly illogical behaviour. It's horror by numbers, random numbers at that, and he's so much better than that.Also, for a film that runs for a 100 minutes, it's also extremely slack, and the last half an hour, including a final 3D flashback (the 'Scooby Doo' moment of explanation), is interminable.
It has a fair cast (the silky voiced and always likeable Ray Brooks, foxy Luan Peters, Jenny Hanley, Candace Glendenning, sexy Jane Cardew), good music, a great location and the germ of an idea, but it never flowers into anything decent. Balls.
Here's the trailer.
Friday, 17 May 2013
‘Die Screaming, Marianne’ is a difficult film to categorise in many ways but, at heart, it’s a good old fashioned Victorian melodrama, albeit one with mod accoutrements and a heroine who works as a go go dancer.
Susan George plays Marianne ‘Hips’ MacDonald, a troubled dollybird on the run from secrets and a weird family set up (Mum is dead; half-sister hates her; Father likes his daughters a little too much). Poor Marianne believes the only thing she has going for her is her lithe body and, as a result, she freely donates it to interested parties on a regular basis. When things become complicated, she moves on, packing her pathetic little bag, slipping on her Dr, Scholl’s and moving on like a pouting, bra-less Littlest Hobo. To be honest, to use the parlance of the period, she's a bit of a drag, man.
Her main issue is that she has the account number of a Swiss safety deposit box in which her late mother stored a number of incriminating documents about her father and, Dad, a defrocked (or whatever) Judge wants them back. Her half-sister, Hildegard (played by super skinny Judy Huxtable, soon to become Mrs. Peter Cook) just wants Maz dead, especially as she is due to inherit a lot of money on her imminent 21st birthday, money that will go to Hildegard if little Marianne is out of the way.
The film bobs along nicely for a while but, in the end, becomes a bit frenzied and confusing, albeit in an extremely languid way. I have heard that the shoot was complicated by bad behaviour from the young leads and this led to beleagured director Peter Walker having to rip several pages out of the script just to keep to schedule. That’s a shame, because although I enjoy random stabbings, car crashes, people (well, Chris Sandford, an actor I find detestable) falling down a hole and being left to die and, in particular, attempted murder by super hot sauna, ‘Die Screaming…’ never lives up to the promise of its credit sequence where Marianne, clad only in a spangly bikini and a few chains, frugs like a funky puppet to Cyril Ordanel’s groovy theme tune. If it did, we might have had something halfway decent, but it doesn't, and that's all there is it to it, I'm afraid.
Thursday, 16 May 2013
Wednesday, 15 May 2013
Tuesday, 14 May 2013
Monday, 13 May 2013
In 'Carpathian Eagle' frumpy (glasses, pinafore dresses) writer Natalie (Suzanne Danielle) becomes obsessed with a 16th century Russian Countess who, after being treated rather shoddily by her husband (branding is mentioned), became a serial killer with a particular penchant for cutting out the still beating hearts of her male victims. So readily does Natalie identify with the crazy Countess she begins to wear a variety of skimpy outfits, and starts picking up men attracted to her purring voice and endless legs and, just as they are laying in bed expecting the night of their lives, she kills them. You ought to see their stupid faces.
Most of the blokes deserve it, though. There's Barry Stokes from 'Prey' who picks her up in his car after doing that 'Right, I'm having a slice of that' face; a horrible bloke in a winebar who says 'Andy's the name, randy's the game' before taking her back to his truly bizarre flat with big plastic feet at the end of the bed and a 'No Stopping At Any Time' sign above it; a well heeled twat who takes her to a friend's place 'the wife doesn't know about' (he escapes, unfortunately) and Pierce Brosnan, who was still Irish at this point and is extremely unsuave in his Fred Perry tracksuit. Still, you can't go about murdering people just because they're twats, can you? Can you?
|'Do you remember Mick?'|
Frazzled Copper Cliff (Anthony Valentine) is on the case, however, and although he has his suspicions, he can't help fancying Natalie. He's an interesting character, actually, with his comb across and blazer, somewhat lonely and vulnerable but a bit of a geezer, as if Joey Maddox from 'Performance' (another Valentine part) had grown up on the right side of the law. Another surprising facet is his hatred of stereotypes: when a colleague mocks a drag act, talking about 'queens' and handbags, Cliff gets annoyed and says 'you still think in cliches, son'. He's a pretty liberal guy for a late 70's copper.
Suzanne Danielle dominates here, mainly because she is in a variety of extraordinary outfits, many of which are highly revealing. You may recall that her nickname was 'The Body', but what she exhibits is, more acurately, an early example of what would be known as a 'hard body': taut, strong, lithe - the total opposite of the fleshy, big breasted, ample bummed types that dominated the sex symbol stakes in the seventies. She's not a bad actress, really, but Hammer cover that by revealing her to be the killer almost straight away, as if they didn't trust her to not to give it away.
Not bad in an undemanding way, the story ends with a coda in which Natalie is about to start on a new book, and a new murder spree - and she's got a load of new underwear. I'm surprised this never became a series, to be honest.
Sunday, 12 May 2013
Saturday, 11 May 2013
'The Vengeance of She' is an unusual film that encapsulates the eminently practical approach Hammer took with their art and their uniquely inventive way of overcoming obstacles. New partner / sponsor Warner Brothers wanted a sequel to the mega-successful 'She', so Hammer cobbled one together with only a tenuous link to the original. Original star Ursula Andress wasn't interested, so they simply found a Czech actress called Olga Schoberova who looked just like her. Then, in order to get as much publicity as possible, they made her change her name to Olinka Berova just so that they could say 'introducing' on the poster.
Olinka (or Olga) plays Carol, a young woman who is being secretly mind controlled by a crazy eyebrowed descendent of the the Three Magi who bought Jesus his first Christmas presents. This leads to some atmospheric sequences in which she wanders around in a daze, or strips to her bra and pants and goes swimming. There are also nightmare sequences, but they're a bit pedestrian, which is a pain, as I really like a well done nightmare sequence. Eyebrows wants Carol because she is a dead ringer for Ayesha, the dead 'she who must be obeyed' Queen of legend. In return for her, immortal High Priest Kallikrates (John Richardson, also in the first film) will grant eyebrows eternal life via the mystical blue bonfire. It doesn't much much sense, really, but I just went with it.
Bewigged tough guy / psychiatrist Edward Judd has taken a shine to poor Carol, however (I don't blame him, she's bloody gorgeous), and does his utmost to save her, following her across the desert, crashing jeeps, punching people and knocking them off horses and stuff. In the end, he succeeds, and, in return for her life, as is the way with these things, it means that a whole civilisation is wiped out by explosions and falling rubble whilst the lovers make their get away, job done.
It's a funny production, really, something of an anomaly in that it features a cast and crew who weren't part of the regular set up (and didn't become so), and was shot mainly in Israel rather than in Berkshire. Story wise it's obviously a bit of a concoction, but scriptwriter Peter O'Donnell created 'Modesty Blaise' (and, under a female pseudonym, also wrote gothic romances) and clearly knows what to chuck in the mixing bowl. There are some good actors (Colin Blakely, George Sewell, Andre Morell), some nice locations and, overall, I think it's fine, a decent, different kind of b-picture with all the limitations the category suggests, but with enough flashes of skill and sparks of difference to keep it interesting.
Here's a trailer that may arouse your curiosity, or, if you like sixties lingerie, simply arouse you. As I say, Olga / Olinka is very attractive