Archives

All posts for the month November, 2012

Don’t touch my Asphyx!

Published November 30, 2012 by vfdpixie

asphyx

The Asphyx (1 hr 39 mins)

Oh amazon.ca, how I love thee!  You send me emails of obscure horror movies from days gone by, and this one is no exception.  Just had to order it, along with a few other gems that I will reveal in due time.

This period piece done in 1973, is all about immortality and how you can get it.  It opens in “modern-day” at the scene of a car crash, where a man is pulled from the wreckage.  We abruptly cut to Sir Hugo Cunningham (Robert Stephens), a Victorian  scientist that has found love again.  He brings home his lovely young fiancée, Anna, to meet his 3 adult children, Christina, Clive and Giles.  He is also researching captured moments of death, odd smudges that denotes the exact departure of the soul from the body, on film.  Family and science collide when a horrible boating accident takes the lives of his son Clive and fiancée Anna as Sir Hugo is filming them with his early motion picture camera.  This fuels Sir Hugo in his search for answers about death, and proof that there is something to his theories.  He is obsessed with the Greek myth of the Asphyx, or the spirit of death, that exists in eternal agony and appears in times of danger and great fear.  His colleague asks him to film a public execution to show how barbaric and archaic this practice is, and Sir Hugo brings his spotlight doohicky to try to capture something, anything, to prove his death theory.  His spotlight reveals a blurred apparition at the time of the criminal’s death, that horrifies the protesting crowd and stuns the presiding officials.  Hugo is freaked out and refuses to speak about the incident, but realizes that the light device can somehow capture the Asphyx.

Enter the guinea pig.  This little guy turns out to be quite the pest.  He is the first successful experiment for Sir Hugo.  After poisoning the poor creature, they shine the spotlight, catch the popping and locking ghostie, and the guinea pig survives.  This proves that if you catch your Asphyx at the time of death, you can live forever.  Ever since the tragic deaths, Sir Hugo’s remaining son, Giles (Robert Powell), stays by his father’s side.  He feels compelled to help his father even though he thinks he’s kind of crazy, but becomes a believer after the guinea pig.  So they move on to bigger fish.  A poor man they find at a flop house who is dying of T.B.  However, in the throes of death, the man throws acid in Sir Hugo’s face and the Asphyx vanishes, taking the T.B. ridden man’s soul with it.

Sir Hugo decides that it is time to catch his own Asphyx.  He is traumatized by the deaths in his family, and vows to keep himself and the remaining members alive.  For good.  Now I should point out that Giles is his adoptive son, only because he is in love and intends to marry Christina (Jane Lapotaire), Sir Hugo’s biological daughter.  And Sir Hugo will only consent to the union if they join him in immortality.  Talk about emotional blackmail. Oh yeah, and weirdness with the whole I’m technically marrying my sister thing.

First up is, of course, Sir Hugo.  He chooses death by electric chair that he controls himself.  As Giles and his father prep, Christina is awakened by that darn guinea pig. Like, it’s in her bed.   She releases it into the wild, and discovers the suicide in progress.  She tries to rescue her father, and instead, aids Giles when there is glitch in the machinery.  They are successful in the Asphyx capture, and Sir Hugo recovers.  With some persuading and more emotional blackmail, Christina agrees to become immortal.  Her death?  The Guillotine.  Because her Asphyx needs to sense her fear to manifest.  Riiiight.  Giles wants her to trust him.  With a guillotine.  It’s rigged so it stops before her head rolls, so of course it’s fool-proof.  Right?  Enter the guinea pig.  Again.  This time he runs in when the Asphyx is almost captured, and chews on a crucial piece of tubing.  In a frenzy, Sir Hugo bumps into the guillotine lever, and oops!, Christina is no more.

Guilt ridden and distraught, Sir Hugo wants his Asphyx released so he can die to atone for all the deaths.  Giles agrees to this only after he is made immortal.  Only thing is that Giles is kind of pissed that his sister-wife-to-be is dead and decides to rig his own death by gas and blows himself up.  Poor Sir Hugo is now all alone.  The vault where his Asphyx is kept had a  combination lock that Giles kept sealed in an envelope.  He gave the envelope to Sir Hugo before he dies, but Sir Hugo destroys it and decides to stay immortal as punishment.  With that g.d. guinea pig, who shows up for a cuddle as the envelope burns.  So they wander the earth for all eternity. Cut to  “modern-day” where Sir Hugo looks like a Hellish apple faced olds, while the guinea pig looks great.  He wanders into traffic and causes a crash, but of course, he survives, which brings us full circle to the start of the movie.  Don’t know what happened to the guinea pig though.  Probably messing with someone else’s plans, or experiments, or something.  Like, right now…jeez!

I actually liked this movie.  It was campy and British and made in the ’70’s.  It just HAD to be good!  This was the only film that Peter Newbrook ever directed, but it was a pretty solid, if odd, piece of work.  I loved the sets and wardrobe, and the actors all did a great job of  over acting.  And that guinea pig.  He was like the anti-Littlest Hobo.  He was always around to screw things up instead of rescue people.  Damn!  If you see a white guinea pig scurrying around, look for the piano to drop out of the sky, ’cause that critter is bad news!

asphyx2

Most Memorable Line:  “Think man!  Think of the power!”,  Sir Hugo shouts when he is trying to convince Giles to further experiment to become immortal.  Yeah buddy.  Chill out.  Nothing good can come of that.  Just look at the guinea pig…

Favorite Scene:  Has to be the guillotine scene.  No all-encompassing love could ever convince me that faking out a guillotine is o.k.  EVER!

See No Evil: Blind Terror or Killer Lady Legs

Published November 28, 2012 by vfdpixie

blind terror

See No Evil (Blind Terror)  1971 85 mins

It’s always a score when you scan the t.v. guide and see something interesting, but usually it’s at 4 in the morning.  Which is the time I set my alarm for just to see this film.  Hey, I was available.  I love Mia Farrow (obviously), and I had never heard of this film, so I had to see it.

Mia plays Sarah, a young woman who is recovering from a horse fall that has left her blinded.  She arrives at her Aunt and Uncle’s estate for some r & r and to get back on her feet.  They live on a large piece of land, and their home is huge, but Sarah is determined to navigate her surroundings as she did before her accident.  The family is over protective and dotes on her, as is her boyfriend Steve, who is eager to continue their relationship.

Unfortunately, there is a darker side to this seemingly straightforward story.  The town harbours a maniac.  The film opens with a man leaving the local theatre.  He has just see a double feature of “Convent Murders” and “Rapist Cult”.  He is definitely not on a date.  We are only shown his skinny lady legs and groovy brown cowboy boots, complete with white stars on the front.  When these boots are marred by Sarah’s uncle as he splashed them with the car, the killer has his next target.  Lady Legs scratches Uncle George’s fancy car, and they are now marked for death.

Steve sends for Sarah so they can go on a date, and they go horseback riding.  As Steve tries to rekindle the flame between them, Lady Legs murders Aunt Betty, Uncle George and cousin Sandy.  Sarah arrives home, deep in thought about her relationship and unaware that the corpses of her entire family lies scattered around the house, bloodied and ravaged by bullets.  Thinking that everyone has gone about their evening plans, Sarah putters around, narrowly missing broken glass in stocking feet, and goes to bed.  The next morning, she is summoned by Steve so he can surprise her with a new horse, Dandy Star, and she narrowly misses discovering her dead uncle in the bathtub.  When she returns to finally take her bath, she is horrified to find Uncle George and Sandy shot to death, and can only assume the worst for Aunt Betty.  In a panic, she falls down some cellar stairs, makes her way back up and finds the dying gardener, Barber.  He tells her that the killer will be back to find a name bracelet he dropped in the house, and a game of cat and mouse ensues between Killer Lady Legs and Sarah.  She escapes on her horse, but falls off and wanders around until she stumbles upon a gypsy camp.  This is where the story gets a bit tedious.  Killer Lady Legs and one of the gypsy dudes has the same name.  When the gypsies think their one of their own has done the crimes, they lock Sarah up in a shed in the middle of a clay pit.  She escapes and Steve finds her, brings her back to his home, where Killer Lady Legs makes his final attempt to get rid of her.

I liked this movie because even though it got a tiny bit tedious towards the end, the director, Richard Fleischer (of Soylent Green fame), created a good amount of suspense with the camera work.  He shows the isolation and desperation you can only imagine Sarah feels.  Her size is a stark contrast to the huge house and vast surroundings.  And I felt that everyone, from the farm hands to the gypsies, was a suspect.  Which is not unusual for me in my day-to-day life.

I also loved the introduction to our faceless killer.  The boots were just ridiculous.  And that double feature he comes out of?!  Wow!  Can you imagine “Rapist Cult” and “Convent Murders”  being on your actor’s resume?  Sums that dude up in one shot.  Dirty, dirty psycho.  To me, this film could also be an early reference to all the slasher/stalker teen flicks of the ’80’s.

blindtermarquee

I thought Mia was great!  I’m not going to name any of the other actors, because I don’t really care about them.  For me it’s all about Mia.  I think they cast her perfectly because she looks so frail, but has quite the backbone.   Here’s a link to Imdb if you want a full cast list.  All in all, a pretty entertaining late night watch.  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0067727/

Most Memorable Line:  When Sarah stumbles upon the gypsy camp, one of the matrons calms her down with a slap and says after, “It’s all right lovey-no one’s gonna hurt you!”  Again, she says this after she slaps her.  Where I come from, a slap in the face is someone hurting you.  Just saying…

Favorite Scene:  The very ending.  SO WEIRD!  As the police cart off the bodies of Sarah’s family, the gypsies all peer through the wrought iron fence with odd, vacant looks in their eyes.  Perfect ’70’s ending.

gypsies

Spoiler Alert!!: The Teddy Bear did it!!

Published November 15, 2012 by vfdpixie

goodbyeg            The twins and Aggie

 

Goodbye Gemini (1970  1 hr 29 mins)

This evening I was bored.  My boyfriend just kept showing me reruns, I didn’t feel like reading, and I definitely didn’t feel like cleaning my apartment.  So I decided to browse Google Play, where I’ve had luck before.  When this movie came up, I felt it was only natural that I check it out.  Natural because I am after all, a Gemini.  This movie however, is crazier than I could ever hope to be, and that ain’t natural!  I debated which category to place it in, and Just Plain Weird won out over Vintage Horror for obvious reasons as you, dear reader, will discover…

The story is about Jacki and Julian, played by Judy Geeson (of To Sir With Love fame) and Martin Potter respectively,  a set of twenty-something twins who move to London at the height of the groovy party scene.  They are joined at the hip, and Jacki feels because she is older by minutes, she must take care of her brother Julian.  We quickly learn that their Marks and Spencer freshly scrubbed looks deceive all around them.  They arrive at one of their wealthy father’s homes, meet the housekeeper, Mrs. McLaren, decide that she is no fun and should be disposed of.  Rigging the grand staircase with a deftly laid teddy bear named, um, Agamemnon, and breaking poor Mrs. McLaren’s glasses that leaves her blind as a bat, creates an “accidental” tumble that quickly removes her from the scene.

With that obstacle gone, the kids have the free rein to do what they please.This means hitting the pubs, and one in particular changes their future forever.  As they watch a drag queen striptease, they meet Clive and Denise.  Clive is a slimy, slick mutton-chop wearing dude who wants Jacki.  His companion, the sheepish Denise, falls for Julian.  The group solidifies after possibly the best house boat party I have ever seen.  Actually, that house party had the best extras ever!!  Turbans, Afros, fringed vests, dancing and drinks, drinks, drinks!!

At this party, the plot thickens.  It’s revealed that Clive owes a local gangster, Rod, 400 quid, and he intends to get it back.  Like, yesterday.  And one of the party guests, James (played by Sir Michael Redgrave- a member of the prestigious Redgrave acting dynasty…huh?! In THIS movie?!) is an up and coming politician that seems strangely fascinated by the twins and their closeness.  As he observes in one scene, “They carry their own universe with them”.  Yes, the nutso universe.  Nutso, because we see how inappropriately Julian acts towards his sister.  His thrusting hips on the dance floor make most of the guests think the siblings are a couple. He has a not-so-normal love for his sister, and he can barely contain himself.  Clive the slimy dude, feels he has the upper hand over the twins.  When he realizes the Denise is not going to seduce Julian away from his sister, Clive takes Julian on a drug fueled quest to find some “action”.  And action he will get.

Room 104 at the Woodlands Hotel is where Julian gets his action.  With two drag queens.  Which he realizes after his pants are down and the “gals” are all over him.  Call me sheltered, but this is the first drag queen rape scene I have ever encountered.  It was disturbing and weird. Big blurry drag queen faces with puckered lips and menacing grimaces, punctuated with creepy banging piano chords.  And  mad pimp Clive gets pictures.  Lots and lots of pictures.  Duped Julian never recovers from this violation and the nutso universe expands…

After the terrible encounter, Julian becomes more of a jerk to everyone around him, especially Denise.  She tries to warn the Jacki that Clive is not a good guy, and she is brushed off and insulted.  Rod the gangster appears and still wants his money, so Clive tries to extort the money from Julian with the pictures of the night at room 104.  Still with me?  It gets weirder.  The twins plan to scare Clive into submission but end up killing him in a bizarre “guess which sheet-covered maniac is which!” game.  The crazy kids split up after they realize what they’ve done. Julian disappears and James the politician gets involved when he decides to help Jacki hide out from the cops.  She is traumatized and hardly remembers the crime.  Even Agamemnon, the teddy bear, gets slashed, and Jacki reacts to his” death” more than anything else.  He was the one they looked to for approval for some weird reason.  They would ask his permission to party and wait patiently as the teddy stared vacantly at them .  Just ask Agamemnon.  What would Aggie do?  Not run around town barefoot looking for his bro, that’s for sure.  Anyway, closure comes to the twins in room 104.  Jacki remembers the Woodlands Hotel and heads over only to find a wild-eyed, desperate Julian, and he’s not gonna share her with anyone!  I lied, the teddy bear didn’t do it.  Julian does.

I loved that there were openly gay characters and drag queens running amok in this movie.  I think they were trying to make a point with taboo subjects of the time, but the gay party host, Garfield played by Terry Scully, was one of the best characters with great one liners, and  Mike Pratt slayed as the gangster.  He kept calling Clive “Poxy Chops” and was the perfect combo of craggy and smooth.  Mike was also in Repulsion as the workman who jeers at Catherine Deneuve.

There were lots of confusing moments too ( no kidding!).  I could swear James was gay, but he ends up sharing his bed with Jacki.  And she was all naked-like.  And the teddy bear.  Whaaat?!! When Jacki wanders the streets looking for Julian, she goes to a cafe for something to eat and is spooked by a display of teddy bears just like Agamemnon.  In kaleidoscope vision, no less.  Maybe because Teddy knew the truth.  I come away from this movie with a hung over psyche and wanting to throw a bad-ass 70’s house boat party.  Now I just gotta find a job…and a houseboat…and Clive’s white faux fur duster coat…and lots of dough…

Most Memorable Line:  there were a few.  When Garfield tells Clive he doesn’t have an allegiance to anyone:  “Not you Ducky.  You don’t have a family.  You’re just ectoplasm…with appetites.”

An aging guest at the best houseboat  party ever, David, laments, “I took my harp to the party but nobody asked me to play.”

Jacki exclaims after a night of drinking, ” Oh Christ!  Even the water tastes like whisky!”

The theme song, sung by the Peddlers.  It’s called “Tell The World We’re Not In”.  “When the people come knocking, tell the world we’re not in!”  Preach!  This will be my mantra when I finally go all Howard Hughes…minus the peeing in jugs and having millions.

Favorite Scene:  Hands down, the drag queen striptease.  That gal shook and kicked on a bar top, while a googly-eyed grandma ogles her from below.  So, so weird.

drag

 

 

clive         goodbyeg1

Clive and Jacki-nice chops man!                                     What would Aggie do?

Huckster’s Paradise

Published November 11, 2012 by vfdpixie

redlights

Red Lights (2012, 1 hr 53 mins)

Sigourney Weaver plays Dr. Margaret Matheson, a psychologist and professor who teaches others to disprove the paranormal phenomenon.  She is a sharp shooting, no-nonsense scholar who does not suffer fools.  Her trusty assistant professor, physicist Tom Buckley played by Cillian Murphy, is always at hand.  Together, they slay charlatans left and right.  Enter Robert De Niro as Simon Silver, a world-renowned and blind psychic, who comes out of decades of seclusion after the scandalous and ill-timed death of his top critic.  Many believed his supernatural  abilities were behind the death, and this is brought up and sensationalized as Silver readies himself for a series of sold out appearances.

Matheson and Buckley both champ at the bit to debunk Silver, because to them, he is the father of all hucksters. After catching one of Silver’s disciples in a full on side-show act, they turn their sights on the big fish  They also have personal vendettas against all things clairvoyant.  Margaret has a son on life support, and a past encounter with Silver where he claimed to see her son’s spirit solidifies her hate for him and anyone claiming to be psychic.  Buckley’s mother narrowly survives stomach cancer even though a psychic told her it was nothing to worry about. Silver agrees to a series of scientific testing to show he is legit, from mind reading to spoon bending (although I think the spoons were just happy to see him).  A battle of wills ensues, with mysterious, dead air phone calls, birds flying into windows and lights constantly a flicker.

Unfortunately, Margaret never sees the results of the testing.  She too falls victim to a suspiciously untimely death.  This kind of annoyed me, because I loved how Sigourney played this character.  You could really see her suppressing her beliefs with logic.  Almost afraid to believe, she champions facts instead of faith because all her hopes were dashed with her son’s illness.  With Margaret gone, Buckley now has a personal score to settle with Silver, and is determined to prove him a fake.

I love that this film was shot here in Toronto, my home town.  I was also pleasantly surprised to see my long-time friend, actor and pro athlete Ray Olubowale, with a small role.  He just keeps popping up when I least expect it.  When Buckley tracks Silver down to a mysterious, run-down building, he is questioned by Ray, a security guard packing some serious muscle.  Buckley scurries away as he gets the signature, Big Ray stink-eye.  Love it!

The director, Rodrigo Cortes also did Buried, which I hated.  Can’t stand that Reynolds boy.  Ick.  All I could think was “Die already!!”  This movie however, wasn’t bad.  I think it got panned because some of the plot wasn’t so obvious, but I felt that was the whole point.  There is an underlying theme of not seeing the forest for the trees; missing the sleight of hand.  This leads to an interesting twist to the climax of the film, one that some of us may catch if we pay attention to some pretty obvious hints earlier on.  I kind of wish there was more background to Silver’s character, but that might have given too much of the plot away.  De Niro is good, but I find it difficult to see him as anything else but a gangster.   I also liked Cillian Murphy as the nerdy, behind the scenes foil to Weaver.  He steps up to the plate to avenge his colleague’s death, and shows us the value of trusting yourself and your instincts when logic doesn’t cover all the answers.

Most Memorable Line: “When I hear the drumming of hooves, I don’t think unicorns, I think horses.”  Dr. Matheson’s simple description of Occam’s Razor (the law of succinctness.  Look it up-I did!)

Favorite Scene:  It’s a toss-up yet again. First comes the scene where Buckley jumps a weird line of devotees to see psychic Silver, and one of them hisses at him. Then there’s the psychic surgery performed by Silver live on stage.  It’s a chicken liver and fake blood people!  Oldest trick in the book!  Wanna buy some snake oil too?

View From the Dark

Reviews and essays on genre film from a WOC perspective

Academic Hoodoo

a research blog on Africana Religions

Cinema Axis

Where All Things Film Converge

timwburke

burke –verb (used with object), burked, burk·ing. to murder, as by suffocation, so as to sell the corpse to medical science

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging

grotesque ground

Promoting the grotesque in cinema and literature.

CURNBLOG

Movies, thoughts, thoughts about movies.

crazynonsensetalk

A ranting woman's mind

The Tyranny of Tradition

Lamentations and Jeremiads 25 Years After The End Of History

What Are You Doing Here?

A Black Woman's Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.