Posts Tagged ‘Revenge’

axe

Directed By: Frederick Friedel 

Starring: Leslie Lee, Jack Canon, Ray Green, Frederick Friedel, Douglas Powers, Hart Smith, Scott Smith

Synopsis: Three killers are on the run, and stumble upon an isolated farmhouse that is the home of Lisa and her paralyzed grandfather.

Thoughts:
Axe is a pretty typical exploitation story, and something we’ve seen done multiple times, and often done better. Three criminals are on the run and looking for a place to hide. They find an isolated farm with a vulnerable target, in this case, a young girl named Lisa, who is caring for her paralyzed Grandfather. The criminals terrorize and humiliate Lisa, driving her over the edge until she snaps and exacts her revenge.

The film was originally released as Lisa, Lisa in 1974. As you can imagine, the title didn’t do a lot to attract viewers, so it was retitled as Axe, as well as California Axe Massacre, in an obvious attempt to ride the coattails of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The title change eventually attracted the attention of the British Board of Film Classification, which placed Axe on the list of Video Nasties. Why Axe landed on the list is a bit of a mystery. Perhaps it was due to the cover, or that it was a young girl enacting revenge, but in reality, the majority of the action occurs off screen. This movie could have been much gorier, and even much darker had the director decided to.

Frederick Friedel filmed another movie at the same time as Axe, The Kidnapped Coed. Years later, Friedel would cut the movies together as The Bloody Brothers, creating a “twisted crime epic” as described by Severin Films. Severin, put out a rather amazingly extensive edition of Axe and The Kidnapped Coed, as well as Bloody Brothers. I’ve yet to watch either The Kidnapped Coed or Bloody Brothers, but for fans of 70s exploitation, it’s a pretty great set.

Overall, I found Axe to be on the boring side. There were some creepy elements to it at times, but it didn’t have much in the way of shock value, especially when comparing it to something along the lines of Last House of the Left or I Spit on Your Grave, which are the benchmarks in the revenge exploitation genre.

lisa-lisa-theatrical-advertisement

How Nasty Is It?
Not very nasty at all. While it hints at some darker themes, most of the action takes place off the screen. In my opinion, this title landed on the list mostly due to its cover and theme.

Advertisements

The entire Tales from the Crypt series has been sitting on my shelf for a few years now.  Every once in a while, I’ve taken a season down and checked out a few episodes, but this Halloween season, I’ve decided to see how far I can get with it, starting from the beginning.  This will also be the first reviews I write for TV shows, so the format will be much shorter, something I am dubbing Quick Hits.

Tales from the Crypt S1

Tales from the Crypt - The Man Who Was Death

The first episode, The Man Who Was Death, was directed by Walter Hill, a veteran who has worked in many genres, something that was very common for Tales from the Crypt, especially in the earlier seasons.  It starred William Sadler as a an out of work executioner who takes the law into his own hands when murder suspects escape the law.

The first episode is fantastic and really sets the tone for Season 1.  It plays like a much darker Twilight Zone, although there are no supernatural elements to be found in this episode.  I’ve long been a fan of William Sadler and I think his acting is a prime reason that this episode is so enjoyable. Gerrit Graham also makes a brief, although shocking appearance (sorry, The Crypt Keeper is obviously wearing off on me!)

Night Train Murders (1975)

Posted: September 29, 2015 in Movie Review
Tags: , ,

Night Train Murders (1975)
{L’Ultimo treno della notte}

night_train_murders_poster_01

Directed By: Aldo Lado

Starring: Flavio Bucci, Gianfranco De Grassi, Irene Miracle, Laura D’Angelo, Macha Meril, Enrico Maria Salerno, Marina Berti, Franco Fabrizi

Synopsis: Two thugs, influenced by a demented matriarch, torture and kill two teenage girls heading home for Christmas, only to encounter the parents of one of the girls at the train station.

Thoughts: Ah, the Video Nasties; a veritable checklist of carnage that horror fiends often reference. As time goes on, there are fewer and fewer titles that I have yet to see. My latest foray into the list is Night Train Murder, which among many other names, is known as The New House on the Left, mostly because it is the exact same story as Wes Craven’s 1972 shocker. Two young girls, out on their own, encounter trouble, ending up sexually assaulted and killed and then the killers end up running into the parents of one of the girls. The parents find out, and then exact revenge upon the killers. My guess is that the studios in the US either didn’t know, or didn’t care about the “similarities” between the two movies, otherwise you would think that they could have blocked the release.

I’m admittedly not a huge fan of the rape/revenge genre. Watching movies like this is an uncomfortable experience, so when I do watch them, I want there to be some substance behind them. Movie like Last House and I Spit on Your Grave are really well made movies with a lot of context and messages to them. I don’t get that from Night Train Murders. There is a minor, ham-handed attempt at making this a social comment on violence in society, primarily driven by the father’s comment early in the movie, but this just seems like a blatant cash in on Wes Craven’s movie. On top of being a rather shallow movie, the pacing is off, the script is mostly awful and the moments that should be tense, tend to cut away. For being considered a brutal movie, not a lot happens outside of the knife scene that will make you flinch.

Fans of Italian cinema will likely pick up the familiar presence of Ennio Morricone, who supplies the score. Morricone’s score is far from his best, but even that is better than most movies. It’s one of the lone highlights here for me.

I can’t really recommend Night Train Murders other to the most ardent of fans of Italian horror. I imagine a lot of people will check it out if they are interested in the Video Nasty list, but it is one of the least entertaining entries on that list in my opinion. If you are interested in picking it up, 88 Films did a nice job with their release of it. It is the first title in the Italian Collection.

House on Straw Hill

 

Directed By: James Kenelm Clarke

Starring: Udo Kier, Linda Hayden, Fiona Richmond, Karl Howman, Vic Armstrong

Synopsis: Paul Martin, an eccentric and paranoid novelist rents out a cottage to complete his latest novel, employing a young lady to be his secretary/scribe.

Thoughts: In 1984 the Video Recordings Act required all video releases to be certified by the British Board of Film Censors prior to release. This act was the dawn of a rather dismal time of censorship for fans of the horror genre. Shop owners and distributors were charged with obscenity and many lives were ruined. The unintended result was a list of 72 movies that were deemed to have violated the Obscene Publications Act of 1959 that would become a checklist for any self-respecting horror fan for years to come. This list is something that I have referenced over the years and has caused me to seek out several movies that I would likely have never even heard of. Most times, efforts to censor something only drives people to seek it out. Like the saying goes, there is no thing as bad publicity.

House on Straw Hill, or Expose as it is also known is a pretty nasty movie. It doesn’t have a lot of horror elements, but rather follows a fairly typical thriller plot line. It earned its place on the Video Nasty list by combining some pretty graphic sex scenes with a fair amount of blood and sprinkling in a rape scene. While it seems a bit odd to call any rape scene tame, the one here doesn’t really hold a candle to Last House on the Left (thankfully?).

Genre icon Udo Kier is the lead here, but his voice is dubbed, which was a little weird to experience after hearing him in so many movies. Even without “hearing” Kier, he delivers his trademark oddity flawlessly. His character has some serious issues and kinks, but that seems to be par for the course for Kier. The two leading ladies, Hayden and Richmond, were both mainstays in the late 70s horror and sex comedy genres and really fit in well here.

Unlike a lot of the other movies on the Video Nasty list, it’s pretty easy to see why this film was included. It’s not a great movie, but it’s actually a lot better than many of the movies on the Nasty list. Severin films recently put out what has to be considered the definitive version of the movie, restoring the cut scenes from the original prints, finally allowing film goers to see the original version. If you are going to check this one out, I highly suggest seeking out this version. That being said, this isn’t a movie for everyone, but it is worth watching. Fans of Kier or those interested in exploring the Video Nasty list will find it worthwhile.

BruiserDirected By: George A Romero

Starring: Jason Flemyng, Nina Garbiras, Peter Stormare, Leslie Hope, Tom Atkins

Subgenre: Revenge

Synopsis: Henry Creedlow was a meek man just trying to get ahead when he woke up one morning to find his identity, and his face, gone, replaced by a white mask and a penchant for revenge.

Thoughts: Bruiser is quite possibly one of George Romero’s lesser known films.  It isn’t often mentioned when his canon is being discussed, but it should be.  It is a departure from anything he has done before and is a tale of a man who learns he must be himself, not what others want him to be. 

While the name Jason Flemyng doesn’t ring familiar to me, his face sure does, which is an ironic twist for this movie.  He’s been in quite a few genre flicks, including Deep Rising, a favorite of mine.  I really loved his work in Bruiser.  I just can’t imagine how difficult it is to convey a character’s emotion while wearing a blank mask.  Peter Stormare was ridiculously over the top, which I loved as well. To top things off, fan favorite plays a detective trying to solve the murders and track down Creedlow.  Thrill me!

I mentioned that this was a departure for Romero, but it isn’t a straight revenge movie either.  It has a supernatural tone and the trademark Romero social commentary (we all wear masks).  That being said, this felt like a more personal movie than most of Romero’s.  Creedlow was capable of extreme violence, but you couldn’t help but root for him as he smited the evil in his life. 

If Bruiser is a title that you missed, I highly suggest checking it out.  You don’t need to be a Romero fan to enjoy.  For that matter, you don’t even need to be a horror fan.

I Spit on Your Grave (1978)
(Day of the Woman)

Directed By: Meir Zarchi

Starring: Camille Keaton, Eron Tabor, Richard Pace, Anthony Nichols, Gunter Kleemanns

Subgenre: Exploitation, Revenge

I Spit on Your Grave 1978

Synopsis: Author Jennifer Hills retreats to the country for some peace and quiet while she writes her novel.  What she finds is the unwanted attention of the locals when a group of four men abduct and repeatedly rape her.

Thoughts: The horror genre has countless subgenres, but the revenge film is often one of the more difficult ones for me to watch and review.  Often times, they are not entertaining, per say, but when done well, they tell a poignant story and evoke emotions that are difficult to summarize.  I Spit on Your Grave is not a “fun” movie by any means.  It can be difficult to sit through some of the scenes, but I think it is an important movie in the horror genre.

The production values are pretty low, even compared to other similar movies, and the acting can be a bit amateurish at times, with one major exception.  I thought that Camille Keaton was fantastic in a very harrowing role.  What she went through on the screen could not have been easy to depict as an actress, not to mention her completely changing direction when it came time for her revenge. 

It is interesting to hear the various opinions of this movie, as some critics refer to it as garbage not fit for viewing and some see it as an extremely strong statement about Women’s rights.  I guess I am somewhere in between.  I don’t see this as a revelation in film making, but it has its place in the genre.    Be warned before watching this though, the rape scene, or scenes, are pretty drawn out, and the revenge that Jennifer enacts is pretty damn cringe worthy as well.

La Horde (2009)

Posted: June 30, 2011 in Movie Review
Tags: , ,

La Horde (2009)

Directed By: Benjamin Rocher, Yannick Dahan

Starring: Jean-Pierre Martins, Doudou Masta, Eriq Ebouaney, Jo Prestia, Bucky Schuyler

Subgenre: Zombies, Survival

Synopsis: A group of rogue Paris policemen are seeking revenge on a drug dealer in a decrepit building when a zombie outbreak engulfs the building.  They must now team up with the drug dealers if anyone wants to get out alive.

Thoughts: The French have been kicking some serious ass in the horror genre the last couple of years, but they haven’t really delved into the zombie subgenre as much as they have the slasher and survival genre.  When I saw La Horde pop up on Netflix Instant Viewing, I was pretty excited.  I actually watched this as a double feature with Doghouse, the zombie-ish flick from the UK, which worked, as Doghouse was rife with humor while La Horde was much more brutal.

La Horde plays out in two parts, with the first part being about a group of cops seeking revenge for a fallen comrade and confronting a drug dealer and his gang and the second part starting with a zombie infestation.  The way the movie was split immediately reminded me of From Dusk till Dawn, and I thought it worked pretty out pretty well.

In my opinion, the first part of the movie is the weaker of the two.  The revenge angle and shootouts are pretty standard, but still come with that penchant for brutality that the French are becoming infamous for.  Once the zombies show up, it is nonstop action.  These are not Romero zombies, but are the fast moving dead we have seen in the Dawn remake and 28 Days Later.  For me, both versions have their place, but the fast movers worked well here.

The camera work and direction can be frenetic at times, but again, it just seems to work with this movie.  You feel a bit like you’ve just had a workout when it’s over.  The tension never lets up, which along with the great gore effects, ranks La Horde as one of the better zombie movies to come out in a while.  This is one that I will be adding to the collection as soon as I can find the Blu Ray at a reasonable price and I recommend checking it out if you get a chance.