Posts Tagged ‘Video Nasty’

ZombieCreepingFlesh_quad-1

 

Directed By: Bruno Mattei

Starring: Jose Gras, Margit Evelyn Newton, Franco Garafalo, Selan Karay, Joseph Lluis Fonoll

Synopsis: Government experiments lead to a zombie outbreak.

Thoughts: The success of 1978’s Dawn of the Dead led to many, many zombie movies flooding the market in the 80s. It just so happens that many of those zombie movies came from Italy. Bruno Mattei, already well on his way to becoming a master of Italian genre cinema, set out to make a film similar to Dawn, but lighter in tone. What was delivered was a bit of a mash-up of Italian action movie, cannibal movie and zombies.

The story, although basic in premise, is drawn out for a bit too long. The runtime, at just over an hour and forty minutes would have benefited from some tighter editing. The effects were also all over the place. In some scenes, the zombies and attacks were very well done and realistic. In others, it looks like some amateurs first attempts at creating zombie make-up.

The acting is also laughable, especially that of the team of commandos that are dispatched to deal with the outbreak. Unlike a lot of movies from this era of Italian horror, there aren’t any recognizable names here.

Even with Zombie Creeping Flesh being a bit too long and sloppy at times, and the acting being subpar at best, I had a good time watching this. It embodies the term “so bad it’s good.” If you want to watch the best of zombie cinema, stick with Romero and Fulci. If you want a movie that you can sit back and crack jokes about the acting and camera work, this is a great candidate.

How Nasty Is It?

This has some pretty gory scenes of gut munching nastiness, especially during the portion of the movie where the group encounters the cannibal tribe. It’s something that is seen throughout the zombie and cannibal genres, but you can see how it caught the eye of the BBFC.

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.

anthropophagus

 

Directed By: Joe D’Amato

Starring: Tisa Farrow, George Eastman, Saverio Vallone, Serena Grandi, Margaret Mazzantini, Mark Bodin, Bob Larson, Rubina Rey, Zora Kerova

Synopsis: A group of friends plan to tour some islands in the Mediterranean, but run into trouble in the form of a deformed cannibalistic maniac.

Thoughts: If there is one thing I’ve learned from watching Italian horror movies, is that it’s a pretty bad idea to visit islands. You’re guaranteed to run into cannibals, zombies or some sort of bloodthirsty maniacs.

Anthropophagus is no different. We see two German tourists stop off at a beach and immediately meet their demise at the hands of an unseen killer wielding a rather large butcher knife. As the movie progresses, we find that the killer is Klaus Wortman, who was believed to be lost at sea with his wife and son. Klaus survived, but his family did not, and he ate them to survive, which ultimately drove him insane and led to him becoming a cannibal.

The story is pretty solid, although the characters make some very poor decisions that you’ll find in a lot of horror movies. They split up, they venture into areas they shouldn’t and ultimately, most of them die for it. I always find it hard to critique actors when the movie is dubbed, but Anthropophagus never came across as campy, so that says something for the actors, the script and the direction.

Joe D’Amato, mostly known for sexploitation type movies (both hardcore and softcore), ventured into the horror genre in the early 80s and did so with a splash of blood and gore. In addition to Anthropophagus, he directed its sequel Absurd and Beyond the Darkness.

Based on his background, Anthropophagus has surprisingly little sex in it. Instead, he focused on the atmosphere and brutality of the attacks. It worked very well, as Klaus is an extremely memorable and creepy killer.

There are a multitude of very bad movies on the Video Nasty list. Anthropophagus is not just another boring gore fest with bad FX. It has an above average story, some great direction and a great setting. Add that to some pretty nasty gore, and you have yourself one of the better entries on the list.

How Nasty Is It? This one deserves its place on the list, if only for a couple of scenes. There are some pretty long stretches where there isn’t a lot of action, but when there is action, it’s pretty gruesome. This is topped off by Eastman catching up to Maggie and rips her unborn child from her womb and eats it. This scene actually had some prosecutors believing that this was an actual snuff film!

evilspeak

 

Directed By: Eric Weston

Starring: Clint Howard, RG Armstrong, Joseph Cortese, Claude Earl Jones, Richard Moll, Haywood Nelson, Don Stark, Charles Tyner

Synopsis: Stanley Coopersmith is often the target of bullies at a military school until he finds an ancient book giving his the ability to exact his revenge.

Thoughts:

Does it ever pay to pick on the outcast in class? You would think we had learned our lesson from Carrie, which has many parallels to Evilspeak. Instead of being psychic, Stanley happens upon a book detailing the powers of a Black Mass.

The movie starts with a flashback to medieval times, where we see Richard Moll as Father Estaban, the leader of a Satanic Church. As I started looking at Moll’s filmography, there are a surprising number of horror and cult titles that he’s been a part of, many of which have had releases lately. Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn, The Dungeonmaster and Night Train to Terror, along with House, could make for a pretty kick ass Moll Marathon!

As we flip to the present, we find Clint Howard, who is also no stranger to the horror genre, as Stanley Coopersmith, the orphaned student that seemingly everyone picks on, including the faculty. Evilspeak takes some time getting to the action, but the final scene is pretty insane, with Howard flying around a church (on obvious wires) swinging a monstrous sword decimating his enemies.

Evilspeak isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s not a bad watch. Interestingly enough, Anton LaVey, the founder of the Church of Satan, is a huge fan of the film. I thought that it took some time to get going, but the finale was worth it.

How Nasty Is It? Evilspeak is included in the infamous Video Recordings Act of 1984, making it a Video Nasty. There’s a good bit of gore in the finale, but it’s not realistic at all. There is also a shower scene, where a secretary meets her demise at the hands (hooves?) of demonic boars. In my opinion, the reason this ended up as a Video Nasty was because of the Satanic themes. Compared to many of the other titles on the list, this is very tame.

Seize the Video Nasties!

Posted: January 16, 2017 in List, Opinions
Tags: ,

What are Video Nasties?

If you’ve spent much time in and around the horror genre, you’ve heard the term Video Nasty. It seems that many genre films from the 70s and 80s have somehow become associated with the term, but there are very specific lists of movies that were Video Nasties.

In the early 80s, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) and Mary Whitehouse led a campaign to prosecute certain titles for obscenity. The result was the Video Recordings Act of 1984, which required all video releases to appear before the BBFC for certification (as well as demands for edits). For many years, the UK would become one of the most heavily censored countries in all of Europe.

To learn more about the proceedings and public reaction, check out the Severin releases of Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide (there are two parts). In addition to some great documentaries, there are trailers for every Video Nasty film, even the Section 3 list, which are not really considered the “real” Video Nasties.

videonastiesonetwo

Available from Severin Films.

In total, there are 72 movies included in the Section 2 list, 39 of which were actually prosecuted. It is those 72 movies that I am going to look at over the coming months (some of which I’ve already reviewed). There are some very well-known titles in this list, such as Evil Dead, Zombie and The Beyond, but there are also a lot of fairly obscure titles. This also applies to the quality of the movies. Some of these are pretty poorly made, which in some ways, creates a sort of grindhouse charm.

Although this was a dark time for horror enthusiasts in the U.K., the BBFC brought attention to many films that may never have been popular.  In fact, the Video Nasty list is often used as a check list of sorts, movies that are “extreme” enough to have been banned

Without further ado, here is a list of the films, with links to reviews that will be updated as the year goes.

Section 2 Prosecuted Films:

  1. Absurd
  2. Anthropophagus: The Beast
  3. Axe
  4. A Bay of Blood
  5. The Beast in Heat
  6. Blood Feast
  7. Blood Rites
  8. Bloody Moon
  9. The Burning
  10. Cannibal Apocalypse
  11. Cannibal Ferox
  12. Cannibal Holocaust
  13. The Cannibal Man
  14. Devil Hunter
  15. Don’t Go in the Woods
  16. The Driller Killer
  17. Evilspeak
  18. Exposé
  19. Faces of Death
  20. Fight for Your Life
  21. Flesh for Frankenstein
  22. Forest of Fear
  23. Gestapo’s Last Orgy
  24. The House by the Cemetery
  25. The House on the Edge of the Park
  26. I Spit on Your Grave
  27. Island of Death
  28. The Last House on the Left
  29. Love Camp 7
  30. Madhouse
  31. Mardi Gras Massacre
  32. Nightmares in a Damaged Brain
  33. Night of the Bloody Apes
  34. Night of the Demon
  35. Snuff
  36. SS Experiment Camp
  37. Tenebrae
  38. The Werewolf and the Yeti
  39. Zombie Flesh Eaters

Section 2 Non-Prosecuted Films:

  1. The Beyond
  2. The Bogey Man
  3. Cannibal Terror
  4. Contamination
  5. Dead & Buried
  6. Death Trap
  7. Deep River Savages
  8. Delirium
  9. Don’t Go in the House
  10. Don’t Go Near the Park
  11. Don’t Look in the Basement
  12. The Evil Dead
  13. Frozen Scream
  14. The Funhouse
  15. Human Experiments
  16. I Miss You, Hugs and Kisses
  17. Inferno
  18. Killer Nun
  19. Late Night Trains
  20. The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue
  21. Nightmare Maker
  22. Possession
  23. Pranks
  24. Prisoner of the Cannibal God
  25. Revenge of the Bogey Man
  26. The Slayer
  27. Terror Eyes
  28. The Toolbox Murders
  29. Unhinged
  30. Visiting Hours
  31. The Witch Who Came From the Sea
  32. Women Behind Bars
  33. Zombie Creeping Flesh

Island of Death

Directed By: Nico Mastorakis

Starring: Robert Behling, Jane Lyle, Jessica Dublin, Gerard Gonalons, Jannice McConnell, Nikos Tsachiridis

Synopsis: A British couple terrorize a small Greek island, killing anyone they deem as sinful.

Thoughts: Yet another Video Nasty to mark off my list! This time around it is the Greek exploitation flick Island of Death, also titled A Craving for Lust or Devils in Mykonos. I’d heard quite a bit about this movie prior to seeing it, so I thought I knew what I was settling in for. I was wrong.

Island of Death isn’t afraid to go the extra mile to shock you. I don’t mean excessive gore. I mean it has your standard genre fare of violence and mayhem, but it also goes the extra mile with bestiality, incest and golden showers. There is also a rather bizarre scene where the couple is having sex in a phone booth and the guy decides to call his Mom and tell her what he is doing. It’s all to show just how insane the couple is, but Mastorakis really pushes the envelope. It’s not hard to see why this landed on the Video nasty list.

As you would expect, the acting is quite bad, but I can’t imagine that is why you would watch this movie. There aren’t really any redeeming characters, or actors to be found here. Mastorakis attempts to cover just how awful the acting is with the beauty of lead actress Jane Lyle, and finding every excuse to have her naked on the screen.

As awful as the acting is, this was a fairly enjoyable experience. I found myself laughing more than anything, which I don’t think was the initial intention, but it works. The Director admitted in an interview that his sole reason for making the movie was to make money. He was inspired by the financial success of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Although this isn’t a movie I will be watching on a regular basis, it is something that I think fans of exploitation need to see. It is so over the top that you won’t believe what you’re seeing on screen. It’s also worth noting that the scenery is great. The island that this takes place on is really a place of beauty. It serves as a great contrast for the carnage happening around it.

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.