Friday, December 24, 2010

Wishing you a Mad Mad Mad Mad Xmas...

"Feliz Navidad. Soy Santo Claus."
From both the Duke and the Vicar, to all our friends, parishioners, prisoners and subjects, a very Happy Xmas!

And here we go a wassailing!

The best version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" EVAR.


The Duke's Video Xmas Card!


And finally, something more traditional:


And to all a good night!

MORE MADNESS...

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Tod Slaughter Christmas: Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street

 
Joe Monster at the excellent blog From Beyond Depraved was a great addition to our recent Paul Naschy blogathon with his cutting and hilarious reviews. So when he asked your ever-lovin' Vicar to be a part of his own pet project, A Tod Slaughter Christmas, I couldn't say no. (The photos Joe has of me from the Duke's last soiree involving an amputee Little Person and a few cans of Crisco may or may not have also been a factor. An unsung hero of cinematic villainy, Tod Slaughter was a man caught between the old stagecraft of Victorian melodrama and the then-new art form of cinematic thrillers. The result was a series of portrayals of delightfully deranged villains, including the one detailed below, previously published on MMMMMovies in November of 2007, but still just as topical today! So sit back, relax, and take a trip to yesteryear with the Vicar, a villain, and a plate full of questionable meat pies...

I've been a fan of the Sweeney Todd story ever since the early-to-mid-eighties, when I caught a performance of the Stephen Sondheim musical on our local PBS station one weekend. Though I had some experience with musicals (my older brother's a big fan, and I picked a lot up by osmosis), I had never before seen one that so perfectly blended show tunes and terror. In the fullness of time I acquired a tape and watched the play over and over again, until I could quite literally recite it from opening curtain to final bow.

So when I learned that there had been a horror film made of the story--and during the Golden Age of Classic Horror, my favorite era, no less!--I became very much interested in seeing it. Sadly the film was not a Universal production, nor a Hollywood flick at all, but rather a low-budget British programmer that never showed up on our late-night TV dial. I filed it away in the back cabinet of my brain and went on with my life.

So now I've finally got to see it, and I must say I'm not at all disappointed. A fun, theatrical little flick with some good acting from the leads, some interesting editing, at least one WTF wacky moment, and a long-overdue introduction to the work of Tod Slaughter, an English thespian who apparently made lots of films like these and whose other work I look forward to seeing. But, on with the synopsis.

We open in modern-day London, scene of our interesting frame story. A busy businessman stops in a small barber shop for a shave. The barber--a cadaverous fellow with a cloyingly unguent manner--sets about trying to sell his client all manner of tonsorial accessories, from razor blades to hair tonics to vigor-restoring snake oil. The irritated customer swats away every offer, saying at last, "I expect you'll try to sell me that picture on the wall next!"

"Oh no," the barber says, seriously. "I would never sell that!" It turns out the picture is a drawing of Sweeney Todd from the newspapers in the early 19th Century, and Mr. Todd was the original owner of the shop. This leads the barber to tell the man Todd's story while he shaves him, and takes us into the wayback machine set for Dickensian London...


"Say, want me to show you a
quick way to lose ten ugly pounds?"

Now, in case you don't know, Sweeney Todd is a barber who lives and works somewhere in the vicinity of Fleet Street, London. He's also something of a tinkerer and a thief, not to mention a murderous psychopath. The fortunate man has been able to roll all his predilictions into one pastime--having rigged up a trap door underneath his barber's chair, he's able to drop unsuspecting customers into the basement on their heads, go down and slit their throats, and then steal all their cash.

This of course leaves the problem of what to do with the victims' remains, but the fiendishly clever Todd has this sorted as well. A secret passage through the basement connects with his next door neighbor Mrs. Lovat's shop, which as it happens sells meat pies. Mrs. Lovat is not averse to spiking the pies with shaved human corpses, and what's more, she's in love with Todd. Problem solved!

This hobby has made Todd very wealthy, but he longs to gain entry into society, and to do this is courting aristocrat Stephen Oakley, claiming he wants to be allowed to invest in his shipping business, but actually hoping to get the old man in his debt so he can force him to allow Todd to marry young Joanna Oakley, the aristocrat's daughter. (This is very different from the Sondheim musical and presumably the upcoming Burton/Depp vehicle based on it, since in the play Joanna is Todd's daughter and she is pursued by the lecherous Judge Turpin, whose character here is aptly named 'Judge Not-Appearing-In-This-Film.')

But Joanna has a man, a sailor named Mark, of whom her father disapproves. Mark is about the ship out, hoping to make his fortune and come back for Joanna's hand. But Todd helps the old man out by ratting on Joanna and the sailor and spoiling their farewell at the pier, thus gaining his good graces. Hands are shaken, investments are made, investments are lost, Todd calls in his debts, Oakley offers up his daughter, virgins are menaced, throats are slit, and everything rolls right along.

I must say here that the period setting of Victorian England is done extremely well--the crowded piers, the coal-smokey streets, the urchins and scullery maids, all great. And Todd and the other gentlemen wear some truly amazing top hats--I mean Mad Hatter-type hats, stuff that would make Tom Petty proud. The exaggerated height and width of the chapeaux give the film an almost German expressionist quality, without going too overboard on it.

Mrs. Lovat doesn't like Todd's carrying on with Joanna, and threatens to send him to jail; but of course she's in it as deep as he is, as he reminds her. Here Slaughter really turns up the low simmering menace he's cultivated the whole flick and goes into full-on threatening madman mode, also demonstrating probably the second-best crazy-laugh in cinema history. (Top honor: Dwight Frye as Renfield, natch.) It reminded me of a chain of stores that used to do business in Arkansas and perhaps throughout the South known as "The Mad Butcher"--they had this very Todd-ish looking mascot who closed every commercial with a crazy laugh, brandishing a cleaver. I wonder now if this figure was based on Slaughter in this film. Or if I just dreamed him up. Either way, *shudder*.


Tod Slaughter: the Very Picture
of Trustworthiness

Meanwhile, Mark's ship lands in Africa somewhere to rescue an English shipwreck victim whose fires they saw from sea. This is a wild and wacky scene, as the Robinson Crusoe-esque shipwrecked dude and his heavily-pigmented servant (unnamed, but I call him 'Monday') are beset by a tribe of Jungle warriors intent on stamping out the White Menace. The sailors come ashore and before you can say Zulu there's an all-out race riot afoot! The natives are at a disadvantage without gunpowder and are quickly mowed down, but not before Monday buggers off (Don't you just hate Mondays?) and leaves Crusoe to rush out of the hut to greet his liberators, only to get a chest full of spears in mid-huzzah! That'll teach you to count your chickens.

The captain is a casualty of the fray, so Mark becomes captian and sails back to London, his fortune made thanks to the his bloody promotion. It all goes downhill rather quickly from there, with Lovat finally going sour on Todd, Joanna dressing as a boy to infiltrate Tod's shop (convincing Sweeney utterly--a nice Shakespearean touch there), the whole carnal business getting uncovered, and a final confrontation that leads to the shop going up in flames and Todd presumably dying in the cataclysm. Of course we get a comedic return to the modern-day to see the barber's customer flee the shop once the cadaverous cutter picks up his razor, and thus a legend is born.

"It's the weirdest thing...I swear you look
just like somebody I know! Ah well, never mind.
How much for the wax job again? "


This was a very fun flick, especially for fans of horror films from this period. I've read that if a Victorian melodrama could be brought to the screen, acting styles intact, Slaughter's work wouldn't be far off, and I believe it. Slaughter--called "Europe's Horror Man" in the ads--is a really great villain, his menacing evil nature very authentic and palpable. Though the acting style here is more stage than screen, it still works, especially when Slaughter lets loose with the crazy laugh.

Also, especially early on in the flick there is some interesting editing, as director George King ties together several scenes stream-of-consciousness style, taking the last word from one character as the first word from another on a jump cut to a different set-up. There's some comic relief with one of Mark's shipmates being courted by Joanna's tall, gawky maid, which surprisingly is actually pretty funny. There's no gore, of course, and the cannibalism aspect of the story is very much played down (restricted to implication in one or two scenes with people saying, "Whattaya suppose he did with the bodies?" while of course chewing one of Mrs. Lovat's meat pies), but like I say, if you're a fan of movies of this period, there's very little not to like.

I'm glad I got to see ST:TDBoFS, and that it wasn't a crushing disappointment like another long-sought-after movie I finally got to see as an adult. I give it a solid 2 thumbs. Fans of Lugosi, Karloff, and the Universal Horrors, get to know Tod Slaughter. He'll fit right into your pantheon.

MORE MADNESS...

Friday, December 17, 2010

DVD Review: SCREAM DREAM (1989)

Challenging for their own title of "Most Fun Artifact of 80s SOV Madness of the year," which they garnered way back in August with the surprisingly entertaining release of Truth or Dare?: A Critical Madness (1986), in October the crew at MVD Entertainment did another service to cultural anthropologists across the web with their budget DVD release of Donald Farmer's 1989 heavy metal horror tale, Scream Dream . What Farmer (Cannibal Hookers, Chainsaw Cheerleaders) and crew lack in technical skill, they more than make up for with enthusiasm, earnestness, and perhaps unintentional hilarity. To say nothing of some kickin' 80s bar metal tunes by shoulda-been-stars Crikk-O-Shay!

After a wild and completely-unrelated-to-anything-else-in-the-movie credits/dream sequence (in which a busty 80s beauty is menaced by a demonic crotch-saw), we open the movie proper with a bored former metalhead-turned-yuppie watching TV at his home in rural Tennessee, while his wife, THE QUEEN OF THE HARPIES, shouts nonstop abuse from the neighboring wood-panelled room. Our henpecked hero is extremely excited to learn that Satanic rocker Michelle Shocked (Carol Carr) not to be confused with the American singer-songwriter with the same stage name, and determines that he and his wife are going, despite the price of tickets compromising their ability to pay rent for the month. For all her acrimonious protestations, the wife does accompany her hubby to the show--judging from her constant insults and stinkeye looks, solely to make sure that he doesn't have a good time.

The cover of Michelle's breakthrough album, Coccyx Kruncher

Friends, Satanic Shock Rock was an extremely different animal in 1989 than it is today, at least in the wilds of Tennessee. Michelle is less Deicide than she is Pat Benetar, all spandex and sparkly chains and big mousse-y hair, singing melodius radio metal about such blasphemous subjects and bad dreams and wanting to have a good time. When her intimidatingly permed bandmate Derrick (Nikki Riggins, winner of the 1988 Southern States David Coverdale Lookalike/Roscoe P. Coltrane Soundalike competition) says of their fans, "These people are hardcore metalheads--they think Van Halen is elevator music!")--you might get some idea the level of RAWK we're dealing with here.

"You want me to open for Stryper? Okay, send over the contracts."

The maritally dissatisfied superfan gets his chance to meet his idol after the show, and he wastes no time putting the charm to work, telling Michelle his wife is in fact his sister while the harpy is standing RIGHT THERE (smoove move, bro). Of course the outraged spouse leaves in a huff, and Michelle, being the lecherous devil-worshiping frontwoman she is, rewards the man's fandom with the offer of a backstage blowjob. It's all a part...of his rock n' roll fantasy! But with his dreams coming (and cumming) true, the hayseed doesn't notice when Michelle starts to transform into a talon-handed demon, and by the time he catches on, he's one frankfurter short of a pack, IYKWIM.

Fun While it Lasted
Despite the fact that Michelle is selling out pool halls and truck stops all across rural Tennessee, her manager Lou--a delightfully foul-mouthed and top-volume performance by Gene Amonette--has had enough of all the headaches her Satanic lifestyle is causing him, and decides with Derrick that Michelle has to go. Fired from the band but still eeevil, Michelle goes to county fair and there hooks up with a Camaro-mulleted, porn-stached local, takes him back to her place, and rips out his heart and eats it Horror Rises from the Tomb style! Apparently she's made a habit of this, as an investigative journalist from Murpheesboro In the Morning TV reports that there have been 13 unsolved murders in recent months, each in a town where Michelle had just performed a show. The police dismiss her deductions as the PMS-induced ravings of a crazy lady-type, naturally.

Not wanting to refund the money for any of the remaining shows on the tour--shows that sold out based on the reputation and talent of Michelle Shocked, mind you--Lou and Derrick quickly hire her replacement, the bustier and blonder Jamie Summers (Melissa Moore, last seen round the VHS Vicarage as part of the not-nearly-so-excellent MVD release Scream Queens Illustrated). Lou ill-advisedly sends Derrick to Michelle's place to reclaim some of the stage costumes he paid for, which he wants Jamie to wear at her first gig. You can probably guess this plan is a flawed one, and when the possessed chanteuse attacks Derrick with sacrifice on her mind, he does the only reasonable thing--which is to hack her to death with a handy medieval halberd and then flee the premises!

Flirtin' with Disaster. Every Day.
Stupidly, though, the big-haired bonehead has forgotten to snag the stage gear, and as a result is forced to come back later, with Jamie in tow, to loot the treasure trove of spangles and spandex and spiked collars. Somehow Derrick thinks he can keep Jamie from discovering the body, a drastic overestimation of his diversionary skills. While Jamie stares in shock at the body, Derrick claims ignorance and dashes into the next room for the gear. Unfortunately Michelle's deal with the Devil comes to fruition just then, as a rat creature hand puppet scurries out from under a nearby coffee table to gnaw on Jamie's throat, which of course allows Michelle's spirit to possess the bimbo's bodacious bod. It's not long before Jamie is also sprouting finger-talons and demon horns, cutting a bloody swath through her legions of new fans and threatening Derrick with vengeance from beyond the grave. Will Derrick be able to use the power of METULL to survive?

Scream Dream is one of those movies that was clearly made on weekends for next to no money by a group of underfunded, overambitious dreamers who probably should have scrapped the whole thing in its planning stages and gone back to their manufacturing jobs and weekend bar gigs, playing their own brand of down-home metal for their tens of appreciative, drunken fans. But Farmer and crew just didn't know when to quit--and if you're a fan of so-bad-it's-good entertainment, you'll join me when I say, THANK THE GODS OF CINEMA they didn't! (Note: Farmer went on to amass a lengthy DTV filmography and is still making movies--hopefully he got better over time.)

"Am I Demon? You Need to Know!"

The acting here ranges from the terrible to the refreshingly mediocre. Minor characters like the superfan and his wife, the Three Mulleteers at the county fair, and later two of Jamie's female admirers who meet a grisly fate, seem to be projecting their lines like they were in a high school play in an auditorium with no stage mikes. Next to these, Riggins and Moore look like graduates of the Strasberg school; Riggins' Derrick is amiably dumb and an ace with the ladies; bonus points if you can figure out what instrument he plays in the band, since he's never seen onstage with them and seems to skip every rehearsal. Moore brings an "I'm a Model but I want to be an Actress" sensibility to her role which is smile-inducing, and gyrates and lip-synchs gamely to Crikk-O-Shay's stylings. Standouts are Amonette as Lou the foul-mouthed Manager and Carr as Michelle Shocked, who throws herself into her role of heart-ripping, nob-gobbling hobgoblin with admirable abandon.

Story-wise, the flick is full of great trash movie moments. Even though the flick clocks in at a lean (indeed, almost anorexic) 69 minutes, it's padded with no fewer than three full-length METULL songs of a quality that will have cheestastic metal lovers smirking with glee and rock snobs reaching for the fast-forward button. Subplots abound, from the unrelated opening nightmare girl to the unhappy couple of the first episode to the TV journalist's sanctimonious editorials that stretch toward 80s Satanic Metal topicality without ever even getting close. (Also, despite being the star reporter, the journalist cheerfully gets her video editor/cameraman coffee at the studio, while he leans back with his feet up on the desk, as much as to say, "That's wimmin's work.") And the make-up effects are totally LOLtastic, particularly the hand-puppet demon and Moore's devilish creature costume. (Oh, and Moore flashes her not-unimpressive boobs, a lot--so there's that, as well.)

She was cuter at the bar.

The video quality is quite bad, as you can see from the grabs, doubtless sourced from one of the original VHS tapes--though since the flick was shot on video for what looks like about a hundred bucks total, it's probably as good as it's ever looked. The only extras are trailers for other of MVD's horror releases. But the movie will set you back less than a sawbuck ($9.99 list price, $7.49 at MVD's online store), and is a lot of fun.

In short, Scream Dream is a trash movie fan's delight, a little piece of history from a time when Mom & Pop video stores were booming, demand outweighed supply, and anybody with a camcorder and a dream could get distribution. Go in with low expectations and a high appreciation for horror and metal cheese, and you'll have a good time with this one. 2.25 thumbs.

A few more shots from Scream Dream (1989):


SAUSAGE. DOGS.

Rockin' and Shockin'

Theft prevention tip: Always Lock Up Yer Crotch

I don't care if it is a double-wide, that's a big fucking door.

"Not the hair!"

Maybe She's Born With It

MORE MADNESS...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

RIP Jean Rollin: 1938-2010

Terrible news for the world of cinéma fantastique today: director Jean Rollin has passed away after a long illness at the age of 72.

Image via Fascination: the Jean Rollin Experience

I've been a fan of Rollin's since first viewing his excellent, phantasmagorical, vampiric fairy tale Requiem for a Vampire, and since then have watched and enjoyed many of his films. Rollin was a director with an unbelievable talent for imagery, and a nearly faultless eye for beauty--in composition, colors, shadows, light, and story. He was an artist who developed his own cinematic language, and whose best films I count among the most gorgeous ever made by any director in any genre. He was also a tireless creator, continuing to make his own unique brand of cinema right up to the end. His death is a tremendous loss, not only to the horror and fantastique genres, but to world cinema as a whole.


Living Dead Girl (1982)


Shiver of the Vampires (1971) [image via Fascination]

Lips of Blood (1974) [image via Fascination]

The Grapes of Death (1978)

Mad Mad Mad Mad Movies sends out our heartfelt condolences to Jean Rollin's family, friends, and fans. He will be missed. His legacy will live on.

For more info on Rollin's life, work, and legacy, visit Jeremy Richey's excellent blog Fascination: The Jean Rollin Experience--in my opinion, the best resource for Rollin fans and scholars on the web.

RIP, Jean, and thank you for all you gave.



Au revior.

Jean Rollin on MMMMMovies:

MORE MADNESS...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Black Candles (1982): or, Sometimes You Get the Goat, and Sometimes the Goat Gets You

José Ramón Larraz's 1982 Satanic cult thriller Black Candles starts off with a bang. And by that I mean it begins with a balding, middle-aged man whiling away his afternoon by banging his much younger, much more attractive mistress. Rightly pleased with himself, the elder lover chuckles at his girlfriend's silver necklace, calling it, "The Devil's Paw" in a dismissive, smarmy way. Things go from titillating to tragic, however, when somebody spears a voodoo doll with a nasty looking hat pin, leading our depiliated debauchee to suffer a massive coronary while wrapped in the arms (and legs) of his lady. To her credit, the girl seems completely unfazed by this turn of events. The camera then  pans to a photo of the man's newly widowed wife Fiona (Helga Liné), which glares disapprovingly from the nightstand at her late philandering husband and his paramour. Could she be behind the supernatural assassination that abnegated his assignation?

Spoiler: yup.

Originally titled Los ritos sexuales del diablo (The Sexual Rites of the Devil), Larraz's film is jam packed with dysfunction, depravity, and sex sex sex, sprinkled with enough outrageous cult-centered shenanigans to keep horror/exploitation fans happy. You want an old dark house filled with evil family secrets? You got it. You want a hapless, disbelieving heroine menaced by a Satanic cult with its fingers in every strata of village society? Happy to oblige. You want necro-incestuous dream sequences and an extended sex scene involving an actual, factual goat? Step right this...waitaminnit, what kind of fucking sicko ARE you?

"It's a family heirloom. My grandmother had it fashioned from the first farthing she made as a prostitute!"
 After the credits, we join the deceased man's sister Carol (Vanessa Hidalgo) and her husband Robert (Mauro Ribera), who have come to comfort Fiona in her grief and to see about the dispensation of her brother's estate. Unfortunately it's a very dark and stormy night when they arrive, and the electricity has been knocked out at the mansion. Luckily Fiona has a metric shitload of BLACK CANDLES around to light the way. When Robert--a defrocked priest and now professor of theological studies at some unnamed university--comments on the occult symbolism of the light sources, Fiona admits to a fascination with demonology, laughing, "Intelligent people all over the world continue to make pacts with the devil!" I hope for their sake they don't also bet a lot of money on poker.

Despite her misgivings about her sister-in-law's interests and her already burgeoning suspicions about her brother's death, upon being shown to her room Carol immediately strips down to lingerie and knee-boots to make sweaty Eurolove with her sacrilegious hubby, who in these scenes looks a lot like an Italian Jamie Gillis. A hot and bothered Fiona fondles herself while spying on them through a peephole in the wall, making good the old saying that the lady of the house comes first. And third. And fifth.

Helga just had an orgasm. And boy, is she pissed about it!

That night Carol dreams of wandering the estate's gardens in her white stockings and garter belt, followed by her brother's ghost. After a few vaseline-coated fish-eye lens shots and some nonsensical jump cuts, she finds herself in her bedroom, suddenly having hot passionate sex with her dead brother! Fiona pounds on the door, then teleports inside to make out with Carol while her brother licks her legs. She wakes up in a sweat, and 15 minutes into the movie we've already sent the "taste" bar through the floor.

Think there's nowhere to go but up? Keep dreaming.

"Well here's a bush that needs tending!"
 With nothing left to be gained by keeping the audience in the dark, Larraz next has Fiona talking to a devilish-looking fellow in priest garb about how they need to get rid of Carol and her husband by the Sabbath, since there's a big party planned and they haven't got enough place settings. To that end Fiona's maid pilfers a necklace from Carol's suitcase, which will be useful in their scheme to mystify her into leaving. (Apparently just chucking them out is not an elegant enough plan.) While Carol continues to hear ghostly voices telling her to leave the place forever--which she ignores, naturally--the maid and a stable hand make suggestive small talk in the barn. (Her: "I'm sure you've never seen a billy goat mounting a woman...and later coming inside of her." Him: "No, never.")

Lest you think these Satanists are all talk, we cut almost immediately back to the barn, where the brother's lover from Scene One lies on a tuffet of hay in her knee-high, fringed suede boots (and little else), waiting for--wait for it--A GOAT. And if you're thinking they won't go there...well, I didn't think so either. But here we are.

"Wait, Mr. Larraz...what's my motivation?"

Turns out the goat's...erm, stuff...is needed for their ritual, which is some convoluted thing to make Carol believe she's going crazy before she tumbles to the fact that everyone around her is actually worshiping the devil. Which is a long way to go for Gaslight, but I guess just because you're a devil worshiper doesn't necessarily make you a great planner. Still, I shouldn't judge too harshly, since the plan seems to work like goatbusters: Carol sees all kinds of crazy visions (though nothing as crazy as what the audience just saw), and Fiona seduces Robert like a rabid minx, several times, finally making him a member of their coven. (We know he's completely gone over to the dark side because he stops wearing the gold crucifix that has decorated his tufty chest mane for the whole flick--well, that and he forces anal sex on Carol, to her moderate, understated distress.)

You'd think there'd be no trumps left once you've played the Fucked By a Goat card, and in fairness you'd be right. The filmmakers give it a go, however, by having the middle-aged maid cuckold her drunken husband with a young farm hand--while the husband is right there in the bed, egging the sweaty stud on! Later the drunk tries to warn Carol about the cult, and for his trouble is skewered with a sword Edward II-style by his former friends. Thereafter it's a short trip to the Final Sacrifice, where Fiona initiates Robert into the coven by letting him do her on the altar (a fair trade, imo), then takes on the Evil Priest before they all hold Carol down for similar treatment and sacrifice. Completely overpowered by the cult and with no savior to be seen, it looks like Carol is doomed...

"That's Fred, Sheryl, Bobby, Johnson...and of course you know our accountant Maury."

In the excellent book Immoral Tales, authors Cathal Tohill and Pete Tombs quote Larraz on the director's opinion of Black Candles: "I don't like that film. That film made a lot of money...No one in that film could act. So what do you do with them? You put them in bed and have them jump on each other!" And that's bad because...? Still, from a serious artistic point of view, you can't really argue the point. The movie suffers from nonsensical plotting, bad dialogue made worse by the usual atrocious dubbing, and a cop-out ending of the sort that usually infuriates me. And to Larraz's point, the acting across the board is pretty bad, except perhaps in the case of Helga Liné, who is a fine actress in my humble and does what she can with an underwritten role.

That said, for fans of the more outrageous end of the Eurotrash sexploitation spectrum, Black Candles more than delivers the goods. The movie is jam packed with sex, most of it about as explicit as a softcore movie can get. (Though for what it's worth, the goat sex scene is pretty tastefully done.) In addition to the bestiality and backdoor forcing, Larraz betrays a real oral fixation here, with Fiona on the giving and receiving end of such on more than one occasion. (Ed. note: zang.) Most of the girls are gorgeous, particularly the young Satantic "vessel" (Lucille Jameson, maybe?) who displays remarkable dedication in a nonspeaking role. It's worth noting that Helga Liné performs several nude scenes, and still looks gorgeous in lingerie, thigh-high boots, and the altogether despite being over fifty years old at the time of filming. However, for the "full-length" shots, as it were, an obvious body double is used.


"Don't mess with me, dear. I crap bigger than you."
 Sex aside, the Satanic Panic elements are handled reasonably well, and the way the whole village from the doctor to the local constable is part of the cult--a cult that kills Carol's brother and absorbs her only other protector into its ranks--really works to generate some suspense for our the hapless damsel in undress. (There are some clear nods to Rosemary's Baby, as contractually required.) I also found the sets and some of the lighting very effective, and for all his sniffery Larraz does manage some stylish shots and compositions. Art will out, one presumes.

In closing, Black Candles is sexy, outre, never boring, and entirely MAD, and for that I can only salute it. Sure it has its shortcomings, but don't we all? 2.25 thumbs. 

Some more photos from Black Candles (1982):

Looks like someone's horny.

Markie Post in an early role.

She'll eat your heart out.

It was the last time Mario agreed to "go first" at Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey.

"Honey, would you still love me if I'd had sex with a convict when I was younger?"
"Why of course, darling!"
"Well...what if I'd banged a goat? Like...yesterday?"


Resuscitate Me


"Relax, baby--I'm a professional."

MORE MADNESS...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

NASCHY BLOGATHON: THE NUMBERS

And now, to sum up: as promised, a few numbers on the (to my mind) roaringly successful PAUL NASCHY BLOGATHON:

Hail to the King, Baby
Duration: 5 days (November 29-December 3, 2010)
Participation: 95 posts from 51 authors on 42 different websites.
Average unique visitors per day (to MMMMMovies):  532
Most reviewed movie: Horror Rises from the Tomb (reviewed 7 times)
Poll Results: respondents preferred a Bearded Naschy to any other variation by a factor of almost 2 to 1! (Though results may have been a bit different had I replaced "hypertrichotic" with the more pedestrian "really, really hairy." :) )

And the OCD Award for most active blogathonner goes to: Darius Whiteplume (Adventures in Nerdliness) with 7 posts!


I had planned to do a big "Closing Ceremonies" post about What Naschy Means to Me, and reflecting on the blogathon and the year we've spent without him--but as I thought about it, while reading these great posts about his films, his life, and his legacy, I realized that we haven't been without him at all. He's shuffled off his mortal coil, of course, and for his family and friends and fans, that's a huge loss--but in a real and not at all sentimental/sappy way (well, maybe just a little), he's still with us. In his movies, in the people whose lives he touched and influenced, and in the legions of fans whose numbers just keep growing year after year.

Besides, everyone knows how I feel about Naschy anyway. If you don't, just browse the archives. :)

So in closing, let me just say once again: THANK YOU to all the wonderful bloggers, artists, and non-blogging writers who pitched in for this blogathon. Many months ago, when the Duke and I first came up with this idea of a week-long tribute to our favorite filmmaker and actor, we were half prepared to be the only ones who cared enough to write--we thought maybe a few of our close blogging friends might chip in out of affection for us (or to keep us from sending the photos to the police), but mostly we were preparing ourselves for the worst. But as you know now, the response from Paul's fans across the blogosphere was amazing and overwhelming. Day after day I was surprised, amazed, and delighted at the quantity, quality, and variety of the tributes--it was all I could do to keep up with all the brilliance, and I still haven't caught up on my commenting! But I plan to, don't worry.

Anyway, to all the Naschy fans who participated, and to those who may not have been fanatics but took the opportunity to consider his legacy anyway, my deepest and sincerest thanks. You all helped make this a much larger and grander celebration than I or the Duke could have hoped for, and we're forever grateful. And to the patron saint of our blog, and the Guest of Honor at the festival: rest well, Señor Molina. I miss you, and I love you, and I will never forget you.

The Vicar

And don't forget--if you missed any posts, or want to revisit the blogathon for nostalgic purposes, THE PAUL NASCHY BLOGATHON LINKS PAGE is preserved here in perpetuity! Visit often, and look for new MMMMMovies content resuming soon!

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Saturday, December 4, 2010

NASCHY BLOGATHON LINKS! THE FINAL CHAPTER! (probably)

Adios.
Well, friends and parishioners, I'm feeling much better rested this morning, and was pleased to wake up to a few more last-minute entries in what has been, to my mind, an immensely successful blogathon! There will still be some housecleaning to do and summing up to accomplish over the next few days, to say nothing of rehydrating and deep-tissue massage. But enough of my yakkin'! Here are the links that came in just under the wire!

  • Fellow LOTT D-er Nate Yapp of the excellent and extensive Classic-Horror.com has created a wonderful fan video condensing some of the most memorable moments of the Waldemar Daninsky series, set to the music of Arcade Fire's "Black Mirror"! And it's pretty amazing how well it fits--for my money, the band should adopt it as the official video! Check it out, linked here and also embedded below, by the editor's kind permission! RAWK!
  • Continuing the multi-media MADness, just after the clock struck midnight Thomas D. of Cinema Gonzo hurled his own hat into the ring, with this sprawling and awesome review (including video clips from Venom, Cathedral, Louis CK and Monty Python) of Paul Naschy's medieval morality tale-cum-torture porn, Inquisición!
  • Similarly refusing to be bound by the arbitrary concept of clock time, the tireless Dr. Morbius of Krell Labs offers her final experiment in the Naschython, with a thoughtful review of Paul's wild and not-so-woolly 1973 opus, The Hunchback of the Morgue!

And that's the news! If you've been working all week and just couldn't get the entry in before last night (doubtless due to mystical curses and gremlins from beyond seeking to quash the joy of Naschy love as best they can), go ahead and finish up and send me those links! But if everyone's had their final say on the matter, then it is with a tear in my eye and coffee in my hand that I must declare the Paul Naschy Blogathon--officially CLOSED.

Sort of. Probably.

Anyway, thanks again to all the great contributors and commenters for making this little project a success. It's been truly fantastic to see all the Naschy love every day of the week! I'll be archiving the links in perpetuity here at MMMMMovies, so as long as you've got the articles on your blogs, you're a part of the Paul Naschy Blogathon Memorial.

Sum-up post and stats still to come.

 ¡Viva El Hombre-Lobo! ¡Viva Naschy!

The Vicar 
 
 
Nate Yapp's fanvid, "Waldemar Daninsky's 'Black Mirror'"  (Classic-Horror.com)

CLICK HERE FOR THE COLLECTED NASCHY BLOGATHON LINKS, ALL ON ONE PAGE!

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Friday, December 3, 2010

NASCHY BLOGATHON LINKS for Friday, December 3, Part 2!

Can it be that the Naschyfest is almost over? Say it ain't so! While I'll relish the opportunity to rest and catch up on the commenting and re-reading of a lot of the posts from this week, it'll be strange to be without the almost hourly deliveries of Naschy Glee I've enjoyed this week. But if this blogathon has taught me anything, it's that the Joy of Naschy is extremely widespread, and a little spark of it lives within us all.

The Vicar, in his dreams
If you live in different time zones and still plan on squeezing your blogathon entry in before the Great Black Clock chimes twelve, fear not--I'll be compiling a final, festival-ending link list tomorrow morning--or more likely early afternoon.  (Psst--if you don't post your Naschy entry till late Saturday, or even Sunday, I probably would still acknowledge it as part of the 'thon--maybe as part of the "Appendices." ;) ) But for those of you who need your measure of Molina before bedtime, here are the links since our last update this morning!

  • Creeping Bride of the SHOCK! Theater blog admits her connection of the famous "Shock!" syndicated movie package of  the 50s and 60s to Naschy's legacy is tenuous, but to use her words, "I just had to participate somehow!" Check out her review of Lon Chaney Jr.'s portrayal of The Wolf Man, with extra added Naschy goodness!
  • Video Junkie closes out its spectacular series of "El Hombre Mofo" articles, with "Tom & Will's Top 3 Naschy Picks"!  William S. Wilson and Thomas T. Simmons each offer their top choices of flicks that will initiate Naschy newbies into the realm of the PecSlaves.
  • Samuel Wilson offers his usual dose of scholarly critical excellence in his consideration of The Devil's Possessed, at one of the web's must-follow movie blogs, Mondo 70!
  • Vila Wolf trumps my Naschy poetry with her own Naschy-inspired short story, in which "Daninsky himself explains to us how he became a werewolf." Which time? Never mind, just read Vila's story, "The Letter," at her LiveJournal, Remember; I Hate You All!
And that's all I've got! Unless there are a few more entries straggling in over the next several hours (or longer, see above), that's the Blogathon! I can't believe I ate the whole thing!

In all seriousness, thanks to EVERYONE who participated and read and commented during this wonderful week of Naschy love. It's been bigger and better than I could ever have imagined, and I'm extremely proud of what we've all done here. Now I know what I had always hoped to be true--that Naschy's legacy will not fade from the earth, for he lives forever in the hearts of his fans. You guys rule!

Time to mosey on. Adios, Jacinto.
(image credit: Arbogast on Film)

So keep watching for the absolute final link-list tomorrow cleaning up any late-posted entries, and then the next day or so after that for any "appendices." I'll also be chiming in with some blogathon stats and a longer concluding piece on what I've taken from the experience. 



For the last time, if I've failed to post your link or overlooked your contribution, EMAIL ME NOW and let me know! vicarofvhs@gmail.com (Incidentally, you can use that same email for fan mail, gift offers, indecent proposals, and thoughts too unspeakable to be given utterance.)

See you tomorrow! Now to sleep!

Love and Naschyness,
The Vicar

MORE MADNESS...

Performance Review: My Top 6 Naschy Roles

The Faces of Naschy

Being the enthusiast I am, it's incredibly hard for me to pick my favorite Naschy performances--usually it comes down to whatever I watched last, or whatever I was geeking out about with the Duke most recently. Still, there are some performances in the man's career that strike me as special--the iconic roles, and then a few lesser known ones that I think allowed Naschy to flex his acting muscles and show he was much more than a rakish sneer and a pair of impressive pecs--though God knows he was that! So here is my completely arbitrary and totally subject-to-change list of my top six favorite performances from the Lon Chaney of Spain:

6. Gotho, The Hunchback of the Morgue (1973) 

Naschy won the Georges Meliés Best Actor Award from the International Festival of Fantastic and Science-Fiction Cinema of Paris in 1973 for his portrayal of the lovelorn hunchback with anger management issues, and it's easy to see why. His usual handsome, chest-forward swagger obliterated by the hump harness and stance required by the role (to say nothing of the dust brown Ron Wood wig), Naschy plays Gotho as extremely meek, almost pathetic at times, but still capable of extreme fury and violence when pushed. But most importantly, he maintains a strange nobility in the character, whose mistaken belief that love will conquer even Death speaks to something in the doomed romantic in all of us.

"Don't bust my hump."

5. Pablo Thevenet, Rojo Sangre (2004)

At a certain point late in his career, Naschy got bitter. Denied the respect and recognition he felt his contributions to Spanish cinema deserved, he became angry at the increasingly Hollywood-like Spanish film industry, so ready to jettison its past in the name of embracing the next new thing. As aging horror star Pablo Thevenet, Naschy gives his anger and disappointment full reign, and the result is a ferocious portrayal of a man willing to damn himself forever to ensure that his enemies also suffer. It's fortunate that Naschy lived long enough to see his legacy given the appropriate honor, but the darkness in this role is pretty wondrous to see.

"Do you feel lucky, punk?"


4. Barón Gilles de Lancré, The Devil's Possessed (1974)

In my review on MMMMMovies I called this flick "Naschy's Macbeth," and I wasn't joking. Barón de Lancré is simultaneously noble and ruthless, a battle-tested warrior loyal to his comrades but enslaved and eventually brought down by his implacable will to power. The character's slow descent to madness is rendered exquisitely by Naschy, particularly in a near-Shakespearean soliloquy in his bedchamber, filmed through a fish-eye lens. This character also has one of my favorite Naschy death scenes, a monumental exit in battle that prefigures a similar death in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy by decades.

"All you guys on the right...you first."



3. Waldemar Daninksy, Night of the Werewolf (1981)

Though he played the character a dozen times onscreen, Naschy's insistence on recreating cursed Polish nobleman Waldemar Daninsky in each film meant the character seldom got stale. But common among all his portrayals was a stoic, slightly morose attitude that was his own modification of Lon Chaney Jr.'s more depressive, suicidal Lawrence Talbot. For my money he was never better than in El Retorno del Hombre-Lobo, directing himself in the role for the first time as a tragic but indomitable figure, willing to fight the forces of evil for the good of a humanity that rightly fears him. Many of Naschy's characters were inherently tragic, but there's a reason this is his signature role.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: FUCK YES.

2. Alaric de Marnac, Horror Rises from the Tomb (1972)

All that being said, there's something about an actor sinking his teeth into sheer, unrestrained villainy that brings an eeevil smile to my face, and when Naschy becomes the deathless (and headless) sorcerer/knight Alaric de Marnac, the fun he's having with the role is absolutely infectious. From his swagger in the face of his executioners as their read his litany of crimes, to his near-wordless menace as he stalks the nubile and naked innocents that feed his lust, Naschy just OWNS it.

"Tell your descendants I'm comin'--and I'm brinin' HELL with me."

1. The Traveler, El Caminante (1979)

There's only one entity more evil than de Marnac (well, maybe two, if you count Coffin Joe), and that's the mysterious Traveler in Naschy's epic period piece. Without the sorcerous powers of Alaric (or at least having promised not to use them, wink-wink), the Traveler wanders medieval Spain, testing his philosophy--that a person can get further by practicing evil and pursuing only base self-interest than by being good and kind and religious--and finding it to be absolutely true. The story--also one of Naschy's best scripts, for my money--plays out like a forgotten piece of folklore, and his De Sadean Traveler is sinister, smarmy, and at times downright chilling. A fantastic performance from the Mighty Molina--his best, imo.

"You wanna play? Let's play."

So how about you, parishioners? What are YOUR favorite Naschy performances?

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