28 April, 2009

FAVORITE KLAUS KINSKI CHARACTERS (Part 2): BLACK KILLER


Lawyer James Webb (Klaus Kinski) stalks the villains of Tombstone with his deadly law books in the delightfully trivial 1971 Spaghetti Western, BLACK KILLER.


I could watch Klaus Kinski doing next-to-nothing forever!


Lawyer James Webb (Klaus Kinski) is the Black Killer of the title. A suspicious character who rides into Tombstone with a stack of large format law books. He doesn't read the tomes, though, he hides guns in them, and has special mechanisms which can fire the weapons without the Counselor at Law having to worry about cracking a book.
 
An ultra low budget Spaghetti Western directed by "Lucky Moore" aka busy Italian character actor Carlo Croccolo (DIABOLIK). A fun little item with edgy camera angles courtesy of DP Franco Villa, who also lensed KK in SLAUGHTER HOTEL the same year. In fact, KK wears the exact same shaggy hairstyle in that sleazy giallo. Kinski seems to be quietly enjoying himself as he awaits another paycheck but I find him endlessly fascinating as does little more than stare out of windows as he prepares for his next deadly lesson.
 
Kinski makes this film both watchable and enormously entertaining by his simple presence. He skulks around the balsa wood sets eyeing the villains, the "O'HARA" gang, who seem like your typical Mexi-bandits (named O'Hara?!), gathering evidence against the local corrupt judge (Dante Maggio) and laying low while the new Sheriff (Fred Natural Born Star Robsahm) teams up with an abused Native American woman (Marina Malfatti) to wipe out the gang. This movie is briskly paced and has a very amusing sub Morricone score which more than helps make up for its no-budget aesthetic. Oh yes, and Marina Malfatti is white hot in her Native American garb and gets nude at one point!
 
A lot of action scenes from this number were subsequently used as stock footage in Joe D'Amato's 1972 BOUNTY KILLER FOR TRINITY, another poverty-stricken affair featuring "Jeff Cameron", but no KK. Cameron, KK and Joe D'Amato (as DP) would team up in Demofilo Fidani's FISTFUL OF DEATH, also made in 1971 with Kinski sporting the same hairstyle and black wardrobe, this time as "Reverend Cotton." We'll be looking at another Joe D'Amato-KK collaboration featuring a favorite Kinski character.
 
Watching KK lovingly handle his loaded law books as he takes care of business is a pleasure beyond words.

Thanks to Squonkmatic for helping me see the razor-sharp Franco Cleef restoration of BLACK KILLER and to Nzoog for the screencaps.

(C) Robert Monell, 2009


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26 April, 2009

MY 10 FAVORITE KLAUS KINSKI CHARACTERS


John Alexander nervously smokes up a storm to deal with his emotional/sexual frustrations as the key suspect in his wife's murder as a friend looks on in the underrated 1969 Riccardo Freda Krimi/Giallo, DOUBLE FACE.



*This blog entry is inspired by 10 Characters I Love @ CINEBEATS. I decided to go with my 10 favorite characters created by the late, great Klaus Kinski, who remains my favorite actor. He appeared in about 150 films in a career which spanned four decades. There was no other 20th century actor quite like him. He has been called the last German star and an Enfant Terrible. His offscreen antics and affairs sometimes overshadowed his prodigious talents as an actor.
 
He appeared in everything from European Trash Cinema (VENUS IN FURS; NOSFERATU IN VENICE), Spaghetti Westerns (Sergio Leone's FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE) to International Epics (DOCTOR ZHIVAGO) to Arthouse classics directed by Werner Herzog (NOSFERATU; FITZCARRALDO) to Hollywood mainstream (Billy Wilder's BUDDY, BUDDY; George Roy Hill's THE LITTLE DRUMMER GIRL).




Here are my choices in no particular order:

JOHN ALEXANDER in Riccardo Freda's Double Face (Italian: A doppia faccia, German: Das Gesicht im Dunkeln), a late entry into the Krimi cycle, was a West German coproduction. It actually is more of a Giallo with Krimi undertones. Given that Kinski became famous for his Krimi roles, starting with DER RACHER/THE AVENGER (1960).
 
In DOUBLE FACE he effectively underplays the role of John Alexander, a wealthy, emotionally distant businessman whose decadent wife (frequent KK costar Margaret Lee) is murdered. Kinski telegraphs the conflicted emotions of a man who grieves his wife while dealing with strong feelings of sexual frustration along with the fear that he will be accused of the murder by the police.
 
This is certainly the most understated KK performance I have seen and it really gives the film the boost it needs. As we shall see in my other selections Kinski has a much broader range than he is sometimes given credit for. He wasn't always over-the-top, and some of his best film performances, like this one, were studies of men living in quiet desperation.
 
This title really needs a quality US DVD presentation in OAR with language options so that it can be properly evaluated and Kinski's outstanding, uncharacteristic performance can be fully appreciated.
 
I'll be adding more Kinski titles and images throughout the week.

(C) Robert Monell, 2009




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23 April, 2009

EUROWESTERNS/BLOG UPDATE



I want to recommend two new excellent reviews by Nzoog of the rarely seen Eurowesterns YANKEE, directed by Tinto Brass, and Demofilo Fidani's Il suo nome era Pot...ma...lo chiamavano AllegriaIl suo nome era Pot...ma...lo chiamavano Allegria.
 
The reviews are up on www.cinemadrome.yuku.com EUROWESTERNS forum. There are now dozens of reviews by Nzoog and myself, some with posters, artwork and screengrabs. So when you have some time, check out the backlog. Even if you're not a big Eurowestern fan you might find some interesting information there.
 
A quick blog update. I'm preparing a special blog in the near future on my 10 FAVORITE KLAUS KINSKI CHARACTERS, including BLACK KILLER, also reviewed on the EUROWESTERN forum. Kinski is my favorite actor and it's a tough choice since there are so many outstanding Kinski performances.
 
And remember that May 12th is coming up! So prepare your Jess Franco birthday greetings or send them to my email so I can publish them on the Big Day.
 
monell579@hotmail.com
or
renegovar@yahoo.com
 
 
 
 
 
 



Thanks to Nzoog for furnishing the screencap from YANKEE seen at the top of the blog.

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18 April, 2009

QUIZ: NAME ALL THE FILMS INCLUDED IN THESE COMPOSITES!


A werewolf, two mummies, and Lon Chaney, Jr. meet Jerry Warren!






How many films did you edit together to make this one, Lucio?



Jerry Warren's FACE OF THE SCREAMING WEREWOLF (1964), Jess Franco's THE SADIST OF NOTRE DAME (1980), Lucio Fulci's 1990 NIGHTMARE CONCERT (A CAT IN THE BRAIN). What do these all have in common? You already know the answer. There are all "composites" made up of footage from several films which the directors stitched together to create a new feature.

I enjoy the chaotic ambiance of FACE... even though Warren is always roundly condemned as a hack, as Franco often is, certainly Fulci has had that term often applied to him. I'm not going to get into the "hack or genius" argument again but I will pose an interesting quiz question: Name all the individual films that were edited together to make each of the three features in question, FACE OF THE SCREAMING WEREWOLF, THE SADIST OF NOTRE DAME, NIGHTMARE CONCERT (A CAT IN THE BRAIN).

BTW, the new GRINDHOUSE 2 DVD set of A CAT IN THE BRAIN is a must-have considering the feature presentation's quality and the raft of fascinating extra features. I'll be reviewing the GRINDHOUSE DVD and will be discussing CAT... in relation to Franco's SADIST... in a future blog.



17 April, 2009

Westerns... All'Italiana!


Tom Betts takes aim at the Eurowestern genre...
 
 
I am adding a permanent link on the sidebar to the excellent Eurowestern blog, WESTERNS...ALL'ITALIANA!, created and written by Tom Betts, the world class Eurowestern expert and Publisher-Editor of the essential Westerns...All Italiana! fanzine, the world's oldest zine dedicated to Eurowesterns, founded in 1982!
 
Tom's blog regularly features news about Eurowesterns past, present and future as well as technical details, full credits and synopses of the films. Rare artwork, photos, screen grabs are also included. Reviews of Eurowestern related CDs and other items also appear. Obits and birthdays of Eurowestern personnel and much, much more are featured. This blog is highly recommended to students/researchers/fans of Eurowesterns and European cinema
 
www.westernsallitaliana.blogspot.com/
 
 


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13 April, 2009

MARILYN CHAMBERS (1952-2009)

Product choices...


Drive-in culture...



56 is too young to die.

That was my first thought upon hearing about yesterday's death of Marilyn Chambers.
 
Born the same year as myself (1952) I remember her image on the boxes of Ivory Snow and saw her breakthrough film BEHIND THE GREEN DOOR at a local adult theater when it first came out in 1972. I wasn't really that impressed with the film or her. I did find it better than that other 1972 hardcore cultural landmark, DEEP THROAT, and found her a more mysterious and fascinating presence than the also late Linda Lovelace.
 
Then came a summer 1977 drive-in visit to David Cronenberg's RABID. I was immediately taken by the way she made the disease carrying Rose, the main character, sympathetic and ultimately tragic. Her performance was compelling, moving and haunting. I still think it's one of Cronenberg's best and most subversive films, in a career of subversive, personal, fantastic cinema.
 
I wish she had appeared in more films like RABID. But she was a singular presence and brought something unique to erotic cinema.

[Two corrections and a comment: The Mitchell Brothers movie was BEHIND THE GREEN DOOR not BEYOND... and her image appeared on containers of Ivory Snow. So much for my memories of 1970's iconography! I read the NEW YORK TIMES obit today and was reminded that she was replaced as the wholesome Ivory Snow lady. Her image as a "pure" mainstream mother was tarnished forever in their estimation. BEHIND THE GREEN DOOR, though, also projected her into mainstream consciousness with a polar opposite image. That was when hardcore managed to get a degree of mainstream acceptance. After RABID she found that she couldn't finally, in her own words, "cross over." That was the mainstream's loss, in my opinion. Given that RABID was perhaps the first AIDS allegory-horror film she gave it a human heart playing the tortured soul at its center. She displayed a wide range of emotions, from confusion to desperation, as she seduced and "stung" her victims with a phallic-like stinger in her armpit. It's grotesque to watch but it's also a clever reversal of act of sexual intercourse with the female as the penetrator. The Canadian Somerville House disc is highly recommended and features an interview with Cronenberg who discusses how Chambers handled herself on the set.]


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08 April, 2009

SPANISH NEWSSTAND DVD SURVEY


The amazing first shot of GEMIDOS DE PLACER. We're still waiting for an English subtitled R1 DVD of this.



MIL SEXOS TIENE LA NOCHE, the visually stunning remake of NIGHTMARES COME AT NIGHT.

Here's a post from Nov. 2008 which our Spanish correspondent Nzoog put up on my WORLD OF JESS FRANCO FORUM [@ www.cinemadrome.yuku.com] listing the Jess Franco Spanish "Newsstand"/Kiosk DVDs released and available at various outlets in Spain. Thanks to Nzoog for this list and information.
 
I would interested in knowing how many of these DVDS blog readers have collected so far. The ones I have surprised me by their better than average video quality, especially EL MIRON Y LA EXHIBICIONISTA and LILIAN. The problem is that they are rather difficult to acquire. Any comments on these would be welcome.
 
Here's Nzoog's post:
 
"The newsstand releases were part of two separate collections. The softcores were part of a softcore collection that still rotates around with different covers. The hardcores were attached to issues of INTERVIU, a men's magazine. The hardcore releases have been rarer in their reappearance: I once saw them at the FREAKS store in Barcelona at prohibitive prices. Reportedly, they reapparared occasionally in Euro stores owned by Chinese immigrants.

The hardcore titles are as follows:

- LILIAN, LA VIRGEN PERVERTIDA.
- ENTRE PITOS ANDA EL JUEGO.
- EL OJETE DE LULU
- EL MIRÓN Y LA EXHIBICIONISTA.

The softcores from Edider-Mercury are the following:
- LAS ORGÍAS INCONFESABLES DE EMMANUELLE
- GEMIDOS DE PLACER.
- HISTORIA SEXUAL DE O
- MIL SEXOS TIENE LA NOCHE

The Edider-Mercury softcores have, as I said, rotated in the kiosks with different presentation, and they may otherwise be found at flea markets, second hand stores, and at e-bay. I have no news of further releases from these sources."
 
Thanks to Nzoog and Francesco Cesari.
 
You can list your Spanish Newsstand DVDs in the comment area.



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05 April, 2009

THE EROTIC WORLD OF JEAN-MARIE PALLARDY: EMMANUELE 3 (1980)


Check out one of the single DVDs first....



before you go with THE EROTIC WORLD OF JEAN-MARIE PALLARDY Halopark 5 DVD boxset.



Journal érotique d'une Thailandaise, Le (1980)
... aka Emanuele 3 (International: English title: dubbed version) (UK: DVD title)
... aka An Erotic Journal of a Lady from Thailand (International: English title: literal title)
... aka Carnal Times in Thailand (International: English title: informal alternative title)
... aka Carnet intime (France)
... aka Carnet intime d'une Thailandaise (France: X-rated version)
... aka Clitò petalo del sesso (Italy)
... aka Emmanuele 3
... aka Porno bordella (Italy: informal alternative title)
... aka Super porno bordella (Italy: informal alternative title)

Btw, there is no character in this version named "Emmanuelle"!




I've just made my way through this.  I'm hoping to see one of the MVD/Le Chat Qui Fume Pallardy DVDs now available for comparison. This DVD is one of five contained in THE EROTIC WORLD OF JEAN-MARIE PALLARDY boxset available from www.haloparkpictures.com. I found the set for under 60 dollars at a local CD outlet, but it's listed for up to $100 online and seems to be either sold out or about to on some online sources. The Le Chat Quui Fume/MVD Pallardys (EROTIC DIARY OF A LUMBERJACK; TRUCK STOP) have an interview with Pallardy and stills from his personal collection as extras. I'm not sure about the sources for those but a review I have read of one indicates it looks like it was mastered from a video.
 
EMMANUELE 3*
The "plot" is a pretext for JM Pallardy's specialty, softcore sex-within-a-travelogue-with-some-Eurocrime-elements structure: Paul Vernon (Pallardy) is a Parisian photographer whose fashion photo shoots are excuses for him to get into the model's undergarments ... or whatever. That's the set up. Then he takes several of the models, including Eurotrash icon Brigitte Lahaie (FACELESS, FASCINATION) [billed as Brigitte Lahaye on the English language credits] to Bangkok where he ends up getting thrown out of Thailand because he takes a local massage parlor girl (Silvia Castell) out for the afternoon. They go sightseeing via pedicab, visiting the local zoo among other places. In between shots of crocodiles and more tourist footage Pallardy gets his butt kicked by the Thai mob for messing with the hooker.
 
That's the whole deal and it's not exactly a well-made film. It's more like a down-market imitation of the superior Joe D'Amato sex-in-the-tropics epics (cf EMMANUELLE IN BANGKOK) without the stylish photography. But Pallardy does have the good sense to employ D'Amato's sometime composer (EROTIC NIGHTS OF THE LIVING DEAD) Marcello Giombini, who provides a catchy score.
 
This is middle range Eurotrash, fun while watching, but not essential. Pallardy may be his own best asset in that he's an avuncular, attractive leading man, a bit ragged around the edges but likable enough. As both actor and director one could describe his style as both laid back and disheveled. It is probably not really fair to judge Pallardy's talents as a director by this admittedly compromised, abbreviated presentation.

Lahaie looks terrific both clothed and nude but is pretty much wasted here. Silvia Castell seems self conscious and is visibly uncomfortable on camera.  

Look out for Marilyn Jess and Mike Monty is small roles. The highlight for me was when the legendary Dick Randall (who co-produced) shows up as a horny, brothel-crawling (literally) tourist. He seems like an extension of his outrageous character in FOUR TIMES THAT NIGHT (1970) as he squirms around with half a dozen nude hookers (thankfully, he remains clothed!.
 
"Even more than went before...
 
more EROTIC!!!
 
more SENSUAL!!!
 
more EXCITING!!!
 
The Halopark box for this one doesn't specify "anamorphic" as does the box for the previously reviewed A CERTAIN WOMAN (1979), but it sure looks like another video sourced production, although with somewhat better video/audio quality, at least there aren't any dropouts! But there is a good amount of motion blurring and other artifacts.

This is the 73m softcore version [a hardcore reportedly runs around 90m] credited Larry Dolgin. English language only; 1.66:1; All Region. I had fun but can't recommend unless you can find a single REAL cheap.

A trailer for Pallardy's EMMANUELE GOES TO CANNES is included.

*It should be noted that there are at least two other films with the title EMMANUELE 3. Check out the listings on the IMDB.




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