Thursday, March 28, 2013

Sexcula (1974, DVD Review)

Directed by: Bob Hollowich
Written by:  David F. Hurry
Starring: Debbie Collins, Jamie Orlando, John Alexander
Color/86 Minutes/Not Rated 

The Film
I've seen all types of horror and monster movies. I've seen all sorts of porn. I've even seen them mashed together, but I've never seen anything like SEXCULA.

Recounting the 19th century events through the discovery and reading of an old diary the film surrounds an attractive Frankenstein-like scientist who is trying to find a cure to a man's lack of sex drive and the fact that he simply can't get it up. The woman calls upon the Countess Sexcula, another gorgeous woman who is extremely skilled in being a hooker. It is through the Countess, and continued experiments, that the woman finally gets her man... up.

There you go, SEXCULA in a... erm... nutshell. The Canadian made 70s porno flick had disappeared for three decades after only a single screening  and was thought lost forever. Luckily for the world of bizarre film lovers it was re-discovered just a couple of years ago. From the classic horror characters- vampire, mad scientist and even a hunchback named Orgie, to the hard sex, an orgy inside a church including the priest and making love to a gorilla, SEXCULA is something that really needs to be seen to be believed. And that didn't even mention the pleasure robot! At its core, the film is a porno and yes, it does a fine job at being a porno, with explicit blowjob scenes, long sequences of all sorts of penetration and all the juicy fun but SEXCULA will (and to an extent already has) find its place in bizarro film history. And to think the Canadian government helped fund it!

The Video
Impulse Pictures brings this long lost piece of adult film history to DVD with a Full Frame 1.33:1 transfer with a reasonable transfer. The gritty picture is full of grain and speckling but it only adds to the feeling this film brings. This is of course due to the nature of how the film was shot. Colors are decent and bllack levels are strong and never get muddy or block up. 


The Audio
A mono track is included for the audio and is perfectly acceptable. You wouldn't expect a 5 track surround sound mix for a 70s porno, and if you got one if might be terrifying. The sound is clean and clear with no noticeable distortions.

The Extras 
The original theatrical trailer is included along with liner notes from adult film historian Dimitrios Otis.

The Bottom Line
It is interesting to see how SEXCULA plays as two different films, a cute nudie horror flick and then a total hardcore skin flick with long sex scenes. It all comes together for a truly weird, bizarre and entertaining viewing experience. 

SEXCULA is available HERE

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Night Of The Devils (1972)

Nicola, played by Gianni Garko, who is perhaps best known for his role as spaghetti western hero Sartana, is a wealthy lumber importer who is on a business trip to purchase fancy wood. While taking a shortcut through a forest Nicola sees a fleeting vision of a woman and swerves to avoid her, damaging his car in the process. The woman has vanished and Nicola is left with a car that can't be driven. Nicola treks through the woods looking for any help he can find when he stumbles upon an old house with a family just arriving from burying a member in the family plot. Nicola explains his situation and the matriarch tells him to wait until morning for help and that he can stay with them as the forest is not safe during the darkness.

Nicola is introduced to the entire family at dinner, including the head of the family, his two sons, his brother's widowed wife, and her daughters, and his own daughter Sdenka. Sdenka is put in charge of seeing over the visitor and making his stay pleasant and safe. Sdenka is an absolutely gorgeous redhead, with features that would stun any man. As she talks with Nicola she becomes infatuated with him and his worldly knowledge of city life. It becomes apparent to Nicola that the family is a very superstitious group, scared of the woods and the evil it holds after dark.

With banging, scratching and various other noises being heard after sunset the family is paranoid and the patriarch decides to put an end to the "family curse". He heads out into the woods with a sharpened wooden stake and is told if he doesn't return before sundown at 6 O' Clock he will be staked too. When he returns covered in blood just as 6 p.m. dies there is an argument over whether he made the deadline or not. The family lets him stay and Nicola's car is eventually fixed. He promises Sdenka that he eventually return for her, and she instructs him to talk to a police officer in town who used to live in the village and would understand. After a brief talk in church with the officer Nicola returns to Sdenka, only to find the curse has spread deeper into the family and now must fight for his life to escape the forest. With children eerily laughing as he is attached, Nicola fights off the evil to escape the immediate danger. Nicola is found wandering in a frantic, damaged state is brought to a mental hospital in the city with a case of amnesia. Soon after Sdenka comes to identify him which triggers Nicola's memory.

The story of NIGHT OF THE DEVILS is simple and revolves around the Wurdulak. If you've never been exposed to a story involving the Wurdulak it is easiest described as a vampire creature but with some features of a zombie... sort of. It is easy to see the general idea of the film from that, the family stalks each other, and previously the rest of the village until it turns them undead as well. The story is simple yes, but it is told with expertise from the writers and director Giorgio Ferroni adds some style into the direction that keeps even passive scenes interesting and engaging. Ferroni had previously directed the criminally underrated MILL OF THE STONE WOMEN and again here has a knock out film that isn't talked about enough. Ferroni gets the most out of his cast. There isn't a cringe-worthy moment in the film and nobody lets the script down. From the strong willed father and his headstrong son to the more timid and loving children the cast is great. The soundtrack is an understated piece that works well with the film and adds to the mood.

NIGHT OF THE DEVILS is a film I've just learned about in the last year when I heard about it from Raro Video. After reading reviews about it (while avoiding plot specifics) I formed this idea of the movie in my brain. It was a bit weirder and more contemporary than what I got. While set in the day it was filmed, it is absolutely a gothic horror film and pulls it off perfectly. It is movies like this that keep my passion for finding new films alive and well.


Friday, March 15, 2013

An Interview With Lawrie Brewster - The Lord Of Tears

With the successful funding of LORD OF TEARS completed (but still going so go donate for an even better film), I got to talk with Lawrie Brewster, the director of the film, about the project. Read on!

How was the initial idea for Lord Of Tears developed? What made you want to make this film?

The initial idea for Lord of Tears was developed based upon a strange personal experience I had as a child. While walking out the front entrance of a stately home, I saw, standing at the far end of an empty lawn, a man dressed in a tailsuit with a large bird mask.

The figure stood looking in my direction for some time before stepping with relative ease into some nearby woodland. Now I am not one to suggest anything supernatural about that occurrence, but the incident itself left enough visual impact upon me as a child to inspire me as an artist in later life.

I wrote a short story based on the incident and scriptwriter Sarah Daly created a world and a set of characters around it that became the script for Lord of Tears.

The reason I wanted to make this film is borne out of a desire to produce original works for the horror/fantasy genre evocative of the classic horror films no longer deemed commercial enough – in particular in the independent horror genre. The reason we see so many teen slasher films is not entirely down to unoriginality – it is because there is a built in anti-intellectual segment in some audiences in the genre. There are exceptions to this (for not all slasher films are the same) such as masterly classics like the original Halloween.

It made me realise that if we were to see low budget horror that focussed on story and atmosphere, films like the Wicker Man, or the adaptations of The Devil Rides Out or Blood on Satan's Claw... that it would be up to us to make them... and support the production of such films.

I believe the horror genre is the very best portal for the cinematic imagination – it embraces fantasy and science fiction – can be metaphysical and philosophical as well as dark... violent and sexual. Not many genres provide such breadth to explore the most nightmarish recesses of human or supernatural existence hence why I wanted to make Lord of Tears as my personal contribution to the genre.

You've mentioned before that various myths and legends have inspired the film, can you tell us about them?

Oh I cannot explicity tell you what they are – but you can uncover them from the film and its associated mythos documents. Especially with our collector's editions or full digital packs, as they include some short stories, origin tales and artwork etc.

Of course I can describe where I sought my inspiration. As a student of Ancient History and Theology - the tales I read and research are of the gods, creatures, Titans. The denizens of different faiths and legends of different creatures are the compatriats of my imagination. With the Lord of Tears, I found in the religion of ancient Carthage an entity that demanded the most awful sacrifices, and in ancient Scotland a pagan cult that worshipped the spirits of dead enemies trapped in decapitated heads.

What excites me about dark inspirations for horror literature and film, is that in a universe as huge and infinite, within parallel dimensions – almost anything if not anything... may exist somewhere. In that sense I see myself as a potential documentarian as well as a storyteller.

The Owl Man has a very foreboding look, who designed it?

The Owl Man was designed conceptually by myself and our Cinematographer Gavin Robertson who carried out the original illustrations of the Owlman in his tailsuit with out-stretched talons!

An artist called Angela Allen, then produced the mask and talons! She did a great job!

Did any other films or film makers influence you or screenwriter Sarah Daly on Lord Of Tears, either directly or indirectly?

Oh lets see filmmakers like Jack Clayton (The Innocents) Robert Wise (The Haunted) and of course films such as The Shining, The Wicker Man, Blood on Satan's Claw and J-Horror films such as those of Hideo Nakata like Ringu and of course Stuart Gordon (I'm sure I don't have to say why!)

It may sound a little cliché but filmmakers such as Akira Kurosawa are a personal inspiration (in particular dramas such as Ikiru and Redbeard) and British director Ken Russell for films like The Devils and The Music Lovers.

The cast includes some well versed and experienced actors including David Schofield, how did he come on board for the project?

Euan Douglas and Lexy Hulme were actors already known to us. Euan was a stage trained actor – mature and interesting whose performance would lend our film a classic British theatrically trained sense of authenticity. Lexy Hulme meanwhile trained in US screen acting and is known mostly for her incredible dancing (appearing in films such as 500 Days of Summer, and the TV series Smash.) We put that physical and remarkable screen prescence to good use in our film – you certainly won't forget her!

David Schofield will of course be known to your readership for his appearances in many films over the decades – most well-known being Gladiator and Pirates of the Carribean – but most imporantatly as the awesome darts player in American Werewolf in London... “you.... you made me miss...” For that reason alone we knew we just had to have him provide the sinister voice for our Owlman.

We got in touch with David and fortunately for us, he admired the maturity and artistic aspiration of Sarah Daly's script. I say aspiration because often actors do not get material that seeks to be creatively ambitious – especially in the genre. That doesn't guarantee a film is great of course but it shows it does aim to be. So it was a great personal aknowledgement for Sarah's talent that such an experienced actor had kind words for her writing!

Where was Lord Of Tears shot?

Lord of Tears was shot across the United Kingdom but mostly in the Highlands of Scotland, at the incredible mansion of Ardgour House.

Which, funnily enough, any of your readership can visit right now ( I can't guarantee they will be safe from the Owlman however.

What was the toughest part about writing the screenplay and filming the movie, respectively?

I will pass you onto Sarah Daly who wrote the screenplay – Sarah

I have to first say that Lord of Tears was one of those screenplays that seemed almost to write itself. I had the benefit of knowing in advance who most of our cast would be, and where we would be filming, so the film played out quite clearly in my imagination – I only had to write it down!

The most difficult parts were the puzzle elements – Lord of Tears is actually quite a complex mystery-driven film so making sure all the pieces fit and that the mystery unravelled in a satisfying way was crucial, and tricky at times. But, these are the sorts of stories that I love to write – dark, fantastical and timeless. The dialogue for the Owl Man (David Schofield) was particularly fun to write as it's very theatrical and poetic.I could really let loose!

(Now back to Lawrie)

The greatest challenge when producing any film is to make sure that you can produce the very best film you can in the time given by the shooting schedule. We took an uncompromising approach to the film, developing a style that we felt we could achieve in a creative and professional manner which I think should reflect itself in a quality product!

However, in terms of personal experiences, the difficulties were like those of any low budget film – exhaustion, long days and such like – however the great thing about our film, talent and crew is that we all share a passion for storytelling. Working on something that intends to be different and exciting can give you the energy you need to don that Owl Man costume at 4am in the pouring rain – because deep down you know it will unsettle the clinging girlfriend of some chap wearing a black t-shirt emblazoned with a fanged Christopher Lee.

What scared you as a child?

Oh let's see – brussel sprouts, green bean and mushroom lasagne, the dark (sometimes) and strange noises. I have always had an active imagination and being Scottish lends one a natural inclination towards the macabre 'we're all doooomed!'

What are some of your favorite horror films?

Oh I hate this question – you know why? Because I love so many horror films and they're all like personal friends to me. So if I list some and forget others after this article is published... I'll be... desolate (well...)

Okay, many consist of those I have listed. The Innocents, The Wicker Man, The Haunting, Halloween, The Thing, Hellraiser, Ringu, Grudge, Dark Water, Home Movie and Noroi the Curse, Re-Animator... oh and a great short film for your readership that you can view on youtube 'Merry Little Christmas.'

Anything else to say? (Feel free to plug whatever you want!)

Oh I get to plug something! Well I would just like to share with your readership that our DVDs and Collector's Editions are being manufactured as a one off for our Kickstarter campaign and may not be available through regular distributer channels until (2014!!!)

I would urge any that want to support our type of filmmaking and like the look of Lord of Tears, to pre-order now. In future we would love to develop our own Hammer style studio known for its take on story-driven Horror & Fantasy... the support of fans now helps us work towards that without the middleman.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Disco Exorcist (2011)

Before the opening credits to THE DISCO EXORCIST we get a hot striptease, black magic rituals and groovy lava lamps. It was pretty obvious this was going to be a fun time.

Rex Romanski is a disco-loving swinger and the most popular dancer at the local night club. He has all the moves and has had all the ladies. This particular night a new girl catches his eye, her name is Rita and they immediately hit it off. After spending the night together they make plans to return to the club for another night filled with dancing, drinks and sex. All is going well until Rex spots his favorite porn star Amoreena sitting alone at the bar and asks her to dance. Rita flips out, attacking and ripping out some hair and swearing a curse upon the two.

Rex and Amoreena leave the club and spend the night fucking like rabbits. The next day Rex accompanies Amoreena to the set of her next porno shoot and takes the place of the male lead who is three hours late to set. While this is going on Rita is still reeling from being dumped and sticks to her words of curses as Rita is heavy into black magic. Rita casts a spell which possesses the three women on the shoot of the film and they go on a killing spree inside the studio. Rex is able to save Amoreena from harming him or herself in an effort to save her and be with her.

Rex looks for help in his brother who is a priest but finds he wants nothing to do with him so he goes back to the club to drink girly drinks and snort coke. Wouldn't we all? Luckily enough the janitor at the club used to be a priest (banished for his lust for small children) and gives Rex the advice he needs. Rex needs to give an exorcism to destroy the curse and the apparent zombies that she has summoned.The demons strike again at a big orgy where we bare witness to what has to be the most ridiculously painful handjob ever put to film and then the shit hits the fan. Heads are torn off, throats are slit and blood flows. Oh yeah, there is still a lot of naked chicks running around. Rex takes Amoreena back to the club to attempt to exorcise her demon while all hell breaks loose inside the club. The blood continues to flow with exploding heads and more victims to the demons while Rex tries to save his girl's life.

Good lord... THE DISCO EXORCIST is delightfully over the top in every way. The film is a cross between The Exorcist, 70s trash and sleaze, classic Troma and a bit of The Evil Dead at the end and presents itself of the period with all the scratches and missing reels that have become popular in the last 6 or 7 years making the film look like it was taken straight from a 42nd St. theater in Manhattan. While the film could have done without the missing reels as they don't add anything to the film, it doesn't overdo the artificial scratches so they become distracting. The director Richard Griffin is no stranger to low budget horror and really does a solid job with his cast and crew here. The performances are better than you'd probably expect and the soundtrack is a fun electro-disco influenced piece. If you enjoy horror movies that don't take themselves seriously and feature a lot of laughs and sexy naked women I'm sure you'll find a lot to like with THE DISCO EXORCIST. How bad can a movie with "Wakey wakey my fiendish flock, time to awake some spectral cock" as a line be anyways?


Monday, March 11, 2013

Female Teacher: In Front Of The Students (DVD Review)

Directed By: Yasurou "Yasuaki" Uegaki
Written By: Masayasu Daikuhara
Starring: Rushia Santo, Toru Nakane, Hiromichi Hori
Color/70 Minutes/Not Rated

The Film
Reiko has just started a new job at a high school teaching English and coaching tennis. She is a young attractive teacher that is well aware that the students have fallen for her. One night after tennis practice she is attacked and raped in the shower room by a masked man leaving only a jigsaw puzzle piece behind. Just a few days later a pair of her students who happen to be a couple kidnap Reiko and perform perverted acts on her for kicking the boy off the tennis team for mistreating other students. 

After being released the teacher continues her search to find who dropped the puzzle piece and is led to another teacher who does jigsaw puzzles in his spare time but Reiko doesn't quite find what she is looking for. After another encounter with the students Reiko begins to come to terms with her feelings and urges while discovering the identity of the person behind the puzzle piece

FEMALE TEACHER: IN FRONT OF THE STUDENTS is quite an exploitative 70 minutes. With everything from shower rape, to group sex with students and a bit of kidnapping and torture Yasurou Uegaki has made one of the most brutal films released to date in this particular line of DVDs. 

The Video 
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is a strong effort. Much of the film takes place in areas with muted color palettes (inside the classroom, and houses) but the colors are represented nicely. The source material seems to have been kept in good and clean condition with no scratches or debris that I could notice.

The Audio
The typical Japanese 2.0 mono track is present once again here and it is just fine. The mix is good with the funky soundtrack that almost turns in to 80s teen comedy type music at times is never fighting for your attention with dialogue. Optional English subtitles are available and are newly translated and perfectly timed and placed. 

The Extras
The original theatrical trailer is available on the disc but the real treat, once again, are the liner notes from Jasper Sharp. 

The Bottom Line
It is almost hard to believe that this title makes a dozen releases from Impulse Pictures in the Nikkatsu line and FEMALE TEACHER: IN FRONT OF THE STUDENTS is among the better half of films


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Fairy In A Cage (DVD Review)

Directed By: Koyu Ohara
Written By: Oniroku Dan, Seiji Matsuoka
Starring: Naomi Tani, Hirokazu Inoue, Rei Okamoto

The Film
In World War II Japan Namiji Kikushima is charged with aiding a Kabuki actor in spreading anti-war and anti-government propaganda. The pair are captured and brought to the home of a tyrannical judge who has a pair of Military Policemen in his pocket to help him do as he pleases with any inmates of his homemade jail. The judge submits Mrs. Kikushima to cavity searches, rope bondage and degrading acts such as urinating into a dish while his wife has her way with the Kabuki actor who seems to want to turn this seemingly gay man straight while forcing herself upon him along with her own forms of sexual torment.

The duo struggles to find a way from their captors until one of the MPs who dreams of a relationship with Kikushima kills another guard and breaks her out leading a manhunt into the wilderness. He takes her to a cabin in the woods to make love with her and try to care for her but is spotted while fetching water and the pair is captured and sentenced to a nasty death.

Director Koyu Ohara should be becoming a familiar name to any fan of the Nikkatsu Roman Porno line as he also directed both True Story Of A Woman In Jail: Sex Hell and True Story Of A Woman In Jail: Continues along with I Like It From Behind!. Ohara's direction that made both entries of the TSOAWIJ series excellent films is fully on display with FAIRY IN A CAGE. The movie moves quick but feature plenty of stylish direction and photography. There is no nonsense or cuteness to FAIRY as there was in ILIFB!. While this film isn't overly caught up in politics it certainly touches on a time, just a few decades earlier, when  a nation was caught up in war and the government and military pushed the boundaries of their authority with little to no consequence.

The Video
FAIRY IN A CAGE features an anamorphic widescreen presentation in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio and looks good. The original 35mm negative was used as source material and was obviously in good condition and the crew at Impulse Pictures did a great job of making sure it is clean of any scratches, dirt or debris. Colors are nicely represented with reds of clothing and the greens in the prison really standing out. The film was also released on Blu-ray and judging by this DVD I have no doubt that the BD is Grade-A.

The Audio
While FAIRY IN A CAGE won't give your soundsystem a workout, the Japanese Mono track is more than suitable, with stable levels that make for a comfortable listening experience. Optional English subtitles are included and are timed and translated perfectly.

The Extras
Liner notes from Jasper Sharp are the lone extra but include a great deal of interesting information and insight in just a couple of pages.

The Bottom Line
With spine number 11 in the series, FAIRY IN A CAGE fits perfectly alongside the previous ten entries of the Nikkatsu Roman Porno line and will definitely satisfy current fans along with bringing enough serious film making to the table to introduce new viewers to a line of films they'll probably enjoy.