Thursday, April 05, 2007
In honor of the new movie QT & RR directed Grindhouse….
Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's Grindhouse hits theaters tomorrow and I figured I'd share a few of my choices should you care to enter this world of extremism and exploitation. ..:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
I never really got into the "chop suey" and "caged heat" grindhouse films so these are all horror movies and this list isn't meant to be exhaustive or to rate the quality of the movies. Instead it's just a taste of what kind of films were out there in the grindhouse era, horror wise at least. That being said there are tons of other films out there as well and should you be interested, they are just waiting to be discovered.
Enough BS, on to the movies.
As if I had to tell you, these films aren't for the squeamish.
FYI: Synopsis' are from Movies.com and my comments appear after it.
Dario Argento's masterpiece of horror, with its assault of garish colors, booming soundtrack and horrifically dreamlike set pieces, is the cinematic equivalent of an exceptionally scary fun house. It tells the story of Susan (Harper) a young, impressionable American who travels abroad in order to study at a prestigious European ballet academy. From the first day, however, she begins to realize that frightening things are afoot at the hallowed institution. Enduring a rain of maggots, poisoned food and other unpleasant occurrences, she discovers that the school is a secret convening place for an ages-old witches' coven. Cut to various lengths due to violent content, the film's original full running time is 100 minutes.
Cast Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Joan Bennett, Flavio Bucci, Miguel Bosé, Udo Kier (more)
Director(s) Dario Argento
Writer(s) Dario Argento, Daria Nicolodi
Status On DVD
Release Year 1977
DVD Release Date Sept. 11, 2001
Running Time 97 minutes
MPAA Rating Unrated
Dario Argento's Suspiria is probably the best film from this horror legend. Great music, awesome use of color that makes the whole thing seem like a nightmarish hallucination. Good bit of shocking material like having a girl with very little clothing jump into a pit of barbed wire but nothings better than having a blind man get killed by his own Seeing Eye dog. Disturbing yes, a little funny, that too.
After a New York harbor patrolman is murdered at the hands of a flesh-hungry ghoul aboard what was believed to be an abandoned yacht, Anne (Tisa Farrow)--the daughter of the ship's missing owner--teams up with a newspaper reporter named Peter West (Ian McCulloch) for a private investigation. With the help of a pair of sightseers, they travel to the secluded Caribbean island of Matul, where Anne's father was last seen conducting medical research. There, they meet his colleague, Dr. Menard (Richard Johnson), who frantically attempts to find a scientific explanation for a phenomenon that has plagued the island; it seems as if the dead refuse to stay dead. The locals believe a voodoo curse is at work as scores of animated corpses rise from their graves to hungrily seek out live flesh. Anne learns her father has died, but before she and the others can return to civilization, they are forced into battle with a plethora of bloodthirsty zombies.
Italian maestro Lucio Fulci's most lucrative outing features an abundance of shockingly gruesome sequences filmed in the director's regular close-up style, wasting none of frequent collaborator Giannetto De Rossi's amazing makeup effects. The ominous synthesizer soundtrack by Fabio Frizzi splendidly shrouds the action with simplistic, yet catchy hooks that are sure to continue buzzing in viewer's mind long after the film's spine-chilling ending. Released abroad as a sequel to George A. Romero's DAWN OF THE DEAD, produced by Dario Argento in Italy as ZOMBI.
Cast Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson, Al Cliver, Auretta Gay, Stefania D'Amario (more)
Director(s) Lucio Fulci
Writer(s) Elisa Briganti, Dardano Sacchetti
Release Year 1979
DVD Release Date July 27, 2004
Running Time 91 minutes
MPAA Rating Not Rated
Lucio Fulci's Zombi is the best Italian zombie film churned by the Italian zombie complex after George Romero's Dawn of the Dead. Great use of music here as well mixed with a really catchy tribal beat theme. The real star for me though is the zombie makeup, which in my humble opinion, outshine Romero's Dawn of the Dead. Even today the rather simplistic, most of the zombie effects were created with clay, but very effective make up look very impressive. This is also the wonderful movie that gives us a great zombie vs. shark fight, you just can't beat that.
LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT
Wes Craven's nightmarish odyssey of revenge helped to usher in a new era of graphic horror filmmaking in the early 1970s. Inspired by Ingmar Bergman's THE VIRGIN SPRING (1960), THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT is a parent's worst nightmare come to terrifying life. Beautiful 17-year-olds Mari (Sandra Cassel) and Phyllis (Lucy Grantham) head into the city for a rock concert, but once there, they're kidnapped by three repulsive, sadistic escaped convicts led by Krug Stillo (a menacing David Hess). After the gang drives the girls into the woods, where they rape and murder them, the disheveled crew ends up at the home of none other than Mari's parents, John (Gaylord St. James) and Estelle (Cynthia Carr). When John discovers who has unknowingly walked into his home, he exacts a revenge that makes the convicts' actions seem tame by comparison.
Working on a shoestring budget and coaxing naturalistic performances out of his actors (with the exception of two bumbling law enforcement officers), Craven displays the talent that he would later develop on a grand scale with A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and SCREAM. Certainly not for the fainthearted, THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT remains one of the most visceral horror films ever made.
Cast David Hess, Lucy Grantham, Sandra Cassel (more)
Director(s) Wes Craven
Status On DVD
Release Year 1972
DVD Release Date Aug. 27, 2002
MPAA Rating R
Wes Craven's Last House on the Left is probably up there with the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre in terms of visceral violence. It has a similar documentary feel to it mixed with some wonderfully light hearted musical choices that contrast the vicious on screen violence. What this film does so well is it makes the randomness and viciousness of real world violence tangible.
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE
Jenny (Camille Keaton, granddaughter of Buster Keaton), a New Yorker who goes to a secluded country retreat to finish work on her novel, is, one day, assaulted, raped and left for dead by four men. But she survives to take revenge. She seduces each of her rapists separately and personally performs their painful executions. This ultraviolent cult film was banned in the UK & Germany and is notorious for many reasons. See it for yourself to find out why.
Cast Richard Pace, Eron Tabor, Anthony Nichols, Gunter Kleeman (more)
Director(s) Meir Zarchi
Status On DVD
Release Year 1978
DVD Release Date March 8, 2005
MPAA Rating R
I Spit on Your Grave is a tough movie to sit through. Not because of the uber-violent subject matter but mainly because the acting here is so bad it some porno movies look like Oscar contenders. Granted a lot of grindhouse movies aren't known for their stellar acting but the line reading here are pretty atrocious. Regardless, this movie contains some of the nastiest sequences ever put on film; including a castration that didn't require a knife.
CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST was for years reviled as one of the most repugnant and morally questionable of the 1970s spate of cannibal films--and possibly the most horrifying ever. But director Ruggero Deodato embarked upon the project with the intention of criticizing the very violence he was portraying. Set in the Amazonian jungles, the film is a pseudo-documentary that follows Professor Harold Moore (Robert Kerman) into the "Green Inferno" as he searches for a documentary crew that came to the jungle the previous year to make a film about the storied cannibals that lived there, and never made it back. Now, Moore meets some natives and discovers the footage from the crew's expedition, and upon returning to New York, he watches it to find out what really happened. The truth is too horrible for words, proving that savagery is not limited to indigenous peoples, and the morally outrageous film proceeds to indict the exploitative practices of certain documentary practices. However, the extremity of the violence portrayed was enough to put Deodato in hot water with the law, and with censors who claimed it was far too realistic. The career of the promising director, who had worked under a list of Italian luminaries that included Roberto Rossellini (ROME: OPEN CITY, PAISAN, VOYAGE IN ITALY), was essentially ended with this brutal, seminal film--for which he will nonetheless always be remembered.
Cast Robert Kerman, Francesca Ciardi (more)
Director(s) Ruggero Deodato
Status On DVD
Release Year 1980
DVD Release Date Dec. 7, 2005
MPAA Rating Unrated - 18 and over; sensationalistic scenes of violence and mutilation
Cannibal Holocaust is pretty much as extreme as anything ever put to film. The first half of this movie will probably put some to sleep, even though the first half does contain some of the hardest to watch footage, real animals are slaughtered. The 2nd half consist of pretty much every horrible thing you could imagine placed on celluloid. This is the kind of movie that might make you feel dirty after watching it. There is a certain effects shout that still boggles the mind; lets just say it involves a long wooden spike and a woman.