If The Black Pirate isn’t the biggest, most lavish of pirate adventures from the silent era, it’s only because the technical aspects of making it were so demanding that other aspects of the film had to be scaled down a bit. Still, the film leaves plenty of room for Douglas Fairbanks to pose atop rigging, laugh a manly laugh while standing with arms akimbo, and pull off a parade of signature stunts and derring-do.
I often forget that, for a little while, I worked at Atlantic Records. It was such a bizarre position that every day I was there, I wasn’t sure I still worked there. Even today, some fifteen years later, I’m not sure I ever actually quit, like maybe I could just show up tomorrow and everyone would shrug and go on with their business.
Back in the day, I used to do a lot more and write a lot more about it. Well, I figured rather than collapse into a state of middle-age ennui about how my day-to-day life used to be more fun, I should just shake off the cobwebs and get my ass back in gear. Among other things, that means dusting off an element of the old ‘zine and Teleport City site that has been dormant: random, ridiculous, stream-of-conscious posts.
At the end of Beyond the Black Rainbow, directed by Panos Cosmatos, a period of quiet contemplation is required to begin unpacking everything one has seen during the preceding 110 minutes.
Kriminal was one of many Italian comic book anti-heroes that rose to fame in the 1960s, inspiring a host of imitators all wearing skeleton bodystockings. But only one Kriminal cash-in made it to the big screen: Turkey’s Kilink.
Twists are heaped upon perversions until the whole thing threatens to collapse into one giddily irredeemable pile of filth that happily violates any taboo of which it could think, and then finds a way to make it all weirder still.
Lucio Fulci’s filmography is littered with bodies gruesomely snuffed out. There is a deep vein of cynicism running through the center of Don’t Torture a Duckling.
Mudy wants to get her son Tony laid. She enlists Rosalba Neri and they, in turn, enlist Edwige Fenech to do the job for a nice payday. The rub is that Tony is very much an introvert, possibly a psychotic, and definitely a firebug.
As with his previous film, Miraglia takes the modern setting integral to the spirit of gialli and dresses it up in a bit of old-fashioned Gothic spookiness by, once again, setting a portion of it in a moody Gothic estate full of dark secret passages and dungeon chambers.
Sergio Sollima didn’t direct very many films. His career is split fairly evenly between theatrical and televised fare. Devil in the Brain is not what anyone would consider a technically outstanding movie, but it is solid in its craftsmanship.
The Sister of Ursula is like watching a Jess Franco film without that director’s flare. Contemplate that one on the Tree of Woe. Sex scenes, the Italian coast, outlandish murders — everything about The Sister of Ursula seems to operate under the directive of “Well, this should be good, but we’re going to mess it up.”
In fairness, there does seem to be a genuine attempt to create an actual film here. Take the word “attempt” literally in this case. Moments of suspense and dread, though presented with apparent sincerity, are nonetheless clumsily presented few and far between.
Cruel Gun Story is based on a book by hardboiled crime novelist Haruhiko Oyabu. It tells the story of Togawa, a con who is sprung from prison early via the machinations of a mysterious underworld kingpin who wants Togawa to carry out a robbery that they’ve planned.
Had Dark Purpose been an hour long episode of a TV show, it would have delivered. But forced to come up with, roughly, three half-hour acts, it can’t sustain the momentum and Shirley Jones, while perfectly acceptable, just isn’t dynamic enough to make us forget nothing much is going on.
Gumnaam isn’t shy about the sort of films that have influenced it. Adopting the sort of jet set internationality of the 1960s, it becomes an amalgamation of old dark house mysteries and pop-art modernism filtered through the lens of Arabesque, Mario Bava, and Charade.
Seijun Suzuki has had the term “Maverick Director” affixed to his name like some kind of mandatory honorific. He never would have had the opportunity to achieve maverick status had he not also been able to deliver the straightforward genre pictures that he had been hired to create.
With Eye in the Labyrinth, Caiano demonstrates a sure hand in orchestrating his players, staging the action in striking tableaux, and allowing his creative muscles to stretch.