Bamboo House of Dolls

Bamboo House of Dolls

Bamboo House of Dolls is the Shaw Brothers’ oft-mentioned attempt to cash in on the success of The Big Doll House and The Big Bird Cage, two films shot in the Philippines by director Jack Hill and produced by Roger Corman. When the Shaws decided to give it a go, they didn’t see a reason to monkey with the recipe.

The Maze

The Maze depends heavily on atmosphere. For the bulk of the movie, very little actually happens. Small tidbits are thrown the viewer’s way to keep them interested — a fleeting glimpse of a glistening creature, a weird webbed footprint, the frequent foreboding stares of the butlers.

Bio-Zombie

Before the zombie glut of the 2000s, one could count the number of Night of the Living Dead-type zombie films from Hong Kong on, well, one finger. Bio-Zombie is one of the few Romero-style zombie flicks to come from Hong Kong. The result is curious, to say the least. For the most part, it’s uneven but enjoyable.

Ghost Stories of Wanderer at Honjo

Ghost Stories of Wanderer at Honjo is a period piece ghost film, one of countless Japanese ghost movies in which a scheming, evil samurai runs afoul of a ghost. What makes Ghost Stories of Wanderer at Honjo different than, say Ghost of Yotsuya, is that the yokai make token appearances.

The Cat and the Canary

Under normal circumstances, The Cat and the Canary could have been a simple affair — a living room, a bedroom, shots of the spooky exterior of a mansion. Sprinkle some cobwebs and people looking side-eyed at one another, and there you go. In the hands of German Expressionist Paul Leni however, things were going to be different.

The Black Pirate

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. 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.

Queen of the Seas

Queen of the Seas

Best known for his gritty crime films and, for better or worse, cannibal movies, Italian director Umberto Lenzi spent his early career making fun swashbuckling adventures. Queen of the Seas was the first of them, and it’s a fun tale of high seas adventures and a sassy pirate queen.

Inframan

The Super Inframan

The greatest compliment you could pay an exploitation film is to say it looks like they designed the poster first and then recreated it on screen. This describes Inframan perfectly. Every scene could be bullet-pointed with the word “SEE!” SEE! Hong Kong engulfed in flames! SEE! The sorceress with an army of kung fu monsters!

Slaughter Hotel

Slaughter Hotel is a deeply, satisfyingly absurd film on almost level. Produced in the glory year of 1972, it reflects both the burgeoning popularity of the stylish giallo film and the relaxing of censorship laws across Europe and the United States. One of those two things was much more important to Slaughter Hotel than the other.

Bastard Swordsman

The Bastard Swordsman Saga

In the 1980s, Shaw Brothers was running out of gas. They responded by letting directors go totally insane. Amid the maelstrom are the delirious martial arts fantasies Bastard Swordsman and Return of the Bastard Swordsman

Island of Death

Island of Death

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.

Top Sensation

Top Sensation

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.

The Red Queen Kills Seven Times

The Red Queen Kills Seven Times

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.

Devil in the Brain

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.