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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.