Sunday, August 16, 2015

Contamination (1980, Luigi Cozzi)

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"What else do you want to know about me? How many times a week I screw?"

Just released from Arrow Films is the low budget Italian sci fi film Contamination (aka Alien Contamination, Toxic Spawn or the director's choice Alien Arrives on Earth) directed by Luigi Cozzi, who previously helmed Star Crash with Caroline Munro (Maniac), Joe Spinell and a 26 year old David Hasselhoff. He also directed the giallo The Killer Must Kill Again and a couple Lou Ferrigno Hercules films! I had seen this film a couple times before and each time I liked it a little more so I definitely wanted to give it another shot.

Contamination begins with a bunch of eggs from outer space that mysteriously appear on a ship with a dead crew. These aren't just any eggs though! Oh no! These suckers pulsate until they pop and spray liquid which causes its victim's chests to explode. Ian McCulloch (the one from Zombi Holocaust and Fulci's Zombie, not the one from Echo and the Bunnymen) plays Commander Ian Hubbard, an ex-Astronaut who might know the secret to these eggs. He joins one of the men who found the eggs and a correspondent from the White House to stop whomever is behind the deadly plot to use these eggs to destroy the human race...or whatever.

Contamination is an unashamed Alien ripoff that moves the setting (due to budget restraints) to Earth. What the film didnt skimp on though is gore. Believe me when I tell you the exploding people in this film are INCREDIBLE!!! So nasty and gory. The story is silly, acting and dubbing appropriately hammy and the "reveal" at the end of the film is laugh out loud absurd. With all that said I Loved this film! I can't think of a movie that I've watched recently that was more watchable and entertaining. Though definitely not for everyone, Italian horror and cheesy B Movie fans should definitely have fun with this film. I must also note that the artwork on the cover of Arrow's new Blu Ray/DVD combo is probably the greatest cover I have seen in a long time. Reminds me of Tron meets 50's Sci Fi. Arrow's release itself is amazing and contains literally EVERYTHING you could want included. See the full specs below:

-High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation
-Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
-Feature Commentary by filmmaker, Fangoria editor and Contamination super-fan Chris Alexander
- Luigi Cozzi on the Creation of Contamination – an archive documentary hosted by the director and including behind-the-scenes footage
- 2014 Q&A with Cozzi and star Ian McCulloch
- Sound of the Cyclops: Goblin’s Maurizio Guarini on the music of Contamination – the Goblin keyboardist discusses Contamination’s dark, progressive rock score and a lifetime of making music for Italian terror
- Imitation Is The Sincerest Form of Flattery – A critical analysis of the Italian “Mockbusters” trend of filmmaking which sought to capitalize on the success of Hollywood blockbusters
- Theatrical Trailer
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin
- Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Chris Alexander, illustrated with original archive stills and posters

Purchase this DVD/Blu Ray combo directly from MVD HERE

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Wife Killer (1976, Dacosta Carayan)

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New from Mondo Macabro is volume 2 in their brand new Greek collection. As I stated in my review for Tango of Perversion, I knew absolutely nothing about Greek films before these two great titles came along. But if these are any hint of the types of Greek films that are out there, then I hope Mondo Macabro releases more!

The Wife Killer (aka Death Kiss and the rather harsh titled The Rape Killer) tells the story of a gold digger who plans to have his rich sugar mama off'd to inherit her fortune. See he's got a girl on the side that he plans on taking off in his new yacht to live happily ever after with. Who is he going to have commit the crime for him? Well this creep just happens to be friends with a fine chap who gets his jollies by raping and killing women. As would be expected, double crossings, murders and other sleazy activities ensue.

The Wife Killer (as was stated on the DVD cover) definitely felt similar to the Italian gialli from the 70's. And though there was no mystery killer walking around dressed head to toe in black, there were copious amounts of plot twists, sex and bloody violence. Where some of the gialli were more "style over substance" (not that there was anything wrong with that), The Wife Killer, like Tango of Perversion, is very well written and completely sensical. There are beautiful women to ogle at, lots of red stuff and you'll find yourself scratching your head wondering what's going to happen until the last frame. Like Mondo Macabro's Tango of Perversion DVD, The Wife Killer is presented with a very nice looking, uncut transfer as well as an interview with the producer, trailers and a documentary on Greek cinema.

Rating: 9/10

Purchase The Wife Killer directly from Mondo Macabro HERE

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Tango of Perversion (1974, Dacosta Carayan)

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Greek Exploitation? Admittedly I know absolutely nothing about this exotic genre. This just made me even more excited and eager to check out Tango of Perversion, the first in Mondo Macabro's new Greek Collection. Based on the DVD cover and the synopsis, I could tell that this film had the potential to rival the sleaziest films from around the globe. Luckily, I was right!

Tango of Perversion takes place at the Tango club, where folks of all types go to dance, score drugs, meet interesting people...you know the type of place. It also happens to be the the hangout of local hustler and drug dealer Stathis, who is getting sick of his junkie girlfriend. To spite him after a fight, she takes off with another woman which Stathis doesn't like and after a fight ensues, he accidentally kills his girlfriend's lover. He covers his tracks but what he doesn't know is his creepy, impotent friend caught the whole thing on film. As expected, blackmail, more murders and sex follow.

Well I am happy to report that the Greek world of 70's exploitation doesn't disappoint! Tango of Perversion (aka Tango 2001) is a far out, psychedelic, drug fueled, sex filled classic! There are plenty of beautiful women in various states of undress, a good amount of violence, hippies and just all around weirdness. The thing that struck me particularly by surprise was just how well written the film was. The plot was original and not just an excuse to show boobies. Mondo Macabro's transfer looks incredible for such an odd, obscure film and there is also a nice documentary on the history of Greek film.

Rating: 9/10

Purchase Tango of Perversion directly from Mondo Macabro HERE

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island of Dr. Moreau (2014, David Gregory)

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Just released by Severin Films is Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island of Dr. Moreau. I was familiar with Richard Stanley through his films Hardware and Dust Devil, but didn't know much about what he has been doing since those films or even that he was the original director of Island of Dr. Moreau. In fact, despite being a huge Marlon Brando fan, I haven't even seen Island of Dr. Moreau, so I was basically going into this film blindly.

Lost Soul is a behind the scenes look at what went wrong with Richard Stanley's proposed take on H.G. Wells' classic story about a scientist who creates a civilization of half human/half animals. We begin with Stanley's initial visions, casting choices and then getting New Line's backing all the way up to filming. Problems then arose with the casting of two of Hollywood's most notoriously difficult actors and then continued with weather problems, differing visions and pretty much anything else you could think of. The film collects new interviews with Stanley, cast, crew and film executives all telling their side of the story, before Stanley was fired and replaced with John Frankenheimer.

Lost Soul is a documentary of the highest caliber. Where some documentaries fail by not including the key players involved in the subject, pretty much everyone you'd want to hear from on this "doomed journey" is accounted for. The only obvious exceptions are Brando, who passed away in 2004, and the film's other lead Val Kilmer (but do we really want to hear from him?). The interviews all seem very heartfelt and honest, without shying away from speaking out on possible black listing, on set fighting and egos gone wild. The film also has several funny stories, mostly in respect to Brando and Kilmer. Interviewees include Stanley, actors Fairuza Balk, Rob Morrow, Marco Hofschneider, Executives Edward R. Pressman and Robert Shaye, as well as local cast and crew members and special FX crew members. Severin's amazing, stuffed 3 disc release of this film includes the following:

Disc 1 (Blu Ray)

• Outtakes (over an hour)
• Graham Humphreys concept art gallery with Richard Stanley commentary
• Archive MOREAU interview with John Frankenheimer
• Barbara Steele recalls MOREAU (audio interview)
• “The Beast of Morbido” featurette
• “Return to the Compound” location featurette
• “Boar Man Diary” featurette

Disc 2 (DVD)

• INSEL DER VERSCHOLLENEN (ISLAND OF THE LOST): recently discovered 1921 film version of MOREAU
• “H.G. Wells on Film” featurette
• “Richard Stanley on Wells” featurette

Disc 3 (CD)

• Audiobook: Stanley reads the unexpurgated version of Wells’ THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU

Rating: 10/10

Purchase Lost Soul directly from Severin HERE

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Island of the Living Dead (2007, Vincent Dawn)

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"Some terrible monster, not human of any kind!"

New from Intervision Pictures Corp./Severin Films is one of the last films from famed Italian sleaze God Bruno Mattei (under his Anglo-pseudonym Vincent Dawn). My personal history with my namesake (my middle name is Bruno..close enough), goes all the way back twenty or so years ago to when I was 15. Living in a Massachusetts suburb, I devoured any film with the word "Zombie" or "Living Dead" in the title after watching Romero's first three Dead films, Evil Dead and Dead Alive all for the first time during one school vacation. Soon after, I happened upon a VHS of a schlocky movie called Night of the Zombies which I ended up enjoying quite a bit. Several years later, I bought the DVD of another zombie film titled Hell of the Living Dead, which I soon found out was actually Night of the Zombies under another title. From there I happened upon other Mattei films from various genres, my favorites of which are Rats: Night of Terror and Women's Prison Massacre. Which brings us to our subject of this review, Island of the Living Dead.

This film begins with a group of treasure hunters who pull a treasure chest out of the ocean, only to have the bottom fall out and all of the treasure to fall to the bottom of the sea. Shucks. And then, as if losing a treasure wasn't enough, their boat crashes and the crew, along with Captain Kirk...yes, their captain's name is Captain Kirk...happen upon a seemingly deserted island. As you can tell by the title of this film, the island certainly isn't deserted, it's very much alive...with the dead! Does that actually makes sense? Who gives a shit because what follows doesn't make any sense either! After all, too much sense (cents) makes dollars and that belongs nowhere near a Bruno Mattei film! Oh great, now I am writing plays on words. I think this film melted my brain. Anyhoo, the group come across a bunch of zombies...or are they vampires...or ghosts? Who the hell knows (I'm guessing not even the film makers)?

Island of the Living Dead fits well with Mattei's older films as well as his newer ones, including this film's sequel Zombies: The Beginning. Low budget, poorly dubbed and hilariously bad dialogue. But still very watchable, entertaining and above all the makeup FX are top notch! I do think Mattei's later films suffer slightly from the dissolution of his collaboration with writer Claudio Fragasso (best known for directing the "best worst movie" Troll 2), but only slightly. I would definitely recommend this film for old school Italian zombie fans because surprisingly not much has changed in Bruno's world. This nice looking release from Intervision features a trailer, sales promo and interviews with the producer and writer, giving some insight on how it was working with Mattei.

Rating: 7/10

Purchase Island of the Living Dead directly from Severin/Intervision Pictures Corp HERE