The Other Hell (1981)

We are in a catacomb somewhere, where a nun seems to have gotten lost. She ends up in a “mad scientist” style lab where another nun lies freshly dead, naked, ready for God knows what. One of the other nuns shows up to cut out a part of her uterus (I guess), like some kind of ritual punishment, while preaching how sinful she was. And we’re only 6 minutes into the movie where the acting is so hysterically bad with one retarded facial expression after another. And out of pure randomness, a cauldron starts to boil over as we see close-ups of two glowing, blinking red eyes that gives off some really cheap cyborg/Terminator vibes. (And yes, this is made by the same director and screenwriter who also made the cheap unofficial Italian Terminator II some years later.) The glowing eyes seem to possess one of the nuns to stab the other to death. In this local convent, run by Mother Vincenza, several nuns seems to die in mysterious ways, while priests are being burned alive… and so on.

 

So… just to have the non-existing plot going on, an investigator is put on the case to find out what kind of fishy things are happening inside of the convent’s walls. Well, good luck with that, for not even the movie’s Wikipedia page has a fucking clue on what to fill in the plot section, as we speak.

 

So… uhm… yeah, it’s hard to convey what’s really going on here. A lot of weird convoluted shit just happens… just because. With the directing (to use the word loosely) by Bruno “Italian Ed Wood” Mattei and a script by Claudio “Troll 2” Fragasso, there isn’t much movie magic to witness here. I didn’t really expect it to be either. This rather shabby duo has made over a dozen shitty schlocks together, and is perhaps best known for Hell of the Living Dead (1980) where a considerable amount of the screen time consists of stock footage.

 

The one and only quality to dig up here is the soundtrack by Goblin, which I have no idea they used legally or not, but it doesn’t help that much with putting some lustre on this pure stumbling incompetence or add any form of atmosphere. On the other hand, I can’t deny that I had a fun time watching The Other Hell. It’s completely unpredictable and has plenty of insane campiness to get entertained by. And of course, the absurdly bad acting itself makes it worth a watch alone.

 

The Other Hell

 

Director: Bruno Mattei
Original title: L’altro inferno
Country & year: Italy, 1981
Actors: Franca Stoppi, Carlo De Mejo, Francesca Carmeno, Susan Forget, Franco Garofalo, Paola Montenero, Ornella Picozzi, Andrea Aureli
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080362/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Beyond (1981)

The Beyond (1981)

We’re in a hotel room in Louisiana, and the year is 1927. A thunderous evening is setting in as the artist Schweick (Antoine Saint-John) is brushing his last strokes on his latest grotesque painting, which is also to be his final. The painting is apparently representing Hell, and the locals believe that Schweick is an evil, ungodly warlock that uses the painting to open one of the Seven Gates of Hell. The hotel is said to be built upon one of the gates, and a group of men in full mob-mode storms the hotel and into Schweick’s room to stop him. They drag him down to the basement to cut him up with a chain before bolting him to the wall and torturing him to death. But what they didn’t know is that the sacrifice of the artist just opened the gate, and the dead from beyond are now free to enter the world of the living.

 

Then we jump forward to the year 1981, where Liza Merill (Catriona MacColl) has inherited the hotel and is in the process of a renovation, after the building has been empty and collecting dust and cobwebs for the last six decades . Shit already starts to happen when one of the workers see a female figure with big, scary, glossy eyes through one of the windows. In shock, he stumbles off the scaffold and almost crushes his skull. The alarm from room 36 suddenly starts to ring, even though the hotel has no costumers. This happens to be the same room where the artist we saw in the beginning was working on his painting. It goes from bad to worse when plumber Joe is brutally killed by demonic forces in the water damaged basement as he finds a secret room behind some worn stone walls. Liza bumps into a mysterious blind lady, Emily (Cinzia Monreale), who advises her to give up the hotel and go back where she came from, without being able to explain exactly why. And more questions than answers arise when Liza learns from Dr. John McCabe (David Warbeck) that he has never heard of this blind woman Emily, and that her house has been empty for decades.

 

The Beyond is the second film in Lucio Fulci’s Gates of Hell trilogy. And although the plot may be somewhat diffuse, The Beyond works on more levels than the previous and rather clunky City of the Living Dead. More steadier and focused direction and not least, the acting is significantly better. And The Beyond works perfectly for what it is: an atmospheric, nightmarish fever dream with some really intense and morbidly gory moments. Faces are being melted with acid and eaten by spiders. A girl with pigtails gets her head blown away, eyes being plucked out and so on. Juicy stuff by the great makeup artist Giannetto De Rossi, who’s also worked on Zombie Flesh-Eaters, and a mountain of other films. Also, great and fitting soundtrack by Fabio Frizzi, I must add.

 

The Beyond is also known for its highly visual ending sequence, which was actually planned to be filmed somewhere in an amusement park. But due to logistical restrictions, Fulci had to find an other way to end it and had to quickly improvise. And with reduced budget and resources comes more creative thinking. And I must say that the plan B-ending was a pretty simple, but genius move that sets a unique and satisfying climax.

 

For a completely uncut version, look for a DVD/Blu-ray from Grindhouse Releasing.

 

The Beyond

 

Director: Lucio Fulci
Original title: …E tu vivrai nel terrore! L’aldilà
Country & year: Italy, 1981
Actors: Catriona MacColl, David Warbeck, Cinzia Monreale, Antoine Saint-John, Veronica Lazar, Larry Ray, Giovanni De Nava, Al Cliver, Michele Mirabella, Giampaolo Saccarola, Maria Pia Marsala, Laura De Marchi
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082307/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

City of the Living Dead (1980)

City of the Living Dead (1980)“City of the Living Dead” is the first part of the Lucio Fulci “Gates of Hell” trilogy, which followed up with “The Beyond” and “House By the Cemetery”. But apart from sharing the theme of the dead being brought to life, with some small doses of inspiration from H.P Lovecraft and with actress Catriona MacColl starring in all three, they work well as separate films.

 

The film starts at a cemetery in the small town of Dunwich where a priest hangs himself, and reappears as an evil deathstaring zombie. At the same time, Mary Woodhouse (Catriona MacColl) witnesses a New York apartment suicide during a vision under a seance, which scares her to death. Yes, literally to death. And why, you might ask? Well, because his act of sin causes all the dead in the cemetery of Dunwich to rise from the dead as zombies. And these are not the traditional carnivorous zombies…here, they have the ability to teleport themselves and use telekinesis to make people bleed tears and spew up their own inner organs. Miss Woodhouse’s death is seen as a mysterious case, which captures the curiosity of newspaper journalist Peter Bell (Christopher George). The day she is to be buried, he sneaks around the cemetery when she suddenly comes alive in the coffin and screams. Peter hacks up the coffin to save her, but unlike the ordinary dead who resurrects as zombies, Mary wakes up like from a normal night’s sleep and is straight back into her old self again. Well, good for her. After they learn that the gates of hell must be closed and this evil priest must be stopped, they take a roadtrip to Dunwich. And this must happen before All Saint’s Day. If not, the dead will take over the world.

 

Meanwhile, the evil priest has already started terrorizing Dunwich, while rubbing mud filled with worms in peoples faces as he teleports around the city. While strange and macabre things continue to happen in the city, a group of men sit in the local pub, suspecting Bob, the city’s outcast who has a taste for inflatable sex dolls, to be behind all of this. And this side plot with Bob (Giovanni Lombardo Radice) is completely useless which is nothing but filler scenes that could easily have been cut out. Even though “City of the Living Dead” doesn’t work all that well with its serious pacing issues, the film has some great ghoulish atmosphere with a fitting soundtrack by Fabio Frizzi, who’s scored several of Fulci’s films. There’s also several memorable gory scenes to enjoy, and some of the actors were dedicated enough to get isolated in a room to be attacked by ten kilos of maggots via two wind machines. Trivia: one of the crew members decided to pull a prank on Mr. Fulci by stuffing some of the maggots in his pipe tobacco. Everyone but Fulci found it funny and he blamed the incident on the heart surgery he had years later with health problems that escalated to ventricular aneurysm, contracted viral hepatitis and liver cirrhosis. No more maggots on set, I guess. And of course don’t forget the drinking game: take a shot every time there’s a close-up of the actors eyes, and you’ll surely die of alcohol poisoning before the first twenty minutes. In advance, rest in peace.

 

City of the Living Dead

 

Director: Lucio Fulci
Original title: Paura nella città dei morti viventi
Country & year: Italy, 1980
Actors: Christopher George, Catriona MacColl, Carlo De Mejo, Antonella Interlenghi, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Daniela Doria, Fabrizio Jovine, Luca Venantini, Michele Soavi, Venantino Venantini, Enzo D’Ausilio, Adelaide Aste, Luciano Rossi, Robert Sampson, Janet Agren
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081318/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nude for Satan (1974)

Dr. William Benson is driving late at night to reach a patient, and stops at a mansion to ask for directions. He learns that he must drive a huge detour and that the roads there are bad, and the man at the mansion offers him shelter for the night. As the conscientious doctor he is, he declines the offer and continues on. A lady in white suddenly stands in the way, and this forces Benson to swerve his car which makes it bump into a mountain wall. When he is going to check for the mysterious lady in white, she is nowhere to be to seen, but another lady suddenly crashes in front of him and lies unconscious in the car with a white blouse…which suddenly turns black in the next clip. Just five minutes in and a continuity error already. Impressive. Anyway, he carries her away and brings her back to consciousness by patting her on the cheek, like the doctor he is. But unfortunately he does not manage to start the car, and sees no other way than to return to the castle to ask for help. When he enters the castle the place looks abandoned, with trash, rats and covered furniture.

 

He then comes across an older guy who seems to have been stabbed to death, who glances at Benton with some crazy eyes as he asks “what can I do for you” and gives a sinister laugh. Okay, Dr. Benton, time to turn around, there’s no help to get here. Still, this is just a gentle start on the rabbit hole he has stumbled into. When he opens another door he witnesses someone who has a sex orgy with scenes of a blowjob, close-up penetration and lesbian sex. Okay. After seeing enough, he shuts the door and looks further around, and suddenly the woman pops up…the one he left in the car, with no signs of harm or discomfort. And she’s really happy to see Benson, as she rather calls Peter, as if she’s known him all her life, and gives some obscure lines that don’t make any sense. And just like the viewer, Mr. Benson is just as lost and confused and wants some fucking answers (pun intended).

 

As I said, a rabbit hole. And a hairy one. The movie actually starts out as a classic Hammer movie with thunder, rain and an old castle, but as soon as we see our protagonist, or whatever he is supposed to be, it quickly nosedives into a stumbling, incoherent obscurity of a demented sleazeball of a movie with x-rated porn scenes in between. The balance between horror and porn is completely off. It’s as if the writer and director Luigi Batzella couldn’t decide whether he wanted to make a traditional horror or a porn, but went for both with no clue how to blend it together, with a script that apparently was scribbled in a hurry on his palm between the shooting. With a title as “Nude for Satan” I expected a fair amount of tits and bushy beavers, but I was completely unaware this was actually a x-rated pornflick with close-up penetration and whatnot. But okay, what a pleasant surprise. So let’s just call it “Fuck for Satan”, then, to avoid further confusion.

 

Fuck for Satan is probably most known for a certain random spider scene. And I must say, it lived up to the hype. How can one not laugh at a fake, giant spider that seems to be made of a bunch of layers of cow dung? And to make it more realistic, just stuff some wooden branches into it and it got some really believable legs. Haha, oh my.. Fuck for Satan also has the most frantic use of zoom I’ve probably seen. As if the cameraman was clearly told to zoom in and out as much as possible to make  a desperate attempt to add some tone of surrealism or whatever. Well, I beg to differ. The movie isn’t trippy for one bit, just weird and messy with lazy directing, while the horror aspects fails as a blind, drunken sailor on an unicycle. And what does the space-like music have to do here? Is there a flying saucer wobbling from a string in the background somewhere I don’t see? Who knows. Who cares. But man, that spider scene..haha.

 

Nude for Satan

 

Director: Luigi Batzella
Original title: Nuda per Satana
Country & year: Italy, 1974
Actors: Rita Calderoni, Stelio Candelli, James Harris, Renato Lupi, Iolanda Mascitti, Luigi Antonio Guerra, Barbara Lay
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0162503/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Demons (1985)

Demons (1985)On a subway station in Rome, the young lady Cheryl stumbles into a mysterious man who’s got half his face covered with an iron mask. He gives her two tickets to a horrormovie. She asks him if he’s dressed like that for the promotion of the film, but he does not give her an answer. Her curiosity has been peaked, so she hooks up with her girlfriend Kathy and decides to head for the movie theatre to check out this mysterious untitled film. Other random people pops in, such as an elderly couple who’s probably never seen a horror movie before, some pussy-hound teenagers, a pimp with two hookers, and of course a blind dude with sunglasses with his wife who must explain what happens on the screen to him. You know, the regular moviegoers..

 

This “mysterious” movie they’re going to watch is about some people who are exploring a tomb site where Nostradamus should be buried. They come across an old latin book written by Nostradamus himself, which is about summoning demons. They also find a demonic iron mask, which is not so unfamiliar to the one we saw in the beginning. Fast forwarding, as they read from the book, one of the people in the movie theatre gets possessed and havoc is about begin with throats getting ripped, scalps torn off and people getting killed in horrible ways. And they also happen to be completely locked inside the building.

 

So basically, Demons is more or less Evil Dead in a movie theatre… just without Bruce Campbell.

 

But we have Tony the Pimp. He seems to be a favorite amongst many viewers, and that’s probably ’cause he’s the only one amongst the bland characters who has a shred of personality. He’s badass and got some attitude. There’s was even a short film made about him with the same actor, Bobby Rhodes. You’re almost hoping he’s this film’s backbone and hero in the same way Bruce Campbell was for Evil Dead or Reggie Bannister was for Phantasm. Well, what a missed opportunity. Who wouldn’t want to see a whole franchise where a pimp teams up with his hookers to kill a bunch of Demons/zombies-or whatever?

 

Demons

 

Director: Lamberto Bava
Original title: Dèmoni
Country & year: Italy, 1985
Actors: Urbano Barberini, Natasha Hovey, Karl Zinny, Fiore Argento, Paola Cozzo, Fabiola Toledo, Bobby Rhodes
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089013/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buio Omega (1979)

Buio Omega (1979)Frank Wyler is a three-year-old boy living with his housekeeper Iris in a millionaire-villa in the country. Iris has taken care of Frank since his parents died in a car accident when he was young, and since then, the relationship between Iris and Frank has developed into something… rather bizarre and toxic, to say the least. After growing up living isolated with Iris, she is now using him as a sextoy by giving him a handjob while he sucks her tits like an infant… he’s gotten pretty messed up in his head. But when he finds the great love of his life in the much more beautiful Anna, Iris becomes mad with envy and goes to a voodoo witch/doctor to throw a curse over Anna in order to get rid of her. The curse works perfectly where she ends up in a hospital and dies, and Iris finally gets Frank for herself again.

 

However, this doesn’t last long since Frank drives straight to the cemetery the night after Anna’s funeral to dig up her body and take her back home. On the way back he gives a random young lady a lift, who falls asleep in his car. He brings his “corpse bride” down in the basement where a pretty graphic embalming scene takes place. The young lady wakes up and sees a glimpse of what’s going on before Frank tortures her by ripping out her nails, then he gets help from Iris who chops her body up in pieces and throws her remains in the bathub with corrosive acid. Iris saves some of the flesh which she and Frank eats for breakfast. Then, Frank goes jogging and meets a another young lady whom he takes home and have sex with. While having sex with her, he imagines he’s having sex with Anna, who lies in the double bed right beside them, covered in sheets. And then, the woman he brought home with him notices his dark secret…

 

Those who are familiar with sleazy, underground italian horror from the 70’s that were banned left and right around the world, will probably know the name Joe D’Amato, the man with as many pseudonyms as there is gender options on facebook. Buio Omega, or “Beyond the Darkness” as it’s called internationally, is one of his most known works. The film is a remake of “The Third Eye” from 1966, an other italian horror film which I haven’t seen, so I can’t come with any comparisons. But I doubt it is as sick, dark, raw and unfiltered as Buio Omega, which really tests the boundaries on what’s allowed to be shown on screen. Correct me if I’m wrong, though. Mutilation, necrophilia, cannibalism, detailed torture scenes and other taboo stuff with higly convincing gore effects that punches you in the nose.

 

The film takes itself dead seriously where there’s no room for imagination, which in this case could have turned it into a spectacular turkey, but despite its narrow budget it’s so well constructed that it works fine the way it is. It’s as gory as it is psychological, and explores the darkest corners of the human mind.

 

Also, great soundtrack by Goblin.

 

Buioomega

 

Director: Joe D’Amato
Country & year: Italy, 1979
Actors: Kieran CanterCinzia Monreale, Franca Stoppi, Sam Modesto, Anna Cardini, Lucia D’Elia, Mario Pezzin
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078916/

 

Tom Ghoul