Marie Forså starts an uncontrollable forest Feuer.
Did you think you'd seen the last of Marie Forså? We can promise you, that won't happen soon. We love all the old sexploitation stars of the ’70s because their breed is extinct now, but Forså is particularly special because of the heat of her performances. Could she act in the thespian sense? Hell, we have no idea. All her dialogue was in Swedish or dubbed. This West German poster was made for her 1975 erotic classic Butterflies, sometimes known as Butterfly, but which was called Feuer der lust in Germany—“Fire of Lust.” And she's about to burst into flames here. We talked about the movie a couple of years ago. The unidentified head belongs to co-star Eric Edwards. Below is another promo of the pair, as happy as two people can be.
Wake-up calls at the Hiltons' are murder.
We were drawn to Il sesso della strega, aka Sex of the Witch, because of its excellent posters painted by Lamberto Forni, an artist whose work you've seen here before. But as often happens, the movie didn't live up to the promo imagery. The strange tale begins with Sir Thomas Hilton, a wealthy wine grower, who dies of old age. His family gets a surprise when the will is read: all those closest to Hilton, including his secretary, benefit from the profits of his holdings, but nothing can be broken up or sold, his sister gets nothing, some heirs don't benefit immediately, and if anyone dies their share is distributed among the others. Basically, the will is a blueprint for the Hiltons to start murdering each other. When that happens, the spurned sister is suspected of being a witch. But is she?
None of it matters. The movie is an merely excuse for a lot of overlong softcore sex scenes of the worst kind. You know the ones we mean—interminable slow wriggling devoid of even a hint of erotic heat. You have to really drop the ball to make naked people boring—especially naked Italian women from the ’70s, with their enormous bushes*—but director Angelo Pannacciò, aka Elo Pannacciò, accomplishes that here, in his debut. It's impossible to care about the movie's central mystery, and despite Pannacciò somewhat giallo visual stylings there's just nothing to get enthusiastic about. Except those posters. Nice work, Forni. Il sesso della strega premiered in Italy today in 1974.
*We love enormous Italian bushes, both tactilely and visually. This one is large, but not stupendous. You know when a bush is really big? When the moment it's revealed you think there's suddenly been a citywide blackout.
Classic horror feature still shocks and thrills.
It was inevitable that we'd get around to this movie. It was only a question of which poster we'd choose. Above you see a bizarre Japanese promo for Stuart Gordon's cult horror epic Re-Animator. In Japan it was titled Zombio – 死霊のしたたり, and the Japanese means “dripping of the dead,” which is pretty weird. But then so is the movie. It's an at times darkly comic splatterfest about a medical student obsessed with life after death, and it starts gory and quickly goes places you can't possibly expect. The source material is H.P. Lovecraft's tale, “Herbert West—Re-Animator,” first published in the pulp magazine Weird Tales in 1922.
The plot is only loosely based on what Lovecraft wrote. The movie follows a medical student played by Jeffrey Combs as he tries to defeat death by using a phosphorescent green re-animating agent of his own creation, and in so doing manages to drag promising fellow student Bruce Abbott and his girlfriend Barbara Crampton into a downward spiral of lies, illicit research, corpse abuse, and worse. It's even more catastrophic than it sounds. Meanwhile, a pompous and established physician-instructor played by David Gale becomes simultaneously jealous of Combs and lustful for Crampton, with results that are—in a word—totally insane. Well, two words.
We suspect that Re-Animator is one of those movies many have heard of, but not many have seen. There's more than just gore and that infamous sequence where Crampton is molested by a decapitated head. There are also cross-currents of blind ambition, skewed medical ethics, middle-aged lust for the young, and parental love, as well as overarching questions about human consciousness. It's a movie about obsession, but on multiple levels. Of course, it's also a movie done on the cheap, which leads to a few amusing efx, but overall it transcends its limitations, and for horror fans it's an absolute must. Re-Animator premiered in the U.S. in 1985 and crept into Japan today in 1987.
A city with no exit.
Milano Calibro 9, for which you see a promo poster painted by Renato Casaro, is a fun entry in the ranks of Italian crime cinema. Derived from a book of twenty-two short stories by Giorgio Scerbanenco, the plot follows a career thief played by a deadpan Gastone Moschin who's suspected by a crime kingpin of stealing $300,000 of his money. When Moschin is released from prison he's dogged by the kingpin and the local cops, who both want him to produce the cash. But he says he doesn't have it. The fact that the money is missing is what's keeping him alive for the moment, but if he doesn't come up with it the kingpin will kill him.
This trapped ex-con scenario runs along classic lines familiar to fans of vintage noirs, which works to the movie's benefit and disadvantage simultaneously. On the negative side, the plot offers little new in the gangster genre, and contemporary reviews pointed that out, but on the positive the movie has gritty Milan exteriors (shot when air pollution was still a major problem throughout the industrialized West), a cold-as-ice mood, a set of great character actors as various brutal criminals, and the presence of Barbara Bouchet as the world's least rhythmic but most beautiful go-go dancer.
What really sets Milano Calibro 9 apart, though, is its political undertones. The police investigation is hampered by a bitter division between classic rightwing commissioner Frank Wolff and far left head inspector Luigi Pistilli. Their ideological conflict and its implicaition of widespread class struggle in Italy gives the movie's fight over loose money a significance that still resonates today. In our era characterized by (among other serious problems) a yawning financial inequality gap, Milano Calibro 9 is a reminder that cinematic thrillers weren't always politically mindless. We recommend it. It premiered in Italy today in 1972.
Some people just can't handle any excitement.
It's hard to believe that Curtis Hanson—the man who directed The River Wild, the acclaimed L.A. Confidential, and the underrated Wonder Boys, got his start with Sweet Kill, which he directed and wrote, but it's true. Everyone has to start somewhere. Even Francis Ford Coppola started in nudie flicks. Sweet Kill stars Tab Hunter, who plays a sort of beach hunk version of Norman Bates who stabs women when he's sexually aroused—hence the movie's alternate title, The Arousers. Those arousers, who you'll see below in a series of production photos made for the film, include Roberta Collins. Cherie Latimer, Brandy Herred, and others. Sweet Kill is an interesting mood piece but we can't call the movie a success on the whole because it isn't scary—an aspiration for slasher flicks (its main inspiration Psycho is scary, after all). The main problem here is the acting, that bugaboo of ambitious young directors the world over. Collins is okay, but Hunter is out of his depth, and the other participants clearly didn't have the time and talent to hone their performances. In the end what you get is a lot of standing around, a fair amount of nudity, and minor tension derived from whether Hunter can somehow curb his murderous urges. Spoiler alert: he can't. Sweet Kill premiered in the U.S. today in 1972.
The fundamental things apply whenever Hitomi comes by.
Yes, we just saw Hitomi Kozue last week, and here she's popped up again in the 1974 sexploitation flick Zoku tameiki, which translates as “continuous sigh,” but was called in English Sigh 2. And indeed, the movie is positioned as follow-up to 1973's Tameiki, aka Sigh, though that film starred Yumiko Tateno. In this one, Hitomi plays an office worker who's willing but frightened to lose her virginity and manages to get tangled up with her mother's ex-lover. It's Nikkatsu Studios once again exploring unlikely sexual dilemmas, with the usual array of pervs, stalkers, and aggressors dragging down the film's erotic aspirations. That doesn't mean there aren't a few stirring scenes. We rather enjoyed when Hitomi checked out her pieces-parts with a hand mirror.
Some reviews of Zoku tameiki say it's about intergenerational issues. Well, sure, they're in there. Issues will arise when daughter and mother bed the same guy, and there are suggestions of daddy issues in Hitomi's fears about embarking upon sexual life, but we're not buying this as any kind of deep rumination, intergenerational or otherwise. What it is, when you boil it down, is a standard roman porno flick that makes less-than-adequate use of Hitomi Kozue's presence. As always, she does fine in her role, is amazingly beautiful, and is convincing as a shy girl, but we were unmoved by the script and nonplussed by several comic interludes. The movie isn't bad. It's merely that its only true asset is the radiant Kozue. For some viewers, us included, that's enough, but the filmmakers should have done a bit better. Zoku tameiki premiered in Japan today in 1974.
One way or another someone has to pay.
This unusual poster was made for the gritty John Cassavetes drama The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, and features co-star and Playboy model Azizi Johari. It's an alternate promo that was never used in cinemas, however it appeared at auction several years ago, and thence onto the internet. We noticed it because of the lovely Johari, who we've highlighted before, but we also knew the movie, which is one of Cassavetes' more discussed efforts. It's about a cabaret owner, played by Ben Gazzara, who has a serious gambling problem. After making the last payment of a loan shark debt he's been whittling down for seven years, he goes right out accompanied by Johari and two of his club's dancers, loses big again, and must sign over his club as collateral on the debt. Later, as the film's title suggests, his creditors demand—none too politely—that he kill someone. Gazzara is one cool cucumber. His aplomb makes you wonder whether he's self-contained or just stupid. But really, how smart can you be to fall right back into a hole it took seven years to climb out of? Now it's called gambling addiction, but we think of it as merely being a mark. We wondered whether his cabaret Crazy Horse West, which features amazingly mediocre acts, was meant to embody his generally poor judgment. In any case, his bill will come due. Cassavetes puts all this together in his trademark patchwork style, with small moments stitched together to create the main character's life, and what a crazy quilt it is. The style may be off-putting to some, and the movie is marred by substandard acting from a couple of minor castmembers, but overall The Killing of a Chinese Bookie shows why Cassavetes was such a respected director. It premiered today in 1976.
She's one cool cat burglar.
We have bit of tasty French style for you with this poster for La louve solitaire, a film that premiered today in 1968 and starred Danièle Gaubert. The movie is sourced from a series of novels by Albert Saine-Aube, and plotwise Gaubert plays a Parisian real estate agent by day/leotard wearing cat burglar by night. When she's caught in the act of a robbery by two government agents who've been lying in wait for her, she's blackmailed into working for them. The government duo want her to make a daring theft that will help bring down an international drug smuggling network. She's assigned a helper in the form of Michel Duchaussoy, so the movie becomes a sort of partners-in-crime adventure with a side of romantic tension. Gaubert, of course, finds herself in more danger than she expected, and after the caper the crooks she's robbed are hellbent on revenge.
Just looking at the poster, which you may have noticed is actually a French- and Dutch-language promo from Belgium, you can tell that the movie provides high style in a similar vein as cult flicks such as Danger: Diabolik and Modesty Blaise. Like those films, La louve solitaire features nice outfits, hip lingo, and nightclub scenes, plus Gaubert rolling around in a blood-red Pontiac Firebird that qualifies as pure car porn. Also like those other movies, La louve solitaire isn't fully successful from an execution standpoint, however because it's among a group that was at the forefront of portraying women as physically dangerous ass-kickers with specialized skills (Gaubert's thief character is a trapeze artist), it's worth seeing for historical perspective alone.
The artist is actually the one who's out of this world.
Above is the Italian poster for the sci-fi/horror movie La cosa da un altro mondo, which opened in Italy today in 1952 but originally premiered in the U.S. in 1951 as The Thing from Another World. We talked about it several years ago while sharing its Belgian promo. Today's effort is the work of Italian illustrator Sandro Symeoni, a genius who painted in so many modes he can be unrecognizable from piece to piece. See some of his best work here, here, and here.
They're a sight to behold.
This is a cool little item that's been making the rounds on Twitter lately. It's the VHS box cover art for the horror flick Videodrome, directed by David Cronenberg and starring Debbie Harry and James Woods. As you know, we rarely post box art, but this one needed to be seen. The movie needs to be seen too—to be believed. It deals with a Toronto television producer who stumbles upon an illicit snuff channel, but finds that what's going on behind the broadcasts is even worse. It's Cronenberg at his weirdest. The movie premiered today in 1983.
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