Monday, April 20, 2009

999 Project Update

Over the last couple of weeks I watched some films that fall into my 999 category. Been meaning to write up more about those, but can’t seem to find the time. Those productions aren’t all that important from a Hammer point of view anyway, so here are just a few short summaries about them. If any of you feel like discussing those more in depth, fire ahead in the comment section. Would love to chat more about any of these.

Knives of the Avenger

While gradually reading through my copy of hernia breaking, absolutely superb, megalomaniac super film book All the Colors of the Dark by Bava Fan Extraordinaire and Video Watchdog editor Tim Lucas (there’s something deliciously decadent about blowing a few days wages on one single book) I am also working my way through the excellent Bava movie box sets that were recently released (plus the cheapo Warriors 50 Movie Pack Collection
that also includes a number of productions Bava was involved in in various capacities).

Knives of the Avenger is Bava’s interpretation of the classic Western Shane, this time set amongst the backdrop of a Viking action movie. Cameron Mitchell is as always highly watchable even though he has to sport some of the most unfashionably dyed piss yellow hair ever. The film is excellently staged, maybe a little bit too talkative at times, but some of the action scenes are quite drastic for a film of that age. One particular “shoot out” with knives instead of guns is particularly involving.

This is a coloured production regardless of the b/w trailer.

The Perfume of the Lady in Black

Excellent very atmospheric giallo. Something is clearly not right when Mimsy Farmer’s character starts losing track of time, has visions of the eponymous lady in black and gets confronted with very lifelike memories of some childhood trauma. Is she really losing the plot or is someone trying to drive her mad? Perfume is beautifully filmed with an amazing score. True, nothing much seems to happen throughout most of the film and the murders (as few as there are) may initially not be quite as harrowing as those of better known gialli, but the film is a beauty to look at and has a shocking conclusion that comes out of nowhere.

Does any of that truly make sense? Probably not. Then again there aren’t a lot of gialli that can claim logic as their strongest point. It often is style over substance, and Perfume sure oozes enough style to keep me happy.

It also features Nike Arrighi (The Devil Rides Out, Countess Dracula) in a small part as a clairvoyant.

Empire of the Ants

For the longest time this H.G. Wells adaptation featuring Joan Collins and scores of overblown ants had escaped me. I heard that this was meant to be one of the worst movies of all times. Maybe I have become jaded, but I found this to be a lot of silly and enjoyable fun. Definitely a film I’d love to revisit again some time.

Oasis of Fear/Dirty Pictures

This is by the wackiest of those four films and possibly the revelation of the year for me so far. A very young Ornella Muti in one of her first films travels around Europe with her boyfriend Ray Lovelock and sells pornography bought in Sweden to finance her vacation (as one does). They soon get the attention of the law and become involved with Irene Papas as a middle aged lady who initially seems to be frightened of them, but soon starts to play her own kind of cat and mouse game with them.

Umberto Lenzi is a director who can be very much hit and miss, though here he is at his most entertainingly best. I challenge you not to keep humming some of the truly outrageous soundtrack tunes for days on end. And you know that times have changed when selling sleazy pornography involved hawking off records (!) with just the sounds of people having sex.

Ah, happy days…..

Thursday, April 9, 2009

DVD Trash Roundtable #1

Took part in the first of DVD Trash's new weekly round tables. If you like to contribute to the next one, just look out for their next announcement.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

And now for something completely different

Some of you may or may not know this, but after 13 years of service I was laid off shortly before last Christmas. I used to be the Senior Customer Service Manager for a large, international hotel company and responsible for customer service teams in four different countries. A small number of staff got the chop in Cork, but worldwide quite a good number of management were also laid off. It seemed to have affected some of my favourite colleagues, so I am definitely in good company.

Some of those guys appear to feel quite bitter about it even after all those months (OK, in one case, a girl who had dedicated her whole working life – close to 35 years if I recall correctly– for the company, it’s hard not to get the impression that she got royally screwed); some others are more nonchalant about this. I am in the latter category and treat this as a once in a lifetime opportunity. My finances are in order, so I can keep my head above water for a while, even though there don’t appear to be any jobs out there that require my expertise. So after years of saying “If only” I am starting to finally set something up for myself and am offering German lessons. As a result I am feeling strangely liberated. Each month I am getting more students and as long as this trend continues I am a happy camper.

I do, however, know that the life of a freelancer is a very fragile one. I can dream, and not make dreams my master, so am keeping all my options open, knowing that a return to an office environment may be the most sensible option. Of course, if that happens, I may as well file all dreams of doing it my way away. The time for making it happen is NOW. At my age – 41 – this is likely the final chance I am given to prove to myself that I am self-sufficient enough to start on my own and provide services about things I feel passionate about.

Part of my little marketing package was to set up a German tutoring blog. It’s by far the least updated of all my blogs, but together with a couple of other online ads, it helped to place me prominently on Google for German tutoring jobs in Cork and Ireland. So go check it out.

I also teach German online through Skype. If you ever wanted to learn a foreign language, why not contact me for this? Payments can be arranged through Paypal and I cater for all levels from beginners to advanced students who like to keep their skills active.

Don’t want to learn a foreign language, but feel like supporting me differently? Have a look at the Paypal donations button on the left and send me some Yen. Or use the Amazon buttons for your Amazon orders. I hate to pimp myself this way, but when the money was coming in regularly I didn’t really care too much for filthy lucre and did everything for the love of the movies, but desperate times call for desperate measures and all financial support is now definitely appreciated.

What else?

  • Need documents translated from German to English or vice versa? Contact me!
  • Need a freelance writer or know someone who does? Contact me!
  • Feel like visiting Cork (or Ireland) and need a tour guide or someone who helps you plan your journey? Contact me!
  • Wanna find a way to get rid of your husband/wife/worst enemy? Contact me!
OK, the last was spoken in jest, but, yes, as you can see I am a gun for hire and open to all reasonable offers. (So, no, I will not even attempt to undercut an hourly rate in India or China.)

And at the off chance that any potential employer in or around Cork in need of a good Customer Service Manager reads this: My CV is of course available upon request.

End of the public service message.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Robert Simpson's PhD project about Exclusive Films/Hammer Films

Read up about Robert Simpson's ongoing PhD research into Exclusive Films, sister company and distribution arm of Hammer Films. And if you have some spare cash, feel free to help him finance his research. Check out his new blog @

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

WORST NIGHTMARES, Shane Briant's new novel out in May

I received an email from Shane Briant’s publisher’s last night that I wanted to share with you:

“I have a sinister new novel that I think will really interest your readers: WORST NIGHTMARES from the diabolical mind of Shane Briant, "The New Master of Terror."

Picking up the pen that was dipped in blood by Thomas Harris and Stephen King, Shane Briant (star of the Hammer Films classic Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell ) delivers a powerful page-turner and haunting thriller.

What's your worst nightmare? Would you tell a complete stranger? Through his website, innocent people entrust the mysterious Dream Healer with their deepest and most desperate fears in hopes of having them cured forever. However, feeding off of their vulnerability, the Dream Healer becomes death dealer as he savagely stalks and tortures his victims, rendering them defenseless, and kills them in the exact manner of their nightmares.

Dermot Nolan is struggling with paralyzing writer's block as he tries to follow up his last brilliant, award-winning book. With his half-million dollar advance gone, his agent demanding pages, and a megawatt film deal hanging in the balance, Nolan is desperate for inspiration when a crudely written manuscript (a minute-by-minute account of the Dream Healer's brutal horror spree) is stuffed in his mailbox. Frantic to recreate his prior success, Dermot decides to appropriate the Dream Healer's "diary" as his next masterpiece. But the Dream Healer soon ensnares him in his plot and Dermot finds himself fighting for his life – trapped in his own terrifying worst nightmare.

(You might also be interested to hear that Lance Henriksen, Greg Kinnear, Bridget Moynahan and Michael Vartan are in talks to star in the film version of WORST NIGHTMARES.)”

The exciting thing about this is that I will shortly receive a review copy and that they have also offered to arrange an interview with Briant for this blog! So if you have any questions you always wanted to ask him, please let me know and I see if I can incorporate them.

I’ve been chatting with Robert Simpson from the Unofficial Hammer Films Site last night. Having known about this book for quite some time and being in regular touch with Briant, he is already in possession of an early copy of this novel and gives it a comfortable thumbs up. Needless to say you can now call me excited.

In preparation for the interview and the release of this book in May, I am planning to focus a bit more on Briant in the coming weeks and also watch and review some of his movies for this blog.