Search Results for sam | Varied Celluloid - Page 66

Search Results

Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key

Posted by Josh Samford On February - 5 - 2010
The Plot: Oliviero Rouvigny (Luigi Pistilli), is a failed writer and husband, who lives with his wife Irina (Anita Strindberg) in a sprawling mansion far from any prying eyes. Luigi has all but dedicated his life to torturing his wife, who he holds an incredible amount of antagonism for despite her being sweet and loving to him. He beats, humiliates and tortures her on a daily basis. He keeps a cat that she hates, which is aptly named “Satan”, and throws wild parties with the young hippies who live nearby. When his mistress is killed, it leaves Oliviero as the prime suspect for the local police who question him theroughly on the issue. Oliviero pleads his innocence but it falls on deaf ears. Especially with his wife, who knows that the night the young woman was murdered – Oliviero was actually late making it in. Things start to look worse whenever the colored maid who lives with this married couple turns up murdered in the hallway. Irina is at first going to report it, but Oliviero stops her due to the fact that no matter what is said Oliviero is going to once again fall under suspicion. Now Irina, who has never had it easy with this man, begins to fear for her life. With their niece, Floriana (Edwige Finech), coming in by train – will the killings stop? Is Oliviero actually innocent? And what kind of devious games will Floriana, who is a proven nymph, bring to the table?


The Review
The Giallo, for those who aren’t completely hip to the Eurocult culture just yet, is a genre within Italian cinema and is sometimes used interchangeably with the word ‘thriller’. At its heart, that’s really what all Giallo films truly are. However, there are these additions to the formula that separate it from your average run of the mill tension-wrought cat and mouse kind of Hollywood affair. The first that comes to mind is the killer: the killer, as the American slasher would later take to the next level, becomes a star in the movie whether his or her face is ever shown. The death sequences can be elaborate, violent, hokey or lame – but the killer is more often than not just as memorable as any character in the movie. The second: red herrings (clues to the mystery inherent within the plot) are thrown about with no remorse and more often than not; there’s no coherent way to really piece together who the killer might actually be. Sometimes the motive is based off of some strange bit of knowledge that we the audience are completely unaware of until roughly the final five minutes of the movie. Sometimes, and really it’s often more times than not, the motive is superfluous and ridiculous. My third and possibly most important feature for separating a Giallo from any other particular genre is: the style. Even if it is in small doses, the crafty Italian directors who made films within this genre may have based their characters off of archetypes or were stuck within the confines of a poor script – but most of them did their best to make their movies visually appealing. Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key is a film that certainly fits all of these descriptions – but while it plays the conventional game of what makes a Giallo, it is at the same time a derisive challenge to the genre and plays out like an attempt at destroying the walls that surround it.

At the time of making the film, Your Vice is… was already director Sergio Martino’s fourth entry into the genre and depending upon who you’re asking, it could be his best or it might be him at his most ordinary. Although I am no personal expert on the man’s filmography, I know enough about both he and the genre to realize something brilliant from him. Slightly forgotten in his own native country, due to it playing poorly with contemporary Italian audiences, the film was thought to have a fairly short lifespan but with Eurocult film fans the world over going over the books and wanting to inspect every film made within the confines of the Giallo formula – it was found and it will never be forgotten. It’s a film that is not easily forgotten and is made so because of both it’s taboo-breaking nature as well as the distinctly iconoclastic breaking of conventions throughout. The latter being one of the first material things I could grasp and take note of with the film. Generally, from the very start Martino throws you into an odd world that at first doesn’t make much sense. Part of this comes from the fact that it so utterly denies convention, but also from the surrealist nature of the opening minutes. The film begins at a party being thrown by Luigi Pistilli’s character (that character being Oliviero Rouvigny) inside of a bizarre bourgeoisie environment, with a gathering of youthful hippies who dance and cavort around him as if he’s some kind of king – but the scene goes sour as he proceed to humiliate his wife by having all of the party goers empty out their wine into a bowl that he tries to pour down his wife’s throat. Your first instinct when watching, in those opening moments, is to think that Pistilli is going to be our leading man. When he spoils the moment and shows his truly violent temperament, we of course know that he isn’t our dashing leading man. He’s no struggling artist who is going to be witness to a crime. This character isn’t going to sleuth around for anyone! That’s one of the things I like so much about it though, because from here on out in the movie – you don’t know where the story is going to take you because no one really steps up into that conventional role of being what we see as the protagonist.

The characters are all so very complex in Martino’s film world. They continually change up genre conventions so your anticipated feelings are swept to the side and only this film and this world matters. The character of Oliviero is placed in what would absolutely be a staple of Alfred Hitchcock’s famous “man framed for a crime he did not commit” archetype, however unlike in any film of Hitch’s we do not so much as like this character! In fact, we hate him and we know that his wife would be better off with him serving a prison sentence. However the film switches its gears up once more when he is genuinely found innocent, due to the actual culprit being arrested! This constant bait and switch that the film plays upon its audience is what I feel makes it so effective when it comes time to eventually reveal an actual mystery! This reveal comes about in only the last quarter of the film and is so effective because the rest of what you have watched has been a constant game. The film toys with its audience on a subconscious level but while its doing that, it is engaging you. It wraps you up in this story until you’re helplessly enthralled in this situation. Despite it being a film with a tremendous amount of taboo shattering sexuality, I think it’s power comes mostly from the storytelling. That taboo sexuality of course comes from the Edwige Fenech character Floriana who during the course of the movie has sexual relations with family members, random gentlemen she has just met and ultimately creates an atmosphere of sexual deviency and power. Her character in the movie knows what she can get away with and how to use her sexual prowess to fool others, and even though Oliviero is a mentally abusive pig, ultimately Floriana isn’t much better.

The incestuous relationships aren’t exclusive to Floriana, as Oliviero himself has a strange sexual attraction to his own mother as we see in each of his scenes of sexual intercourse – all of which feature females wearing his mother’s favorite dress. Without the dress, he is as impotent as a lover as he is a writer. This obsession with his mother is another reflection of his failure as a man, while Floriana’s resort to sexuality as a means of power is a reflection of her own weakness as an individual. Irina, the battered wife (played by Anita Strindberg), her weakness isn’t even necessary to go into since it’s the entire reason she is in her situation in the first place. However, there are some excellent twists and turns in the latter half that reveal her personality as being even more complex than at first thought. However, almost everything about Your Vice is a Locked Room… turns out a surprisingly complex affair. There’s a really great script at work in this film and some excellent direction from Martino, who delivers a solid story with all of the splashes of cinematic adventurism you would expect from a Giallo. There’s also some interesting symbolism at work in this slight retelling of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Black Cat, as the cat itself takes on the name ‘Satan’ and destroys Irina’s white birds, which are ultimately her only reflection of peace and freedom in this captive world of violence and chaos. Yet the cat doesn’t go away and in the end reaps utter chaos on those who have sewn it. Did I mention that this flick is pretty deep? That is if you want to look at it in such a way.

The Trivia
  • At the time of filming, according to Sergio Martino, Luigi Pistilli (who plays the dreadful Oliviero Rouvigny) was coming out of a divorce and had actually recently fallen in love, which was quite the opposite of his own character. So his performance required as much attention from the director as well as the actor in order to capture the right effect.

  • As Quentin Tarantino brought it to her attention, this was the first film where Edwige Fenech was able to stretch out and be the “Bad Girl”. This was also her third film teaming together with director Sergio Martino, in a career that would see her working with the director eleven times.

  • This film marked the last time Sergio Martino would use Bruno Nicolai for the music to his films. Up until this point, Nicolai had done five out of his seven directorial titles.

  • Second teaming of director Sergio Martino with cinematographer Giancarlo Ferrando, the two would go on to work together on a staggering total of 36 projects!


  • The Conclusion
    I’ve went through a lot of pontificating on the deeper moments of the film and I’ve talked about the character delivery throughout the story – but I do want people to know that on its base level this is a movie that can be enjoyed simply in a visceral experience. There’s a slight bit of violence (though nothing too gory or violent) and the plot is really excellent in its delivery. However, it isn’t perfect and I won’t try to fool anyone into thinking it is. The final twists, as much as I love them for being so unconventional, are not set-up particularly well throughout the majority of the movie. Had the film dropped some red herrings throughout that we as an audience could have went back upon rewatch and picked up on – it would have made the film so much more rewarding. As it is, it can be slightly jarring how soon it all comes about. However, don’t let that dissuade you, this is a solid four out of five star Giallo classic and should be seen by all fans of genre film!



    Amazonia: The Catherine Miles Story Review

    Posted by Josh Samford On January - 26 - 2010
    Cannibal Holocaust 2! Amazonia: The Catherine Miles Story! Pick your poison for a title, but they’re the same flick. A ‘cannibal‘ movie that continues more along the lines of Jungle Holocaust or The Man From Deep River, since there’s really not much actual cannibal action going on. However, that doesn’t mean its bad or all that tame! A fairly fun little cannibal flick that keeps all the gritty stuff you expect from the genre while also delivering a story! Can’t ask for much more than that!

    The Plot: Catherine Miles is a young English girl (who speaks with an American accent) who now finds herself on trial for a double homicide in the amazon. She had come to the Amazon in order to vacation with her mother and father. They rent a large boat in order to make it to another part of the jungle where they will be staying, but they are cut off by a tribe of natives. These natives aren’t the friendly kind who want to share either, these are the kind who kill without thinking. They slaughter Catherine’s parents and poison her with a dart that makes her immobile. She is then carried back to their village and sold at an auction where she then becomes slave to the highest bidder. The young warrior who actually killed Catherine’s parents offers to trade all of his weapons as well as his own freedom in order to own Catherine, but he is denied and another owner is chosen. This other owner tries to force himself on Catherine, who resists but is then beaten into submission. When the young warrior sees this, he challenges her owner to a battle and the two fight to the death. This young warrior wins and finally owns Catherine, but she refuses to give herself to him because of what he did to her parents. What happened to put young Catherine Miles on trial and what will become of her?



    CONTINUE READING THE REVIEW HERE

    Amazonia: The Catherine Miles Story

    Posted by Josh Samford On January - 26 - 2010
    The Plot: Catherine Miles is a young English girl (who speaks with an American accent) who now finds herself on trial for a double homicide in the amazon. She had come to the Amazon in order to vacation with her mother and father. They rent a large boat in order to make it to another part of the jungle where they will be staying, but they are cut off by a tribe of natives. These natives aren’t the friendly kind who want to share either, these are the kind who kill without thinking. They slaughter Catherine’s parents and poison her with a dart that makes her immobile. She is then carried back to their village and sold at an auction where she then becomes slave to the highest bidder. The young warrior who actually killed Catherine’s parents offers to trade all of his weapons as well as his own freedom in order to own Catherine, but he is denied and another owner is chosen. This other owner tries to force himself on Catherine, who resists but is then beaten into submission. When the young warrior sees this, he challenges her owner to a battle and the two fight to the death. This young warrior wins and finally owns Catherine, but she refuses to give herself to him because of what he did to her parents. What happened to put young Catherine Miles on trial and what will become of her?




    The Review
    Although I consider myself to be a cannibal movie aficionado at this point, having seen almost everything the genre has to offer – I put off this unofficial sequel to Rugerro Deodatto’s classic Cannibal Holocaust for many years. That is no doubt due to a few bad reviews I read for it which accused it of being a cannibal movie in name only. So, for some reason I assumed this picture was just going to be a jungle survivor type of movie. Maybe the equivalent to a weak Jungle Holocaust. Well, after finally taking the plunge I’m happy to report that this sequel/ripoff actually delivers in the cannibal conventions. Far more than I could have hoped for. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s all that good. It simply means it deserves its place amongst other cannibal flicks such as Cannibal Ferox, Cannibal Terror and Eaten Alive. The definition of ”Good” in terms of Italian cannibal flicks is about as subjective a thing as you can possibly get though. Truthfully, I don’t know of any other Italian cannibal film I could recommend as a piece of quality filmmaking that isn’t named Cannibal Holocaust. They all appeal to the lowest common denominator in terms of their exploitation and some are so unbearable with the amount of violence and animal cruelty, that it’s kind of mind blowing that they were ever so popular with a mainstream audience. Apparently they were, otherwise we wouldn’t have twenty or so of them to slog through. When you go into a movie of this type, there are only a few things that you can hope for to make the viewing experience worthwhile. Such as a story that doesn’t steal tremendously from other films in the genre. Some sets that actually look like they are on location. A few interesting conventions, such as neat cinematography or a decent score. Brutal violence that doesn’t look too cheap. You’re picking at straws, but these are the things that actually make the majority of this subgenre worthwhile. Catherine Miles… is a cannibal picture that actually delivers on a few of these promises and marks one of the better outings in the genre that I’ve discovered in a while.

    Although it isn’t the bloodiest or goriest Cannibal flick I have had the chance to witness, there’s some fairly surprising gore in the early goings of Amazonia. The initial slaughter sequence is pretty brutal and the inevitable animal stock footage is enough to send any card carrying PETA member running for the exit. Although at one time I too had a great deal of resentment for animal death scenes in these movies, at this point I actually see it as a true staple of the genre. If there’s no stock footage of animals being eaten or killed, it really doesn’t pack that Italian cannibal film kind of vibe. Amazonia, for those who care, at least doesn’t feature humans slaughtering any animal prey. It’s all your basic stock footage kind of thing you might find on the Discovery Channel, so if you can handle that then I don’t think Amazonia is going to damage your psyche in too extreme of a manner. If you can get past the animal violence, Amazonia actually manages to pack a relatively interesting little story into it. It’s fairly clever the way it is written and turns out to be one of the more respectful entries in the genre. Respectful in that it’s competently made, has an interesting story structure and isn’t all murder, mayhem and sheer stupidity. Granted the story is a bit conventional and predictable at times, but believe it or not that’s actually better than what you can say for the majority of this subgenre. Amazonia is also one of the few cannibal flicks that apparently had a large enough budget that it could be shot on location instead of just a set, so the backdrops here actually look like the jungle which adds so much to the movie.

    I’m sure the portrayal of the natives are insensitive and offensive to someone out there, after all the tribe is shown to be in amazement at Catherine for showing them how to make a splint. I’m sure in the many years that they’ve been alone in the jungle they might have figured as much for curing their broken bones – but what do I know of native tribes? Still, there’s at least some respect shown to these characters. They don’t ALL speak broken English, with some actual tribal speak thrown around throughout the duration of the movie. They also aren’t really shown to be complete butchers as at first it seems like they would be. It’s an interesting turn that some of the acts which come off as torturous at first are explained as simply rituals within their culture and thus not played up as sadistic. There’s even a rape scene that is interrupted due to our lead character being a virgin and that in their culture it’s taboo to take the virginity of a girl. Now, I won’t guarantee that everyone will feel the same but I thought the way the natives were shown was a fresh concept. Certainly for this genre and the culture that these movies were made in. At the end of the day though, I concede, this is just an exploitation movie. However, it isn’t entertaining to watch just for the gore and insanity.

    The Conclusion
    If you’re wondering about that secondary title you may have seen tossed around, Cannibal Holocaust II, it’s just a marketing ploy. The two movies really couldn’t be more different, but I will say that this movie certainly seems inspired by Deodato’s work. The way in which that film used the “found footage” to tell its story is very similar to this one in how it chooses to use Catherine Miles’ court testimony as a catalyst for the story. Believe it or not, the court scenes really aren’t pulled off that bad either. They’re a little shaky at first, due to so much dialogue taking place off screen, but I think they actually make the sequence of events stronger – unlike in Cannibal Holocaust where you’re always waiting for the New York scenes to just finish up. All told, Amazonia isn’t really anything mind blowing. It’s a decently made Cannibal flick, which is actually a surprise for the genre, but it probably won’t impress newcomers. I have to give it a three out of five. It’s solid and somewhat inspired, but still fairly ordinary in comparison to the grand-father of these movies: Cannibal Holocaust.



    The Ultimate Ninja Review

    Posted by Josh Samford On January - 21 - 2010
    Oh boy, oh boy! Godfrey Ho makes his long awaited debut here at VariedCelluloid… and you may want to use a clothepin on your nose because yeesh does he deliver a stinker. This marks my first ‘martial arts’ movie since Kung Fu Christmas… and I couldn’t have picked a worse one. Go ahead and read on for yourself, but be prepared to have your mind blown by the sheer awfulness of Gofrey Ho’s The Ultimate Ninja

    The Plot: You’re going to have to bear with me on this one. For reasons that I’ll get into with the review, the actual “plot” in The Ultimate Ninja isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world to wrap your head around. With that said, it goes something like this – we begin with a ninja practicing his martial arts before being ambushed outside of a shrine. The Red Ninja Master dies, but not before passing along the Golden Ninja Warrior shrine. A golden object that is supposed to grant the ultimate ninja powers to whoever possesses it. On the opposite side of the spectrum of the Red Ninjas, we have the Black Ninjas who’s leader desperately wants to get his hands on this Golden Ninja Warrior and will stop at nothing to attain it. So Red Ninja sets out on his journey for revenge and lures the Black Ninjas out into the open to fight him. At the same time, we follow the happenings of a small restaurant in the middle of a small village that is ruled by a corrupt politician named Roger. Roger has tormented the townspeople by enacting his own brand of law & order, using a group of martial art students to beat anyone who disobeys. This group is being instructed by an older gentleman who unfortunately is forced into the situation as it’s the only way he can make money to support his family. Unknown to all however, on the outskirts of town a young man who’s family was slaughtered by Roger and his goons has trained his body into an instrument of destruction. He is out for revenge, and thus Roger’s time is drawing to a close.



    CONTINUE READING THE REVIEW HERE

    Ultimate Ninja, The

    Posted by Josh Samford On January - 21 - 2010
    The Plot: You’re going to have to bear with me on this one. For reasons that I’ll get into with the review, the actual “plot” in The Ultimate Ninja isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world to wrap your head around. With that said, it goes something like this – we begin with a ninja practicing his martial arts before being ambushed outside of a shrine. The Red Ninja Master dies, but not before passing along the Golden Ninja Warrior shrine. A golden object that is supposed to grant the ultimate ninja powers to whoever possesses it. On the opposite side of the spectrum of the Red Ninjas, we have the Black Ninjas who’s leader desperately wants to get his hands on this Golden Ninja Warrior and will stop at nothing to attain it. So Red Ninja sets out on his journey for revenge and lures the Black Ninjas out into the open to fight him. At the same time, we follow the happenings of a small restaurant in the middle of a small village that is ruled by a corrupt politician named Roger. Roger has tormented the townspeople by enacting his own brand of law & order, using a group of martial art students to beat anyone who disobeys. This group is being instructed by an older gentleman who unfortunately is forced into the situation as it’s the only way he can make money to support his family. Unknown to all however, on the outskirts of town a young man who’s family was slaughtered by Roger and his goons has trained his body into an instrument of destruction. He is out for revenge, and thus Roger’s time is drawing to a close.


    The Review
    Who knew I would cover a martial arts movies so soon after the massive bender that was A Very Kung Fu Christmas, which usually burns me out on this sort of thing. However, about halfway through The Ultimate Ninja I knew I would have to put a few words down. My first ever Godfrey Ho movie, it seems to really resonate with everything I have heard about the filmmaker up until this point. Godfrey Ho could be seen as the Ed Wood of Hong Kong, a shameless filmmaker who made cheap and terribly inept movies with the hope of turning over a profit. Whereas with Ed Wood you get the idea that he really was just a simple guy trying his best to make a scary movie, Godfrey Ho lacks the heart of naivete that makes Ed Wood such a likable character. Ho just wants to make a cheap buck and whatever it takes to do that he seems okay with it. The Ultimate Ninja is a shining example that cutting two movies together just isn’t the most intelligent way to make a movie and at the end of the day. I mean, that point obviously doesn’t need to be made – but someone should have clued ol’ Godfrey in on that matter. When you work like this, no matter what you’re going to have a festering turd that almost no one would want to see. No one but a masochist like myself.

    Godfrey Ho made his name amongst film geeks by his less than savory habit of recycling old and obscure footage within his movies. By taking older forgotten martial art movies from Taiwan, mainland China or wherever and then going out and shooting a few hours worth of footage with several Caucasian actors imported from all over – he was able to make filmmaking into a true assembly line. You see, with an infinite number of independent martial art movies and several hours worth of new footage with these White Ninjas – he would try and hack, slash and cut these movies together. Taking a few hours worth of footage and making it into ten or twelve different “Ninja” movies. The number of movies he could make with all of this footage was infinite. Although I doubt you could call it “loved”, I do suppose The Ultimate Ninja is one of the more known films of his. After sitting through it, if this is one of his better accomplishments then god help me if I dare try my hand at any more of his work. Expecting an over the top Ninja-sploitation movie, I can’t tell you how disappointed I was to find that The Ultimate Ninja turned out to be so dreadfully dull.

    It might seem impossible to label a movie boring when there’s a fight scene starting or ending ever ten minutes – but believe me, when context and story are thrown out the window as they are in this movie; you can’t help but wonder just what the point is after a while. It is just so frustrating when watching, since I actually wanted to be engaged with the movie. I wanted Godfrey Ho to be some kooky filmmaker that I felt I could turn to for some easy entertainment, but Ultimate Ninja doesn’t really promise a whole lot. What hampers it and keeps you from ever actually becoming involved in the movie at all is that it is just unintelligible. No matter how hard I tried, there’s just no wrapping your head around this movie. It’s as if you’re watching a Kung Fu flick while high. Characters walk into the movie and disappear for nearly the entire portion of the movie. They fight and choose teams without ever actually having any kind of motivation explained. Plot developments come, go and if you’re lucky they might actually pop up again during the final minutes of the movie. While this may sound silly and dumb enough to be fun, trust me on this one, it’s just frustrating.

    The entire addition of Ninjas within the movie feels as tacked on and uninspired as you may very well imagine. I halfheartedly expected Ho to somehow tie these two lines of thought together: the black and red ninja battling each other over a golden doll and the far more epic story detailing the forces of good teaming up to take down Roger (what a villain name!). However, these stories never tie into one another. It’s as if you’re watching two separate movies that are cut together every few minutes. On their own, I think either thread of story could have made a decent movie. The ninja plot, Ho’s contributions, are fun in all of the right ways I had expected. Ninjas are shown to be supernatural beings who can teleport, jump over buildings and probably eat trains if they wanted to. This stuff could have been really great in full length! It’s just unfortunate that we get this hacked to bits story that ultimately doesn’t even make sense. There’s a full subplot about the Black Ninja’s brother who is supposed to be coming to town that is actually NEVER resolved during the entire course of the movie. That can’t even technically be a spoiler, since there’s NOTHING to spoil! Now, the restaurant story dealing with Roger – this too possibly could be a decent little kung fu flick without Ho hacking it to pieces. The choreography, in both movies, isn’t really quality stuff. It’s pretty ugly sometimes, but it doesn’t look phony looking or slow. The story, if told in some way that actually makes sense, actually seems pretty interesting as well. Unfortunately, Ho went power mad and ultimately we’re given this mutant love child that denigrates all of the work completely.

    The Conclusion
    If you’re like me, no matter how much I warn – you’ll still explore Godfrey Ho’s filmography. Heck, I won’t lie, at some point I too will probably dig around for something better; but it won’t be for a while. The Ultimate Ninja just isn’t the movie to sell the filmmaker, I’ll say that. I give it a one out of five, because there is actually some promise within both streams of narrative. They don’t go anywhere, but it keeps the movie just barely watchable. Stuart Smith also goes way over the top, but he’s not able to add any brownie points for the movie like he was able to with Bloodfight. I wouldn’t really recommend this one, even for a netflix rental. However, if you just have to, keep in mind that you’ve been warned.



    NAVIGATION

    VIDEO

    TAGS

    Sponsors

    About Me

    Varied Celluloid is a film website intent on delivering views on movies from all genres. Started in 2003, the website has been steadfast in its goal and features a database of over 500 lengthy reviews. If you would like to contact us about writing for the website or sending screeners, please visit the about page located here.

    Twitter

      Photos