One would think that a meta movie about horror director Lucio Fulci being overwhelmed by the gruesome images he films and then hallucinating about becoming a murderer himself would be a surefire hit. Unfortunately, this one just drags on and gets repetitive after about the second death. It does have quite a bit of the usual fake close-up gore, but that’s about it.
The Big Gundown is a top-tier spaghetti western that has a similar plot structure to Tuco’s story in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Lee Van Cleef is hunting down a charismatic and wily Mexican outlaw only to come to question his own brutal ways. The story may be simple, but the characters are enjoyable and the pacing is very good. If you are keeping record, this is the Italian western that features a gun vs. knife showdown.
There was so much mud in this movie it made me uncomfortable. C’mon guys, wipe you feet before you saunter into the saloon dragging your coffin. Despite the exaggerated violence, this Italian western doesn’t quite rise to the heights of a Dollars movie (really, what can?). The red-hooded villains are a nice touch and, of course, the machine gun too, but there is something off about the acting and plotting that kept it from being great instead of good.
In Baba Yaga a young photographer gets mesmerized by the magic of an older witch. She is gradually lured into Baba Yaga’s world through a killer camera and an S & M themed American Girl doll. This doesn’t really play as a horror movie. With its stylized look and tone, this feels more like an art house movie… sorry, film. There’s enough story here to stay engaged but it never really makes a solid statement or, at the very least, provides any sort of scares. I think it is best appreciated as an exercise in mild cinematic style (and nudity).
Sergio Leone’s debut was the only film of his that I hadn’t yet seen. It’s a sword and sandals epic about a group of rebels hoping to overthrow the king of Rhodes but then the Phoenicians get involved and all Hades breaks loose. Not much of Leone’s trademark style is on display here. You start to get a sense of his love for wide vistas but that’s about it. I do have to say that, compared to other Italian sword and sandal pictures, this one has relatively good pacing and story telling. As much as I love the style of Bava’s Hercules movies, they could be pretty tedious.
A 70s gangster film from Italy starring Christopher Mitchum, son of Robert Mitchum. He looks like a spindly and weak version of his dad and has no acting chops whatsoever. The plot is your basic revenge story and the only twist here are a few moments of excessive, Fulci-level gore. A better lead actor would have elevated this to a classic, but Mitchum the younger sucks.
I recently had a late-night eBay shopping spree in which I bought blu-ray versions of several Leone Westerns. This has lead to me listening to commentary tracks in which Yojimbo’s status as source material for Fistful of Dollars gets mentioned over and over. I think Fistful is a better, tighter movie but this holds up very well too. For such a legendary action movie, there is comparatively little action. The sword fights are little bit of an afterthought and we never get to see that giant guy wield his hammer!
The movie opens with a young photographer witnessing and photographing a mob-style killing. Then, in one of the stupidest moves I have ever seen an on-screen character make, he tries to blackmail the mob boss in-person. The rest of the movie has a gloved killer offing everyone who comes in contact with the photos until he finally reaches our hero. If one can overlook that head-scratchingly bad choice at the start of the film, this is a mildly entertaining crime thriller with a few memorable characters.
Umberto Lenzi directs this post-Baker giallo about a group of tourists in Barcelona who are killed off one-by-one by an eyeball pilfering maniac. There are so many red herrings that it becomes obvious that the least suspected character is probably the real killer. Also, as the body count increases the sightseeing continues as though nothing is happening. It’s all very silly and quite derivative of other gialli (it literally steals the gimmick from Torso) but at least it sorta-kinda makes sense. Excellent Nicolai score and a few visually interesting set pieces like the funhouse killing keep this one watchable until the end.
This is an epic Indian film from the director of RRR. The first part is better than the second but bear in my mind that after six hours it all starts to meld together. I think this is mostly an excuse to film Lord of the Rings massive battle scenes with increasingly ridiculous battle tactics. In reality, the second movie (which is mostly telling the backstory of the hero’s father) could have been told as a ten minute flashback.