Friday, 27 July 2012

Priests, masks, strange little girls...

Priests, masks, strange little girls, yellow raincoats, big knives and guys with creepy attitudes towards women, what does that say to you?

Well, I have finally watched Alice, Sweet Alice aka Communion (1976), and I think this is a great example of an American giallo.

I'm not sure why I feel like I've watched it before, unless it's because the feeling I get from it is similar to what I got from watching Chabrol's Blood Relatives. I was sad to see that its director, a Hitchcock hommage-iste (hmmm I think I just made that word up) Alfred Sole didn't direct much else, but it's not a surprise that he did go on to be a production designer such is his eye for detail and beautifully framed scenes, and surprisingly for ladies costume; when I started watching this movie I was bit perplexed as to why the ladies were wearing such stylish suits, then a glimpse of a 1961 calendar in a detectives office answered my question, but I think it's quite unusual to find such authentic looking costumes in what is really a 70's horror movie.

It is queasily camp and hilariously stylised in parts (the scene with the large landlord leerily tried to kiss sweet Alice while a scratchy record of a strange and strangled opera plays on a Victrola seems to recall similar scenes from Charlie Chaplin's Mutual films where Eric Campbell terrorises a young female.

The effect of using the diminutive 19 year old actress Paula E. Sheppard (Liquid Sky) as the supposedly 12 year old Alice swings from disturbing to ridiculous and back again, her sullen wide eyes and pale face will not easily be forgotten. Don't look now (hint hint) - but I will definitely be placing this on my Giallo shelf.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

"Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll"

Just been watching this much reviewed Giallo. I'll add some notes later, but suffice to say that after a slow start this did live up to its genre. Funnily, a film whose title actually makes sense (in a way). There's a lot that reminded me of Lenzi's 'Eyeball", although that was made two years later in 75. I'd recommend it for containing the usual themes (and a bean faced Paul Naschy), it's not exactly a thriller and when you've seen a load of these films it's not going to be a headache working out who dunnit but it's a bit of fun getting there.
I also noticed that there were a lot of bared bosoms in the first half, but they disappeared when the murders started happening.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Discovering Paolo Cavara

"Whose watching you Babes?" Still from "The Black belly of the Tarantula".

I've waited a while to see "Black Belly of the Tarantula", mainly because, until I started doing the t-shirts, I'd been aware that the amount of Giallo films around was finite and subsequently was willing to pace myself after my initial devouring of everything that I could get my hands on. In the last few years there has been an explosion of re-releases and also the availability of old video on the internet, and I've found myself having to get a move on if I'm to make any comment. I've had my favourites for a while and they still come out on top with the viewing I've done recently. So, it's been lovely to see the aforementioned film and another Cavara Giallo "Plot of Fear", and I hope I can get it together enough to comment more on these soon. Suffice to say, I've discovered two films which in their meandery, dreamy, gorgeousness which almost stand up to the Sergio Martino/Ernesto Gastaldi Gialli in their freshness, humour and eye for detail which has given me hope for Giallo viewing to come. I'd actually been expecting something a lot sleazier like "Strip Nude for your Killer", and maybe to a non Giallo viewer that would be the case, but the sumptuousness of the imagery, slickness of execution and general lack of prurience means they are a slice above some of the more mundane Gialli I've seen. Oh yes, and there are one or two moments of genuine suspense, which I find missing from all but the best Gialli - maybe this is due to watching so many... but then, if I picked up on it, is that more to do with a director who knows what he is doing.

A Coat to die for and another good reason to watch Giallo films! Still from "Plot of Fear"

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Carolyn De Fonseca

Well I just got all excited after a quick Google around. I found this Wiki entry:

"Carolyn De Fonseca is an American actress and voice dubbing artist based in Rome.....'
And behold, there is the full list of her films. Excellente! I thought, and look how many others I missed, although I thought this may be due to me watching in the original Italian. What a fantastic resume.
But then I was very disappointed at not seeing "Torso" or "Footprints" there. Am I wrong? Well I've just been through the DVDs and it sounds like the same voice.

Aha! I've just had to come back and add this find.Tim Lucas (my hero and one of the reasons I got into Giallo in the first place) did a blog entry about her where he mentions that she worked on approximately 1200 dubbing projects with her husband, and I've realised that the two roles I mentioned might have been too small to have been featured on that list. Sadly he also says that she died a few months ago. I wish I'd done a search on this amazingly prolific and interesting actress earlier.

A Ponder on Dubbing

Although I will watch Gialli in the original Italian dubbing if I have the choice, I've seen enough dubbed into English that there's one voice that sticks out for me. Having lost count of the times I've seen Suspiria I find the dubbing actress's voice for Olga is also used in "Torso" and last night, after seeing "Le Orme" again I recognised her as the voice for Alice's friend at the beginning of the film. I can't imagine it would be possible to credit the names of all the dubbing actors but I would be so interested in finding out who this person is, I'm sure there are many other voices I've heard repeatedly, but her voice is quite distinctive. I should start a search or perhaps someone reading this already knows...

"Le Orme"


Monday, 7 June 2010

"Lizard" at Bradford: 2

It was great to see this new release by Optimum of "Lizard" on the big-ish screen at Bradford the other night, which I've checked and is officially released on DVD this very day, excellento!

Apparently there have been some missing sequences restored which may or may not be important , depending on if you have seen the film already as they made add more to the consistency of the action, I couldn't really tell at this point because I'd seen it 4 times already and knew the story. Having looked through my Shriek Show DVD again I do think the film has been cleaned up somewhat. Seeing it on the big screen was much more involving though, that's the wonder of cinema, no distractions from the screen (ok, yes there can, but that's another story). Also my choice of seating (second row from the front - I love getting close) meant the effects of the hand held camera and close-ups were even more disorientating. Call me weird, but I just loved those extreme close-ups of telephones... if I'm a telephony-phile I blame it all on Mario Bava.

The Shriek Show DVDs include the release of 'Lizard' by American International also known as "Schizoid" and the original Italian. "Shizoid" is wide screen, but a lot of the skin and gore has been edited out and the dream murder sequence has been put through a wave effect - not quite sure why, unless it's to cover up the aforementioned edits (notably the close-ups of stabbing Juliet Durer's naked body which means gore AND breasts); the dog scene is missing completely, making Carol Hammond's fainting and the doctor's statement of "I do assure you that whoever left that door open will be punished" meaningless. Also scenes like when the family are silently eating around the table, before the phone call from Carol's aunt telling her about the murder weapon are missing, but I realise now this will have been to make the film shorter for US release. I think this editing is why the Giallo reviews I used to read some years ago, talk about them not making sense at all. Agreeably, a lot of Giallo may seem incomprehensible and disorientating, and Michael J. Koven's book covers the way Italian popular films were specifically compiled for a cinema audience that might have other things on their minds besides the film, but I think that the time spent on trying to release the original edits and the fact that more people are tuned into the aesthetic and the constructs of the genre mean the films do mostly make sense (ok...ish).
The Italian release on the disc (which I thought was totally uncut) is sadly in pan and scan.

But now the Optimum version is widescreen and with all the edits restored to the full length version. We saw it dubbed, which actually worked not too badly (apart from one of the missing sequences which came hurtling back in in Italian with subtitles).

Funnily the dog scene was much longer than I remembered it, I thought that more had been added and it appeared more gratuitous, (I found myself going "Yeah yeah Lucio" at the repeated shots of pumping and spurting internal organs), but having just gone back to the Disc I can see it's exactly the same. Memory huh!?

BTW, this time round I thought this is a fab idea for a duvet cover.

Little things I noticed, George Rigaud (Carol's psychiatrist) a stalwart of some great Giallo, was speaking in English, hitherto I'd thought the dubbing was working rather well. I checked on IMDB and he was born in Argentina, but made a helluva lot of Italian movies. I guess that as the cast was international and the film was made in the UK he chose to speak in English.

The policeman responsible for bringing in the confessed killer was VERY familiar. From an IMDB check, I can't work out if it was Luigi Antonio Guerra who was also in Le Orme as well as some others I've seen. Darn it, I was convinced it was the murderer from The 5th Cord. Will have to check out both again, just to see if it is he and/or how wrong I was.

Lizard is one of the reasons I have a hard time seeing Anita Strindberg as cowed victim in "Your Vice..." and "Scorpion's Tail", not her fault at all, though perhaps her face, for me, is too angular and her expression too knowing (intelligent?) to be as compelling a victim as Edwige. Perhaps for these reasons, her appearance in the dream sequences is absolutely iconic.

Comparing Strindbergs (Above "Lizard", below "Your Vice").

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Lizard at Bradford: 1

Saw this with friend Bex last night at the Bradford Fantastic Film Festival.
I've seen it about 4 times already, having the Shriek Show DVDs in Italian and US cut version, this new release is by Optimum, I'll follow up with some notes later, but it were grand to see this on the big screen.