Film: It’s funny how no matter how well versed you think you are in a genre, sometimes a film may just slip through your fingers.
Honestly, before the release of this soundtrack on vinyl I had never heard of this film, and I like to think of myself as a fan of writer/ director Luigi Cozzi as well, consider my affection for Contamination, The Black Cat, Starcrash and the documentary Dario Argento: Master of Horror.
(On a side note: it is a mission of mine to one day visit his horror store in Rome, Profundo Rosso)
Kate (Jasmine Maimone) is used to writer hit songs, but has hit a dry spell that she can’t seem to come out of, and it’s suggested to her that perhaps she find someone to write her a new hit song.
Her drummer, Daniel (Pascal Persiano) makes a deal with a Mr. Pickett (Donald Pleasance, but dubbed by someone else which makes for a decidedly unsettling performance) to get a piece of unpublished music by Nicolo Paganini, the 19th century violinist who was said to have made a deal with the devil!
They decide to make an elaborate music clip in an old house owned by Sylvia Hackett (Daria Niccolodi), directed by a horror movie director, Mark Singer (Pietro Genuardi). The band are excited by the prospect of doing a Michael Jackson/ Thriller-styled clip, but very quickly things go awry.
Daniel and Rita (Luanda Ravegnini) go missing and bizarre supernatural things start happening, but is it some kind of curse from the Paganini music, or is the old house somehow involved, and what does this all have to do with the murder that is committed by a young girl upon her mother that we witnessed in the prologue?
This whole thing looks like a weird, 90 minute film clip for a song like Guns ‘n’ Roses November Rain, and being totally honest, it’s so boring it took me several goes to get through it. If it wasn’t for the fact that I knew Pleasance and Niccolodi appeared again towards the end, I probably would not have finished it at all, and this review wouldn’t exist.
I do normally like Cozzi’s film no matter how low the budget is, but this is just awful. The only reason to own this disc is for the excellent commentary by Troy Howarth.
Extras: There’s some very interesting extras on this disc:
Commentary by Troy Hogarth, the writer of three volumes of So Deadly, So Perverse, a book series about the history of giallo films, so it makes him the perfect person to do a commentary about this film, and it’s a stunningly informative piece.
Bloody Violin: Luigi Cozzi on Paganini Horror sees the writer/ director reminisce about the origins of the film, and the journey to completing the production. He also discusses where his film sits in the history of gialli and Italian cinema.
Interview with Pietro Genuardi is a look back with the actor, over his career and his performance as Mark Singer in this film. Some interesting anecdotes about making films in the late 80s in Italy.
There is also a trailer for the film.
WISIA: Nope. I regret watching it once.
This movie was reviewed using the 88 Films Bluray release.
Film: Sometimes it only takes a name to pique ones interest in something. If one can produce something, and give it a name either provocative or evocative, you can get a winner. The history of cinema, especially exploitation and independent horror cinema is rife with alternative titles to make a film sound better than perhaps it really is, or even just to find the correct audience. This film was titled Kyonyû doragon: Onsen zonbi vs sutorippâ 5 (my guess is the last 3 words are ‘zombie vs stripper’) in its native Japan, and the suggested title in English was The Big Tits Dragon. Somewhere along the line, though, an alternative title was offered, and this title, ladies and gentlemen, is one I could not pass: Big Tits Zombie.
The only way it could have been more appealing to your reviewer was if they squeezed the word ‘beer’ or ‘steak’ into the title. This film is written and directed by Takao Nakano, who gave us 2004’s Sexual Parasite: Killer Pussy, and it is based loosely on the manga Kyonyû doragon, by Rei Mikamoto.
Big Tits Zombie is the tale of five strippers, Lena Jodo (Sola Aoi), Ginko Hoshikage (Risa Kasumi), Maria Kuroi (Mari Sakurai), Darna (Io Aikawa) and Nene Hanasaki (Tamayo), who are working a crappy strip club in a rundown town, and who never seem to be able to get a break. None of them really get on too well, and one day whilst fighting (topless and in 3D) amongst themselves, they discover that their dressing room behind the club they perform in has a secret door.
The go through the door and discover a room full of occult antiquities, that are possibly worth a fortune. Unfortunately what they don’t realise is that their presence has brought the dead hidden down a well in the basement back to life. Dead that are keen to eat the living!!!
When Darna goes back into the room to steal a box of money she found there, she is the first to be consumed, and the other four must now defend themselves against the hordes of the undead… that is until one of them betrays the rest, and becomes one who can control the living dead, and do her dark bidding!!!
The special effects are of a pretty low standard, even by these low budget Asian horror standards. Some of the zombies make up is nothing but rubber masks, but the variety of zombies presented in this film is fantastic. Basically, any Asian stereotype you can think of is represented by an undead version: ninja, geisha, schoolgirl, you name it. Unfortunately, at times the CGI is deplorable. Blood sprays fly out of bodies, but then just dissipate into thin air, and occasionally body cut and slashes don’t appear at all. The amusing this is the cruddy zombies and poor CGI aren’t the worst special effects: there is a tentacle zombie thing whose strings are SO obvious it should have been called Lady Penelope… what makes it even worse is the scene they can be seen in is a 3D scene, and even the STRINGS are given the 3D treatment!!
OK, I admit that this film is made for the nudity and the gore, but for goodness sake, the dancing choreography was of a level that would make a pre-school ballet school bawl in embarrassment. I don’t want to be too critical of it though, as whether deliberately or accidentally bad, the dancing was a comedy highlight.
Keep a keen eye on some of the sets being covered in plastic so that any fake, non-cgi blood or goop, and try not to notice that the credits are reversed, that is it suggests it is the character that plays the actor, not the other way around. Also, the director seems to have a ‘thing’ for Quentin Tarantino judging by the various visual cues from a selection of his films.
Those into not-so-traditional Japanese business fetishism will be entertained. This film has hot girls fighting, panty shots, bra shots, lingering booby blood spray and the classic ‘threatening tentacles’ of many a hentai horror tale.
So even through all the criticism I have offered upon this film, I couldn’t help but like it. Somewhere between the illogical storyline, the terrible special effects and the strippers pulling their boobs out, I found that I was being more entertained than I had been in ages
Big Tits Zombie is a badly acted, terribly choreographed, non-sensical film with crap special effects, hot Japanese chicks and substandard 3D effects. To sum up; it’s a winner. This film knows exactly what it is and revels in it. Fans of things like The Machine Girl and Tokyo Gore Police need to rush out and buy it now… but be warned: don’t show it to people who claim to be ‘film fans’ because they just ain’t gonna get its bloody, low budget charms! I don’t know what the Japanese word for Troma is, but I imagine the director of this film does!!
Extras: The first thing that has to be pointed out is that this film is presented in both 3D and 2D. The 3D is probably something you will watch only once, but I imagine you will return the zaniness of the 2D time and time again. Make sure you DO watch them both though, as they do contain different footage in the opening credits. I must also point out the 3D feature isn’t completely in 3D, but instead has an onscreen warning when to put your glasses on, sometimes even a character puts his glasses on as well.
There is a pretty funny Making of on this disc. It may not completely cover the ins and outs of the film making process, but it introduces the 6 main actors, chats with the writer director Takao Nakano and shows some of the behind the scenes footage. It is by NO means a complete ‘special edition’ styled making of, but it is pretty entertaining.
Also presented on this disc is the trailer for Big Tits Zombie, Raging Phoenix, Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl, Love Exposure and Tokyo Zombie.
WISIA: It’s pretty hard to resist rewatching a film called ‘Big Tits Zombie’.
Cold Eyes of Fear aka Gli Occhi Freddi Della Paura (1971)
Film: Sometimes, if you have an extensive movie collection, a movie may just seem to appear like some kind of Pokémon. Recently, I’ve been cleaning up my various collections of movies, records, comics, magazines etc and in the course of that have discovered a whole pile of movies that I had either forgotten I owned, or couldn’t remember how they became a part of my collection.
This film, Cold Eyes of Fear, is directed by Enzo G. Castellari, the man who gave us films like the original version of The Inglorious Bastards, and one of my favourite VHS to hire as a kid, 1990: The Bronx Warriors. This film was written by Castellari, along with Leo Anchóriz, and Tito Carpi.
Cold Eyes of Fear tells of solicitor Peter Bedell (Gianni Garko) who leans quite heavily into the sleazier parts of town, much to his uncle’s (Fernando Rey), who is a judge, despair. On the night we start our tale, Peter meets a young woman, Anna (Giovanna Ralli) at a Grand Guignol club and takes her home.
Unfortunately for the couple, when they get back to Peter’s house, they find themselves held prisoner by Quill (Julián Mateos), a crook who has invaded their house in a hope to score some money from a safe he has been assured is in the house by an accomplice.
There is some back and forth going on until the accomplice, Arthur Welt (Frank Wolff) turns up and all of the sudden the game gets more involved as we find that perhaps Welt’s motivation is greater than money…
I was quite surprised by this film. The opening scene is a classic bait-and-switch me is the sauciest the film gets. The main part of the film, the home invasion, is overlong, but is just intriguing enough that it kept me watching.
Interestingly it is an extraordinarily small script with minimal that without some of the fluff (like the aforementioned opening scene) I could almost believe that this is a stage play adapted to the screen, like something like The Bad Seed was. Thankfully, Castellari keeps the whole thing interesting with some claustrophobic filming and some over the top performances that somehow make the spaces even smaller.
One this that stood out for me, and this is going to seem strange, but Garko’s hair was almost a character unto itself. The more he was roughed up, the more bizarre the mop on top of his became. It’s quite a special thing.
The main criticism of the film is it just goes on for FAR to long. It honestly could have been a really tight story told in 45 minutes, but cinema cannot be that short. It does entertain for the most part though.
Extras: There is trailers for five Jean Rollin films on this disc, for Fascination, Lips of Blood, The Iron Rose, The Nude Vampire and The Shiver of the Vampire.
WISIA: I can see myself watching this again, but not for a while.
Film: You gotta love Something Weird Video! They don’t whitewash their lesser releases…they REVELL in them. These three films, The Zodiac Killer, The Sex Killer and Zero in and Scream, although not all containing ‘sharpshooter’ murderers, are classic examples of exploitation films, but somehow they are still kitschy fun and entertaining, if not just for the nudity, then at least for the acting, or the inappropriate soundtracks or just because they are dumb.
The Zodiac Killer
Produced and directed by Tom Hansen (who played Mongoose in The Hellcats), The Zodiac Killer is the tale of a motiveless killer who is terrorising San Francisco, ridiculing the police with letters and phone calls, but who is he…? This film is apparently based on the facts in the case of the ACTUAL Zodiac Killer, and features an introduction from a reporter who was ‘actually threatened by the Zodiac Killer’. This film is worth its weight just for the philosophical discussion about women over the age of 20 and the worst wig ever put on film. This film has no nudity in it but it more than makes up in violence, even if it’s of the red paint variety.
The Sex Killer
Directed by Barry Mahon, upon who Steve McQueen’s character in the Great Escape was based, The Sex Killer tells the story of Tommy, a lonely, introverted manikin factory worker, who is taunted by his macho workmates and has an obsession with watching women sun-baking topless from the roof of a building using binoculars, but his fascination becomes a dangerous one, as Tommy becomes more obsessed, he turns to violence, murder and necrophilia. Funnily enough, a premise like that would make you think this film is like Maniac, unfortunately this B/W picture is as dull as they come, with some of the most plodding camera work ever seen…but there is a hell of a lot of topless women in it. Amusingly enough, POV shots of sunbathing women through his binoculars change viewpoints without him ever leaving the same spot on the rooftop. There’s also some hilariously bad continuity errors too, like underwear magically appearing under a characters clothes.
Zero in and Scream
This film, directed by Lee Frost, who also directed Love Camp 7, is about a lonesome man, whose sense of solitude leads him to commit acts of violence against well heeled amorous couples in Hollywood. Of the three films this seems to be the one that gave the disc the ‘R’ rating. It is more a soft core porno with a murderer thrown in. His lingering looks through the sights of his gun BEFORE he has even cocked it are very funny. One of the funniest endings to a LRSK-themed movie you will ever see.
Let’s face it, when the makers of these films made them, they weren’t worried about the effects of the Viet Nam War on young minds, or how Kafka or Neitzche influenced modern thought, or any sociological ramifications these films might have, they wanted to make short movies with a lot of nudity and/ or violence in them. The story was only ever secondary to how many nubile young girlies could be butchered and/or whip out their boobs for a bit of male oriented entertainment. Luckily there were many such girls and we can still enjoy them today, although while watching I can’t help but think that most of these girls are probably grandmothers…
There is just so much on this disc it has to be given an average score just for the quantity, as for the quality, well, if exploitation sex films of the sixties and seventies are up your alley, you’ll love it. The film and audio value varies from feature to feature, but all in all you can clearly see and hear everything that is going on, and to be quite honest, the average quality adds to the sleaziness of it. A warning though for fans of the Brazilian or the shaven haven: you will be disappointed. The women in Zero In And Scream have more bush than Mike and Mal Leyland EVER saw. That’s not to say that there isn’t a bit of meat for the ladies either: in ZIAS there’s a fair bit of swimming pool-based penises as well!
Extras: Trailers for ‘The Sex Killer’, ‘Zero in and Scream’, ‘The Psycho Lover’,’ Honeymoon of Terror’ and ‘Aroused’.
Gallery of Sick Sixties Sex films with Audio Oddities is a 10 Minute and 40 second montage featuring audio of radio commercials for such films as ‘Wife-Child’ and ‘Poor White Trash’ and others played over images of posters and one-sheets of films such as ‘A Smell of Honey, A Swallow of Brine’ and ‘Orgy of the Golden Nudes’ and others – this is one of those great montage sequences that Something Weird Video is so good at.
WISIA: I don’t think I would watch these again, even though I enjoyed them a fair bit. They are in interesting snapshot of the exploitation films of the time.
Film: If you have been enjoying all those Marvel movies, and other movies based on comic properties you basically have this film to thank.
Tim Burton’s Batman film, released in 1989, wasn’t just a film, it was a phenomenon. Today, the idea of making a super-hero film is an easy one, especially if you have the initials ‘DC’ or the world ‘Marvel’ attached to it. Even non-superhero comic based franchises have successfully launched with things like Riverdale (loosely based on Archie comics), The Walking Dead (based on the Image comics) and the Edgar Wright helmed Scott Pilgrim Vs the World (based on Brian Lee O’Malley’s comic) all finding various degrees of success. Back then, comics were ‘still for kids’ and the idea of making a film that would be successful, based on a comic, wasn’t something taken too seriously. The first two Superman films had set a standard, that like this series of films, the final two didn’t stand up to, and Batman was also a hard character to make a serious film of because most people remembered him as the character from the campy TV series of the 60s.
When the producers had decided to make a film more like the comics rather than the TV show, that was dark, and really tapped into the ideas of justice and fear, and they accidentally found that people who had grown up with both the comics and action films of the 80s were prepared to take it seriously, even though they had director Tim Burton and star Michael Keaton, both who gave us the comedy Beetlejuice. The announcement of character actor Jack Nicolson performing the role of the villain The Joker, a perennial favourite from the comics, made ‘proper’ film fans sit up and really take notice, as did the inclusion of other actors like Jack Palance, Billy Dee Williams, Michael Gough and Pat Hingle.
(NB: I remember being horrified by the casting of Keaton in the title role, and not until I saw him on the cover of an issue of American science fiction film magazine Starlog did I actually see that Warner Bros were taking this film seriously.)
I was already a comic fan when this came out, having been a fan since the early 1970s, and I saw it in a dingy little cinema in a small country called Orange in country New South Wales, and went in a skeptic, but emerged, reborn, as a lover, and I wasn’t alone, as Batmania hit and there possible wasn’t a man or woman on the planet who didn’t have at least one little tiny piece of Batman-based paraphernalia in their cupboards.
The film struck all the right chords at the right time, like Beatlemania before it, and Spicemania soon after… comic nerds weren’t the outcasts anymore, they became historians, and even the comic industry had a temporary boom, with new store and titles popping up all over the place.
…but what is this film about?
Well, (and I’m sure I don’t really have to tell you) this film tells of the Batman (Michael Keaton), a creature of the night who I stills fear into the heart of the crooks of Gotham City with a campaign of fear.
What no-one knows about the Batman is, is that he is actually millionaire playboy, Bruce Wayne, who has started this campaign of justice as he has suffered severe mental trauma as a child when he watched his parents, Thomas and Martha, brutally murdered in front of him.
There’s other shenanigans happening in Gotham city though, as crimelord Grissom (Jack Palance) has decided to have his second-in-charge, the extraordinarily vain Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson) taken down by the police for bedding his girlfriend, Alicia (Jerry Hall).
The tip-off goes awry, and instead of being killed by corrupt cop Lieutenant Elkhart (William Hootkins), Napier falls into a vat of chemicals which damages his face so bad that it drives him mad, and he become a self described homicidal artist, The Joker, with an intention, and the means, of killing the citizens of Gotham City.
Batman has to stop his terrible plans, but the Joker isn’t his only problem, as investigative journalists Alexander Knox (Robert Wuhl) and photographer Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) are hot on the tale of revealing his secret identity…
It’s a classic Batman tale, with the Joker having a nefarious scheme and the Batman requiring some detective work to figure out his game, something some more modern Bat-films have been lacking as he appears to be more a thug who beats up the mentally challenged before locking them up in an asylum where security is obviously lacklustre. It’s a shame these films don’t lean more into the Detective side, when you consider he is ‘the Dark Knight Detective’…
The cast is an interesting mix and are great together, Robert Wuhl providing some surpassingly non-annoying comedy relief, which is occasionally foiled brilliantly by Michael Keaton’s surprising straight man in Bruce Wayne: the ‘give Knox a grant’ line is a set-up that you don’t even know exists until the payoff. Great work from writer Sam Hamm.
Burton’s direction and style drips through the entire proceedings like molasses, sweet and dark, and in combination with Anton Furst’s spectacular design and Danny Elfman’s dark score, it’s like being front row and the sole occupant of a Cure concert. The juxtaposition of Prince’s songs throughout the film make for interesting pops of audible colour that suit the bright appearances of the Joker perfectly, which are both visually and rally appealing and a strange evil light in all the darkness of the good guys and the city in which they live.
One can’t comment on colour within this film without mentioning not just Basinger’s portrayal of Vicki Vale, which is not just another ‘straight man’ role for Wuhl, but also represents us in i converting Bruce Wayne’s tragic backstory. Her appearance in predominantly bright tones and white make her an Angel of salvation not just for the troubled Bruce, but a piece of forbidden fruit for the Joker also.
I could rave about this film forever. I simply love it, and it also reminds me of a time when even though a movie was based on a serialised comic book, which are essentially soap-operas, movies are more story driven and not everything needs to be squeezed into one two hour flick. Nor does it require a cavalcade of other heroes from within the comics to support the main character because they aren’t interesting enough, and most importantly, to watch one film, you don’t need to have seen 30 others and have 2 streaming subscription services to know what’s going on with superfluous characters… it’s doesn’t need to pander to the meme/ Instagram crowd for ‘lols’.
Extras: There really is an amazing bunch of extras on this Bluray disc:
Commentary by Tim Burton, which really looks at his creative process behind the film and a few little bits and pieces you may have missed upon your initial viewings. It’s an interesting look at his creative process.
On the Set with Bob Kane sees Batman creator Bob Kane on set of the Batman film, talking about his (and Bill Fingers) creations.
Legends of the Dark Knight: The History of Batman sees interviews with comic book writers and artists, like Bob Kane, Stan Lee, Mike Mignola and Harlan Ellison, and comic book historians and filmmakers, including the driving force behind this film, Michael E. Uslan, who wrote The Boy Who Loved Batman.
Shadows of the Bat:The Cinematic Saga
Part 1: The Road to Gotham City looks at the genesis of this Batman film which dated all the way back to when the first Superman film came out in the late 70s.
Part 2: The Gathering Storm looks at the difficult decisions that needed to be made as far as the script and casting is concerned, and how they managed to fulfill them.
Part 3: The Legend Reborn has Tim Burton discuss how he created a legacy for Batman, and maybe even extended the life of the characters popularity.
Beyond Batman is the section all about the making of this particular film, divided into these mini-documentaries: Visualising Gotham: The Production Design of Batman, Building the Batmobile, Those Wonderful Toys: The Props and a gadgets of Batman, Designing the Batsuit, From Jack to the Joker and Nocturnal Overture: The Music of Batman. Individually, these make for fascinating featurettes but altogether they explore everything that makes the gothic design of this film so striking and memorable.
Batman: The Heroes and The Villains looks at all the characters individually, with analyses by actors, writers and fans.
Batman The Complete Robin Storyboard Sequence is a look at the obviously removed addition of Robin to the script, that was ultimately scrapped.
In addition, there is also the Trailer and music videos for Batdance, Partyman and Scandalous by Prince
WISIA: Its the ultimate comic book film that didn’t just spawn one comic book movie trend, but two. The film and the extras on this discs should be watched regularly by any movie or comic fan.