Saturday, July 23, 2011

Paul Naschy's HUMAN BEASTS (1980)

Is it absurd to believe that negative actions or foul deeds can sometimes not have consequences? It really would be comfortable to know that some form of universal order exists that brings those who’ve escaped punishment for murder, genocide, and torture to justice so that no fiendish monster would ever truly be off the hook, in this life or the next. The message in Paul Naschy’s HUMAN BEASTS is that redemption in the universe is unavoidable and that no matter how you’ve managed to escape your unspeakable deeds you shall still eventually “reap what you sow”. 

HUMAN BEASTS can be viewed as an action/crime/heist film turned horror that features ghostly presences, nightmare sequences, man eating pigs, and family practiced cannibalism that fans of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE might dig. Scripted, directed, and co-produced by Paul Naschy who also stars as the protagonist, this film is definitely his baby and is still considered to be woefully overlooked despite a pristine DVD release in 2007 from Deimos Entertainment. 

Naschy plays Bruno Rivera who after double crossing his lover during a diamond robbery heist and escaping redemption (for the time being), ultimately finds himself trapped in a HOUSE OF PSYCHOTIC WOMEN. Yes, just like the American title of Naschy’s Spanish giallo better known as BLUE EYES OF THE BROKEN DOLL. But unlike that film, these women really are psychotic, which just leads to some really great stuff courtesy of Naschy’s brilliant and ever versatile mind.  

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Lucio Fulci's The House by the Cemetery (1981)

Oh glorious haunted New England mansion…. A supreme visual brought to life with the sound of Gothic CASTLEVANIA-esque theme music by Walter Rizzati, tombstones, and leafless winter trees. What splendid grandeur and majesty you emit against the daytime sky and how even more beautiful you are at night… What evil cosmic secrets do you hold? How I’d love to see what fate would befall a family that was to all of a sudden move in and inhabit you. What’s that you say? I can? In a film called HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY. 

It’s been blogged about a thousand times and reviewed to death, but I still feel that Lucio Fulci’s HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY deserves all of the love it can get. The film primarily concerns the Boyle family who are played by the likeable Fulci fan favorite Catriona MacColl, who has to be one of the best female screamers ever (consider the intro scream from THE GATES OF HELL), as Lucy, Paolo Malco as Norman, and Giovanni Frezza as little Bob (who it seems was dubbed by a woman, which ends up being just as awkward as it is creepy). These poor souls unknowingly mortgage their lives when they move into a quiet and isolated house in the woods next to a cemetery. The thought of a husband and wife moving into an isolated house with their creepy kid and into a deadly scenario may have THE SHINING written all over it, but the overall ordeal shares no similarities to that film. 

There is a memorable and fairly iconic relation between the son and a nineteenth century ghost girl that haunts the area, named Mae. The encounters between these two kids possess a childlike innocence that blurs the motive for why Mae is contacting Bob from beyond. The end result of their friendship is confusing but so fascinating and endearing that it’s no wonder that former kid actors Giovanni Frezza and Silvia Collatina’s Facebook pages are constantly bombarded with friend requests by loving fans (myself included). We may not know them personally, we may not be actual friends, but we would still like to know how poor Bob is fairing after the traumatic events that transpired in the evil basement of that damned house. And who doesn’t have a desire to express admiration to Mae, the cool Gothic ghost girl, for saving Bob from a fate worse than death in a satisfying heartwarming ending that makes the viewer want to run off and buy Fulci’s other films (me 10 years ago) and ultimately become a hardcore lover of Italian Horror? And what great sports those two are for friending so many fans. 

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