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PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2014 8:03 am 
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domino harvey wrote:
The Ally Sheedy-starring Fear is also about a psychic who can see the murders a serial killer commits, and even though I have a strong anti-psychic bias, it's a pretty great little thriller than I managed to get absolutely no one else to watch during the Horror List

Lucio Fulci's giallo Seven Notes in Black is about the exact same thing. It's actually not bad. It manages this weird ontological paradox where many of the events wouldn't have happened if the psychic hadn't had a prevision of them in the first place.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2014 10:26 am 
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I spookily foresaw that nobody would watch Fear! (Though it is somewhere in my to watch pile, so I should get to it sometime!)

Deep Red probably inspired the Fulci film, as it does much the same thing in its opening. If only Macha Meril's character hadn't had a vision in the middle of a psychic conference and started accusing members of the audience that "You've killed! And you'll kill again!!", then she might not have needed to have been bumped off!

Perhaps another influence could be that subgenre of horror films involving chains of murders, in which in trying to tie up loose ends the killer ends up being noticed or leaves a clue behind that means they have to kill yet another person, their mother, the distant relative who just happens to turn up, the neighbour popping by to borrow a cup of sugar, the dog groomer wondering why the family pet missed its appointment, etc!


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2014 2:38 pm 

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colinr0380 wrote:
I'm not a big fan of Prey - you'd think that a plot about a cannibalistic alien ending up lodging with a bickering stereotypically butch and femme lesbian couple in a country house, both trying to use him to make the other jealous, would provide some fun dramatic tension, but it is pretty inert.
I must admit Prey is my favourite Warren movie. Maybe I've just got a soft spot for claustrophobic English country house movies where deeply weird stuff happens, though it's not as good as Jose Larraz' efforts like Symptoms and Vampyres. And I agree that the scene in the pond is interminable.
I'm a bit surprised at the intensity of revulsion the BBFC felt at the screening of The New York Ripper. The infamous razor blade scene is undeniably harrowing but overall I found the film much less disturbing than the ones that feature really prolonged, grubby scenes of female degradation like I Spit On Your Grave and Last House on the Left.

(And I'm starting to wonder if I'm the only person in the world who likes Xtro...)


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2014 7:33 pm 
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domino harvey wrote:
I have unfortunately not seen any of those, so I can't steer you one way or the other, but here's my own To-Watch List from the 80+ intros: Blood Song / Dream Slayer, the Child, the Erotic Rites of Frankenstein, the Executioner / Massacre Mafia Style, the Killing Hour, New Adventures of Snow White / Grimm's Fairy Tales For Adults, Nightmare City, Pigs, Terror, Zombi Holocaust, Zombie Lake. I've already picked up Nightmare City and the Killing Hour, so it's too late to warn me in advance on those, but if anyone has words to say in favor or against any of the others, I'd love to hear 'em.


Massacre Mafia Style aired on TCM a month or so ago, so keep an eye out for a re-airing. It was in one of their late night slots, presumably as part of their Underground showcase. The scene you mentioned of the mobsters shooting up the office is actually the opening scene, and is easily the best and most memorable scene of the movie. I have no idea if Tarantino has seen it (though he likely has), but I remember thinking that it must have influenced him hugely. Though the movie slows down after that (though somewhat bizarrely, the scene is replayed later on), it's still something I'd recommend for anybody interested in it.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2014 1:09 am 
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Surprised that The Eyes of Laura Mars hasn't been mentioned yet. Faye Dunaway being confused that the most obvious suspect is not the killer is hilarious on it's own.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2014 4:04 am 
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Robin Davies wrote:
colinr0380 wrote:
I'm not a big fan of Prey - you'd think that a plot about a cannibalistic alien ending up lodging with a bickering stereotypically butch and femme lesbian couple in a country house, both trying to use him to make the other jealous, would provide some fun dramatic tension, but it is pretty inert.
I must admit Prey is my favourite Warren movie. Maybe I've just got a soft spot for claustrophobic English country house movies where deeply weird stuff happens, though it's not as good as Jose Larraz' efforts like Symptoms and Vampyres. And I agree that the scene in the pond is interminable.

I certainly agree on the Larraz comparisons. I did try and re-watch Prey last night and before I fell asleep three-quarters of the way through, waking up to the DVD menu screen at 4 in the morning, I did find some interesting elements! The lesbian sex scene is a bit more integral to the plot than those in Blue Is The Warmest Colour, with the alien spying on the couple, eventually to take one of the pair's place in an unorthodox way in the palacial bed! And there is one very funny line, in which Jo, the butch member of the couple, begrudgingly offers the alien a cup of tea with the line: "I suppose you take sugar, all you men do"!

There is a lot of potentially interesting stuff in here, particularly the way that the alien keeps being offered food and drink which he cannot eat (prefiguring Under The Skin). The way that the improbably named Anders Anderson ("Swedish?") keeps getting offered very English cups of tea, or celebratory pieces of cake to celebrate and cement the bonds between the trio, only to vomit it out or rush off to throw the cake in the bin (to validated cries of "animal!" from Jo) is a neat way of showing the rituals underpinning sharing a meal that if violated can cause great upset.

And I liked the hunting theme, albeit it is an obvious one, in which a hapless fox gets blamed for the aliens killing Jo's chickens, and we go on a sequence of beating the shrubbery to flush the fox out for Jo to shoot. Unfortunately it doesn't work but then Anders goes out on his own and kills the fox to present to Jo, something which is a nice turning point in the relationship between them as Jo starts to see Anders as a fellow hunter like herself.

That itself gets neatly tied into the gender theme, as the women dress Anders up for the party to celebrate the killing of the fox in a nice black cocktail gown! That works very well especially for Jo in being able to tease Anders again by sticking him in a dress, but also in some ways it is acknowledging him as part of their 'female club' by giving him the honour of wearing their uniform!

Then we get into the lengthy game of hide and seek and I'm afraid I fell asleep at that point! I'll try and get back to it this evening! I think my main issue with this film is still the handling of promising material rather than the concept or the story itself, which is more than sound. This is one of the few films that I think would be interesting to see remade.

EDIT: I've finished the film now, which takes a nice turn into EC comics-style poetic justice for all the characters at the end! It's not a terrible film but problematically handled. The extended slow motion wallowing in the pond is so drawn out that it becomes funny, but it does actually work as a metaphor for the film as a whole, encapsulating the way that the three characters are fighting against each other even when it is doing damage to themselves in the process. And that is only one of many, many scenes which get far too over-extended so as to lose the dramatic power of the scene (the most obvious but also the least objectionable in some ways due to being the purest expression of the idea!), so I don't see the pond scene as a crazy abberation but a symptom of the handling problems affilicting the film as a whole.

There is so much potential in the story though that it is a shame it doesn't have a more driving narrative to it! I still think that a remake of this, with far more engaging conversational scenes involving the simmering class, gender and eventually nationality issues pitting the characters into conflict with each other would turn this concept into a great one. Get Harold Pinter (or Neil LaBute - he would be perfect!) in to do a draft of it!


Last edited by colinr0380 on Wed Aug 06, 2014 3:34 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 1:03 am 
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So, I watched Nightmare City, and I'd rank it about in the middle for Italian horror films. Near the end of it I was actually trying to think of non-Argento Italian horror films I even liked and all I could remember was Zombi. So maybe this by default is one of the best by virtue of it just being okay? I thought the film had a few decent set pieces (the finale on the rollercoaster at least had the benefit of being interesting, especially concerning the exit of one of the main characters) and about a normal amount of nonsensical plot devices as far as Italian horror films go (Spending a lot of time on peripheral characters only to off them with as much or little thought as the rest of the victims in the film). My "favorite" moment was when the zombies invaded the aerobic dance (?) TV show and the TV camera, despite not being helmed by anyone (because, you know, zombies killed/were killing everyone), pans down and zooms in on the carnage so the audience at home can see.

Of course, because Colin brought it up and because I wanted to watch a better movie when this was done, I watched Planet Terror again and while it is clearly an homage to this film and many other Italian horror flicks (especially when in the "This villainous character pops-up out of nowhere" mold), the greatest strength of Rodriguez's film is the unending stream of novel ideas, tasteless and otherwise, that keep things moving a million miles an hour. It's the kind of film where I find myself getting excited for my "favorite part" at least a dozen times. A lot of the Grindhouse-y films I've seen for the Horror list or otherwise seem to float on having one or two memorable scenes, but Planet Terror hits that rate every five minutes. So, while it may not be fashionable to prefer the pastiche, I definitely do.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 9:33 am 
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"I don't suppose anyone else here is a biochemical engineer?"

I like Planet Terror too, mostly for the inspired casting of Michael Biehn and Jeff Fahey as brothers! (I think I rather unfairly described Jeff Fahey as "the poor man's Michael Biehn" once, but they're both great here) For me they're the horror, sci-fi and action film equivalent of the strange confusion that would be caused if Jeff Daniels and Bill Pullman shared scenes together!

I wonder if that General's wife subplot in Nightmare City is a rip-off of the doctor's wife in Zombi? And in the film studio carnage I like the crazy moment when the unmanned camera pans to a close up of the zombie looking into the screen, something which seems to prefigure the Demons films!


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 10:15 am 
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domino harvey wrote:
So, I watched Nightmare City, and I'd rank it about in the middle for Italian horror films. Near the end of it I was actually trying to think of non-Argento Italian horror films I even liked and all I could remember was Zombi. So maybe this by default is one of the best by virtue of it just being okay?

I remember you were pretty enthusiastic about Mario Bava's Black Sabbath. But that does nothing to undermine the truth of your last sentence above. It's an unfortunate truism that, outside of the best of Bava and Argento, there's not a whole lot going on in Italian horror. Most of the Italian horrors that are venerated get venerated because they have one or two things going for them: amazing gore or laughable incoherence. Italian horror is such a wasteland that so many movies get a good reputation merely for not being worthless (even if it's only for being so worthless they almost pop out the other side, eg. Zombie Creeping Flesh).

The only director who matches Bava/Argento is Michele Soavi. Stagefright is a top-notch slasher, The Church manages to make something more (tho' not a lot) out of a routine franchise, The Sect is one of the most fascinating horror films I've ever seen even if it's a total mess, and Cemetery Man is legitimately a great horror movie.

After that, Sergio Martino has at least one excellent film in All the Colours of the Dark. Luigi Bazzoni has one masterpiece, La Donna Del Lago, and two near masterpieces, Le Orme and The Fifth Cord. Aldo Lado made two impressive giallos in A Short Night of Glass Dolls and Who Saw Her Die?. Fulci managed to make one excellent movie in his time, Lizard in a Woman's Skin. Antonio Margheriti made one Bava pastiche, Nude, You Die!, that's really quite good for a bunch of reasons. And Jorge Grau's Let Sleeping Corpses Lie is an unnerving zombie film, far removed from the Fulci splatter-type of Italian zombie horrors.

And that's about it for me. There are other Italian horrors I like, but those are the only ones I would make an argument for being among "the best."


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 3:43 pm 
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knives wrote:
Surprised that The Eyes of Laura Mars hasn't been mentioned yet. Faye Dunaway being confused that the most obvious suspect is not the killer is hilarious on it's own.

My favourite part of Eyes of Laura Mars is that chilling moment at the end where Dunaway is being pursued by the killer but is only able to see through his eyes as she is panicily running away from him! I often wonder if Kathryn Bigelow was making a kind of conscious homage to Eyes of Laura Mars with the subplot of the killer in Strange Days who forces his victims to watch him kill them through his eyes through the McGuffin experience-sharing machine. (Athough Strange Days is also a strange mix of the Rodney King incident, the device from Brainstorm and the killers copycat motivations from Blow Out along with the Eyes of Laura Mars stuff)


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2015 11:40 am 
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domino harvey wrote:
As far as the trailers go, there's one here that is absolutely fantastic-- one of the best I've ever seen, really-- for a Godfather-inspired Sicilian mob flick called Massacre Mafia Style. We follow two mobsters as they walk through a white-collar office building and as the Steadicam follows behind them through the corridors they shoot up dozens of innocents while a jaunty lounge lizard song plays over all the gory action. I'm pretty jaded with operatic violence at this point, but this trailer is surprisingly effective, even though I know there's no possible way the film could ever live up to it.

Having now seen the film thanks to Grindhouse's deluxe Blu-ray treatment, I missed Cameron Swift's post above and was surprised to learn the trailer is more or less just the first three minutes of the film! Unfortunately nothing else present in the feature matches the bravura display of style and tastelessness present in making that sequence a trailer. According to IMDB's "fun facts," Sinatra turned down a role in one of Duke Mitchell's films because "I get paid real money to appear in real films," which is not only a good burn, but it's an accurate assessment of the half-assed amateur hour present in this proto-YouTube jobbie. I've sat through enough "grindhouse" flicks from the 70s to know what to expect, but this is definitely toppling over on the embarrassing side of not ready for primetime players trying to make a movie. One of the few interesting aspects of the film is how Mitchell has written himself three or four legitimately well-crafted monologues on the mafia and his Italian heritage, and the film grinds to a halt for him to deliver them in a manner completely alien to anything else going on in the film. It's like he practiced and rehearsed only those moments and just let it fly with the rest of the film. There's lots of nudity and gunshots and squibs and child caressing and a healthy amount of empty racist rhetoric along the way, if that's your scene. I haven't watched Gone With the Pope yet, but this, like most films covered in 42nd Street Forever et al programs, as predicted doesn't live up to the promise of its trailer


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 10:12 am 
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"When we were children, we were identical in every way. But she was the mistress and I was her slave"

I also sat down with one of the films from the second Video Nasties set whose trailer interested me. The 1981 Madhouse (aka There Was A Little Girl..., aka And When She Was Bad, aka Party des Schreckens!), an Italian-made, US-set (in Savannah, Georgia, lending a nice Southern Gothic feel. There must have been something about the South that drew Italian horror filmmakers to it, as Fulci set a few of his films around Louisiana, particularly The Beyond and Door To Silence) film directed by Ovidio G. Assonitis, perhaps most famous now as the producer who notoriously fired first time director James Cameron from Piranha II: The Spawning and directed the rest of it himself!

The story involves a lady, Julia, who has broken off ties with her abusive twin sister being coerced into visiting her at a hospital due to the 'bad sister' apparently having a disfiguring terminal disease. The 'bad sister' takes the opportunity to threaten the 'good sister' with punishment for abandoning her and then a couple of scenes later mysteriously escapes from the local hospital. The bad sister then takes up residence in both a hearse with tinted windows and in the basement of a massive gothic mansion inside which Julia has an apartment. The building itself is undergoing extensive renovations so our lead and one other kooky 60s-style bohemian landlady (who likes to airily dance around her drape-covered apartment) are the only residents, allowing the bad sister free reign. The half renovated mansion is quite a neat location, especially with its various back and front staircases and strange geography which even by the end of the film I was having difficulty figuring out! (It actually reminds me a little of that later 1990 thriller Pacific Heights in which Melanie Griffiths and Matthew Modine are menaced by nightmare tenant Michael Keaton, in the sense that you just know that the half built areas are going to be the location for a chase sequence, and that the dangerous work tools lying about are going to have to be used for something! Plus both films feature Japanese handymen who get disposed of early on!).

The mid-section of the film settles into a routine of the bad sister and her Rottweiler dog killing off various people (and pets, such as the good sister's symbolically opposed pet cat!) to build up a guest list for Julia's upcoming birthday party. The film is surprisingly callous about which victims it chooses, partly the cat getting hung but also one of Julia's favourite pupils at the deaf school at which she teaches getting mauled in the park by the Rottweiler. Although the film (tastefully?) doesn't show that attack, just the covered body being wheeled into an ambulance, while a couple of the other older victims have their throats torn out in graphic detail. Incidentally I like that the girl friend who stays with Julia and ends up becoming a victim of the dog too gets told by Julia in no uncertain terms not to leave the apartment at night, but does so anyway. I don't mind too much victims acting stupidly in a horror film if they have been warned not to! Then it seems it is the individual character more than the film itself that is being silly!

There's a final section twist once Julia makes it to the birthday party that is quite neat too, although I figured out the twist very early on:
[Reveal] Spoiler:
As soon as the priest was too uncomfortably touchy-feely with Julia in the early hospital sequence and then the deaf boy after the sermon I knew he wasn't to be trusted! I did like though that it came across in the early section of this film that the slightly unsympathetic priest was acting as if Julia is entirely to blame for the rift between her and her sister, which adds themes of authority figures not taking your side in a conflict that I thought were really interesting. It pushes Julia into more turmoil regarding her feelings towards her sister as well, wondering if it is her own fears more than anything else.

I'm conflicted about the ending as it is a little too neat in tying all the potential mental issues up by showing that the priest was in league with the bad sister all along (and presumably had been carrying on a relationship and abusing her since a child, although this idea is very heavily implied rather than stated) and does neatly resolve all of the issues for Julia and allow her to escape the horror at the end, apart from the in vogue Carrie-style shock ending! But I was rooting for Julia throughout the film, so I was glad to see her safe, albeit traumatised, at the end!

This is one of those films that if made twenty or thirty years later would have to have the twist that the 'bad sister' and 'good sister' are one and the same (indeed even Brian De Palma's earlier Sisters came vaguely to mind whilst watching!), and the good sister has been driven schizophrenically insane herself by the past abuses. In a way the priest turning out to be the accomplice is both sillier and also rather refreshing in allowing Julia to have some validation in other people being responsible for her trauma!

And my, that ending of Julia axing the priest to death doesn't stint on the gore with enormous axe wounds to the back! It's almost like the ending of Witchfinder General!


Some of the performances in the film get a little weird (especially the goofy mad person at the end!) but in some ways the poor off-kilter handling of the stalking sequences end up strangely working. For instance the stalking of the bohemian landlady in the building shows the killer and a potential avenue of escape to the outside world in the same frame, which adds a nice sense of escape being so close and yet so far. Then the hiding under the bed sequence shows the lady extremely poorly concealed under there and the killer obviously sees her straight away, but there is a strange bit of toying with her that ensues that is nothing like Jason not being there until the split-second he emerges to kill a teen in the Friday The 13th films (though the Japanese handyman gets a 'pop up' death like that!). Here the killer is toying with her and when the lady runs and simply just hides in the corner covering her eyes, they strangely leave only to appear later on.

There is a complete lack of tension in the sequence from both the killer and the victim not 'properly' acting the ritual of stalk and slash films properly, but in a strange way that both makes the victim seem more desperately terrified and the killer more insane. So I think it works! Even in the final sequence the killer walks off into another room for a little while, allowing our hero to attempt to untie Julia from her chair, then the maniac notices what they are doing and with a little tut comes back to put a stop to it. Those moments where the tension completely disappears only makes the film feel more disturbing! Although I concede that this might be less conscious on the part of the filmmakers and maybe just that they don't know how to keep tension high!

There is a great Riz Ortolani score too, with beautiful 'creepy versions' of some lullabys, including the title one of "Rock-a-bye-baby"! But this is Ortolani still very much in Cannibal Holocaust mode as all of the various stalking and death sequences get scored to atonal electronic bleeps and bloops that are extremely similar to those in the earlier film. They can seem a little out of place in this context, but I liked that those particular sounds sort of acted as the very first signifiers that the death scenes were about to occur!

So it is an interesting, if perhaps eventually a bit of an average, film (I wouldn't argue too strongly against someone who found it just to be a standard slasher film), but it has a couple of really nice moments particularly involving the fantastic performance of the lead actress Trish Everly. According to imdb she never acted in anything else again but is great here, stunningly beautiful and provides a nice, natural performance (and even two great ear piercing screams at two separate acts in the final sequence! But also a great low key, "I already, and perhaps always, knew what was coming" reaction on being blindfolded and led to the party). The highlight of the whole film for me is the very early sequence just after Julia has been to see her sister in the hospital and is waiting in her boyfriend's office for him and talks about her relationship with her sister. It is where the quote at the top of this post comes from. Everly's performance in that scene is amazing with visible emotion but also a composure there too, able to recount events from her past and worrying about them surfacing again, but trying not to be overwhelmed by it. This is also supported by the male lead's sympathetic ear as the boyfriend asking all the right questions ("I was held up by a last minute schizoid in emergency. How are you?"; "Don't take off your [white] coat yet, your shift's not over"'; "Oh, really? You want to play doctor?"). The scene then ends with a cut to the next scene but with the remnants of Julia tailing off into reverie over it, adding a strange dreamlike-quality ("It was almost as if...I was doing it to myself...It won't ever stop...I know now that I...I can't get away"). It is a pure exposition scene getting out backstory to an audience, but the beautifully sad way it was handled made watching the whole film worthwhile for me, I think.

Oh, well also if you've ever wanted to see our hero put a Rottweiler (or gnashing Rottweiler puppet) into a headlock and powerdrill it into submission, this also might be the film for you!


Last edited by colinr0380 on Mon Apr 06, 2015 6:38 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 11:05 am 
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Yeah, there are two things Madhouse has going for it: it looks beautiful in 'Scope and the villain is laudably over the top, otherwise it's pretty standard-issue


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 11:34 am 
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It does look beautiful throughout, with a great mix of soft focus and pin sharp location photography. It is one of those films that makes even dilapidated locations look strangely beautiful, often down to the sensitive way the scenes get lit. I particularly liked this brief shot near to the end of the film:
Image
It is also one of those films where I am left with a lot of those fun extra-textual questions that I don't think that the film really intended for me to be thinking about. Such as why does that taxi that the hero is in that has to change tyres (causing him to mess up his speech and luckily have to return back home) have a dent in its side? Was the hero in an accident and it was never shown, and if so why is he so calm? Or was it just meant to play as a flat tyre and that dented vehicle was the only one that the production could find?

Or why does our heroine ask one of the deaf kids to close his eyes and try to copy the vibrations of her knocking on the table, only to get called away and walk off without a word. How long was that kid sitting there with his eyes closed until he realised that she had left?! Although is this early 'betrayal of confidence' meant to link in with Julia leaving the landlady's apartment mid-conversation, and the final blindfolding scene? Perhaps, although I'm pretty sure I'm reading far too much into it at this point!


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2017 6:29 pm 
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Siskel and Ebert on Video Nasties


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2017 6:39 am 
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@colinr0380
I was able to buy a copy of "See no Evil" and it is indeed a very great, informative read. Thanks for the heads-up.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2017 9:15 am 
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No problem Lazertron! Whilst the synopsis section of See No Evil has arguably been surpassed by the first volume actually showing the trailers and discussing each film in detail (though I still think it is nice to be told the whole plot in text form Sight & Sound-style without sitting through the entire film or watching the (maybe misleading, but pieces of art in their own right!) trailers!), See No Evil still feels really valuable as a piece of social history. There are a lot of great stories in there about the early 1980s VHS and Betamax era in the UK and all of the fears surrounding all of this 'scary new technology' that gave viewers more control over the material displayed on their television screens (I think there's a bit of a tie-in there with the early days of home computing too, where it was enough of a novelty in itself just in being able to manipulate images on a screen!), and that is perhaps the most interesting aspect to be taken forward into the internet era and its whole (wider scaled, but kind of the same) discussions around copyrights, distribution, availability of information and control over imagery.


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