Abbot White (C, 1982)
Obscure supernatural kung fu flick with dubbing that's a lot worse than usual - it sounds like it was dubbed by native Chinese speakers (the L's and R's take as much of a beating as the title character's enemies), and they didn't seem sure how to go about it because you can hear bits of the original soundtrack in the background. As a young boy, a Shaolin disciple enters a forbidden room at the top of a pagoda and, meddling around, unleashes an evil spirit called The Devil Claw, which possesses him. He grows up to be a pale-faced bald-headed killer with red eyebrows, and dresses all in white (white is the traditional Chinese color for death and is considered very ominous). He commits evil acts of rape and murder, but no one seems able to stop him since his kung fu is unbeatable, his skin is invulnerable, he can turn into an untouchable ghost form, and he can even detach his arm and launch it at his adversaries! Some of the time he's an innocent nice guy who has no knowledge of his demonic side, however, and a girl who befriends his good half helps him set things right. Weird old-school kung fu horror which was supposedly one of the most rare and sought-after titles in recent memory, until the lackluster DVD came out. -zwolf

Abhay (C, 2001) AKA Alavandhan
An Indian commando is planning a wedding because he got his girlfriend pregnant. His brother Abhay may not be able to attend, however, because he's an extremely dangerous psychopathic killer, locked in an institution. She's a TV reporter who talked them into keeping him there, so he wants to kill her for that, as well as to "save" his brother from having to marry her - he thinks she's a witch trying to trap him. He's very creepy (kinda Hannibal Lector like) and can bite chunks out of concrete and spit them with enough force to make them semi-lethal. He soon works out an ingenious plan and escapes (carrying a friend's severed head in a bag - he set it up so everybody will think he was killed and so they won't be on the lookout for him, but for the friend). He gets drugs, which lead to some weird visions (one involves Ronald McDonald, and some are animated - people become cartoons that look a lot like footage from Heavy Metal - and people jump out of signs and TVs for Matrix-style fights. Since he's schizophrenic and drugged, they manage to fit in some elaborate, surreal, effects-filled musical numbers, using his odd grip on reality as an excuse. This turns what was setting up to be a scary movie into kind of a light, silly thing... but it does alternate back into scary stuff, which creates a disturbing effect overall. A long flashback section reveals Abhay's twisted childhood, and his evil stepmother. And it comes back to modern times with a very-much-crazy car-truck-motorcycle chase involving over-the-top wrecks and explosions, and more stalking by a now-heavily-tattooed Abhay. Some very impressive filmwork here, even if there are a few shortcomings (too many musical numbers, narrative could use tightening up, and the comedic changes in tone compromise the really good terror-inducing thing Abhay had going), and overall it's a unique Bollywood film (more sex, special effects, violence, blood, and drugs than most) that you should check out. There's some absolutely ridiculous stunts, but who needs "believable" if you've got "entertaining" nailed so well? -zwolf

Abominable Dr. Phibes (C, 1971) AKA Dr. Phibes, Curse of Dr. Phibes
Strange Vincent Price classic that goes for the surreal with style to burn. Price is Dr. Phibes, a scarred-to-the-bone undead mastermind whose face is all prosthetic makeup and who speaks through a hole in his neck. He wants revenge on nine doctors who killed his wife (Caroline Munro, or at least a picture of her). With the help of his female sidekick Vulnavia, a lot of inventive gimmicks, and a definite sense of flair, he unleashes death on his enemies in the form of old Biblical curses - bees, bats, frogs, blood, rats, hail, beasts, locusts, death of the first born, and darkness. Whenever he kills one, he melts an effigy of them and then plays an organ, accompanied by a clockwork band. Price is grim, the atmosphere is weird, and the killings are gruesome, but even though it's all played (mostly) straight it's still so outlandish that it's obviously tongue-in-cheek. Somehow smacks of both James Bond and A Clockwork Orange at the same time. Must see, as is the sequel, Dr. Phibes Rises Again. Since Phibes's first name is Anton and he plays the organ and plots all sorts of diabolical things and loves clockwork androids, I have to wonder if he may not be a nod to Anton LaVey... -zwolf

Ace of Aces (B&W, 1933) AKA Bird of Prey
A peace-loving sculptor is shamed by his fiancé (who accuses him of cowardice) into joining up in World War I, even though he doesn't believe in the cause. He becomes a pilot and at first he has a guy in his sights and can't shoot, but then the same ungrateful guy shoots him, so he guns him down. He soon gets a taste for it which becomes a craving, and he becomes bloodthirsty and brutal... on the ground and off. Soon he's a lone wolf ace, flying solo missions and trying to see how many kills he can rack up. He loves war, to such a degree that it shocks his girlfriend when he meets her again. Then during a hospital stay, he meets a German cadet he shot down (even though the kid was only delivering a note that one of the missing British pilots was okay) and gets a dose of reality. Great combat sequences and an antiwar message; a powerful little film. -zwolf

Aks (C, 2001)
Bizarre Indian action-horror epic in which a very creepy psychotic assassin named Raghavan, who looks a little like a mixture of Jim Morrison and Glenn Danzig, is a master of disguise, quotes the Bhagad Gita, and has this horrible wheezing laugh like "Muttley" from the cartoons whenever he does something evil. He assumes the identity of a top-ranked intelligence agent (who'd be Al Pacino if this was an American flick, so it's the Indian equivalent, Amitabh Bachhan) to assassinate a defense minister and steal some secrets, and then he kills another criminal who's amazingly even creepier than he is! Yakub only has a brief appearance but will give you nightmares anyway. Imagine Gandhi possessed by demons. Raghavan becomes the target of a huge manhunt, headed, of course, by the special agent he impersonated. He's finally caught and killed, but his spirit possesses the agent, causing him to start seeing Raghavan in the mirror. Pretty soon he's killing off the people who killed Raghavan and assaulting his own wife. People around him figure out he's possessed, but getting rid of Raghavan in the physical world was hard enough... It's kind of a horror film, at least by Indian standards (they don't do horror all that much), and there are certainly disturbing elements (Raghavan is world-class creepy; I've never seen a bad guy quite like him) but it's not really very scary, and works best as a weird crime drama. It's extremely well-made, with a dark sense of style that sometimes seems almost Argentoesque, and it has some deep subtext about the interdependency of good and evil. The musical numbers fit in better than usual. It's overlong at three hours, to be sure, but it's well worth seeing. -zwolf

Alice (C, 1988) AKA Neco z Alenky
Bizarre and creepy retelling of Alice in Wonderland (looks more like Alice Cooper in Wonderland... welcome to somebody's nightmare) from Czech stop-motion-animation guru Jan Svankmajer. Imaginative young Alice follows a horrible bug-eyed rat-toothed sawdust-bleeding taxidermied rabbit through the drawer of a desk that's been left in a wasteland, then down a dirty elevator that runs from the bottom of a bucket. She drinks a potion and shrinks into a creepy porcelain doll... then eats a cookie that makes her big... too big to fit through a tiny door to follow the rabbit. She cries and floods the grimy little room, and a well-dressed mouse drives stakes into her head and cooks his dinner. After lots more craziness involving animal skulls, she finds all the lost socks in the world burrowing holes through the floor. One sock, with glass eyes and false teeth, serves as the Caterpillar. After an episode with a shrinking house, she goes to the Mad Hatter's tea party. He's a wooden man, and the March Hare is a wind-up rabbit on wheels. They spread butter on pocketwatches and repeat things a lot. Then she plays croquet with playing card people and some real animals. It's a bizarre and surreal story made more bizarre/surreal than ever due to the animation of scary-looking stuff, the amazingly-dingy surroundings (what abandoned house did they film this in?), an annoying habit of showing close-ups of the little girl's mouth as a narrator, and a general air of somebody-made-this-so-there-is-insanity-in-the-world. It's like a fever dream made from the contents of a very sick child's toybox. And that's why you've gotta love it! The DVD also contains a disturbing short called "Darkness Light Darkness" in which some claymation arms in a very small room collect and assemble body parts (some clay, some dentures, and some actual flesh!) to build itself into a man... sort of. This short's one of Svankmajer's best and isn't found on the two collections of his other work. Extremely weird package overall. -zwolf

Alice Sweet Alice (C, 1976) AKA Communion, Holy Terror
There's no doubt that young Alice is a horrible little girl, but did she murder her sister (Brooke Shields, nine years old and acting very convincingly spoiled) on the day of her first communion? Somebody wearing a yellow slicker and creepy clear smiling mask like Alice's strangled her, stuffed her into a chest, and then set her on fire. Alice seems hateful and crazy enough to do such a thing, as well as the killings that happen subsequently, but there are plenty of creeps around their building. The landlord, for instance, is a morbidly obese pederast who's so unhygienic he feeds his cats in his bed. The stains in this guy's shorts probably weigh a few pounds, he's so astoundingly huge and filthy. Then there's Alice's mean ol' aunt, who gets stabbed in the legs. And then there's a guy who dies extremely unpleasantly after being pounded in the teeth with a brick. Psychological tests run on Alice prove that she's a very unsound young lady, but that doesn't mean she's doing all the killings. Or does it? Alfred Sole's Hitchcockian direction keeps you guessing... and wincing at the brutality of the killings, which are not just your standard knife-flailing. This plays a lot like an American giallo film, and would fit in comfortably alongside some of Argento's early work. The film was re-released under retitles later to capitalize on Brooke Shields's popularity, even though she gets killed early, and despite the gore and anti-Catholic leanings, it was widely distributed on videotape in the early days of cheap home video. One of those movies that, if you don't watch it for a few years, you forget how good it is and then it surprises you. -zwolf

Alucarda (C, 1978) AKA Innocents from Hell, Mark of the Devil 3, Sisters of Satan, Alucarda, la hija de las tinieblas
Alejandro Jodorowsky wouldn't work with anyone normal, and he worked with Juan Lopez Moctezuma, who directed this completely insane Satanic witchcraft movie, totally packed with beautifully-composed but often-disturbing images. A girl named Justine comes to a convent (sort of an asylum run by nuns, really) and forms a quick, obsessive friendship with a very strange young witch named Alucarda, who likes to upset people by blaspheming, screaming, and spinning around. A hippie-looking wizard gets them to do strange lesbian rituals while it rains blood. Alucarda is apparently possessed by a spirit from a grave she opened (of a girl named Lucy Westerna, who should be familiar to readers of Dracula). There are orgies presided over by goat-headed priests while nuns weep and sweat blood. Finally their blasphemies become so extreme that the priest and nuns perform an exorcism which results in Justine's death by torture. But don't worry - she'll be back... Crazy, surreal variation on Ken Russell's The Devils is full of nudity, blood, and elaborately gothic sets and orchestrated scenes of witchcraft-madness, some of which gets pretty nightmarish. Excellent creepy stuff for fans of serious bizarre horror. If The Exorcist disturbed you, however, beware... -zwolf

Always Outnumbered (C, 1998)
Walter Mosley adapted his own Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned for this made-for-HBO production that really deserves a theatrical run. Even though I pictured the Socrates Fortlow character as older and a little crazier in the book, I'm willing to accept the change so Lawrence Fishburne can fill the role, because Fishburne, as always, does an excellent job and is easily one of the best actors in America. This guy's presence can make a film. The movie (like the book of short-stories-that-make-a-novel) is the episodic tale of a nearly-homeless bottles-and-cans man in L.A. who tries to keep his dignity - and the dignity of his community - in a world that is (at worst) geared against him, or (at best) just doesn't care. Great cameo appearances by some of the best black acting talent working, none of whom come up short. You should definitely check this one out, and it shouldn't stop you from reading the book, either, which is one of the best things I've ever read. -zwolf

American History X (C, 1998)
Ed Norton is a neo-Nazi skinhead scumbag who kills a couple of black guys when they try to rob him, which might've been okay - hey, they were armed - 'cept he was pretty sick about it (nastiest "bite the curb" scene since the underground short film, Red). While he's in jail, he learns that racism is a pretty damned stupid thing, but by the time he gets out, his little brother Eddie "I'm in every movie made since 1990" Furlong is following in his old Doc Marten prints, and the local skinhead scene is thriving. Even though Ed was about as scummy as you can get through the first half, he pays - heavily - for his sins, and comes out sympathetic in the end. Great performance by Ed... you can tell he's a good actor, because he actually makes a SCARY skinhead, even though normally there are few creatures less scary than Ed Norton. He really should've gotten an award for this - he's great. Good script, good message, check it out even though it'll make you upset. But then, who really likes "feel good movies" anyway? The DVD contains deleted scenes, one of which - Stacy Keach and the fat guy getting their just desserts - explains a few things but was probably too comedic for the rest of the movie... -zwolf

Angel Heart (C, 1987)
William Hjortsberg wrote the screenplay for this adaptation of his excellent noir-horror novel, Falling Angel. Mickey Roarke is low-rent 1950's detective Harry Angel, hired by a mysterious Mr. Louis Cyphre (Robert DeNiro with long hair and fingernails) to find out if a singer named Johnny Favorite is alive or dead, because he had a contract with Mr. Cyphre, payable on his death. This Johnny Favorite was turned into an amnesia-case in the war, which complicates things. The farther Angel goes with the investigation, the more people start dying, and the closer he gets to a secret he'd probably rather not learn.... Plenty of Satanism and voodoo and violent death, but what made the film infamous upon its release was a sex scene involving Lisa Bonet, who was big at the time due to her role in the always-wholesome Cosby Show. Even though it wasn't particularly graphic, they made director Alan Parker cut out ten seconds of it to avoid an X rating. The book's better, but the film ain't bad. -zwolf

Angels Hard As They Come (C, 1971) AKA Angels, Angels - Hell On Harleys
Jonathan Demme wrote and directed this decent biker flick in which a few members of the Angels party with another gang called The Dragons, in a ghost town which is also home to a bunch of hippies (one of whom is Gary Busey, who probably shoulda been a biker since he got his head cracked open in the good ol' days when he was still against the helmet laws). While the Dragons are trying to gang-rape this hippie chick, somebody knifes her... and they get the idea that they were trying to kill the Dragon's president (a goof who's called The General, probably because of the silly spiked German helmet he wears). The Angels are found guilty of attempted assassination and the Dragons try to execute them in some gladiator-type motorcycle games. One escapes and goes to get the rest of the Angels gang to come down hard on the Dragons and free his brothers. Meanwhile the two remaining captives manage to pull some tricks with the help of the hippies (who are upset at all the violence) and some LSD. Things move along nicely enough and there's a big brawl payoff. The choppers are also nicer than usual. -zwolf

Angry Red Planet (C, 1959)
The angry technicolor TV screen! This AIP sci-fi flick really took advantage of being in color. A space ship returns from a Mars expedition with its astronauts near dead. One guy is covered with a weird growth, and they don't know how to save him. So they turn to a female astronaut from the trip, but she can't remember anything after a certain point... that being the point where anything interesting starts happening. So they give her drugs to make her remember, but this warps things (mainly by turning them pinkish and overexposed-looking), and she and the rest of the crew (two legit scientists and a chubby oaf who cracks silly jokes) go out with their .45's and ultrasonic freeze guns, and they see a lot of weird plants that are obvious cartoon drawings, and a venus flytrap that's left over from somebody's "Life In Outer Space"-themed prom. And there are worse things out there... lurking amidst the paper cut-outs are crazy giant puppets (half rat, half insect), guys in wacky suits (with three buggy eyes and all scowly), gargantuan googly-eyed jellyfish-amoeba (that eats one of the astronauts - they can see him being digested! - and then tries to eat the whole ship). It all looks like a way to shoot half the movie in black and white and save a few bucks by dying the film stock pink and telling the audience they're getting a bonus. But overall the film's goofy fun, good Saturday-afternoon stuff. Tune in at the wrong part, though, and you'll think your picture tube is dying... -zwolf

The Antichrist (C, 1974) AKA The Tempter, L' Anticristo
One of the bigger Exorcist-ploitation clones, this one contains some pretty twisted stuff. A rather annoying woman who's stuck in a wheelchair because her legs are paralyzed (possibly psychosomatically) learns that she was burned as a Satanic witch in a past life, and she has visions of unholy orgies, toad-head eating, and goat-anus-licking (don't worry, it's tastefully done). Soon she becomes a foul-mouthed, puking, slutty, demon-possessed hellion who looks (and sorta acts, really) like Johnny Rotten from the Sex Pistols. She does some creatively nasty things - levitating, detaching limbs, puking up green gack and making a wannabe exorcist lick it up, making furniture fly around... but most of the special effects are pretty bad, which is a little distracting since the rest of the movie is fairly stylish and well made. She also plans to give birth to the Antichrist, just to raise the stakes. Some of it is kinda creepy, definitely a contender in the genre of Exorcist rip-offs. Some of the profanities are hilarious, though. ("You stinking pots of shit!") -zwolf

Any Gun Can Play (C, 1967) AKA For a Few Bullets More, Go Kill and Come Back, Blood River, Vado... l'ammazzo e torno
Spaghetti western that looks like it's trying hard to be a Leone imitation (and that's a good thing). In the opening segment, George Hamilton (known only as The Stranger) guns down three guys who are obvious parodies of Lee Van Cleef, Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name, and a guy who could either be Django or the guy from The Great Silence. Then he sets out after the bounty on a notorious bandit named Monetaro, but bides his time and lets the guy commit more robberies so the price on his head will go up! And Monetaro is also searching for a huge cache of hidden gold. He and Hamilton each have half of a medallion that may lead them to the treasure, and another guy is the only one who can decipher its secret. So, basically, you have a Good, the Bad, and the Ugly situation. Even though this one's definitely a Leone wannabe and is good enough to be very cool and entertaining, it's not on a Leone level, with lots of zoom-lens shots substituting for Leone's distinctive style. Still, once you've seen all the Leones and the other A-list spaghettis (Django, Great Silence, Keoma, etc.) then this is a good one to go to. Lots of shooting but none of the Django-style brutality; it has moments of slapstick instead, but not so much that it messes things up. -zwolf

Apocalypse Now (C, 1979)
Francis Ford Coppola went overbudget and had a lot of production problems making this Vietnam epic, but it was worth it because he turned out one of the best movies ever made. Troubled special ops soldier Martin Sheen is given a mission that's more than he bargained for when he's sent upriver to terminate the command of a certain Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando at his weirdest), who's been out in the jungle too long and has gone insane, forming a cult of natives who see him as a god. As Sheen travels upriver with the crew of a PVC boat, the war gets weirder, crazier, and more surreal, the physical environment becoming a metaphor for the mind. The boat itself becomes more primitive (the roof catches fire and they replace it with palm leaves, one soldier drops acid and sheds most of his clothes, paints his face, and acts kind of monkey-like, people are killed with spears instead of bullets, etc.) and Sheen becomes less sure of his mission, because how can anyone be called insane in a war that has become little more than a free-range asylum. All-around genius film-making, with a great cast - be sure to look for a young Lawrence Fishburne as "Mr. Clean." It's an adaptation of Joseph Conrad's novella, Heart of Darkness, and is an improvement on the source material. This movie gets better every time you see it, so it's worth investing in a good copy. Highest recommendations. -zwolf

Apt Pupil (C, 1998)
Ultra-dark and daring adaptation of Stephen King's novella about the seductiveness of evil. Honor student Todd Boden (Brad Renfro), who has a fascination (or even a fetish) for Nazis and the Holocaust, figures out that his neighbor, old Albert Decker (Ian McKellen), is actually Nazi war criminal Kurt Dussander. Dussander has adapted to American life and tried to live quietly and forget his evil past, but Todd blackmails him into telling him all the gory details of the death camps, all the "stuff they're afraid to teach us in school." These stories not only disturb and corrupt Todd's mind, but they awaken the buried monster in Dussander, and soon the two have a sick, mutually-parasitic relationship going on (kinda reminds me of The Hitcher). This is a pretty surprising film for Hollywood, in that there's no good guy and no happy ending potential. Some critics weren't impressed, but I think that maybe they couldn't handle the darkness and the unpleasant nature of the plot, and wanted to distance themselves. This is as close as an American film will get to something like In a Glass Cage. -zwolf

Arhats In Fury (C, 1985) AKA Baat Baak Law Hon
Better production values than usual and a complex plot elevate the class of this kung fu flick. Monks in the temple keep breaking rules by using their skills to help the local populace fight off invading Jins, instead of just bowing to them as the antiquated temple rules dictate. Despite being punished, they still desire justice, because the invaders are raping women and beating up kids. The monks fight back, resulting in some intense acrobatic battles. But if the temple finds out, they'll cut the monks' tendons. The invaders start gathering nitre to make gunpowder and plan to kill all the monks, and (as evil invaders will) they finally go too far and push even the stubbornly-misguided monks out of their pacifism, and you've got a kung fu movie on your hands. Imagine Billy Jack with a couple hundred Billy Jacks instead of just one. Get it? Amazingly the monks get help from armies of birds and monkeys! Seems nobody's fond of evil invaders. Another bizarre thing: this movie has one of the most gorgeous girls you'll ever see, and the monks think she's a man! And at one point an invader sings the Irish traditional "Wild Rover" song! Incredible on more than one level. The director also happens to be the writer of Instant Kung Fu Man, which may be familiar to some. -zwolf 

Asylum of Satan (C, 1972)
Sort of a self-taught student film, this is the directorial debut of William Girdler (The Manitou, Three on a Meathook, Grizzly, Abby) and it's a pretty amazing terrible movie. A young woman is transferred to an obscure hospital run by a "Dr. Spector" (no relation to the guy from the Gold Key comics in the '70's), for reasons she's not told. The hospital is full of white-robed unmoving figures in wheelchairs, and her few regular inmates all have handicaps - they're blind, mute, etc. To make matters worse, there's a mutilated zombie running around and sometimes Dr. Spector acts like a lunatic (he's played by a local Kentucky TV horror-host who has several roles in the film... including dressing up in drag to play Spector's assistant!). Meanwhile the girl's boyfriend is trying to rescue her, but when he brings help to the asylum, it's abandoned! At times the movie manages a creepy, surreal atmosphere, but then it does something goofy, like attacks by snakes in a swimming pool (some were real, some were obviously from the dimestore) or by rubber bugs dragged along on strings. And wait'll you get a look at the devil, who appears during a ritual at the end! It's the same devil suit that was used in Rosemary's Baby, but it sure ain't the mask! Church of Satan (and now Temple of Set) member Michael Aquino re-wrote some ritual scenes to make them more Satanically-authentic. Amazingly enough, he still admits it! Made in Louisville, Kentucky. Girdler was independently wealthy, but you can't tell it from the production values here. "Love Slaves Of Satan Tortured To Blood-Dripping Death!" -zwolf

At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul (B&W, 1963) AKA À Meia Noite Levarei Sua Alma
One of the first horror films from psychologically-disturbed Brazilian director Jose Mojica Marins, who stars as evil, sadistic bastard Ze do Caixo, which translates as "Joseph The Grave" or, more commonly, "Coffin Joe." Coffin Joe terrorizes people in the town where he lives, and spends much of his time going to funerals. He also visits a bar and gorily amputates several of a guy's fingers using a broken wine bottle. Later he terrifies a tied-up girl with a tarantula, because he wants the perfect woman to bear his child and she's not up to snuff. He commits more atrocities - stabbings, rapes, eye-gouging, and blasphemies - until his victims return to take him to Hell... Weird, dark, and disturbing film made by a man who is definitely talented but probably a bit mentally sick as well. The levels of gore and sadism are pretty shocking for a film made in '63 and remain disturbing today. Other Marins sickie-film-manifestations include The Strange World of Coffin Joe and Hallucinations of a Deranged Mind. -zwolf

Atom Age Vampire (B&W, 1960) AKA Seddok - L'Erede di Satana
Despite his assistant's wish to just stay home and listen to records, a mad scientist goes out and kills women for their glands so he can restore the scarred face of a skanky exotic dancer who was burned in a car wreck. There's some pretty good stop-motion as the scars disappear from her face... and it's used again in scenes where the creepy doctor turns into a crusty-looking ghoul, on account of some serum he injected himself with so he'd have the nerve to kill, and do it bestially enough so that everybody'll think an escaped gorilla is doing the butchery. Meanwhile, he becomes more and more possessive of the girl and tries to guilt her into liking him... even though her scar tissue keeps returning. The bad dubbing makes it all kind of silly, but this is still considered a minor classic. Maybe it's better at the uncut 105 minutes. Be forewarned that the versions currently on DVD (both on the Madacy double-feature DVD and the Alpha DVD) only run 68 minutes. The quality of the print's not that great, either, but I could handle that if it was uncut. I don't wanna watch the Reader's Digest condensed version, damnit, especially since they cut out almost every killing and a strip tease dance (and you can see parts of those on the trailer included in the double-feature disc, even though they don't show up in the movie!). Hopefully a better, uncut DVD will come out someday, but as it currently stands, you're better off catching this late night on TNT (their print runs somewhere in the 85-minute mark, I think). -zwolf

Atomic War Bride (B&W, 1960) AKA Rat, War
Bizarre Cold War relic from Yugoslavia. Right after his wedding a guy named John is shanghaied into the army. It's a pretty ridiculous army, though, considering that they spend a lot of their time practicing to look like sheep or shrubbery. His brother-in-law has a bad heart and drops dead during shrubbery practice. John hardly gets to see his wife until they're reunited in a bomb shelter, where they listen to propaganda and watch atomic bombs destroy cities on television. He decides to lead a protest against the war, since all the citizens are against it, but the army wants to execute him for it. Then the point becomes moot... Very strange, rather silly anti-war drama that seems to have some black comedy to it, but is funnier than it intends to be... yet remains grim, as well. -zwolf

Attack From Space (B&W, 1965)
An evil alien race called the Superians (who dress remarkably like communist/fascists) is attacking Earth, but first they need an engine for one of their spaceships, which - despite their superiority - they need to steal from an Earth scientist. To prove they're evil, they even throw Hitler salutes. Peace-loving aliens from the Emerald Planet equip a rather somber, dopey-looking guy with a silly leotard and a fancy watch gizmo and he becomes Starman. He flies through space and battles the bad guys with the most awkward, artless, weak-looking karate/wrestling ever captured on film. He kind of just flounces around touching them and they fall over, and then he stops every once in a while to assume a muscleman pose. They think they kill Starman with a missile and start terrorizing Earth by blowing up a Himalayan mountain and big buildings. A kidnapped professor and his children act as resistance fighters while Starman takes his own sweet time before showing up and pushing the bad guys around and shooting some cap guns, and doing more heroic poses. Occasionally the enemies wait patiently while he does a few cartwheels. He looks more like some high-school football team mascot than the savior of Earth, but hey. I still think Santo could (and probably should) kick his ass. Similar to a lot of other old Japanese sci-fi, but a bit funnier than usual. -zwolf 

The Attic (C, 1979)
Carrie Snodgress is a sad, repressed librarian who slits her wrists while watching old home movies of her lost love. She's lonely (despite having a pet chimp) because she's haunted by the past and oppressed by her complete-and-utter-bastard father, Ray Milland, who is in a wheelchair and bosses her around unmercifully because he wants to keep her as his personal slave. She fantasizes about standing up to him, and even dreams of killing him... and she just might, once she finds the dark secret hidden in the attic... Very good, imaginative and atmospheric gothic horror that used to pop up on late-night TV, which is the optimum viewing time for this flick - save it for the wee hours just before dawn... -zwolf

Audition (C, 2000) AKA Oodishon
Really crazy, intense, unique Japanese art film from crazed director Takashi Miike, who, if he acknowledges that there are limits to anything at all, probably sees them as an enemy. He's declared war on them - and probably on you, too - here. You absolutely cannot prepare for this movie; it sets you up and takes you out. You're better off knowing as little as possible about it beforehand, but this is a review so I have to tell you something, so... a lonely widower decides he wants to remarry, but isn't sure how to find the right woman. A friend comes up with a plan to act like they're casting a movie, starring an actress who would fit the widower's criteria, and he could interview them and decide who he wants to try to romance. He's instantly taken with a strange, shy girl named Asami (played by fashion model Eihi Shiina), who isn't really as submissive as she seems. At home she keeps something tied in a sack, and no matter how terrible you think the sack-thing will end up being I swear to you, it's worse, and the widower is in more trouble than any description could do justice to. You'll just have to see it for yourself, if you can handle it... and don't be so sure you can, because some friends of mine who are well-versed in horror flicks had a really hard time with this one. It starts out as sort of a romantic comedy but becomes a surreal nightmare that will not stop... even when you think surely they won't keep going, they do. The fact that the whole movie is so incredibly well-made (the actors and script are great, and Miike's direction is classic-level) makes it even more of an assault. Disturbing horror that will catch you off guard even if you think you're prepared. See it - definitely, see it - but watch your step. -zwolf

Autopsy (C, 1973) AKA Autopsia
Weird, obscure Spanish drama formed around a lot of real autopsy footage. A war reporter sees a girl give birth in the middle of a battle in Vietnam, and then sees children burned by napalm (that famous footage from Hearts and Minds) and then goes through firefights and gets badly wounded and almost dies. He goes home and recovers, but becomes obsessed with mortality and starts interviewing people on the street about death. Disturbed by people's indifference, he decides to witness an autopsy. Scenes of street interviews and such are intercut with actual footage of post-mortem dissection; the body is disemboweled, ribs are sheared open, organs are sliced and removed, and the skull is sawed open to expose the brain, while the narrator drones on and on, waxing philosophic and quoting poetry. Between all of this is footage of people dancing in the forest and walking down the street, etc., to show that life goes on. And it all teaches him that life is short and death is long but is natural, so life should be enjoyed and death should be respected but not feared. And that's all very nice, but face it, the only reason anybody's watching this thing is to see the sicko autopsy footage... which admittedly delivers the goods, but you gotta sit through a lot of boring pretentious dreck just to get your prize of being grossed out. Still, it's the only viable and hygienic way to watch an autopsy in your own living room. If you can dig up the video, that is - they're kinda scarce. No major loss... -zwolf

Autopsy (C, 1974) AKA Tarot, Tension, The Victim, Macche Solari
Mimsy Farmer is a frigid pathologist writing on a thesis on suicide who's been working too hard - she has visions of some of her autopsy subjects getting off the slabs and having sex. One eerily-smiling corpse looks a lot like Rudy Ray Moore! She's been busy lately because a rash of suicides - apparently caused by the influence of solar activity - is sweeping Rome. One girl shoots herself on the beach, but her brother - a mentally-unbalanced priest (Barry Primus) who used to be a race-car driver who accidentally killed spectators in a wreck - doesn't believe it was a suicide. He works with Mimsy to try to prove it was murder, and they discover the girl was having an affair with Mimsy's father. Meanwhile the suicides continue - her landlord hangs himself and her father jumps off of a building and ends up a vegetable. Mimsy finds out that the girl wasn't a suicide, and that there's a twisted conspiracy afoot, and she may become the next victim of it unless Barry can save her. This is more of a giallo-style mystery than a regular horror film, and it has lots of nudity and sex. There are rumors that actual autopsy footage was used for this, but it's only special effects... although fairly-effective and well-researched ones. The autopsy scenes are made more disturbing because one of the pathologists is a pervert. The living dead hallucinations at the beginning are pretty creepy - too bad the rest of the film didn't go in that direction. The mystery is so complicated that it's hard to follow, but the movie does have its moments... it just doesn't live up to its full potential. Be careful - there's another movie on video shelves (if the tapes are still intact - the thing's probably been out of print for well over a decade) called Autopsy - that one's not really a horror movie, but a meditation on death, and it does include real autopsy footage. This movie sometimes shared a double-feature bill with Torso and includes an odd, kind of annoying score by Ennio Morricone. -zwolf

Avenging Eagle (C, 1978) AKA Long xie shi san ying, Cold Blooded Eagles
A friendship is formed between a pair of drifting kung fu masters when they meet in the desert. One of them is a refugee from the Eagle Clan, a mob led by an evil master who abuses them from childhood so they'll grow to be inhuman killers; any boy who shows any kindness in this training would be tortured to death for it. Now that he's gone renegade and started to regain some humanity, the rest of his clan is hunting him. His new friend mysteriously decides to help him battle the Eagles, perhaps out of friendship, or from a hidden agenda of his own. This is one case where the plot is almost as powerful as the fighting... there's actual pathos here, and the acting skills of the late, lamented Alexander Fu Sheng (the guy in white with the wrist blades) and Ti Lung (the guy in black with the tri-sectional staff who looks a lot like Wang Yu did in the great Blood of the Dragon) keep pretty good pace with their fighting prowess, which is on good display in the climax where they face off against the evil master, who's donned a pair of wicked brass claws. Gotta love this one. -zwolf

Awful Dr. Orlof (B&W, 1962) AKA Gritos en la noche, Cries in the Night, Demon Doctor, Diabolical Dr. Satan, Horrible Docteur Orlof, Screams in the Night
Some people consider Jess Franco an underrated genius. They're wrong. He's a pitiful hack. But this, his first major movie, would make you think that he had some promise. He was actually trying on this one, and although the pacing is for shit and the performances are stiff, it does have some atmosphere and style. A variation on Eyes Without a Face, this mad scientist sickie stars Franco fave Howard Vernon as the title doctor, who's been using his blind, mute brother Morpho to kidnap women so he can graft their skin onto the scarred face of his daughter. Morpho - who has a scarred up, mannequin-like face and staring, plastic-looking eyes - has a tendency to bite the girls he catches, but Orlof decides he needs to start bringing them home alive, because he wants to attain maximum freshness for the skin grafts by slicing it off of them while they're still alive. A ballet dancer is a few steps ahead of the police in investigating the killings and gets in serious trouble. Because this is a Franco film, there's not much in the way of gore (they make a few weak attempts, though, but it's nothing you couldn't do at home), but there are a few bare titties here and there. The cinematography isn't bad, so even though it is another bad Franco flick, at least it looks better than most. There were several sequels, and apparently Franco has a remake in the works. Somebody stop him! -zwolf

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