Eagle's Claw and the Butterfly Palm (C, 1982)
It's Chinese patriots vs. invading Mongols in this kung fu retitle (from what I don't know), which is marred by a bad transfer on DVD - too dark and poor speed correction leaves "trails" behind movements - it hurts your eyes. The Butterfly Clan have destroyed Shaolin and the Wu Tang and it's up to a lone avenger from the Yun to avenge them all. The Butterfly fighters tend to wear ninja-like masks and use shields with spiked blades, and they're led by a princess with magical powers, who can drug people and control them by playing a flute, and she also works with Lo Lieh. She takes control of four knights who came to discuss their problems. Meanwhile, a bratty girl teams up with a fighter and a drug salesman and they meet the Butterfly Clan in a big climactic showdown. Despite the interesting title this is pretty average stuff, even though it does give Lo Lieh a chance to repeat a "glowing palm" scene like in his classic Five Fingers of Death. -zwolf

Eagle's Killer (C, 1979) AKA Bai cu shi fu kou cu tou
Hwang Jang Lee is a killer for hire, taking out his targets with a vicious eagle claw style (and, of course, some incredible kicks). Meanwhile, a young kung fu student (John Cheung, from Snake in the Monkey's Shadow) isn't having much luck learning from a shiftless teacher who's not good for much except Cantonese comedy. Disgruntled, he gets into some Drunken Master-inspired battles with a fat student and leaves the school. On his own he has to fight off some inept bandits before meeting Hwang and asking to become his student. Hwang's a hardcore killer, not a teacher, but decides to humor the guy so he can sell him into slavery. This results in him nearly getting raped! He gets some help from a drifter and learns well, getting plenty of excuses to practice what he's learned, but then Hwang is hired to kill him, and you know that means trouble. If this were a video game I'd have to say it was built on the "Drunken Master engine," but it's got a style of its own, with interesting directorial elements (such as intercutting shots of Hwang kicking a skeleton apart during fight scenes). And while the comedy is rambunctious, it doesn't get in the way of the story or the great fight scenes. Funky music score, too. Highly entertaining, and recommended. -zwolf

Eaten Alive! (C, 1980) AKA Doomed to Die, Eaten Alive by the Cannibals, Emerald Jungle, Mangiani Vivi, Mangiati vivi dai cannibali Italian cannibal sleaze with a young lady from Alabama (which means the dubbed voices are worse than usual, since they're trying an accent) going to New Guinea to look for her sister, who's joined a Jonestown-ripoff cult led by a demonic-looking creep named Jonas (Ivan Rassimov, who was the demon in The Eerie Midnight Horror Show, which proves he's demonic-looking!). She and the Vietnam deserter she hires as a guide get chased by cannibals and then caught by the cult, which drugs them and - as is apparently required in every such film since Bo Derek's awful Tarzan flick - paints nude girls gold. Escaping the cult is impossible because if they don't kill you, the jungle cannibals will (aided by some footage lifted from Slave of the Cannibal God and Jungle Holocaust, all accompanied by music from Make Them Die Slowly). Plus real animals are butchered or fight each other. After a while you get a really nasty cannibal picnic, with ears and breasts and limbs being sliced off of living people and eaten raw. Gore and nudity and cliched plot situations abound. The fact that the crazy suicide cult uses "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" as their theme song should make it up to the people of Alabama for the bad dubbed accents. Directed by the notorious Umberto Lenzi. -zwolf

Eerie Midnight Horror Show (C, 1974) AKA The Sexorcist, Tormented, Enter the Devil, Devil Obsession, L' Ossessa
A young female art student finds big trouble in a 15th century carving of one of the thieves who was crucified with Christ, which was found in a deconsecrated church that had been the site of a lot of evil orgies. She takes the statue for study, but it's possessed by an evil spirit that's got centuries of pent-up lust to work off. Or maybe she's just obsessed and suffering from hallucinations involving the carving; she's got sexual hang-ups, anyway, since she saw her mother cheating on her dad. Soon her parents find her acting crazy, masturbating and trying to seduce her father. She has visions of black masses, with the living statue (played by the truly demonic-looking Ivan Rasimov) presiding over grey-skinned women and gleefully crucifying our heroine, who develops stigmata from it. The crackpot family doctor prescribes a weekend in the country, but they soon find that isn't going to cure what's wrong with her, and finally an exorcist is called in and they get her to a nunnery, where she becomes hysterical, escapes, and runs around behaving like a complete asshole! It's supposedly based on a true story but looks more like another in the long line of Italian Exorcist imitations, but it does boast some weird atmosphere and scary moments, achieved with more style than some others in the subgenre even though it does show slightly more restraint than, say, The Tempter. Retitled to try to capitalize on The Rocky Horror Picture Show, for some reason. The video box even features giant red lips. Luckily, it's absolutely nothing like that film. -zwolf

The Eiger Sanction (C, 1975)
Clint Eastwood is a paid assassin working for a secret government agency headed by a cold-blooded albino called The Dragon. Clint only wants to retire from the biz and work his cover job - college art professor - but Dragon makes him an offer he can't refuse: terminating some killers who snuffed one of his friends. He knows that one of the assassins will be in a mountain-climbing competition on the Eiger Mountain, and that's where Clint will have to kill him. First Clint trains on rock formations in the desert, under the guidance of George Kennedy, then climbs the actual mountain (Clint did his own stunts, which were dangerous - a crew member was killed during filming). I put off seeing this for years, thinking it would suck for some reason, and it's not Clint's best but I'm glad I finally gave it a shot because it's a whole lot better than I thought it'd be, and Clint's in his prime and was easily able to carry the film (which he also directed). -zwolf

8 MM (C, 1999)
Nicholas Cage is a small-time private detective hired by the widow of a millionaire when she finds a snuff film among her late husband's personal effects. She hopes that Cage can prove the film is just a sick-minded fake and that the girl wasn't actually tortured and murdered. But, with the help of a wise guy adult bookstore clerk who knows the porn industry like the palm of his hand (snicker), he finds that the film was real, and the sickos who made it wouldn't mind making another, with him as the star, and possibly even throwing his wife and kid in as a short subject. Another dark and disturbing film from the writer of Se7en. -zwolf

El Condor (C, 1970)
Lighthearted western starring Lee Van Cleef and Jim Brown as a pair of bandits leading an army of Apaches to a Mexican fort in hopes of stealing the gold buried beneath it. They have to overcome a couple of tight situations and defeat a whole Mexican army to get it. Okay western with lots of comedy relief - just don't expect a spaghetti-type dealie and you'll be okay. Also stars Marriana Hill, Patrick O'Neil, Iron Eyes Cody. -zwolf

The Embalmer (B&W, 1966) AKA Monster of Venice, Il Monstro di Venezia
A maniac with scuba gear swims the canals of Venice, snatching girls and drowning them, then taking their corpses to his underground laboratory, secreted in the depths of an ancient flooded monastery. There he puts on a hooded monk's robe and a skull mask and embalms the girls with a secret formula so he can dress them in togas and stand them up in little cubicles to form a "temple of beauty." Some rather incompetent cops try to catch him, which won't be easy since they spend most of their time arguing about whether murders are even being committed or not. They tour the city a lot and watch a weird nightclub act where an Elvis lookalike comes out of a coffin and wails a really terrible not-at-all-Elvisy song that they didn't bother to translate ("Love Them From The Embalmer," I reckon). Meanwhile, the killer keeps on killing and making pretentious speeches to his collection of dead girls. A professor who figures out that the killer must be operating out of the monastery ends up in not-Elvis's coffin. Will the bumbling cops manage to trip over a solution despite themselves? That's the only hope! Some pretty creepy scenes (face it - a skull-faced monk wandering through damp, dark, abandoned hallways is kinda spooky) but the silliness of the horribly-dubbed dialogue does compromise things a lot. -zwolf

Emmanuelle in America (C, 1976) AKA Brutal Nights
Laura Gemser returns as the astoundingly laid-back (she seduces a lunatic who wants to kill her for promoting sex and then doesn't even report him to the cops) libertine who's a photographer of nude models who doubles in investigative journalism. She wiles her way into a crime boss's zodiac-based harem (irony of ironies, she's a Virgo) to secretly photograph illegal activities... and to have sex with anything that moves. After finishing this assignment, there's an interminable period of time where she goes to high-society parties (and has sex with anything that moves) and then discovers a conspiracy involving snuff films. A really infamous movie that doesn't quite live up to the hype despite the fact that it does include the rumored footage of a woman masturbating a horse, a few hardcore segments (which don't involve Gemser), and some very realistic nastiness in the faked snuff films (breasts cut off and cheeks torn back via chains in the mouth and other such sickness). It's not as disturbing as it could have been, though, given the playful approach that Gemser brings to it all, and the usual tedium that pervades all softcore. Still, for sleaze fans and Joe D'Amato freaks, it's an event. -zwolf

The Entity (C, 1981)
Lovely Barbara Hershey is a single mom of three who finds herself assaulted in her own home within the first ten minutes of this scary movie supposedly based on actual events. In actuality, the novel & screenplay are by Frank DeFelitta. Carla (Hershey) is repeatedly attacked & raped in her home by... someone or something she can't see. She's not even safe in her car, where this invisible thing shows her what a crappy driver he is. Her shrink, Ron Silver, thinks that it's all in her head... even the physical evidence can be 'splained away as self-induced or psychosomatic, like stigmata. Will she go crazy? Will her kids & her boyfriend believe her? Can she convince anyone to help her before it's too late? Hey, it's Hollywood! So, of course, she's able to enlist the aid of some (extremely well-funded) parapsychologists (eventually to be known as Ghostbusters), who attempt to help her against this entity. Director Sidney J. Furie crafts a strong, suspenseful film, augmented immeasurably by the Charles Bernstein score. Special effects are kinda silly looking now, but not terrible, & at the time, invisible hands kneading Barbara Hershey's breasts was an innovative new trick. -igor

Equals Against Devils (C, 1970's?)
The opening theme music for this Hong Kong film was so good they stole it for the movie Rocky! Or possibly the other way 'round. This is kind of like The Hustler but without Paul Newman and fist fights breaking out now and then. A pool shark plays against a fat gangster who's backed up by a gang of bumbling cross-eyed guys in sleeveless Levi jackets. Lots of gum get thrown around and their pool hall is plastered with vintage movie posters from spaghetti Westerns, Blaxploitation flicks, and The Black Hole. The bad guys wear bad guy hats and the good guys wear goofy visors. A pro called Black Sinner trains our hero, Alan, to become an ultimate pool shark, because his nemesis, White Cloud, chopped off one of his hands. Once Alan's training is complete, he's the best pool player in Hong Kong and his friends all think they'll be rich (it sounds like the girl was planning to buy a "mink house"!) but Alan has to go away to play a match with White Cloud... but White Cloud doesn't want to play him ("Our boss will never play someone who's an idiot!"), but they put up enough money, so there's a tournament, which is full of bikini'ed girls in bunny ears, and it's broadcast on the radio! Pool on the radio, how exciting. Alan wins, but White Cloud's a poor loser so he hires a cockeyed hit man named Chicken to kill him ("Have a kiss before you go to Hell!") Amazingly, Alan survives two shots to the chest like it's nothing. Then he gets beaten in a match by a girl in a bikini... even though she holds her cue backward half the time... but that's okay because he retires to the bathroom and takes "the world's record in shitting." Black Sinner gets a bionic hand, and then they engage in a weird contest where they do stupid human tricks with billiards. There's a gunfight (with a bullet-through-the-peephole scene that predates Argento's Opera) and an exploding car and a party getting shot up before the outlandish ending. Pretty funny dialogue and it has Chen Sing in it... but he never gets to fight. Marketed as a kung fu movie but it's really a crime drama, but whatever it is, it's definitely worth watching just for the craziness. "You are scum!" -zwolf

Equinox (C-1967-71) AKA The Beast
A student film that was good enough to get a theatrical release once some new scenes were added. Since it was made over a span of years, you can see the actors age from scene to scene. It was made for $8,000 and the special effects are impressive despite the budgetary limitations. It starts off in the middle of things - a guy sees his girlfriend killed by something in the woods, then he runs out and gets hit by a driverless car. A year later he's catatonic in an asylum, constantly staring at a cross he has on a necklace. A reporter (who looks like Al Bundy) tries to uncover what happened. The film goes into a flashback from the year before, when the guy who ended up in the asylum goes out with three other friends to look for their missing geology professor up in the mountains. They find a cave with some weird laughter coming from it and strange tracks leading in. They light torches and enter the cave to find an extremely creepy, crazy old man who gives them an ancient book full of demonic sigils. Their professor, now gone mad, jumps out of the woods and runs away with the book, then falls down and dies... and soon disappears. A weird park ranger named Asmodeus tries to rape one of the girls until her cross necklace sends him running. The students find some notes the professor wrote, explaining that he experimented with some spells from the book and raised some demons, which are apparently still on the loose. They find a zone where things disappear, and then a stop-motion monster that looks kind of like Mighty Joe Young after the orphanage fire. Then one of the girls gets possessed, and Asmodeus tries to tempt on e of the guys. Then, in a truly astounding special effect, a giant that looks like a zombie Fred Flintstone shows up. Other creatures include an octopus-like thing that destroys a house and a winged demon. The acting is awful, but as far as the rest goes I don't think anyone could have done a better job with the money involved. In a lot of ways this plays like an early incarnation of The Evil Dead. Some of it is actually pretty creepy, and it's all definitely weird. They don't make 'em like this anymore.... -zwolf

Escape from Death Row (C, 1973) AKA Mean Frank and Crazy Tony, Homme aux nerfs d'acier,, Interpol in allarme, Suo nome faceva tremare,Dio, sei proprio un padreterno!
Lee Van Cleef is a hard-ass mobster named Frank who gets himself thrown in jail as the ultimate alibi for when one of his enemies is bumped off. But jail cramps his style, especially when someone on the outside kills his brother and he wants revenge. So, with the help of a knockaround goofball from New Jersey named Tony, he starts working on an escape plan. Once he breaks out, Tony starts helping him with his vengeance plotting. Because they keep stealing and destroying cars and a gasoline transport truck, the path of vengeance involves a whole lot of destruction (much of it cartoonish and comic, such as sidecars detaching from motorcycles and cops driving a car that's been split in half). Some nice directorial touches and engaging characters (and a memorable but overused music score) make this fast-moving Italian crime drama stand out. Available dirt-cheap on the "Crime Wave" 10-movie DVD set, in a sharp transfer of a print that looks like it was dragged behind the truck in the big chase scene (the scratches only add to the sleazy atmosphere). Worth seeking out if you're into Italian crime flicks. -zwolf

Evil Brain From Outer Space (B&W, 1964) AKA Super Giant 7, 8, & 9
An evil brain is sent to Earth to start a nuclear war that could poison the whole galaxy, so the Emerald Planet (populated by weird beings who move their arms up and down a lot) dispatch Starman, the blandest and most awkward hero ever, to stop it. The brain lives in a suitcase which gets lost in a stream. Masked agents under the brain's control try to kill all who interfere with its plans, but Starman battles them with his fighting skill... which mainly involves pushing or touching people who obligingly fall over as if clobbered. Soon the brain summons monsters and all kinds of disasters are happening. A model train falls off its track, for instance. The brain's invasion force (who have pictures of bats on their chests so you'll know they're EVIL!) are ready to attack, and a lizard thing with an eye in its belly is also sent in, for backup. Starman and it gently battle each other. Then alien agents throw toothpicks at Starman, but even that doesn't thwart our hero. There's also a white-haired chicken-nosed witch who appears out of nowhere and smirks at everybody and gives them the creeps. There's also an evil germ... or possibly an evil Jello swirl dessert. Can Starman save Earth? And... should he? Crazy Japanese sci-fi superhero goofiness. -zwolf

Evil Dead Trap (C, 1988) AKA Evil Dead's Trap, Shiryo no wana
Japanese horror that tries to imitate Dario Argento's style (and music - a lot of it sounds almost exactly like Suspiria's theme) even to the point of having maggots fall into a girl's hair, plus there are breaks that look like Sam Raimi's crazier camerawork. And the gore is Fulci-like. So it all looks pretty impressive. Too bad the story's an uninvolving mess that put me to sleep in the first half hour the first dozen times I tried to watch it. A late show hostess gets a snuff film in the mail, and she and her reporter crew go to an abandoned military base where it was apparently filmed to try to determine if it was real or not. There they become stalked by a killer in a raincoat, and weird, nonsensical stuff happens, bringing about a cumulative effect of irritation. It has some good points, but overall it's style over substance... and even the style starts to seem rinky-dink and unmotivated after a while. The director commentary on the DVD (which is limited to a few scattered comments) confirmed my suspicions that the guy didn't really know what he was doing with a lot of this. For instance, at one point silver stuff starts falling all around, even though there's no explanation for it - the director just thought it "looked pretty." Looking pretty is fine, but have a reason. Pretty great gore effects, though. -zwolf

Executive Decision (C, 1996) AKA Critical Decision
I hate titles like that - "Executive Decision." "Just Cause." "In The Line of Fire." They sound so "Tom Clancy" in their stodginess and uncreative lack of imagination, and you'd expect them to appeal to the unimaginative and easily-excited. Yet, boring titles (like the ones I mentioned) often conceal good movies, and this qualifies. Some pre-9-11 terrorists hijack a plane, demanding the release of a terrorist leader. But they have no intentions of letting the hostages go; the plane contains a huge nerve-gas bomb that they want to detonate over Washington. It's big enough to take out half the eastern seaboard. So, a commando team including Kurt Russell and Stephen Seagal (don't worry, he gets killed before he can even do anything - you have to cherish this movie for that if nothing else!) secretly board the plane and have to defuse the bomb and kill the terrorists, but - as in most A-list-formula action flicks - everything that can go wrong does, and they have to solve every stumbling block with just seconds to spare. This gets ridiculous and it's a familiar pattern to these flicks, but it's still handled well (especially by a first-time director in Stuart Baird) and is entertaining, with an emphasis on tech-stuff and planning instead of violence. -zwolf

Exorcist III: Legion (C, 1990)
William Peter Blatty got to direct his own sequel to The Exorcist, based on his book, Legion, and he does a good job, but the film didn't do very well at the box office, probably because it's not what people were expecting. This time a demon-infested serial killer - The Gemini Killer (based on the Zodiac) - is given a new lease on life by demons, who house him in the body of Damien Karras (the guy who went out the window and down the steps in the original). George C. Scott is a Jewish detective who thinks God is cruel... and finds plenty of evidence of that as the bizarre killings mount, culminating in a tacked-on exorcism scene. A very cerebral script confused some people, and add-on exorcism scenes for box-office appeal didn't help, but it's a clever film that gets better with multiple viewings. It helps if you go into it expecting more of a Silence Of The Lambs type of film instead of an Exorcist thing. Some pretty intense bits, and this was a favorite film of Jeffrey Dahmer's - he was watching this with his last victim right before the guy escaped. Intelligent script makes some good soundbite material if you've got a band or something. -zwolf

Eyeball (C, 1978) AKA The Eye, The Secret Killer, The Devil's Eye, Wide-eyed in the Dark, Gatto Rossi in un Labirinto do Vetro
The opening credits of this Umberto (Make Them Die Slowly) Lenzi giallo film are impressively spookshow-like. Unfortunately, it's downhill from there... A girl is stabbed to death by someone wearing red gloves, who cuts out one of her eyes. Soon afterward a tourist girl is stabbed and loses an eye in a funhouse. Another is killed and left to be eaten by pigs. The people on a tour bus become both suspects and victims. One guy thinks his wife is doing the killings - it seems likely, since she's in town and since he found her after the first killing with a knife in one hand and an eye in the other. Meanwhile, the killing continues - someone in a red raincoat kills another tourist. A witness said the killer looked like a red cat. He (or she) tries to kill another girl, but the attack is so awkward that she gets away by falling in a swimming pool. Meanwhile, the suspicions are running rampant. Not too scary, but the red-raincoated killer is pretty freaky looking, and the motive behind the mutilations is pretty twisted. It's not bad in the last five minutes or so, but the rest is kind of tedious, and the gore is really pretty weak - the missing eyes are, basically, black eyeshadow on an eyelid. Not the fountains of splatter you'd expect from a sicko like Lenzi. -zwolf

back to top