Released in 1958, Return of Dracula comes many years after the Dracula craze in particular and the Universal monsters in general had been relegated to the past in favor of atomic terrors and science fiction. Long enough, I suppose, that someone was thinking it was time for a revival.
One year for Christmas, I got an LP with which I would become obsessed, and one that continues to find its way into my playlist. It was a bizarre amalgamation of rock opera and old time radio play, featuring the voice talent of none less than Richard Burton: Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds.
At the end of Beyond the Black Rainbow, directed by Panos Cosmatos, a period of quiet contemplation is required to begin unpacking everything one has seen during the preceding 110 minutes. The surreal swirl of stark futurism, psychedelia, and neon indulgence is…pleasantly overwhelming? Comfortably disturbing?
Nestled away on its own cul-de-sac off the storied Strand in the City of Westminster is the hotel that once played host to Winston Churchill’s wartime briefings, that even served as a triage center during the Blitz.
Asia-pol, with all the smart suits and colorful mini-dresses, not to mention death by exploding golf ball, offers just enough to keep you around as you see the sights with Jo Shishido, Ruriko Asaoka, and pouting teenager Jimmy Wang Yu sitting in the back seat.
It’s night, when the city is at its best. To the brassy, aggressive strains of a jazz anthem composed by Elmer Bernstein, our point of view drifts through the glorious, desperate chaos of New York at night. Men in suits, women in cocktail dresses, stumbling into and out of nightclubs, into and out of cabs. Those who want to be seen, those who want to see. Movers, shakers, power players, hustlers, hyenas.
Kriminal was one of many Italian comic book anti-heroes that rose to fame in the 1960s, inspiring a host of imitators all wearing, for whatever reason, skeleton bodystockings. But only one Kriminal cash-in made it to the big screen alongside the Italian original: Turkey’s Kilink.
Twists are heaped upon perversions until the whole thing threatens to collapse into one giddily irredeemable pile of filth that happily violates any taboo of which it could think, and then finds a way to make it all weirder still.
There is a deep vein of cynicism running through the center of Lucio Fulci’s Don’t Torture a Duckling (aka Non Si Sevizia un Paperino). The same can be said for the vast majority of the man’s work. His filmography is littered with the bodies of people snuffed out in manners most gruesome.
Steve McQueen stars as a San Francisco cop assigned to protect a witness against the Mob. Before the film winds to its thrilling conclusion on the tarmac of San Francisco International, viewers will marvel at McQueen’s casual cool and one of the best car chases in cinema.
Golden Buddha is tremendous fun and a real treat for fans of 1960s spy films despite there being no actual spies in the film. It’s still got plenty of intrigue and sneaking about, and the production is sumptuous. Fans of zany 1960s art direction will be in heaven.
Jazz on Film: Film Noir is a five-disc box set collecting together some of the seminal jazz soundtracks from noir cinema from the 1950s, exploring the evolution of the musical style from its presence as a scene in a movie to its integration into the scores themselves.
As with his previous film, Miraglia takes the modern setting integral to the spirit of gialli and dresses it up in a bit of old-fashioned Gothic spookiness by, once again, setting a portion of it in a moody Gothic estate full of dark secret passages and dungeon chambers.
Now that’s the life — where, during a mild bit of cat burglary, you sneak into a lavish hotel room via the window and find Kay Francis in a low-cut evening dress, relaxing languidly across the foot of the bed, waiting for you with a glass of champagne in her hand.
The Sister of Ursula is like watching a Jess Franco film without that director’s flare. Contemplate that one on the Tree of Woe. Sex scenes, the Italian coast, outlandish murders — everything about The Sister of Ursula seems to operate under the directive of “Well, this should be good, but we’re going to mess it up.”
Had Dark Purpose been an hour long episode of a TV show, it would have delivered. But forced to come up with, roughly, three half-hour acts, it can’t sustain the momentum and Shirley Jones, while perfectly acceptable, just isn’t dynamic enough to make us forget nothing much is going on.