Sunday, May 22, 2016

Black Candles (1982) and Evil Eye (1975)

Hey, another two mini-reviews. Why? Because I love you that much (actually, because it's a Sunday and I'm bored). Here's two movies that came on a DVD I rented from Netflix.

First is "Black Candles", which comes from "Vampyres" and "Symptoms" director José Ramón Larraz. Here, a young woman and her boyfriend head to England after her brother dies. Whilst staying at her sister in law's place, the two soon find themselves drawn into a Satanic cult that fancies such things like orgies (so far, so standard) and bestiality (okay, that's a bit fucked up).

Though "Vampyres" and 'Symptoms" are underrated horror films, "Black Candles is ultimately a bore-and that say a lot considering it has goat fucking and a man getting a sword shoved up his ass. It's an erotic horror movie, but none of it is actually sexy, and when you get down to it, it's basically an excuse to shoot sex scenes with the veneer of a horror movie slapped onto it. It's the kind of movie where hardly anything happens, and it comes to no surprise that it's director disowned it after it was released. At least the score is fun.

Slightly better, but still not good is "Evil Eye." In this movie, the police are investigating Peter Crane (Jorge Rivero), who may or may not be connected to those around him dying. In the process, Pete has been having nightmares dealing with the murders, and soon, others are in danger as well.

An occasionally interesting blend of Giallo and supernatural elements, "Evil Eye" ends up feeling like a missed opportunity. There's a fun, jazzy score by Stelvio Cipriani, some interesting ideas and enough female nudity to please fans of trash, but the movie is unable to congeal into a whole. As a result, it's often incoherent, feeling like a bunch of images and plot points that don't go anywhere, all leading to a pretty lame conclusion. Oh well.

Black Candles: 2/10

Evil Eye: 4/10

Slaughter Hotel (1971) and Corpse Mania (1981)

To make up for lost times (I have a life beyond writing reviews hardly anyone reads), here are two quick reviews for entries in the Giallo genre. However, they come from two different countries-the genres country of origin (Italy) and one from China.

First off is "Slaughter Hotel", which comes from Fernando Di Leo, who is largely known for helping to popularize the Italian "poliziotteschi" (police) genre. Here, he dips his toes into horror territory with the tale of a psychiatric ward for rich women. Lo and behold, since this is a giallo movie, there is a killer knocking some of them off, and usually after sex. Also, there is a lot of sex, as this at times feels more like a soft core porn movie that sometimes borders on hardcore territory (including close ups of open female genitalia. It seems they knew what crowd they were catering to.)

Whilst a fun time on paper, "Slaughter Hotel turns out to be a chore to sit through. Whilst I have no problem with sex and female nudity (quite the opposite in fact), this tends to go the Jess Franco route of making female nudity dull with a seemingly endless stream of uninvolved sex scenes and writhing around on beds. The kills are mediocre, and worst of all the movie lacks anything resembling atmosphere or suspense. This is especially shocking considering that Di Leo's later films (such as "Caliber 9" and "The Italian Connection") are bursting with fun. There's nothing like that here.

On a much better note is "Corpse Mania", which was produced by the Shaw Brothers (yes, they produced more than just Kung-Fu movies) and directed by Chih-Hung Kuieh*. Here, the police are after a madman who has been killing women at a local brothel (as well as those who get in the way.) Also, the killer may have a thing for corpses, as we see in one really disgusting scene.

Though you know who the killer is from the get go, "Corpse Mania" is a solid little movie filled with at times realistic (and nauseating) gore, good direction and a story that manages to keep the viewer engaged throughout it's short run time. It also manages to wear it's influences on it's sleeve (the killer's look brought to mind a mix of "The Invisible Man" and "Blood and Black Lace", whilst some of the kills and gore reminded me of the then rising slasher genre) without feeling derivative. Oh, and maybe it's just me, but it was kind of refreshing to see a giallo movie that didn't offer an endless series of red herrings for a change.

As a whole, "Slaughter Hotel" is a sleazy but ultimately dull film that made me want to watch superior fare such as "Torso" and "Strip Nude For Your Killer." "Corpse Mania" on the other hand, is an seriously underrated film that deserves a bigger cult following, and might please fans of Toshiharu Ikeda's "Evil Dead Trap."

Slaughter Hotel: 2/10
Corpse Mania: 8/10

*Outside of this, Kuieh's other credits within the horror genre include "The Killer Snakes" (1974), "Hex" (1980) "Hex vs. Witchcraft" (1980) and "Boxer's Omen" (1983)